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Garage Bands on the Run: The Many Iowa '60s Bands of Ron Carlson; The Gear They Employed, the Songs They Covered
Part 10 of 10: Beyond Camel
By Ron Carlson, Lance Monthly
(more articles from this author)
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After Camel I was not much involved with bands. I did play bass for a group Steve Greenfield put together called Willow - once as a four piece contractual fulfillment thing in 1974 and again in 1977 for what had turned into a horn band. After this I eventually joined a family gospel group around 1980 or 1981 called the Messengers of Love. I had become a Christian back in 1971 after Andy Crim and Carl Dorner, both former bandmates, had witnessed to me of their faith and the change the Lord had made in their life.

During the time I was with the family gospel group, Denny Allen got back in touch with me with the request to help him out in the studio. He was going to record some of his tunes and knew I had been doing some work in that area and wanted a friend to help make him feel comfortable. I had made a connection with Kirk Kaufman who owned a studio in Otho south of Fort Dodge called Westminister Sound. Kirk was kind enough to show me some of the ins-and-outs of the recording studio which I was interested in at that time. Denny was going into A&R Studios in Ames and I came along for what turned into a three year ride. We cut around eight or nine tunes there, putting out a 45 in 1982 that had modest success on the East Coast. It was number 14 on one college stations top 20 list of most requested tunes. I've got a site at IUMA that features most of the tunes from this association. I was still in Messengers of Love at this time and helped them record an album at A&R.

After Messengers of Love fell apart due to folks moving out of the area, I joined a Christian rock group called Lion of Judah which reunited me with Russ Musilek who I had played with in the Suntimers back in 1968. We did about 98% original tunes with Russ writing the bulk of them. Going through a name change--Second Chance--the band put out two albums and finally came to an end in 1992. This was the longest run for a band I had been in.

Russ, by the way, now lives in Boulder, Colorado and is building guitar amps under the name Rustech. The amp is called the Blend'r and does stuff that no other amp can do. If I had the money I'd buy one because it is really a cool amp and sounds great. (I know that's a shameless plug, but it really is a great amp.)

A lot of great things happened over the years and a lot of things learned by doing this thing called being in a band. It opened opportunities I never would have had otherwise. Being on TV three times, being in a recording studio, writing songs, working with folks and learning how to interact with audiences, doing up two music videos, riding in a ice cold van back from Vermilion South Dakota, getting hassled for having long hair, not being served in restaurants when we'd stop on our way home from a gig, getting to know some of the nicest people and dealing with some that were not so nice. There's tons of stories, but I think I'll stop there.

Right now I'm working down by Des Moines and living with my family in Boone. I still play occasionally, mostly for church things. I miss being in a band and the fun of working up tunes with other folks. I still write occasionally and record stuff as often as I can.

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