29 Sep 2009
ROSSLYN MOUNTAIN BOYS
The Rosslyn Mt. Boys (RMB) began in 1973 when Joe Triplet and Happy Acosta, both of the D.C. hippie/counterculture band Claude Jones, started performing as an acoustic duo at the 21st Amendment, a bar on Pennsylvania Avenue. At the time, Joe and Happy, along with Jay Sprague (also in Claude Jones,) lived on the Amoeba Farm in Warrenton with Nils Lofgren & Grin.
The RMB made a decision to go electric and invited Peter Bonta of The Nighthawks to join as the bass player, along with Bob Berberich (from Grin) on drums. Tommy Hannum on pedal-steel guitar, who had been working with Emmy Lou Harris in her D.C. days, rounded out the band and the RMB were set. When Jay Sprague also came aboard from Claude Jones, Peter was able to move over to keyboards and guitar.
The country-rock band played regularly at the original Birchmere. The band’s height of popularity was in the mid-1970s when it played frequently at Desperado’s in Georgetown, the County Line in Arlington, the Psyche Delly in Bethesda, The Childe Harold, Mr. Henry’s-Tenley Circle, and the mid-Atlantic college circuit from Virginia to Pennsylvania. Their first album “The Rosslyn Mt. Boys” was released in 1977 on Gene Rosenthal’s Adelphi label and was a regional and European best-seller. The band opened for headliners including Emmylou Harris, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Vassar Clements, Bill Anderson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Buck Owens.
The RMB called it quits in 1979, reuniting briefly for the release of their second album, “Lone Outsider”, produced by David Briggs, Neil young’s long-time producer, and released in 1981 on Schizophonic Records.
- Peter went on to become a member of Artful Dodger before opening Wally Cleaver’s Recording in Fredericksburg, VA.
- Tommy Hannum relocated to Nashville and was Ricky Van Shelton’s bandleader/steel player and is an in-demand session player; he’s currently on tour with Clay Walker.
- Peter Bonta and Rico Petrocelli, the last RMB bassist, went on to record and tour with Mary Chapin Carpenter.
- Bob Berberich recently reunited with Nils Lofgren at the Grin reunion concert and he still drums for several DC-area musicians, notably Cathy Ponton King.
- Joe Triplett is a gentleman farmer, living on his farm near the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and still writing timeless classics.
Although the band was officially defunct, the members occasionally gathered for reunion gigs. Although Hannum was in Nashville, he collaborated with the band on a CD that was released in 2006, “Different Skyline,” on Sosumi Records.
Rep. John Joseph Hall, a Democratic congressman representing New York’s 19th district, was born in Baltimore Maryland in 1948. The singer, guitarist, and songwriter quit the University of Notre Dame, where he was studying physics, to play full time in a band in Georgetown.
His early band affiliations include the Washington, D.C. band the British Walkers, a local group whose members included Teddy Spelios and had at one time featured Roy Buchanan. He joined the Country-rock group Kangaroo, who had relocated from Boston to Washington, playing bass and sharing guitar duties with Spelios as well as some singing. Kangaroo soon became a fixture at DC’s Peppermint Lounge, signing to MGM to release its debut single “I Never Tell Me Twice.” Kangaroo’s self-titled LP and a second single, “Frog Giggin’,” followed. Kangaroo opened for the Doors and the Who in 1968.
After Kangaroo broke up in 1969, Hall concentrated on songwriting and wrote “Half Moon” for Janis Joplin’s final album, Pearl. He also played on the Seals & Croft album Down Home and Bonnie Raitt’s Give it Up. He formed his own group, the John Hall Trio (later the John Hall Quartet), which evolved into Orleans in 1972. Based in Woodstock, NY, the band had Top Ten singles with “Dance With Me” and “Still the One.”
Hall left Orleans in 1977 to begin a solo career, releasing John Hall in 1978 and Power in 1979. He was active in the anti-nuclear movement and co-founded Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE). He appeared on and co-produced the No Nukes benefit album with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, and Graham Nash. In 1981, he formed the John Hall band. The group’s “Crazy (Keep on Fallin’)” from the 1981 album All of the Above made the pop charts, just missing the Top Ten in a chart run of nearly six months. Search Party followed a little more than a year later, and the band disbanded when it didn’t do as well as the previous album.
In 1986, John returned to the DC area to perform at the 1986 Wammies. For that night Orleans reunited as an acoustic trio to take the stage.
Hall continued to write songs for others, including Chet Atkins, Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless. He also released solo recordings, reunited with Orleans for albums in 1990, 1996 and 2000, and formed his own record label, Siren Songs. In 2005 he released Rock Me on the Water, an album inspired by a long sailing trip. He also formed Gulf Stream Night with longtime Orleans drummer Peter O’Brien, percussionist Joakim Lartey, bassist Bobby MacDougal, and wife Pamela Melanie Hall on guitar. Hall performed at the concert honoring Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday in May 2009, supporting the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In October 2004, Hall said that George W. Bush’s presidential campaign had not asked for permission to use the Orleans song “Still the One” at campaign events, and the campaign eventually dropped the song. Four years later, Hall expressed the same disapproval with Sen. John McCain’s campaign for doing the same thing.
Hall, who calls himself a progressive Democrat, won a congressional race in 2006 against a six-term Republican incumbent in a district that hadn’t elected a Democrat in 40 years. He is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure and Veterans’ Affairs committees, as well as the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
Content courtesy of Washington Area Music Association.