Saturday, November 14, 2015

Navasota - 1972 - Rootin'

Navasota
1972 
Rootin' 



01. Western Boots
02. $2 Bill
03. Ballad Of A Young Man
04. That’s How It Is (Playin’ In A Rock & Roll Band)
05. Canyon Ladies
06. Ole Slew-Foot
07. I’m Leaving
08. P. Farm
09. Heart Of The Night
10. Spring Creek


Steve Long – guitar
Paul Minter — bass
Ray Pawlik — vocals, guitar
Richard «‘Dicky'» Sony – vocals
Lindsey Minter – drums
+
Don Fagen – piano (03, 05, 07, 10), electric piano (04)
Jeff Baxter – pedal steel guitar (03, 06)
Bryon Berline – fiddle (03)
Mark Volman, Howie Kaylan, Clydie King, Shirley Mathews, Jackie Ward – background vocals



The Year was 1969. The new Blues Rock music had taken the country by storm, and five lads from Southheast Texas had their own vision of how to create this sound. Steve Long (guitar), Ray Pawlik (guitar), Dicky Sony (vocals), Lindsey Minter (drums), and Paul Minter (bass) formed the band Navasota!
By 1972, Navasota had signed a record deal with ABC Dunhill Records, and they were off to Los Angeles to record the album Rootin´. This album was produced by Gary Katz, and Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan fame!
Such artists as Skunk Baxter and Mark Volman and Howie Kaylan, from the Turtles, were featured on the album, and Donald Fagen also played piano on some of the songs, Fagen and Becker even wrote the song “Canyon Ladies” for the effort.

I found this one at a flea market and initially picked it up for the striking cover (how many times do you see a close-up of a warthog?).  The fact that it cost a dollar and featured Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Donald Fagen arranging much of the LP, playing on a couple of tracks, as well as contributed one selection ('Canyon Ladies') made for an offer I couldn't refuse.

In spite of the Steely Dan connection, there's precious little biographical info to be found about this outfit.  From the liner notes I know the band line up consisted of  guitarists Steve Long and Ray Pawlik, drummer Lindsey Minter, bass player Paul Minter.  He's not listed anywhere, but the singer was Dicky Sony (see the email below).  Formed in 1969, they were apparently from Texas (I assume they lifted their name from the Texas City).  By 1972 they'd attracted the attention of ABC-Dunhill Records which signed them to a contract.  Recorded at Los Angeles'  Village Recorders with Dennis Collin and Gary Kannon producing, most of 1972's "Rootin'" was best described as bluesy-rock.  Powered by Sony's growling vocals, group-penned tracks such as 'Western Boots', '$2 Bill' and 'That's How It Is (Playin' In a Rock & Roll Band)' were tight and fairly commercial, though they didn't exhibit a great deal of originality.  Far less impressive were the bands' stabs at country-rock.  Complete with pedal steel and whistling solo, 'Ballad of a Young Man' was outright embarrassing.  As for the Fagen-Becker number, well it was okay though the lyrics were largely indecipherable.  This one album appears to be Navasota's entire catalog.  Baxter went on to a stint with The Doobie Brothers before continuing his collaboration with Becker and Fagen in Steely Dan.  ABC tapped the LP for a single in the form of 'That's How It Is (Playin' In a Rock & Roll Band)' b/w 'P. Farm' (ABC catalog number ABC-11332).  Wonder if the band were aware that the single also saw a Japanese picture sleeve release ...

ABC-Dunhill sent the band out on the road where they were teamed with the likes of Boston and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but sales didn't amount to much outside of their Texas fan base.  ABC subsequently dropped the band, though they seem to have stuck it out through the late 1970s.


Drummer Minter recently revived the band nameplate - 'Navasota-Rios'.

Luckily the power of the internet recently revealed itself again - witness the following email:

"Your information on Navasota is incorrect, evidently only what you could garner from the album sleeve [well yeah, that's what I said in the original review]. Jeff was not a member, he was only involved during the recording of the album as well as Donald Fagan. The main member (singer, songwriter, and quite the showman) Dicky Sony is not even mentioned. They were known for their live acts most of all and were very popular in the seventies, receiving a lot of air play ('Heat of the Night') on KLOL Houston during the "Crash" days. (Popular DJ at that time) They were on their way, but like a lot of bands during that time, drugs and alcohol took their toll. Not trying to bust your chops, just wanted to give you some of the skinny on what was really a great band during their time.

Thanks,
Danny
April 2007

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