The Big Wally Story

Opening for Dr. Benjamin Spock

In memory of Cary Griffin, 1953 - 2008
and Steve Roland, 1937 - 2007

Big Wally was our California-based rock band, headquartered in Davis, CA in 1972 and 1973. While short-lived, the band produced a lot of fun music and fun times. It had quickly evolved from earlier incarnations, "Zephyr" and "Husker Dog" that featured a talented female vocalist, Linda "Samantha" Yanes. (That band had similarly evolved from another called "Sweet Life"). When Sam left suddenly to join another band in her home town of Sacramento, our band had to act fast in order to play a planned gig at Winters High School. We found saxophonist Steve Roland, shuffled the vocal responsibilities to the remaining band members, and named ourselves Big Wally after a newly announced wall cleaning product.

Band Members (as pictured above):

Dave Bogart - Hammond organ and vocals
Cary Griffin - percussion*
Steve Roland - tenor saxophone
Dave Rogers - bass guitar
Rob Hamilton - guitar and vocals

Jim Gast, audio technician

* Percussionist John Ramirez played at Big Wally's first gig, just prior to Cary Griffin joining the band.

MP3 files of Big Wally
  Railroad Blues
  I'm A Man
  Dancin' In The Streets

 

Opening for Dr. Benjamin Spock

In May 1972, Big Wally played on the U.C. Davis quadrangle, attracting an audience for then presidential hopeful, Dr. Benjamin Spock (see pictures at left, above, and here). Playing at the end of a long extension cord made for an interesting challenge because the voltage drop caused the Hammond organ to play in a wavering flat pitch.

 Click for more photos.

Zephyr / Husker Dog

Zephyr; AKA Husker Dog

The band that Big Wally evolved from, at first called Zephyr, and then Husker Dog, featured Dave Rogers on bass, John Ramirez on drums, Rob Hamilton on guitar, singer Samantha Yanes, and Dave Bogart on keyboards.

Husker Dog played memorable gigs at several locations in the Sacramento Valley, including Travis Air Force Base, a club called "Ms. Em's" in Davis, "Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde's", a dance/discotek club in Davis next to Giant Hamburger, an Oxford Circle dance in Davis, parties at the Putah Creek facility, and a place in Sacramento across from a burning down lumber yard. (Get out now!).

 

Evenin' Breeze

Big Wally, always looking to do something new and different, took on a very different kind of gig when it signed on to be the house band in The Chart Room at Eppie's Voyager Inn on Interstate 80 in Davis. Pictured are Dave Bogart, Steve Roland, Cary Griffin, and Rob Hamilton.

Sample MP3 files of Evenin' Breeze
  The In Crowd
  Goin' Out of My Head
  Mack The Knife
  Girl From Ipanema *
  Yesterday
  Canadian Sunset *
  Alley Cat *
  A Taste of Honey
  So Nice *
  Autumn Leaves

* with Dick Bright, Violin

Or Listen to an ENTIRE gig, uncut and unpluged, recorded on April 28, 1973 (the day of the infamous Roseville railroad explosions), HERE. (Winamp or iTunes streamable)

First, we changed the name to something more palatable for a semi-formal dinner environment: Evenin' Breeze (named after a Dan Hicks song). This job required playing dinner music - lots of standards. Steve knew every popular tune in existance, and Bogart knew most of them too. Dave Rogers had just left town to join the NOAA Corp, so Rob played bass most of the time -- for a few tunes, Bogart "kicked bass" on the organ and Rob played guitar. On several occasions, Cary's friend Dick Bright came by and played violin.

The three-night-a-week routine at the Voyager lasted almost three months, from March to June, 1973. Evenin' Breeze died a slow death, as some members dropped out and others tried to hang on, bringing in drummer Harold Webb and pianist Kit Potamkin for two or three weeks. Cary moved to Berkeley, and with Dick Bright, joined Little Roger and the Goosebumps.

 

Copyright © 2005-2013 Rob Hamilton. All rights reserved.