Laugh Laugh

Fifty years ago today, the Beau Brummels played at Staples.

They were not the biggest rock band in the world — though they’d had big hits with “Laugh Laugh” and the follow-up “Just a Little” — but their appearance in the high school auditorium jump-started a concert series that included the Doors, Yardbirds, Cream, Animals, Rascals, Byrds, Peter Frampton and many, many more.

(Poster courtesy of Ellen Sandhaus/via Mark Smollin)

(Poster courtesy of Ellen Sandhaus/via Mark Smollin)

I was at that concert — though I was just a Long Lots Junior High student — and I remember it mainly because it was so cool seeing a group that had appeared on Hullabaloo and Shindig.

What I do not remember — if I ever knew it — is that the New York Times covered the concert. But they did not talk about the set list.

On December 18, 1965 — according to info unearthed by alert “06880” reader and amateur historian Fred Cantor — the Times reported:

A Congregational minister termed “highly inappropriate and in poor taste” the scheduling of a high school rock ‘n’ roll show Sunday night that forced him to cancel a Christmas meeting of a youth group.

Rev. Edmund R. Strait of Greens Farms Church had to scrub the weekly Pilgrim Fellowship event, when 30 Staples students said they were going to the concert instead of his group. All 1,500 seats in the auditorium, the Times said, were sold out.

30 Greens Farms Congregational Church youth group members went to see the Beau Brummels at Staples. Ellen Sandhaus' photo of the Staples concert (above) comes courtesy of Mark Smollin.

30 Greens Farms Congregational Church youth group members went to see the Beau Brummels at Staples. Ellen Sandhaus’ photo of the Staples concert (above) comes courtesy of Mark Smollin.

Rev. Strait said he “had nothing against rock ‘n’ roll.” However, he called it “poor judgment on the part of the school” to schedule the Beau Brummels for Sunday night. He added that it was particularly inappropriate because Staples had held its annual Candlelight Concert on Friday and Saturday, and “churches in town have special Christmas programs” on Sunday.

If you know the name Rev. Strait, it’s because he also served as chairman of the Recreation Commission. The marina at Longshore is named for him.

And if you recall the Beau Brummels: big props.

18 responses to “Laugh Laugh

  1. It was a great concert, my first R&R concert… I also never knew about the Reverend Strait back story, he was a nice guy. Weren’t the Triumvirate guys Westporters?
    Thanks Dan, I love 06880

  2. Yes, the Triumvirate — Steve Emmett, Rob Carlson and Chris Avery — were Staples ’66ers.

  3. Do I get extra points for owning that very LP?!!

  4. Dan. I think you should also let the 06880 world know about Mark Smollin’s book, “THE REAL ROCK AND ROLL HIGHSCHOOL” and acknowledge
    Dick Sandhaus for being Westport’s first high school impressario. That Beau Brummel’s concert was great….but just the tip of the rock and roll iceberg!!!

  5. I was there and madly in love with the lead singer! “I’ll cry just a little ’cause I love you so…”

  6. Cathy Smith Barnett '66

    Yes I remember the Beau Brummels concert! How quiet and polite everyone
    was at first before kids started leaving their seats and storming up the aisles to the stage. As I recall the Service Club was in charge of “crowd control” but not for very long!

  7. The Beau Brummels was my first concert there too. Can it really be that long ago? No.. we’ve found the black hole of time, I think. Doors, Animals, Cream, Sly and the Family Stone (twice) The Guess Who, so many more. Some people think the “Guess Who” playing there was only in my imagination. I was there.. would love to know if others recall it.

  8. Also Byrds and Yardbirds !!! I saw most of those concerts. I didn’t realize at the time how remarkable it was that acts of this scope were coming to our high school. I’m grateful today! In the spirit of that, I recommend to area music fans Ridgefield Playhouse, which regularly has great music and some A-list acts (in recent years Brian Wilson, Los Lobos, Blues Traveler, Gary Clark Jr., Smoky Robinson, Toots & Maytals, et al) – and, in February 2016, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Great rock venue – and with us today!

  9. And who can forget local hero Barry Tashian and The Remains, also in that infamous auditorium! If I remember correctly (which I probably don’t), there was a promotional piece in Inklings that said “Remains To Be Seen”. But I probably just dreamed that…

    • Peter Gambaccini

      I remember George Weigel actually introduced The Remains, with his former students Barry Tashian and Bill Briggs.

  10. For two years, ’69/’70 and ’70//’71, I was the audio director (big title, little recognition) for the Staples Players. Since a bunch of us had keys to the auditorium and upstairs balcony back rooms, we used to sneak in and see every concert for free. At several, I was the nominal stage manager, helping the touring sound companies set up, hook into the power panels, drop the lighting trusses, and during some of the shows, rouse the bands from backstage (i.e., the little practice rooms in the back hallway) and get them on stage for the curtain call. I’ve got vague memories of lifting up a drunk Delaine Alvin “Delaney” Bramlett (of Delaney and Bonnie fame, pre-Eric Clapton “Friends”), or hanging out around the Byrds, Joe Walsh (as James Gang), Taj Mahal, Mahavishnu Orchestra and others. I was also the “kid in the catwalk” for shows, and as such, hung my own microphones above the stage to record a few concerts…. illegally, of course, but they were never used for commercial activity, duplicated or sold. Nor were they particularly good recordings from 25′ in the air above the bands. We’d run the cables back to the audio booth and set up a tape recorder – unseen and unknown to anyone official. Almost fifty years on, those cheap acetate and polyester audio tapes have long since turned to dust. These were all great experiences carried forward into a career in L.A. Where else would a 16/17 y/o be able to do all that? Some of those concerts were sponsored by the Westport Youth Adult Council in the late Sixties/early Seventies, where Walt Amey, Brian Keane, Guy Rabut, Dave Barton and I would put on the summer coffeehouses downtown. We’d run coffeehouse commercials late Spring during the morning PA announcements at Staples, and put brilliant posters around school and downtown. Great times, thanks to a liberal town and school administration. Finally, anyone remember (our Class of ’71 and Fun Band alum) Charlie Karp playing guitar for Buddy Miles at Staples? Another good early Seventies show. Still have some (very poor) Kodak Instamatic pictures of that one.

  11. Marcy Anson Fralick Staples Class of 1970

    I was one of those 30 Youth Group kids who chose to skip out for the concert. Ed Strait was also a family friend and I remember him chastising me for wanting to go to the concert. I was also a Long Lots kid, and It was my first concert at Staples.

  12. Per Mike Joseph’s comment – Steve Katz (Staples ’68) ran the summer Film & Concert series for YAC that year; Jared Fogel and I (both ’66) worked for him. The film series made a decent profit. The concert series lost money on Country Joe McDonald (a no-show due to flight delays) , broke even on Delaney and Bonnie, and did quite well on the Byrds – two sold out shows at a princely $5 per ticket. I ran the light board for the concerts along with Paul Prigge and Lee Christ – we were all Players/SSTS and Westport Playhouse alumni.

  13. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Fascinating how accents tend to disappear in song.

  14. Jeff Northrop

    I remember Sly and the Family stone playing for a dance in the Staples cafeteria with the sound being done by Mike Fast. Their opening number was “Life”, the sound system failed and they played the intro for ten minutes acoustically until it came back on, dancing and laughing. Sly and the family was not even on a stage at this dance, but directly on the floor like our local bands! (the Loved Ones, Mandrake Root, Strawberry Fun Band, etc.)

  15. Carissa Simon Baker

    Jeff, I remember exactly that as well! Amazing, when you think back on it.