Sonobeat History 1974

1974: Cutting a new path

Sonobeat's first sessions of 1974 are live recordings of the Country Nu-Notes onstage at south Austin's Broken Spoke dance hall
Sonobeat's Blue Hole Sounds studio, nestled in the Texas hill country on the outskirts of Liberty Hill

The relocation of Sonobeat's studios from Austin, Texas, to nearby Liberty Hill in mid-1973 essentially shuts Sonobeat down for months. Now, entering 1974, Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr. still has held no recording sessions at his new Blue Hole Sounds studio because it's taken far longer and expended more resources than anticipated to convert the old A.M.E. stone church he's leased into a recording studio. So, Bill begins 1974 with a remote recording session featuring a young band, the Country Nu-Notes, headed by Johnny Lyon. Johnny and his singing partner Janet Lynn have recorded with Sonobeat in 1973, before the move to Liberty Hill, and Bill is anxious to record more with them. Bill hauls his recording gear to the Broken Spoke, a honky tonk dance hall on South Lamar in Austin that's become one of city's liveliest live country music venues.

The Nu-Notes play good ol' traditional country music in stark contrast to the new progressive, "outlaw" country music movement that's been growing in Austin since 1971 and that's showing no signs of flagging. The Nu-Notes are somewhat of an anomaly but nonetheless are a solid and talented band that Bill thinks holds promise. He records almost 30 songs with the band during a long Sunday session at the Broken Spoke, but ultimately nothing comes of the recordings.

Also in '74, folk singer and songwriter Arma Harper begins recording from time to time at Blue Hole Sounds. Bill likes Arma's original material, a gentle pop and folk fusion, and puts months of time and energy into recording a dozen tracks for a potential album with Arma. Suddenly, it seems good fortune is returning to Sonobeat and that the move to Liberty Hill and the time and effort spent refurbishing the old church into Blue Hole Sounds have been worth it.

Although business at Blue Hole Sounds picks up in the second half of '74, during the year Sonobeat puts out no releases on its own label and sells nothing to any national label. Bill continues to accept custom work (for which he charges hourly studio rental and engineering fees) for the remainder of '74 in order to cover overhead and living expenses and to finance sessions with artists he wants to develop for the Sonobeat label.

There are many "Blue Hole" natural swimming holes throughout Central Texas; the Blue Hole that Sonobeat's Liberty Hill studio is named for is just down the road from the studio itself, where the South Fork of the San Gabriel River widens as the result of a low water dam