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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Highlighting the Talents of Others Series: Featuring Don and Toni Part 2

 Welcome back to Don and Toni's story.

In their previous post I told you how Don is a talented
Musician and Graphic Artist. The picture below shows him
with his band when he was 19.
He was the lead guitarist with the band.......

The Asenders

Don explains how they came up with their name. 
The name "Asenders" was a deliberate misspelling of a printing term
 "ascender" which is the part of a lower case letter that rises.
 The band wanted to be on the Rise. 

(Explained Below)

 Well I just learned something new....

How they began:
Don tells me that in the first band they were friends around the same age who got together in a church hall to play some popular songs that they liked. They each had a part to contribute to make a great sound and that's how they entertained themselves. They practiced to the point where they had enough songs to play for an hour without repeating any of them. So then they were ready to play for an audience. They started out playing
 in a local high school talent show. 
Then they played at the local soda bar. On one sunny afternoon they played outside a 3 story building and people came out and danced. After more practice their confidence grew enough to put on a dance at  The Legion Hall. They rented the place out and took admission at the door, sold pop and chips, and had adult supervision.

This was a big deal, large stage with lighting and a Huge dance floor.
This place held 100's of people and it was filling up with loyal fans.
They branched out taking on jobs out of town. If they weren't booked out of town they were at The Legion Hall. They played at Frat parties and private parties...pretty much anywhere they were asked to play...

Then they got a call from a local place called Sandsabarn.   
 It was a teen night club NO ADULTS, located between Warsaw and Perry in New York. It was open on Friday and Saturday nights as well as on some Holidays. They would play there quite often.
 It sounds like a really neat place to be. The dance floor was filled with white sand, no shoes were allowed. REALLY How cool was that! Below is an interior shot from www.thedailynewsonline.com. You can read more about this place on that site. 
They played there as a set up band for many national acts such as:
The McCoys who sang "Fever" and "Hang on Sloopie"
 and the Left Banke who sang "Walk away Renee" 

 O how I wish I could have been there to see that!

Interior Shot of the Sandsabarn from: The Daily News
Does anyone remember Bleeding Madras Shirts?

Picture courtesy of The Daily News  
Roger and Brenda Paddack were the owners of this Groovy place. According to the article posted on The Daily news, They were inspired to open this club after watching the movie "Beach Party".

They cut their first 45 record sponsored by The Sandsabarn. 
They played these songs every week during their sets. The record was sold locally as well as played on local jukeboxes. Don tells me there are still some around but they are rare. A copy sold on ebay a few years ago to a garage band collector in Australia for $328.34 according to The Daily News Online.

Then tragedy hit the band.....

 On May 22, 1965 they lost 3 of their band members to a fiery car crash--- Larry, Darwin,and their Manager William 

This was a terrible blow to them. They didn't want to continue and who could blame them that was a very traumatic experience to go through, especially at such a young age. But Mr. and Mrs. Bloom thought otherwise. As sited in the articles below, The Blooms became sort of Foster parents for the band and they encouraged them to push forward. Mrs. Bloom managed to find them a place to rehearse two nights a week and Mr. Bloom became an unofficial manager, convincing them to recruit 2 new band members. They all decided to keep the name Asenders. According to Don the new members added energy, persona, and musical talent to the group. Don says it felt like,
  "OK we can do this".....

And they were off again.... 

Mr. and Mrs. Bloom premiered their debut at their Soda Bar.....

The Bloom's really took them under their wings. Mr. Bloom managed their practice times, got them booked for Gigs, made sure they arrived on time, as well as keeping them safe. They saved some of their money to buy an old 1951 Buick hearse to use for traveling.
Mrs. Bloom handled their wardrobe and their stage presence.
Soon after that Mrs. Bloom saw an ad for a competition between teen bands and had to convince them to enter. 
There's just nothing like a women to push you through.....
So off they go to Boulder Park in Indian Falls to perform in front of the judges.

The Asenders WON!!

However, Don tells me that this contract was never honored. The promoter and the radio station never followed through. He wasn't sure why
BUT.......They still made that 2nd 45 record.  
They did it on their own with some help from a promoter from Hornell. It was under LEE records.
Don't loose heart, it doesn't matter how things look. 
Something good is always around the corner.....

The Band playing at The Patriot Club in Hornell
Don tells me a funny story about when they were in New York City.
 The band members were all standing in front of the Empire State Building asking people passing by
 "Which way do we go to the Empire State Building"......
Then someone said "look up"..... 
 Don tells me this story..... "I got this bright idea"...... 
"I think I'll hang out of the 50th floor bathroom window at our hotel to take some pictures." 
His band members hold on to his feet so he could extend out for better shots.

(Ok, I have to admit I MAY have thought to do something crazy like this....)

So once he got home to develop the film after rewinding it he opened the back to find NO FILM!!!! 
REALLY! After all that NO FILM!!! 

This shows the new band in their well coordinated

After disbanding, some members later got into other area bands.
"We are all still good friends!" Don

In 1989 They had a 25 Year Reunion

The reunion was at the Legion Hall, Don is on the right
Don says they were all so well connected, they knew who was going to do what and when. The time spent together practicing and playing all those years together was such great times.

 " Looking back now it seems it went by so fast".... Don

Check out this Video of Don and his brother Rick performing
 "You Can't do That" by The Beatles..... 

isn't he a hoot with this "Upright" bass......

This picture captures Don in true form. He really is quite a character.....

So now we move into Don's Graphic Artist Work.....

 Don always had an interest in art. He took 4 years of it in high school as well as attending RIT for graphic courses. When he was 15 he had a dark room. He developed and printed his own photos.
 This gave him real experience handling film and chemicals. What really boosted him was designing a new cover for the High school year book. They gave him credit inside the cover. With this as well as having the experience working in his own dark room he was able to land his first job in printing just days after graduation.....

(This part of his story brings out the commentator in me.....
He had a passion for art and he followed it where ever it lead; adding to his passion training,
 in order to be able to advance to the next level. Sometimes in life we spend way too much time trying to take steps too big or devalue what we have to offer. Instead try to do what you can with what you have and see where it goes. Take a few classes, try volunteering at places that are doing what you love and see where it goes or as in my case write a blog.....)

So back to Don..... He worked for printing companies, advertisers primarily
 designing ads and logos for customers. He has won awards in logos and
 ad designs on the state and nation level. Including a trip to Cancun, not yet taken!

(Ok Don it's time to pack your bags)

Don has a real passion for art and photography.
As I stated earlier he had his own dark room where he mixed the chemicals to developed and print his own  B&W photos. This is just a sample of the things he creates.... 

I am privileged to have his art on my wall. He photographed tiny flowers and places these sweet faces in the centers. He makes ethereal  photographs using mixed media with his ipad. He makes cards featuring his art work that he distributed in the area. I keep asking him when he is going to get a website up to show case all of his creations. For now that's all I can show you.....

Don keeps busy with many different chores around the house. But he puts his creative flare in all he does....
Don uses this little "gadget" you see him holding to quickly wash the black walnuts during harvest time. 
Black walnuts have an extremely hard outer shell. 

Toni would have to use a hammer to crack through them before getting to the walnut then shelling it. When she got tired of the shells and walnuts flying everywhere she asked Don to create a type of "nut cracker" for her....
  That's how the " i-Crack" was born, as seen in the picture below. 
No more flying shells....                                                                                                           
Don's latest thing is an alcohol stove...

The Stove (bottom part that burns fuel) in this photo Don purchased
 and the photo below shows his Stove version he made out of the Bottle.

It runs on rubbing alcohol, methanol, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and
 Don's favorite (HEET) which is a brake line antifreeze, no wick, no fumes, no moving parts.
It can fit in your pocket.
 It will boil 2 cups of water in 6 minutes and will burn for 10-12 minutes on 1oz. of fluid. 
Re-purposing at its best....as Don says.... 

So Don decided to kick it up a notch
 and make his own stove out of a Bud light aluminum bottle.....
He made a few improvements on his version of the stove, by making a folding pot support system from "R" clips and half hinges. This allows his stove to be more compact and support a larger pot.

Now I've heard it all....

Don keeps busy working on ideas to re-purpose every day items. He's also writing a true story about the family cat that walked home from a vet visit 7 miles away. He is still doing montage images with his photos. His real interest is in growing and processing food and eating it.

So this concludes Don and Toni's story...
I hope it has been a delightful experience for you just like visiting with them is for me....

Don taking a moment to cool off in the farm pond... 
Ok Don where's the solar power paddle-boat? 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Don and Toni for opening up your life for all of us to enjoy....See you this summer.


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