Monday, December 19, 2016

William Thomas Hopper, 1859-1930, Draper Pioneers

William Thomas Hopper 1859-1930 Draper, Leaksville, and Spray North Carolina was my great grandfather through my grandmother Nannie Hopper Hall 1900-1972.
His wife's name was Lucy Belle Dishman 1868-1920. He lived  in Boxwood Virginia and moved to Draper in 1908. He was one of the Draper Pioneers and watched the tiny mill town spring up and grow from its infancy. He worked in the Draper Mills as all of my early family came from a textile background. His children's names were Martha Lou, Robert T. Cora Lee., George J, Nannie and Fletcher William Hopper. Four of the children worked many years in the textile industry. William Thomas Hopper's dad was named George Washington Hopper Sr who died at the battle of Gettysburg at Pickett's charge. William Thomas Hopper is buried in Eden in Rockingham County North Carolina.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Shotgun Band Opens for The Charlie Daniels Band

The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)
The Shotgun Band was ask to open for The Charlie Daniels Band at Grayson County High School which was sponsored by the Independence Day Celebration Committee. One reason they ask us to perform was that we were one of the hottest bands performing at that time in Independence Virginia. We would perform at The Starlite Lounge on Main Street in Independence Virginia on Main Street and the business had a fire occupancy code and the club would be so packed that they had to turn people away. The Starlite Lounge lasted a short while until someone was hit by a car on Main Street and I'm not sure whether the person died or was just injured but the owner closed his doors and his business for safety concerns.
 Charlie Daniels had lots of security at the concert. They had Burns security contracted to do the security. We were given back stage passes and half way through the concert Burns issued new back stage passes and the first ones were no good as a precaution. I had taken my 35

mm camera  back stage to get some good pictures of Charlie and snapped off a few pictures and Charlie's bodyguards made me stop so I had to go out in front of the stage to take pictures. After the concert Charlie signed autographs.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Shotgun Band's Equipment, The Shotgun Band Wilkes County

The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)
The Shotgun Bands Equipment 
Our PA and sound equipment was owned by myself, Bruce Evans, and Keith Hamlin. I owned the power amps, Bruce owned the speakers and some of the lights and Keith Hamlin owned the remainder of the lights. For front speakers Bruce caught a couple of rock bands breaking up and bought their equipment at a steal. 
We had two huge 2-15 inch JBL bass scoops which had to be hand trucked powered by a Peavy CS 800 watt amp, two 2-10 inch JBL cabinets, powered by another Peavey CS 800 watt amp, and two large JBL horns powered by a Peavey CS 400 watt amp. We used two 1-12 inch floor monitors and 2 Peavey SP-2 with one horn and one 15" speaker for side field monitors powered by a Peavey CS 400 power amp. We used two 16 channel mixing boards, a rack mountable effects, and a rack mountable crossover. On each side of the stage we had a tree with four 500 watt par can lights and four 500 watt par cans across the back trestle. That was a total of 12-500 watt par can lights. We had two 100 feet snakes one for sound and the second for lights.  
Bruce Evans purchased a Charles Chips potato chip step van to haul our equipment in and we painted over the Charles Chip logo and Keith Hamlin the sign artist painted on it our Shotgun logo. 
Some other things that we did were that we had names and addresses of our fans and mailed out a monthly newsletter so they could come and see us wherever we performed. We had all types of Shotgun outer wear with shirts and jackets and bandannas to sell. All of this equipment doesn't include our stage amps and guitars or instruments. The power amps back in the day were twice as heavy as they are today. One CS-800 Peavey power amp weighed 75 pounds. We would set up all of this equipment and break it down at least 45 weekends per year. There would be a good hour and a half to set it up and a good hour and a half to tear it down. As a musician you get a lot of heavy lifting. There is also a lot of sound checking involved. Each location has different acoustics and the drum mikes have to be adjusted individually. It is worth every dollar that you make. You also have to buy all of your gas and food. There also is a lot of hours spent driving to and from the clubs and back to your home in the wee hours of the morning. You lay there at night as the song says "the amplifiers were ringing in your head" all just for a little time of the fame of performing on the stage. You have to love doing it because you never get rich.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Keith Hamlin Drummer for The Shotgun Band

Keith Hamlin Drummer for The Shotgun Band
There is so much I can say about Keith Hamlin. He was the best drummer that I have had the privilege to perform with. He was accurate in all of his rolls and his beats. He was  neither too fast or too slow . He didn't speed up or slow down while he performed. His drumming made my job as a bass player easy. 
This is the secret to a band with a tight sound. The drummer and the bass player have to play together. When the rhythm section is tight the rest will come together.
 Keith Hamlin was self employed and had his own business known as Keith Graphics. He also worked for his uncle at the local music store called The Bible Book Store. He was an artistic sign painter. He did the art work on our Shotgun Band truck and our lighted sign that we carried around at each performance. 
When Keith began performing with us he carried a lot of equipment with him. He took his own drum riser which would set him up higher behind us and his own lights behind the drummer. He would set up two sets of drums an acoustic set and an electronic set. He had his own stage monitor so he could hear himself. Keith didn't sing but every drum was miked precisely. He used a set of Rogers acoustic drums and he had each drum tuned exactly for the best sound. Before Keith started with The Shotgun Band he performed in two different rock bands. One was called Plastic Faces and the other was called Kidz. He would perform each song exactly like the original record. A drummer has to have a lot of stamina and be fit to perform for three hours in a row and Keith was just that. Keith performed with us for six years and we were blessed to have him. When he left us he did just like you would in a public job. He gave us a notice not to leave us without until we could find a drummer. Today Keith is retiring from drumming. His last band was called Problem Child a tribute to AC DC. I saw him at one of his last recent performances and he played perfect and then the ambulance had to take him to the hospital for heat exhaustion. What a way to end a career.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mike Beeson Guitarist in The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)

Mike Beeson Guitarist in the Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)

The first time that I met Mike Beeson who lived at the time in East Bend North Carolina was when The Shotgun Band was first organized.  Mike was a real talkative and likable guy. Mike also had a great family and Mike was a family man. Mike's profession was that he was a building contractor. Mike performed with Bruce from their past in the band called The Nomads from Mount Airy North Carolina. Mike was real talented and added a lot to the band. Mike began as our lead guitarist and he began to add several other instruments into the band and our songs. The bad thing about playing all of these instruments was that he had to set up and transport a lot of equipment each performance. Mike was also a great lead and baritone singer. We performed a lot of Alabama tunes at the time and Mike was right there with the harmony. Mike brought with him two electric guitars. One was a popular Gibson sunburst Les Paul and the other was a Fender Stratocaster. He brought with him a fiddle in which we played "Play me some Mountain Music" by  Alabama. He brought with him a banjo, pedal steel guitar and an organ and an old Wurlitzer electric piano. Each of these required an amplifier. It took Mike as much time to set up and tear down each performance as it did our drummer. Each instrument however added to our sound and Mike could play each one of them real well. Bruce and Mike had a lot to reminisce about  from the days of old when The Nomads performed. We got to hear a lot of good stories. 
Mike and Keith Hamlin performed with us for about six years and both left at the same time and we reorganized within weeks to continue on. I really missed those guys. We made a lot of good music and money over that period of time and hopefully made a lot of people happy. We had a lot of good times together and we all bonded like brothers. Mike I believe now lives in Rock Hill South Carolina.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bruce Evans, Lead Singer and Guitarist , Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)

Bruce Evans The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)
When I met Bruce he was performing with a band called "Bruce Evans and Gold Fever". They had a real good band and were very active at the clubs. One weekend their bass player Rick Whitley had to be out and Bruce ask me to come and fill in, in which I did. Things went real well that night and not long afterward he gave me a call and said he was organizing a new band called The Shotgun Band. We got together to practice and the rest was history. 
Some things that I learned from Bruce's past was that he attended North Surry High School and played in a well known local band in the 1960's from Mt Airy North Carolina called The Nomads. They had written some original tunes which were charted on Billboard Magazine. We later rerecorded on a  45 record at Star Recording in Millers Creek the song "Fields of Peppermint". The Nomads performed a lot of the places that our band The Caboose did but I believed we were at our peak 3-5 years after The Nomads. Bruce performed all of his life up until his very end. When I met Bruce he was working for Lowe's Hardware as a lawnmower mechanic. Bruce new a lot about engines. Later in his career he left Lowe's and began investing in rental real estate, sold insurance for the National Association for the Self Employed, and was also a Gideon. He also went back to college and finished getting his college degree where he lacked only a few courses. I visited his house one day and there was his daughter sitting on the fender of her car climbed down in the engine compartment putting on a water pump and Bruce was instructing her how. He taught his girls how to be mechanics and musicians. Bruce knew how to make money. He was very ambitious. He kept us booked solid throughout the whole tenure The Shotgun Band was together. Bruce had a fantastic voice and vocal range for lead singing whether it be rock or country music. He used the same old guitar that he had from the sixties which was a 1965 Fender Mustang all throughout the years we were together. Bruce was always good with a joke. If you told him one he had five he could tell back to you. Bruce could tell you a lot of stories from back in the day The Nomads. There is a lot to say about our fearless leader but we may end here and break it down in several post.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tony Mancusi Shotgun's Sound Man, The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)

The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County) Tony Mancusi Shotgun's Sound Man
One of the main concerns in a band is how good it sounds with all of it's musicians, talent, songs and presentations, but what makes it sound good is not usually recognized which is a good sound man. A sound man can make you or break you.
Tony in my opinion was one of the best. He was always there for us. He stayed with us throughout our tenure as The Shotgun Band existed. Tony not only was a great sound man but was an excellent guitarist who taught guitar lessons at the Bible Book Store in North Wilkesboro NC. If something failed during a performance he new exactly what to do to fix it. He could get the mix perfect on a set of drums and kept channel sixteen open on the mixing board for effects on the different songs that we did with repeats and echo. I guess looking back in time he stayed with us because the money was there and was a good supplement to our incomes. We performed about 45 weekends out of the 52 weeks in a year.  

Years later I got to work with Tony when I performed with Jimmy Johnson at the Ashe County Civic Center when we did a Tribute to Elvis. It was too my surprise to see Tony walk in and was doing the sound for Jimmy Johnson. 
Tony I believe came from New York and grew up in the Restaurant business where he worked along with teaching guitar. Here are some mentions of him from a local forum where someone was inquiring about a teacher for guitar lessons.
Definitely, call Tony Mancusi. He's very good with kids, patient, and a GREAT guitar player. He's your man. The phone book may say Anthony instead of Tony.

Tony Mancusi taught me to play guitar twenty years ago. Tony is very knowledgeable and most importantly, patient. A more laid back, down to earth guy would be hard to find.Tony has probably taught more guitar players in Wilkes than all the other instructors combined.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Midnight Cowboy and The Round Up Night Clubs, The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)

The Midnight Cowboy and The Round Up
Both clubs were in Wilkes County North Carolina. The Midnight Cowboy was in Roaring River NC on the Red White and Blue Road right where a big cement slab is now and a huge Propane Storage tank sits. The Round Up was several miles south of US 421 Highway down NC Hwy 115 on the top of a big hill. There was competition in the county so if a band performed at one club they weren't allowed to perform at the other. 
We started performing at The Midnight Cowboy first and had very large crowds for several years. The club was managed by The Mathis Brothers. We performed at The Midnight Cowboy until the crowds began to dwindle down and then we started performing at The Round Up. It was managed by the Curry Brothers. We always held the main spot of the first weekend of each month and we always had a very large crowd. The Round Up was a money maker for us. We got the wages we ask for, it was local, and the crowds were always large which means a lot to a Band. It is hard to perform to an empty room. This went on several years. The owner said he would pay us what we ask as long as we had the crowd. After a few years the crowds began to go down but he paid us a little less but by then we had went down to a three piece band and basically made the same amount of money. 
Here is a  couple of quotes by a few people on a local forum about Wilkes County Night Clubs.
Here is another quote:

I remember it and the midnight cowboy, ShotGun was the best back in the day too."
It makes you feel good to know someone enjoyed your music and what you were doing and is written about

                             Shotgun setting up at The Roundup

 25-30 years later.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County) The Middle Years

The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)
The Middle Years.
Midway during the life of the Shotgun Band we had a major change in members. We lost Keith Hamlin on drums and picked up Clayton Handy Jr from McGrady NC and lost Mike Beeson and we picked up  Mike Reeves on Keyboard from Wilkesboro NC. Bruce Evans and myself continued along with these two members. One thing about Junior he sang and played drums which Keith Hamlin didn't sing. It was an interesting mixture. We performed a lot of the same songs but lost a lot of the Alabama tunes which Mike Beeson did a great job on baritone vocals. 
With this band we entered the Marlboro Country Music Championships in Greensboro NC and won over a lot of bands and placed third in the competition. 
The next change of members was when Mike Reeves left us and we went down to a three piece band. This didn't stop Bruce we continued to perform. It was Clayton, myself and Bruce. I always wanted a fourth man but Bruce and Clayton wanted just three because the money was more. With three members  we were forced to perform a lot more rock tunes. It was harder on me without the fourth man where I had to overplay to fill in the holes. On the end of life of The Shotgun Band we lost Clayton and Keith Hamlin came back to play until we disbanded. 
The Shotgun Band never practiced except at the beginning the first two weeks of organization and if we learned any new material we would run over it before a show and polish it up each time we performed it. We did get together a few years later and performed at Jacks Drive In, in North Wilkesboro NC and used Charles Dockery from Dobson NC

on the drums.
Oddly enough Clayton Handy and Mike Reeves are Pastors of churches, Bruce was a Gideon before he passed away and I perform in a Gospel Group and teach Sunday School.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tobacco Road, Ronda NC,The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)

Tobacco Road Ronda NC.The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)
There was a popular club in the 1980's who was owned by Lee Key who went to East Wilkes High School which was located in the middle of farm country on what is now Hoots Road north of Ronda NC. The radio ad would always say take Macedonia Church Road. Lee could book some of the best bands in the State of North Carolina and also many national acts. The radio ad would always say Centrally located between New York and Miami. 
Some bands that performed there were White Wing, Stratus, Night Watch, Sugar Creek, Nantucket and even Dr Hook and the Medicine Show. Lee also booked some locals such as Plastic Faces, Prima Donna, Desperados, Midnight Country, Dixie Dawn, Sundown and Rampage. 
Lee had outdoor concerts, Super Bowl Parties, men's speedo contest, wet t shirt contest, ladies swimsuit contest, and outdoor camping. For some it was a lot of fun, for others it was drugs and alcohol,  and for some they met the love of their life. It was a place you could go and hear good bands, good music and dance and have lots of fun. You received whatever you were seeking for. 
Some of the things that I can recall were that we performed there for a Halloween Dance in which everyone wore their costumes which ended up as a wild party. The wiring in that place wasn't heavy enough because when our amps and lights were plugged up the wiring heated up. There was not heavy enough gauge wiring to carry the amperage. We performed there because it paid good and you had a different clientele

 than the people at the country bars. Sometime after The Shotgun Band disbanded Tobacco Road continued on for a short while but eventually caught on fire and burned.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County) Places we Performed

The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County) Places we Performed:
Allen's Country, Kernersville and Greensboro NC
SRO Country, Winston Salem NC
Benton Convention Center, Winston Salem NC for NC Dump Truck Association
Grandfathers, Galax Va opened up for a well known country group called The Whites. Ricky Skagg's wife was in that group.
Sparta Jaycees Pig Pickin Event, on Una's River bottom Sparta NC
Sparta Jaycees Snowflake Dance,Trojan Village Skate Rink Sparta NC
Elkin Foothills Festival, Downtown Elkin NC 1985
Tobacco Road, Ronda NC
Sacketts, Radford Va opened for Ozark Mountain Daredevils 
Eli's, State Road NC before it was Eli's it was called Sportmans Lounge 
Midnight Cowboy, Roaring River NC
The Roundup, Wilkesboro NC
The Traffic Light, North Wilkesboro NC
Donovan's, North Wilkesboro NC
Dundee's, North Wilkesboro NC
Buckwheat's, North Wilkesboro NC
Broncos, Sparta NC
Pop's, Mt Airy NC
Country Music Palace, King NC 1985
Dundee's, North Wilkesboro NC

Antlers, Blowing Rock NC
The Red Door Lounge, Galax NC
Key Largo, Clemmons NC 1984
Willie's Tavern, Roaring River NC
Star lite Lounge, Main Street Independence Va
Grayson County High School, opened for
The Charlie Daniels Band 1989
Marlboro Country Music Championship, Greensboro NC 1986
Richard Petty's Home, at Level Cross NC
Statesville Moose Lodge, for New Years Eve Dance 
Dk's Westwood Lounge, Clemmons NC 1985
Riders Roost, Ferguson NC 1992
Charlotte Motor Speedway before the Race

This is a list of places that we performed at while the Shotgun Band was together. The places were listed just one time on the list but the Clubs and Lounges we performed at multiple times during our tenure.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Origin of the Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)

Origin of The Shotgun Band (Wilkes County)
There will be several blog post on this topic because it was the longest running band that I performed in. 
We organized The Shotgun Band as a result from a split in the Whiskey River Band and the Gold Fever Band. The original members were Bruce Evans from the Gold Fever Band on guitar, Mike Beeson on multiple instruments from Bruce's old band The Nomads  which originated from Mt Airy NC from the 1960's. Mike played guitar, fiddle, keyboard , and pedal steel with Shotgun. There was myself on bass and Keith Murphy on drums both from the Whiskey River Band. I feel the reason Bruce ask me to play bass with him was when he was with Bruce Evans and Gold Fever his bass player Rick Whitley was sick or away one weekend so he ask me if I would fill in one weekend and that's where we began our friendship. Later Bruce left Gold Fever and started The Shotgun Band. 
A lot of times there were leaders in the Bands and they were called for instance Bruce Evans and Gold Fever or Max Phillips and Whiskey River and many others titled their bands in like manner. Looking back in time the band members always felt why put them out front and that the other members were just as important as its leader but from hindsight it was a good thing. You could change members without losing the bands identity, however we were just called The Shotgun Band. Another thing to note is that Max Phillips had also performed together with Bruce in the past. We changed members during the time The Shotgun Band was together but we continued with the same name. 
When we first organized and began practicing Bruce said we were already booked and that our first gig was in two weeks. I thought the time was too short because we didn't have enough songs but we somehow got through it and the good thing about Bruce was that he kept us booked continually for the next 16 years. I made a lot of money in The Shotgun Band in so much we had to file taxes every year and keep up with our expenses. We kept up with mileage, expenses, and depreciation of our equipment. 
We started performing at the small clubs and dances when we first began such as the North Wilkesboro Moose Lodge and Willies Tavern in Roaring River NC. One thing I remember was that there was a lot of drama between the couples at the Moose Lodge. We also performed in 1984 at Richard Petty the race car drivers home at Level Cross North Carolina when Jim Martin was running to be the Governor of North Carolina. Keith Murphy left the Band a little while after that and we picked up Keith Hamlin on drums whose uncle owned The Bible Book Store, a large music store in North Wilkesboro NC. Keith Hamlin worked there part time. With this current band we performed the next six years together. This will conclude this post.

             Left to Right: Keith Hall, Bruce Evans, Richard Petty, Mike Beeson and Keith Murphy

                         Left to Right: Keith Hall, Bruce Evans, Mike Beeson and Keith Murphy