Kingfish

Austin, Texas

Records with Sonobeat in 1971
No commercial releases on Sonobeat Records
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We're losing track of time. It's somewhere between June and September 1971 when songwriter/singer Bob Brown records with Sonobeat for a second time. Bob's previously a guitarist in The Conqueroo, one of Austin's best known bands of the Vulcan Gas CompanyThe Vulcan is Austin's first successful hippie music hall, opening in 1967 in an old warehouse at 316 Congress Avenue and closing in 1970. and Armadillo World HeadquartersThe successor to Vulcan Gas Company, opening in 1970. era of the '60s and early '70s. Throughout its life, The Conqueroo is an eclectic band, performing a psychedelic fusion of jazz, rock, folk, and blues, and its 1968 45 RPM stereo single I've Got Time, recorded at the Vulcan, is one of Sonobeat's all-time best-sellers.

Next thing we know, Bob Brown shows up again, recording a session for Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr. The session is mysteriously identified in the Sonobeat archives as "Kingfish (Bob Brown)". We take this to indicate that Bob is the leader of the band and, indeed, after auditioning the Kingfish master tape, we confirm that the Bob Brown in Kingfish is the same Bob Brown of The Conqueroo fame. We further dig into Austin newspaper archives and find that Kingfish performs at various Austin night clubs for only about a three month span, and by September '71, Bob, along with former Whistler member Bob Dorman, has formed Moon Pie.

The Kingfish half-inch 4-track master tape includes nine tracks: five vocals (all featuring Bob on lead) and four instrumentals, although it's not clear whether any or all of the instrumentals are the musical beds for vocals that are never overdubbed. The tracks are recorded at Sonobeat's studio in the KVET Building on North Lamar in Austin. Unfortunately, the names of the songs, composers, and other musicians in the band are not documented in the Sonobeat archives, but we believe some if not all songs are Bob Brown originals, since 1 to 3, the "B" side of Sonobeat's Conqueroo single, is his composition.

With Kingfish, Bob briefly explores a musical genre into which The Conqueroo has occasionally cautiously dipped: country-rock. There are no stereo mix-downs of the Kingfish material in the Sonobeat library, although the master is recorded on Sonobeat's half-inch 4-track Scully 280 tape deck, so in 2014 we make new stereo mixes from which the excerpts below are taken.

Kingfish personnel

Bob Brown: guitar and vocals
Remaining band members unknown

Unreleased Sonobeat recordings

Nine unidentified songs (five vocals and four instrumentals)

Produced and engineered by Bill Josey Sr.
Recorded at Sonobeat's North Lamar studio in the KVET Building in Austin, Texas, between January and September 1971
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice 665 microphones, ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, AKG D707E dynamic microphone, Scully 280 half-inch 4-track tape deck, custom 16-channel 4-bus mixing console, Fairchild Lumiten 663ST optical compressor, Blonder-Tongue Audio Baton 9-band stereo graphic equalizer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, 3M (Scotch) 206 tape stock

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Final word

At about the same time Bob Brown fires up his new Austin band Kingfish, guitar and harmonica player Matthew Kelly – who has worked throughout the '60s with every major West Coast blues artist – is launching his own new band, uh, Kingfish, in San Francisco. At one point, the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir joins Kelly's Kingfish, participating in the band's first album, released in 1976, which today is credited to Bob Weir as the artist and the album is titled Kingfish. The Austin Kingfish and San Francisco Kingfish are clearly unrelated, but oddly enough, they play in similar country-rock styles. Kelly's Kingfish outlasts Brown's, as Brown's Kingfish disbands (or changes its name to Moon Pie) only three or four months after it's formed.

We know this doesn't look right; there's no mention of Kingfish on this master tape box, but that's what's actually inside and, therefore, everything written on the box is unrelated to the box's contents