Don "Skipper" Young

Austin, Texas

Records with Sonobeat in 1971
No commercial releases on Sonobeat Records

Beginning in December 1965, flutist Donavan "Skipper" Young headlines The Quintessence, the weekend house band at Club Caravan in the Villa Capri Motor Hotel in Austin, Texas, located roughly at the intersection of Interstate 35 and Manor Road just east of The University of Texas Longhorn football stadium. By the time Sonobeat records Skipper in February 1971, the band includes former Sweetarts' bassist Pat Whitefield, Austin guitar legend Jim Mings, Jim's sister Martha Mings on keyboards, and drummer Jay Meade. Skipper's assembled quite a combo of top-tier Austin musicians. In fact, this is the third band in which Sonobeat records Pat Whitefield, first as a founding member of the Sweetarts, then with the Sweetarts' successor band, Fast Cotton, and now with Skipper. And Sonobeat previously has recorded Jim Mings and Jay Meade in Austin progressive rock band New Atlantis. Skipper himself is no newcomer to the Austin music scene; from 1965 to 1968, he's also a member of the University of Texas Experimental Jazz Ensemble, playing not just flute but also sax, clarinet, vibraphone, piano, and a dozen other instruments. But Don isn't just a musical wunderkind; in June 1968 he's a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering at UT. In a May 1969 concert on the UT campus, Skipper is featured on many of the 17 instruments he's mastered in a spotlight called "Skipper Young '69".

The first few months of 1971 are busy for Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr. Skipper's band is the third act Bill records in February. The session is held on Valentine's Day at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio in northwest Austin. The Sonobeat archives hold a lone half-inch 4-track reel from the session, and that reel contains three cuts of the same unidentified song. The reel is packed in a 10-1/2 inch tape box marked with only a piece of masking tape on which Bill has written the name "Skipper Young" and "2-14-71". Inside the tape box is a cardboard insert onto which Bill has annotated abbreviated session notes, primarily indicating instrument and vocal channel assignments on the 4-track session master. But there is one odd detail on the cardboard insert: at the top Bill has written "Collections", which leads us to believe The Quintessence has disbanded and Skipper has formed a new band. However, scanning Austin newspapers from 1971, we find no mention of a "Collections" playing any Austin venues. Although it's possible "Collections" is the song title, there are no lyrics in the song that would support that conclusion.

Working backwards from the recordings sequenced on Skipper's master tape, there are three progressively layered "takes" or "cuts" of the same song; cut #3 is the basic instrumental backing track with bass, drums, standard guitar, and flute; cut #2 layers on electric guitar and piano; cut #1 completes the song by adding in Jim and Martha Mings' vocals, each on a separate track.

There are no stereo mix-downs of Skipper's material in the Sonobeat archives, so the sound bites we present below are quick mixes we've made from the half-inch 4-track session masters.

Thank you!

Big "thank you" to Jim Mings for fleshing out our sketchy information about Don "Skipper" Young and his band.

Don "Skipper" Young personnel

Jay Meade: drums
Jim Mings: guitar and lead vocals
Martha Mings: keyboard and harmony vocals
Pat Whitefield: bass
Don "Skipper" Young: flute

Unreleased Sonobeat recordings

Unidentified song

Produced and engineered by Bill Josey Sr.
Recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studios, Austin, Texas, on February 14, 1971
Recording equipment: Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Scully 280 half-inch 4-track tape deck, Stemco half-inch 4-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
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The only Skipper Young tape in the Sonobeat archives is marked with just the artist name and recording date
Producer Bill Josey Sr. writes abbreviated session notes on a carboard insert packed inside the master tape box; mysteriously, he heads his notes "Collections", as if that's the name of Skipper's band