Showmen / Hour Glass
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(plus The Shamrocks and Hour Glass )
Fall, 1963: A group of students at Anoka High School get together and form a band called The Shamrocks. The lineup is: George “Bob” Anderson on lead vocals; Mike Butche on guitar and vocals; George Ridge on keyboards, Dale Johnson on bass guitar, and Gary Erickson on drums and vocals. The band plays a limited number of school dances and other events.
Early-Winter, 1964: The Shamrocks become The Showmen, the new band name comes after Mike purchases a Showman amplifier… with a 15” speaker and 100 amps, it is the biggest and most powerful amp the band has ever seen.
The band plays popular top-40 songs and play at the Anoka Armory, a local teen center in the basement of a hamburger place; and at dances held at the high school.
Spring, 1964: George Ridge leaves the band and Rocky Blake joins the band on keyboards. Rocky is also a student at Anoka High School. Bruce Madison, guitar player with Gregory Dee and The Avanties takes an interest in the band and books them in clubs and ballrooms in Wisconsin.
Bruce Madison makes a deal with the band. In exchange for recording musical tracks to a song he wrote, Bruce will pay for the studio time for band to record two of their own songs. The session is held in the basement studio at Nic’O’Lake Records with George Garrett running the 4-track Ampex machine. The band records two songs that are pressed as a 45 on Garrett’s Twin Town label: “You Won’t See Me” (The Beatles) backed with “She Belongs to Me” (Bob Dylan). “Bob” Anderson and Gary Erickson sing lead on the A-side and “Bob” sings lead on the B-side. The band pays one hundred dollars to have 400 copies of the 45’s pressed up.
Fall, 1965: Mike Butche and “Bob” Anderson leave the band. Gary, Dale and Rocky decide to carry on with a new band. Mary Jo Yankovich joins the band on vocals and Steve Wiseal joins on guitar. Gary comes up with a new band name, Hour Glass. The lineup is: Mary Jo Yankovich on lead vocals; Steve Wiseal on guitar; Rocky Blake on keyboards; Dale Johnson on bass guitar; and Gary Erickson on drums and vocals. With a female singer, the band covers more girl groups and male/female duets including Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye and Sonny and Cher. The band uses a large hour glass as a stage prop that sits on top of the organ and is turned over at the beginning of each set. When the sand fills up the lower section of the hour glass, the set comes to an end. The band members decide to dress in Medieval style clothing. The guys purchase tunics from a costume shop in downtown Minneapolis (embroidered sleeves added by a relative with a sewing machine) to wear with black slacks and black suede boots that zipper up the back. Mary Jo wears long, flowing dresses.
David Anthony now books the band and they play out state venues in Minnesota and venues in Wisconsin including roller rinks, clubs and ballrooms.
The band purchases a bus for a band vehicle, but the engine goes out on their first trip to a job in Jackson (Southwest, Minnesota) and the band returns to a car and a rented trailer.
March, 1968: Gary enters the military service and Hour Glass comes to an end.
In 2011 Gary Erickson reports: There are a very limited numbers of The Showmen’s 45 known to exist, as a number of the records were damaged and a number were discarded; the band did two sessions at Garrett’s basement studio for the Showmen 45, the first to record the music tracks and a second session to add the vocal parts; Hour Glass played a memorable job with The More-Tishans on a 4th of July concert at a ballroom in Clayton, Wisconsin; Hourglass played at George’s Ballroom in New Ulm; the hour glass used by the band on stage became damaged at some point and was discarded; there is one photo known to exist of the Showmen and no photos of Hour Glass, however, there is one photo of Gary playing drums with the band; The Showmen were known as the band from Anoka and The Ivymen were known as the band from Coon Rapids; another band from the area in the early 1960’s were The Blue Lights with Bill Jordan; Gary’s original Ludwig drum set (purchased at Dahlgren’s drum store in downtown Minneapolis) is currently in his basement and he has taken up playing the ukulele; the drum head with the painted words “Ye Olde – Hour Glass” has survived the years, mounted on a basement wall.
Listen – You Won’t See Me
Listen – She Belongs To Me
(image of Bandtree)