Lost and Found-- United Travel Service

United Travel Service: Dale Sweetland, John Reeves, Ben Hoff, Steve Bennet

People that know me, realize that one of my preferred musical genres is 60s Garage. So, you can imagine my surprise when I posted a track from United Travel Service a little over a year ago and I received an email from the drummer a few days ago. He saw my post and reached out.

While United Travel Service is not Back From the Grave rare or anything, I was very honored to have the chance to help tell their story. Dale Sweetland agreed to answer some questions via email and here are the results.

Cratedigger:Could you share a brief rundown of the band roster and your releases with record catalog numbers?

Dale:Primary Core: Ben Hoff, John Reeves, Dale Sweetland
Part-time: Ray Doern, Jim Roberts (only on 1 recording)
Steve Bennet (alternate bass player)
Wind and Stone UK4M-1179 BMI Record No R-5120 Rust Records,NY
Drummer of Your Mind UK4M-1180 BMI Record No R-5120 Rust Records,NY
Gypsy Eyes N/A
Echo of You N/A

Cratedigger:How did you meet the other members?

Dale:I was going to school in Corvallis, OR and met John Reeves, who put an ad in a local paper for "Drummer wanted for band, call ....", so I called. He said, "Well, there's really no band, but if you're not busy why don't we get together", so that was the beginning. John was from the SF area and heavily influenced by SF rock, and that was my introduction to it. Ben had a group
in Portland with a drummer who couldn't keep time, so that was a shoe-in for me, then we just used whatever bass player was available, I don't remember Dave Mathew, sorry Dave, you will have to refresh my memory.

Cratedigger:What got you into music?

Dale:I started tap dancing at age 4, accordion at 7, but didn't like the sound or having to drag it out and play a tune for anyone coming over to visit, once I began playing drums, (13 or so), that ended.

Cratedigger:How supportive were your families of Rock and Roll?

Dale:My dad was a very good musician from another time so he wasn't fond of the type of music I was playing but it kept me out of trouble for the most part.

Cratedigger:What types of shows did UTS play?

Dale:We did a lot of college dances, not too many small venues.

Cratedigger:How long were the sets and what was the ratio between original and cover material?

Dale:There wasn't much planning in this area, that is a little un-clear, but we did about 30-70 ratio original to cover, the trouble for us was most of the people at the dance came to socialize, not necessarily to see us and wanted to hear the current material on the radio.

Cratedigger:What was it like playing in a garage band in Oregon in the 60s?

Dale:We were mostly a basement band, we got together to learn tunes and prepare for the next gig, we were not harassed too much by the neighbors or the police, we weren't late nighters', but it certainly wasn't as much fun as gig'n, that was our main focus.

Cratedigger:Were there other bands that you hung out with and played with?

Dale:I played with "Madrid and the Counts"(national releases on Rust as well), "Sunday Morning" very popular Portland band at the "Stone Balloon", "The Classmen", "Aesop and the Fables", ...

Cratedigger:What was your favorite recorded track?

Dale:I really like "Gypsy Eyes", I would like to do a re-do of that, or at least get to re-mix it.

United Travel Service in the studio: Dale, John, Ben

Cratedigger:I read about the Dentist Recording sessions, do you have any other cool 60s recording sessions stories? If not perhaps you could provide a recap.

Dale:I don't know where Dave got his info, but the 1st studio we recorded in was Ken ?'s basement, he was an engineer of some kind in Portland, and Rick Keefer operated Ridon productions in the basement, as far as I know or Ben for that matter, there was no doctor's basement. It was quite a small space in the middle of a residential neighborhood in a Portland suburb, which occasionally flooded from lack of drainage and too much rain. We would have
to stand on boxes to keep from being shocked. After the basement studio, Rick moved to Vancouver and Ripcord productions where we recorded "Echo of You" and "Gypsy Eyes", and I think "Snow" and "Slightest Possibility", which were never released. I also need to say none us of us made a single penny off these recordings, nothing, I'm not complaining just so you'll know, but don't expect a bundle from your studio work, it won't happen, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Our recording ended when Rick wanted to start charging us to record, that was it, end of band.

Cratedigger:If you could change anything about the band, what would it be?

Dale:I would buy the guys an electric tuner. We started one gig totally out of tune, as the people came pouring in. Being a guitar band, we didn't have a keyboard reference to tune to, so it was sometimes an argument over who to tune to.

Cratedigger:How did Viet Nam or other political factors affect the band?

Dale:Personally, I hated our involvement in Vietnam, it really tore up our generation, you had to peace/love side, and the "fight for our country" side, I will fight and die but for something I believe in, not some stupid political war on the other side of the world, I couldn't serve anyway, I was 4F, couldn't pass a physical because of a heart murmur.

Cratedigger:UTS opened for the Doors. Do you have any stories that you can share about that?

Dale:The most memorable thing about that was what most garage bands will only experience their 1st time out on a really big stage. Your band mates are so far away, the sound is totally different than it is in the basement/garage, everyone is so far from each other, it's like playing by yourself, very weird, and not much fun, I felt like telling them to come back over and crowd around me like in the basement/garage, you can't wait for it to be over, the monitor mix was something you didn't even discuss or think about, I really couldn't hear anyone else except myself, and was just hoping I was at the right part in the song at the right time! We did our portion, and I just remember "The Doors", coming out from the side, no words exchanged,
just looks, like let's get this over, they weren't very friendly and I think kind of tired of the road at that point.

Cratedigger:How did the whole Flower Power thing affect you and the rest of the band?

Dale:We never really talked about it, we were mainly concerned with the next gig or recording. It was a great time to be around, there's nothing like it now or never will be, it was a pretty friendly time. Ray was in the service, so he didn't have many choices, John was from the SF area and HIGHLY influenced by FPower, he was also in the ROTC program at college, Ben has always been a free thinker not really hindered by what other people think he should do,
pretty shy to say the least, but a great guy. The FPower thing for me was my first introduction into total involvement with the music, putting on some tunes, headphones, laying on the floor and totally grooving out, there's nothing like it, let yourself go, thanks to John.

Cratedigger:What is it like to get contacted 40 years after the fact by fans of your music.

Dale:This is the weirdest part of the whole thing, when we recorded there were no computers or internet, no cell phones, and if you didn't have money (none of us did) you could barely make a long distance call. It's a thrill to be contacted after all this time by people you didn't even know you touched with your music, let me repeat, A THRILL!!

Thanks to Dale for reaching out to Cratedigger, now I need to get a copy of this 45. Here is their track Gypsy Eyes:



Anonymous said...

Heard the tune "Wind and stone" of this group on the "Technicolor web of sound" and thought it was great. I´m born in 1962 so this music are a big part of my childhood years.


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