Here is an interview between myself and Rick Schultze regarding our experiences playing in the Simultaneous Avalanche Band!
3/20/06Simultaneous Avalanche The time was 1974, Rick Schultze and I were living and
playing six or seven nights a week at the Sundance Lodge on the Mt. Rose
Highway between Reno and Lake Tahoe.
Howdy, this is Schultze speaking. Well, Geno got you started and I’ll throw in some more about our stay!
The Sundance Lodge was a old west outpost bar/restaurant that at one time had operated as a Bordello! There was some colorful history about the place and we were eager to add to that. When we first appeared on the scene The Sundance was the hideout of the infamous Buddy Mercer, a businessman and raconteur of the highest degree! It was his kingdom and because he was the king he hired and fired the bands. He’d hired us though Mike Mantor of Headfirst Productions out of Sparks Nevada. We’ completed several successful weeks when suddenly the drummer and bass player quit leaving behind Geno and I and our equipment.
We scrambled about and after putting our collective heads together and wheeling and dealing with Buddy, we became an easy listening electric and acoustic guitar duo during the early evenings performing on a freshly built stage Buddy had built in the dining area of the lodge.
Then we hired a singing drummer from Reno, Danny Quintana, and by using several different Reno and Sacramento bass players we transformed nightly into a rock and roll band in the dance hall part of the lodge.
That worked will for awhile then we decided that I should switch from being a guitar player to being the bass player so we didn’t have to keep switching players and we could concentrate on just being a good solid and workable trio!
Hello, this is Geno again, So we rehearsed and partied with the great Danny Quintana. Danny where are you? He sang and played great and we became a solid Trio. When we got it practiced up we went to Denver to be booked by the great George Gosling AKA Lizard.
Schultze speaking again. Yeah, The Lizard. It’s funny that we’d drive on faith from Reno to Denver to respond to a call from “A Lizard”. But you know, that’s how we were.
Geno and I had bought a beat up and barely running Ford from some guy in Reno so we could get around, but we had just figured we’d be living at The Sundance for quite awhile. Buddy’s brother-in-law was in the P.A. System and Amplifier business and he’d installed a new P.A. for the lodge and we’d gotten some prototype amps and a small P.A. from him. We worked some of the cost off with Buddy and kicked in some more cash for the rest. Finally we’d come from being two guys hanging on for dear life, to a solid working trio. We’d met a lot of great people from Reno, Sparks, Lake Tahoe and the rest of the area and things were good. I would like to thank Linda and Robin and Joy and Donna for their undying support, good food and good vibes.
Okay so things were going good when The Lizard called. (Actually, George called himself The Wizard at a concert he promoted so naturally we changed it to Lizard! This is after all, Rock and Roll)
Mr. Lizard was working as an agent in Denver for ATI, American Talent International, and he needed a band, one that could play mellow, easy listening music plus lively rock and roll. As a trio we could do exactly that! The money was good and we’d heard Denver and the Ski Resorts around there were good places to work. So we discussed it with Buddy and agreed to stay for another month at the lodge then we called The Lizard and solidified the deal. The race was on!
What happened next was the trip to The Lizards Hangout, and you know that was a total jump into the unknown!
During the course of our stay at The Sundance we’d played now and then at the old Mint Casino in Carson City, Nevada. We’d trade with the band that played there and they go up and work The Sundance. It was a nice break for both bands and good variety for the audiences. While we were working the Mint we met some more wacky and beautiful characters and one of them was a buxom, dark haired beauty named Ramona. She had several Nevada business arrangements and one of them was with National Truck Rental. That was company with the green and white trucks that had a picture of a mother and baby elephant painted on the sides. They had a place in Reno and she’d mentioned that if we ever needed a truck to use to please call her. We had our Ford but it wasn’t very dependable, nor could we put all of our equipment in it. So now that we were getting ready to head to Denver we called her. Two days later we hooked up with her in Reno and signed an insurance waiver, and presto, we had a green and white van to use! Then to sweeten the deal she took me out to her car and gave me a hundred bucks an a card with a Denver address. “This isn’t much but it help get you there, I’m sure you’ll need it and when you’re finished with the truck drop it at this address.”
I looked at her trying to think of a way to tell her how much this was going to help us get on to the next chapter. Words escaped me then, but I think she understood what I was thinking!
So that was pretty much it for us at The Sundance. The last few days were tough in a sense because we’d really been a true “house band”. We lived and ate there and everyone we knew and everything we did revolved around the place. Now we’d be history, just another band that used to play there. Everyone knew we weren’t coming back, so it was a bittersweet feeling leaving good people for a new adventure that hopefully would lead to something big.
Our one last tribute and thank you to The Sundance was to give one of the other people that lived there, Dave, the custodian, and guy who did all the odd jobs, our car. He didn’t drive, didn’t want to, and never even tried to get a drivers license, but he loved to sit in the car with his dog Tippy and listen to the radio and watch the sun sink into the West. We couldn’t have left the car in better hands.
Well, we loaded all of our stuff and it was Eastward Ho! Geno and I went down to Reno and picked up Danny and his drums and we were off. We got a great start thanks to the carefully packed ice chest full of Mexican food Danny’s Mom made. Serious road food
Now we’d made pretty good money as a trio at The Sundance and our rent had been free but we had to pay for food and the equipment we’d bought, so while we had, thanks to Ramona, enough cash to get to Denver we weren’t really rolling the dough. Our plan was to cheap it all the way to Denver and have The Lizard start selling us.
We got out to Winnemucca Nevada and planned on filling the gas tank and getting some powerful coffee to power us on into Salt Lake City.
3/15/06 We gassed up and headed into the Bar Mitzvah Hotel, an old style Nevada hotel. The coffee shop was funky and ungodly bright but sitting in there was a band from Northern California called The Serria Mountain Orchestra. We knew them well from when they’d played down the street from us in Carson City. They were a eclectic group of good timers. What a flash, here we were in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, and there they were. Turns out they were heading to Austin Texas for the World Chili Cook-off competition and party. I’d known the bass player when we were in Sacramento years ago and he asked me to walk out to their bus with him to check out the teepee’s they were carrying to live in at the competition.
We check them out and climb on the bus and he stops and turns around and asks “got any smoke?” I didn’t of course, we couldn’t afford any at the moment, so he walks over to a foot locker trunk and opens it up. Inside is a ton of weed. Then he gets a newspaper and grabs a handful and wraps it up. “Here this will keep you going.”
Once again it had been someone or something, that was helping us get to the next chapter.
Denver was a damn long way. It seemed like it was taking forever to get there but on the morning of the third of July we saw the city looming up ahead. After we checked our directions then checked again when we got gas we found our way to a Denver neighborhood, Inglewood, home of Cinderella City, a big double decker mall. The Lizard lived in a high-rise apartment complex which was easy to spot and we heading straight for it. Then as we turned the last corner we saw bunch of cops and firemen in front of the apartment. Oh yeah, we still had weed.
Anyway, there were lots of uniforms but it looked like they were getting ready to leave. We saw The Lizard at the entrance watching the action and when he saw us he started waving and motioning for us to back up while the trucks and cars started to turn around back towards. As the cops and firemen started blowing past I knew that we’d entered a new world and I was thankful we’d had the time at The Sundance to get our motor running.
The cops and fireman had been there because of a small fire in the basement of the building and after they’d gone The Lizard lead us into his hangout. It was a cool, first floor apartment with a sliding glass door that opened onto the swimming pool deck. One look at the people swimming and sunbathing and I knew this was a good place to be. It did turn out to be a good place, a very good place. Besides our meeting more people out at the pool The Lizard had lined us up with a bunch of jobs and within a few weeks we’d become accustomed to tearing all over Denver and the surrounding suburbs playing and meeting more people.
Mr. Lizard was a master at getting to know people and Geno, Danny and I were quickly part of the local music and social scene. He had changed our name to the Sundance Kids and we soon we were changing from the same guys that had lived and played at the Sundance Lodge. There we were there we’d been in one place all the time except when we went to Carson City and we saw mostly the same people but now we were working one night in one place, the next somewhere else. It turned into a great life for three single guys living in their agents apartment in a hot apartment complex. We were working a lot but we had time to socialize and enjoy life. Rock and Roll as it’s supposed to be!
So we continued to roar about Colorado playing in all the college towns, the out of the way joints in small towns and occasionally trekking out to Nebraska to work yet smaller towns. It was a total blast and even with all that bouncing around we still got to party with The Lizard when we come back to town. One time we hooked up with some of the girls from the apartment complex and piled into The Lizards family size Ford Station Wagon and caught and Eric Clapton, Bob Seger concert at the Denver Arena. Seeing those guys pumped us up and that turned into a lively and loud discussion when suddenly The Lizard’s car croaked. It simply blew up right on the freeway but luck was with us; it was right by the exit to The Holiday Inn that was right by the freeway. So after a few beers in the lounge The Lizard finally tracked down a secretary from the agency at home and she chauffeured us home where we continued on with our exciting evening! As our popularity grew so did The Lizards. Since he’d been the rookie agent he got all the goofy jobs to book at first and he used us. We’d worked them and had done we so we’d begun to move up to the better clubs and better paying events. We did the ski resorts, great for a trio of single guys, and made some more good connections including meeting several people connected with The Coors Family. They were great folks to party with and they began hiring us often for high rolling private events. However, as The Lizard began to gather more hot bands, including us, he was being groomed by the agency owners to take over the big Denver and Boulder Colorado clubs. They were big, flashy, colorfully loud places jammed to the rafters with party people and they paid well, great for big agency commissions! Plus there were several in Denver and if you got hot in town you could work a month at a time there without having to hit the road. Better money and less expenses to deal with. The only catch was trios wouldn’t work in those places according to the owners and talent buyers. In their opinion trios didn’t have enough bodies or variety. The clubs were big and they wanted bands with the full deal. A visually appealing front man or woman, and a full sound. Plus if possible, with a keyboard player who also sang. We could play with the best of the other bands but that wasn’t good enough for the big guys. Now we weren’t complaining with the life we had, we were rocking hard and loving every minute but The Lizard wanted us in town to do the big clubs as his main band. One he could count on. It could have become a problem but it never did because one of the other agency bands “Foxfire” was breaking up and the lead singer and his wife who played the keyboards and sang were available. The Lizard grabbed them. He scheduled a meeting of the minds and over a few beers, smoke and talk we formed a new group just to go for the big rooms. Well, the Rock Gods had turned up the heat because joining up with us were two talented people. Kenny Davis, a good looking long blonde lead singer and front man. His family owned a circus. “The Davis Family Circus” and he’d been an acrobat and showman since he was young. And, he could sing and dance like a whirling dervish. But the icing on the cake was his wife Roxanne Davis. A lithe, statuesque woman who had paid for private keyboard lessons by working as a dancer and stripper. The two of them together and in action was a sight to behold and Geno, Danny and I as The Sundance Kids became what The Sundance Lodge had become; nothing but a great memory to smile about!
Till next time