Rick: Howdy, this is Schultze speaking. Well, Geno got you started and I'll throw in some more about our stay!
The Sundance Lodge was a old west outpost bar/restaurant that at one time had operated as a Bordello! There was some colorful history about the place and we were eager to add to that.
When we first appeared on the scene The Sundance was the hideout of the infamous Buddy Mercer, a businessman and raconteur of the highest degree! It was his kingdom and because he was the king he also hired and fired the bands. He'd hired us through Mike Mantor of Headfirst Productions in Sparks Nevada and we'd completed several successful weeks when suddenly the drummer and bass player quit leaving just Geno and I and our equipment.
We scrambled about and after putting our collective heads together and wheeling and dealing with Buddy, we became an easy listening electric and acoustic guitar duo during the early evenings performing on a freshly built stage in the dining area of the lodge. Then we hired a singing drummer from Reno, Danny Quintana, and by using several different Reno bass players we transformed into a rock band in the dance hall part of the lodge at night!
That worked well for awhile then we decided that I should switch from being a guitar player to being the bass player so we didn't have to keep switching players and we could concentrate on just being a good solid and workable trio!
Geno: Hello, this is Geno again, So we rehearsed and partied with the great Danny Quintana. Danny where are you? He sang and played great we became a very well paid Trio. When we got it practiced up we went to Denver to be booked by the great George Gosling AKA Lizard.
Rick: Yeah, The Lizard! It's funny that we'd drive on faith from Reno to Denver to respond to a call from "A Lizard". But you know, that's how we were. Geno and I had bought this beater Ford from some guy in Reno so we could get around but we just figured we'd be hanging at the Sundance for quite awhile. Buddy had a brother in law who was in the P.A. System and Amplifier Business and he'd installed a house PA System and we'd gotten some prototype amps and a PA from him. We worked some off with Buddy and kicked in a bit and promoted the rest. Anyway, we'd come from two guys, to a working Trio. Working steady. We'd met a lot of great people from Reno, Sparks, Tahoe and the rest of the area and things were good. I always would like to thank Linda and Robin and Joy and Donna and the rest for their undying support and food and good vibes.
Okay, things are going good and we get a call. It's Lizard. (Actually, George called himself The Wizard at concert he promoted so naturally it reverted to Lizard, this is after all, rock and roll.) He was working as an agent in Denver for ATI, American Talent International I think, and he needed a band. A trio would really be good because he had a bunch of jobs for someone that could do both mellow and rock and roll. The money was good and Denver and the ski areas were good places to work. We talked it over with Buddy and agreed on how much time we could stay at the Lodge then called Lizard and the race was on.
What happened next was the trip to The Lizard's hangout, and you know that was a jump into the unknown!!
During the course of our stay at The Sundance we'd played now and then at the old Mint Casino in Carson City, Nevada. We'd switch with the band that played there and they'd go up and work The Sundance. It was nice break for both bands and good variety for the audiences. At the Mint we'd met some more wacky and beautiful characters and one of them was a buxom, dark haired beauty named Ramona. She had several Nevada business arrangements and one was with National Truck Rental. That was the company with the green and white trucks that had a picture of a mother and baby elephant painted on the sides. They had a place in Reno and she'd mentioned that if we ever needed a truck to use to call her. We had our beater car but it wasn't very road worthy, nor could we put all of our equipment in it, so now getting ready to head to Denver we called her. She told us not to worry and said she'd call them. Two days later we hooked up with her at the company, signed an insurance wavier, and presto, we had a green and white van. Then to sweeten the deal she called me out to her car and gave me a hundred bucks. "This is to help get you there.You'll need it. When you're finished with the truck just drop it at this address." I looked at her trying to think of a way to tell her how much this was going to help us get to the next chapter. Words escaped me then, but I think she understood what I was thinking!
So that was pretty much it for us at The Sundance. The last few days were tough in a sense because we'd really been a true "house band." We lived there and everyone we knew and everything we did revolved around the place. Now we'd be history. Everyone knew we weren't coming back, so it was a bittersweet feeling. Leaving good people for something that might be the start of something big.
Our one last tribute and thank you to the Sundance was to give to one of the other people that lived there, Dave, the custodian and guy who did all the odd jobs, our car. He didn't drive, didn't want to, and never even tried to get a license, but he loved to sit in the beater with his dog Tippy and listen to the radio and watch the sun sink into the West. We couldn't have put beater into better hands.
Well, we loaded all our stuff and it was Eastward Ho! Geno and I drove into Reno and picked up Danny at his folks house, loaded his drums and we were off. Off to a great start thanks to the carefully packed ice chest full of Mexican food Danny's Mom had made. Serious road food.
Now we'd made pretty good money for a trio at the Sundance and our rent had been free however, we had to pay for food and the equipment we'd bought so while we had, thanks to Ramona, enough cash to make it to the better money in Denver, we weren't really rolling in dough. Our plan was to cheap it all the way to Denver and have Lizard start selling us. So when we got out to Winnemucca Nevada, we planned on filling up with gas and getting some powerful coffee to power us into to Salt Lake City. We gassed up and headed into the Bar Mitzvah Hotel coffee shop. It was an old Nevada relic hotel and the coffee shop was funky and ungodly bright, but when we walked in there was a band called the Serria Mountain Orchestra that was from Northern California sitting there. We knew them. Here it was in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, and there they were. Weird. Turns out they were heading to Austin Texas for the World Chili Cook-off Festival. I'd known the bass player for years and he asked me to walk out to their bus with him to check out the teepee's they were carrying to live in at the festival. We get on the bus and he stops, turns around and asks me, "got any smoke?" I didn't of course, we couldn't afford any at the moment, so he calmly opens up a foot locker and inside is a ton of weed. He gets a newspaper and grabs a handful and wraps it up. "Here, this will keep you going."
Once again it had been someone or something, that was helping us to get to the next chapter.
Denver was a damn long way. It seemed to take forever but the day before the 4th of July we saw the city looming ahead. After checking our directions and asking for directions at a gas station, we arrived in a Denver neighborhood, Inglewood, near Cinderella City a big double decker mall. George lived in a high-rise apartment complex which was easy to spot and we headed straight for it but as we rounded the last corner there was a bunch of cops and fire trucks. Oh yeah, we still had weed.
Anyway, there was a bunch of firemen and cops milling about and it looked like they were ready to get to somewhere else. George was standing at the entrance watching the action and he saw us. He started waving and motioning to back up while the rest of the trucks and cars started to turn around back towards us. As the cops and fire people started blowing past I knew that we'd entered a new world and I was thankful we'd had the time at The Sundance to get our motor running.
The cops and firemen had been there because of a small fire in the basement of the building and after they left George lead us into The Lizards Hangout. It was a cool, first floor apartment with a sliding glass door that opened onto the swimming pool deck. Just open the door and you were on the pool deck! One look at the people swimming and sunbathing, and I knew this was a good spot to be. It did turn out to be a good spot, a very good spot. The Lizard had a bunch of jobs lined up for us and within a few weeks we'd become accustomed to tearing all over Denver and the surrounding suburbs playing and meeting people. Lizard was a master at getting to know people and suddenly Geno, Danny, and I were part of the local scene. The Lizard had changed our name to The Sundance Kids but we were no longer the same guys that had lived at the Sundance Lodge. There we'd been in one place all the time, traveling very little except to Carson City. Now we'd work one night one place, the next somewhere else. It was ideal for three single guys living with their agent in an apartment complex that was a happening place. Rock and Roll as it's supposed to be!
So as The Sundance Kids we continued to roar around Colorado playing in all the college towns, the out of the way joints in small towns, and occasionally trekking out to Nebraska to work yet smaller towns! It was totally a blast and we still had time to party with The Lizard when we'd come back from our short road trips. One time we hooked up with some of the girls from the apartment complex and piled into The Lizards family size Ford station wagon and caught an Eric Clapton and Bob Seger concert at The Arena. Of course that pumped us up, “hell maybe we could do that" and that turned into a loud and lively discussion when suddenly The Lizard's chariot expired. It just blew up right on the freeway but good luck was with us; it was right by the Holiday Inn! So after a few beers in the lounge we devised a plan to get home (called a secretary from the agency’s office) and continued on with our fun evening!
As our popularity grew and so did The Lizards. Since he had been the newest agent he got all the goofy jobs at first and we'd played them and done well. Gradually we began to move up to bigger clubs and better paying events. We did the ski resorts which were very party oriented places and made some good connections with more people including several connected with The Coors Family. They were great folks to party with and they hired us often for high rolling private events. However, as The Lizard began to gather more hot bands, including us, he was being groomed by his bosses to take over the big Denver and Boulder Colorado clubs. They were big flashy, colorfully loud places, jammed to the rafters and paid well. Plus there were several of them in Denver and if you got hot in town you could work a month at a time without hitting the road. The only catch was trios wouldn't work there according to the owners and buyers. Trios didn't have enough bodies or variety. They wanted the full deal, keyboards, two guitars, lots of vocals, lots of variety. We could play with the best of them, but not good enough for the big guys. Mind you we weren't complaining with what we had, we were rocking hard and loving it, but The Lizard wanted us in town for the big spots as his main band. Fortunately, it never became a problem because one of the other agency bands, "Foxfire" was breaking up. The lead singer and his wife who played keyboards and sang were available and The Lizard grabbed them. He scheduled a meeting of the minds and over a few beers, smoke, and talk, we formed a new group with the big rooms as our goal.
Well, the Rock Gods
turned up the heat because joining forces with us were two talented people.
One was a good looking, long blonde haired lead singer, Kenny Davis whose
family owned a circus, "The Davis Family Circus." He'd been
a acrobat and showman since he was young and could sing and dance like
whirling dervish. But the icing on the cake was his wife Roxanne Davis.
A lithe, statuesque woman who had paid for her private keyboard lessons
by working as a dancer and stripper. The two of them together was a sight
to behold and suddenly The Sundance Kids were what The Sundance Lodge
had become; just a memory to smile about!!
Check out Geno's website at www.genethorpe.com