1962

  

In the summer of 1961, Newports drummer Scott Mitchell and sax player Paul Demotto left for College, and pianist Dick Heintze moved on from performing for a while to marry and start a family. Blaine Smith (guitar) and Bill White (bass) reorganized the band with new players, and now fronted by singer Cal Linley (Calvin Linthicum’s stage name). The photo below is unfortunately the only one we have from the period of summer 1961 - summer 1963 when Cal fronted the group, in spite of numerous photos that we have from other periods. Taken in summer 1962, at a dance at Kenwood Country Club, it shows our full lineup at that time. Others who played in the Newports at sometime during this period include Pepper Archenbeau (drums), Paul Clarke (tenor sax), Mike Smith (piano), Dianne Meenahan and Pat Brown (“Filterettes”), and later on, John Hurd (piano and organ).

The band’s popularity grew substantially during this period, and we were often playing twice on weekends, even though we were all still high school juniors and seniors. Gigs included school dances, CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) and other church dances, private parties, some Milt Grant events, a summer stint at Glen Echo Amusement Park, many record hops for Wheaton radio station WDON, and other affairs. The band also recorded several records during this period (see below), and backed Virginia rockabilly singer Doug Powell on a record released by Mercury.

   

Kenwood Country Club, Bethesda, Md., Summer 1962

   

(L to R) Bill White (bass), Larry Swacker (guitar), Cal Linley (singer), Bob Oberlander (drums), Don Shook (tenor sax), Blaine Smith (alto sax) (Blaine played both sax and guitar with the band during this time)

     
     

Glen Echo Park

  
The Newports were the park band for Glen Echo Amusement Park during the summer of 1962. We played numerous 30-minute sets on the weekends, Friday nights through Sundays, on an outdoor stage in the middle of the park near the carousal, to an audience seated at picnic tables around the stage. Local radio also featured a clip from our record “Mess Around” during Glen Echo ads, which provided us with some superb publicity. The park had also just been integrated, so it was an historic time, and our first experience playing for a racially mixed audience.
     
    

WDON

  
The Newports also began playing for WDON “record hops” during this period. WDON was a popular Wheaton, Maryland radio station, and its DJs Don Dillard and Barry Richards enjoyed a wide audience. The station sponsored frequent dances, or record hops, at large venues such as the Silver Spring Armory, the Kensington Armory, Temple Emmanuel Synagogue in Kensington, the Bladensburg Roller Rink, and the Bladensburg Fire Hall. The Newports were practically the house band for these events for a while; we played many of them -- which also gave us the opportunity to back up different national acts, such as Freddy Cannon and Little Anthony and the Imperials, and to appear on the same bill with many others. Link Wray, who resided and performed nightly in D.C. during this time, was a frequent visitor to these hops, and we backed him up on about a dozen of his cameo appearances. Link, whose standard practice was to turn the band’s guitar amp to full volume, with treble on full and bass dialed completely off, blew Blaine’s Super Reverb amp at a Silver Spring Armory appearance -- an episode Blaine considers a badge of honor.
       
    

Monk's Fraternity Dance at Silver Spring Armory, April 1962

    
Here's a poster for one of the many private events we played during this time, held at the spot where many WDON record hops took place, the Silver Spring Armory.
    
     

Records

   

The Newports also began producing records -- 45 RPMs -- during this period. The record shown here, (Don’t You Ever) Mess Around, released on Lillian Claiborne’s DC Records in the spring of 1962, became a local hit for the band, and helped open the door for the Newports to be the park band at Glen Echo that summer. Other records and unreleased recordings produced by the band during 1962 or late 1961include (click to listen):

Deep Blue

Questions

Can’t Find a Girl (B Side of Mess Around)

C’Mon Part 2

Patricia Brown

Charlotte’s Revenge

 

     
    

Doug Powell -- Ft. Lauderdale

    

In the spring of 1962, Doug Powell, a Virginia-based rockabilly singer who had enjoyed several D.C.-area hits, asked the Newports to back him on a record. We recorded Ft. Lauderdale with him at Edgewood Studios in Washington, and the song was subsequently released on Mercury Records. Players on the session included Bob Oberlander (organ), Bill White (bass), Paul Clarke (tenor sax), Pepper Archenbeau (drums), and Blaine Smith (guitar). While Doug has largely been forgotten for decades, interest in him and his innovative music revived in 2009, when JSP Records in England released the outstanding two-disc collection Virginia Rocks: The History of Rockabilly in the Commonweath, which includes two of Doug’s records (Jeannie with the Dark Blue Eyes, and The Lord Made a Woman). The Newports are proud to have shared at least a small part in his legacy; listen to Ft. Lauderdale.
      
      

The Newports
P.O. Box 448
Damascus, Maryland 20872
mbs@nehemiahministries.com

   

Celebrating Washington, D.C.’s Legendary Oldies Band