The Wild Blue Yonder - A dubious historical accounting.
In the 1970s, a pack of Camels cost 35¢, the neo-fascist national corporate terror state was well underway, Bush was flunking out of Yale, Miles Davis had gone electric, the network pundits had begun the long arduous spin cycle and begrudged apology for Vietnam, interest rates were double-digit due to the cost of war, and peace never had or was given a chance.
In the Big Ugly (Fresno, California) -- the city that never wakes, home of blatant political corruption, toxic agri-business and diesel fuel sunsets -- life was stagnant, severe, and under the shade of a cowboy hat.
In 1972, back in the mythological mists of the 20th century, a band of marginalized progressive musicians calling themselves the "Wild Blue Yonder" were working low paying gigs in Fresno and on the central coast. Resolute in their unanimous refusal to don the straitjacket of commercial acquiescence, the Wild Blue offered a unique conceptual summation of kick-ass rock & roll to a small but growing audience.
The band included a stellar lineup of accomplished musicians: Phil Wimer - lead guitar and vocals; Tad Wadhams - fretless bass and vocals; Dave Stewart - drums; the late Judy Bixler - vocals and keyboards; Jim Bixler - rhythm guitar and vocals; Bill Bixler - flute, saxophones, keyboards and vocals.
As stated earlier in this rambling historical narrative, jobs were low-paying and frequently out of town. The summer of love had been "Manson-ized", Disco was a 24/7 nightmare.... the band's future survival was in doubt. During this bleak period of collective rumination, a quiet shift in consciousness occurred. Utilizing an old maxim by the industrialist Howard Hughes -- to be successful in business, you should "own what you use" -- the band arrived at the audacious notion of forming a partnership and creating a performance space dedicated to original music and thought. Hence, the founding in 1974 of the Wild Blue Yonder nightclub.
Construction of the club was the essence of a collaborative effort. Many "hats" were worn by all and sundry: plumber, electrician, carpenter, hod carrier, janitor, etc. The organizing principal behind this ceaseless activity was Lauren Lamkin, an equal partner and the first manager of the club Wild Blue. She was a woman who took on city hall over parking restrictions placed on the club and won, a stalwart individual, tough as a boiled owl, Lauren's pragmatic and sometimes ferocious approach to the appearance of insoluble problems gave added credence to her title as manager. After repeated nonsensical bureaucratic delays, the club's opening was a rousing success. It was packed nightly to capacity by thirsty crowds of well wishers. After achieving the goal of establishing a permanent venue for performance, the focus turned inward to the band itself. A seventh member was added - percussionist, Jeff Bowman. Tardy, but much appreciated, Jeff's musicianship, humor, wit and horrid taste in Hawaiian shirts made him a valued member of the group's eccentric dynamic.
For two decades, the Wild Blue Yonder became the standard of unfettered polymorphic musical outpourings. Club Wild Blue, the church of the pagan dirt Buddha, gave largess to not only local and regional musicians, but also became a forum for poets, painters, sculptors, belly dancers, playwrights, and performance artists.
The Blue was a circle of light, opulent with drink, smoke, mirth, and communion. A house of burning ardor, filled with the zeal of sex, squalor, and the occasional fistfight. The Wild Blue Yonder was our hearth, our commons, our bedrock for twenty years.
Wild Blue Yonder in concert
tower district urban millennial