Our Too Smooth Friends and Fans
From Jeff Clark
It has been awhile
since the Waco Jubilee Theater Too Smooth show, not to mention the previous
time dating back to the January 2007 Saxon Pub reunions. The evolution of numerous projects to
rediscover and revive the music and chemistry of Too Smooth has been
counterbalanced with challenges and enjoyment, anticipation and surprise,
responsibilities and fun. So let me
share an update of the chain of events that have created captured moments of
Too Smooth and its unique music and fused talents (if I may say so).
If you have not read my “Too Smooth Thanks Dean and Sid,” please pause here and read it.
finished? If so, then read on …
Meanwhile out of the (historical)
blue comes David Jones with
(TMC). In 2006, he learned that he had
missed previous Too Smooth reunions and wasn’t going to stand for it any
longer. He adamantly offered to film a
Too Smooth reunion show to be edited with interviews into a 30-minute
television program. Heck yeah! As usual, the first hurdle was to find a date
that all four original members were available – and could stay available. This didn’t entail just a few short phone
calls! Also, we try to include former
band members -- another difficult task due to the demands of their talent.
The January 2007 dates at
Saxon Pub were finally confirmed by the original four band members, with the
intent of the
Music Café crew of three cameramen shooting both shows on the last night. We all know what a great sounding room the
Saxon Pub is, but it can get quite tight in there, especially when the Too
Smooth friends and fans, affectionately known as Smoothies, come out in droves
and support us old dogs!
Well, the TMC guys were
and couldn’t make it to
early enough to
set up and catch the 8pm show. However,
those three talented audio/film gurus (David Jones, James Calvin and Producer
Chris Ermoian) somehow managed to pigeonhole themselves among, but out of the
way of, the crowd and capture three somewhat restricted camera angles of the 11
p.m. show. While our original road crew
emeritus, Del Dean, mixed the room sound, the Saxon Pub soundman and old
friend, Richard Vannoy, recorded a two-track live
mix-down to integrate with the camera mikes.
We got one!
A few weeks after the Saxon
Pub shows, I got a call from Guy (Rusty) Eastburn, our old friend and favorite
Too Smooth photographer, telling me that he had a morning high better than any
Starbucks when he heard Don Pryor’s KLBJ-AM monologue about Too Smooth. Don, as only a Pryor can, masterfully crafted
his review of the Saxon show intertwined with his recollection of the first Too
Smooth show he ever witnessed at Zilker Hillside Theater when he was only 16
years old. If you missed it, there is a
link on our website and/or on KLBJ’s website. It has been a real treat getting to spend
some time with Don. If you were at the
show where Don
introduced us, you heard me say that my parents and his father, Cactus Pryor,
have known each other since college. In
fact, my mother accompanied Cactus on the piano during his early singing days
Early in the discussions with
David Jones about the TMC television show format (specific hostess, etc.),
David asked me if I wanted to co-host (uh, I don’t think so!), or who I thought
might be a good candidate. He also
wanted a written history “voiceover” and I nominated author/writer/musician
Rick Koster to pen the storyline. Rick
and Too Smooth became friends back in the ‘70s when we shared mutual admiration
for each other’s talents. Currently
working as music editor for the New Camden, Connecticut newspaper, The Day, he has reviewed Too Smooth from
afar, and even trekked to Austin for the January 2003 Saxon Pub reunion
show. Read his review articles at the
links on this website. First he wrote
about the upcoming show in an article called “Rock Pilgrimages” on January 30,
2003, and then he wrote an awesome review about us on February 11, 2003 called " Weekend Was a Rock and Roll Fantasy, Come True.
David and I talked about
having Rick co-host the television show, but as time went by, TMC’s television production affiliation changed. The new partnership and future format appears
to be a great opportunity for our
friends, and consequently Too Smooth’s possible new exposure as well. In the interim, Rick wrote the bio and
recorded the voiceover for the “rockumentary” DVD. What a knack for words Mr. Koster has! Check out his comprehensive book entitled “
Music,” released in 1998 by
’s Press and again in 2000 by Macmillan, where he declared Too Smooth as “criminally overlooked.” Thanks, old friend,
for the kind words! You can find information
about his book at www.Books.Google.com and
can purchase it at several of your neighborhood bookstores, or online at www.Amazon.com, www.Alibris.com,www.Barnes&Noble.com, www.Books-A-Million.com, www.BookSense.com and http://us.macmillan.com/texasmusic. Be sure
to take the time to check out his website at www.RickKoster.com.
The next challenge, for the
purpose of a group interview taping, was to attempt to get together the
original four band members, plus the other Too Smooth alumni – Phil Dalmolin, Chris Skiles, Don Townsley
and Ron Ward. We built one session
around Brian Wooten being in
playing with Trace Adkins at the
Rodeo. We met at Threadgill’s
at the north location and TMC’s David Jones and James
Calvin set up the shoot. We had a great
time recollecting the ‘70s and the chain of events that made up Too Smooth’s
David Jones’ vision regarding the
Too Smooth project continued to dance like “sugarplums” in his head. He thinks and hopes big and we are thankful
that he persistently does so. We have
had to pull the reins in on him slightly from time to time, but it has been his
tenacity and goal of having the end result be as good as it can be that has us
in the position to have a really first-class rockumentary DVD.
Meanwhile, let me get back to
the chronological events. David next
began conversing with Don Pryor about another interview session, including all
alumni, to be conducted at KLBJ studios.
I was glad that both Chris Skiles and Don Townsley were able to make it
to that event. Unfortunately, Tom and
Brian had last-minute conflicts and were unable to attend, as well as Phil and
Ronnie who were unable to make the trip to
Rusty Eastburn came and brought many of his excellent photographs of the
band from the ‘70s for reminiscing and “then and now” comparisons. Yikes – 30 years sure makes a difference!
As the TMC guys began piecing
together their video shots from the Saxon Pub, David Jones wasn’t satisfied, and
frankly we were easily convinced that another concert was in order that would
allow Too Smooth and TMC to better convey our music. TMC longed to get us to Waco on their home
turf with familiar equipment, to allow for a more controlled taping. Many weeks or months later, we honed in on November
9, 2007, as the date at The Jubilee Theater in
– an old 230-seat movie theater that had
recently been renovated – where TMC had previous experience taping. Dean Schanbaum brought some additional
high-definition cameras to total six cameras being utilized during the concert.
Leading up to the show, our
longtime friend from Beeville, Karen Harrell Milburn, and our new friend and
old fan, Jerry Worrell of New Mexico, spent weeks putting together the Too
Smooth friends and fans database by using the sign-up sheets called “Too Smooth
Communication Loop” that we distributed during our reunion shows in 2004, 2005
and 2007. Karen diligently designed the
newspaper ad and two versions of the concert poster, pursued and secured radio
interviews and newspaper articles, set up the initial Too Smooth website,
assisted in writing – if not completely wrote – press releases and
announcements to the fans regarding the DVD project and the concert in Waco,
and even provided all of the food and drinks for the after-concert party. The event would not have been the success
that it was without Karen and Jerry carrying the torch and notifying our fans
and friends. Jerry, you never hesitated
when asked to help. You are like a
brother from another mother! Karen, you
are due a bathtub full of chocolate! To
the fabulous PR duo – muchas gracias! It
was great to have you on board.
To all who made it to
– thanks for making
the trip and being part of the documentary.
Wasn’t it a blast? The World Cup
Café, the hamburger place next door to The Jubilee Theater, was overflowing
prior to the show with old friends catching up on life’s events. Then the old footage from 1977, shot at KTBC
for their local television show, “Night Flight,” was shown before Too Smooth
came on – what a hoot that tape was!
Part of that program will be utilized in the documentary also.
Chris E. and the TMC crew were
topnotch. I believe you all will be
flabbergasted with the end product. The
band is indebted to, and truly appreciates, all of the technical abilities and
priority availability of Del Dean, who mixed sound for us in Waco and at the
last Saxon Pub reunion gig. Working
within the time constraints that we were under,
did an outstanding job. He is another irreplaceable believer in Too
Smooth and is driven by his pursuit of excellence. We also want to thank another road crew
soundman emeritus, Baxter Lawson, who provided his expertise, experience and
labor to help us pull this one off. Special
thanks to the talented cameramen and crew:
Rex, Jones, Jeff, Douglass, Joe and Garth!
Extra-huge kudos goes to
recording engineer Casey Pittman, who, from a young age, has worked with Producer
Chris E. Chris really wanted Casey
involved with the sound mix down (postshow
production). However, Casey’s
availability initially didn’t jive with ours.
As fate would have it, and with Chris’ persistence,
Casey was lassoed to do a mix of all of our songs. WOW! I
think we preferred his mix over ours on all but a few songs. He did an amazing job and is a super-talented
technician with a great ear for music!
You will soon find out and
understand why I now say, thank you David Jones
your relentless grasp of Too Smooth and never letting go. Thank you for convincing the multitalented
producer/visionary, Chris Ermoian, for taking on your dream project. He is the brilliant captain steering the
production and has the demeanor of Ghandi.
His well-deserved recognition is on the brink of explosion, and Too
Smooth is honored to be a part of it.
To be continued …