Clovis Noches

I subbed a few times on bass, mostly in 1991 and 1992, New York City

Personnel

Nancy Lynn Howell – vocals, guitar
G. Doug Pierson – guitar

with a large and revolving cast of members and hired guns, including at various times

Fats Kaplin – accordion, fiddle, and pedal steel
Larry Eagle, Jeremy Dreesen, Ken Meyer, Steve Holley, Robert Bond, Albert Caiati, others – drums
Jeff Myers, Wayne Hammond, Arturo Baguer, Hank Bones, me a few times, others – bass
Alan Goodman – lap steel guitar
Gib Wharton – pedal steel
Ken Pierson – accordion

Clovis Noches: Nancy Lynn Howell and Doug Pierson

These two cowboy hats had been playing in New York City for a couple of years already when, as I described at the end of my Oswalds post, I stumbled onto them at this gig that I attended on a whim with Laura Cantrell:

Clovis Noches Marlboro Talent Roundup

This is the show where I first laid eyes on my wife-to-be.

Here’s what the band sounded like at the time. This recording was produced by the drummer, Robert Bond. [For iPad, iPhone, or other non-Flash-enabled devices, go here.]

“Nine Mile Hill” by Clovis Noches


Clovis Noches had formed out of the ashes of the Shakers, a band Nancy and Doug, who were married at the time, had back in Albuquerque. They played a lot of new wave covers and the occasional original. Apparently there was a certain amount of hot pink hair dye involved. Then in an unusual move, Nancy and Doug split up as a couple and relocated to NYC to play original music.

Not long after that Bottom Line show, Nancy and I started dating. Clovis Noches didn’t really have a regular band, more like a revolving cast of capable hired guns (it seems like every pedal steel player in the city passed through the band). It was probably inevitable that as a bass-playing boyfriend, I would eventually get conscripted when someone couldn’t do a gig. I remember subbing with the group maybe 3 times.

Here’s a flyer for one show I did. I remember Larry Eagle was spectacular as a drummer; I sounded better just being in the same room as him.

Clovis Noches July 15, 1991

I don't know why Nancy (who made this flyer) listed me as "Mick" Lerner. Considering we were engaged at the time, I like to think she actually knew my real name.

Clovis Noches put out one single on the Diesel Only label, a 45-only label run by Jeremy Tepper, Jay Sherman Godfrey, and Albert Caiati. Cover design (and the cartoon in the flyer above) by Susan Lathrop.

I liked playing with them, but I really loved seeing them. They were slick, in a good way; they had great players and Nancy was the sort of powerful lead singer that left folks dazed. Maybe I’m biased (Nancy and I got married in October of 1992).

Here’s a later song, with Artie Baguer on standup bass, Larry Eagle on drums, and Alan Goodman (?) on steel guitar:

“48 Steps Down” by Clovis Noches

[For iPad, iPhone, or other non-Flash-enabled devices, go here.]

Concurrent with all this, I was running a band of my own, Flat Old World (about which, of course, more later). Nancy and Doug were both in that, too. And I was playing with Life in a Blender. Blender’s drummer, Ken Meyer, joined Clovis Noches in a lineup towards the end of the band that was more constant: Alan Goodman on lap steel, Ken on drums, and Artie Baguer on standup bass. My impression of the band at that point was that they were exploring some quieter, slower stuff (perhaps partly as a result of the deadly slow, deathly quiet stuff Nancy was singing in Flat Old World).

Post mortem

Somewhere in 1993 or so, the band stopped playing. Flat Old World was on a bit of a roll, and I think Nancy enjoyed singing without having to worry about writing for or fronting a band. Doug was busier with a family. Doug, Nancy, and Ken will all show up repeatedly on this blog. Among other projects, Doug plays now with a group called The Highland Shatners, and Ken and I (in Life in a Blender) are sharing a bill with them tomorrow night. Alan Goodman turned into a flamenco guitarist. Larry Eagle is all over the place, including playing with Bruce Springsteen as the drummer on the Seeger Sessions and collaborating with Andy Statman. Fats Kaplin moved to Nashville and has played with loads of folks, notably Tom Russell, Kevin Welch, and Kristi Rose. Gib Wharton played with the Holmes Brothers for quite a while, and lives in Texas now. Wayne Hammond is apparently playing “comedy rock” in Key West. Among other gems, his act has a song called “The Rectum of Ella Fitzgerald” to the tune of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Robert Bond moved to England (we had a drink with him on our honeymoon); Now he lives in Nashville and Warsaw. Artie Baguer went on to play with many folks, including Amy Allison. Hank Bones is a busy engineer and bassist.

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14 Comments on “Clovis Noches”

  1. John Burdick says:

    Looking forward to more!

  2. Martha says:

    I just sang along to 9 Mile Hill. My singing sounded terrible, of course, but this is my way of bragging about remembering all of the lyrics. I’m sure I would have forgotten them if not for Nancy’s indelible, amazing voice. Those were fun gigs.

    • Nancy Howell says:

      How do you do that? You remember lyrics like I remember, uh, nothing!
      It’s so weird to hear some of the songs again, esp ones we didn’t really play much, and have them only be vaguely familiar.

  3. Mark Amft says:

    It is not clear from this blog post to my alcohol-soaked, 52-year-old brain whether or not you and Nancy did, in fact, marry. And are, or are not, still married. Please advise. Also, love the comic strip; please credit its author(s).

    • Mark Lerner says:

      Ah, I think it’s *my* brain that is to blame. Nancy and I got married in 1992. She’s sittng right next to me and assures me we are still married. The comic strip is great, right? That’s by a dear friend of N’s from Albuquerque, Susan Lathrop, who also did the cover for the 45.

      I’ll edit the post a bit to include this stuff as soon as I’m on a full-sized keyboard.

  4. Nancy Howell says:

    Uf-da! Hijo la! Been soul searching about why we (Doug P and I) went the “hired gun” route. I guess we didn’t know many musicians in NY for long awhile, and also, the Shakers spent 2 years in a garage learning how to play. And we became a super tight band; I think we just didn’t want to go back to square one, or even square 2. (Not many garages in NYC either!)
    Can’t believe the number of great drummers (Robert! Larry! Steve H?!!) & bassists (Wayne! Artie! Hank!) we played with though. Just when they knew a set, they’d go off on tour with someone else, or have their own bands, and we’d have to break someone else in.
    By the end we had the wonderful Ken Meyer (drums), the amazing Alan Goodman (lap steel), and the vivacious Artie Baguer (stand up bass). Sorry I flaked guys. I grew weary of performing (I like to sing, I don’t like to front!) and had major song writing block/indifference.
    Doug and I were also going our separate ways, so there’s that too.

    Flat Old World later saved my butt. (thanks honey) I could play standing in the back, sing 2 or 3 songs and enjoy myself on stage. I could really listen.

    • Paul Brown says:

      Hi! I’m a big fan of The Shakers from Albuquerque. I think the tracks from Clovis Noches are great (Is the band name based on Clovis NM?), and I still miss seeing The Shakers doing great covers of artists like The Kings, Split Enz, Missing Persons, etc. I contacted Kevin Hughes years ago about getting the DVD of The Shakers last performance but never followed up. I stumbled across this site looking for Shakers videos, and I missed out on the swan song performance because I began my military career in 1983. I know this post I am replying to is over 4 years old, but it is new to me!

      I’m glad to see you are (or were) still entertaining people.

  5. Mark Amft says:

    Clarification appreciated.

  6. Dan Eilenberg says:

    Mmm … “48 Steps Down” is especially gorgeous. Enjoying it on headphones. Nancy is such a great singer. (And a great non-singer-type-person too, far as I can tell.)

  7. Amy Rosen says:

    I love these songs, Nancy sounds wonderful indeed. Hey is the whole Mick thing a toss to Fleetwood Mac, cause it sounds like your bands had certain inter-personal dynamics in common, to say the least! Also, there seem to be a lot of Marks in the Catskills, serious consideration must be made to switching you back to Mick.

  8. Arturo Baguer says:

    Mark and Nancy what a great site! Sadly I don’t have any copies of Clovis Noches music so it was a treat to hear 48 steps and some of the other songs. Hope you kids are doing well, and Mark I’m enjoying reading all of the other projects you were in. Say hi to Ken Meyer if you see him.

  9. Kt says:

    Oh nanceeee!
    I am a follower fo so now—-Looking forward, so much!, to the episode on the Pho choir!


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