Fortunately, I was in my first professional band just out of high school. They had what I thought was a strange name; The Contents Are:. People told me they got the idea from the ingredients on a soup can label.
I graduated from Davenport, Iowa West High School in 1968. Two of the other members were seniors when I was a junior, Paul Staack (who later joined Silver Laughter after Kim Ludtke left the group) and Dave Neumann.
Craig Hute, the primary singer and songwriter was a 1967 graduate of Bettendorf High School (which is also in the Quad Cities). My first contact with them was out of the blue, while playing bass with a band called Todd Beat Group (Note: The Silvers member, Tom Kelley was in that group with me). I think it was Craig who called me for an audition. He was envious that Todd had been able to play all original music. What I didn’t tell him was that we didn’t play that much as a result! But we rehearsed like crazy and wrote a lot of songs!
It blew me away that this professional band that I had looked up to would want me to play bass for them. After all, they had already recorded an album, “Through You” and had released two singles, “Direction of Mind/I Don’t Know” and “New Mexico/Future Days”, before I got there. Larry Smith, the bassist on the records, decided to leave the group. Lucky for me, somehow they got my name as a possible replacement.
I was a little embarrassed that I had to audition with my little Silver Tone amplifier I got from Sears and the imitation Beatle Bass which had poor intonation! It was very intimidating to be in front of these guys, especially with Craig’s wife, Marianne, watching as well. She was very pretty and VERY pregnant at the time. She and I got along. In the end I’d like to think we were all pretty good friends.
Anyway, I must have filled the bill as I was able to play and sing at the same time. Plus I was a songwriter and a lead singer, so I think that’s what sold me to them. It certainly wasn’t my equipment! Shortly after our first week together, I ordered an official Hofner Beatle Bass and an Acoustic bass amp. Later on I got a Peavey amplifier. We called it “the coffin” since it was so big and heavy I could have been buried in it!
Our first real permanent job was at Al’s Lounge down on River Drive in Davenport. That’s where I really learned my chops. After several years with the band which included a move to Colorado, I was asked by Jon Ludtke to join Silver Laughter and go on the road with them. A chance to play professionally in a working band? You bet!
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