Camp Chronicles (15): The Big Sound of Mosrite and the No Name IV

Editor’s Note: These chronicles started out as “letters” from Sierra Surf Music Camp.  But the notes and rough drafts written at the time of camp were longer than any letter.  We hope that you are not exhausted yet.  The good news is that we are on the downhill side.

Add more wood to the campfire; the night was not over by any stretch.  We still had bands to go including Paul the Pyronaut’s young prodigies.  Paul Johnson and the All-Stars showed to what we all could aspire.  Obviously, some of us have less time to pursue that goal than others.



The No Name IV was taking the stage.  Coached by John Blair, the band seemed to have more seasoned players than the prior bands.  Don was on bass.  To me, that meant a head start on any other band of campers.  Fritz, Joe, and Jim Lee made up the rest of the band.

Fritz and Joe are both big fans of Gretsch guitars.  They met before at Gretsch gatherings.  For surf music camp, however, they were Mosrite guys.  Fritz possibly was a luthier in a prior life.  He was playing a Mosrite lookalike which he had refinished, changed out the neck, and modified or replaced the electronics.

Jim Lee was on drums.  Artist.  Tai Chi instructor.  And drummer!  To some of us that is one well-rounded and talented man.  Somebody who is less-informed or not creative-oriented might conclude those are multiple ways to waste time.  To my way of thinking, folks like that are destined to lifetimes as hamsters on a wheel.  We only can hope that they eventually realize the importance of creativity, diversions, and music.

John Blair’s coaching had been hands-on.  The No Name IV played along with him for their four hours of band practice.

As the No Name IV launched into “Surf Beat” to begin their performance, Fritz’ lead was a sonic explosion.  Huge.  Reverb drenched and powerful.  While marveling to Becky about Paul Johnson’s performance, I had not paid attention to whether Fritz had adjusted the reverb unit.  All I knew was that his sound was distinctive and deeper than anything we had heard on a night of Strat leads.

Showing their experience, the No Name IV played a three-song set.  They followed “Surf Beat” with “Penetration” and “Roadrunner.”  Their “Roadrunner” was not based upon the classic Wailers’ instrumental song which backed “Tall Cool One.”  Instead, it worked off of the later Bo Diddley song.  “I’m a road runner, honey.  Beep!  Beep!”

John Blair videoed part of the performance on his iPad.  Ironically, no matter how much homage we pay to the past, somehow we always end up bringing some high tech gadget into the mix. 

As the No Name IV finished, John Blair yelled out his approval, accented it with a punch into the air, and applauded enthusiastically.  He clearly enjoyed the band that he had coached and its performance.  Hands-on.  Fun.  And seeing results in two days.  What more could there be for a coach/instructor?

Just how big was Fritz’ sound?  Within a few days after camp, Don and I were talking about Mosrite licensed copies and a source for pick-ups to be dropped into P90 slots.  Damn, here comes that gotta-have-it itch!

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