Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

April 24, 2009

Memory of one song lingers long after the band stopped playing

I had a semi-regular job singing backup with one of my brother’s bands, the Ranque Strangers, when they held down the regular Wednesday night slot at the Fox Lounge on Spruce Street in Morgantown. I say semi regular, because I only sang when I caught a load that would route me close enough to Morgantown to drop my trailer in Saberton, and bobtail up to the Fox. The slogan on the sign outside was: “Once you’ve found the Fox, the hunt is over.”

The band had some incredible performers. My brother was the front man because he knew the words to so many songs, could sing them all and played a mean rhythm guitar. His guitar was a part of him. He could think, sing, talk or just listen to a radio and always strum the right chord at the right time. He practiced so hard and worked so long on learning new songs that most people would agree that he knew more songs than anyone any of us knew. His guitar was a part of everything he did. It was the background music of his soul.

The band itself was exceptional. John Vaughan was a great pedal steel guitar player. He was already an accomplished guitar player who played lead guitar with a band called The Mind Garage that did some original music, but was known around Morgantown in the fall of 1967 for its superb Vanilla Fudge and Jimi Hendrix covers.

The Mind Garage evolved into perhaps the nation’s first Christian Rock Band on the strength of their original composition, the Electric Liturgy. I met all of the band members when they played at the Olympia in Morgantown. I couldn’t believe my brother was in a band with John Vaughan, and that I sang a few songs with them when I could. I remember attending an early performance of the Electric Liturgy. It was a moving experience.

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