Forgotten, But Not Lost, The Kavemen, One of Dallas's Many Great Garage Rockers of the '60s

TheKavemenDallas1965.jpg
Garage Hangover
The Kavemen were, from left: Roland Allen, Jimmy Allen, Rodney Vinyard, Tommy Fonseca, Bill Walden and Jerry Colwell
Longtime friends of the show know of my obsession with the local garage-rock scene of the mid-1960s; if and when I ever write a book ... Ah. Anyway. To the estimable list that includes, oh, The Chessmen, Kit and the Outlaws, Mouse and the Traps, Floyd Dakil, The Esquires, The Briks, Kenny & the Kasuals, The Mystics, The Gentlemen and The Exotics, for starters, please add another: The Kavemen.

Didn't know anything about them till a couple of days ago, when someone posted to YouTube the band's "I Feel The Same" -- which, turns out, is among just four songs the band recorded in '65. And all of them remained unreleased till just a few weeks ago, when Garage Hangover's Chas Kit found ex-wife of rhythm guitarist Tommy Fonseca, who lives in Mesquite and who let him post the acetates cut at the late, great landmark Sumet-Bernet Sound Studios. And they didn't cut 'em with just anyone, I discovered after making a few calls this afternoon.

Says Carlene Fonseca on Garage Hangover: "The band got together first as an instrumental group playing at Twilight Time Skating Rink in Dallas [and] for high school dances at H. Grady Spruce High School and E. B. Comstock Junior High." Carlene's a '69 grad of the Spruce, pride of Pleasant Grove. Kit adds that the band also played the Surfers A Go Go, a converted bowling alley at C.F. Hawn and Raynelle Ave., where Johnny Green and The Green Men were among the regulars.

I asked Angus Wynne if he remembered the Kavemen; "barely," he said. Angus suggested I call famed engineer Phil York, who told me he didn't get to Sumet-Burnet till '69. (York also said this afternoon he's working on his memoirs, which will include stories about these legendary late-night Rolling Stones sessions cut at Sumet-Burnet, which he happened to record.) York recommended I call the legendary engineer Bob Sullivan, his predecessor at Sumet-Burnet.

"I sure did do a session with the Kavemen," says Sullivan from his Oklahoma home. "I recorded all those bands -- The Chessmen, the Five American, Jon and Robin. I don't remember the personnel or what we did. But I remember the Kavemen. I thought it was an unusual name for band. That, and the 'K.' But I've been doing this since the 1940s, and I did so many of them ..." Like, say, Elvis Presley and Hank Williams at the Louisiana Hayride. And Merle Haggard. And Johnny Winter. And Bob Wills's final sessions. For starters.

So. Visit Kit's website, and download all four Kavemen songs -- "Can't You See," especially, a true gem even with its skips and pops.

And: Happy Thanksgiving to all the Friends of Unfair Park. See you Friday morning.
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13 comments
Mike Rhyner
Mike Rhyner

and this Bill Walden--was he ever known as Fred?...there was a drummer I knew from that part of the world and I'm thinking that's got to be him--it looks very much like I remember him...but I only knew this guy as Fred, not Bill

Mike Rhyner
Mike Rhyner

I remember the Kavemen showing up at Shamrock Roller Rink in Lancaster quite often but I knew little about the band--didn't know they were Pleasant Grove guys until this emerged...one fairly substantial bullet point i do recall was a guitar player who played overhand...not sure if he is in the group when the shown photo was taken but whenever you ran across something like that back then, it got your attention

Shadow60
Shadow60

I'm a mid 60's guy from Dallas. Your article brought back lots of memories. I knew some of these guys.  Sorry to hear that Cecil Cotton of the Briks is gone.  What about Marc Benno, Benny Darvon and The Bagettes blew me away.  Also, Mark Lee was an early promoter and agent while he was still at Hillcrest Hi.  Thanks.

Parisrec
Parisrec

Don't forget the Sensations!  xxminzer

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Robert, amazing post, I respect you keeping a piece of Dallas history alive and kicking! 

Ken
Ken

Thanks for this great stuff and for keeping the history alive.  Although not from this area originally, I was around enough to know (or know of) a lot of these groups.  The Briks were great, as were the Green Men.  Saw the Kavemen a couple of times. 

rachum
rachum

I really like that Chessmen song u put up a couple of weeks ago. Of course I've never remotely heard of any of these peoples, but kudos to you for diggin' em up. Too bad Dallas didn't have Sam Phillips....or something like it. 

Texasdave60
Texasdave60

Mark Lee went on to partner with danny eaton and Clint Birdwell at 462.  Mr. Eaton is now the big gun for Live Nation in this part of the country.  Can't say what Mrs' Bridwell or Lee are up to.  I spent many hours as a stagehand on crews fro some great shows 462 promoted.

Paula
Paula

But Dallas DID have someone like Sam Phillips....

Paula
Paula

(Google "Jim Beck.")

rachum
rachum

Robert, u should do a documentary; books are too academic;) This is all cool stuff. Rufus Walkin' the Dog Thomas - love him. He was a character; always out and about in Memphis. Sat next to him one time at The Buntyn (google it) - turnips, chicken-dumplins and Rufus - it's the stuff that dreams are made of:)

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Jim Beck's studio was on Ross. His death, a tragic one, is what led to the demise of Dallas as a country capital and led to the rise of NashVegas. I mentioned him here, but wrote extensively about Beck in the mid-'90s. I will have to dig up that piece, but the one linked to below sends you to the tragic tale.

http://blogs.dallasobserver.co...

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