An Interview with Kim Bowman, Phil Yoder and Joe Bouterse
Important Contributors to Indiana's '60's Garage Rock Scene
[Interviewer's note: One of the goals here at The Lance Monthly is to document the stories of the true garage bands--bands that didn't travel outside of a five-mile radius of their home town. One such group was the Walking Stycks from Middlebury, Indiana. Okay . . . they actually played in a twelve-mile radius from their hometown, but they're exactly the type of band that we like to dig up info on. Not to be confused with the Walking Sticks from Wisconsin that released the 100 Pounds Of Clay b/w Why single, these Walking Stycks were juinor high age. As member Kim Bowman informed us, "we were truly a garage band."]
[Lance Monthly] How did you first get interested in music?
[Kim Bowman] I started very early. I started piano lessons at the age of eight. My parents were always involved in music and [my] mother played piano and sang.
[Phil Yoder] When my brother was off to Viet Nam from 1959 to 1961, I was 8 -10 yrs old and broke into his records/player listening to Ventures, Nancy Sinatra, Valens, Holly, Elvis, and more.
[Lance Monthly] Was the Walking Stycks your first band?
[Kim Bowman] The Walking Stycks was our first band. We lasted about two years.
[Phil Yoder] Yes, The Walking Stycks was my first band.
[Lance Monthly] Where was the Walking Stycks formed, what year, and by whom?
[Kim Bowman] 1967. I don't remember whose idea it was, but probably it was Phil Yoder's idea to have a real band. Prior to that, we used to lip sync with the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Dave Clark 5 records.
[Phil Yoder] My drums were purchased in 1966, but I don't think we were really a band playing out anywhere until 1967. I really don't remember who started it; it kind have all fell together with me getting my drums and Terry his guitar. We both took lessons at George's House of Music from musicians that played in the (local/regional greats) The Dukes, who sidelined as instructors of their respective instruments at the music store. The Dukes were making records on the Fujimo and Signet labels at that time. [NOTE: The Dukes were later signed to Columbia and "transformed" into George Paul Jones & The American Navy but unfortunately never recorded as that incarnation.]
[Lance Monthly] Aside from you and Phil, who else comprised the Walking Stycks?
[Kim Bowman] Phil Yoder, drums and lead vocals; Kim Bowman, shared duties on drums and lead vocals; Joe Bouterse, rythmn guitar; and Terry Rassi, lead and rhythm guitar.
[Lance Monthly] If you shared drumming duties, what did you do if it wasn't your turn to drum?
[Phil Yoder] Usually the one of us not playing drums would sing the lead vocal out in front and play tambourine or maraccas or claves, etc.
[Lance Monthly] Where did the band typically practice?
[Kim Bowman] We practiced at all of our parents' houses in their garages and in their basements. We were truly a garage band.
[Phil Yoder] We practiced at all four parents' homes.
[Lance Monthly] Where did the band typically play?
[Kim Bowman] When the band was formed we were just starting junior high school. So we played at a lot of class parties and dances at school. We played for numerous private parties outdoors a lot and elsewhere.
[Phil Yoder] Class parties, private parties, and the Country Club.
[Lance Monthly] Did the Walking Stycks have a manager?
[Kim Bowman] We had a "manager" for a very short while. He drove us around to gigs when our parents couldn't. He was 16. I can't remember if he actually got us any gigs or not. I don't believe so. People would just call us up and ask for us to play somewhere. I don't remember if we even got paid or not. I don't believe we did.
[Phil Yoder] Kevin (last name?) - Kim's cousin, I believe. I feel he was more of a chaperon for our parents. I know my folks felt better about letting me go out somewhere with him being along.
[Lance Monthly] Did the Walking Stycks attract any kind of following?
[Kim Bowman] I'd say we were very popular in our Jr. high days at school, with our classmates and even the high school grades. We played several high school dances I believe.
[Phil Yoder] Well, at the time we were the only group in our school, so we were very popular. The older guys that came along later forming bands didn't have any instruments yet. So they were "wannabes."
[Lance Monthly] What was the Indiana music scene like in the '60's?
[Kim Bowman] Seemed we, the Walking Stycks, hung out with older guys and girls more than not. The local youth center was a hot spot to dance and numerous bands from the area played there. Also, numerous other bands from the county played at our high school then in the later '60s era. The Gremlins, Abecrombies Life, and other bands. I can't remember their names. Phil Yoder knows though. Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Beatles, Cream and the Rolling Stones music was played all the time in the youth center.
[Phil Yoder] I could write a book on this one! In Middlebury, we had a youth center, but nothing developed steady there. We rented the town-park, Scout Cabin once and threw a dance. It cost $10 a night. The biggest venues were the DukesSkellar, which featured local/regional bands and was home of The Dukes. Also, The Electric Circuit in Elkhart was a big one that hosted a national band once in a while (like The Cryan'Shames from Chicago). The Top Deck in South Bend had acts like The Grassroots there. The Barn in New Paris had a lot of local bands. The largest was Lake Tippy in North Webster, which had all of the national and international record acts wanting to play it. They had The Yardbirds, Electric Prunes, Turtles, Dave Clark Five, etc., and the local bands were fighting to play backup to these gigs. The most popular local band venue was the Rogers Park dances in Goshen that was under a roofed, but open sided pavilion on the Elkhart River. Lots of teens came to it from all over the area as Goshen also had one of the largest "cruising" towns in the USA at the time, stretching about two miles long and it ran right past the dances so you could see [and] hear it from your car. The most popular bands were The Dukes, Atlantis (later Ethos on Atlantic Records), and These Vizitors (Capitol Records). The Vizitors were from Goshen, made up of the Curtis Family (three brothers and a sister). Rick and Mike went on to play some of their best music on the 1972 Crazy Horse album At Crooked Lake. They also recorded a demo of their song Seven League Boots with Stevie Nicks singing backup, which was later turned into Southern Cross by Steven Stills on the CSN 1982 album Daylight Again.
[Lance Monthly] Did the band have any original material?
[Kim Bowman] Phil and Terry wrote a couple of songs. Basically they were Phil's songs. If You're Thinking What I'm Thinking was one and Marlys I Love Her. Marlys I Love Her was maybe Joe's song.
[Phil Yoder] Rassi and I tried to pen a few of our own tunes, but most kids at our dances preferred covers that theyknew, which I think was common for most local bands of the day.
[Lance Monthly] How would you describe the band's sound?
[Kim Bowman] We sounded very, very rough. Every Mother's Son, The Shadow's of Knight, and maybe The Sound Machine. Hard to tell really, we all were just learning our instruments and constantly listening to all of those bands and different sounds.
[Phil Yoder] We had a great rythym to us. We didn't have a real bass, but Joe's rythym was more of a bass tone through his amp, which made up a little for it. I had one of those chrome-plate, tambourine attachments on my hi-hat cymbal and a set of "sizzlers" on my ride cymbal that you could pivot in the up position to remove the sizzle sound. We sounded like any other garage band of the day that didn't have the proper P.A. gear to sing through. We usually plugged a microphone in one of our guitar amps, thus the vocals were a little drowned out.
[Lance Monthly] Do any '60's Walking Stycks recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings?
[Kim Bowman] We didn't record anything in a studio. We were just too young and our parents couldn't afford it. Our voices really hadn't changed yet and were real high at the time. There are a couple of Walking Stycks recordings that Phil made on an old reel to reel tape machine of his parents.
[Phil Yoder] I have a drowned out cut up version of Gloria that was recorded on my mom's "suitcase style" 7" reel-to-reel recorder in the band room at our old high school. We wern't taken that seriously by our folks at the time to have made a studio recording. I have a cover song recorded on the A Tribute To The Bobby Fuller Four CD on the Blue Rose label out of Oregon. The band name is The Boscos.
[Lance Monthly] Are you aware of a 1965 single 100 Pounds Of Clay b/w Why released by a Wisconsin band named The Walking Sticks?
[Kim Bowman] No! Another Walking Sticks? Wild!
[Joe Bouterse] I certainly remember the song, but had no idea it was by the Walking Sticks. I alwaysthought we had a unique name. I remember we came up with that in my garage while observing a praying mantis. We were trying to think of insects other than beetles that would make a good group name, especially since that one was taken by that other midly successful '60's band!
[Lance Monthly] Did the Walking Stycks participate in any Battle of the Bands?
[Kim Bowman] As the Walking Stycks we didn't. But as other bands later in the '60s and early '70s we may have. I really can't remember.
[Phil Yoder] No, but we wanted to, especially at a near town Bristol, which every year at their homecoming had a Battle of the Bands in their pavilion on the river.
[Lance Monthly] Did the band make any local TV appearances?
[Kim Bowman] Unfortunately, no.
[Phil Yoder] No TV appearances.
[Lance Monthly] How far was your "touring" territory?
[Kim Bowman] Goshen, Elkhart. Maybe a 12-mile radius of Middlebury, our hometown!
[Phil Yoder] I don't remember ever playing out of the county.
[Lance Monthly] Did you get to open for or play with any national bands?
[Kim Bowman] None.
[Phil Yoder] We never had a backup gig with a national band.
[Lance Monthly] Why did the band break up in the '60's?
[Kim Bowman] I can't remember.
[Phil Yoder] I think our band broke up as other (older) guys in our town were forming more psychedelic type bands--as were all of the bands before 1968--and our pop sound was giving in to it.
[Lance Monthly] Did you join or form any bands after the Walking Stycks?
[Kim Bowman] We've (Phil and I) had numerous bands since 1967. We had a Grand Funk Railroad tribute band and we also had an America tribute band.
[Phil Yoder] Yes, several that usually were more of a tribute band. In other words, whatever band was getting our attention at the time, we were playing whole cover gigs of the same.
[Lance Monthly] What about today? How often, and where, do you perform?
[Kim Bowman] I'm an Architect now and Phil organized a "Reunion Jam" a few years ago that we played at.
[Phil Yoder] I don't really have a career, but I love to do a lot of trading and recording. I trade videos, records, and have lots of unreleased stuff of both. I guess the "Reunion Jams" of 1992, '93, '94 were my highlights of my life thus far. I brought The Dukes, These Vizitors, The Tikis, Gremlins and a few more (60 musicians) together at the fairground and played to about 2,000 people. It's like having a '60's scene reunion all over again. I video taped the events also and I'm glad I did. All are friends of mine and several have passed away since then.
[Lance Monthly] What are your plans musically (if any) for 2002 and beyond?
[Kim Bowman] None.
[Phil Yoder] I'm hoping to throw another "Reunion Jam" and record some more. I have a small, but effective 8-track studio in my home. I may start another band also.