The Herald Bulletin

January 19, 2013

Chalets, Morlocks played ’60s rock ’n’ roll

By David Humphrey
For The Herald Bulletin

— When Anderson area teenagers were not attending concerts with nationally known acts at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum, they could stay close to home and have the next best thing in the Chalets, the Morlocks, the Impossible Dream, and the Workmon.

The Chalets hit the Anderson music scene in 1965 when the band performed regularly at the National Guard Armory. The group consisted of Bob McDonald on lead vocals and guitar, Greg Kopko, lead guitar, Rick Lundgrew, bass guitar, and Dave Robinson on drums.

In October of 1965 the Chalets performed to a large crowd at the newly-opened Mounds Mall in Anderson. To promote the concert, the Anderson Daily Bulletin ran an ad that read:  

“FREE DANCE FOR TEENAGERS. SATURDAY OCTOBER 16, 2 TO 5.

MOUNDS MALL PRESENTS THE CHALETS ANDERSON’S WELL KNOWN “BIG BEAT” GROUP.

IT’S A KID’S DANCE BUT ADULTS WELCOME TO WATCH.”

After a three-hour performance at the Mounds Mall, the Chalets played that night at the National Guard Armory from 7:30 to 11:30. Tickets were $1 each. A week later the Chalets were headliners at the Harvest Festival in downtown Anderson where they were referred to as the “Beatle browed” Chalets.

The following night, the Chalets returned to the armory for the standard Saturday night show that included covers of James Brown’s “(Papa’s Got) A Brand New Bag” and Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction.”

If that wasn’t enough to keep the band busy, the Chalets appeared at the Aqua Gardens A-Go-Go that was emceed by the popular disc jockey Jimmy Stewart of WHUT radio.

The event had a go-go dance contest that allowed the first 50 girls to enter the dance for free. In August of 1964, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons performed at Aqua Gardens with Bobby Goldsboro and the Chiffons on the bill.

As in the case of many good rock ‘n’ roll bands, the Chalets disbanded, sending its members in different directions.

Lead singer Bob McDonald put together a band called the Black and Blues that featured McDonald on guitar and lead vocals, Kim Kopko (brother of Chalets lead guitarist Greg Kopko) on drums, Craig Davis on lead guitar, and Gary Redic on bass. The Black and Blues played the Downtown Anderson Sun Fun Time in April of 1968 and appeared at McPherson’s Dance Club on Jackson Street. The Black and Blues took their act on the road performing in night clubs on the East and West coasts.

Two of their singles, “Candy Castles” and “Come to Me,” are considered local garage band classics.

The Impossible Dream

Bob Downham taught himself  to play bass guitar and was considered a natural born performer.

Downham idolized the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and formed his own group known as the Impossible Dream. What made the Impossible Dream so distinct from other bands in Anderson was that it had a female member who sang and played guitar.

The innovative Downham also mixed country songs into the band’s live shows. Wearing matching camouflage jackets and white slacks, the Impossible Dream featured Downham on bass and vocals, Penny Hooker on guitar and vocals, Dwight Keifer on guitar, and brother Ricky Keifer on drums.

The Impossible Dream played everything from Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man” to Ray Charles “What I’d Say.” Also part of the repertoire was The Monkees’ “I Want to be Free” with Penny Hooker on lead vocals, “Haunted House” by Jumping Gene Simmons, “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones, and “Sad Day,” written by members of the band.

The Impossible Dream performed at many street dances and backyard parties. Years later, Downham teamed up with guitar virtuoso Charlie Smith to form the hard rocking Sojourn, that brought the house down wherever they played. After the breakup of Sojourn, Downham and Smith put together a country band called “Smith and Western” that played gigs at the Char-Lu on on East 14th Street in Anderson.

Aqua Gardens

During the mid 1960’s North 40 Park served as the counterpart to Aqua Gardens.

Located north of the Anderson Municipal Airport between Anderson and Chesterfield, North 40 held many teen dances throughout the summer months.

In June of 1966, North 40 was the place to be for any Madison County teen who loved rock ‘n’ roll. Seven bands performed at one day-long event whose line- up included the Morlocks, the Links, the Intruders, the Coachmen, the Workmon, the Cavaliers, and the Psychos.

Two months later, Aqua Gardens was the site of a Battle of the Bands competition called Combos-A-Go-Go. Local bands the Cajuns, the Morlocks, and the Cavaliers competed against 28 bands from the central Indiana area.

Promoted as a “swinging smooth” event with “very in judges,” Combos-A-Go-Go was sponsored by the Wonderful World of Weiler’s.

The Morlocks were victorious at Combos-A-Go-Go and received a record contract honored by Weiler’s in addition to a live spot on WHUT Radio to promote their local 45 single release. The record, “Ain’t She Sweet/Oh Suzannah,” was available at the Red Hanger Shop at Weiler’s at a cost of 98 cents. The record was on the Weiler’s label.

The Herald Bulletin would appreciate any information on these bands. Send to scott.miley@heraldbulletin.com.