Five squeaky-clean Air Force servicemen, California's the Insurgents -- Ron Robinson (vocals), Joe Orlando (rhythm guitar), Paul Tift (lead guitar), Rich Dymalsky (bass), and Bob Mellich (drums) -- would hardly rate a footnote in the annals of garage rock it not for their inspired rendition of Gershwin's oft-covered standard, "Summertime." Dogged by a persistent groupie, the band agreed to cut the tune in December 1965 at Sacramento media personality Bill Rase's micro-studio. Once there, Mellich and recording engineer Jim Walker hit upon the novel idea of introducing heavily echoed bongos as percussion; it was a stroke of genius. Stripped to its most basic premise, the song assumed a magic, ethereal air. 150 copies of a 45 rpm single (Zar 118) were duly pressed (and repressed when the flip side's mix proved unacceptable). The band sold them to patrons of the Spare Room, a Folsom Boulevard nightclub where they regularly gigged. With exposure limited to this and other local venues -- including the odd bowling alley or teen sock-hop at Mather AFB -- the group drew appreciative but smaller audiences and soon hung it up. Fortunately, the stellar "Summertime" resurfaced on the various artists' compilation, Nuggets From The Golden State - The Sound Of Young Sacramento (Big Beat CDWIKD 195).
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