(Dartanyan Brown was Bassist and Lead Singer for the Chase Band from April 1973 until the band's untimely end in August 1974. In response to numerous requests from fans worldwide, Dartanyan relates the following tales after 24 years. Enjoy)
The year was 1973 and winter was begrudgingly releasing its
grip on Des Moines and the rest of central Iowa. The seasons in Iowa are distinct
and severe and the chilly March wind only revealed a hint of the spring to come.
The house, a rather huge 5 bedroom house with an attached high ceilinged studio
was the hub of activity for myself and the band I was playing in called Mothership.
I was attempting to build a life as a working musician in town after spending
the period from 1970-1972 on the road playing with a great blues band called
Wheatstraw featuring Ron Dewitte from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on guitar.
At 22, I was ambitious and now as I look back on it, I was extremely hungry to play with the very best players I could find. Thanks to playing with local Des Moines musicians George Clinton, Sam Salomone, Tom Gordon, Don Archer, Joanne Jackson, Bobby Jackson, Rod Chaffee, Mike Edwards, Rick Lussey, Harlan Thomas, and Speck Redd, I was extremely motivated to follow the path of music. Musical discipline tends to be its own reward and of course, at that time in history, we actually thought we could change the world with music. Kinda like day traders do now;-)
On the road....
The first time I heard Bill Chase was in Fond du Lac Wisconsin
in 1971 probably about a week after the first album was released. Ron Dewitte,
Craig Horner, David Bernstein and I were all playing one of those great little
near beer teen gathering places so common in the northern Wisconsin
lakes region. The name might have been Judy's Gin Mill or something cute like
that. It was a Friday afternoon and David, Ronnie and I were sitting around
doing basically nothing. Things were calm until Craig literally burst through
the door (knocking over a nightstand in the process) and leaped to the record
player. He took the record that was playing on the turntable and frisbeed
it across the room. Replacing it with another one, he said: You guys are
NOT going to believe this...! Well, wed heard a lot of music and
sarcasm was starting to take over until the needle hit that first note of Open
At this point, Ill leave you to remember the first time YOU heard Chase. Thats the reason any of us are here (hear) interacting in the first place. Hearing the album definitely changed my impressions of what music could be; but I had no idea of how William Chases music would soon literally reshape my life in the years ahead.
Wheatstraw was in was an idealistic, talented, naive (at least I was) band, attempting at doing music business with no business plan. What we did have was raw love for the music and we made it work for two years as I said earlier. When reality finally caught up to us, I went back to Des Moines to write music and work on a journalism degree.
Well, in Des Moines my first working group was an
extremely funky quartet with members Phil Aaberg on piano, Rod
Chaffee on guitar and Tom Gordon on drums. It was a great group.
A band of writers, we were a precursor to the Bruce Hornsby-type jazzy roots music which you hear these days. Funny, in those great days we morphed from one style to another with relish. It was a joy to listen to John Coltrane, Paul Butterfield, John Cage, Tree, Donny Hathaway and the Sons of Champlin and to incorporate such disparate forms in our own compositions.
It was a great band with talent to burn and
unfortunately for our band (but fortunately for my future) Tommy
Gordon was called by Jerry Manfredi, Chase's bass player at the time
to join the band (The Ennea album had been released months
Tommy was a great drummer who jumped at the chance to play with Bill, he was off to Chicago to play with the hottest true fusion band of the early 70s.
Of course, it meant the end of our great little Des Moines band but things were far from boring....
Next: Jaco in my house and Bill Chase on the phone....
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