I recently watched the Doobie Brothers 50th Anniversary concert recorded at Radio City Music Hall. Michael McDonald joined them and they played all their great songs, that I grew up listening to back when they were on the charts.
Long Train Running was one of my favourites, which was released in 1973 on the Captain and Me album, and is one of the bands classic hits.
One of the bands I played in, in the mid 1970’s was Bounty. We were a six piece band, with a 4 piece rhythm section, and a 2 piece horn section. The band was in existence before I joined and carried on after I left the band.
One of our regular gigs was the Left Bank at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, MB. It was in the basement of the hotel.
At the time it was a popular club, and the band had a good following when we played there. The club had good crowds most of the six days a week we worked at that time. On weekends, there were line ups to get into the club. The band was able to get into the club by using the kitchen entrance.
Across the street was the Winnipeg Train Station, which had a large steam plant. It turned out that the steam heat piping was run to the Fort Garry Hotel, which heated the hotel. Being that the club was in the basement of the hotel, there were steam pipes running on the ceiling of the Left Bank room.
Bounty’s set list included Doobie Brothers songs, Cook and The Gang, The Beegees, and Chicago, are the ones I remember.
On the side of the stage in the Left Bank, where steam pipes ran across the ceiling, was mounted a train whistle that was powered by the steam in the pipes. The whistle was activated by a handle that when pulled, made a very loud train horn sound.
One of our featured songs was in one of our sets was Long Train Running, by the Doobie Brothers.
When Bounty played it back then, we had a percussion break near the end of the song. There was a lot of drumming, conga playing, cowbell, tambourines, and shakers, that the band members took and played during this part of the song.
When at the Left Bank, we had a totally unique instrument to add to this percussion break – the Train Whistle. Near the end of the percussion break, our sax player would go over to the whistle and pull the handle, and out would come a very loud very realistic train whistle. He would wail on the whistle for a minute or two, with the percussion sounds going on behind it.
The audience would look, wondering where did that sound come from. It was a sound that no other band had, and we only had it, because of playing in the club. The sound totally fit into the song we were playing.
It was an impressive ending to the percussion break. We all came back to our regular instruments and finished the song.
The train whistle sound in Long Train Running is a great memory of playing in Bounty back in the mid 70’s.
Can you guess who I am in the picture above ?
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