The Maypole Story
All about Maypole
Hi Everyone, I just returned from the Bay Area of San Francisco where I spent 6 weeks promoting the Maypole "The Real album, Making appearences at The University of San Francisco Record Show, KUSF Radio, Ameoba Records in the Haight, the radio station in Mendecino, and the UC Davis radio station KDVS, where I played a live set with Gil Watkins of the Moss after a reunion after 40 years. You can hear it on my myspace page at www.myspace.com/demianbell The song on the player is "When You Can't Feel Nothing" You can hear the one hour show by clicking on The KDVS link from my blog. And now The Maypole Story
The Original Members of Maypole:
Dennis Tobell- Under the stage name of Denny Romans, later to be known as Demian Bell. Principle writer and Lead Guitarist and Vocals. Born near Chicago, to a show business Father and Mother, grew up in Maryland, Ohio, and California. First started piano at age 7, then guitar at 13. First professional gig at 14, with 'The Rogues' at the Gold Horse Saloon in Folsom California. He was a member of 'The Moss' a Baltimore Blues band that won many competitions known as 'Battle of The Bands' at 15. He founded the 'Psychedelic Propellor' at 16, in Baltimore Md. Played with 'Van Morrison' and 'Moulty and the Barbarians' at 18 and 'Maypole' when 20, with Paul Welsh
Paul Welsh- Drummer and writer and co-founder with Dennis Tobell. Born in Frankfurt Germany, to a French mother and American father. Raised in Towson , Maryland. A brilliant student in History, Literature, Languages and music. His first love was music as he saw it, as a tremendous way to communicate with the masses. Playing drums since age 10, he first played with 'The Paupers', 'Daddy Warbucks'and then with 'Maypole' Paul commited suicide in 1988.
Steve Mace- Writer, singer and second guitarist. Born in Baltimore, raised in Towson , Paul and Steve were next door neighbors all their lives. He also was a member of the 'Paupers', 'Daddy Warbucks', before joining 'Maypole'
Kenny Ross- Singer, songwriter. Born in Baltimore and grew up in the Govans area of Baltimore. Kenny was also a member of 'The Paupers' with Paul and Steve. Kenny passed away in May 2005.
John Nickel- Bass Guitar was born in Baltimore, was from the Essex area of Baltimore, and played in many area bands before joining 'Maypole'.
The Story of Maypole Demian says 'Maypole' was about freedom, people being natural, true to themselves and the others around them. We told the truth about things and what we saw. The beauty, the ugliness, the injustice, the plight of hungry hearts on their journey to find true happiness. Demian "Maypole" was not a typical group. Our approach was artistic and on a spiritual level. "We could give a hoot about making a hit single and even though they tried to push us to do it. It was the music we felt and believed in. We weren't concerned with song lengths and snappy hook lines , we were searching for a whole new way to express themselves.We played with power and conviction, inside of many new styles. Some of these things are universal".
Demian is determined to carry on the legacy of Maypole. It has carried in many forms and with different people from many different places. But that's another story and now this was how Maypole began. . . . . .
Demian and Paul had met in 1966 while both playing on the same bill together in different bands at a local Baltimore teen center. Demian in the "Psychedelic Propellor" and Paul in "The Paupers". They liked each others playing, became friends, and had many occasions to talk about music and to jam together. In late 1969 they decided to form a new group. They would call it "Maypole" after a famous story by Nathaniel Hawthorne called the "Maypole of Merry-Mount" which described how some Puritans went off into the woods to erect a Maypole and dance around it in complete violation of the rules of the day, and were arrested and punished for the crime of dancing and basically having a good time. They saw the parallel to the times they were living and the principle of freedom that it represented.
They first practiced in John the bass players tiny bedroom, in his apartment of St. Paul St., in downtown Baltimore Maryland. The cops came almost everytime they rehearsed. They first recorded a demo in Washington, D.C. The place was terrible and in spite of the radio stations coming through their guitar pickups, they got the 4 songs needed, and waited to see what would happen. Their manager Pat came back to them in a couple of weeks and told them they had a deal with Colossus MGM records in New York. They had three days to complete the project. Pat would be the producer. He didn't know squat about producing a record. He had bragged that he would have a finished album on their desk in three days. Later we would find out the real reason. It allowed him to pocket the money budgeted for the recording sessions.Demian "The circumstances that occurred during the recording were, that Paul had contracted hepatitis, and was running a very high temperature (104 F)during the recording, but there was no way he was going to miss the session. He played the shit out of his drums nevertheless, and his performance still stands in my mind, as one of the highlights of the album. I ended up having to do the entire mix in 8 hours." The first side of the album was recorded as one song and the music was recorded live with no overdubs whatsoever. The vocals were then overdubbed also live, with all the vocal parts at the same time. They did all of this in 19 hours. Demian used a 1953 Fender Telecaster with a Fender Twin Reverb Amp. A Vox tone bender to boost the gain and a hardly known thing at the time called a wha- wha pedal. He used it on "Stand Alone". The first American group to use it. Steve played a Les Paul Studio guitar with a Marshall amp. John used a Fender Precision with an old Ampeg bass amp, and Paul used a set that he had built with Ted's Drum shop in Baltimore. A 26" Bass drum and all oversized toms. Zildian Cymbals, all away around. A new concept in those days, quite common now.The studio was A&R Studios New York. Dave Green was the engineer. It was a recorded on an 8 track machine on what was in those days considered to be state of the art. Paul McCartney was recording his solo album "Ram" across the hall. He would pop his head in once in awhile and give encouragement.
Shortly after the session they fired their manager. It was released at the start of 1971. Their new managers were London Records promo men who knew how to get airplay and did a great job. The band did dozens of interviews on the air and played concerts to try and promote an album that had no company behind it. because Colossus went bankrupt.Without the support of a solvent record company the record could go no farther.They did several TV shows in the Baltimore Washington area. The high points were, that they could push any button on the car radio and a "Maypole" song was playing at the same time in the Baltimore, Washington, and Virginia area. The review by legendary record-rater Bill Gavin, spoke of a "Great Band". "The American Led Zeppelin"as he called them. Dave Marsh of "Rolling Stone Magazine" spoke well of their record. They did some local and national TV shows.They toured with Bob Seeger, Nils Lofgren and Grin, Elephant's Memory,and several other acts. There was no one to distribute the album. It showed up in cut-out bins years later.But the music refused to die. It became a collectable. Showing up in record collecting guides throughout the 80's and 90's Finally reaching upwards of $250.00 usd per copy on EBay,and finally got bootlegged by the notorious Radioactive Records in the UK.
Then he had a chance to re-issue the legal versions. In early 2006 it was released on Gear Fab on CD, and later in October 2006 on Anopheles on Clear Vinyl with the sound and artwork restored to better than original condition.
Demian said ''Never would we dream that all these years later, people would be so passionate about our record, collecting it and paying very high prices for it. It's a mind-blower''. Demian wants you all to know''We deeply appreciate the interest by our loyal fans. We worked very hard to write great music that would stand the test of time, and it looks like it has done it, so far. We thank you for this'' Paul Welsh took his own life in 1988, leaving behind a note, which said that "He was tired of all the assholes". Kenny Ross passed away in May 2005 from Liver Cancer.
''There are only three of us left, John Nickel, Steve Mace and Dennis Tobell(Demian Bell) 'The guys who made this music with me, are very special to me. We shared great and bad times.Some downright hard times. Even though they have past from this life, I cherish their memory and their contribution to my music and my life. They were dedicated artists and musicians, their work deserves to live on, as I humbly wish mine to do. I want the people to know how special these times were, and the people who shared them with me. All this,is a bittersweet victory for what we believe in.
I started to play under the name of 'Demian Bell' these last 30 years, because of the contracts coming from the 'Maypole' era. I am still playing my music without compromise and with the same dedication and passion as always.
I feel I have grown tremendously over the years and I am better than ever at what I do. I hope you will check out my later work.
I reformed "Maypole" in 1974 with some of the original members and we recorded many songs for several years afterward, some of which are in pre-release mode and will be released, starting in the fall.
We play about 6 concerts a month, sometimes more in Europe these days, in Germany, Holland, Spain, and Switzerland, and we are expanding into other EU countries this winter''.