The CuLLs
   ...a 60s Rock 'n Soul Band
      from Little Rock, AR
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BiographiCuLL  -  still under construction!

DAN KENNER: “RADICULL” Forestville, California

 

PROFILE: Lead guitar, background vocals; occasional keyboards. Action figure image: Radi-Cull, probably not without justification. It’s true that my views on many things might be considered radical. Let’s just summarize it by saying that I fervently believe that almost everything most people know or believe about science, religion, medicine, history and politics is dead wrong.

 

THOUGHTS: Being one of the Culls enfolds layers of meaning for me. It was first and foremost an artistic expression. We were by no means alone in our adherence to what we considered artistic purity, but beyond our ideological rigor about the “right” sound, there was an early search for a genuine, but ambiguous identity among our peers. We weren’t the jocks, not the socialites, not the greasers, not the academic nerds, but we still needed a handle. In those days “rock star” was not a recognizable identity. This was before Led Zeppelin, Iggy Pop or Spinal Tap had created the image of the rock star as an archetype of unregenerate and dissipative youth, so being in a group at that time for us was a handle that was associated with parties and good times rather than drugs, sex or life on the road. But being in a group was also a way of being macho without being a jock or a rat (you know, those real sullen guys dressed in black). Our original model was the Rolling Stones: no uniform, a little different kind of look, a touch of attitude. The Rolling Stones and the Animals weren’t cute and didn’t try to be cute. The Beatles were cute (maybe not later). Keep in mind that in Arkansas this was a time when sideburns or hair long enough to cover the upper tip of your ear could get you sent home from school. And being sent home from school was a big deal.

     We didn’t know that this was the beginning of the Age of Garage Bands and that we were swept up in a phenomenon that spanned the U.S., the U.K. and a large portion of Western Europe. Being in a band was also an attempt to overcome fate. We knew we would never be anything other than white, middle class and suburban. Identification with music that was black and rural or inner city was brought to our attention by the disaffected youth of Britain, the offspring of parents traumatized by Hitler’s war. Identifying with this music was an identification with people who expressed our own vague, narcissistic preoccupation with sex, death and hard times (like adolescence). Cultural pundit Marshall McLuhan prophesied that the Age of Television and electronic media would be a Bardic Age, and true enough our cultural heroes, formerly the likes of Charles Lindbergh and Dwight Eisenhower became the likes of Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and James Brown.

     This was also the beginning of the Age of the Electric Guitar. I never would have guessed that there would be dedicated heavy metal radio stations 40 years later. And a new generation of hard rock artists making their debuts in 2006. I’m looking at Damone, Koritni, Kingbaby, Sign, Art of Dying, The Trews, Dollhouse, Another Tragedy, McQueen, Headrush, Freshfabrik, Rattlesnake Remedy, Kid Ego, Hydrogyn, The Dunes, and on and on. I tell people that I am a first generation guitar hero: Age of Clapton, Beck, Page.

     Our niche in the Little Rock scene was progressive rock. Progressive, meaning that we used distortion, feedback, harmonic sustain and power chords pre-Hendrix and pre-Zeppelin, with a great debt to the Yardbirds. We found that audiences our age responded to it, too. We ordered records from the Heanor record center in England and learned songs recorded by the Who two years before their album was released in the U.S. Even though we were progressive, I thought that our type of music was a passing trend; that is, that the guitar craze would go just as suddenly as it had come. But our musical efforts anticipated the transcendent hysteria of heavy metal which, as a musical genre, seems to be here to stay. We would have to admit that its longevity has gone way beyond that of the Big Band Era or even Motown.

     This new musical genre, the guitar driven hard rock and the heavy metal subgenre, was originally created by Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Dave Davies and of course ultimately popularized by Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Jeff Beck Group. I feel a sense of belonging and even ownership of this genre that I was also trying to hammer out. There is a raw authority in hitting power chords and in the unambiguity of pounding out rhythm in 4-4 played fortissimo. It’s that power, that power to move the audience, to silence discussion, to unify a crowd of people around your message and to create excitement.

     It was John McLaughlin who drove me out of the garage. When I heard the Mahavishnu Orchestra I thought, “That’s it. The pros have moved in now. We (the garage band dudes) are finished.” Awe-inspiring technicians like Edward Van Halen and Joe Satriani also made it increasingly difficult to be a convincing guitar hero. We were the lost generation. We were too old and had sold out too soon to be redeemed by the seethingly hostile punk rock barrage. The punk rock miscreants did restore the music to its simplicity and demotic carnality, but their backlash against musical competence and complexity was not, to me, an entirely welcome change. Still, they brought with them a satisfying sense that there would always be a place for hackers in the business, as long as you were willing to make it clear that you demand the right to express yourself and take no prisoners.

 

MEMORIES:

  • Spooking the horses playing at a rodeo for cowboys who wanted to hear whatever we could play that sounded halfway country.
  • Playing for the agriculture majors’ fraternity dance, for guys who wanted to hear whatever we could play that sounded halfway country. How about “All Day and All of the Night?” Yardbirds? 
  • Live performance onstage at the Moses Melody Shop upstairs music hall when our record “Midnight To Six Man” was Number 1 (in the state) and signing autographs for little 14-year old girls who might not have even known that we weren’t a nationally recognized A list group.
  • Backstage with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and the band members stopped their lead guitarist Jim McCarty from showing us the licks to “Sock It To Me” before it had been released.
  • Mitch Ryder as “Sinister Frog.”
  • Playing in front of the whole school with a 15 piece orchestra during an hour program, and all the strokes we got for it.
  • Chatting with Jimmy Page after the Yardbirds played as an opening act for Gary Lewis and the Playboys; we asked Chris Dreja,” Where’s Jeff?” Jeff Beck wasn’t on the tour with the group, and his only comment was “He’s ill.” Jimmy Page was carrying a couple of Beach Boys records to his room to listen to.
  • Playing our own brand of fusion of Motown and hard rock at the Marion Hotel Ballroom with a horn section, e.g. “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” with horns, distortion, feedback, guitar and sax solos trading off to a very appreciative audience.
  • Playing our reunion concert for an hour; and playing apparently way beyond the level of our wives’ and kids’ expectations. It was nice to see that we still had fans from the old days. That was the last time I played with Elrod. He was so talented and so easy to work with. What a loss.

WAYMOND ‘DUB’ ELROD: "ETHICULL"

BASS GUITAR, BACKGROUND VOCALS

 

     The Culls’ original bass guitar player was Waymond W. (Dub) Elrod, 1950 – 2005. Dub’s passing was not only a staggering loss to his friends and family but to the entire Arkansas community. As a Cull, he always had a wicked sense of humor, but always with a light touch, never hurtful. He had a natural facility for calming a tense atmosphere, usually with humor. In our recent years of reunion as Culls, it was clear that he had grown musically more than any of us. In May of 2005 he passed away from heart failure in the ideal conditions of his home environment surrounded by his family.

     Dub was born and raised in Little Rock and graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He went on to law school at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Little Rock, where he was associate editor of the UALR Law Journal and Arkansas Law Review, and graduated with honors.

     Despite his self-effacing personal style, he was always a leader in his professional life. In his 20s he worked on the staff of the Arkansas Legislative Council, the main legislative body when the Legislature is not in session. He left the state government to work in the private sector in 1978 but returned after 3 years to become hearing officer for the state Public Service Commission, which oversees utility service for the state. He went on to found a private law partnership, Gill, Elrod, Ragon, Owen and Sherman, which specialized in public finance and public utility law, in 1986. Dub was the attorney for American Electric Power during the largest utility merger in U.S. history. His partner John Gill called him “an absolutely magnificent lawyer.” 

     Active in his private life, Dub was chairman of the board for the last ten years of his life of Love, Truth, Care Ministries, an organization based in Little Rock that helps at-risk youth from low income families and the elderly in central Arkansas and Central America. His big heart extended also to lost or homeless cats and dogs, who often became members of the family within a few days of their arrival. 

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