Before There Was Silver Laughter – Mick Joined The Contents Are:

From left: Paul Staack (eventually joins "Silver Laughter"), Mick Orton, Dave Neumann and Craig Hute

From left: Paul Staack (eventually joins “Silver Laughter”), Mick Orton, Dave Neumann and Craig Hute

One of the record reviews of “Silver Laughter” mentions the band “The Contents Are:”. It was my first introduction to a band that was actually in the public eye.

In Davenport, Iowa there were really only two “famous” bands during the late 60’s and early 70’s. Jon and I used to spend a lot of time at the Draught House listening to our favorite group, “The Night People”. Jon’s cousin was the rhythm guitarist for the group and had a Paul McCartney look to him. They never cut any records but are still well known in the area to this day. One of my classmates, Gary Pearson, left high school to become their bass player. Their music changed to a “Soft Machine” like sound (who had opened for Jimmy Hendrix at the Coliseum Ball Room in Davenport), and The Night People’s music suffered for it (in my humble opinion).

The first record recorded by The Contents Are: on ROK records "Direction of Mind"

The first record recorded by The Contents Are: on ROK records “Direction of Mind”

The other popular group was “The Contents Are:'” Their single, “Direction of Mind” got pretty high in the charts locally, and their first and only album, “Through You” was a pretty impressive achievement for a local band. It contained all original material. As I have mentioned here in another article, I was already playing in a group with all original material called “Todd Beat Group” (our initials.. I was the “O” in Todd). So I thought it was a prank call when Craig Hute of “The Contents Are:” called me up one night for an audition. Larry, their bass player was leaving the group.

A scene in front of one of St. Ambrose College's buildings taken by Paul's brother, Jim.

A scene in front of one of St. Ambrose College’s buildings taken by Paul’s brother, Jim. From Left: Mick Orton, Dave Neumann, Craig Hute and Paul Staack,

So I took my imitation “Hofner” bass over to one of the guy’s basement and did a little audition for them. I think they liked me right away because I could sing and play bass at the same time and could also play keyboards. Anyway, we started right away as the house band for Al’s Lounge down on River Drive across the road from the Draught House. I was not yet 21 so the bouncer, an off duty policeman, said I could be in the club as long as I didn’t drink… so I didn’t. I learned a lot of great chops with this band.

As I have said before, it was after the band moved to Colorado, changed its name to “Tabernash” and started aiming for non-commercial success that Jon contacted me about the opportunity to join Silver Laughter. It didn’t take long to convince me that I would be playing a major role in the band, a change from the backup role I had been filling with Craig Hute as the primary song writer for “Tabernash”. Dave Neumann had also bypassed me as a song writer, so I knew it was time to go.

Mick Orton

Categories: History

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4 replies

  1. Mike-from the old drummer in the Avengers—with Kenny (and Larry) . Nice article and history. I seem to remember seeing the Contents Are with you on bass at the CEE TEE lounge (?) in my Ambrose days. . I still talk to Kenny and Tim Barton-no one knows what happened to Larry Smith-do you know? Thanks for the memories , Craig

  2. Yes, I was with them when The Contents Are: played there. I do remember you AND the Avengers where I hung out with Ken. I met him when we worked together at Peterson’s department store. I spent the summer goofing around with you guys, Lily and Robin, staying up until all hours of the night. Larry Smith has just disappeared from everyone’s radar. I spoke with Craig Hute recently, and he has not heard from Larry since he left the band. Thanks for checking in! Great to hear from you.


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