Approximate dates: 1970-1971
Base of Operations: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Agents: many and forgotten
Reuben David Ferguson - Organ, Vocals, Percussion
John Post - Guitar, Vocal
Timothy Micah Meyer - Bass Guitar, Vocals
William Dennis Gent - Drums, Vocals
This band was quite an adventure for me. Bernie Blechinger, the current keyboard player for the band, had joined the Navy to avoid getting drafted, so Bill Gent called me in Florida and offered me the job. It was the first time I'd really "left home", and I certainly did it in a big way. I moved from Delray Beach, Florida to Minneapolis, Minnesota in December, 1970. It was +85 degrees in Delray when I left; it was -45 degrees when I arrived in Minnesota. I was driving a Ford Falcon station wagon and pulling a huge U-Haul trailer with my newly acquired Hammond C-3 (and everything else that I owned) in it. The trip took me four days and nights, driving straight through except when I simply conked out at a gas station or rest stop. Boy, did I smell bad by the time I got there! I was also half-crazed with fatigue, and all-in-all, I scared the daylights out of the rest of the band. I went to high school (Seacrest in Delray Beach) with Bill Gent (see Chocolate FloonandEthyl Floon), but I hadn't seen him for over two years. The other members didn't know me at all. Bill assumed that I had gone off the deep end since he had seen me last; the other guys just figured I was a total "burn-out", and were none too pleased with Bill for getting me in the band. However, after a long bath and about 14 hours of sleep, I felt a lot better and so did the rest of the band.
One of our first jobs was in Winnipeg, Manitoba at a really top-notch club called Vibrations. When we got there, it was 65 degrees below zero, and worse with the wind chill. John drove his own station wagon, but Tim, Bill and I were crammed into "The Weenie", Tim's dark green 1970 Ford Econoline 200 van. The van had no insulation at all. I had on two pairs of socks, thermal underwear (top and bottom), very heavy corduroy pants, an undershirt, a shirt, two sweaters, a scarf, a heavy corduroy jacket, a Navy pea-coat over that, a pair of cotton gloves with a pair of insulated leather gloves over them, heavy outdoor boots, and a "Comrade!"-style fur hat with ear flaps. I was literally freezing to death. Icicles were forming on the inside of the roof of the van. The engine was barely running - it was so cold the exploding gasses simply weren't enough to warm it up. We finally made it, barely, but overnight the van's crankcase oil froze. We had to have it towed to a heated garage to thaw it out. I was astounded to see that all parking meters had electrical outlets on them, specifically for plugging in crankcase heaters that every car had.
The people were fantastic. They though our band was the greatest thing since The Beatles. The "Vice-Prime Minister" of Manitoba (I don't know what his real title was) came to see us, and Randy Bachman and other members of Guess Who did, too. We did a whole set of Hard Rock, which included Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Cream, etc., and one night we were really cranking. Tim, whose stage behavior usually consisted of movements indistinguishable from those of a raving madman, got carried away even more than he usually did. (See Foundation II More Photos Page) The band was playing our finale song, What A Bringdown by Cream. Tim was doing huge cartwheel movements with his right arm and hand, and somehow got a couple of fingers caught under two of the strings on his prized possession, a Fender Telecaster bass guitar. The neck snapped in half with a hugely amplified spring-like sound. The crowd absolutely lost it. So did Tim, but he waited until we had left the stage. The crowd thought it was all part of the act; that we smashed rare, vintage instruments all the time, and Tim wasn't about to let on any differently. The head bartender took the splintered, broken neck of the bass and literally nailed it to the wall behind the bar, as a souvenir of the stunning event. Poor Tim was crushed; and thereupon was frequently referred to as "Mad Man Meyer", much to his chagrin.
We stayed at the best, most expensive hotel in the city, and were treated like kings. We took advantage of all night room service, breakfast delivered to the rooms, the whole scene. At the end of our engagement, we found out that the hotel rate that we thought was supposed to be for the entire stay was really the rate for a single week. By the time we paid the rental, the room service, and the van repairs and gasoline, we arrived back in Minneapolis with about $20.00 apiece.
We met some interesting people, too. The hostess for the club was a tall, beautiful blond named Heather; she and the hat check girl (no kidding!), a short, beautiful blond named Kathie, would become our long time friends, and still are. We also met, although I don't know how, a really weird little guy whose name I don't remember. He followed us everywhere, trying to buy us things, take us places, iron our clothes (no kidding!), and once when we were all in the hotel rooms, someone complemented him on the trousers that he was wearing. To our great astonishment, and not a little horror, he immediately whipped them off and gave them to the person who made the comment. He refused to take them back, and I think he had to wear a towel to get out of the hotel (no kidding!).
We lived at 3228 1st Avenue South in Minneapolis in a condemned two-story house; we had the ground floor and about three or four unrelated guys lived on the separate second floor. The place had heat, but it never seemed to warm up. I used a bedroom closet for a refrigerator (no, I'm not kidding).
Once again, I'm leaving out everything, like the time we drove all the way to Rapid City, South Dakota to play a high school prom. We had just finished setting up in the auditorium when the principal arrived. Walking up to the stage where we were just beginning to power up the equipment, he addressed us:
"Boys, you're fired". He stood, waiting.
"I beg your pardon?" This was incomprehensible. We hadn't played a note; hadn't spoken a word.
"I said: You're Fired. Start packing".
I had only partially recovered from the shock of total, complete rejection when I asked:
"Umm, do you think you could tell us why we're being fired?"
He had already started to turn away; he paused, turned to face us again, and with a definite note of triumph in his voice, stated:
"We found out what your name meant. We won't have our students exposed to that kind of obscenity".
Bacchanalia refers to a Roman feast which was to honor the god Bacchus, (Greek Dionysus), who was the god of wine and celebration. He was also the personification of one side of the aesthetic ideals which govern music and the arts. Together with the Cult of Apollo, the Cult of Dionysus laid the foundation of the Classical/Romantic conflict that is exhibited throughout the history of music. Bill Gent and I had attended Latin classes together for two years while in high school (under the aged Miss Vivian Craig; bless her sweet, cranky, and exceedingly strange little soul), and he had thought that Bacchanalia would be a great name for a band. When I arrived on the scene, I understood the reference and agreed that it was a cool name. The overprotective principal was proud that he (or some teacher of literature, more likely) had discovered the literal meaning of the word. Unfortunately for us, he was totally oblivious to the deeper, much more significant, meaning. Incidentally, we were quite conservative in our behavior as rock bands go. I've never condoned or participated in cursing or profanity on stage, for example. We were fully clothed at all times. We didn't eat live animals, or even dead ones, on stage (or off, I might add). We packed up and went home.
Well. I guess I didn't leave that out, after all.
One of our last jobs was a concert with Crow, a fairly big band at the time. Shortly after that, John quit (no one cared), so we decided to form a three piece act with no guitarist. Unfortunately, we never played any gigs, and I ended up digging my Ford Falcon out of the snow bank where it had been, unmoved, during the entire time I was in Minnesota, and going back to Florida. I would work with both Bill and Tim in several other bands, but I never saw John again.
Incidentally, the original keyboard player for Bacchanalia was Harry James Hafferkamp (see Everest, Mt. Everest, T minus 1, Catapult, The Duotronics, My Generation, et al.), who was also in the Navy at this time. I would meet him for the first time when he was taking liberty for a few weeks.
These aren't promo photos, but they're all I have.
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