Tag Archives: Clicker

‘I hope you enjoyed the show!’

One of the nice things about Facebook are the little surprises that pop up from time to time. Today, there was this:

“It was 32 years ago to this very day that Clicker performed for the last time at the Skyline in Dixon. Ill. In reflecting on this anniversary day, I would like to personally thank each and every person that ever attended a Clicker gig. We needed the money!!! So thanks!! I hope you enjoyed the show!”

That was posted by my friend Cubby Tracy. He played drums, guitars, keyboards and sang in Clicker, a Wisconsin band that performed all over the Midwest during the 1970s. As it turns out, they played later into the ’70s than I thought.

That we’re still talking about Clicker 32 years later stands as proof that we enjoyed the show. I just wish I could remember more about the show I saw in Wausau, Wisconsin, in 1976 or 1977. It’s a delightful though hazy memory.

I mentioned that to Cubby, and he added:

“We did in fact work very hard to be all we could be with what we had to work with at the time.”

By all accounts, Clicker did exactly that. At times a quartet, at times a trio, they played pop, rock and glam covers and terrific original songs. Their energetic performances are fondly remembered by music fans of a certain age.

Their last gig came on a Wednesday night.

So there, another chapter of the Clicker story told.

The Skyline Lounge saw a lot of big acts — among them Conway Twitty, Ricky Nelson, Barbara Mandrell, Chubby Checker and David Houston — according to this 2009 story in the newspaper from nearby Freeport, Illinois. Most were booked by a guy named Lyle Grobe, who worked at the local radio station, WIXN, and led a country band on the side.

The Skyline was one of many venues on a Midwest club circuit that included these Wisconsin stops in the ’70s: Stone Hearth, Shuffle Inn, Club 18, Indian Crossing Casino, Silver Dome, Airway Bar, Tino’s, The Rafters, Country Aire, River’s Edge, Gary’s Bar, more than one Armory and our local club, the Shindig.

Many of them are gone now.

The Skyline closed in 1980, two years after Clicker played that last gig.

Perhaps this was one of the songs they played that night.

“Toto Comes Home,” Clicker, from “Harde Har Har Har,” 1975. It’s out of print.

Cubby Tracy wrote this instrumental. I’m told they played it as an encore number. I wish I could confirm that, but … ahhh … it’s all kind of hazy.

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9 Comments

Filed under November 2010, Sounds

‘Fierce Wisconsin nostalgia’ here!

Looks like carrying the flag for Clicker, a beloved Wisconsin rock/pop/cover/glam/show band from the early ’70s, is starting to pay off.

Our first post about Clicker, written almost three years ago, was for a long time the only thing that turned up when you googled the band.

You’ll find all of our posts about Clicker on the Wisconsin bands page above. Best of all, at the end of those posts, you’ll find dozens of comments from fans and band members alike, all sharing warm memories of Clicker’s glory days.

That, presumably, is the “fierce Wisconsin nostalgia for Clicker online” noted earlier this summer in a fine piece listing the top 25 pop albums of all time from Madison, Wisconsin.

Writing in Isthmus, a weekly alternative paper, Rich Albertoni put Clicker’s self-titled debut album at No. 15 on the list. Here’s what he said about the 1973 release:

Somewhere between 1960s pop and 1970s prog, there was Clicker. The group’s spookily melodramatic song “Castle” described a vision of “a lady in a forest of green” who “lived in a castle like I had never seen.” Led by vocalist Mark Everist, the band included Richard Wiegel, now of the Midwesterners. There’s fierce Wisconsin nostalgia for Clicker online, and with songs like “Castle,” it’s easy to see why.

Having lived in Madison for most of the ’80s, I was curious to see what made the list, and delighted to see “Clicker” at No. 15.

Clicker is popping up elsewhere online, too.

— There’s a MySpace page for Clicker. Its jukebox includes some tunes not on either of Clicker’s albums, including its beloved “Star Wars” cover. The page was put together by Shane Tracy, the son of Clicker drummer Jerry “Cubby” Tracy.

— Two former members of Clicker — guitarist Richard Wiegel and singer Mark Everist — are on Facebook and have posted old photos and posters on their pages. It’s wonderful stuff.

Richard occasionally comments on the Clicker posts here at AM, Then FM. He recently shared a note from his old bandmate Jerry Tracy, who made a solid case for putting both Clicker albums in Madison’s top 25 of all time. It’s in this post, down toward the bottom of the comments.

Time now to listen to Clicker. Here’s the tune mentioned in Isthmus.

“Castle,” Clicker, from “Clicker,” 1973. It’s out of print.

(Sorry about the album art. The album jacket is too big for my scanner. Good story about that, though. There was gallery of album covers with the Isthmus story, so I went through it, hoping to get a better image of the “Clicker” cover than what I have. Only to find my scan in the gallery! No problem, all good, happy to help.)

3 Comments

Filed under August 2010, Sounds

Wanted: Old Wisconsin hippies

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sound storm combo

It looks like Wisconsin’s Woodstock, but who’s in the pictures? That’s what the Wisconsin Historical Society is wondering. Can you help?

John Nondorf, who researches photos and illustrations for the society, left this note on one of our posts about Clicker, the rock/cover/show band that was popular across Wisconsin during the ’70s:

“It looks like some people who know a thing or two about ’70s Wisconsin music frequent this blog. I’m hoping you can help us out.

“I work at the Wisconsin Historical Society and we have a photo collection documenting the 1970 Sound Storm rock festival in Poynette.

“We have IDs for a number of the bands and artists, but there are a lot of unidentified artists. I’m assuming these were the local/regional artists who performed there. Maybe you’ll recognize some faces.”

Here’s that wonderful collection of 205 photos from Sound Storm.

Robert Pulling took the photos at the festival, which took place at York Farm near Poynette, north of Madison in south-central Wisconsin, on April 24-26, 1970, an unseasonably warm spring weekend.

The photos above — all used with permission of the Wisconsin Historical Society — are among the little mysteries.

Clockwise from upper left, they’re listed only as “unidentified keyboardist performing on stage, 1970” (yes, that’s a cowbell sitting there); “unidentified guitarist performing on stage, 1970” (he’s playing a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop guitar); and “unidentified singer performing on stage at night, 1970.”

But who’s who? Our friend Mark in Illinois says the guitarist shown above is Bob Schmidtke, who likely was playing in Captain Billy’s Whiz Band. (We thought he was playing with Tayles, but John Nondorf says that group was a five-piece; this group is just a four-piece.) Schmidtke went on to play in Clicker.

Mark also thinks the guy in this photo is Paul Rabbitt, the guitarist for Tongue, another blues-rock band from Wisconsin.

REO Speedwagon, then just an unsigned Midwest bar band, also is said to have been at Sound Storm. However, it isn’t listed on this poster, passed along by Tim, all the way from Singapore.

Tim also says:

“That concert is one of the very few concerts over the years that no recordings have ever surfaced of the Grateful Dead’s set. Dead Heads have been looking for years.”

But we digress. To see more of the unidentified performers, check out Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 8, Page 9 and Page 10 in the Sound Storm collection online.

If you can help John identify them, please send an e-mail to askphotos@wisconsinhistory.org

Among the bands already identified: Baby Huey and the Babysitters, Crow, the Grateful Dead, Illinois Speed Press, Northern Comfort, Rotary Connection, Wilderness Road, U.S. Pure, Luther Allison … and the Bowery Boys, who within a couple of years became Clicker.

Another of the bands was Mason Proffit, who did …

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“Two Hangmen,” Mason Proffit, from “Wanted,” 1969.

92 Comments

Filed under August 2009, Sounds

North by Midwest, Day 4

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We’re starting to wind down on NXMW 2009, the little festival celebrating music from our corner of America.

We’ve had new stuff and old stuff, and tonight it’s more of the old stuff. This one is special.

If you’re a regular reader of AM, Then FM, you know we occasionally champion the cause of Clicker, a much-loved rock/glam/cover/show band that played throughout Wisconsin in the ’70s.

Often requested — especially by our friend Shark, who grew up in southwestern Wisconsin around some of the guys from Clicker — is this tune from Clicker’s first album, released in 1973.

It’s a long, trippy instrumental jam, clocking in at 15:22. The first minute and 40 seconds is a spoken intro, with guitarist Bob Schmidtke explaining that it’s about “a sinister pile of masonry,” a massage parlor with “a terrible reputation,” experienced only by the band’s drummer. It’s one of those tales you file under “Good Story If True.”

“Since none of us have been there and our drummer, whose name you’ll conveniently find somewhere on the album jacket, is still too shaken up to talk about it, this tune is pure conjecture. It’s in rondo sonata allegro form and features tricky parts by all.”

Dig it, if you dare. It used to freak me out, especially if I listened to it late at night after partaking in too much … ah, never mind.

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“Du Monde’s Back Room,” Clicker, from “Clicker,” 1973. It’s out of print. This tune was written by Schmidtke, brothers Steve and Jerry Tracy (the bass player and drummer, respectively) and guitarist Dick Wiegel.

Be sure to check out the comments, where Shark and Bill describe what it was like to see and hear “Du Monde’s Back Room” played live.

53 Comments

Filed under March 2009, Sounds

Still late to our own party

As usual.

I managed to miss posting on the second anniversary of AM, Then FM earlier this week.

I’ll take my cue from the Oscars and try to have my say before the band starts playing.

Thanks to our many readers, to our regular e-mail correspondents, to our occasional commenters.

Thanks to Janet and Evan for putting up with all the records. Maybe we’ll get the office organized one of these days weeks months years.

Thanks to all my fellow music bloggers. They’ve hepped me to countless great tunes and have become good friends along the way.

OK, OK, I hear the band.

Here’s a reminder that AM, Then FM, has another blog on the side. Shocking, I know. At the end of every month, The Midnight Tracker rolls out one side of an album that ought to be heard again. Here’s the first cut from this month’s side, a tune I heard first on another blog.

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“Am I Black Enough For You,” Billy Paul, from “360 Degrees of Billy Paul,” 1972. Listen to the rest of Side 2 over at The Midnight Tracker.

Because we’re celebrating our second anniversary, here’s a second tune.

We’re from Wisconsin, and we write about its music from time to time.

We’ve written about Clicker, a hard-working rock/pop/original/cover show band that played countless Wisconsin clubs, dance halls and roadhouses in the early and mid-’70s. We’ll write about them again, trust me. Nothing draws more comments — all wonderful memories of that time — than those posts about Clicker.

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“Two of a Kind,” Clicker, from “Har De Har Har,” 1975. It’s out of print. I rarely see it when record digging but have seen it twice in the last month. Go figure.

8 Comments

Filed under February 2009, Sounds

What’s that sound? Clicker!

A year ago at this time, I wrote about how it was homecoming in the neighborhood, with toilet paper in the trees, and how I was going to an informal reunion with some of my high school classmates.

The music I included with that post was from a band familiar to those of us of a certain age from Wisconsin, yet seemingly known only in our part of the Midwest, and only for a short time in the ’70s. The band called Clicker.

Turns out, it’s almost the only thing about the band on the Web. Google the phrase “Clicker band” and that post is the first thing listed.

Every so often, someone discovers the post and e-mails me or leaves a new comment. Most often, they’re sharing fond memories of seeing Clicker or hearing Clicker and wishing they could hear that music again.

As I’ve answered these e-mails and comments, I’ve promised I’ll write more about Clicker. So we begin.

When Clicker recorded its first album in 1973, it was a five-piece group — bassist Steve Tracy, drummer Jerry “Cubby” Tracy, guitarists Bob Schmidtke and Dick Wiegel and singer Mark Everist. It later became a three-piece group.

I’ve been exchanging e-mails with Wiegel, who in turn has been in touch with the Tracy brothers. All three of them still live in southern Wisconsin — Clicker’s home base — and are delighted that Clicker is so fondly remembered.

These days, Wiegel plays in a group called the Midwesterners. Our friend Bill from Milwaukee caught up with him at a show last spring and brought along some old pictures of Clicker. Wiegel enjoyed their meeting and e-mailed Bill’s photos to Cubby Tracy, who responded:

“This old Clicker stuff is cool. It’s nice to know that we actually touched some people’s lives, and apparently in a ‘good’ kind of way.”

Clicker played all over Wisconsin in the ’70s. I saw them in Wausau. Richard saw them in Marshfield, at the Airway Bar. Dean saw them in Minocqua. Bill saw them in Madison, at the Shuffle Inn and the Stone Hearth. Amy saw them in Waupaca, at the Armory and at the Indian Crossing Casino. Dave says he saw them at Madison West High School.

See? All those e-mails and comments are already helping tell the story. There’s more to come, too.

For now, though, sit back and enjoy again a couple of the tunes from “Clicker.” The five guys wrote all eight tunes, recorded them at American Music in tiny Sauk City  and released the album on Hemisphere Records out of Madison. The album is an interesting mix of sounds — a little ’60s rock, a little ’70s folk, a little prog, a little classical — with three instrumentals.

We’ll let Mike pick tonight’s tunes as he shares his Clicker story:

“I used to go see them play live whenever I could back in the ’70s. Once Cubby Tracy even bummed a cigarette from me at a gig in Marshfield — I was all of 14 years old. … ‘Castle’ was a classic, but I liked the inspirational ‘Keep on Tryin’’ as well.”

“Castle” and “Keep On Tryin’,” Clicker, from “Clicker,” 1973. Out of print.

(Sorry about the album art. I can’t fit the album jacket into my scanner.)

104 Comments

Filed under October 2008, Sounds

Homecoming weekend

The toilet paper is in the trees in the neighborhood this week, and that means only one thing: It’s homecoming week at Green Bay East High School.

Sure enough, the Red Devils went out on Friday night and smoked their crosstown rivals, the Green Bay West Wildcats, 42-7. It was the 102nd time those teams have played. A little history there, eh?

Tonight, I’ll be having a little homecoming, too. I’ll be heading over to the outskirts of Wausau, Wisconsin, as my high school class celebrates everyone’s 50th birthday. Call it a 32-year reunion if you want, but it’s an excellent idea any way you cut it.

If we get around to talking about the bands we remember from our high school days, these names may come up. Unless you were of a certain age in the mid-’70s and lived in Wisconsin, you probably haven’t heard of them.

One was Dr. Bop and the Headliners, a ’50s revival show band out of Madison, Wisconsin. (If you remember them, check out this story and this story about them. They ran in a Madison newspaper in 2005 after the death of Mike Riegel, who was Dr. Bop. There’s even a three-part slide show — old posters, publicity stills and photos set to music — on YouTube. Here, here and here. It’s a wistful tribute to Riegel.)

Another was Circus, a blues-rock band out of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Still another was Clicker, an eclectic rock band also out of Madison.

They were apples and oranges, really. Dr. Bop and the Headliners wore suits. Circus and Clicker were rockers, locked in a battle for regional airplay. For some absurd reason, it seemed important at the time that you pick one over the other: Circus or Clicker.

When Clicker recorded its self-titled album in 1973, it was a five-piece band — bassist Steve Tracy, drummer Jerry Tracy, guitarists Bob Schmidtke and Dick Wiegel and singer Mark Everist. They wrote all eight tunes, recorded them at American Music in tiny Sauk City, Wisconsin, and released “Clicker” on Hemisphere Records out of Madison.

The album was an interesting mix of tunes and influences — a little ’60s rock, a little ’70s folk, a little prog, a little classical — with three instrumentals. The last cut, “Du Monde’s Back Room,” was a live studio jam that ran almost 16 minutes.

Though Clicker played a lot of gigs, they didn’t get much airplay.

That changed two years later. Clicker was back with a new three-man lineup — the Tracys and new guitarist “Memphis” Johnny Briggs — a new sound and a new album. The richer, horn-backed arrangements on “Har De Har Har” replaced the guitar-driven tunes of the first album. Some of the orchestration was arranged and conducted by David (Lewis) Crosby, who at the time led the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

It worked. Clicker started getting airplay on a single, “Tennessee Tailspin.”

Of all the guys who played in Clicker, only Wiegel — now Richard Wiegel — turns up in any web searches. He’s a veteran of the Madison music scene, now leading a band called The Midwesterners. It has released three albums. He also has released a solo acoustic blues CD.

Asked about Clicker earlier this year, Wiegel said the original band unraveled.

I remember seeing the three-piece Clicker at a gig in Wausau in what I think was the fall of 1975. It wasn’t long thereafter that you didn’t hear anything more about or from them. Perhaps they unraveled again.

There’s almost nothing about Clicker on the web. Their albums, long out of print, are rare. They go for about $100 each on eBay and from online record sellers.

Until last night, I probably hadn’t listened to my Clicker albums in their entirety in 30 years. I still can’t tell you who they sound like. You be the judge, then let me know whether you’d like to hear more Clicker.

clickerhardeharharcd.jpg

“Tennessee Tailspin” and “You Gotta Quit,” Clicker, from “Har De Har Har,” 1975. It’s out of print.

42 Comments

Filed under September 2007, Sounds