Clown rehearsing in the North End Community Centre
Ken Storie, Alan Rhodes, Ian Haslen, Tim McGuinness

From June 1970 until Dec 31 of that same year Clown played dozens of dances in the Westman area. We played popular music, lots of Creedence, Steppenwolf, Grand Funk Railroad, and it went over well.

In the winter of 1970 Bev and I moved from Winnipeg, where we had lived for just seven months, back to Brandon where we rented a small apartment on Franklin Street in the East End. Before we were even settled I went to see my old friends in the Eighth Street Bridge who were playing along with three other bands at Vincent Massey High School. It was an interesting evening.

Playing along with my old friends was a band called Midas featuring Rob Eyers, a guitar player from Melita, and a very young bass player named Tim McGuinness. They played a bluesy set and I was impressed with the musicianship.

Another band was The Rayle, which at that time featured Paul Solon on lead guitar, and Mike Kotyk on drums, people I would soon get to know better.

That night I ran into some other local musicians and was asked to join a group called the Elastic Band.  The band consisted of Al Rhodes, Julian Hoyak, Kerry Campbell, G.W. Hannay, and Ed Crawford. I replaced Ed, whom I had never met.   (In a twist of fate, some decades later I played with his son Ted in Dr. Frenzy.) 

I recall that my first gig with them was a High School Dance at Baldur.

We played the hits and I think I found the material a little mellow for my taste, but I was happy to be playing.

Tim McGuinness, Ian Haslen,  Ken Storie, Alan Rhodes

My memory is a bit hazy about why the band folded, but within a few months Gay and Kerry decided to quit. In yet another twist of fate (#13)  it just so happens that as I was compiling this history in 2013, I was asked to fill in with a band called the Bad Land Bandits whose drummer is G.W. Hannay, in fact I played a gig with them recently and G.W. was able to refresh my memory. (The filling in went on for a few years, and with some personel changes we now work as Crossfyre.)

It seems that Julian had taken a teaching job and Kerry was leaving town, so Al and I recruited Tim McGuinness. Tim, Al, and I were interested in going into heavier rock territory and G.W. wasn't interested, so we called Tim's friend Ian Haslen, a strong drummer with a double bass kit. For a time we also included a second guitar player, whose name I seem to have forgotten, but we realized that he just wasn’t adding something we needed.

So the band we became was very different from what we had started with. Guitar, bass, drums and vocal. Simple, loud, heavy rock with a blues edge. We called ourselves Clown, still my favorite name from all the bands I've worked with.

We played nearly every weekend in the summer and fall of 1970.

I look back with much fondness. Tim and Ian were both excellent on their instruments, and the power trio format was good for my development as a guitar player.  We were pretty shy on vocals, with little skill at harmony.

And we did get off to a rocky start. At our first gig in Kelwood my amp died and I had to go through Tim’s bass amp with him. It put a big hole in our sound and the crowd knew it.

But it was all uphill from there and we soon found our stride.

The shot used for our poster - wish I had that poster!

A favorite memory was running out of gas at Redvers Saskatchewan after playing a dance somewhere nearby.  We had to wait until 7 am for a gas station to open.

I remember sitting at the front of the stage in a hall in Deloraine, warming up, jamming some blues with Tim, when we were approached by a shaggy haired young man with “musician” written all over him. We had a good chat about music and it turned out that he was a trombone player in the school band. At that time very few rock bands used horns of any kind, but this guy was into rock n’ roll and knew his stuff. We would meet Bart Hasselfield again. 

Another summer memory is of a small Rock Festival held on the university football field. All the popular Brandon bands were there including a new one called Blind Justice featuring Leigh Moore, a university student from Virden, Paul Solon, (now playing bass) and Mike Kotyk, formerly from The Rayle, with Del Krauchi, who had replaced me in The Eighth St. Bridge, on guitar. They were seriously good. Del played a red SG through a Fender Twin. I’d seen Leigh before with the Children of Stone, an excellent keyboard player and vocalist.

I felt that their material was challenging, perhaps eclectic. Certainly what we would then have called progressive, rather than traditional. I paid attention.

That fall there were the usual high school dances, but a new thing that year was the concept of University Pubs. The drinking age in Manitoba had just been lowered to 18 from 21 and that led to some new opportunities for bands.

The “Pubs” were what we now called socials. We’d always had drunks at dances, but now it was legal and out in the open. They were held in the basement of the centennial auditorium building and they were wild.

I did upgrade my guitar that fall – on a trip to Winnipeg I found an old Gibson SG at Kolt Music. I had somehow acquired Dave Jason's old Hohner Organ and I got the SG for the organ plus $150.  It was a serious expenditure. At the time it was just an old guitar – nothing special. Today it would be a collector’s item. I still had my Traynor with one Fuzz-Tone pedal. We played through a simple Garnet PA with no monitors. We traveled in Allan’s car with a U-Haul trailer.

Someone we met that fall had recently returned from England with two 45’s. One by the Move and the other a song called Paranoid by Black Sabbath. We learned the Sabbath song right away. Both bands would be heard from again.

Our last gig was on New Year’s Eve at Hamiota High School. Fittingly my amp blew a speaker so we ended as we began .. limping along.

Earlier that month Ian joined the Eighth St. Bridge who had continued to develop as a band. They now had Ken Smith on guitar and Dave Meighen on keyboards and bore no resemblance to the band we’d started in Buck McMillan’s basement only three years earlier.

Before Tim and I had a chance to consider our future I, got an offer from Blind Justice and I couldn’t turn it down. To my mind they were the best band in town and I went through a nervous audition before getting the nod. 

Tim is still in the music business. He composed some music for the fireworks display at Expo 86 in Vancouver. He has traveled in China demonstrating music technology.  In 2012 he was teaching at the Vancouver Film School;  synthesis, Pro Tools, MIDI, digital audio theory and SMPTE synchronization. He found this band website recently and it was great to hear from him.

Ian was working for Long and McQuade Music in Winnipeg the last time I saw him. He passed away in 2007.

I liked our set list, a stripped down sampling of current rock. I remember these songs...

Steppenwolf - Hey Lawdy Mama, Jupiter Child
CCR - Good Golly Miss Molly, Fortunate Son
Guess Who - Hand Me Down Love, No Time
Procol Harum - Whiskey Vengeance & ???
Steve Miller - Junior Saw it Happen

Grand Funk - Are You Ready,?, Closer to Home
Allman Bros. - Black Hearted Woman
Neil Young - Cinnamon Girl, Down By The River
Buffalo Springfield - On My Way Home
Cream - Strange Brew
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Moody Blues - Lovely to See You, Send Me No Wine
Spirit - I Got a Line on You
Mountain - Mississippi Queen
Three Dog Night - Nobody
Love -  Message to Pretty (B Side of Book of Love)
Beatles - Let it Be, Get Back
Johnny Winter - Black Cat Bone
McKenna Mendleson Mainline - Beltbreaker
Chicago - I'm a Man, South California Purple

Thanks to Carol Girling who sent these photos from a gig at Oak Lake.