In the summer of 1963, the Newports went through another major transition. Cal Linley left to form his own band, the Velures. Tom Willett (later of the Willett Brothers) joined as lead singer, and Don Williamson joined as drummer; Don was also a talented singer who sang some R&B songs with the band. Greg Novik also joined the band, primary as a tenor sax player, though he played bass and guitar on some songs. And Greg’s talented junior-high neighbor, Bill Behr, joined for a time on trumpet. Bill White continued on electric bass; and because Larry Swacker continued for a while on guitar, Blaine Smith was free to switch between guitar and sax (now tenor for Blaine).

The result is the lineup you see below, in shots taken at a school dance most likely in the fall of 1963, and possibly Woodrow Wilson High School in D.C.

The Newports were now a more horn-driven band, and for a while we focused more heavily on R&B (rhythm‘n’ blues) material (James Brown, Otis Reading, Solomon Burke, etc.). Because the British Invasion hadn’t arrived yet, R&B was the edgiest popular music available for a band like ours to play, and we majored in it. We continued to be highly active, playing at least twice most weekends, with some of us now in college locally. And we began playing more frequently for college events, such as frat and sorority parties.


High School Dance, Fall 1963


(L to R) Don Williamson (drums), Tom Willett (singing) Larry Swacker (guitar)
Blaine Smith (tenor sax), Bill Behr (trumpet), Greg Novik (tenor sax)

(L to R) Blaine Smith (bass), Don Williamson (drums), Tom Willett (singing),
Larry Swacker (singing), John Hurd (guitar)


(L to R) Bill White (bass), Tom Willett (singing), Don Williamson (drums)
Larry Swacker (guitar)     

(L to R) Bill White (bass), Larry Swacker (guitar), Blaine Smith (tenor sax)
Greg Novik (tenor sax)


(L to R) Don Williamson (drums), Larry Swacker (singing), Blaine Smith (tenor sax)
Bill Behr (barely visible - trumpet)

(L to R) Bill White (bass), Larry Swacker (guitar), Blaine Smith (tenor sax),
Bill Behr (trumpet), Greg Novik (tenor sax)

(L to R) Don Williamson (drums), Larry Swacker (guitar)

(L to R) Don Williamson (drums), Larry Swacker (singing),
Blaine Smith (tenor sax), Bill Behr (trumpet



The Newports produced another record in the spring of 1963, featuring on one side Big Boy Pete, a guitar instrumental (listen), and I Won't Cry on the other -- a vocal by Cal Linley (listen).

The Resumes


Newports member Greg Novik also had a band of his own at the time, The Resumes, which included Newports drummer/singer Don Williamson and piano virtuoso Wade Beach (now a Washington, D.C. jazz legend and music instructor at Bethesda’s Landon School). Blaine Smith also played guitar with them on occasion; and sometime in late 1963/early‘64 Blaine and Greg produced an instrumental record with the Resumes, featuring The Boss (Blaine’s original) on one side, backed with a surf version of Hold It (click the songs to listen). In 2005 this recording of The Boss was included in the CD Rock and Roll with Piano Vol. 9 issued by Collector Records of Holland, and marketed also by Bear Records.

For many years now, Greg has been the proprietor of Greg’s Bagels, a popular breakfast/lunch destination in Baltimore's Belvedere Square, and famous for its outstanding, unique bagels. Drop in there at the right time, and Greg will be happy to regale you with stories from this era!


Also in 1963


Pearl Mesta, Washington’s most popular hostess and socialite (“The hostess with the mostess”), engaged the Newports for a dinner/dance in honor of her grandniece, 15-year-old Marguerite Lyeth, which was held at her penthouse apartment on Massachusetts Avenue. This photo is from a piece mentioning the event in The Washingtonian Magazine, showing (L to R) Tom Willett (at mic), Bob Oberlander (at drums), Marguerite Lyeth (guest of honor), Blaine Smith (holding sax), and guitarist Larry Swacker.

The Montgomery Journal featured an article on young entrepeneurs and craftmen in the county, citing the Newports and including this photo to the right and the paragraph below.



The Newports
P.O. Box 448
Damascus, Maryland 20872


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