Records with Sonobeat in 1970
No commercial releases on Sonobeat Records
- Rhythm & Blues Rock
Fast Cotton • Out Like A Light (unreleased; 1970)
Dwight Dow in the drum isolation booth at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio
courtesy Ernie Gammage/Phil Gammage
Mid-1970 Austin American-Statesman newspaper ad
It's 1970 and the Sweetarts, who enjoy a multi-year run as one of Austin's premier frat bands from 1965 through 1969 and who in 1967 record Sonobeat's first release, have morphed into Fast Cotton. A year earlier, core Sweetarts members Ernie Gammage, Dwight Dow, Tom Van Zandt, and Pat Whitefield are joined by lead guitarist Johnny Richardson (formerly of Georgetown Medical Band), vocalist Misty Browning, and saxophonist Cato T. Walker in the newly refurbished band. By the time Sonobeat co-founder and producer Bill Josey Sr. records Fast Cotton in November 1970, Danny Galindo, formerly of the 13th Floor Elevators, replaces Pat Whitefield on bass guitar. The addition of Johnny, Misty, and Cato thickens up the old Sweetarts sound (which was real good by any standard), and, in its new incarnation as Fast Cotton, the band shifts its focus away from top 40-style frat rock to a synthesis of rock and rhythm and blues as well as experimental original material.
Ernie Gammage in a 2001 interview at Beyond the Beat Generation (no longer available online)
Fast Cotton records five songs at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio in northwest Austin. All are solid, tight performances of original material. The only complete mixes in the Sonobeat archives are monaural trial mixes made from the original half-inch 4-track session tracking masters. Bill Sr. and Ernie select two songs for final mix down in stereo as a potential Sonobeat 45 RPM single release, but Fast Cotton unexpectedly breaks up when Tom leaves for the Peace Corps and Ernie moves to England less than a month after wrapping the Sonobeat sessions. Without a band to support the release, Bill is forced to scrap plans for the single and shelve the tapes. But Ernie and Tom will return for still another appearance on the Sonobeat roster in 1972.
There are very few surviving photos of the interior of Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio, which is just a converted bedroom suite on the lower level of the split level Josey home. Many of them (along with Sweetarts and Fast Cotton photos) are at Ernie Gammage's website and are definitely worth a visit.
Ernie goes on to record with Base, an experimental studio band that Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr. puts together in 1972 and '73. Today Ernie continues to perform throughout Texas as a founding member of The Lost Austin Band. We lose Danny Galindo in 2001 and Cato T. Walker in March 2012. Pat Whitefield leaves Fast Cotton to work with Austin's developing jazz/blues scene, eventually joining The Fabulous Thunderbirds. In 2001, Pat reunites with Tom Van Zandt and Misty Browning to form Austin rhythm and blues/pop band Smokehouse, which then becomes the Leghounds when Misty departs. Pat dies in Austin, Texas, at age 72 on August 5, 2019, following brain surgery on July 3rd to remove a glioblastoma. Misty relocates to Sonoma, California, in 2008, and in the late 20-teens battles but, in January 2022, succumbs to cancer at age 71.
Misty Browning: vocals
Dwight Dow: drums
Danny Galindo: bass
Ernie Gammage: rhythm guitar and vocals
Johnny Richadson: lead guitar
Cato T. Walker: tenor sax
Tom Van Zandt: keyboards
Pat Whitefield: bass (didn't record on the Sonobeat sessions)
I'm Not The Fool You Made Me
Out Like A Light
That's What My Man Is For
There's Something About A Fifteen Year Old Girl
Recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio
Basic instrumental tracks recorded on November 11, 1970
Vocal overdubs recorded on November 12, 1970
Sax overdubs on I'm Not the Fool You Made Me,That's What My Man Is For, and There's Something About A Fifteen Year Old Girl recorded on November 22, 1970
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, AKG D707E dynamic microphone, Scully 280 half-inch 4-track tape deck, Stemco half-inch 4-track tape deck, Ampex AG350 quarter-inch 2-track tape deck, custom 16-channel 4-bus mixing console, Fairchild Lumiten 663ST optical compressor, Blonder-Tongue Audio Baton 9-band stereo graphic equalizer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, Ampex 681 tape stock
Fast Cotton is named for a greyhound dog that drummer Dwight Dow sees at a race track in Corpus Christi, Texas. Not sure whether Dwight bet on him, though.