Colin Sphinctor Band
band at sheldon
Saturday, June 7, 2014   8pm
at The Focal Point -
2720 Sutton in Maplewood
What is This Thing Called Sphinctor?

The Colin Sphinctor Band was formed in a living room in St. Charles, MO. In 1973. Jay Schober generated the idea while driving a VW microbus across Wyoming under a full moon earlier that summer. Jay wrote a ridiculous song and talked a bunch of friends into coming over and recording it at his house. The problem was that not one of them, Jay included, could play a note of music. Jay always said that music shouldn't be left up to musicians, so he found a guy who could blow into his hand and sound like a trumpet, and another guy who could keep some semblance of rhythm by beating a plastic pillow with a Mexican maraca. Since they could all sing and they all had active imaginations they had a good time doing this, but Jay wanted to take it further, so he called for a hired gun, his best friend Jim Findlay.

Jay knew that Jim could sing, and, better yet, play the accordion. Jim spent the first half of his Navy enlistment singing with the Navy Bluejacket Chorus and the second half of his enlistment singing to the penguins in Antarctica for 12 months, so Jay thought that Jim's presumed mental state at that point and the accordion would add greatly to the mix, and it did. When Jim showed up he not only had the accordion, but also an old banjo. Nobody can remember if it was a five string banjo and he could play three chords or if it was a three string banjo and he could play five chords, but in any case the rest is history.

Jim's talent for songwriting soon became obvious, and within a year or two the band added another guitar, a bass and a fiddle. It wasn't long before the band began playing coffee houses and house concerts. In 1975 the band played the annual outdoor Festival of the Little Hills in St. Charles. On the same bill was an “up with people” type group known as “The Patt Holt Singers”. The band's original songs “Big T”, “I Don't Want To Be a Nazi Anymore” and “Deodorant Blues” were performed that day and were discreetly taped by some members of the Patt Holt Singers using a little hand-held recorder.

Colin Sphinctor continued playing and soon had regular engagements at the Florissant Valley Community College and at The Orphanage in the Central West End. Since few bands were performing original music in those days and even fewer clubs would book original bands, we were thankful to have regular places to play. With regular performances came some media attention and some critical acclaim. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch praised the originality and unorthodox style of the band, referring to us as “Blackgrass” and “Punk Folk”, which brought more people out to our shows.

In 1978, after an unusually hard winter, the band decided that to get to the next level, they needed to move the band to a larger and warmer city - either Nashville or Los Angeles.  They chose the latter.  Nine people moved with animals, vehicles and very little else to the Pasadena area:  Jim, Jay, Billy Relling, John Garbo, Mary Heineman, singer, and Paul Else, roadie and soundman, and their significant others.  Those left behind included Dave Street, bassist, fiddler Dan Sohn, and the drummer, the Purple Demon (wrestler turned musician).

In Los Angeles, we soon added another drummer, Richie Cafaro, formerly of Danny and the Juniors, and a pedal steel player and started playing the circuit as it is called.   The clubs in this area did what were called showcases, which mainly meant that you would play for free just for the opportunity to be seen by the myriad of A and R people that would cover the clubs for the record labels.  The only bands that made any money were the locals who could command an audience of their friends.  The Sphinctors were not one of those.  We played clubs like Madame Wongs in Chinatown and even the Troubadour on Sunset Strip,  and managed to garner a recording contract with Dore Records.  They recorded one single which got airplay on at least two radio stations, but the record went nowhere.  The band then broke up as all bands tend to do.

Mary and Jim then continued on as a duo known as Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  About 6 months later they added a lead guitar player, John McDuffy, who would go on to be the band leader for Englebert Humperdink, bassist Jay Jones, and drummer David who was also the properties manager for the band Devo.  So they were back on the circuit as the first incarnation of “The Smithereens” and played for about a year.  The band broke up again, as all bands tend to do, and didn’t play for about a year and a half.

Its 1984 now, and Big Brother is nowhere to be found so my Jim and Linda decided to move to Oregon.  They ended up back in St. Louis however when Jim’s mother took ill.

Jay Schober had been back here for about 2 or 3 years and had inadvertently run into this band that was doing our music in clubs.  It turns out to be the guys from the Patt Holt Singers who had learned our songs from the tape they made at the Festival of the Little Hills back in the 70’s.  They always gave us credit and we started playing gigs with them as the Colin Sphinctor Band again.   The band was Serapis - with Tony Chambers on lead guitar, Gene Carroll on bass, Todd Luerding on keyboards and eventually Bob Gleason on drums.  We would play two or three times a year at clubs that allowed bands to play original music - and that was still very few clubs. We later added Goeff Seitz on fiddle, and that completed the lineup.  We have continued with basically the same people ever since and play two or three times a year in preferably non-smoking venues. 

We have released three albums so far, and are working on more.