Homestead and Wolfe

Our Times

Homestead & Wolfe – Produced by Ernie Bringas

Homestead & Wolfe album entitled Our Times
Back cover of H&W original album.

Originally released in 1975, Homestead & Wolfe’s lone and unknown privately pressed LP is an artifact so lost to time, it has never appeared in any discography, list of rare records, or catalog, anywhere. However, exist it does, and now their story can be told.

Anopheles Records – re-release

This was been re-released by Anopheles Records in 2004 while researching and preparing this reissue from the original master tapes and with full cooperation of the group.

Homestead & Wolfe was a folk-harmony group based around the United Methodist Good Samaritan Church in Cupertino, CA (near San Jose). Comprised of two female lead vocalists, one male lead vocalist, and buttressed with superb male and female harmonies throughout, H&W performed original material in a rich, melodic folk-rock-country style that is well executed, as well as earnest and personal.

Picture of Stan Ross and Ernie Bringas at the recording console in Gold Star Studios
Stan Ross and Ernie Bringas, in Gold Star Recording Studio. Photo credit: Ted Larson.

The patriarch, producer and lyricist of the group, Ernie Bringas, had dabbled in the record biz as one of two founding members of the “surf hot rod” early 1960s vocal duo, the Rip Chords, before leaving to attend seminary school, then returned to sing on most of the recordings even though he could not tour.

As a Minister of Youth and master planner and motivator at Good Sam from 1969-75, Bringas assembled and encouraged this ensemble of counselors and students, eventually offering them an opportunity to record an album and have a shot at “making it” as artists. He gave them the ultimate “leg up” in the business, producing this finely crafted recording using his old Hollywood connections.

The Wrecking Crew – Hollywood’s Premier Studio Musicians

image of the studio musicians the Wrecking Crew
Wrecking crew stock photo from wikipedia.

These 15 tracks were recorded at the legendary Gold Star Studios in Hollywood between 1973-75. Engineered by Stan Ross, these recordings feature top flight studio musicianship from the legendary “wrecking crew”…

Our session included:  drummer Hal Blaine, guitarist Ben Benay (Goldenrod, Darius), acoustic guitarist Al Casey, monster bass player Ray Pohlman, not to mention one of the world’s most renowned and respected pedal steel guitar players, Jay Dee Maness (Buck Owens, the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo LP).

Harmonies and Arrangements

Image of JoAnne Avery Neish a lead singer and the arranger of all Homestead & Wolfe songs
JoAnne. Photo credit: Song of Celebration touring poster.

The harmonies and arrangements of H&W recall both the Mamas and the Papas and the Carpenters at times, but much of the music deals with darker themes: the story of Wounded Knee told in “See The Children Die”, the organ fueled psychedelia of “Your Freedom’s In Question”, aimed at the Nixon administration at the time, remains apropos today, and recalls the work of Growing Concern, Birmingham Sunday, and Art of Lovin’.  All arrangements were done by JoAnne Avery Neish.

image of the band Homestead and Wolfe in front of Gold Star Recording Studios
L-R: Ernie, Jo, Brian, Janice, Dave, and Ted – outside Gold Star Studios in Hollywood. Photo Credit: Ray Pohlman using Ted’s camera.

There are plenty of surprises here, as we located 6 unreleased tracks to augment the 9 tracks on the original album, including the startlingly great and dynamic cut, “Beat of the Drum”, which sounds as if the Bangles were hired to front Goldenrod for a one off single. The full color 16 page booklet tells the story in their own words, features images of the touring group and recording sessions at Gold Star, and maintains the high standard of archival work Anopheles Records is known for. Homestead & Wolfe represents a highly unusual and strikingly original blend of unproven but talented young vocalists, top quality session players and engineering, and a truly rare chemistry that makes this one of the great folk-rock discoveries of the last 10 years.

CRITIC’S RESPONSES


San Diego Village Voice

Homestead & Wolfe makes the year list – Music article in Village Voice on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 at 4 a.m.

https://www.villagevoice.com/music/music-6398735


image of Brian Dave Janice and Ernie recording vocals inside Gold Star Studio
L-R: Brian, Dave, Janice, and Ernie laying down background vocals at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood. Photo credit: Ted Larson.

Mitch at KFJC 89.7 FM www.kfjc.org (Los Altos)

Hi Karl – here’s that review and a huge thanks for releasing this masterpiece….
I love this so much, and am still just amazed at what these kids did – wow.
Favorites = 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13.  These tracks originally saw only a private release – until now.
Surpassing and revelatory genius.      –  MITCH


Cesar Montesano

Date: May 27, 2005 5:40:27 AM PDT   –  psychedelica
Subject: Re: [psychedelica]
Re: HOMESTEAD & WOLFE (mini-view)

Karl !!! & !! Ooops, but the psych mafia should be praising him heavily for H&W !  Whweee, thanks for the info, the CD hath me MESMERIZADO-MIKADO.  Now to figure out a little time adjustment and listen.

Pics from JoAnne's scrapbook during tour
H&W on tour. JoAnne’s photo page.

My favorite discovery of the year!   A little background on my listening habits:  The influx here is absolutely ridiculous, dozens of new things a week!   I listen liberally to different albums ad infinitum. Very rarely doth something get sticky in the player.  When it does, watch out, swingle-sister – I tend to want to sing its praises.  Being a member of the Gnosis Project, I am always ranking music. This BADMOFO (H&W) has charmed me to my bones.
I am going into the database and giving it the highest honors:  15 out of 15 = Perfect.    Karl: I would like to get in touch with the band to offer a review.   Truly blessed now, Cesar

My favorite discovery of the year!


Phil X Milstein

Date: May 3, 2005 2:21:18 PM PDT
To: spectropop
Subject: Rip Chords counterrevisionism

Janice recording a lead vocal inside Gold Star Studios
Janice listening to playback of her lead vocal. Photo credit: Ted Larson.

Someone here recently posted a link to a Rip Chords history, at https://ripchords.info  I reiterate it now just to make sure that no one who might be interested inadvertently overlooks it. It’s written by Rev. Ernie Bringas, co-founder of the group, and aims primarily at clarifying who exactly sang what on the group’s recording sessions, in order to correct the historical record on those matters.

The richness of Bringas’ detail, his pride in the group’s accomplishments, and his lack of bitterness at what seems to have been a somewhat inimical aftermath, are commendable, and the autographed photo of Doris Day is real fine, as well.
Gone, –Phil M.


NewBrutonTown

From: “moecurlythanu”
Date: May 9, 2005 9:08:18 PM PDT       Subject: [NewBrutonTown] Homestead & Wolfe

“Our Times.” Just got this CD in from Karl, and listened to it for the first time. Only a first impression, but I’m really knocked out by this CD, and amazed that there isn’t a buzz about it. Not what I expect from American Folk/FolkRock, especially xian. I wouldn’t call it wyrdfolk (though I’m starting to wonder if I really have the term pinned down after looking at Mark’s ‘History of’ pages) but for the most part is brilliant 70s Folk/FolkRock that I would expect would appeal to almost everybody here.

image of Homestead and Wolfe album cover
Back row L-R: Janice, Dave, JoAnne, Brian. Front row L-R: BJ, and Ernie. Not pictured: Ted (away at school and not told about the picture). Photo credit: Album Cover

“Our Times.” Just got this CD in from Karl, and listened to it for the first time. Only a first impression, but I’m really knocked out by this CD, and amazed that there isn’t a buzz about it. Not what I expect from American Folk/FolkRock, especially xian.

I wouldn’t call it wyrdfolk (though I’m starting to wonder if I really have the term pinned down after looking at Mark’s ‘History of’ pages) but for the most part is brilliant 70s Folk/FolkRock that I would expect would appeal to almost everybody here.

Who to compare it to? Well, I vastly favor the UK scene, and am less enamored of the Dylan/Guthrie US wing of American Folk, and the tendency to interject country elements by many US artists. Having said that, there are a couple songs that do tend to the countryish side, and one rock track, (which is good, btw.)

brilliant 70s Folk/FolkRock


Mark’s Response

photo taken over the head of Stan Ross of his hand on the recording console
The mixing board in Gold Star Studios, showing the hand of mixing engineer Stan Ross. Photo credit: Ted Larson.

They are not part of the Dylan/Guthrie wing, however. Other than those 3 tracks it’s a mix of dreamy Folk and outstanding FolkRock, drawing comparisons at times with Tudor Lodge, the 1st Bread, Love & Dreams, and faint hints at some of what Spriguns did later on (think “Time Will Pass.”) Also, much of the female vocals bear some resemblance to Sandy Denny, in the phrasing, and especially when notes are sustained. I also hear a bit of what the Byrds might have sounded like if they hadn’t relied on 12 string, in some of the uptempo numbers.

Again, a first listen, but it’s among my favorite American Folk/FolkRock/FolkPsych albums. Like it better than These Trails at first listen (not that that’s my fave American Folk album.) My favorite tracks at first listen are “Mary Jane” & “See The Children Die.”

I would think this CD would be of interest to most folks here. If it wasn’t for the country-ish tracks (2 out of 13 on the original album,) I would call this an unqualified masterpiece. Very much recommended. (And no, Karl didn’t put me up to this.) – Mark

it’s among my favorite American Folk/FolkRock/FolkPsych albums


AcidSanctuary

image of Brian Gundy recording a lead vocal inside Gold Star Studios with a red light shining on his head
Brian listening to a playback of his solo. Photo credit: Ted Larson

From: “LamaSivartDoz”
Date: October 18, 2004 1:43:01 AM PDT

Yeah, there is a certain similarity with all those items, but H & W has a strong urban westcoast finish to it IMO, not rooted in rural soil like most Brit-folkers tend to be… Mellow Candle is perhaps the closest of those, but I would really be inclined to compare it to California-style bands from a slightly earlier era… they did have trad folk moves too, often.

The most rocking tracks on H & W remind me of Ill Wind, both in terms of the powerful female vocals and the flowing band. Also Yankee Dollar, Carolyn Hester Coalition, even Neighbrhood Childrn. 8.5 / 10 at this point, really hard to find any weaknesses in it.

Great stories in the liner notes about the talented young lady handing out sheet notes to Hal Blaine & Al Casey on how the music should be played 🙂  // Patrick


Buy the CD:

Homestead & Wolfe: Our Times – The Gold Star Tapes (1973-75) CD

  • cat #: Anopheles 008
  • $15 ppd in the US
  • genre: folk-rock-country-psych-pop
  • Available at www.AnophelesRecords.com
  • Karl Ikola / Anopheles Records
  • Countries that have a H&W CD in their borders: S. Korea, Japan, Greece, Sweden, Cyprus, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Portugal, Canada.   – Karl

Homestead and Wolfe Songs:

Embedded MP3 short 30 sec sound bites:

Listen to some of our songs on YouTube

Sound of Celebration

Did you know that before they called themselves Homestead & Wolfe, the group went on a tour across the U.S. as ‘Sound of Celebration’?  We had to give up that name as we later found out that it was already taken by another group.