Heritage Hump Day: Ca-Ho-Nus reissues Cole Summers’ hit “Scranton”

scantonOnus Records’ alt-country subsidiary Ca-Ho-Nus has thus far  issued recordings by Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers, The Extended Play and Mills End but as of yet has not ventured into vintage country sounds. This week  we reach far back into the 60s, when boot scooting was a way off notion in the future and country music was shedding its fiddles but found itself flush with strings nonetheless.

This set the stage for a Phoenician named Cole Summers and his composition about love lost over cried tonic drinks called “Scranton.”

When Glen Campbell rocketed to the top of the charts in the late 60s  with a series of Jimmy Webb compositions about American cities, from “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” to “Wichita Lineman” to “Galveston,” it made sense for country singers looking to crossover to the pop field to find a city to wallow about in song. Cole Summers put pen to paper and in twenty minutes wrote about Scranton, Pennsylvania and the strange hold it had over his then-girlfriend. Because of the opening line “When night closes in on this palace of gin,” the business savvy Summers was able to coordinate a promotional marketing tie-in with Gordon’s Gin. Such cross-promotion is commonplace with rappers today but it was unheard of in 1969, unless you want to count astronauts and Tang. Suddenly, Summers was contracted to drink Gordon’s at every personal appearance. It was an obligation the singer was only to happy to comply with.

“Scranton” gave Summers his first pop hit–it went to number 52 in Cashbox’s country charts, but only  92 in the stingy Billboard listings. The Arizonan-born singer, prone to exaggeration, still claims to this day it went to number one, but we only have evidence of it being listed as such on singles charts handed out at  appliance stores that sold 45s. No matter. Summers, performing in Tucson one fateful night,  celebrated like it was number one by filling the bathtub in his Marin County hotel suite with slices of rum cake ordered up from room service. This on top of the congratulatory case of Gordon’s Gin  his tour sponsors had sent him.

“I stacked the caketure in the tub two feet high and rolled around in it naked just to see how it felt,” confessed Summers in his unpublished 2003 autobiography Let Me Loose, Mama: The Cole Summers Story.

“The massive room service bill for the rum cake was easily dwarfed by the amount of legal fees and courtroom fines I had to pay for driving around under the influence of alcohol and confectioneries I incurred later that night. I hadn’t figured that the rum would purse through my pores and put me over the legal limit. Made me kind of loopy. It’s a mistake a lot of novices make.”

The drunk and disorderly charges soon wrecked what career momentum Summers had but he continued to have several middling chart records, including “What Are You In For” (later covered by Maricopa Beef Exporters) and “I’m Running Out of Bended Knees.”

To download  or stream “Scranton” as well as other great free music, visit onusrecords.bandcamp.com


Butane Bros: “We’re not a covers band” band issues another cover song


Born twin enfants terribles, Mit and Mod Butane did everything competitively. They played sports competitively against one another. They went after the same women, including losing their collective virginity to the same ambidextrous camp counselor (each claiming they were the first to lose it). And they both went to jail after a misunderstanding preceding a drinking contest where each thought that the loser was that evening’s designated driver. Both pleaded for mercy in the same monotonous harangue. As anyone there would tell you, it was awful. But that was when they first realized they could harmonize.

butane-twins“Prior to that,” says Mit, “we were always trying to outdo each other, but once we were both fitted for orange jumpsuits, the only time we dress alike up to that point, we found that nothing was more self defeating than two people who look exactly alike plotting against one another.”

Despite the newfound cooperation, competitiveness between Mit and Mod is still in full play, as you can see by each brother’s  reluctance to let one brother sing more than four syllables without the other chiming in defensively. And the lack of Butane songwriting credits could be indicative of Mit and Mod’s inability to let the other brother get the first song.  To date, The Butane Brothers have only released a David Bowie cover (“Breaking Glass”) and now here is a cover song of New York based band The Holiday Slides which featured a once teenaged Serene Dominic.


The song has an interesting history. “Priceless is Right” is the final track on the Holiday Slides debut recording “Can You Count the Brunettes?” which was released on cassette only in 1987. To commemorate the 25 anniversary of its release, Serene Dominic re-recorded the entire album over again and released it on Related Records again on cassette only (those who bought the digital version also got a download of the original 1987 version as well).

Not that the Brothers are paying homage to anyone in any way. “We’re not a covers band at all,” insists Mod. “It just so happens we were at loggerheads about what to cut and we were running out of studio time. Our producer Don Glasser basically bullied us into recording it. Something about not having to pay Serene Dominic anything. It was all very hush hush.”

The Butane Bothers Selected Discography

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“Breaking Glass” released July 2016
“Priceles Is Right” released September 2016

To download  or stream “Priceless is Right” and “Breaking Glass”  as well as other great free music, visit onusrecords.bandcamp.com









The Extended Play extends his reach to Sunnyslope

extendedRemember that hoary old joke? “What’s the last thing a drummer says before he gets kicked out of the band?”Hey guys… check out this song I wrote!”

Well Frank Hanyak never submitted any songs when he was timekeeper for Serene Dominic and the Semi-Detached and later The Beat Angels, maybe he was just biding his time, writing songs until he felt comfortable enough to hide behind a group name and present his emotional palette. An exodus from Phoenix  to Fayetteville, NY at the turn of the century was followed by a long woodshedding period recording songs at home..

“The Extended Play is me,’ says Hanyak. “I write everything and pretty much play/record everything. I do have friends play on certain songs and my good bud Leo McClusky is considered a member. He worked a lot with me when I lived in Connecticut (he lives in Jersey), but since I’ve been back in New York it’s me, myself and I for the most part.”

epPreviously, on the Onus Records imprint Ca-Ho-Nus, The Extended Play debuted with a song called “The Measure.” Then we issued the confusing Extended Play EP (retitled The Extended Play Dual Play to assuage easily puzzled) that paired “The Measure” with “Just for Two.”

“Pure melodic bliss! This artist is on the rise and bringing the lush of thick melody back to the beat of the bang!”— Zack Harding, New York Underground

Lest you might think  this latest track “Serenity” might be a dig at his old bandleader, Hanyak counters, saying, “The song is about someone who ripped me off. Sold some snare drums on me for cocaine. I don’t want his name used…but you can relay the scenario if you like. It’s about cutting him and others like him from my life and as a result finding serenity. That recording is all me except for the solo parts throughout the song which is played by my long time bud Mike Tarolli.”

Hanyak has another batch he’s getting ready to put the finishing touches on recorded and mixed at his home studio.. “It’s around 7-10 songs in various states of “almost done” phases. So I hope to be putting more online in the next 4-6 months.”

The Extended Play remains very much  a recording-only project but Hanyak also plays drums in a country band called Grits N Grace

Although he hasn’t set foot in Sunnyslope in, like, forever, he is an honorary Sloper to Onus Records CEO Tommy Globbit. “I don’t understand half the shit EP,a I like to call him, sings about. Hell, I thought ‘The Measure’ was about a shot glass and who’s to say I’m wrong? He is quite a soulful warbler, kinda like Elliot Smith meets, I don’t know,  Paul Simon’s barber. I’d love him to cut something here in AZ but I’m happy to have EP be our lone Fayetteville representation.”

To download  or stream “Serenity” and “The Extended Dual Play”  as well as other great free music, visit onusrecords.bandcamp.com

Heritage Hump Day: Jimmy Jay and the First Responders


With all the tacky advertisements reminding us that it’s the 15th anniversary of 9/11, from the  fizzy Coca Cola Walmart display recalling the Twin Towers (above) to the San Antonio, TX  based Miracle Mattress that ran the most brain-dead excuse for a Twin Bed mattress sale ever, we at Onus Records were wary that our regularly scheduled Single of the Weekend by Jimmy Jay and The First Responders would be misinterpreted as a way of cashing in on people’s love for firemen, so we withheld it to midnight after 9/11.

In truth, this song could never be a 9/11 created cash-in as it was originally recorded in 1968, a time of great political upheaval in this country but also the high water mark for crass and meaning-free bubblegum music.

Onus Records is proud to be able to license (heck, give away for free)  this obscure bubblicious nugget from the Lucky Puppy label out of Chicago where our back history begins.

According to the legend, “Jimmy Jay was a Chicago fireman whose band consisted of fellow firefighters he met from other engine houses all responding to a 20-story blaze. After the fire, the men who worked so well together decided to form a firehouse band and raise temperatures with their hot brand of bubblegum music.” Of course, none of this is true, Jimmy Jay and the First Responders is actually the brainchild of jingle writer Morty Guildenstein looking to break into the world of pop music in 1968.

“I played everything on the record and made the whole firefighter thing up, basically,” Guildenstein says. “I was hoping to tie it in with a story song I had written about The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 but DJs flipped the record and started playing the shitty b-side, “Your Heart Ain’t Sayin’ (What Your Mouth is Thinkin’)” instead. When it took off in Chicago and parts of St. Louis, we had to find a Jimmy Jay and the First Responders to go out on the road and promote it. So me and my partner Arnie Shapiro went to the nearest bowling alley and looked for five clean cut kids who might want to leave home for awhile.”

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That started a trek that lasted ten years, long after the Jimmy Jay fire died down and this song was safely ensconced on numerous Oldies But Nothing collections. At one point Peter Brandel, the blonde young man who was Jimmy Jay on the road for all the Jimmy Jay boom years (and who still plays the occasional casino and amusement park gigs), sued for the rights to his own stage name.

“Peer actually accosted me on the street and followed me into Sam’s Club, demanding I give him the legal rights,” says Guildenstein. “‘You gotta be kiddin’ me,’ I barked back at him.. But, hey, I gave the kid $279 right outta my pocket that I was gonna use it to buy a portable TV. It was more money than Peter had seen in a while.”

Download or stream for free this great new Single of the Weekend and plenty more from onusrecords.bandcamp.com


Sneak peak into Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers’ new album

Not a lot has been heard from Onus Records’ alt-country and roots rock  imprint as of late. Last year saw the release of  Mill’s End’s EP The Swann Sessions and several tracks by The Extended Play  but that’s about to change now that Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers will shortly be releasing their new album “Eyes on the Prize”  under the auspices of Ca-Ho-Nus and commemorating this latest offering with a CD release show October 8 at Pho Cao.
The first recorded evidence  of the 14-song set is being issued as this week’s “Single of the Weekend” and it’s called “State of Affairs..” It captures the heavier sound the band evinces when they play in clubs that was not as apparent on the band’s first CD.

“It’s an uptempo in-your-face rock song!” says the group’s guitarist Andy Borunda, who is also the song’s co-writer.  “’State of Affairs’is a band favorite to play and interestingly enough, one of the very few songs of ours  based in a blues key.”

For Carol, it’s the first song she’s ever co-written with anybody. “And that anybody is Andy Borunda,” she says. “I wrote part of the song then I asked Andy to play along with it to see where he would naturally take it musically. I then used his direction to finish the song. What it’s about it up to the listener!”

cahonus-1-sleeveDownload for  free and stream “State of  Affairs” by visiting onusrecords.bandcamp.com.

epicAnd  while you’re there, download a plethora of other great music including Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers’ previous Single of the Weekend, “Epic Love Fail.”


The Butane Brothers: still carrying a torch for Bowie

Eight months ago, the world lost singing legend David Bowie. Six months ago there was a Tribute to Bowie show at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix , AZ and on a bill which also included Field Tripp, The Lonesome Wilderness and Serene Dominic, there was a little noticed duo at the bottom of the bill called The Butane Brothers who were unproven talents but fit the Sunnyslope residency requirement.

7-Mast-Brothers1-1800x1200The brothers, Bowie superfans Hal and Cal Haversham performed only two songs that night, “The Little Bombadier,” a rightly obscure item from Bowie’s 1967 debut album when The future Thin White Duke seemed more interested in being the present day Anthony Newley. The other song was “Breaking Glass”  from Bowie’s 1977 album Low, This recording, selected for this week’s Single of The Weekend, is not only is the first Onus live recording but also the first ever cover song of someone not from Sunnyslope or even  nearby Arrowhead. And it was recorded live at that very same Rhythm Room show.

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You’ll note that the Brothers gave it a Latin feel, sorta like a couple of tracks from David Live but incorporating a lot of the progressive sounds from his Berlin trilogy and nothing from Never Let Me Down, an album even Bowie superfans like Hal and Cal never much cared for.

As for the brothers’ group name, it can be attributed to losing Bowie to a secret 18-month bout with cancer. Considering the amount of minutia we know about the Kardasians without even wanting to, we still don’t know what kind of cancer it was that killed someone we genuinely cared about. This medical riddle perplexed no one more than Hal and Cal, who called themselves The Butane Brothers to quell their own speculation.

“Bowie is holding a cigarette in every album cover, it’s gotta be lung cancer” said Hal to Cal and without the benefit of a fact checker nearby so Cal naturally agreed.

“Breaking Glass can be streamed and downloaded for free from onusrecord.bandcamp.com


Greenhaven denies its “1944!” was influenced by 2016 Eurovision winner

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Jamala_-_1944Surely you have heard that  song called “1944”  by Ukrainian singer Jamala that garnered the greatest number of votes at 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, a grand total of 534 points, officially surpassing the previous record set by Alexander Rybak with his song “Fairytale” in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, which won with 387 points.

What? No?  Of course not! This is America, baby, What care we about a song contest where we’re not even allowed to enter? The hell with them! We’ll have our own best song contest. Just like we have our own World Series and ignore that 3/4 of the world that thinks a middle reliever is  someone who takes the center urinal.

And anyhow, Greenhaven has had this song waiting patiently like Prince Albert in the proverbial can for three years, back when Jamala was still singing about “1941′.  “And ours has an exclamation point,” says Greenhaven lead singer and lyricist Matt Strangwayes, who actually forced a recall of the digital single when early copies were pressed sans punctuation.  Here he gives us the real inspiration behind “1944,” Onus Records’ latest Single of the Weekend:

“Here we have a guy who finds himself in the midst of human civilization’s greatest conflict. Entrenched in the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific theatre, his letters to a lover contain snippets of war in all it’s glory and horror. Bravado and fear clash to create an anxious mix. The drums evoke the barrage on Dresden and the guitar pierces like bullets. The bass rumbles across weary fields of death and a yearning for home is whistled in the post-clash delirium. Along the way we experience bravery, despair, jingoism, and perhaps even a mercy killing.

The original version of the song was a lot more cynical. It included dialogue in German, Japanese, Italian and other WW II appropriate languages. Real dark stuff that contrasted with the hopeful tone of the English lyrics that represented letters to home. It got a little dark for even my own tastes (though pretty funny too) and I had to rethink it a little. It was hard to give up all the foreign stuff, but it made for a better song. 

Russell Walton from Jack of All Pipes Productions provided the voiceover at the beginning. He was great and worked with our budget, asking only for ” a pack of fags and a packet of crisps.” I think we just gave him $100 instead as we weren’t sure what he meant and he’s kind of a big guy.

Also note the appearance of Serene Dominic as he leads us to the conclusion,  whistling away Vera Lynn’s World War II  anthem “We’ll Meet Again” the final din of combat. I did a fair amount of research on “war rock” when writing this one – there’s  more out there than you think.”

“1944!” is available for streaming and name your price at onusrecords.bandcamp.com