Thursday, July 22, 2010

Family Band Vol. 1 & 2

God, I love summer. This heat, the unremitting shimmering heat, the great equalizer, making everyone a sweaty, grimy, stinky mess, no matter how hard they try to evade it. The beautiful look like crap, the downtrodden look like crap, and everyone smells the same since they took coconut out of sunblock because the upcoming generations swell up and explode when coming into contact with any nut substance...
Ever been to Saskatchewan? It's hot out there. In summer. Whereas it's colder than a witch's cucumber in winter. I've been to the Great Rectangle (more of a Great Rhomboid, really) many, many times... two, in fact - once driving there in a big blue van, the next time a fly-in (booorring! Rather use wheels), and it was scorching. And as flat as my current bank account.
The "Family Band" - or "The Heitt Orchestra featuring Donna Boser," we're not sure which - hails from a small town in Sask (you can call it "the Chew-On", but be prepared to find yourself at the wrong end of a grain elevator), Revenue, while Donna Boser comes from Reward. It's true - Reward and Revenue. The back of the Vol.1 LP tells me so. Both towns are edging towards the Alberta border heading right between Edmonton & Calgary, the towns separated by Ear Lake.
There's not a hell of a lot to do in small-town Saskatchewan, trust me. I have relatives in a place called Anaheim that has a gross pop. of around 200 and no Disneyland. Who needs Mickey Mouse when you've got dilapidated farm-houses to explore? While there we (I'll be flipping back 'n forth here for awhile so hold on) found my mom's old house where she was raised for a couple years til they shifted to Vancouver. Lots of furniture and things lying around, general decay, holes in the walls and ceiling, etc. like any good haunted house except with diamond-sharp sunlight fading everything in sight to a dismal pastel within minutes.

The Heitt's went and formed a band together: dad Frank on accordian, joined by wife Adeline since 1954 on rhythm guitar and further accompanied by sons Blane, 19, on bass, Glen, 15, on banjo and Larry, 13, hitting the pigskins. As of 1974 they needed a vocalist so they could play the bar circuit & cocktail lounges: in came Donna, and they were a hit, so much so that they would travel into AB to record Family Band Vol.1 on the Project 70 label.
Now, I've had the LP for a few years and only did some online searching lately, surprised to find the cover making a few "bad album cover" sites. Not surprised that it's there, as you can see in better detail by clicking the image below, but
surprised that such an obscure item has made a few rounds. While somewhat obscure, it probably isn't near as hard-to-find as their second outing, fittingly titled Family Band Vol.2. When I grabbed the album Vol.1 at an SPCA thrift, I found the vinyl for Vol.2 sitting inside. A couple years later I actually came across another copy of Vol.1, and nearly put it back before remembering the mix-up, checked inside, and went home with both volumes in my collection. While #1 was on an actual label, 2 was on the family's own imprint (Heitt Records, and recorded at Eagle Creek Studio in Rose Town, SK), and a Google search won't bring up any Vol.2 images. If anyone knows of a scan or image of #2, please send it on in... I'm dying to see the newer group image!) The label for the second album features an interesting printing error, if the info from the first LP is right: under 'featuring', they list a "Donna Heitt and Koreen Boser", so someone got the post-its screwed up, as I only hear Donna's vocals going at it, and another search reveals it is in fact "Donna Boser" - she has her own, albeit incredibly slight, entry in a Canadian music directory, listing her as residing in Unity and still singing.
And what singing. I can honestly say I've never witnessed the octavural trillery that emanates from Donna. And that's not bad. Does it mesh with the band's upbeat polka-rock? I like to think that maybe it does. Maybe.
Out of the two collections I've snatched three selections - two covers, and... another cover, as I think "...Beer" is traditional. I would call these the highlights, but if anyone wants more, I'll go ahead and get everything down & make it available.
So, get ready to add yet another file to your "Unlikely Beatles Covers" jacket and please, turn up the volume.

(EDIT: have just added the remainder of the two LP's - minus the three tracks listed - due to request. 1-16 are Vol. 1, 17+ are V2)

Track listing, sorta:
    A1 Searching
    A2 Wedding Waltz
    A3 Help Me Make it
    A4 In Heaven There is No Beer
    A5 Never Ending Love
    A6 Boogie in 'A'
    B1 Blue Skirt Waltz
    B2 Beautiful Sunday
    B3 Love, Love, Love
    B4 Just Another Polka
    B5 Did She Mention My Name
    B6 O Bla Di O Bla Da

Download here:
In Heaven There Is No Beer
When I Saw Her Standing There
Rock Around the Clock/Blue Suede Shoes


Thomas Hutchings said...

thanks for sharing this! I saw the cover and wanted to hear the music!

KL from NYC said...

Yeah, sure, post the whole thing.
I'm learning about the varieties of Canadian music from blogs like yours -- but, is this what I'm supposed to be learning? (Go ahead, post the LP.)

You might get a kick out of Mr. Ed's blog. He's originally from BC but now resides in Washington state (US), and he works/record shops on both sides of the border. His blog is here:

And Grey Calx at A Basement of Curiosities might be interesting to you, too. (In fact, I'm e-mailing him to tell him about your blog.) He's got some off-the-wall things (like "Advanced Elk Calling") mixed in with off-beat music and not-quite-normal novelties. He's here:

It's best to tackle their blogs when you have the time to page through them because everything is mixed in.

Laszlo Q. Panaflex said...

Awesome information, thanks! Now that I'm back I'll check it all out, and get to posting the LP's.

Ged Heidt said...

Must have listened to those albums 1000 times growing up. My mom and my dad (Franks brother) had both records.