Mark Coker, Gordon Butler, Steve Roberts, Fender Tucker
THE MIGHTY CALHOON BROTHERS
In 1975 I returned to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, ostensibly to become an electrical engineer, but mainly to make damn sure I collected all of the GI Bill payments I could. I studied for about two weeks then started hanging out at the Las Cruces Inn, a bar that reminded me of the bars back in Farmington NM and Durango CO where I played back in the 60s and early 70s. The band consisted of about seven musicians, but only three or four would show up each night. I sat in with them a few times and before long I became one of the rotating musicians.
Mark Coker, the guitarist/bassist, was sort of the leader and an excellent singer. I had never played bass before but I soon learned so that Mark and I could switch off on guitar and bass throughout the night. It was an interesting situation, with the band members being actual employees of the club rather than contracted workers, as most musicians were. I ended up playing six or seven nights a week at the LCI for about six years.
After it closed, we played other bars around the area. By this time, the band consisted of Mark, me, Randy Miller on drums, and occasionally Gordon Butler on fiddle. Steve Roberts played drums when Randy moved away.
By staying together so long we developed an incredible list of songs in our repertoire, including about twenty of my songs and hundreds of standards and oddball tunes. We never rehearsed -- we just threw songs together on the bandstand, practically every night a new song or two. Mark and Gordon are still playing music in the Las Cruces area, Randy's in Texas, and Nick is in California, but I quit playing in public in 1987 when I got a day job -- my first day job! -- as editor of LOADSTAR, a computer magazine in Shreveport LA.
For a list of all songs that were preserved from the Las Cruces years -- and how you can hear them all -- click on this:
For an audio CD of great C&W daince tunes