Navigation for 50's Rock and Roll
After riding high because of our successful recording session in New York City it was time to go to work. There were a lot of places in our area to play and we needed to get the word out about our band. Besides, we could use the money. The appearances at The Victoria Theater, Mountain Park and Pleasure Beach were expenses right out of our own pockets. Mary Gates, had financed the recording session in New York City which was over $600.00, and Don Sr. some of the band equipment. Thanks Don and Mary. So with that in mind, we set out to get ourselves engagements and make some money.
Finding new gigs turned out to be harder then it we thought but thanks to the efforts John Kawecki, Jack Baker and Don Gates we managed a few, enough to keep us in spending money anyway. Among them were The University of Massachusetts and Amherst College frat. parties. (what a time those gigs were, but that's another story) Other places were, the Quonset Hut, a big night club at the time, and the Tobacco Shed. More? Ok, The Bernardston Inn, The Chase House and Jolly's in Holyoke. I could tell you a million things about each one but we'll save that for another time. In keeping with with the difficulty of finding gigs, I especially remember the talents of Jack Baker. He had no fear. He could walk right into a night club that he was never in before and ask to speak to the manager. After he got a hold of the manager he could talk him into booking our band, or at the least an audition, or, get thrown out. What a Guy!. There is no doubt about it, life was a little different then.
In the mean time while all of this was going on Alan Orkins had decided to leave the band and pursue other interests. He would be missed but we understood. That left us with a need for another guitar player. We were use to 3 guitars. Fortunately John Chappell was around and available. He had formal training at the Boston Conservatory and the experience of playing with quite a few bands. He could also perform a one man show which was quite a feat in itself I thought. We all liked John.... great singer, great guitar and easy going....a perfect match.
I haven't mentioned this as yet but up until a brief period before this time we all had been known as "The Sapphires". After several meetings and debates we decided to change the bands name. Don tells me it was John Chappell who came up with the "The Northern Lights" name. We all liked it so it stuck. Now everyone knows sapphire's are jewels, in a lot of people's minds, including mine, it sounded to much like Amos & Andy's wife.