BH Basement Tapes

BLUE HORIZON 1975: Left to right: Kelly Murphy – Lead Guitar and vocals, Mike Vargason – Lead vocals and Percussion, Terry Wheeler – Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals, Tom Kammer – Drums and Vocals, Rob Tatro – Bass Guitar and Vocals

BLUE HORIZON 1976: Left to right: Kelly Murphy – Lead Guitar and vocals, Mike Vargason – Lead vocals and Percussion, Terry Wheeler – Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals, Tom Kammer – Drums and Vocals, Rob Tatro – Bass Guitar and Vocals

lost basement tapes from mid-seventies found

In 1976, there were three 16-17 year-old Seniors from Oelwein High School (Varg, Tom, and Murph) , one from Independence High School (Wheels) and a recent graduate of OCHS (Tate), that played in a band called Blue Horizon

Below are some “distinctive” songs from a live performance of that band playing for a wedding dance at the local Knights of Columbus. Wedding dance bands required playing a wide variety of musical styles that included country songs and fifties music. In addition to the typical wedding music, the band would still try throw in some of their signature songs and recently learned tunes.

DISCLAIMER: Tapes of live performances are unique, but the quality is much different than from a formal recording session.  Although the audio mix on the songs below is not studio quality, you can hear that the band was well rehearsed.  Technical flaws in the mix due to the quality of the recording and the age of the cassette tape are inevitable. Consider them like scars in fine leather, proof of the origin and authenticity of the material in which they are found.   

You can listen to each song by clicking on the title. To see visuals along with the song, click on the “Version with pictures” link. The “pictures” version requires a fast internet connection.

  • I’ve Had Enough –   Version with pictures
    • Varg on lead vocals with Tom singing a stellar harmony part at the 1:30 minute mark.
    • Wheels and Murph blend together on lead guitar harmonies in the middle section.
    • Originally recorded by Paul McCartney and Wings
  • Look Away Version with pictures
    • BH would frequently jam out the intro of a song before the actual tune would start.  Sometimes this free jam would be short and other times it may be extended.  This intro has Wheels laying down the rhythm while Murph improvises with slide guitar and leads. Be sure to notice Tate’s bass harmonics in the intro.
    • Varg on lead vocals.
    • Murph’s solos throughout the song include slide parts.  
    • Four part vocal harmony break at the 2:45 mark.
    • Originally recorded by Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  • Traveling Shoes Version with pictures
    • Varg on lead vocals with everyone joining in on harmonies.
    • Maracas and tambourine by Varg alternate throughout the song.
    • Rhythm section of Tate and Tom is skin-tight and enhanced with Murph’s chicken picking guitar rhythms and Varg’s percussion. Rhythm section controls the dynamics by decreasing volume on soft parts of the song and going all out on other sections. 
    • Wheels and Murph on lead guitar harmonies throughout the song. 
    • Slide guitar by Murph. 
    • Four part harmony on the vocal break at 4:30. 
    • Tiny section of talkbox at the 5:30 mark.
    • Originally recorded by Elvin Bishop.
  • Struttin’ My Stuff – Version with pictures
    • Varg on lead vocals with Wheels and Tom harmonizing
    • Murph and Wheels on harmony guitar parts
    • Varg on percussion
    • The “Version with pictures” features the hand drawn poster by Varg
    • Originally recorded by Elvin Bishop
  • Wouldn’t Want to Be like You Version with pictures
    • Wheels on lead vocals.
    • Wheels on lead guitar
    • The original recording of this song has a lot of piano, so Murph is playing piano parts on guitar
    • Originally recorded by The Alan Parsons Project.
  • Whatcha Gonna Do? – Version with pictures
    • Varg and Wheels singing two-part harmony in choruses. Trade off on lead vocals during verses.  
    • Wheels doing all the guitar leads.
    • Murph is playing the piano parts on guitar but does play a couple of guitar harmonies with Wheels.
    • Originally recorded by Pablo Cruise
  • Ain’t No Half Steppin’ Version with pictures
    • Blue Horizon was a popular band because they played the current hits. However, they sometimes played a song just for themselves.  These last two songs are examples of tunes that the audience probably did not recognize, but the band learned them as a project.   
    • Ain’t No Half Steppin’ has lead vocals by Wheels.
    • Varg on percussion
    • Murph plays some talkbox in the middle and at the end.
    • Originally recorded by Heat Wave.
  • Who Do You Think You Are? – Version with pictures
    • This is one of the most unusual songs the band ever attempted. Definitely not a dance tune. This song would clear a dance floor faster than someone yelling “Fire!” Blue Horizon probably played it live only 2-3 times before it left their set list.
    • Varg on vocals
    • Wheels and Murph on harmony guitar parts
    • Originally recorded by Gentle Giant

Read more about Blue Horizon on their webpage.

6 comments on “BH Basement Tapes
  1. Johnna says:

    OMGOODNESS ! I was back at Wildweed! Good times!

  2. Debbie Albert says:

    Sounds great , have more cassettes? Deb Albert

  3. I love it! Took me back to good times and great music. I really like the different parts of the songs are described before you listen so you can try and hear it. Great stuff!

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