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US 69 - Yesterday's Folks (1969)





'Since 1968 was so full of depression and sadness, it was time for some comic relief. With this thought in mind, among others, Doc Cavalier and Ed Read found the appropriate comic. Enter Bill Durso, second place winner in the Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest, with a satiric tongue in his unshaven cheek. As a jazz-flavored writer-musician, he had long sought the right combination of people to give his group that special magic an audience can feel when they see a professional act.

'In spite of this, he formed U.S. '69, your friendly neighborhood band of Mexican Banditos, whose past record individually had run the gamut from Bar Mitzvah to Supermarket openings, playing their peculiar brand of no-brow music. As their recording engineer Bill Lobb, ex-taco salesman on Sunset Strip, had said, "Unexploited talent is worthless." Floundering individuals became the group that Bill Durso did not envision, wandering minstrels in an age of mass media.

'But that name? Well, one day, while driving through Osceola, Bill happened to pick-up four sleepwalkers, who quickly asked, "Hey, Man, where are we? Where's the Gig?". Their hip language, together with having five people in the cab of a '47 pick-up, made Bill recognize that they had a certain air about them: they were musicians! "This is route U.S. 69," he said, "Hey, what a name for a group," they replied. But Durso didn't dig being named after a road. "Well, next year's '69, we could name it after that." But Durso said, "Sure, but what are we going to do in 1970?". Well, with such immediate mental rapport, the union was inevitable.

Gil Nelson - bass
Bill Cartier - drum
Bill Durso - vocal, guitar
Don DePalma - trumpet, piano
Bob DePalma, Gil Nelson - sax, flute



'Bill finally decided that it would mean 2069, futuristic, mystical, and all that jazz; he figured that in 100 years they should make it, or at least be "camp." Since Bill had eight tunes and four musicians lying around, they decided to stay together long enough to make one album. With such a disreputable crew this was some undertaking.

'Visually the group was "funk" personified, especially Durso, with his Phyllis Diller prize winning figure, yet this only hastened their success. Bill was the recipient of the Major Bowes' "So you think you can write a tune" Award; brothers Don and Bob DePalma, with drummer Bill Cartier, received the Distinguished Flying Cross from Seagrams, and bass fellow and snappy dresser, Gil Nelson, was voted Sinister Figure of the Year.

'Anticipating the smash success of this first album, the rags-to-rags group, purchased their first vehicle from co-manager Ed Read, part-time car salesman. As the unique choice of cars, Durso said, "We have an image to up-keep." To all this, Durso's Mom was overheard to say, "Just because Buddah pays them money, doesn't make them professional."' --The Shark, Cynic in Residence

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