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The Santa Fe Reunion night sweat

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					The Santa Fe Reunion
info courtesy John Dixon and Harold Weller


This seven piece soul & jazz rock band was formed circa 1968, from the basis of Tick Tocks Tactics.


Line-up
Harold Weller              Bass Guitar
Roy Allen                  Lead & Rhythm guitar &
                           Musical arranger
Tony Kay                   Trumpet
Melvin Booth               Alto & Baritone Saxophone
Roger Bridge               Tenor Saxophone
Denis Ashton               Drums
John Dixon                 Vocals

Bernie Southern            Lead Guitar (replaced RA)




                                                                                     SFR early 1969


                                                       The Band was managed jointly by Stuart Kay and Stuart Williamson.
                                                       Both Stuart's were a great support to the band.

                                                       A mention too for Bill Leyland (of L.E. Agency) one of our main booking
                                                       agents.
                                                      The band worked regularly at such venues as: -

                                                             -   The Seven Stars - Heywood
                                                             -   Bolton Palais
                                                             -   The Cromwellian
                                                             -   Bolton Casino
                                                             -   Wigan Casino
                                                             -   Hindley Monaco
                                                             -   The Pink Elephant Club
                                                             -   Rivington Barn - Horwich
                                                             -   The Top Hat Club - Stoke
                                                             -   Bredbury Hall
                                                             -   Liverpool Cavern - Mathew Street
                                                             -   Farnworth Monaco
                                                             -   Windsford Civic Hall
An almost released single LOVING MY BABY BACK                -   The Princes Club - Chorlton
HOME was written by TONY HILLER song writer with             -   The Domino Club - Failsworth
Decca who the group were signed to.                          -   The Georgian Club - Salford
                                                             -   Pocoapoco - Stockport
                                                             -   Belle Vue - Manchester
Tony Hiller later discovered Brotherhood of Man and
                                                             -   Colne Minors Club
wrote their Top Hits.
                                                             -   Wigan Sportsmans Club
                                                             -   Salford Rugby Club (The Willows)
                                                             -   Sale Rugby Club
                                                             -   Many many more - I just cant recall!!
                                                     Remember Geno Washington & The Ram Jam
                                                     Band?

                                                     The band did a little work with Geno Washington in the 60's although
                                                     never made Ram Jam Band status or featured on any of Geno's
                                                     recordings. Roy's arrangement of Michael (the Lover) was a fantastic
                                                     version jointly sung by Geno & John. Many considered it to be an improved
                                                     version of the original chart hit and more to the point, Geno loved it!

                                                     The band did some recording at Strawberry Studio's in Stockport - produced
                                                     by Eric Stuart (ex-Mindbenders, Hotleggs and later 10cc). They also
                                                     laid-down tracks at DECCA Recording Studio's London and EMI London.




They performed in front of Don Black - London hoping for that "Big Break" but it never came and the band slowly dissolved in
the early 70's - Sunk without a trace until John was contacted by Paul Mlynarz ex- Phoenix City Smash and DJ Dave Eager in
December 2003 who pointed him in the direction of the manchesterbeat.com website and suggested that others may be
interested The Santa Fe Reunion history.

It would be wrong not give a mention to Ernie Bench. Ernie was the Manager & Road Manager of
Tic Toc Tactics Soul Band. Harold Weller and Tony Kay were in that band and John Dixon used to be the Friday night
stand-in drummer. It was during this "Dep" work that Ernie & the guys spotted John's talents as a singer. They subsequently
asked him to join the band. John enquired as to whether Tony was leaving - they said "No - we want you to front the band" John
gulped at this point - the rest is history. Ernie went on to establish a successful coach transport business (much more secure
than managing a soul band). Sadly Ernie died several years ago....



Rivington Barn

Soul nights at the barn were just as 'hot' as Wigan Casino. We used to strap the PA speakers onto the ancient roof beams and
make them shake and finger pop!! (this cleared the dust from the rafters).

We will never forget New Years Eve 1969 - the end of the 60's decade. We were asked to welcome the 70's in and play over the
midnight slot. John asked that all the musicians who wanted to (from the other bands playing that night) be allowed to join The
Santa Fe Reunion for a monster jam over the midnight chimes - we chose Shake WOW!!! BIGGEST Brass section ever - the
sound was nothing short of STAX!!


Liverpool Cavern

When we were booked for this gig in 1969 we decided to put together a medley of Beatle numbers. We worked hard to represent
each Lennon & McCartney song with respect and make it as close to the originals as possible. The night was going well and the
soul numbers were well appreciated - we then spliced in our Beatle medley. To our surprise the audience didn't want to hear their
music - the feeling was, we found out later, that the Beatles had left Liverpool and the audience didn't want to be reminded of
them. We finished the medley (we had & have great respect for the Beatles). Once back into the soul songs the audience picked-
up and a great night was had by all.

We were shocked by the state of the club itself. The walls ran with sweat and it took more than one wash to get the smell of the
Cavern off our clothes.

The people of Liverpool were great though and we were grateful for their warm welcome for us - a Manchester Band!


The Princess / Domino & Georgian Clubs

Owned by the Moss Bros. these three clubs in Chorlton, Failsworth & Salford, were a chance for The Santa Fe Reunion to move
into cabaret. Our act changed as, in the main, the audience was seated during our performance. As well as performing our
powerful soul songs such as Shake, Can't turn you loose, I Feel Good, Papa's got a brand new bag etc.. we moved into
jazz rock songs by Chicago (Does anybody really know what time it is?) and the standard Stormy Weather as well as My
Girl, When a man loves a woman & Tramp!. We used to swap instruments.

John would play drums or Alto / Tenor Saxophone and the guys would swap instruments and take a turn at lead vocal. We
learned a great deal about entertaining as opposed to just performing music at these clubs. We would often do the three clubs in
one night. This type of working was very tiring, as well as performing it trebled the set-up & pack-up effort.


Bolton Casino

Sunday nights at the Casino were dedicated to Soul!
The Casino is still there on the corner of Crompton
Way - it is now a supermarket.


The Seven Stars - Heywood

One of our most favorite gigs. We once worked every
night for two weeks. The place used to ROCK! It was
great for us to just turn up and play - the gear
already being set-up for a week at a time - heaven!!
The landlord (Denis) and his wife & family were good
to us and a pleasure to work for - we had some great
times. We felt it providence that the venue was called
The Seven Stars and there were seven of us (dream-
on Johnboy!!!).
                                                                               SFR 1970 with Bernie Southern on lead ( replacing Roy Allen)
                                                                                                            John Dixon off stage in this pic


                                                         Wigan Casino

                                                         When we now think of Wigan Casino we often remember it through
                                                         Northern Soul with DJ's such as Tony Blackburn and Richard Searling
                                                         & others. The fact is there was Soul Nights here well before the DJ's took
                                                         over the venue in the 70's. It was the live bands of the 60's that originally
                                                         established this as a Mecca of Soul.

                                                         Such bands as: J. J. Jackson, The Harlem John Reshuffle, The Santa
                                                         Fe Reunion, Bill Shakespear and many more, regularly attracted large
                                                         crowds for their soul nights. John made his microphone lead so long that it
                                                         stretched from the PA (Public Address Amplifier) on stage - to a point in
                                                         the middle of the dance floor at the Casino. He used to mingle among the
                                                         audience, dance & sing to, for and with them for some of the songs. The
                                                         crowd used to love it and used to open up a circle in which he danced,
                                                         gyrated and sang to them - fantastic nights! Just fantastic!!!



Hadge Weller Bass, Denis Ashton Drums


John will always be grateful for the DJ's for continuing and expanding this - now legendary Soul Venue and for keeping the
memory 'alive' in our hearts. He does, however, feel sad that many of the live musicians of the 60's rarely - if ever - are
mentioned by the DJ's.


Remember Hotleggs?

Neanderthal Man reached the No.1 slot in the late 60's. We were all sat in Strawberry Studio's having a coffee-break after
doing some recording and Eric Stuart played us a couple of tracks that he had been working on, asking for our opinion of which
track we liked best. We all agreed on a track and he said that he too liked that track best, however, the Recording Studio was
going to put the other track as the "A" side, which they subsequently did and Neanderthal Man climbed to No.1 in the UK
charts.
Special Event: -

Poporama - Bellevue Manchester circa 1969

This was one of the bigest Pop Group Contest ever to be held in the North West.

The show was compared by:-
Tony Blackburn, Stuart Henry and Dave Eager

The Preliminary Judges were:-
Greg Edwards, Ralph Elphinstone, Steve Handson, Peter Hearn and John Lewis

The Final Judges were:-
Graham Goulman - Kassanatz Katz (later 10cc of course)
Johnny Hamp - Granada TV
John Wilcox - BBC
Ian Mean - Daily Mail
Phil Moss - Mecca

The Groups were - in order of appearance

The Ephemeral Blues Band - The Big Herm and
the Rock Cats - 3's Company - The Trek -
Twilight Zone
Elmers Tune - The Misty Soul - The Hereward -
The Passion Waggon - Tighmes - Vision Pop -
The Chariots - The Romany Rye - The Contrast -
The Pink Engine - Avenue Lane - The Spring -
Staircase
The Green River - The Spyro Gyro - The Starlight
Show Group - The Santa Fe Reunion - The
Outsiders
Bare Soul
                                                                                           The programme cost a whopping
                                                                                           2shillings and 6pence (2'6d)

                                                                                           The first heat was won outright by
                                                                                           The Santa Fe Reunion with The
                                                                                           Chariots second and The Spyro
                                                                                           Gyro third.

                                                                                           The final heat saw the winners as The
                                                                                           Chariots with The Spyro Gyro
                                                                                           second and The Santa Fe Reunion
                                                                                           third.

                                                                                           Hey man! We all had a groovy time so
                                                                                           what the hell!!




Footnote - from John
                                                      Thank you so much for the opportunity to present this history of The
                                                      Santa Fe Reunion on your great website.

                                                      I hope that your readers will be as entertained as I have been re-living
                                                      these memories. It was a great time for live music and I am pleased that I
                                                      was involved - albeit in a small way.

                                                      On Thursday / Friday and Saturday nights we would pass many bands, just
                                                      like us, zooming off to their gig.

                                                      Their band names either plastered on the side of the van or on a big card
                                                      in the front and back window (usually the sign of a borrowed van).




Such names as Pink Engine, The Phoenix City Smash, Harlem John Reshuffle, The Cortinas, The Chariots - so many that
I simply cannot recall them all. It is a great pity that we did not have the M60 in those days, travel was slow on those old roads.
We started life in an old converted ambulance (that was Ernie's - he drove the fastest converted ambulance in the North West,
and much better than a Milk Float!).

We then bought a Blue Bedford Long-Wheelbase and finaly ended up in a big orange Commer "walk-through" (which used to
belong to the Manchester group Orange). It had been fitted out with four double bus seats and a single drivers seat for Alan ???
(our Roadie). It had been completely sealed from the rear equipment area in order to prevent flying guitar cases hitting us in the
back of the head when the brakes were applied hard. This was a common injury in the 60's.

I am so sorry that I am unable to remember everybody's name. I hope that this article will jog memories and that you will
remind me of those things I have forgotten.
Sock-it-to-me!!Sock-it-to-me!!Sock-it-to-me!!Sock-it-to-me!!Sock-it-to-me!!

John Dixon - Singer
Santa Fe Reunion

                                                                      John also worked in The Atoms as a drummer during
                                                                      the early 60's with James Johnson- lead guitar, Adrian
                                                                      Howard - rythm guitar and Malcome Howard bass
                                                                      guitar.

                                                                      John also worked as a drummer & vocals in The
                                                                      Soundcaster Sect - A Blues Band with Tom Morgan
                                                                      lead & rythm guitar & vocals and Barry Holden bass
                                                                      guitar & vocals.

                                                                      John also worked as a "Dep" drummer in Tic Toc
                                                                      Tactics Soul Band.

                                                                      John is now a working Fitness Proffessional. He is a fully
                                                                      qualified Pilates and Aerobics teacher (aerobic sessions
                                                                      are where John still sings many of the 60's soul songs
                                                                      that he used to sing while in the bands) and at 54 is still
                                                                      going strong!

                                                                      He trades under the name of Ki Spirit - to visit his site
                                                                      click www.ki-spirit.co.uk

				
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