The Lavender Hill Express

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Austin, TX, psych outfit the Lavender Hill Express formed in 1966 -- something of a local supergroup, the founding lineup teamed former Baby Cakes guitarists Layton DePenning and Leonard Arnold with erstwhile…
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Austin, TX, psych outfit the Lavender Hill Express formed in 1966 -- something of a local supergroup, the founding lineup teamed former Baby Cakes guitarists Layton DePenning and Leonard Arnold with erstwhile Wig bassist Jess Yaryan and drummer Rusty Wier, along with keyboardist John Schwertner, formerly of the Reasons Why. Roughly a year following its inception, the Lavender Hill Express signed with the local Sonobeat label to cut its debut single, "Visions." An elaborate production by indie label standards, the song's rich vocal harmonies were complemented by a string quartet comprised of members of the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

"Visions" was a local hit, and in March 1968 the group issued its follow-up effort, "Watch Out!" Schwertner left the Lavender Hill Express soon after to form Plymouth Rock, and with new keyboardist Gary P. Nunn the band cut "Outside My Window," which strongly hinted at the country direction its members would subsequently pursue. Indeed, the Lavender Hill Express dissolved in 1969, with DePenning and Wier later partnering with guitarist John Inmon in the progressive country trio Rusty, Layton & John, while Arnold resurfaced in Blue Steel. Most notably, Wier and Inmon were later founding members of Jerry Jeff Walker's Lost Gonzo Band, and DePenning later backed B.W. Stevenson.