I wouldn't blame you for thinking this Milwaukee Coasters blog is abour beer memorabilia. But, no, instead, it's what I know about a group called The Milwaukee Coasters, and I post it here hoping you can tell me -- and your fellow readers -- more.
Even Bruce Cole of Marquette University's Jean Cuje Milwaukee Music Collection was stumped.
I discovered this group via its single "Sick & Tired (Oh Babe)" and "Treat Me Nice," released on the British Pama record label in 1968. The label, founded by a pair of brothers named Palmer, specialized in Jamaican and other Caribbean music and the label was second only to the massive Trojan Records in the big U.K. Jamaican music world, which crossed over into the mod, northern soul and skinhead scenes, too.
The A-side of the single is a fun, but pretty generic sax-fueled, ‘50s American rock and roll/R&B instrumental and you can find it on a few compilations like "Black Is Soul: Pama Singles Collection Volume One," released about a decade ago in Europe. You can hear a snippet of it here.
The group also recorded an album of instrumental covers of famous ‘50s tunes like "Rock Around the Clock," "Lucille" and "Good Golly Miss Molly." That disc, "West Coast Rock and Roll," came out in 1968 and was the second full-length LP that Pama issued.
The following year the same tunes were repackaged by Pama as "The Best Party Album" and both discs credit the Palmer Brothers as producers.
However, the first record also came out in France in '69 and a French Web site claims that the band was also known as The Sharks and that the LP was produced by Jean Georgakarakos, co-founder of Byg Records, which issued the disc in France.
You can hear samples of all the tracks from the LPs here.
Although I haven't been able to determine if The Milwaukee Coasters had any connection to Brew City (maybe that "West Coast Rock and Roll" and "Coast-ers" references provide clues) or who its members were.
The liner notes to the "Party Album" aren't especially helpful.
"The Milwaukee Coasters – who as we are informed have been responsible for the musical backing of at least half of the hit tunes of the Rock aera, backing most of the great stars of those days. They have grown a little older now but their music is just as good today as it ever was. The Milwaukee Coasters do not back singers any longer but they do play together on special assignments entertaining High School Students throughout the United States."
But it's clear there was an actual band behind these records.
I managed to find that The Milwaukee Coasters played two gigs at the Alex Disco, a Salisbury, England venue that in 1969 hosted the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller, The Troggs, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Jethro Tull and Ten Years After. The band performed on May 8, 1969 and later the same year on Nov. 29.
In October of the same year, The Milwaukee Coasters performed at the Internationales Essener Pop & Blues Festival at Essen, German's Grugahalle, alongside Muddy Waters, Free, Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things, Alexis Korner and others.
Do you know anything about The Milwaukee Coasters? If so, post a Talkback below or send me an e-mail.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.