Last updated 3/29/2010
Preliminary interviews with Michael and
Kevin, with some added information from Barb and Louise,
got us to this point. :***** in the history below means
I need help on the dates, or other information. Please,
if you have any memories or stories about the band,
help me out. 200 heads are better than one. Go back
to the bottom of the Main Gig Page and e-mail
the GigMaster. Remember to include dates for your
anecdotes and memories if you can. Even statements like "I remember it was around the time that so and
so got married...." will help. Thanks.
help came from Gegory Baka .
At around the age of 18, Michael Smith left the U
of M and hitched out of Ann Arbor to be a folk hero.
Many stories could be told of Colorado hitch-hiking
(e.g., being "separated from his belongings,"
including his guitar, in Yukon,
Oklahoma), but, after some time he returned to town
during the art fair, and lived in a $50/month apartment,
teaching at Herb David's Guitar Studio. Hanging
out with Pat Reynolds (who ran Mark's Coffeehouse
along with Martha Stanger and Sharon, who drove a 58
Chevy), Michael played at various coffeehouses around
town, including the Ark.
Mr. Flood's Party (aka Flood's), which
was to play a major part in the band's history, opened
Michael was playing mostly holidays (when a lot of
Ann Arbor folk were out of town). He teamed up with
Amanda Bailey. One of their gigs was the very first
benefit concert for the Ark
(*****). Michael also began soloing on Friday afternoons
at Flood's, taking over for a guitar player named
Walter ... something. In the early days, the stage at
Flood's was supported by beer kegs.
Kevin Lynch came to town and started school at the
U of M. Michael
started doing guitar repair work at Music Mart.
There he met Bill Abbott who did electronics. Bill was
later to do a lot of sound work for the band and has
done sound for most of the reunion gigs.
Kevin began working at the Ann Arbor office of Music,
Strings & Things on E. William above Campus
Bike and Toy across the hall from Saguaro,
next door to the offices of the Human Rights Party.
There he met Michael and they started playing music
At Flood's, payment for musical services rendered
was usually accomplished by means of "passing the pitcher."
The first official Pitcher Passers were Barb and Craig.
Since the early days, many have had the distinctly dubious
honor of Passing the Pitcher and Sometimes the Hat (you
know who you are). Barb, even as of today, remains the
person with the most experience. In fact, it was somewhere
in this timeframe that Kevin bestowed upon Barb the
Silver Sombrero Award.
Michael and Kevin,
Mr. Flood's Party, circa 1973.
Michael, along with Mark Zimmerman, Dennis Lake, started
Lake and Company, later called the Great Lakes
Banjo Company (which appeared in an early
Whole Earth Catalog) to build high-quality, hand-made
banjoes. Kevin Lynch was an employee of said company.
Late in the year, Michael and Kevin began playing semi-regularly
as a duo at Mr. Flood's Party on Liberty Street.
During the following two or three years, there were
many semi-regular musicians and drop-ins who played
in the "band." Hence the name Country Volunteers.
They include Ed "Jingles" Richmond (later
went to Nashville) on bass; Fred "Too Slim"
LaBour (who reportedly started the Paul McCartney is
dead rumor in the Michigan Daily (
click here for a related story) and went off to
in the Sky) on stand up bass; Bill Meyer, David
Hardesty and Andy Sachs on piano (in that order); Eric
Neihaus on drums; David Cahn, who learned to play bass
and pedal steel. Ed Sugar sometimes sat in on saxophone.
Andy sometimes played tuba. Western Swing music was
what the by now regular Friday afternoon thing at Flood's
was all about.
Michael cutting a dashing figure.
Sings good, too.
Other memorable gigs included the Moose Lodge Jamboree
in Ypsilanti, the date of which escapes us (*****).
(And probably not without reason!)
Later, as the band took a more definitive shape, Buzzy
Klingenburger played drums. After he left town, Kathy
Rasmussen played drums and sang.
The Country Volunteers continued their occasional nightly
shows and Friday afternoon gigs.
Kathy, Michael, and that's Gary
visible behind the street lamp on the right.
Posters for gigs and later general performance calendars
for Flood's were done by Zeke Mallory of Crow
A poster done by Zeke Mallory
of Crow Quill Graphics circa 1975.
In 1976, the Country Volunteers put together an album.
Recording was done in Garden City, Michigan. Roger Kasle,
part owner of the banjo company, had bailed some guy
out of jail whose lack of cash left no other way of
paying Roger back but to give him time in his recording
studio. There was a song by
Bruce Phillips, one by Johnny Hodges, a couple of
others and eight of Michael's. Several of the songs
recorded are still done by the band when it reunites
for the annual Last Performance
Ever or at the occasional in town gig (such as at
Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park, local drinking
establishments, and so forth) : Ride In the Country,
Going Away, Someday You'll Want Me to Want You, Today
We're Getting Married.
Personnel included Mike, David, Buzz, Kevin, Bill, Jingles,
Kathy, Cindy Laverty, Andy, Madcat Ruth, and several
others. Roger knew Bill Keith, one of the legendary
names in banjo, and got him to play banjo on the album.
The banjo company had in fact created a special model
Bill Keith, called the Top Tension Banjo.
Gary Munce, formerly of the Floating Opera, joined
as bass player. Music continued, Western Swing with
a bit of country and rock and roll, Friday afternoons.
Then there was the time Michael, Kevin, Andy, Kathy,
and Gary won $10,000 in the lottery. The band was playing
weekends and a regular Thursday night gig where it was
paid a percentage of door. One slow Thursday night,
the five split $55. Bartender at the time, Craig Pepple,
suggested they buy lottery tickets with the money. Michael
bought $30 of tickets at Campus Corners, where
he worked and above which he lived in an apartment,
won $5, invested it again and won $10,000. The rest
of that weekend, the group billed themselves as the
Ten Grand Band.
The Great Lakes Banjo Company finally gave
up doing business. One of the contributing factors was
the bad lacquer it had been sent by a supplier which
required refinishing many instruments that had already
been purchased. Standing behind the work, the company
did the refinishing at no cost to the customer. Original
low margins were eaten up.
The band continued to play at Flood's.
In September of 1978, Alan Pagliere came to Ann Arbor
to go to graduate school at the U
of M, and after several uninteresting gigs with
several uninteresting bands, was introduced by Kay Clahassey
to the Country Volunteers and concomitant musical
scene and network of friends. Alan took over as pedal
steelist while David Cahn moved over to bass and guitar.
The band coalesced into the following form: Michael
Smith guitar; Kevin Lynch and David Cahn, electric guitar;
Bill Meyer, piano; Gary Munce, electric bass; Kathy
Rasmussen, drums; Alan Pagliere, pedal steel guitar.
Songs of this era that are remembered with fondness
include: San Antonio Stroll and Tonight My
Baby's Comin' Home sung by Kathy, Wahoo sung
by Bill, and My House is Your Honky Tonk sung
Kathy left and Buzz Klingenburger, who has been back
in and out of town over the years *****, took over the
drums. At some point, *****, David and Bill moved out
to the Seattle area and Buzz moved out to California.
***** Don Kuhle took over the drums.
Somewhere around this time, *****, the Cadillac Cowboys,
or some strange pick-up version of it, along with Dave
Menefee and Steve Newhouse, opened for
Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen at The
Second Chance, now known as the Nectarine Ballroom.
June 21, 1980, the band played at the K of C Campground
at a party to celebrate Harv and Barb's wedding the
day before. Many will remember that night.
The regular Friday afternoons at Flood's continued.
One particular afternoon that Alan has not yet forgotten
was the time the band was just getting ready to play,
the stage was nearly set up. He turned quickly, brushed
up against his steel guitar, and then .... For more
on this story, not for the faint-hearted, click here:
Rolled Steel: The Day the
Earth Stood Still.
There once was a little girl named Megan Hooper, who
insisted Michael "Sis" be at her third birthday party.
However, her birthday was Friday, and we all know
where Michael "Sis" was on Friday afternoons. So,
on April 18, 1980, the birthday party was taken
to Mr. Flood's
Party. Megan may very well be the only three year
old to ever celebrate her birthday at Flood's.
By the way, that three year old is now about 29 and
has a band of her own, playing "rock with industrial
overtones". They have their own CD and finish
every gig with an "industrialized version of
Clearly, the Cowboys had some influence on a
little girl at an impressionable age. It is rumored
that the birthday cake was triple chocolate with three
After years of Friday afternoons, the tradition that
had evolved came to an end (albeit a temporary one).
On July 30, 1980, Flood's closed its doors. The
last week of business saw a parade of Ann Arbor musicians
giving what one might conservatively call rousing performances.
The second to last night had Mike Smith and The Country
Volunteers (by this time with essentially the same
personnel as Kevin Lynch and the Cadillac Cowboys)
give a memorable farewell concert. It was very hot that
July night. ...their shirts all soaked with sweat...
(sounds like a line from a song ...).
The music scene stumbled a bit in Ann Arbor during this
time. Other bands felt the hole left by the closing
of Flood's, but perhaps none so much as the CV/CC.
There certainly weren't too many places to play Western
Swing in Ann Arbor. Still aren't.
The last time the Volunteers/Cowboys
played at Flood's,
the bar's penultimate night open. It was a sauna in
there that night.
Have you ever seen five skinnier (or perhaps merely
Q: Can you remember that night? Or perhaps it
would be better to just ask: do you know the date?
A:It was July 29, 1980.
Quiz: Can you name all members of the band
and at least two of the audience members?
with your answer.
1980 and 1981 were packed with music. Mike Smith
and the Country Volunteers would play the Friday
afternoon thing at Flood's from 5-7:30. Kevin,
Alan, and Don would then pack up and mosey over to Joe's
where they would join up with Tom Wise on bass and transform
into the then current version of the Kevin Lynch
and the Cadillac Cowboys for a 9 pm to 2 am stint.
Good for the chops.
Alan, Tom, and Kevin putting in
some long hours.
Look at their faces. They ain't havin' no fun. No sir.
In the summer of 1981, the band played at a party
held at Park Road, coinciding with the annual gathering
of the (in)famous Bobby Sox & the U-Trou.
The night reminded some of a kind of tent city. This
event saw the first perfomance of Six Pack To Go
by the usually non-vocal pedal steel player. He has
come far enough that this tune
is even included in the band's CD a mere 19 years
In the fall of 1981, Flood's reopened. The band
started up again; same time (5:00 - 7:30 pm every Friday),
same scene. In October of 1981, Alan moved to Kyoto,
Japan and Gary Hussar took over the pedal steel role.
About this time, Joe Tiboni, that man about town,
took over what had been the theretofore rather sleazy
Star Bar, converting it into the classy Joe's
Star Lounge. The May 28, 1982 edition of the Ann
Arbor News had an article by S.F. Nelson (with
photo by Rick Lieder) describing the imminent move
The band (now with Michael, Kevin, Gary Munce, Pete
Falkenstein, Don Kuhle on drums and Gary Hussar on steel)
made the move to Joe's in June. Friday afternoons
were reinvented with little difficulty. Now, there was
a dance floor to boot. Alan, back from Japan, took a
while getting his fingers and toes back again into the
pedal steel thing but soon was back riding with the
Somewhere in the summer of 1982, the CV/CC
band played a benefit gig for the Alternative Review
up in Schwaben Hall. Those who can remember the
night recall much fun, frolic, food and drink, dancing,
and the like.
Around September of 1983, Hugh Huntley, who had been
playing in various other bands with Pete, joined the
Cowboys as drummer. He's been with the band ever
The Country Volunteers continued to play Fridays
at Joe's until it closed in sometime in 1985.
A toast on the last night the
band ever played at Joe's Star Bar.
From Joe's, it was off to the only other possible
place to play in town for a band like this, The Blind
Pig. The Pig had gone from the cool, intellectual
hang-out with occasional blues in the basement, to a
reasonably hip, occasionally bordering on the rowdy,
music bar. A recently installed stage in a recently
extended back room saw Friday afternoon gigs continue.
The mood was slightly different, but the band, the music,
the regulars (i.e., the audience) were all still there.
Keeping up the Friday evening wind-down with friends.
In the November, 1985 issue of The Ann Arbor Observer,
appeared a great photo of the band taken on the railroad
overpass on W. Washington Street. (Unfortunately, it
is unscannable from the newsprint, so if anyone remembers
who took that shot, please send
me e-mail with a name.) Along with the photo was
the following note:
"Every Friday 5:30-8:00 pm, Kevin Lynch and
the Cadillac Cowboys. Spirited country swing and affecting
country ballads featuring vocalists Lynch and (occasionally)
Mike Smith. A Friday afternoon institution in Ann Arbor
for more than a decade."
That about sums it up.
The Cadillac Cowboys at a Blind
(left to right) Alan with his vege-matic,
Hugh and his wild eyes, Kevin a-belting one out,
Gary playing the bass with the highest action in the
and Pete clearly fascinated by the inner workings of
In 1988, Alan thought it would be a good idea, since
the band hadn't played in a couple of years or so, that
we should have Kevin and Pete come back into town for
a weekend for a reunion of the band. It was to be a
Swan Song, a Last Performance Ever. The rest is history.
Actually, if you think about it, pretty much all of
it except for the next "Last Performance Ever" is history.
Get yourself updated to the present by looking at a
history of the reunions.
In 1997, Kevin took a job in Saipan. So he hasn't
made the last few Reunion Gigs (though he did make one!). We took on Kelly Schmidt
as guitar player. He's the man with the eclectic guitar
you hear on our CD. The band
started playing more than it had in a decade: gigs at
the Top of the Park, the Webster Township Fair, local
In 2001, our guitarist Kelly decided to go back to his roots as
an acoustic musician, concentrating on his primary
instruments, the mandolin and Dobro. Once again on
the look out for a guitarist, We tried a couple and
have been thrilled for a good time now with Jim Larzalere
who has very easily embraced the Cowboy musical culture.
Liz Stern, wife of drummer Hugh, or Cowboy Liz as we sometimes like to call her, joined the band to sing a few great songs. Full Moon Full of Love, She's Got You, Waltz Across Texas, and Cold, Cold Heart.
For the third time, The Cavern Club in Ann Arbor, after booking several bands for several months, cancels its Friday Happy Hour and throws said several bands' plans into chaos. The Cowboys begin playing at the Heidelberg Restaurant's Club Above.
In 2007, Jim left the band and Kevin Brown of Corndaddy and formerly of Steve Newhouse's Nukabillies has been sitting in with the band. The band continued its tradition of reunions, this year's being the 20th Annual Last Performance Ever.
In 2010, the Heidelberg Club Above turns into a poker joint and bands again scramble for a place to play. What ever happened to the almost back from the dead music scene in Ann Arbor? Live music? Who needs it? Anyway, Gary, Randy T and Chris G get together and find another place to play. The Cowboys start gigging at the Happy Hours at Live at PJs. A Top of the Park gig is in the near future as well.
If you help add to the collective memory. Send notes
and memories to Alan.