Tuesday, 22 January 2008
The band was based out of New York City and existed from 1965-66. Originally they were known The Downchildren, taking their name from a Sonny Boy Williamson song, Mr Downchild. They began as a bar band, performing covers and some blues numbers, scoring gigs at bars in the Hampton’s and frat parties at Columbia College. The band consisted of John Sagner (Organ), Jan Egleson (guitar), Peter Schubert (bass) and Bob Norman (guitar), plus various drummers.
In 1965 The Downchildren entered Impact Sound in NYC, home of ESP Records, to record some demos. The sessions were engineered and by Richard Alderson and Elmer Gordon, who were working with the ESP roster at the time. Richard & Elmer spent some time with the band, laying down numerous tracks of mostly original material.
Richard was also Albert Grossmans soundman and the band were some of the first to hear the live tapes of Dylan's early shows from England with the Hawks. Their Fender Showman amps were stored at the studio and were used in some of the sessions by the Rain. Garth Hudson was in tinkering with his Lowrey Organ and ended up playing on a track with the group which no one seems to be able to locate as of yet.
Richard & Elmer were well connected and hooked the band up with some high profile opening slot gigs. As the Downchildren they opened for Chuck Berry at the Village Theatre (later the Fillmore East) and as The Rain shared the bill with The Loving Spoonful at Asbury Hall Convention Hall. .
Out of the sessions at Impact came the single "Take It Away/City Lovin'" (MGM 13622). Released in 1966 this was recorded as The Downchildren but released under the new band name, The Rain. John also remembers seeing this 45 pressed up on MGM subsidiary Cub.
Unfortunately the single flopped and the material recorded at Impact was canned. During this time the band had recorded an albums worth of material as The Rain. Efforts are being made to locate these tracks.
Two years after the recording at Impact, Peter, John and Bob reformed as Shortnin' Bread, and were joined by Marc Wenner on harmonica, who later went on to front the Nighthawks, who are still recording and touring today.
A Shortnin' Bread album was tracked at a studio in New Jersey, and efforts are currently underway to obtain a copy.
John would go onto play bass and record sessions at New York’s famous Record Plant Studios with Jack Adams. After John's departure he worked with the group, Living Proof, fronted by Chris and Janet Morris, who recorded on the MCA label and were produced by Al Kooper. At the Record Plant John witnessed sessions and mixing by such artists as Jimi Hendrix, King Curtis, and Todd Rundgren.
The 70s would see John working with Reid Finlayson in Colorado in a cover band named Junction. He later went on to record at the House of Music in West Orange NJ with a group named Terraplane, fronted by Cush Read who now has a band called Thundermountain in the Poconos.
After a chemical hiatus John moved to Minnesota in 1988 where he resumed recording and performing with a band, and now primarily as a solo act. Check out www.cookerjohn.com
Peter continued to work, as a music director for choral music, while Jan would move into a successful film and television career, as a writer/producer/director.
Bob continued to perform folk music throughout the US for years, editing ‘Sing Out’ magazine during most of the 70s, before passing away in 2008. In many ways Bob was the creative focal point of the band. He will be missed.