U.S.K. - Photo Courtesy of Steve Samsel
U.S.K.
Spokane, Washington
1981 - 1985

Members
 

Mike Borderman ~ Drums
Al Braun ~ Bass
Sheldon Miller ~ Drums
Dave Nordstrom ~ Bass, Vocals
Steve Samsel ~ Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Gary "Smitty" Smith ~ Bass
Mike Stirn ~ Guitar, Vocals
 

Crew
 

Chuck Burbank ~ Sound
Jake Dault ~ Lights
Spencer Davis ~ Producer
Bill House ~ Roadie
Digger Smith ~ Engineer
Carol Stirn ~ Sound, Backup Vocals
 

Rocker’s anthem –

Well I been rollin’ down the road, yeah. I heard you callin’, you want me runnin’ back. But I’m never knowin’ where I’m goin’, just rock and rollin’ this crazy life away. And I’ll always have to be, free and easy, I wanna be your rockman…

Lyrics from Rockman: Samsel/Stirn

THE ROCKMEN OF USK

Being influenced as young teens by every British invasion group of the sixties, it’s probably no coincidence that this group of four lads from the Pacific Northwest would team up with legendary British rocker/reoord producer, Spencer Davis to create a souful, punchy, pop  album that would rock the airwaves on at least several continents. Working with Spencer Davis, who had chalked up at least a half dozen top ten hits in the sixties, and who is pictured on The Magical Mystery Tour album liner, made the experience an electrifying one to say the least. The band would play to packed houses in Emonton, Alberta at night and then drive to Darryl Goede Studios in the morning for all day recording sessions with Spencer as producer, and Digger Smith at the helm as head engineer. Digger was another Brit who had worked with some other moderately successful groups like Bad Company, and also several of the Beatles on various projects. The band felt in good hands and would shine with the likes of these two seasoned British rockers who would bring their talents along to make this project something to be considered a world class effort. And as grueling of a schedule as it was, and on little sleep, the band knew destiny was calling to make one great album their followers, fans, and the airwaves would embrace. And that’s what they did.

But, the magical road that leads to those illusive, coveted, airwaves is a long arduous one that can be fraught with pitfalls. And founding members Stirn and Samsel were no strangers to the road and had had their share.  And shortly thereafter, bassist Al Braun would depart from the band. However the airplay and noteriety the band had achieved through the catchy songs that Stirn and Samsel would pen drew only the best players and shortly thereafter L.A. based manager Don Tunnell came on board. He would later introduce the band to Spencer Davis, who immediately fell in love with the bands British rock sound. However, it would take numerous transitions with various players, and thousands of miles on that lonely road, but when the band landed Mike Bordeman on drums and Dave Nordstrom (Chip), on bass, it was as if the train had arrived into the station and with it came the THUNDER of USK!


Photo Courtesy of Sheldon Miller
Bill House & Chuck Burbank
And thanks to soundtech Carol Stirn, who also sang backup, and soundman Chuck Burbank, from the band KRACKER, who would fill in on occasion, they made sure it was THUNDER when the band pounded out songs like, I WANT YOUR HEART, HOT FEVER, ROCKMAN, SHAME ON YOU, and BLOOD RUNS HOT. …But these lads had finese too, and when they played a ballad like LOVES GOTTA HOLD ON ME, packed houses would sing along.
The band did numerous concert engagements across Canada and throughout the Pacific Northwest promoting their album. However, the biggest concert turnout they would draw during their heyday, when local, top radio station, Krem FM was rotating six tracks from the U.S.K. album, was the Can-Am-Jam. On the bill was another Northwest band, Rail, who would open, The Gregg Kinn Band, U.S.K., and then, The Beach Boys.

It was a hot summer day without a cloud in the sky, and even though the entourage of U.S.K. had drove all night from a previous engagement, when they took the stage they got down to business in a hurry and kicked it out like never before. It would be a day to remember looking out to a crowd of nearly thirty- thousand fans. A sea of half-clad, sweaty bodies with excited, eager faces, who all hungered for one thing - a kick-ass rock show. And they got just what they wanted that day.

The band would continue touring to promote their album, but the disappointment from not getting a major American label to back them, and the grind of being on the road months on end began to take its’ toll. The local club scene was soon becoming a familiar circuit and at this time the band would put Carol Stirn, former backup singer, in the forefront. The band would make many transitions at this time and soon thereafter played mainly covers in and around Spokane.

But the memories of those hot summer days, concerts in the sun, and smoke-filled clubs where fans jammed in to watch the band they’d heard on the radio, getting’ down - they still linger on, as does the music of this fine rock band – U.S.K…

Steve Samsel,  December 2004




Photo Courtesy of Sheldon Miller
Clockwise from top:  Sheldon Miller, Jim Bartlett, Steve Samsel, Michael Stirn


Steve Samsel
Available at CD Baby
Some of the other Pacific Northwest music groups represented in this group include: Alan, Big Fat, Kracker, The Cronkites, and other NW bands.

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26 May 2010
Credits: Steve Samsel, Mike Stirn, Sheldon Miller, Chuck Burbank, Gary "Smitty" Smith, Jake Dault
Band # 1644<>