Tag Archives: Mason Proffit

Can’t you see? No, not really

Heard today that the Marshall Tucker Band will be playing our local vintage movie palace-turned-performance venue in a few weeks.

That show, on April 2, will come almost 40 years to the day since I saw the Marshall Tucker Band.

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Well, sort of. The Marshall Tucker Band was on stage at the Quandt gym in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, on Friday, April 1, 1977. I was in the audience. I was 19. Many other details have been hazy ever since.

The Marshall Tucker Band was one of the biggest names in country rock, which itself was big at the time. They were at their peak, touring behind the “Carolina Dreams” LP and having just released “Heard It in a Love Song” as a single. Both the album and the single turned out to be their biggest hits.

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It was a big deal that they’d play this small college town in central Wisconsin. Point was a half-hour’s drive south for us. When I say us, I can’t be more specific than that. Don’t remember who I went with.

We went to a house party before the show. I want to say it was a little house on Division Street, the main north-south drag in Point and just off campus. Someone knew some guys that lived there. Older guys, maybe seniors, maybe 23, 24, 25. Turned out to be way too much party for that 19-year-old kid.

Even so, I vividly recall sitting in the cluttered living room of that little house, really digging a Steely Dan record. It might have been “Countdown to Ecstasy.” That detail also has been lost to the haze of time. It’s proof, though, that I really must have been overserved. I never liked Steely Dan.

At some point, I was sure we needed to get over to the gym. Whoever I went with said, nah, we have plenty of time. So of course we were late.

This review of the show was from The Pointer, the student paper. It was written by a guy who became one of my college classmates later that year. Just about everything in his review is news to me, especially that it poured that night.

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Turns out there was a mad rush to the seats. No wonder I wound up a million miles from the stage. One side of the Quandt gym has two tiers of bleachers. I found a spot along the front railing of the top tier, near an aisle. I sat and kneeled there as best I could.

There, my friends, is where the story fully fades into the haze of time.

Save for one detail. I never liked the Marshall Tucker Band, either.

Not when you could hear this fine piece of hippie country rock on the late-night free-form FM radio of the time.

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

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Filed under February 2017, 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.

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Filed under August 2009, Sounds

In search of Mason Proffit

While I was digging through the vinyl the other night, looking for all those old J. Geils Band albums, I also was looking for other things that might make an interesting post.

One was from a band called Mason Proffit.

Mason Proffit was a country-folk-rock band out of Chicago in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It was fronted by a couple of brothers, Terry and John Michael Talbot.

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They recorded a handful of albums, but may best be known for one cut off their first album, “Wanted,” put out on Happy Tiger Records in 1969.

“Two Hangmen” is a protest song, a cautionary ballad, about dissenting voices and the threats they face. It was a familiar sound on FM radio in central Wisconsin in the early ’70s, but didn’t get much airplay beyond the Midwest. It came out during the Vietnam War, yet it rings true today.

If I still have my copy of “Wanted,” I couldn’t find it.

So I went to Mason Proffit’s web site and found something remarkable. There, available as a free download, is the original “Two Hangmen.” It’s an interesting marketing strategy. Give away your most popular song in the hopes visitors will explore something new in return.

In that spirit, I won’t offer the original. But go to Mason Proffit’s web site to get it. I’m delighted to have it and to hear it again.

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Instead, here’s a new version of “Two Hangmen,” done by Terry Talbot and a revamped Mason Proffit lineup on a 2005 album called “Still Hangin’.”

This version of “Two Hangmen” is true to the original, save for a couple of changes. In the original, the hangman who speaks his mind is named “I’m a freak” and the sheriff is named “Uncle Sam.” In the new version, the hangman is “a simple man” and the sheriff is “the high sheriff.”

“Two Hangmen,” Mason Proffit, from “Still Hangin’,” 2005 (available on eMusic).

Here’s another cut from that album, a new song, as far as I can tell. I chose it solely for the title.

“Old Guys Rule,” Mason Proffit, from “Still Hangin’,” 2005 (available on eMusic).

So whatever happened to Mason Proffit?

Despite having been a major influence on the Eagles and having been big enough to count Steely Dan, the Doobie Br0thers, John Denver and Dan Fogelberg among its opening acts, Mason Proffit broke up in the mid-70s.

Each of the Talbot brothers has since pursued a more spiritual path.

Terry Talbot has recorded more than 30 albums, many of them popular Christian music, and has written an inspirational book. In recent years, he’s worked with Barry McGuire, who is best known for “Eve of Destruction.”

John Michael Talbot became a monk and founded a Catholic retreat in northern Arkansas. He has recorded more than 50 inspirational albums and tours regularly, billing himself as “troubadour for the Lord.” Last year, he rediscovered electric guitars, recorded an album called “Monk Rock” and toured with his brother.

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Filed under May 2007, Sounds