It was the glory days of Rock ‘n Roll and a time of transition in American culture. 

 

With their distinctive sound and energetic performances. Infused with the spirit of the burgeoning counterculture, The Bards blended multiple styles, including rock, R&B pop, and psychedelic elements, to create a unique musical experience. Their catchy melodies, richly textured vocals, and socially conscious lyrics resonated with the zeitgeist of the era.

The band’s notable “Moses Lake Recordings” showcased their versatility and ability to capture the evolving musical landscape of the 60s. Despite facing challenges in the competitive industry, The Bards managed to carve a niche for themselves, earning a dedicated fan base. Their legacy endures as a testament to the rich musical heritage of the Northwest and the transformative power of music during a pivotal period in history.

Bassist Chuck Warren holding down the bottom end on his modified Fender Bass guitar.  Chuck was the band’s leader and the “rock” of the group.  Always calm and measured, he was the big brother this band of disparate personalities sorely needed.  (Also, he looks like the hippest 60’s dude of all of us)  – Mardig

The Early Years

 

Light of Love

1966

Light of Love is, let’s face it, an insipid piece of teen spirit, with equally simplistic lyrics. The song was, I think, my homage to “Needles and Pins (AH)” which at the time thrilled my 17-year-old heart. (If the“ah” confuses you, google The Searchers and listen to one of the great hits of the 60s) The truth is that every time I hear this, I cringe, but we had to include it to be accurate with our discography. Even worse, I was continually humiliated as it seemed to end up on the flip side of all our releases. At least no DJ in the world would be confused as to what was the A side. – Mardig

Jabberwocky

1966

The Jabberwocky is of course, one of the best loved Lewis Carroll poems and tells the tale of a father warning his son of the perils ahead in the form of a monster who the son slays. A metaphor of course, for all fathers and sons. Chuck was the one who thought it would be a great lyric (Chuck was kind of the curator of the group), and I confess I was rather put off at first. Then, the drama of the lyrics spoke to me, and I intended the melody to twist, turn and soar. This one I am proud of. In my humble opinion, I think it was sadly overlooked and never made it out of the Northwest, but who knows? Maybe it will get covered someday by a Rap artist. Perhaps a duet with Taylor Swift and Snoop Dog…especially Snoop. Now, he would get this. – Mardig

My Generation

1967

 At the end of 1965, a new group in England—curiously named ‘The Who’—released a song that no one could have imagined would go on to be covered by 88 different artists! It would be ranked number 11 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Rock And Roll Hall of Fame’s ‘500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll.’

The name of the song was ‘My Generation.’

The Bards was a very young band in every way in 1966, and we identified closely with the lyrics and the feel of The Who and their music. We somehow sensed that this was an important song. I think it was Mardig’s idea to record it, and he did great vocal work on that cover.

The fact that it was the first rock song to feature a bass solo was a little intimidating for me, as I certainly did not feel that my playing abilities were in the same universe as John Entwistle!  We ended up becoming the first Pacific Northwest band to record a copy of it. We released our cover in early 1967, a little over a year after The Who introduced it.

It has since been said that ‘My Generation’ and covers of it, like ours, laid the groundwork for garage rock and later for the punk movement, both of which had deep roots in our area of the Northwest.

In 2006, Mojo Magazine in the UK produced a CD with 15 notable covers of Who songs and included our Bards version of ‘My Generation!’ – Chuck



Never too Much Love

1968

The Impressions released a 45 single in 1963 with a song called “Talking About My Baby” on the A side and on the B, was a beautiful song written and sung by Curtis Mayfield called ‘Never Too Much Love”.

There was a lot of love in the air in the mid-1960s and the music of the time was reflecting it in many ways!  Curtis Mayfield’s lyrics seemed powerful then and have remained true to this day!

We wrote a long instrumental introduction that was a musical depiction of a person waking up in the morning and being pulled into the stress of everyday life and needing to stop, relax and consider what may be most important, is how we treat each other.  I saw a list one time of hit songs with the longest intros and we were on it!!

Bob Gallaway’s lead vocal on the cover is a very reverent homage to Curtis Mayfield.  When I listen to the Impressions recording, I can hear Bob’s voice.  

The record became our most successful recording and one that seems as relevant to everyday life now as it was in 1967!  – Chuck



The Owl and the Pussycat

1968

And once again, the flip side of “The Owl and the Pussycat” is “Light of Love.”  <sigh>  It will haunt me forever.  This is the funky version that Capitol first put out on a plain white label, knowing that if it could get airplay, it was a monster hit. But, once again, we were ‘banned in Boston.’  A phrase in those days meaning the lyrics were too suggestive.  Oh…you want to know what they are?  Listen to the track. 

The first time we recorded Owl was the infamous Light of Love session.  Our first time in a studio, without the fabled engineer, Kearney Barton present during setup, we were faced with a dilemma.  The studio had a number of baffled booths and one open area.  So, we set up in the open area, just as if we were on stage, our amps pushed together on either side of Bob’s drum kit.  Then the other three of us took our instruments and sat in one of the booths.  Yes, we really were that naïve.  It was a source of great hilarity for Kearney when he arrived.

That may be why both Light of Love and Owl sound like 45RPM records at 78RPM.  Scared kids.  For this version several years later however, we did it absolutely live, (although our amps were in baffled booths) including my vocal which was supposed to be a reference, but we liked the energy so we used it.  By this time, we had grown, our hair had grown with us, as had our musical cojones.  Another Chuck poem discovery that I at first rebelled from using, but the lyrics were simply too provocative not to write a song with them.  – Mardig



Tunesmith

1969

Speaking of insipid, this little pinch your nose ditty was penned by none other than Mr. Insipid his own self, Jim Webb.  After “Never Too Much Love,” the label demanded that we do another in the same vein.  As it turned out, this was released, even as we were released from our contract (forfeiting our name in the bargain so we could sign with Together Records).  If you wonder what happened to the band and where do those girls come from…well, we were recording with Curt Boetcher and Keith Olsen at Sound City.  Yes…that Sound City. 

The musicians that played this and the background vocals were L.A. session players, but Bob Gallaway (our drummer and lead on “….Love”) sang the track.  – Mardig



Goodtime Charlies Got The Blues

1969

When I sang this, the lyric was “you’re not a kid at twenty-three.”  We were big fans of Danny O’Keefe, and as would be proved many years later, this was the hit!  Danny sang, “you’re not a kid at thirty-three.” It was our last recording for Jerry Dennon.  I don’t remember how we ended up on Parrot, but we recorded this at Gold Star Recording in L.A.  Produced by Ray Pohlman (The Wrecking Crew). We begged and pleaded for the label to release this as the A side, but to no avail.  – Mardig

 



In 1968, I made the brilliant decision, in the middle of our record “Never Too Much Love” climbing the charts, to drop acid, pack up my dog, my guitar, my roomie Nick Morrison, his friend Gloria and some clothes to head for “the Haight” where the “real” music was being made.  Six weeks later I was selling plastic Christmas trees at the GEM department store in San Jose.  The band called and asked me if I wanted to come back.  I was on the next plane to Seattle and this was the first night, sans my long hair, but ever so happy to be out of retail and back on stage.  – Mardig



Never Too Much Love Rocked to the Top 50

 

The Bards sole internationally recognized record was “Never Too Much Love.” Written by Curtis Mayfield of the Impressions, the Bards added a musical introduction meant to represent a day that begins gently but becomes chaotic before segueing into the laid-back rendition of the song.

It was, of course, the Summer of Love in 1967. The Beatles had just released “All You Need is Love,” and in their way, The Bards wanted to add their message of love as well. With the war in Vietnam and flower children blooming in San Francisco, the time was ripe. Through determination and persistence, the band got airplay and hit the top 10 in Seattle. The record was picked up by Capitol and released worldwide.

Unfortunately, Mardi decided he wanted to pursue music in San Francisco and left the group for several months, just when it needed to be promoting the record with personal appearances.

“I still wonder what might have been if I hadn’t made such a selfish dumb kid decision,” says Mardig today. (Mardi was his nickname in his youth)

 

Kearny Barton, engineer and Gil Bateman, producer, take a break during the recording session.

 

 

It was an expensive and grand effort, using creative innovations in a ‘rap’ narrative spoken through a moog synthesizer, when synthesizers were still a mystery to most artists.

The Moses Lake Recordings

The Moses Lake Recordings is an awesome lost gem, always fascinating and often astoundingly good. Even at its most bizarre, it is packed, sometimes a dozen to the song, with ideas. – Stanton Swilhart

The rewards of their success with “Never Too Much Love” came when the Bards ventured to Hollywood, packing their “garage” tapes. Legendary music producer Curt Boettcher, amused by their lack of “Hollywood chic” introduced himself in an elevator and invited them to pitch their music.  We weren’t that impressed until Chuck recalled that Curt had produced “Along Comes Mary” for the Association, “Sweet Pea” and “Hurray for Hazel” for Tommy Roe.  The same Tommy Roe that we backed up on tour.  (On a side note, Curt put all of those gold records on the walls of his bathroom over the toilet)

 

Of course we called him immediately and that evening, Mardi went to Curt’s home with the band’s garage tapes.   After listening to the eclectic mix of Bard mania, Curt said, “I don’t know what you guys are on, but bring some to the studio.”   Boettcher’s production partner at that time was Keith Olsen, who both engineered and added his own substantial production chops. Keith later achieved worldwide acclaim producing artists who’ve sold over 100 million records. 

The producers, along with Gary Usher founded Together Records.  The band relinquished their name to Jerry Dennon who released them from the contract (holding onto the rights so that “Tunesmith” could be released), renamed themselves Moses Lake, and signed with Together.  At that time, Curt introduced us to Joe Gottfried, who managed artists and also owned Sound City, and we signed with him as well.  

 

 From this serendipitous meeting “The Moses Lake Recordings”…a unique mix of distinctive songs…including a 20-minute “Rock Opera,” based on a poem called The Creation was born.  The final mix was never completed, and the 16 track source was ultimately lost.  It is a testament then to Keith’s engineering genius that the tracks you hear on this site were gleaned 30 years later from a 3:00 AM rough mix Mardi saved on ¼” tape at 7 ½” ips.  (thanks to Paul Speer for his engineering acumen bringing those tapes to life.)



Curt Boettcher

 

The New York Times aptly described Boettcher: “If his life had gone just a bit differently, [he] might have been another Brian Wilson. … As it stands, Boettcher — a pop-music producer whose heyday was the late ’60s — now survives in rock history mostly as a liner-note credit. He could have been, but never was. Yet he enjoys a godlike status among a select group of music fans, for whom obscurity is more enticing than fame.”

His impact on the genre and his influence on artists like Brian Wilson (before the production of Pet Sounds) are part of his enduring legacy

Keith Olsen

 

With a staggering credits list that includes Fleetwood Mac, Ozzy Osbourne, Santana, Scorpions, Pat Benatar, Grateful Dead, Foreigner, Rick Springfield, Whitesnake and so many others, producer Keith Olsen made significant contributions to twentieth century rock music. An impressive body of work that includes over 200 production credits and work on countless hits.

“He could be a bit of a pistol in the studio but that was part of his talent,” Rick Springfield  wrote. “Sticking to his guns when some whiny artist (me) would say, ‘I don’t think that works.’ He didn’t produce all those hits for all those musicians for no reason.”

In 1997 Mr. Olsen told the magazine Studio Sound that even as production technology advanced, he stuck to one core principle: “Remember the source — where the music comes from.”

“All the gear in the world,” he continued, “cannot make a bad guitar player play great.”

Keith far left with The Music Machine

The Moses Lake Recordings is an awesome lost gem, always fascinating and often astoundingly good. Even at its most bizarre, it is packed, sometimes a dozen to the song, with ideas…

…it’s impossible to know what to even consider, much less call, the album’s centerpiece, the 14-minute, seven-part “The Creation.” A mini-rock opera? A conceptual suite? A progressive acid epic? A stoned rewriting of Genesis? Needless to say, it encapsulates in microcosm all that is eccentric about the album as a whole …  – Swihart

Rediscovered and Resurrected The Bards Enter the Digital Age

 

More serendipity…and a testament to the power of the web to transcend time and space.

On a chance Google search for The Bards in about 2001 – keep in mind Google Search was in its infancy, founded in 1998 – I found, to my surprise, an album of Northwest artists with one of our songs on it. So, of course I had to order the CD. In the ordering comments I said, hey, that’s actually one of my songs and if you have any more Bards recordings being released I’d love to know about it!

The next surprise was a call from a fellow who introduced himself as Roger Maglio, owner/founder of Gearfab records out of Ontario, Florida. A label ‘dedicated to releasing LEGITIMATE & AUTHORIZED 1960’s Psychedelic/Garage/Rock sounds from the period 1965-1972.’

The combined words ‘gear’ and ‘fab’ appropriately time stamp the label. And of course, we checked all those boxes – garage band; somewhat psychedelic; and from the mid 60’s.

I was utterly astounded that this guy knew all about our Curt Boettcher – Keith Olson produced album recorded in 1968! 

One single, Oobleck, by the former Bards renamed Moses Lake was released on their newly created label, Together Records. However, because the new label never got their funding, the completed album was never released.

I don’t recall how Roger knew our ‘story’ but this chance encounter certainly qualifies as serendipitous. 

But there’s more!  

The original 16 track tapes couldn’t be located but again, fortuitously, Mardig wisely had his copy ‘baked’ preserving it, making possible the 2002 release of the Moses Lake Recordings and again, ‘transcending space and time’, created new life for a 60’s band – now resurrected some 37 years after the fact.  In fact, we celebrated with a Bards reunion, including a performance at Moses Lake High School. – Mike

In 2002, GearFab records released the album.  A local Moses Lake radio personality, Dennis Clay who was a classmate of Chucks, arranged a fest to celebrate the record.  We were all highly amused to be inducted into the Moses Lake Museum and then proceeded to the high school where the very puzzled students tried to figure out why a school assembly had been called to fete these three old guys.

The kids warmed to us however when they played cuts from the album..  They got wide eyed for Oobleck and slack jawed when they heard the Creation.  Probably because they were doubtful that these aging guys on the stage were capable of anything that hip.  After we played Mike’s instrumental piece, bowed a la Beatles, as we used to do back in the day…we made our exit.