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Sounds From Gary, 1950-1975

We agree with Belt Magazine: Gary, Indiana has had an outsized influence on 20th Century Black music. And a listen to music recorded here at midcentury offers an array of sounds and styles. Blues, gospel, doo wop, soul, even garage punk. With the musical legacy of the Calumet Region taking center stage at this years Calumet Heritage Conference we here at Our Gary Stories took a deep dive into the sounds of the Steel City, from 1950-1975.


John Brim - Gary Stomp

Recorded in Chicago with wife Grace on drums. More from her later. John also recorded with Jimmy Reed and is best known for his song "Ice Cream Man," which became a hit for another Hoosier: David Lee Roth. Ran dry cleaning businesses in Gary and Chicago, and continued to appear at Chicago Blues Fests into the early 2000s.


Schoolboy Porter - Schoolboy's Boogie

From the Crownpropeller blog:

"Porter recorded for Chicago based Chance Records from 1950 to 1952. Then he appeared – as guitarist! – on a Roosevelt Sykes session for United, also in 1952. After that he opted for a career in the military. Porter has an interesting sound, most of his records pair jukebox groovers with sentimental ballads as was usual during these days. “Kayron”, recorded in 1950, was a fine piece of bop from Chicago with – I think – a really great solo by Schoolboy (search for it on youtube, someone has put it up). On the shuffling “Schoolboy’s Boogie” which was recorded in September 1950, Porter is accompanied by pianist Jesse Hart (who also sang, but not on this track), bassist Walter Broyle and drummer Carl Scott."


Grace Brim - Man Around My Door

A talented multi-instrumentalist who recorded on harmonica, drums, and voice. Recorded in 1952. An extensive discography of Grace and her husband John can be found here.


The Spaniels - Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight

Arguably their best known cut here. Recorded for hometown Vee-Jay Records in September 1953 and released the following March. Peaked at #5 on the R&B charts and remained a hit for decades.

Jimmy Reed - You Got Me Dizzy

Recorded for the Vee-Jay label after Chess Records took a pass. Their loss. His songs were covered by the likes of Elvis, the Stones, Etta James, the Steve Miller Band, the Winter brothers, and the Grateful Dead. This gem of swagger blues guitar came out in 1956.


The Royal Stars - Step By Step

Produced and recorded for Bud Pressner and his Staff Records. Soulful gospel with R&B guitar from the mid 1960s.

The Aztex - I Said Move

Roaring punk rock from Glen Park. Recorded in 1966 by Bud Pressner for his Staff label. One of the rarest garage punk singles. A copy sold at auction for almost $3400 in 2016!


The Group Inc. - Like A Woman

From 60's Indiana Band Szene: "Here we have a strong example of girlfriend putdown in which the crude guitar playing only enhances it. And you get three guitar breaks for the price of one. Since this is the A-side, it sounds like the kids decided to use whatever minimal instrumental prowess they had and just go all out."


Tommy Payton - Mountain Of Soul

Peppy northern soul recorded in 1967 for Bud Pressner's Staff Records. Funky handclapping breakdown and swirling horns. Written by Bobby Brown and arraigned by M. Rodgers.

The Ripples And Waves - Let Me Carry Your Schoolbooks

Sadly this song gets passed off as a "rare unreleased Jackson 5 demo." Sad because this ripper stands on its own. Recorded and released in 1971 on the late Gordon Keith's Steeltown Records. The Post Tribune clipping reads, ‘Ripples And Waves. Making their bid for national recognition, just like the Jackson five before them, are the ripples and waves of Gary. Managed by Gordon Keith, who developed the Jackson (sic), R&W are students of Beckham, Emerson, West Side, and Mass schools. Their lead song is “Let Me Carry Your School Books.” The Ripples and Waves are, front row from left, bass guitarist Warren Rocker, drummer Phillip Mack and lead guitarist Elvy Woodard; rear, Gordon Keith, manager; bass singer Larry Holmes, lead singer Ronald Bills and second lead singer Lawerence Clark.’

Bo James And The Human Freedom - Searching

Great rock'n'soul with a groovy horn line. Recorded by Bud Pressner and released on Miracle Records. Date unknown.


The Lost Weekend - The Bridge Of Love

Atmospheric late 70s soul. Released on the Lost Weekend label (1971) and later on USA Record out of Chicago. The Lost Weekend was Robert Lee, Bruce Thomas, Sam Walker (Vocals), Gus Carter (Sax), Lawrence Taylor (Congas & Percussions), Lawrence Brooks (Drums), Brian Blakemore (Bass), Willie Lee Jr. (Guitar).


Sounds Of Soul - Don't Move The Mountain

Stirring funk soul gospel. Released on Top Flight Records, 2365 Pennsylvania Street.

Wilton Crump - Give Your Love To Me

Gorgeous mid 70s soul. Read all about him in this great article from Belt Magazine.

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