Connie’s Insider was the local newspaper for Minneapolis-St Paul bands, clubs and music industry that wanted the “inside” story on the local scene. The paper was published by Coleman “Connie” Hechter and he truly was a friend to the bands and everyone in the music industry. By trade he was a jazz musician and it was rare for “professional” musicians to have anything to do with rock, R&B bands–let alone, work to build the rock industry. Connie knew everyone and he would greet you by name, so the business that came his way was well deserved as he was a master networker.

The Connie Awards  were appropriately named after him as he worked to bring recognition to the local and regional bands. In this issue of Connie’s Insider you will see the Nickel Revolution (pictures and mentions) as the bands single Oscar Crunch on Mercury-Phillips records won the Best Single for 1969. “Single,” for vinyl-challenged youth is a 45-rpm vinyl record.

Enjoy the insight in to Connie’s Insider. We have several issues to share and will be posting updates in the coming weeks.

Connie’s Insider was the local newspaper for bands, clubs and fans in Minneapolis-St Paul during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The paper was published by Coleman “Connie” Hector after which the Connie Awards were named. We will detail this further in an upcoming post.

Special thanks to Scott Jeffy and Kent Saunders for gathering and scanning several issues of Connie’s Insider so we could share them with you. Each issue is quite lengthy, so we will publish them individually. This issue is from June 7, 1969 and it came out after the Connie Awards in May. Members of The Nickel Revolution can be seen in this issue as their single, Oscar Crunch on Mercury’s Phillps label, was awarded the Connie Award for best single–that’s a 45-rpm record to vinyl-challenged youth.

 

Visit our YouTube Channel to listen to our recordings 

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The Nickel Revolution played throughout the Midwest from the mid-sixties to 1970, starting with teen clubs and University of  Minnesota Frat parties, moving on the all the top venues and appearing in concert with many national acts, a short recording contract with Mercury Records (Phillips label), and a national TV appearance on UPBEAT, filmed in Cleveland, OH.

The Nickel Revolution’s Phillips release was even featured on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Here’s how it happened, as Dick was surveying the nation, he called on KDWB in Minneapolis to ask for their hottest pick. At the time, The Nickel Revolution’s Oscar Crunch, was crushing the top ten in the band’s hometown. And so, the silly bubble gum song by the Nickel Revolution was played on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. KDWB had alerted the band that their 45 would be featured on the show, so we were glued to the TV set to “watch” Dick intro the song and play our single (as crappy a song as it was). Every once in a while a crumb falls from the master’s table and the Nickel Revolution was fortunate to have a sliver of a connection to one of the geniuses of rock and roll.

We welcome your comments and feedback on this blog. You can post here and share this with your friends via Facebook and Twitter (see easy links). If you want to email us any questions or comments: NickelRevolution@gmail.com

 

 

Visit our YouTube Channel to listen to our recordings

 

2012 The New Band: The Nickel Blues Band

 

See these great websites for further insights to Twin Cities bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s:

 

http://www.jeanneandersen.net/musichighlights.html

 

http://minniepaulmusic.com/

 

If you truly enjoy reading about local and regional rock bands from the 60s, you need to check out this national website: http://60sgaragebands.com/

 

© 2011 © 2012 Jerry Lenz, Lenz Entertainment Group All Rights Reserved

 

Candy Floss was the brainchild of Peter Steinberg and Dale Menten, a short-lived production company with a goal of transforming Twin Cites (Minneapolis-St. Paul,Minnesota) bands into national recording acts. There were small hints of success, but the operation quickly failed as the bands involved and managed by Candy Floss abandoned the company, thereby cutting off their funding.

In the fall of 1967, Peter and Dale took the Candy Floss concept to Dick Shapiro of Central Booking Alliance Agency, one of the premier local booking agencies, to make an exclusive offer for Central’s top acts. Standard agency commission was 10%. The Candy Floss offer was for the bands to pay another 10%. In return, Candy Floss they guarantee studio time and produce recordings for the CBA bands as well as develop the bands sound and stage performance. Dick Shapiro rallied the leaders of his bands to come to his office on a Saturday morning and hear the pitch. The band leaders took the information back to their groups, discussed it and most groups signed a Candy Floss agreement, including the Nickel Revolution.

Early 1968 Nickel Revolution members, Ron “Honeybear” Hort (keyboards), Kent Saunders (lead), John Berman (sax), Louie Lenz (rhythm), Scott Jeffy (bass), Jerry Lenz (drums)

The beginning was good for the Nickel Revolution and produced two recordings which we have covered in previous posts: Sweet Sweet Lovin’ and Treat Her Right.

That was early in 1968 (about February) and the recordings did represent the sound of the band, as the group was doing a lot of R&B songs with a showband type of performance. Again, 1968 being a huge year of change, the Nickel Revolution would quickly adjust its sound and became more of a rock band and began producing its own songs with the addition of Keith Luer on lead guitar and vocals.

Within weeks of recording Sweet, Sweet Lovin’ and Treat Her Right, Candy Floss brought the Nickel Revolution back into the studio to record a novelty song the Candy Floss team had written, Here Come Da’ Judge based on the popular Laugh In skit. Read about it here: Nickel Revolution Records “Here Come Da’ Judge.

Here is how Candy Floss describes itself today and this is an accurate assessment, “The music of Candy Floss was all about carnivals, calliopes, tight harmonies, and hope. The songs were whimsical, not edgy; its instrumental attitudes were fun, not angry.”

One of the main reasons the Nickel Revolution joined other CBA bands in signing with Candy Floss was Dale Menten’s involvement. Dale was one of the most respected musicians and bandleaders in the Midwest and had recording success with his group, The Gestures. Here is their hit: Run, Run, Run.

Dale was very involved at the beginning had a great musical sense and had a solid understanding of promotion and building a winning band. Peter Steinberg was a self-described book author that had turned to music (he was not a musician) and he partnered with young writers who were in a non-performing band, The Shambles and Puddle. Dale Menten was always filling the void left by the others and the partnership was a ship that didn’t sail long. Three days after the Connie Awards in May, 1968 Menten and Steinberg dissolved the partnership. The Nickel Revolution was stuck in the middle on this one as they were assigned the new “award-winning” Oscar Crunch.

Photo from Connie’s Insider: Honeybear, Louie, Scott and Jerry attending the May 1968 Connie Awards

You can see an interesting note on this page (enlarged below) where Peter Steinberg is writing Jerry a note saying, “more papers (Mercury Contract) need to be signed tonight and because some members are under 21, the papers must go to probate court (make it legal).

The Connie Awards landed The Nickel Revolution on the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune, pictured with Peter Steinberg

The Oscar Crunch Story

This is based on Jerry Lenz’s opinion as he spent 25+ years working in the record industry and looking back on the Candy Floss debacle, it is easy to recognize how his band had a “hit” record—especially considering the song was very poor quality from a writing and production standpoint. Don’t be offended if you like the song—it’s OK, a lot of people do. What is important here is to publish the real story of Oscar as an ongoing education for young people getting into the music business.

Band line up in May 1968: Scott Jeffy-bass, Keith Luer-lead guitar (standing), Jerry Lenz-drums (center), Louie Lenz-rhythm (standing), Ron “Honeybear” Hort-keyboards (sitting).

Oscar Crunch was forced upon the Nickel Revolution as Candy Floss Management (Steinberg) needed a band with a following to get the record some traction (airplay) in the local market. The song was written by Peter Steinberg, Gary Paulak and Barry Goldberg. Paulak and Goldberg performed on the record but it couldn’t be a Shambles recording because they couldn’t even get booked into local clubs—no way to promote a non-perforating band. In fact, if you’ve ever wondered about the meaning behind Oscar Crunch, it was based on the collective experiences of the Steinberg-Paulak-Goldberg writing team. Each one was unable to connect with women and they felt odd going out to clubs and not being able to hook up: “Oscar Crunch has gone to join the zoo, yes he’s trying to be a kangaroo.” Oscar Crunch is the pic hit on WDGY (it would be top 5 and perhaps #1 for a week–no one remembers)

Everything you’ve ever read about payola in the music industry and radio probably went into the success of Oscar Crunch—everything from signing with Mercury Records / Phillips Label, winning the Connie Award for Best New Material. It is odd, or at least a little bit funny that Candy Floss won almost ALL the recording awards that year $.)

The Nickel Revolution’s Oscar Crunch was “magically” getting spins (played) on KDWB and WDGY in the Twin Cities. Steinberg forced the band to go into Musicland Record stores and buy every copy in the store…”who’s the guy with the funny nose and glasses buying all those 45s?” It is still very common for “best-selling” book authors today to employ the age-old game of buying your way up the charts. However it works. Distributors order more records from the label and other radio stations see action on a new song in the Twin Cites with a major label involved and the synergy engines kick into overdrive and you have a hit.

Oscar Crunch was the only novelty, bubblegum song that the Nickel Revolution performed. It did bring them strong regional exposure, an appearance on the Upbeat Television show and having the record played on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Read more HERE

The hit record also multiplied the Nickel Revolutions income as much as five times for appearances and continued all the way to the conclusion of the band. Mercury and Candy Floss never honored their contracts with the Nickel Revolution—and not a single nickel was made. The Nickel Revolution, after consulting with attorneys, simply walked away from the sticky Candy Floss mess in 1968—just as Dale Menten had done earlier that year.

We welcome your comments and feedback on this blog. You can post here and share this with your friends via Facebook and Twitter (see easy links). If you want to email us any questions or comments: NickelRevolution@gmail.com

Visit our YouTube Channel to listen to our recordings 

 

See these great websites for further insights to Twin Cities bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s:

 

http://www.jeanneandersen.net/musichighlights.html

http://minniepaulmusic.com/

If you truly enjoy reading about local and regional rock bands from the 60s, you need to check out this national website: http://60sgaragebands.com/

 

 

 

© 2011 © 2012 Jerry Lenz, Lenz Entertainment Group All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 1968 was a fun and exciting month of gigs and we’ve already chronicled the WDGY Super Scene at Metropolitan Sports Center (now the site of Mall of America) on March 8, 1968. We owe gratitude to Scott Jeffy for holding onto a calendar, on which he listed our gigs and revenue.

The members at this time included: Louie Lenz – Guitar, Scott Jeffy – Bass, Jerry Lenz – Drums, Ron “Honeybear” Hort – Keyboards, Kent Saunders – Lead Guitar, and John Berman – Sax.

Here is the March 1968 installment:

Friday, March 1, 1968

Inn Too

Menomonie, Wisconsin                                        Revenue: $160

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, March 2, 1968

George’s Ballroom

New Ulm, Minnesota                                             Revenue: $130

George’s was always a great time because it was such a quality venue in the German inspired town of New Ulm. We’ve included a sample of the cards that were handed out to the crowd showing up for rock dances (we’ve got some Nickel Revolution ones somewhere, but have yet to find them in our treasure chest).

 

George’s Ballroom was located on Center Street. It was built in 1947 after World War II and became a hot spot for young couples reuniting after the war. Performers such as Lawrence Welk, The Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, and the Six Fat Dutchmen (hey, it’s polka land in Minnesota) all played there, and in its heyday it was an important center for big bands and polka music, and then the revolution of rock dances as teens created a new revenue stream for the Midwest ballrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 1, 1968

WDGY Super Scene ‘68

Bloomington, Minnesota                                      Revenue: $158

Great fun and it really was a “Super Scene” with Wilson Pickett and the Hollies.

Read our full post on this event here: Super Scene

 

Saturday, March 9, 1968

Cabaret

St. Paul, Minnesota                                                Revenue: $120

Friday, March 15, 1968

Holy Trinity High School

Winsted, Minnesota                                               Revenue: $160

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, March 16, 1968

Southwest High School YMCA

Minneapolis, Minnesota                                       Revenue: $185

Sunday, March 17, 1968

Kato Ballroom

Mankato, Minnesota                                              Revenue: $145

 

Saturday, March 23, 1968

New City Opera House

Minneapolis, Minnesota                                       Revenue: $88

Friday, March 29, 1968

Hill High School

St. Paul, Minnesota                                                Revenue: $180

 

Saturday, March 30, 1968

Inn Too

Menomonie, Wisconsin                                            Revenue: $160

(Ending the month were we began it)

 

Total Revenue for the month: $1,486 (Average gig: $149)

Conversion to 2012 dollars: $1,486.00 in 1968 had the same buying power as $9,892.29 in 2012. That would be like a band making $989 per gig today. 

We welcome your comments and feedback on this blog. You can post here and share this with your friends via Facebook and Twitter (see easy links). If you want to email us any questions or comments: NickelRevolution@gmail.com

 

Visit our YouTube Channel to listen to our recordings

 

See these great websites for further insights to Twin Cities bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s: 

 

 

http://www.jeanneandersen.net/musichighlights.html

 

 

 

http://minniepaulmusic.com/

If you truly enjoy reading about local and regional rock bands from the 60s, you need to check out this national website: http://60sgaragebands.com/

 

 

 

© 2011 © 2012 Jerry Lenz, Lenz Entertainment Group All Rights Reserved

 

Reunion Update: We will have a venue contracted shortly as we complete negotiations. Here are the details we can publish now:

Date: Saturday, September 1, 2012 (Labor Day Weekend) Minneapolis Minnesota

Time: 8:00 pm. The Nickel Revolution will play the first set and open each set. We are openly inviting friends to join us in jam sessions with pre-determined sets. If you want to participate in the jam portion of the evening, let us know with an email to: NickelRevolution@gmail.com

Jamming musicians will need to bring guitars, drumsticks, etc. (you will use our amps, pa, drums, etc.). A pre-party reception is planned for family and close friends. Again, for details contact: NickelRevolution@gmail.com

More to follow…stay tuned…and now looking forward beyond the Nickel Revolution’s Reunion

“To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)   There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)   And a time to every purpose under Heaven.”

Folk signer Pete Seeger wrote the words, borrowing the theme from the book of Ecclesiastes. The Byrds recorded and released Turn, Turn, Turn and the song would top the Billboard charts on December 4, 1965.

Everything does have a season and the season for The Nickel Blues Band begins now with a rebirth and vision. The name and logo come from the founder, Jerry Lenz (drummer and keyboards), who began playing in rock bands at the age of 14 in 1964. His first band would evolve (turn, turn, turn) into The Nickel Revolution.

This evolution is a result of “getting ready” for the Nickel Revolution’s reunion on September 1, 2012 in Minneapolis, MN. The band has never had a full reunion and this one will take place 42 years after the conclusion of the Nickel Revolution’s playing days. During the long interim, Jerry was not playing the drums because you can’t really play a “song” on the drums. Instead, he returned to playing keyboards as he had learned to play the organ as a boy growing up. Plus, with the advancement of musical instruments, he could build his own drum tracks for songwriting.

The necessity of a return to playing the drums onstage required Jerry to purchase an electronic drum kit in August, 2011. That would give him a year to practice and prepare for the reunion. Playing to tracks, he quickly realized that he needed the feel and action of real drums. So in October he purchased a kit and was quickly called into action when his rock/blues friend, Arte Tedesco, asked him to play drums on a simple track that Arte was recording for charity.

 Jerry at John Blanche Recording Studios, Longwood Florida

That experience reminded Jerry how much he needed to be playing LIVE and not just practicing to tracks. Playing live is a very different dynamic. Drums and bass form the foundation upon which the other musicians play—and in that sense, the drum/bass rhythm section has more of a leading roll. On tracks, you are playing along—not initiating the rhythm. Recognizing this Jerry knew he had to find a way to play live with other musicians and that is when he discovered the various blues jams around Orlando, Florida.

He quickly attended the jams and began talking with the organizers and host bands. Fortunately, Jerry met Doc (Carl) Williamson and Stephen Plotnik. Doc Williamson (keyboards and vocals), hosts three jams a week in addition to playing solo and band gigs. Steve Plotnik is Doc’s “house” drummer for two of the jams. They explained the process to Jerry and told him to prepare to sit in for a short set. The very first blues jam for Jerry was at the Alley Blues Bar (Sanford, Florida) November 14, 2011 and it certainly was an eye-opener and ear-opener for Jerry. He had a lot of work to do to get the rust off and become a drummer once again. No stranger to hard work and dedication, Jerry asked Doc and Steve to help him, and give him the straight truth and not to sugarcoat it. The pros obliged and told him to work on meter, build a strong collection of blues standards and to learn the drumming style rather than playing rock rhythms and fills. They also told him to be “up front,” confident and louder (defined) on his snare hits. Jerry’s dedication and persistence paid off. He committed to 4-5 jams per week, listening and learning along the way (and the education continues). Practice, practice, practice. After 60 days of this routine, Jerry’s fellow jammers remarked on his improvement and he gained the respect of Doc Williamson who said, “I don’t worry about you anymore.” Anyone that knows Doc will appreciate the comment.

Doc Williamson

 

Stephen Plotnik

 

Visit our YouTube Channel to listen to our recordings

 

See these great websites for further insights to Twin Cities bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s:

http://www.jeanneandersen.net/musichighlights.html

http://minniepaulmusic.com/

If you truly enjoy reading about local and regional rock bands from the 60s, you need to check out this national website: http://60sgaragebands.com/

 

 

 

 

© 2011 © 2012 Jerry Lenz, Lenz Entertainment Group All Rights Reserved

We’ve already chronicled what a change 1968 was for the Nickel Revolution, music in general and the nation as well. Our equipment would undergo a makeover as well in 1968. We were loyal customers at B Sharp music, but they did not carry all lines of amps, especially the new equipment that we saw national acts using.

Leo Fine and Mort Kaufman of Park Music Center were aggressive in that they had received the dealer/distribution rights for Sunn Amps and PA Systems. They visited us at local appearances and invited us to stop by their store, which we did. Some of our friends, Jokers Wild and Stillroven had migrated over to Sunn Amps and we liked what we saw.

Leo and Mort were extremely generous in exchanging gear for minimal dollars in order to extend the Sunn brand further in the Midwest. They also paid to have our “Wooden Nickels” printed at their expense so we could pass them out at gigs. They were very popular and if you held onto one, it’s surely worth some money today (well, maybe). The Nickel Revolution’s popular Indian Head Logo was on one side and Park Music Center was printed on the flip side. People still ask why we used an Indian head for our logo…it is based on the very collectable Indian head nickel that was in circulation 1913-1938 (Buffalo on flip side).

Jerry would continue his relationship with B Sharp Music and Rogers Drums as he felt the hardware was better-suited for rock drummers at the time. All the manufactures were racing to improve their equipment for the continuing rock explosion, bigger venues, outdoor concerts and changing needs. Jerry did work with Park Music and upgraded his cymbals, purchasing them from Park. He was photographed in the drum section of Park Music to help Leo and Mort promote their Ludwig line, but most people realized that Jerry was still featured in the B Sharp ads with his Rogers Drums.

Leo and Mort invited the members of the Nickel Revolution to be their guests at the June 1968 NAMM convention in Chicago. NAMM is the organization of manufacturers and retail merchandisers. National Association of Music Merchants.

It was a great experience to see and sample all the new instruments and the convention was loaded with artists and give-aways. Jerry secured a Kustom Kat for his younger brother Allen. Kustom used a “nagahide” covering on their amps and created a little mascot, Kustom Kat, to promote the brand. We were not interested in the amps, but had fun bringing home something for the kid brother.

Jokers Wild Promoting Park Music

Stillroven Promoting Park Music Center

We welcome your comments and feedback on this blog. You can post here and share this with your friends via Facebook and Twitter (see easy links). If you want to email us any questions or comments: NickelRevolution@gmail.com

Visit our YouTube Channel to listen to our recordings 

See these great websites for further insights to Twin Cities bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s:

http://www.jeanneandersen.net/musichighlights.html

http://minniepaulmusic.com/

If you truly enjoy reading about local and regional rock bands from the 60s, you need to check out this national website: http://60sgaragebands.com/

© 2011 © 2012 Jerry Lenz, Lenz Entertainment Group All Rights Reserved

We’ve discussed in earlier posts how our parents were not only supportive of the band, but also involved in looking for opportunities to further promote the group. Keith Follese (original member and keyboard/guitar player) brought a suggestion to The Inchanters. Keith’s mom had obtained information that applications were being taken for tryouts to be considered for the 1966 Judge Wright Awards. The Inchanters had a little over one year playing at this point and they decided to go for it.

The competition invited only youth in a typical 50s/60s variety show format. The Inchanters entered the competition and advanced to the finals.

All of the finalists competed before a live audience in a formal setting. There were a lot of dance groups and individual singers. The Inchanters were the only rock band to make it to the finals.

The 20th Annual Judge Wright Variety Show was sponsored by the Minneapolis Junior Chamber of Commerce and supported by many prominent Minnesota businesses (you can see the listing on the program photo included here). It was a two-evening event, first at Henry High School on Friday, February 18, and then Southview Jr. High School on Saturday, February 19, 1966. Tickets were sold and a large audience was on hand both evenings.

The event was named after Judge Fred Wright who had served as a juvenile judge in the Hennepin County Court System. A memorial fund was set up in Judge Wright’s name and administered by the Minneapolis Junior Chamber of Commerce.  In the program it states, “The show is made possible only through the unselfish efforts of the young men and women who constitute the cast. These young people, by generously contributing their time to talents to this cause, perpetuate the intent of the Judge Wright Fund—that youth help youth help themselves.”

Although the Inchanters had played a variety of songs during the competition leading up to the finals, only one song could be selected for the finals. The band decided to play the song that had originally launched the group, so the Inchanters played, “The Grind,” by Gregory Dee and The Avanti’s. One of the Twin Cities leading rock bands from the 60s. And they WON the competition.

It was a promotional asset for The Inchanters to use the tagline, “winners of the 1966 Judge Wright Talent Show.” It helped secure new bookings for the band. We put the tag line on our promotional materials and you can see an example of how it helped us in the ad for Block’s LTD. That ad ran in Robbinsdale Senior High’s Newspaper and all four members of the Inchanters attended Robbinsdale at the time.

The Inchanters would continue to book themselves until the fall of 1966 when Dick Shapiro of Central Booking Alliance (CBA) signed the group to exclusive representation.

Members at this time included: Keith Follese (keyboard/guitar), Louie Lenz (guitar), Scott Jeffy (bass) and Jerry Lenz (drums).

Listen to The Grind by Gregory Dee and The Avanti’s HERE

We welcome your comments and feedback on this blog. You can post here and share this with your friends via Facebook and Twitter (see easy links). If you want to email us any questions or comments: NickelRevolution@gmail.com

Visit our YouTube Channel to listen to our recordings

 

See these great websites for further insights to Twin Cities bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s:

http://www.jeanneandersen.net/musichighlights.html

http://minniepaulmusic.com/

If you truly enjoy reading about local and regional rock bands from the 60s, you need to check out this national website: http://60sgaragebands.com/