The Happening place Boulder 1973
Babyface Braunschweiger (Roger) here. When I first flew into Denver and then rode the bus into Boulder CO in 1973 with my brother Mike, I was a fairly spoiled New York brat with long hair and a nice Fender Precision bass and a fairly strong voice. Boulder was at the time, one of the centers of musical enlightenment and I was really excited to get to play music there. It was “Happening Baby!”
I had been a pro player in New York for years and was pretty certain I could get something good together. That old bit about how if you can make it there you’ll make it anywhere, is kinda true because NY is a tough town and you’d better have some skills or forget it.
I had already been in the Union since 18 working for the Steven Scott Orchestra, and had been signed to The Tokens, had a single out on the radio “First Spring Rain” by our band who The Tokens renamed: The Canterbury Music Festival (Guess they thought “We Ugly Dogs” was too acurate.) and also hired as staff writer for Bright tunes Productions. But much of my opportunities had dried up and I was itching for a change, and one day I just thought I‘m going to Boulder Colorado. My brother Mike wanted to go too, so it was set. My band however was not so happy and to this day I hear about it!
Very soon I was asked to join a country-rock band called Rocking Horse, put together by Bob Murphy who sang, played guitar, pedal steel and wrote original tunes. I was lucky enough to have Bob give us all a place to live in a beautiful barn at Hidden Valley Ranch. Bob was a caretaker there and it was a dream spot for a band to live and rehearse. And we were a pretty good band. We did tunes by bands like Poco, The Eagles, and other similar country-rock material, and some originals.
Boulder is a pretty small town and we eventually met almost everyone in music there. Robert and Scott came over and listened to us practice at the barn and I became a huge Righteous Bluegrass Band fan, going to some of their performances and marveling at their amazing talent and their hysterical show.
Eric’s five string banjo skill was incredibly even and Robert’s mandolin work fast and clean. Robert and Eric would often play double fiddles, double mandolins, double banjos, sheesh! The number of instruments the band would play, (and play well) in a show was crazy!
Mike’s drum-work had to be creative, in order not to overpower bluegrass instruments, so he did a lot of brushwork. On special numbers he played a washboard with thimbles on his fingers and a little red horn and bicycle bell mounted on the top. His washboard solos were killers … ring, ring, toot!
Scott’s standup bass was solid and his solo’s powerful, (not easy on standup). On some shows he’d play tuba, and his spoon playing rolled ’em in the aisles. And Earthquake His’self was also the voice of the band, telling stories with exquisite timing that had the crowd roaring with laughter.
The Righteous Bluegrass Band shows were astonishing to witness. The crowds loved these guys and so did I!
We also did some casual playing and singing together and it was immediately apparent that Robert and I had a very strong complementary vocal blend. I have a strong bass voice and Robert has that clear high voice and that’s always a good combo. Scott had a good ear for harmony and so we had one hell of a three piece harmony going.
Wandering around Boulder with the guys was such a blast and their band was very well known, so I got to chum along when they would walk right in to venues like Tulagi because they had played there. Often they would just go to the dressing room off the front and meet the act headlining that night. We were young, over-confident, and it was just a hell of a lot of fun. And for me, it was about to get interesting!.