Who Will Help Me Make The Music?
Some have have suggested that Donovan’s Brain is Ron Sanchez and who ever shows up. This view shows a clear lack of understanding how Donovan’s Brain exists. Every musician who has contributed to Donovan’s Brain has left a mark on the music, whether it be on stage or in the studio. It is true, anyone who passes through Bozeman might be asked to pick up a guitar, sing, or hit the drums as needed. This open door policy has resulted in sessions with bands like the Nomads, Help Yourself, and The Young Fresh Fellows. Closer to home, there has been a baker’s dozen core members who are likely to appear on a Brain recording on any given day.
While it’s widely assumed that Ronald Sanchez is the “main brain” his only real claim is that he’s been on every Donovan’s Brain record. When it comes time to make those records, he has to submit his songs just like everyone else. Anyone who participates in Donovan’s Brain has some idea what is possible, so there aren’t any identity issues.
What he does have is, some control over is the machines on which the music is made. If anyone misbehaves, the erase button is always there.
When he’s not working with Donovan’s Brain, Ron is an independent record producer, with a long list of credits. He also has a reputation is as good cook, and enjoys serving a hot curry for friends and band mates.
Ron says his favorite color is Wine Red, and his favorite actress is Julie Christie
A list of some of Ron’s production credits can be found here.
Deniz Tek’s involvment with Donovan’s Brain began as an observer. He was introduced to the Brain shortly after he’d met Ron and was given a copy of the Shambaholic cassette. Work on the Great Leap Forward and Angie Pepper’s album cemented the bond. Deniz has seen his position evolve from “honored guest” to voting member in good standing. Fires Which Burnt Brightly is evendence of his importance to the band. DenizTek.com is the source for information about his history and discography
Bob Sutliff is best known for the fab band he had with Tim Lee, The Windbreakers. They were big favorites around here, and still are. I bumped into Bob on a music discussion forum, and struck up a friendship which led to appearences on Defeat Of Echoes and Roy Loney’s album. On the latter, Bob’s contribution was the magic element needed to make the song work. When we started work on Fires Which Burnt Brightly, Bob asked if he could join the Brain as a full time member. His contributions to the new record earned him a production credit as well.
The Windbreakers and Sutliff discographies are extensive, and all come highly recommended. The Time Machine compilation does a pretty good job of summarizing The Windbreakers career.
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Kris Wilkinson Hughes is a vocalist/singer/songwriter who started in Cleveland, Mississippi forming a band during her college years called Perfect Strangers. Relocating to Jackson, Kris met Bobby Sutliff and Tim Lee of the Windbreakers and Matt Piucci of Rain Parade, among many other great players.
Moving on to Nashville in 1988, she formed For Kate’s Sake with Jay Lawrence and Deanna Verragonna (Lambchop the Band). For Kate’s Sake stayed up and running in Nashville for 12 years, featuring some of the best musicians Nashville had to offer. Meeting Joe Hughes (one half of the new romantic duo ‘The Lover Speaks’)
In 1998 changing things up. Kris moved to the UK in 2000 and she formed Cicero Buck, a duo with bass and guitar. Their first album gained a great deal of praise, as did their second. A recent EP saw two songs featured in a film. Their latest release ‘The Birth of Swagger’ displays a songwriting sensibility paired with great rock/pop and Americana hooks. Kris is currently writing for a stripped down Americana/roots project called ‘My Girl The River’. Look for an album in 2016.
Richard Treece’s involvement in Donovan’s Brain dates back to a series of encounters in 1978. Roy Wilbraham, a mutual friend introduced us, and we maintained contact for a few years after. It wasn’t until the early 90’s, when Nigel Cross suggested I reconnect, that the idea of working together some day was hatched. When Donovan’s Brain imploded in the fall of 1995, there was already a plan to collaborate. Since then Richard has been one of the most prolific participants in our experiments. Like Malcolm Morley and Ken Whaley, Richard was a founding member of the wonderful Help Yourself. After that not a lot was heard from Richard, but he was a member of The Splendid Humans, The Flying Aces, The Neutrons, and recorded with the Tyla Gang. That’s his solo on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Boogie. (Historical note: that was the first release on Stiff Records) Since the early 90’s he’s played regularly with Green Ray who have released several cds and DVDs. Berry Melton, from Country Joe And The Fish has made Green Ray one of his backing bands when he’s in the UK.
There are five Help Yourself albums currently in print. Also recommended are Christmas At The Patti and the Ernie Graham solo album which features Help Yourself and Brinsley Schwartz supplying the backing. Richard has appeared on all the Brain cds except for Carelessly Restored Art. He’s also performed live with the Brain.
More than a few of us would agree, Ricky is one of the more amazing guitarists to walk this earth. We were very lucky to have him on our team. Richard Treece passed away on May 26th at his home in London.
Tony is currently working on a new record with his band Ideal Free Distribution.
Colter Langan fills in time as a guitar player in Donovan’s Brain. His main instrument is an Epiphone Casino. He was a member of the bands My Three Sons, and the Dashing Catholics during the early 1980’s. Later he worked as a road manager for a Boston group, O Positive, which led to him singing uncredited backing vocals on various songs, and co-writing their single ‘Imagine That’ from the album Toyboat,Toyboat,Toyboat, released on Epic Records.
Colter hails from British stock, his mother’s family are from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire in South Wales whilst his father’s family originate from Ireland. He hopes some time to take daughter Olivia Rose to Wales to trace her roots. Of his colleagues in the Brain he says; “A nice bunch of guys, but I wouldn’t let any of ’em marry my daughter!”
Colter includes the Beatles, Elvis Costello, the Soft Boys, Badfinger, Richard Thompson and XTC among his influences, overlapping considerably with the tastes of former Brain member Tony Sacco.
Colter withdrew from the band to pursue his acting career.
Malcolm Morley I first met Malcolm back in 1974, when Man first came to the Bay Area. I wouldn’t see him again for another four years, by which time he was playing in Deke Leonard’s Iceberg. It wold be ten years before we’d met up again with the plan to record some over dubs on several Brain tunes. In 1999, Malc was a changed man, the happiest I’d ever seen him. At that time he was working on his solo album Aliens. Soon after, the tapes for his long lost 1976 album were discovered. This was quickly followed by the completion of the abandon 5th Help Yourself album. Quite an output from a man who had kept very low profile for the previous twenty years. You can read about Help Yourself at the Terracope Archive. All five Help Yourself albums are currently in print, and highly recommended. You can also hear the Helps Live on the Christmas At The Patti album.
Malc’s contributions to Donovan’s Brain can be heard on Tiny Crustacean Light Show and The Great Leap Forward. Two more recordings remain in the can, but will be released one day.
Scott McCaughey Scott McCaughey has been a frequent guest on Donovan’s Brain recordings. He’s perhaps best known internationally for his work with the Young Fresh Fellows and with R.E.M., as a member of the R.E.M. Orchestra (along with Ken Stringfellow). Scott, or Scorbie McCoi as he sometimes terms himself, plays guitar, keyboards, bass, tambourine, bass harmonica, pedal steel, and mandolin, although he rates the “good ol’ acoustic guitar, or maybe sleigh bells” as his favorite.
His track record is pretty impressive and Scott’s worked with several bands, not all of whom had bizarre names! These include Vannevar Bush And His Differential Analyzers, Hannibal’s Chorus Boys, Silver Creek, Algol Repmorf and The Xanthrachroid Supermarket, The Sandbaggers, Dynette Set, Young Fresh Fellows, Squirrels, Roy Loney and The Long Shots, The Minus 5, The R.E.M. Orchestra, The Lowe Beats, Tuatara, etc. In that order.
Early musical influences include, as he describes them; “Then And Now: The Beatles, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, NRBQ, Young Fresh Fellows. Now And Then: R.E.M., Wilco, Guided By Voices.” The Beatles head the pile and Scott also lists ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘Help!’ as the first single and LP in his collection. ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ is regarded as a big movie along with Woody Allen’s, ‘Play It Again Sam’ and the more recent ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and ‘The Player’.
When quizzed about his role in the menagerie that is Donovan’s Brain, Scott admits to not knowing everyone yet and asks; “Wouldn’t that be impossible?”
Jim Sangster It was Jim Sangster’s encouragement that got Donovan’s Brain out of the basement and into Egg Studio. This small step marked the beginning or Donovan’s Brain as a serious band. Ron and Jim have worked together, co-producing the Roy Loney album Shake It Or Leave It. When he’s not leading the Long Shots, Jim can be found playing with a number of Seattle bands including The Young Fresh Fellows, Mark Pickerel And The Praying Hands, The Trip Wires, Sgt Major, The Picketts and Boat Ramp Men.
Tad Hutchison Tad probably didn’t know he was going to be drumming for Donovan’s Brain, and I’m sure he didn’t expect to lend his name to the title of one of the songs he played on. What Tad brings to the drum stool is truely unique. Think Keith Moon meets Stan Laurel. These days Tad dedicates most of his time to painting. He’s a world class artist, whose are must be seen to be appreciated. Hey Tad is where you can get a taste of what he does, and buy something. Besides the Young Fresh Fellows, Tad plays with the Chris And Tad Show.
Kurt Bloch Kurt Bloch may be the hardest working guitar player in Seattle. When we first met Kurt, he was traveling with YFF as their sound man. He had his own wonderful band The Fsstbacks at the time and was earning a reputation as a producer. When Chuck left YFF, Kurt was given the call, and has been with the band since then. It would be impossible to name all the bands Kurt has worked with, so we won’t try. Just remember Sgt Major. Kurt shares our love of Gibson Guitars, especially the SG Model.
Seth Lyon Here’s drummer Seth Lyon describing his background; “I started playing music in 4th grade with the clarinet. This lasted for about 3 years until I discovered a drum set, and percussion has been my main instrument of study ever since then. I started composing in high school and this led to my interest in piano and guitar. I graduated from Eastern Washington University in 1996 with a BA of Music composition and Percussion performance. Since then I have done mainly solo work with synthesizers, computer, acoustic instruments, and a four-track, with the occasional studio work such as the Donovan’s Brain project. I currently live in Hawaii with my Banjo, and Loren.”
Kels Koch When not busy anchoring the psychedelic soundscapes of Donovan’s Brain, Kels Koch can be found down south preserving the three-chord rock ‘n’ roll that is closest to his heart. As the inventor (and self-proclaimed King, mind you!) of “minimalist rockabilly pop,” Kels’ obsessions lie in mixing the West Texas rock ‘n’ roll of Buddy Holly and the Bobby Fuller Four with the melodic punch of the early Beatles and Elvis Costello and the minimalist grit of Bo Diddley and the Velvet Underground. A tall order, perhaps, but as can be heard on the two 7″ EP’s he released with his Austin quartet Million Sellers, Kels delivers it in a fetching, and decidedly un-retro, way.
Jim Kehoe Guitar player Jim Kehoe reckons to prefer playing a Gretsch Nashville to any other instrument, although as can be seen from other photos around this web-site he’s not too hung up on a single guitar. As Ron’s alter-ego on KGLT radio, he takes the Friday afternoon drive time show on alternate weeks. Jim’s musical pedigree includes several bands from the Montana area including My Three Sons, the Dashing Catholics, H.B. Music, the Puddin’ Heads, Schmitz, Wetspot, American Furnace, the Katie Martin Band, Love Chrome, Bikini, and the Metropolitans. He’s been a regular in Donovan’s Brain for many years now, and describes the band members he’s met as; “A nice bunch of cats.” When asked which Brain songs he prefers, Jim replies; “The purple ones”. Not surprisingly Jim’s influences are pretty extensive, and he numbers among these the Kinks, the Small Faces, the Rolling Stones, Gun Club, Flaming Lips, Pavement, Built To Spill, Velvet Underground and Buffalo Springfield. Jim recalls the first record he ever bought, it was; “Gary Wright, I bought it for my older brother Pat for Christmas, but I really wanted to listen to ‘Dream Weaver’. Then my brother Tom and I got the Beach Boys ‘Endless Summer’ and listened to it while playing in our room one Saturday. It kept going around and around for about seven hours then the machine ate it, but that was okay because we were getting kind of sick of it at that point.” Jim and his wife Noelle have a young son, James Jr. and, he say; “three annoying birdchasers Macy, Tommy and Ossie.”
Tony Horton Tony plays drums in the Montana version of the Deniz Tek Group. He was the vocalist for the Billing band, Krunk. Their one album was recorded at GLEA. Deniz drafted Tony to help out to cut two tracks at Bob Brown’s studio. It was a gas to watch Bob and Tony try to make sense of the business at hand.