Smoke Blues Band | Bald Eagle Moan

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Bald Eagle Moan

by Smoke Blues Band

Blues...from Salt Lake City, 1970...the real thing from a group dedicated to the blues form.
Genre: Blues: Chicago Style
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. You Got Me Running
3:10 album only
2. My Baby's Sweeter
3:46 album only
3. It's Raining Here
3:21 album only
4. Mystery Train
3:07 album only
5. You Gotta Move
2:46 album only
6. Baby Please Don't Go
1:56 album only
7. Fever
3:53 album only
8. Walking Blues
2:10 album only
9. Too Much Alcohol
2:42 album only
10. Yonder's Wall
2:28 album only
11. Pledging My Time
2:26 album only
12. Motherless Children
3:16 album only
13. That's Alright
2:43 album only
14. Pickle Jam
0:50 album only
15. Watch Yourself
2:15 album only
16. Warm Up Jam
1:14 album only
17. It Hurts Me Too
4:07 album only
18. Help Me
5:16 album only
19. Miller Jam
18:44 album only


Album Notes
Bald Eagle Moan by Smoke Blues Band
Bastille Family Records

After a wait of more than thirty years, the music of one of Utah's premiere bands from the tumultuous era of the 1960's is finally released on compact disk.

Smoke Blues Band was born in 1967 when several young musicians living near the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City joined together to play the music which they loved, which was the blues.

They felt that the majority of the main progressive rock bands of the day had contaminated and diluted this most basic American music, and they wanted to get back into "playing the real thing in its pure form." Back then, Salt Lake City boasted a surprising number of good bands, including groups like Holden Caulfield, Chump Change, Wood, and The War of Armageddon.

But while other bands tried to outdo each other in emulating the new psychedelic sounds and "be hip", the members of Smoke were turning on to the latest blues recordings coming out of Chicago.

Their heroes were artists like Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Charlie Musselwhite.

As such, they began to play their blues music almost as a reaction to the overblown, often blues-tinged offerings of the new rock bands of the late '60's like the Grateful Dead, Big Brother & The Holding Company and Jefferson Airplane.

Salt Lake City, by its very geography, became a significant performance outpost for these new bands as they began to reach out across the country to promote their recordings and achieve national recognition.

And Smoke Blues Band, recognized as one of the mainstays on the local contemporary music scene, was often booked to open for these touring groups.

Nevertheless, Smoke's heyday was brief, stretching from 1967 to 1970.

During those years, the band went through periods of alternating activity and dormancy, with the occasional breaks sometimes accompanied by change of personnel.

The original lineup included: Richard Cordray, vocals; James Warburton and Mark Richmond, guitars; Pete Brandt, harmonica; John Miller, bass; Jerome Mische, piano; and Brian Allred, aka "Rotis", on drums.

Early on, Warburton left, and later on, Rotis was replaced by Steve Harris on Drums.

Jack Brady originally had been the group's manager, but eventually played alto sax as well.

And still later, Gary Soeffker came aboard to play slide guitar.

They built themselves a loyal local following, and their performances at the Abyssie, the Union Ballroom, the Fairgrounds Coliseum, Rotary Glen, the Old Mill and other venues are fondly remembered by many who lived along the Wasatch Front back then.

But with the passage of time, those memories have grown more distant.

The release of this compact disk, then, is meant to resurrect the memory of the group and a time that is now past.

The surviving recordings were made for the moment and as such, were never intended to be commercially released.

However, they are all that we have to recall those wonderful times.

As such, Bald Eagle Moan preserves a small but significant piece of Utah history.

Regardless, the listener will be surprised to hear the music and discover that these recordings retain their vitality even after waiting more than a generation to be released.

The first 15 tracks on the CD come from a recording session which took place in the ITV studios on the campus of the University of Utah.

In addition, there are several other songs included from other sources, including a fragmentary live recording done in the classic "rave up" style common at rock concerts in the 1960's.

The CD also includes a 20-page booklet complete with vintage band photos and reproductions of poster art relating to Smoke Blues Band's performances, as well as in-depth liner notes describing the band's history and facts behind the recordings.

Bastille Family Records is proud to make this recording of Smoke Blues Band available at last in local record stores such as Salt City CDs and Randys Records, Ken Sanders Rare Books, and on the web at



to write a review

Red Magazine

Smoke Blues Band makes the bald eagle moan...
The first three tracks of the album start slow, warming the listener up to the music. But track four, "Mystery Train," roars by with a lung-exhausting blues harp (harmonica) intro and outro-the stuff in the middle sounds great too.
According to those liner notes, tracks one through 15 come from sessions recorded at the University of Utah's ITV studio in the summer of '69. What you will hear is material from two-track reel-to-reel studio tapes preserved by Richmond for the past 30 years. Regardless, the sound on the album comes across pretty crisp.
One blues tradition allows musicians to borrow songs, cover them or put their own unique sound onto another blues,musician's music. The last example of tradition embodies Bald,Eagle Moan. The band puts a beautiful spin on classics by blues greats like Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, Elmore James and more.
I couldn't help but laugh at the end of track 18, "Help Me," when someone says, "the next song will be 'I got drunk last night,' night take 2,472. Hit it boys." I'm sure that's funnier to those of you who have done session recording before.
Two originals, "Pickle Jam" and "Miller Jam," appear on the disc.
Here's some more historical trivia for you: Val Ness recorded "Miller Jam" live at the West Ballroom of the U's Union Building. It stands alone as the only live recording of the band and, interestingly enough, it's a blues-based psychedelic jam heavy on the bass. And it spans a little under 18 minutes.
Music and history, all from Salt Lake City, what more could you ask for?
by Luciano Marzulli Vargas

Slug Magazine

Blues music devotees everywhere will love Bald Eagle Moan.
Perhaps it is fitting to chronicle the music of the Smoke
Blues Band at this time in American history. Good American
citizens now shout the familiar slogan, “love it or
leave it,” at other good American citizens.
I’m familiar with the slogan from the Vietnam War years;
the Smoke Blues Band years. Bald Eagle Moan is the title
of the recently released Smoke Blues Band compact disc.
The disc is a perfect Christmas gift for fathers, mothers,
grandfathers, grandmothers, that old fart at work who never
stops talking about the 1960s, and that other guy at work
who wears tie-dye everyday and who keeps playing Grateful
Dead bootlegs. Neo-hippies, original hippies, jam band
hordes, black bloc anarchists in town for the Olympics
and blues music devotees everywhere will love
Bald Eagle Moan.
Bald Eagle Moan music is taken from a professional demo
recording done in the summer of 1969 at the ITV studio on
the University of Utah campus, a cassette copy of a
reel-to-reel do-it-yourself demo attempt and a live 4-track
reel-to-reel recording of a Union Ballroom concert.
The Rev. Willis is somewhat disparaging of the last “jam,”
entitled “Miller Jam,” but it’s better than what some modern
jam bands produce with much better technology and so called
“stoner” rock bands can only dream of capturing such fuzz.
The band covers big blues names — Hooker, Crudup, Dixon,
McDowell, James, Johnson and Williamson — and they toss in
a couple of originals. As mentioned previously the harmonic
a, played by Peter Brandt, is especially noteworthy as are
the accents provided by Jack Brady’s saxophone and Jerome
Mische’s piano. Tunes to note are “Fever,” highlighted by
the sax and “To Much Alcohol,” perhaps the best track of
the disc as the entire band gets wooly and Brandt gives up
his only vocal of the set. That said, the version of Bob
Dylan’s “Pledging My Time,” complete with hazy organ, and
the traditional “Motherless Children” aren’t too bad. John
Miller (Bass) and Steve Harris (Drums) keep the bottom
throbbing throughout.
Obviously individuals interested in the history of Salt Lake
City music will snatch up copies of Bald Eagle Moan. From
a purely historic perspective the disc is amazing, but every
one involved put a lot of love and work into the project.
Herc Ottenheimer’s engineering skills, Kurt Schulder’s
graphic design, the research done by Smokey, the Rev. Willis
and Steve Jones.
By William Athey

Hal Noakes

great guys, great times and the music was pretty good
It was intense to hear again the music which I had
presumed was lost to us and still traveling out through the
galaxy. It was also good to see the pics in the notes and
remember my friends when they were all alive and were young.
If I could still drink, I would lift a glass to them all...
so, in spirit, cheers guys and thanks.

Salt Lake City Weekly

Local band releases blues CD after 30 years.

SMOKE BLUES BAND Bald Eagle Moan (Bastille Family Records) Local artists tend to take a long time to release albums, but 30 years? The Smoke Blues Band, a seven-piece blues-rock outfit formed in a seedy rental unit near the University of Utah, came together in 1967 in reaction to the psychedelic hippie bands that had bastardized the blues—they were into Junior Wells and Buddy Guy, not the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

The band’s run was only ’67-’70, but they managed to tour briefly and record 15 tracks at the U of U’s ITV studios in their final year together. Along with four raw unearthed live cuts, former Smokey’s Records proprietor Smokey Koelsch has compiled the legacy of the Smoke Blues Band in vivid detail, with an extensive 20-page booklet history, photos and concert posters. Remember The Abyssie? Cosmic Aeroplane? The Old Mill? They were the crux of SLC’s underground in the late ’60s, and Smoke Blues cut their teeth those grimy stages.

After it was determined that the name Neon Erection wouldn’t fly locally (it was 1967, after all), the collection of musicians settled on Smoke Blues Band while warming up for a VFW hall gig. The original line-up consisted of singer Richard Corday, guitarists James Warburton and Mark Richmond, keyboardist Jerome Mische, harmonica player Pete Brandt, bassist John Miller and drummer Brian "Rotis" Allred, but Warburton and Allred were out by the time of this recording. Warburton’s "acid-rock" guitar style didn’t fit with the band but, ironically, he’s been touring as a blues player (under the names "Jessie" and "Brother Music") from the ’70s till today.

Bald Eagle Moan’s studio tracks are solid blues stuff, though mostly covers of Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson and even Bob Dylan standards. The lone original song, the lively jump-blues instrumental "Pickle Jam," is barely a minute long. In stark contrast, the closing rave-up epic "Miller Jam," recorded live at the U of U’s West Ballroom to four-track reel-to-reel tape, clocks in at a staggering 18:44 in full ’60s fuzz-jam glory. Batten down the woofers before playing, it’s a monster.

This loving slice of Utah music history is available at Salt City CDs, Ken Saunders Rare Books and through the Internet at and For anyone who considers themselves fans of local music, Bald Eagle Moan is a must.

—Bill Frost