T-shirt sketches & designs by Frank Olinsky, 1978
I got a call in 1977 from trumpeter, composer, Carla Bley major domo Mike Mantler, asking whether I’d be interested in going on the road for the first tour of The Carla Bley Band as sound man and back-up tour manager. Mike single handedly ran the whole shebang, but one man could only do so much. Since he’d be playing in the band, someone needed to do the rest during the shows. I’d known Carla and Mike for much of the decade and we’d already worked well together at their non-profit New Music Distribution Service. Carla was an clearly an extraordinary composer (her “Ida Lupino" continues to be a favorite of mine in almost every interpretation), an irrepressible personality, and probably a great bandleader. Besides, they were offering me the most money I’d ever made.
I’d always wanted a road gig, but the closest I’d ever gotten was turning down the Blue Öyster Cult (mine was never really a rock’n’roll personality), so I had a hoot. Over a few tours I got to work daily with a motely crew of misfit genius musicians as great and diverse as Roswell Rudd, Terry Adams, Don Preston, Philip Wilson, Andrew Cyrille, George Lewis, and Gary Windo. (Emblematic was the hiring of pianist/composer “Blue” Gene Tyranny who Carla brought on without hearing a note, she just loved his name.) Never too crazy, never too normal, it was an unbeatable experience to tour North America before I quick-turned into media full time.
Prepping for our first European Tour I commissioned a tour T-shirt from my school friend, designer Frank Olinsky (future co-designer of the MTV logo for me). As they were coming off the press and we were heading up to Woodstock for rehearsal, my freelance radio boss Dale Pon called and demanded I move with him to Los Angeles to re-launch an FM radio station in Los Angeles. Over a three hour period he cajoled and screamed and persuaded me to change the rest of my life. I hated to miss the shows, and Mike and Carla were none too happy with me, but the future beckoned.
(T-shirt sketches & designs by Frank Olinsky, 19780 comments Tagged: Carla Bley, Dale Pon, Michael Mantler, WHN, tour, watt, producingrecords,.