Chronology of Catweazle

© December 2020 Paul Cooijmans

Introduction

In 1982, I and three others founded the rock group Catweazle. For reasons of historical interest, below is a chronology of key events from the band's history, such as the first group rehearsal, recordings, and concerts. In addition, here follow some words on the cast of the band:

We started out with a drummer, two guitarists, and a singer. Over the five years of the group's existence, changes occurred such that we have had a total of four singers (plus the drummer, who sang occasionally), three bass players (plus myself, who played bass occasionally), three keyboard players (one of whom was the third singer), three guitarists (plus the first singer, who played guitar in a few songs), and one drummer.

For better understanding, I should explain that in this period I was also involved in four other, more or less formal, ensembles or bands: A guitar duo, a kind of cabaret duo, a youth choir, and a jazz workshop. There were usually several rehearsals a week in total for all of these combined, and sometimes two rehearsals on one day. In addition, I attended "jam sessions" now and then.

For references to available recordings, see the list of compositions under "op. -3". More will appear over time.

Chronology

1982 - October 6: First group rehearsal

This took place in Lieshout. Preceding the first rehearsal, and also in between rehearsals, I had had some individual sessions with the others to teach them the songs I had written.

1982 - October-December: First rehearsal recordings

The exact dates are unknown, but these two are the best recordings we ever made, in my opinion. In between the two recordings, I replaced the single-coil pickup in the bridge position of my guitar with a double-coil one (DiMarzio Super Distortion), which made a difference in sound.

For completeness, the first recording contains the songs "Animal", "U.S.S.R.", "Words" (by Neil Young), "I am sure", "Have a coke and a smile" (with Netherlandic text), "Pretletter" (an improvisation on the harmonic background of Frank Zappa's "Sleep dirt"), and "Sunday afternoons" (a song written by me that was played by the singer accompanying himself on his own steel-string guitar, without other instruments).

The second recording contains "Words", "I am sure", "Animal", "The story of Jim and Joanie", "Have a coke and a smile", "U.S.S.R.", and "Pretletter".

1983 - May 22: First concert

This was a house concert in Lieshout at someone's birthday party. A more or less complete recording exists, containing the songs "Words", "Animal", "I am sure", "Have a coke and a smile", "The story of Jim and Joanie", "U.S.S.R.", and "Pretletter".

1983 - May 27: Concert at "Arnolala"

"Arnolala" was an event at my secondary school in Helmond, the Dr.-Knippenberg college. A number of colour photographs hereof exist. It was downstairs, in the students' centre. We must have played the same songs as on the first concert.

1983 - June 3: Performance at diploma ceremony

This was at the same school as the previous concert. It was on the big stage on second floor. A heavy metal band played there too, who lent us amplifiers and with whom we have cooperated for some time thereafter. I think we had originally met them at the May 27 concert. This performance was with our second (female) singer as the first singer was not available; probably we played only one song, a new one called "Girls" which I had written especially for the occasion in a few days time, sitting on a bench at the edge of the forest near Lieshout, facing Stiphout, looking over the undulating fields that occur in my novel Field of eternal integrity. This song would later (1984, 1985) also be sung by the first singer. A colour photo exists of a few of us with the second singer.

The singer of the heavy metal band participated in this performance if I am not mistaken, as well as the drummer, so that we consisted of two drummers, two guitar players, and two singers. I played through a Dynacord tube amplifier borrowed from the other band.

1983 - June 4: Concert at women's union meeting

This was in Lieshout in Zaal Slegers, and the heavy metal band we met before played here too. The older part of the audience had mixed feelings concerning the concert. Probably we played the same repertoire as in the first two concerts.

1983 - July 28: Performance at Bladel summer feasts

A series of professional black and white photographs exist of this concert, during which I broke and replaced a string, and after which I had to walk home all through the night, which was a distance of 40 kilometres. This is related in an autobiographic article. A recording of a radio announcement of the concert is included in the video of that article. We must have played the same songs as before, and we used the amplifiers of the band that played before us, Paradise Lost.

1983 - August 4: Bicycle cross award ceremony

This was not a concert at all, but in my quality as a famous rock guitarist I was invited to hand out the prizes at a local bicycle motor cross (B.M.X.) race.

1983 - August 11: Purchase Ampeg VT-22

This is of some interest because this huge guitar amplifier sounded different from the small practice amplifier I had used until then. An article about my guitars and amplifiers contains some photos and information about equipment I have owned.

1983 - December 30: Purchase Westone Thunder I

This guitar replaced the previous one, which had been a Suzuki Super Soun stratocaster model.

1984 - January/February

From here on, we were rehearsing with two keyboard players, one of whom was also the (third) singer and author of a number of new songs. The first singer was mostly not present any more because he had moved to a faraway town, but we would still do a few concerts with him later on. There are black and white photos of the rehearsals with the new keyboards players.

1984 - February 5

On this date we made some rehearsal recordings with the new keyboard players, without the first singer, partly new songs and partly old ones. The recordings include a few instrumental pieces by one of the keyboard players, the song "The red light in the mirror" by a friend of ours who was not part of the band, "Words", "Paradise lost" (a new song by me), an untitled instrumental piece, strange enough a very early performance of my "Absurd composition in plusminus B flat", and an untitled blues.

A somewhat later rehearsal recording with the two keyboard players contains the song "We are on an ancient highway" by one of the keyboard players.

1984 - February 19

On this date we made instrumental rehearsal recordings without the new keyboard players and without any singer. This concerns "Words", "U.S.S.R.", "Animal", "I am sure", "The story of Jim and Joanie", "Have a coke and a smile", and "Effe plassen", written by a friend of the first singer. This recording was probably meant for the singer to practise with in our absence.

Around this time we also made a rehearsal recording with the first singer, with all the songs we were going to do at a concert later that year. This contains "The red light in the mirror", "The story of Jim and Joanie", "Animal", "I am sure", "Words", "U.S.S.R.", "Girls", "Have a coke and a smile", and "Follow the rules", a piece that was mostly improvised.

1984 - March

In March we made a rehearsal recording with the first singer, without the keyboard players, of the song "Effe plassen".

1984 - June 22: Visit heavy metal band rehearsal

We attended the rehearsal in Helmond ('t Speelhuis) of a band. I do not remember if this was the same band that we cooperated with earlier (I think not), but the keyboard player of this band would join us later on (the third keyboard player). Upon entering the building, the concierge interrogated us to find out whether we had drugs with us. After the visit, our drummer, who had been giving unasked advice, remarked, "I had thought we could give those boys some advice on how to improve their act, but no, they would not listen".

1984 - July 1: Concert Open Jongerencentrum Aarle-Rixtel (OJA)

A recording exists of this, but much of it is badly distorted because it was recorded too loud. Only the last part is somewhat better. Colour photos exist too. After the concert, there was written on a toilet wall, "Catweazle go home". I played on the Westone Thunder I guitar and Ampeg VT-22 amplifier.

The concert recording contains "Words", "U.S.S.R.", "The story of Jim and Joanie", "I am sure", "Follow the rules", "Have a coke and a smile", "Animal", "Girls", and "The red light in the mirror".

1984 - December 30: Studio recording Sint-Oedenrode

We recorded a so-called "demo", for 20 guilders per hour plus 40 guilders for the tape and 46 guilders for the master tape. This was with the two keyboard players, one of whom was also the (third) singer. We recorded two songs by him, sung by him ("We are on an ancient highway" and "Africa"), plus "Words", sung by our drummer. No songs by me were recorded, and the first singer was not involved. This recording was also meant as a goodbye to the two keyboard players. While it was not so bad on the musical level, all of these recordings contained fatal mixing errors so that they were not usable integrally. Only fragments are usable. The errors include things like the vocal track suddenly ending in the middle of a word, or the vocal track being way out of sync with the rest of the music, or the guitar sound being much too thin and sharp. Some black and white photographs exist of the recording session. I played on an Ibanez Artist Am 50 semi-acoustic guitar I had meanwhile purchased, and the Ampeg VT-22. This was the best electric guitar sound I have ever had.

1985 - April 20: Concert De Werkwinkel, Helmond

This was our last concert, and in our original form again, with the first singer and no keyboards. It was the worst of all of our concerts, and unfortunately there remains an (in sound quality) excellent and frighteningly complete recording of it. I played on the Ibanez Artist Am 50 and possibly the "Westone Thunder I" for one or two songs; I do not remember what amplifier I used, but probably the Ampeg VT-22. I also played fretless bass in one song. Although I always refer to this band as Catweazle, we were using the name "Grave prospect" for this concert, against my will. Well, it certainly became the grave of Catweazle.

We made a poster to announce this event, which was better than the music itself.

The frightening 71-minute concert recording contains an instrumental piece by our second (female) singer (who was not participating in the concert), "Pretletter", "Paradise lost", "Have a coke and a smile" (but with an entirely different, very bad, English text by the drummer), "Killer Joe" (a song by me in which I played fretless bass), "Animal", "Words", "I am sure", "The red light in the mirror", "U. S.S.R.", "The story of Jim and Joanie", "Girls", "Effe plassen", and "Follow the rules" (sung by the drummer instead of the singer this time).

1985 - October 11 and 12: Recording in Tango Studio, Eindhoven

This was a recording session for a long-playing record we would publish together with a few other bands, one of which we knew from the 1983 festival in Bladel. Each band would contribute one song to the record. Meanwhile we had a new bass player (the second bass player) and a new singer (the fourth singer). The drummer and I and the other guitarist from the beginning (who also played bongos) were also present. Two black and white photos exist of this cast in stage costumes, in the attic of the rehearsal room, as well as one colour photo taken in the studio of me and the singer. By this time we were using the name "The Kitchen" for the band. The text of our song, "Scared and confused", was mine, but the music was a kind of collective improvisation. We saw ourselves as making improvised music in that period. The record was never published in the end, because the budget had run out, we were told.

I played on the Ibanez Artist Am 50 and Ampeg VT-22, but the sound was not as good as in the 1984 studio recording, probably because they wanted me to play rather soft, and this amplifier needed a lot of volume to sound good. One of the studio people remarked at some point that the singer should hang himself. He was right. At least the recording did not contain mixing errors, and several passages in it were quite good.

1987 - January 11: Recording session in De Werkwinkel, Helmond

This is the last event related to this band, featuring the original drummer, me on guitar, another guitarist who was (I think) from the heavy metal band we had known since 1983, and the second bass player. I was playing on a Gibson ES 335 Dot Cherry guitar and a Sessionette 75 amplifier. A few photos of me from that time with that guitar and on that stage exist. We have played there often (rehearsals, jam sessions, a concert) and had the key to the building for some time.

The music on this recording is mainly jazz-rock-like improvisation on pieces like "Africa" (from our 1984 recording), "Scared and confused" (from our 1985 recording), a piece from a Chet Baker and Philip Catherine album, a piece from the soundtrack of the film "Blow up", the jazz standard "Blue Bossa", a random blues piece by the bass player, "Snoopy's search for the Red Baron" by Billy Cobham (the drummer wanted to play that), and some untitled noise.

For completeness, I should mention that we have had a third bass player for some time hereafter, but no recordings, concerts, photo sessions or other such events took place in that final period, during which we were a trio: guitar, bass, and drums.