To Our Too Smooth Friends and Fans

From Jeff Clark

(Early 2008)

 

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.

 

Okay, finished?  If so, then read on …

 

Meanwhile out of the (historical) blue comes David Jones with Waco ’s Texas Music Café (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 Texas 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 delayed leaving Waco and couldn’t make it to Austin 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 Waco 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 at The University of Texas . 

 

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 Waco 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 “ Texas Music,” released in 1998 by St. Martin ’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 Austin while playing with Trace Adkins at the Travis County 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 history.        

 

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 Austin .  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 Waco – 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 Waco – 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, Del 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 for 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 …