Monday, June 15, 2009

Jerry-less Merl

Merl Saunders and Aunt Monk

Merl Saunders & Aunt Monk
March 31, 1976 - early set

Red Rail - Nanuet, New York

Merl Saunders - keyboards, vocals
Martin Fiero - sax, flute
Chris Hayes - guitar
Tony Saunders - bass
Larry Vann - drums

Finders Keepers Drums
Finders Keepers
No Woman No Cry
Boogie On Reggae Woman

This is a neat little gem from legendary taper Jerry Moore. He didn't need his mics on this night -- he somehow got a tasty soundboard recording. From what I've been able to determine, the Red Rail was just a small bar/club that hosted a variety of musical acts in the mid-70's. Nanuet is just a small town in what's almost rural (not quite but getting out there) New York... suburban, really. I grew up not too far from there and without consulting my good ol' Rand McNally road atlas, I'll guess it's in Orange County, Rockland County (thanks Ron!), New York, about 25 miles or so west northwest northwest (I checked the map) of midtown Manhattan (NYC.) It's not too far over the New York state line from northwest Bergen County, New Jersey.

Red Rail - Nanuet, New York

Anyway, here's a little info about this band,
according to
A little known, short-lived jazz rock group, fronted by Merl Saunders, in the early 70's, who were based in San Francisco featuring Merl, his brother Tony, Martin Fierro, Larry Van and Chris Hayes. Chris - later lead guitarist with Huey Lewis and the News - then was also playing in Sweet Meat with his sister Bonnie Hayes and his brother Kevin Hayes.

Merl Saunders and Aunt Monk released the album You Can Leave Your Hat On early 1976. The album was recorded (September-October 1975), remixed and mastered at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA. Sheila Escovedo, later known as Sheila E. played congas on this album.
No Sheila E here in this show. Darn, I know. No matter, Larry Vann is excellent on drums and could have fit into Garcia-Saunders perfectly. This band almost sounds like Garcia-Saunders, especially with Martin Fiero on flute and sax. Merl's playing is excellent on Hammond B-3 and the bass player here could be mistaken for John Kahn at times. This is cool stuff. It's mellow, it's rockin', it's jazzy, it's funk. There's no reggae, though, even though they do play Bob Marley & The Wailers' No Woman No Cry and Stevie Wonder's Boogie On Reggae Woman. There's no Jerry either but so what, it's still great music from Merl and Friends. I like it!

Should you maybe wanna hear a sample, here you go!

No Woman No Cry

Download The Show Here

(320 kbps)

Merl Saunders - Nanuet, NY - 3/31/76

Soundboard > Cassette Master taped by Jerry Moore
(Sony TC-153SD, Maxell UDXL-90, Dolby B)
Lineage: Nak Dragon > Tascam HD-P2 24/48 >
CD Wave > Adobe Audition 2.0 > FLAC


Ron H. said...

Hi Zoooma!

Thanks for this rarity! I just wanted to add that Nanuet is in Rockland County, where I grew up! I was only 12 in 1976, and to be honest i never heard of the Red Rail! I plan to google it though! Thanks for a piece of history that happened just down the road from my childhood home!

Ron H.

keith h said...

Hey Zoooma,

Thanks for this Gem. I've heard quite a bit of Jerry and Merl and love that duo, but have never heard any just Merl. Awesome!!
Keep these coming!!

Zoooma!! said...

Ron H and keith h -- brothers, no doubt. Right? No? Nevermind. Just kidding.

Yeah, Rockland County, thanks! I shoulda known that.

Not that it really matters but after checking the map I see it's pretty much NW and not WNW of NYC. I've driven right past Nanuet literally hundreds of times while on the NY State Thruway on my way to and from the Tappan Zee Bridge. Hey, you know where Suffern is? I grew up two towns down on Route 202, in Oakland. I thought Nanuet was a little closer to Oakland but it's about halfway between there and the river.

keith -- I saw Merl once when I lived in Montana but I've never pressed play on a show of his without Jerry. I've picked up a few Merl shows from the 90's and in time I'll post another! Stay Tuned!!

Thanks for your comments, you guys!

one says one number and the other another
but they were set at the same time. Hmmm...

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated