The Ship

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1970)

- Todd Bradshaw -- bass

- Steve Cowan -- guitar, vocals

- Mark Hamby -- keyboards, flute, backing vocals

- Steve Melshenker (ala Albert Melshenker) -- guitar, vocals

- Steve Reinwand  (aka Billy Panda)  - lead guitar, dobro,

  harmonica, vocals


  supporting musicians:

- Tim Scott -- cello


  line up 2 (1970)

NEW - Jim Barton -- vocals, guitar

- Todd Bradshaw -- bass

- Mark Hamby -- keyboards, flute, backing vocals

- Steve Reinwand  (aka Billy Panda)  - lead guitar, dobro,

  harmonica, vocals


   line-up 3 (1971-77)

- James Barton -- vocals, guitar

- Rick Frank -- bass, harmony vocalls

Mark Hamby -- vocals, keyboardst, flute, mandolin, synthesizer

- Jeff James -- drums, percussion

- Steve Reinwand -- lead guitar, pedal steel, banjo, synthesizer, 

   percussion, backing vocals.




- none known





Genre: folk-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  A Contemporary Folk Music Journey

Company: Elektra

Catalog: EKS-75036

Year: 1972

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5120

Price: $40.00


I'll readily admit to vacillating on this one ...  I've played it quite frequently over the five years it's been in my collection and during that timeframe I've continuously flip flopped as to whether it's an undiscovered (and still affordable) classic, or simply a dull and plodding slice of early-1970s folk-rock.  The truth is probably somewhere in the middle ground ...


Singers/guitarists Steve Cowan and Steve Melshenker got their start while attending the University of Illinois, Urbana.  Playing  local clubs and coffee houses, the pair managed to generate some local buzz.  A short newspaper article in the Chicago Sun-Times by Daniel Lauber seemingly attracted the attention of producer Gary Usher, who helped the pair sign with Elektra Records. Produced by Usher and credited to The Ship, 1972's "A Contemporary Folk Music Journey" was a concept piece, though the plotline was largely lost on me (the gatefold inner sleeve has the lyrics for anyone interested in trying to puzzle out the story line).  Speculation on my part, but I'm guessing the plotline had something to do with navigating through life.   While nothing here was overtly commercial or toe tapping catchy, all eleven performances were engaging in a low-keyed fashion.  Exemplified by material like 'The Ship', 'The Calm' and '' the songs were highlighted by interesting lyrics, strong melodies and some pretty CSN-styled vocal harmonies. A little bit self-conscious and the occasional country touches were forgettable ('The Man'), but it was never less than pleasant, and if you played it in the right mood it was a true keeper.  If you played it in the wrong mood ... well then it was completely forgettable.  


"The Ship: A Contemporary Folk Music Journey" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Ship   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 3:58   rating: **** stars

Built on a nifty little Steve Reinwand acoustic guitar riff, 'The Ship' was a mesmerizing ballad that showcased the group's sweet, SCN-styled harmonies.  I hate that little riff since I can't shak eit out of my head when I hear it.
2.) The Order   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 2:45  
rating: *** stars

'The Order' picked up the pace with a keyboard propelled tune.  Kind of an Irish bar band flavor on this one.  
3.) Innocence   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 3:57  
rating: *** stars

'Innocence' return to stark ballad territory ...  think along a David Crosby-meets Simon and Garfunkle, though without the irritating jazzy influences.
4.) The Man   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 3:05  
rating: ** stars

With a bluegrass vibe, I have to admit 'The Man' simply missed the mark with me, though the dobro solo was nice enough. 
5.) The Calm   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 5:01  
rating: **** stars

Another sweet, pastoral ballad that has always truck me as being a mash-up of Simon and Garfukel and CSN.
6.) The Storm   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 6:18  
rating: **** stars

If anyone doubted the CSN influences, check out the extended ballad 'The Storm'.  Quite dark, but in a fascinating fashion.


(side 2)
1.) Lost   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 8:21
   rating: **** stars

As you might have expected from the title, 'Lost' was  stark, dark, atmospheric ballad showcasing some Association-styled vocal harmonies.
2.) The Island   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 4:44  
rating: *** stars

'Innocence' return to stark ballad territory ...  think along a David Crosby-meet

Again recalling a Simon and Garfunkel tune (the song was packaged with a certain sense of overwhelming earnestness). 'The Island' was p robably the album's most conventional and pop ready tune.  That may explain why I didn't think it was as good as some of the performances.  Admittedly the Steve Reinwand harmonica solo was nice.
3.) The Reason   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 3:24

For a moment I thought I was listening to a Peter, Paul and Mary performance, but kicked along by a nice Todd Bradshaw  bass line the song quickly improved.
4.) The Return   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 3:25  
rating: *** stars

Basically a continuation of 'The Reason' with the addition of some stellar harmonies ...
5.) The Ship (Reprise)   (Steve Melshenker - Steve Cowan) - 7:15  
rating: ** stars

Good timey, countyy-esque track ...  Unfortunately I don't like good timey, country-esque songs.



Someone drew my attention to he akashaman blog that had borrowed my original review of the album:


It turned out several members of the band had posted recollections and other comments about the band.  I've "borrowed" a couple of the more interesting ones (credit to akashaman).

Actually, it [the album] came out in 1972. I had just turned 20 years old that May and we spent the following month at Elektra in Los Angeles recording. As I remember, it was released the following fall. There weren't any folk clubs as such in Champaign, Illinois and the idea of Melshenker and Cowan playing dances is pretty funny. In reality, we were all playing at a coffehouse called "The Red Herring" which sponsored folk festivals. Reinwand and Hamby generally played together as a duet, Melshenker and Cowan usually performed solo and I was mostly playing twelve-string, but was the only person they knew who had previously played bass and I would borrow my roommates Hofner when somebody needed a bass player. Most of the songs at the folk festivals were original and there were some pretty good people in the core group of maybe 25-30 individuals who played in most of them and did weekend sets down in the basement the rest of the year. Notables among the regulars included songwriters Thom Bishop and Fred Koller, singer/songwriter Linn Brown and a young guy named Dan Fogelberg. For a fairly small city in the middle of the Illinois cornfields, it was some pretty high-powered talent. Melshenker and Cowan got together and wrote The Ship and then asked Reinwand, Hamby and me to help arrange and perform it - originally as a one-shot deal consisting of three or four performances at the Red Herring. It did well, so we eventually decided to oficially form a group and take it on the road to other college campuses and a few Chicago nightclubs. After the album came out, we played it another year or two and then retired the piece and switched to playing individual songs, mostly original and about 50% with acoustics and 50% electric guitars. This was a real relief as the album was very tedious to play and we were getting pretty bored playing it over and over. Looking back, it was somewhat naive, but we were pretty young back then and it was our first experience in a big-time studio. The band lasted another three or four years with a few personel changes and then broke up in the mid 1970's. Former members are spread across the country and I believe the only person from the band still playing for a living is Steve Reinwand, who later changed his name to Billy Panda. He's now a well known Nashville Studio musician with a string of album credits as long as your arm and he spends some of his time touring with Kim Carnes.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words and it's nice to know that something originally done just for fun and intended for a few performances in a coffeehouse is still giving at least a few people pleasure 35 years later.

I suspect we played The Ship live 40-50 times over about three years before finally retiring it and moving on to playing regular original songs. It was played in two continuous halves with an intermission, just as it is on the album and other than a few stray harmonies and some vocal double-tracking to thicken the blend, the album is very faithful to a live performance. We resisted mightily adding stuff to the album that we couldn't do live. This didn't thrill the folks at Elektra, as they leaned toward adding more "production", but we didn't want people walking out of a live concert and thinking that the live version didn't make the grade compared to the album. We did add Tim Scott's cello in a couple small spots. Tim played with Harry Chapin and Harry was recording during the daytime in the same studio we were using at night. Being able to borrow Tim for a couple nice fills was just too good to pass up. 

I think Elektra found us hard to deal with - partially because we were so young and clueless about big-time recording and because our resistance to over-producing (in our minds) the piece made it less sale-able on the street. Obviously, their main interest was selling records and getting the most commercially viable product out there. Our main interest leaned more toward getting a faithful recording of what we had actually created and there was considerable friction between the two viewpoints much of the time. When they sent us a copy of the final mix, we hated it and sent Steve Reinwand and Roger Francisco (our manager who owned a small recording studio) back out to L.A. to re-mix it and get rid of a lot of echo and other effects. We're pretty sure that doing so effectively slit our throats with Elektra as most of the pre-planned promotion for the finished album never happened. We had even made a music video (in 1972!). We had to join the Screen Actors Guild to do it and they had shots of us sailing around on the boat on the album cover set to music. I saw it once, but it was never used for anything that I know of and I think they then stuck us in the "tax-write-off" category. When the option for a second album came up, they weren't interested. It's hard to say which viewpoint was correct, but I don't think any of us ever really regretted sticking to our guns and trying to keep it as "real" as possible (of course, if I could now be living in a mansion with a swimming pool, I might have changed my mind...). I think The Ship was a decent first album for a young band. It's obviously by no means perfect or a landmark piece of music, but it's pleasant to listen to and offered something fairly unusual in it's time. These days, we could have cut it in a garage on a laptop and produced it ourselves, but back then, getting one of the half-dozen or so major labels to take the risk of plugging a lot of cash into a concept-album/folk-opera type of thing was a pretty decent accomplishment for a bunch of young guys from Illinois.

As far as I know, Steve Cowan is still in California and works with computers, Steve (now Albert) Melshenker is also in California and does advertising for a living, Mark Hamby is in Seattle and has some sort of investment firm and Steve Reinwand (Billy Panda) is in Nashville, adding guitar and mandolin tracks to albums for folks like Kenny Rogers, Montgomery-Gentry, The Oak Ridge Boys and a bunch of others. I'm in Wisconsin and build fancy sails for sailing canoes (Is that obscure enough? - I was a sailor and now I are one...). I wrote a book on them a few years back called "Canoe Rig" and get most of my business from people who have my book. I still have three amps and a bunch of guitars in my office and play an hour or two nearly every day (use it or lose it) but haven't played with anybody or in front of an audience in 30 years. I did recently buy a small digital recording deck and have been playing around, recording little snippets, trying to figure out how it works. It has a "canned" drummer built in who is quite steady, though not particularly imaginative and I'm working around the fact that I've never been a particularly good vocalist or lead guitarist (it sucks when you have to play all the parts yourself, one at a time). But, it's kind of fun once you get it all together (and at least the bass lines are solid). There are a few samples here. Some are just one guitar or bass, a couple are early attempts to actually multi-track a song. There are mistakes, instrument buzz and other junk in them at times, but I'm slowly figuring out how the recorder works. I figure that if I can crank out 11-12 cuts per year I can send home-made albums out to my relatives for Christmas and save a bunch of money and hassle.....At this point, that's about all I have in mind as far as musical asparitions go.

Todd Bradshaw 



I just found this blog today and am very happy to see all of the comments about The Ship. I wrote The Ship with Steve Melshenker between December, 1970, and May, 1971. The remarkable thing is that we started writing it after we'd known each other for only three weeks, and we met almost every day for five months to complete it.

My old friend, Todd Bradshaw, very well summarizes (above) how the music scene was in Champaign-Urbana in the early 1970's. The Red Herring coffeehouse, which turned 40 years old last September, was the meeting place for many good songwriters. Writing songs was contagious--every day there would be two or three new songs to hear.

Well, Melshenker had come up with this concept of writing an allegorical tale about a ship's maiden voyage, and he asked me to write it with him. He'd completed about one verse of the first song, and I fell in love with the idea.

Don't have a lot of time now, but let me throw out a few tidbits of information--

* We were both good friends of Dan Fogelberg and asked him to join us when we were about half done with the writing. He accepted but could never find time to meet with us. As we all know, bigger and better things awaited Dan. As it turned out, Steve and I were very fortunate that we asked Todd, Mark and Steve Reinwand (now Billy Panda) to join us.

* Gary Usher, who had produced most of the Beach Boys and Birds albums and who grew up across the street from the Wilsons, loved the idea of a concept album. The chronology was that we signed with William Morris, and then one of our co-managers (Peter Berkow) was instrumental in getting us the Elektra contract. Elektra found Gary Usher, not the other way around. Gary died in about 1990.

* The main reason we didn't do more than one album with Elektra was that they were purchased by Warner Brothers and quickly dumped all but six of their groups. They kept The Doors, Carly Simon, Judy Collins, Bread and two others.

* The whole idea behind the story of The Ship is that it's a framework for any "first voyage" that the listener might take. That's why there are no named characters in The Ship. We asked people to interpret the words in any way that worked for them.

Should those of you who enjoy The Ship have any questions, please post them. I'll be glad to answer. Steve Cowan



Mind if another band member weighs in? Steve Cowan just tipped me to this little discussion, which I've enjoyed reading. Thanks specially to those who mentioned "Gwin" and "Your Back Yard" from The Ship's TORNADO album. 

"Gwin" was mine, a paean to very young, idealized romance, inspired by a girl friend who moved away when we were in fifth grade (seriously). "Your Back Yard" was Jim Barton's, and one of the most interesting tunes we ever worked up. I e-mail Jim from time to time, and I'll let him know a few folks remember.

And to all my "Ship"mates who might stumble into this discussion, come see us in Seattle!

Mark Hamby


Steve Cowan said...

Todd Bradshaw, how the heck are you? Love everything you've said about those years in The Ship, although Melshenker and I left before your van hit the cow. I do recall fondly the days of elmundo perverto theatre and street surfin' in South Dakota. God, we were half crazy then and we weren't even stoned. Remember driving through Mississippi on the way to the Big Easy and stopping in that roadside diner for lunch? Good thing you were big or we wouldn't have gotten out of there alive, I believe.

For those of you from Illinois, and especially you, Todd, there's a Red Herring 40th reunion the weekend of April 11 in Champaign-Urbana. Check out:

...if you haven't heard about it. I'm planning on making it back from California, and I know Linn and Les Urban will be there. I also think Mark will try to make it, as will Elliott Delman. Over the last couple of years I've been in touch with Peter Swinnerton (now Peter Spring), Thom Bishop, Peter Berkow, Linn, Rocky Maffitt and a few others. It would be great to see half of those people at the Herring. I'm trying to find my calluses and voice again.

Very sad about Fogelberg. Elliott was in close contact with him over the years, but I last visited him in about 1992. Still, I miss him very much.

And by the way, talked to Utah Phillips last year, and he said Kuddy was painting his house at that moment. Still alive and kicking.

Best to your parents for me; I still remember them well. And best to you, my friend. We had some good times together.

Reach me at my email

Thanks to everyone else reading this for putting up with the cyber-reunion of two old (and I mean old) friends.

hodge said...


Anonymous said...

The other day, I uploaded my "The Ship Live at Ruby Gulch August 1974" tracks to GigaSize. Some observant fans noted that the MP3 files were tagged as Tracks 2-11. "Where is Track #1?" they asked. Well, that track was actually The All Star Frogs featuring Duke Tumatoe performing Eat Your Radio, another popular WPGU tune. Following track 11 are Tracks 12-17. Track 12 is Aliotta, Haynes & Jeremiah's custom WPGU version of Lake Shore Drive. Tracks 13-17 are studio tracks from The Ship, including the Ax in Hand Jingle ("Don't hesitate to make a date with Skip who knows the scoop!") In the interest of full disclosure, I'm uploading the rest of the tracks to GigaSize. Follow this link and enjoy them all.

Rest assured that all of these tracks will delight that aging grey matter between your ears. And while I'm at it, thanks so much to Todd and Steve for adding such a personal element to this blog in recent days. And thanks to Steve for posting info on the Red Herring 40th anniversary reunion on April 11th. I haven't seen Rich Warren in 30 years. That's reason enough to make the drive from Kalamazoo!

Ed Sackley
WPGU Music Director 1974-1976

Steve Cowan said...

Hey, Ed, thought I'd let you know that Rich hasn't changed a bit, bless his heart. He's remained one of my best friends down through the years, and I see him every January when he comes to visit his friends in California. Just a warning, though, if you're coming in from Michigan for the Red Herring reunion--Rich will NOT be at the reunion on Saturday, April 12, but plans to be there on the Friday and Sunday of that weekend. He has a live folk music show on WFMT in Chicago on many Saturdays.

Mark Hamby said...


Thanks for posting that stuff. That Ax-in-Hand spot was running through my head the other day, and I couldn't remember one line. I wrote that spot on a lark and we used some spare studio time on somebody else's session to produce it gratis for Skip Paul, proprietor of Ax-in-Hand, and a true friend to Cham-bana musicians of that era. He had been very kind in floating us on some sound equipment. Helluva guy.

Tom Thomas said...

Hello to all the former members of The Ship who have posted here lately. I'm the guy who made the tape at WPGU 31 years ago which Ed Sackley recently had digitized and then posted online.

I can tell you that the Ruby Gulch concert came straight off a 7 1/2" reel of 1/2 track tape I found in the WPGU music library in 1976, and which I presumed was the leftover tape of the live broadcaast from Ruby Gulch. That broadcast originally aired sometime during the summer of 1974. I copied it on the station's then-new Studer-Revox reel to rell decks and the tape sat in its plastic bag in the box for about 30 years - because I never did get around to buying a 1/2 track reel to reel deck. I'm glad to hear that the tape was in pretty good condition after all that time.

Those remaining Ship cuts, including the IGA commercial, the Axe-In-Hand commercial, and "Gwin", were copied from carts that were in the WPGU control room in May, 1976 when I left C-U after graduation. I also grabbed the WPGU version of "Lake Shore Drive" (which, ironically, was never aired on the station because it didn't fit format) and the All Star Frogs "Eat Your Radio" which dated back to my freshman year at Illinois.

The Ship was my favorite local group back then. I was a student at Illinois from the Fall of 1972 until the Spring of 1976, and I worked at WPGU as a DJ from the Summer of 1974 until I graduated in 1976. I can remember seeing them perform at Lincoln Hall Theater, The Auditorium, Krannert and of course, Ruby Gulch. After I graduated and moved to Chicago, I used to try and catch their shows every time they'd come up and play the Lincoln Avenue bars - Orphan's, Ratso's and the Single File Pub. I left Chicago in the Fall of 1977 for graduate school at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, just after the "Tornado" album had come out. I always wondered what happened to everyone in the group and I'm glad to see the dialog on here.

I do have one question - the version of Gwin that's on "Tornado" is a slightly different mix from the one that WPGU used to have on cart. I liked the WPGU version better - and that also goes for the WPGU versions of some of the other Ship singles. I presume there were several recording sessions - but does anybody know whatever happened to the tapes of those earlier mixes that were provided to WPGU? The station had "Gwin", "Gambling Lane", "Over My Love" and "Your Backyard" on cart at one time or another. We'd receive the tapes from the group, Ed Sackley or Emily Recht would put them on cart and on the playlist, they'd stay there for a month or two and then be gone. I'd love to get a complete set of all the early versions - The Ship's "Lost WPGU Tapes" or something like that...

Tom Thomas
The Woodlands, TX

akashaman said...

and the saga continues...
so doesn anyone have a copy of the second ship lp , tornado ? sure would love to post it here.
let me know ...


Jim said...


A warm thanks from an aging Illini in AZ for posting the Ship tracks, especially 'Gwin'. I met my wife at UofI in the mid 70's and we were introduced to The Ship, thanks to WPGU (thanks, Tom!). 

'Gwin' was a real favorite of ours... we had the vinyl for a long time until it became unplayable. 

When my wife died last year after a long, heroic fight with cancer, 'Gwin' was the one song I really wanted to find again in light of how special it was for us. 

And now, thanks to you (and the rest of the contributors to this post), that beautiful song is locked safely away forever on my iPod, on my hard drive and in my heart! Thanks again for taking the time and the effort, Ed!

Steve Cowan said...

Jim...I have forwarded your message about "Gwin" on to Mark Hamby, who wrote that beautiful song. I know he will very much appreciate your kind words. Although as songwriters and musicians we are always very pleased when we reach the masses with our songs, we are most gratified and touched when we hear from individuals. I'm glad you and your wife were able to share such a special song. Best to you. Steve Cowan.

Mark Hamby said...

First to Jim: Very sorry for your loss. Your kind words about the tunes are heartwarming for another "aging Illini." Glad they found their way back to you. 

Next to Tom: The version of Gwin posted the other day was a demo we did nearly long before the album made it out. It was a longer version (with an instrumental) than we recorded for TORNADO. A little trivia: I believe Gwin was 1974's fourth-most-requested song on either WPGU or... that other station... which was probably because, with no album out, calling the station was the only way somebody could hear the little ditty. A clever bit of rigging. MH

Todd Bradshaw said...

There are a lot of other little contributing factors that make the Gwin demo a bit different from the Tornado recording. To start with, there were some personnel changes. I played on the demos and I believe Bobby Carlin may have been on the drums, but we had left the group by the time Tornado was recorded. Rick and Jeff had taken over the bass and drum duties and brought their own styles into the mix. The demos were recorded at Golden Voice Studios in Pekin Illinois and as I remember, Tornado was done in Nashville. At Golden voice, their piano had the felt hammers varnished to harden them, giving them a brighter sound than your average piano. The theory is that you can always roll off some brightness in the mix, but if you want more brightness it's difficult to add it if it's not there in the first place. Drum miking also varies a lot from studio to studio as does vocal miking. Chances are that if you recorded the exact same song at two different studios, the two versions won't sound the same in all respects and in some ways may be very different. 

I've always enjoyed the Tornado album, but the vocals bothered me a bit. They sound a little thin and distant for my taste. I probably spent more time listening to these guys sing than anybody on earth and I never felt like Tornado captured the vocal richness, tone-wise, that I know was there. It was always a thrill to hear a mixture of voices that could go from simple and honest, to rich and poweful and then come together and sound like the Beach Boys. I've grown used to Tornado over the years, but the first time I listened to it, my initial reaction - in my own subtle way.... was "What the hell did they do to the vocals?" 

Here are a couple live cuts from the U of I Auditorium concert on November 20th 1974. The tape was a bootleg made by a guy who smuggled a cassette deck into the hall, hidden in his coat. He sat in the front row of the balcony and hid the microphones in his gloves, sitting on the railing. I dubbed them from 30+ year-old 8-track tapes onto my digital deck. Despite being just "middle of the room sound", rather than a dedicated feed from the sound system and despite being "glove-filtered" the quality is pretty decent. Some tape hiss and flutter, but not too shabby. This is Mark, Rhino (Billy Panda), Jim, Bobby on drums and me and it's fun to know that some of you were there as well. This is one of Jim's songs called "Ears of a Spirit". It's one of my favorite old Ship tunes.

...and this one is just fun. It's one of Steve Melshenker's songs called "Suicide Rag" that we always enjoyed playing.

This is the poster for the concert.

Mark Hamby said...

Yo, TODD...

Thanks for filling in some gaps in my memory bank... remember, you're a little younger than I am.

ALSO, thanks for uploading "Ears of a Spirit," one of Bartie's very best. I was trying to remember those lyrics just the other day.

ALSO, do you have the studio demo we did of YOUR tune, "These Are the Hard Years of Your Life," a big favorite of mine, but it doesn't come off on that Ruby Gulch upload? Are you going to the Herring reunion? A chance to play/sing "Hard Years" with you would be enticing for me.

Tom Thomas said...

If both Todd and Mark both are going to be at the Red Herring reunion, I'm going to have to figure out a way to would be great to see you both onstage again after all these years.

Tom Thomas
The Woodlands, TX

KA said...

Whoa! I am so totally blown away by this blog!

Yo Mark!

Keith Anderson, one of those kids that always hung around back in the day here. I was a buddy of Ric Walljasper and a upper classman pal of Adam, Todd's younger brother. I used to pester the heck out of you when you were giving tennis lessons at Blair Park. Rico and Rhino were both guitar and bass teachers of mine at Skip's place as well. And I also lived right down from you on the corner of Colorado and Vine back in Urbana. Walljasper & I booked you guys at a fund raiser event at Urbana High back in '76. And I bought the old E-V Sentry IVB PA speakers from you guys. So anyway, you got the idea!

You guys were my total inspiration for playing back then. You all gave the time to us punks who wanted to cop a lick, or just shoot the bull. Rico taught me how to groove and be tasty on the bass, he was an excellent teacher. So good, that I'm still at it some 35 years later, still gigging a little. Just got tired of the load in, load out. I've got a entertaining page on myspace at:

Feel free to visit!(just cut and paste!)

I have digitized my personally autographed copy of Tornado and will try to get them uploaded to gigsize (if I can) as soon as possible. Otherwise, I'd be happy to send them in zip files to anyone who ask at my email address which is:

But I got to warn you, it is an exact duplicate of my album. I am a hardcore Ship fan, and I darn near wore the vinyl right off. It's not horrible, or anything, Just kinda lost the guitar intro from Midnight Madness due to a nasty skip.

I am having problems getting the Ruby Gulch file to download. I joined the free thing but it kept telling me the file had been deleted. If anyone can email me the zip file of the mp3's I'd sure appreciate it. I sure remember hearing it on PGU that night at home. I could get Todd's tunes to download fine, nice stuff! I'd love to have the original "demo" versions of Gwin and Your Backyard too! Don't worry as long as they are MP3's my email service will deliver it without fail.

I recall one guitar lesson (pre-bassist days)I had with Rico where I had asked Ric to teach me to play the intro to "Your Backyard". He told me, "well, you have to understand, that's something Jim does, and well...I'm not sure he ever did it the same way twice." But he gave me a reasonable version, and I was on my way.

Perhaps, I'll pop down to the Herring shindig. God knows I spent enough Friday and Saturday nights down there watching some amazing talent in the early to late 70's. I was at the Red Lion reunion back in 2006 and had a ball. I've been up in Milwaukee for about 20 years working as a designer/construction manager for an pro audio-video company, so my day gig is sorta still in the industry.

Todd, I know we had met once when Adam dragged me by the house to meet his "rock star" brother, I think I was in 9th grade and he was in 8th. He and I did some dopey school talent show things together. Good guy that Adam. Give him my best, please. Still can't get used to seeing Rhino without the fro! Awesome he is out doing what he is doing!

Take good care my friends!

Keith Anderson

Mark Hamby said...

Gee, now we're really in old-home-week territory... Keith, your buddy Ric (Eric?) Walljasper delivered the News Gazette to my apartment on Colorado 34 years ago. I happened to be playing/singing "Gwin" on my old upright one afternoon when there was a knock on the door. It was Ric and he wanted to know where I had gotten the music. I answered... "the hard way; I wrote it." So, what happened to Ric? He was a great guy.

KA said...

Yep, Ric or Eric, d.b.a your paperboy. I had spaced out how it was he had known you. HA! I remember the story well now. I think he told it to me about 5 times on our way to and from a Joni Mitchell concert alone. 

No idea exactly where he is, I thought he went into graphic art design. I seem to remember him to be pretty handy with a sketch book. I'll have to google him, it's how I found this blog. I lost touch with alot of good friends when I spent from '79-88 on the road playing. I still hear from old C-U bandmates, but guys I went to school with not so much. The musical bond was a bit thicker. Honor amoungst thieves. 

You can actually find both Ship albums on ebay usually. They actually command a pretty penny on the collector market, or at least the dealer sells them for more than you might think. That is where I recently retrieved a near mint copy of the first record. I paid almost $25 including shipping. And I think I paid Phil Strang at Record Service $2.99 for it new. I've seen Tornado going for between $5-20 as well.

So if you threw out boxes of old copies, it might have been like tossing out a Nolan Ryan rookie card, almost.

Yeah, if you're coming in from Seattle in April, I'm gonna have to make the road trip down.

Hey if I can drive 4 hours to see Slink Rand (sorry, but I'm trying to be honest) and Appaloosa (sadly,without wildman Les Urban on steel), I can sure as heck drive 4 hours to see somebody I liked!

Again, thanks for the trip down alzheimer's lane! 

Keith Anderson

Steve Cowan said...

Keith, I played with Mark in the original version of The Ship, but I don't recall if we ever met. First of all, I'm stunned that The Ship album brings $25 on ebay! (Mark, what did Elektra press--about 25,000 copies?) $25 is about what each of us got from making that album. Actually, I think we each received about a dozen copies and the message from Elektra, "don't call us, we'll call you."

So when's the last time you saw Appaloosa? I was in that band as well, in 1975, and had an absolute blast. (Talk about playing for little money, we did one gig where we each received five tee-shirts!) I've stayed in close touch with Les Urban all these years, who coincidentally now lives in the town where Mark and Steve Reinwand grew up, and he's going to be at the reunion at the Herring in April as well.

Les owns an insurance agency but still plays steel in a band called The White Saddle Band. Bunch of old guys who still sound darn good and know about every country song ever written. I see him every couple of years when I visit Illinois from California.

I look forward to meeting you at the reunion, if you can make it. Please look me up.

This blog has turned into a reunion of and by itself. Thanks, Aka!!

KA said...

Hey Steve!

Yes, we met at Ax in Hand once, Skip introduced us. It was after you had left The Ship. I don't recall if you still lived in town or were just visiting. You might have been in there visiting Rhino or something. 

The version of Appaloosa I recall best was the one that played a duo-headlining show at the U of I Auditorium in maybe '75 or '76 with the Tornado era Ship. Would you have been playing that show? The version of Appaloosa I most recently saw in '06 at the Red Lion Reunion was prett much the "Urban Cowboy" version. Still a great band.

But of course, since now I'm going to want to get the original The Ship album signed by as many as possible. It'll go great with Tornado.

And speaking of value check out this link:

$29.99, sold American! Of course there was another copy going for $5 too. It's the thought that counts!

Mark! Google, and you shall receive! Eric will be joining the blog shortly! He is a graphic designer. I still have The Ship t-shirt he made back in '76. It's actually partially viewable on one of my slide shows on my myspace page. I kinda need a new one, the old one hasn't fit for a few years now. Maybe it's time for a The Ship webpage! Todd may have been onto something. You guys gotta get the band back together! Well, at least for a good 18 year scotch.

Keith Anderson

Steve Cowan said...

Keith...I was, indeed, in Appaloosa at the time of that concert--the fall of 1975, and I remember the concert well. We were use to stages about the size of the one at Ruby Gulch, where we had to cram six guys and all of our equipment onto a stage the size of a mid-sized bathroom, so we were lost at first on such a big stage. That concert featured our new lead singer, David (who I heard passed away in the mid-1990's), and a bunch of new songs we'd just worked up. We loved doing "Orange Blossom Special" that night because we didn't have to worry about playing too loud. That was a great place to play.

Anyway, it was really a good night for me because we got to join The Ship in a concert, two years after I'd left the group. Then we got together the next day with the guys in The Ship for some laughs and a rousing game of touch football, in which Rick Frank broke his finger, I believe. Mark probably remembers that day.

I'd be glad to sign the album if you bring it down to the Herring during the reunion. My God, The Ship at $29.99!! Should be seeing those royalty checks any day now.

Take care, and thanks for remembering those old days.

Anyone know where Skip Paul is now? Is he still with us?

Todd Bradshaw said...

Here Akashaman thought he would just review an obscure old album and instead, it's mushroomed into a reunion. We will most likely be there for the festivities at The Herring, We live in Madison, so it's not very far. All we have to do is find somebody to watch our big goofy and incredibly spoiled black lab for a couple days.

Hey Mark, I don't remember ever doing a demo of Hard Years. If we did, I don't have a copy of it. I sat down in my office a few months ago and did a quickie scratch-track of it, mostly because I was worried I'd forget the lyrics. I later decided to see if I could make digital copies of my old Auditorium concert 8-tracks. You can buy a pretty decent 8-track machine these days for about $20 on eBay - what a truly wretched format. So far, I've managed to get about a dozen songs digitized that are decent quality but the tapes are so old that some tunes aren't going to be presentable.

This mp3 has the Auditorium cut of Hard Years, followed by the new one, 33 years later almost to the day. I changed the key so that it's easier for an old guy to sing and added a little intro progression for a little more spice since I'm limited to just guitars and bass. It has one track of acoustic six-string finger-picking, one of acoustic twelve strumming chords, a bass track and then the lead on one of my Rickenbacker twelves and finally two one-take vocal tracks. It's not polished or perfect, but did the job. I never was much good at playing and singing at the same time and I'm still not, so I kind of enjoy this overdubbing method of recording. The best part about this mp3 file is that on both the 1974 and 2007 versions I'm playing the same bass - WITH THE SAME STRINGS ON IT! They still sound fine to me, so why change them?'74%20&'07.mp3

My brother says he thinks Skip may have passed a while back. There was also a memorial benefit in 2001 for Bobby Carlin.

I guess none of us are getting any younger.

akashaman said...

52 comments & counting , whoo hoo_ 
no i had no idea of the can of worms i was opening up when i posted this LP. but i am glad that old friends are getting the hook up , as bob seger said once , "seeing old friends , good for the soul".
i hope you guys have great fun at the reunion thing , wish i could make it out ! i would get my record signed as well ~ you guys have a drink on me tho ...
i will keep my eyes peeled for the tornado lp , again if anyone has a spare clean copy , holla at ya boy !

KA said...

Jim Barton you dog! I was hoping somebody would drag you into this! OK, somebody find Rico and Jeff and Rhino! The party is on!

The Ship with full complement of past and present would probably require a change of venue! I can't imagine all the "Ship-aholics" could fit into the upstairs and downstairs combined! But I'll be either place! 

You know, when you guys did Eric and my Urbana High benefit (which was actually a benefit to support the 1976 Democratic Mock Convention at the Assembly Hall), I was floored when I was walking with my favorite hottie teacher Lynn Bentley out the front door of UHS as you were walking up the front steps. She saw you ran over and gave you a righteous bear hug! I didn't realize you were pals, but dude, you got so much cooler to me right then! Ha! What a doll she was (and I'm sure still is).

Man, I love your voice! Always have and always will. I've sang Balboa and Lost Weekend doing solo shows over the years with wonderful responses from the audiences. I always introduced those songs as originally written and vocalized by the richest voice ever to grace the stage.

Again, feel free to visit my myspace page to figure out who I am if you don't recall, understandably it's been a couple years now. On the cover of my myspace page is a picture taken back about the time we would have met.

AKAMAN thank you so much for starting this thread, and thank you for allowing so many of us to take it over and run with it. You are a kind person! And I sure hope you are making travel plans for Champaign in April. I have seen these people play. It is amazing the magic that happens when any configuration of these guys assemble. Heck, at this point, I'd drive all night long through the driving rain and the freezin' snow just to roll in my lover's see The Ship.

Again, wow, so good to hear from all of you. And so good to know we're all kicking still.

Keith Anderson

Todd Bradshaw said...

Way to go Aka! Gee, after all these years we're finally immortalized in song. Who woulda' thunk it. I always figured that the only way we would ever get this type of notoriety at this late date would be if one of us won some high political office or became a mass murderer or something. 

Sounds like the reunion may be quite fun and The Ship in it's various incarnations should be pretty well represented (I hope we can still play. I can see it now - The Daily Illini: "SHIP HITS HERRING AND SINKS!") 

Somehow that scene in the "Blues Brothers" keeps playing through my head where Jake and Elwood are running around pulling their former cohorts out of everyday life and saying "We're getting the band back together". Plus, the Illinois State Police may still be looking for us from the night that Rhino and I got lost and accidentally pulled onto the Chicago Skyway tollway. We had just played a wedding and were wearing suits, driving a van full of expensive equipment and arrived at the first toll booth with a grand total of about 19 cents in our pockets. We still owe the state about a quarter and they'll probably add interest.

KA said...

Alrighty rock fans! Here is Tornado!

Now again, keep in mind it is a digital copy of my vinyl. That means there are clicks, hisses, pops and the intro to Midnight Madness was unuseable so the song starts mildly abruptly when the vocals came in.

It's been through alot of moves, alot of women and a whole bunch of turntables over the past 30 years.


Keith Anderson

Rico said...

Hi to all. As the final member to join the band (some might call me "the last straw") I can only offer a little to the discussion. I was just the bass player, after all, and a replacement one at that. 

Jim sent me this site yesterday and we both marveled at the interest people have shown, although with my post we’re risking that band members outnumber fans here. Like Jim, it brought back great memories from that band, and of course, “the older I get, the better I was.” I can’t believe Steve remembers my broken finger. I played my first 6 weeks of gigs in the band with a splint on my left hand pinky. An omen?

Thanks to Keith Anderson for the kind words about your learning experiences at the guitar store. It was a hangout for quite a menagerie of folks drawn to Skip’s charm and entertaining ways. To Steve’s question about Skip, although he’s apparently in poor health, he’s living in Iowa near his sister who teaches piano or voice at a small college. 

I talked to Jeff recently and he’s doing well, living in Florida and has continued to play throughout the years. We actually do “talk” occasionally because he’s not connected to the internet. Maybe this thread will convince him to try it. It’s really been fun for me to read everybody’s stories and memories and it all reminded me of one of Mark’s songs that we played late in the life of the band. Somewhat like Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” it was a song about reminiscing called “Down at Delmonico’s.” I think about it at times like this and I can remember the music but some of the lyrics escape me. I’m sure Mark knows. More later. Gotta go. 

Rick Frank (Rico)-The Ship '75-'77

Mark Hamby said...

Rico, Rico, Rico... boy, haven't thought about that tune in many years. Inspired by the Hebron Giants, smallest high school ever to win the Illinois State Basketball Championship (1952).

Here's the first verse...

Down at Delmonico's,they still kick it around real good,about the boys who played so hard back in '52...

And the prettiest girls in town,we won their hearts, they cheered us on. Now they sit in their booth and smile, sippin' their beers, and tapping their nails to a song...

Steve Cowan said...

Hey Rico...great to hear from you. Where are you living now? And are you playing much anymore? Any plans to join us for the Red Herring reunion?

About Skip, I'd like to get in touch with him if possible, just to say hello and fill him in about the Red Herring thing. If you have his email address, please send it to me at:

Take care, buddy.

Tom Thomas said...

This is supposed to be about The Ship, but since Dan Fogelberg's name has come up few times, I thought I'd post this to let you know that his widow Jean this week made available for download a previously unreleased track which Dan recorded for her for Valentine's Day, 2005.

It's called "Sometimes a Song" and is available for dowload on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and According to Dan's website ( 100% of the proceeds are going towards charity and the fight against prostate cancer.

I downloaded it today and it's a gem of a song, very reminiscent of his classic material, and for a buck it's worth it.

There is also supposed to be an album of unreleased material out later this year - 11 songs total including the one that was released this week.

Sometimes a Song is the number one downloaded MP3 song today (2/15/08) on Amazon and the number one Adult/Folk song on iTunes.

Tom Thomas
The Woodlands, TX
WPGU-FM 1974-76

Anonymous said...

I have heard "The Ship" exactly twice (in 1973 and 1975), and I looked for it online since modems connected at 9600 bps. Not easy to search when all you can remember is the name "The Ship" and that it told a story. 
The first time I heard "The Ship" album was on Rensselaer Polytech's college radio station late at night. I was dropping a friend off at school and deciding whether I would leave home for college also. (Very few of my friends did.) Second time was on my college station during a rough freshman year. 
I won't say "The Ship" influenced my decision to stick it out at school, but I related to the concept of a journey with goals, struggles, and lessons learned. After 30 wonderful, difficult, dispiriting, inspiring years in NYC, the journey continues.
I tried to use the download link to get the album, but it is expired. Is there another? 
Thank you for "The Ship."

Lisa Bradshaw said...

OK I just have to chime in here (Todd's sister and dedicated Ship groupie for all of my college years). I didn't contribute a thing to the music; just hung around adoringly at most concerts and numerous parties. 

I remember Skip Paul’s theme parties – usually a blast. Sorry to hear he’s apparently gone now, but it sounds like you guys are all doing well. I've kept my eye on Billy Panda's career and wondered what happened to the rest of you. So Jeff lives in Florida and doesn't have email? Hmmm … gives me a mental image of a barefoot, bearded beach bum, which wouldn’t be too out of character with the easy going guy I remember.

I'm making plans to come in for the reunion, from Maryland, and can't wait to see everybody. (Don’t even get to see Todd very often.) My folks would love to see the Ship perform again, but are now in their mid-80s and the trip would probably be too much for Dad. So I hope somebody records it.

KA said...

Heads up!

There ain't no room at the Inn! There are zero hotel rooms left in C-U area for this weekend! The closest place to stay (if you don't have friends and relatives still in town) is Danville. And the rooms are all around $100 per night.

Sadly, the event is on Mom's Day weekend and everything is booked everywhere in C-U, Rantoul, Savoy and Tuscola.

Bummer! No flasks of thunder with that drive! Oh well, I have been to and left the Herring without the parking lot cocktail lounge, at least once or twice I think.

Steve Cowan said...

First to Tom, thanks so much for the heads-up on Dan's song, "Sometimes A Song." I downloaded it last night and was blown away to hear my dear friend again. What a lovely song!

And to Lisa, it will be good to see you again. I remember your parents well. They let me stay in your home for a couple weeks immediately after returning from L.A. when we recorded the album in 1972.

And finally to the recent anonymous poster on this blog, I'm so glad you were able to get a little inspiration from the words of The Ship. Melshenker and I were both living through our own angst-filled journeys when we wrote the opera (at ages 23 and 21), and our whole intent (and the reason for much rewriting) was to open up the journey for everyone to experience. In fact, we totally rewrote "Lost" when we decided the original was too personal and not ambiguous enough. I hope you can find a good copy of the album so you can experience the journey again and compare it with "real" life.

Peter Berkow said...

You guys might remember me. I had a little to do with the Ship album. In fact, I wandered the steets of New York and knocked on doors trying to get record companies to listen to our reel to reel tape, until we finally got Elektra to make the deal. 

Ship Trivia: Anybody rember the other company that was seriously in the running? *Answer at end of this posting. 

Other trivia: I remember bumping into Dan Fogelberg in Los Angeles. We joked about the record deal, because I think we were closer to signing a deal first before he did. 

"First isn't necessarily better," Dan said. Irving Azoff was in the middle of pulling off one of the best record deals of all time ... essentially giving Dan his OWN label (Full Moon) under the Epic/Colombia umbrella. 

I moved to Chico, California in 1975 to follow my own music career, and lost touch with these guys. In fact, I never even heard the second Ship album, though it might be interesting to hear in retrospect. 

Listed as the "assistant producer" on the album, my "pay" was five copies. I have still two unopened shrinkwrapped copies of the record, and one I've played a few times. 

Perhaps I will go on EBay and sell one shrinkwrapped copy to the highest bidder ... Who knows: I might actually profit from all that work 40 years later. 

Anybody in this blog willing to cough up $ 500 or enough to cover a plane ticket to their reunion? (Smile) 

Actually, I did profit from it ... spiritually and practically ... 

I certainly learned a lot of "street smarts" from the experience ... Considering that I am still involved in the music business as a producer, those were invaluable lessons. 

OK ... the answer to the trivia question: 

Believe it or not, Motown records had a serious interest in The Ship. Motown had a spin-off label, and the company was in the market to develop some acts that would profit from the folk music movement of the late 60s and early 70s. 

We never took the offer seriously, and kind of used it as a lever to motivate Elektra to finally put their offer in writing. 

It worked, and the rest is history. 

Peter Berkow 
Chico, CA 
Feb 2008

KA said...

Good news! I heard from Ron Cannon and he has a few rooms squirreled away yet. But call fast they will fill up quickly! And they gave me the room at the new luxury joint for $69 not the $99 Ron thought. The info he sent is below:


Apparently the Motel was only recently converted to a Motel 6. Here are 
the details again. I checked the phone number and it is in the local 
phone book yellow pages so keep trying. I doubt that anyone else from 
the Red Herring bunch hads booked any of the rooms so don't panic...

Motel 6
Urbana, 217-344-1085
Newly remodeled, LCD TVs, new "memory foam" beds
$99.99 night
2 double beds or 1 King bed
3 miles north east from CMF
I-74 exit 184 (Cunningham Avenue)
10 rooms reserved, 6 2 beds and 4 king
Confirmation number "1001" (computer not up yet)
Reservation made 2-16-08 with "Vi"
Group Name: Red Herring Music Festival


Arcola Comfort Inn
$56 - $72 
continental breakfast
Indoor Pool
2 beds
30 - 35 miles south from CMF
10 rooms reservered
Confirmation number "8771 6878"
Reservation made 2-16-08

There is also a Bed and Breakfast that has tentatively told us about a 
cancellation of a suite that is not confirmed yet.
$165 for 2 double beds and breakfast. Which if you have a bigger party 
is very affordable considering breakfast can easily cost you $40 for 4 

akashaman said...

wow , more folks are coming out of the woodwork.
i say we all reunite & set sail for st. somewhere. [ thanks jimmy ]
i love reading all the stories 1
thanks all.
i re-uploaded the LP with all the bonus trax that other folks have shared , you know who you are.
enjoy !

tom c. / dallas

7phil7 said...

What a trip! Of course i remember all of you as we sold more copies of the Ship albums at Record Service than all the other venues combined. I had no idea there was going to be a Red Herring reunion and i still live here in good old Urbana-Champaign.
In case you hadn't heard we closed Record Service in 2004 as the music business crashed down on us, but it is all fond memories. I now work for the University managing Foellinger Auditorium and Lincoln Hall Theatre.
Special shout-outs to Pete Berkow and Jim Barton and Les
Urban, none of whom I have seen in over twenty years as well as all the original Ship guys. I too met Dan (that shy quiet guy)back in those days when I played with Bob Bloom and Fuzzy (Michael DeLisle) in "Bloom and Brownfield". I will look for you all in April.
Phil Strang

Tom Thomas said...

Here are a couple of Ship related downloads for you all to enjoy

First, I scanned an old poster for The Ship in concert in Lincoln Hall Theater on campus on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and May 4, 1974 - sponsored by VIP and IUSA.

Here is the link: 

Second, is the scanned image of my ticket stub from The Ship's November 20, 1974 concert at The Auditorium. I'm sorry I only have half of it, but ushers in those days didn't have electronic hand scanners and they actually tore tickets in half...

Here is the link:

I found these over the weekend when I decided to dig around in the attic in a very old box with my college stuff in it. I thought you all might appreciate seeing the results.

Tom Thomas

Steve Cowan said...

Phil, good to hear from you. Wanted you to know that Les will definitely be there at the Red Herring reunion weekend. I played in Appaloosa with him after I left The Ship. And I haven't thought of Bloom & Brownfield (or Fuzzy) in over 25 years! Come see us that weekend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Ak/Tom C. for consolidating and uploading our recent variety of music files. In the "Ship Extras" folder, please be advised that tracks 01 and 12 are NOT The Ship. 01 is Eat Your Radio by the All Star Frogs and Track 12 is the WPGU version of Aliota, Haynes & Jeremiah's Lake Shore Drive. Both certainly fit right in for all of us who were listening to 'PGU back then. Those two tracks just happened to be on the master tape that preserved the Ruby Gulch performance of The Ship in August 1974.

Ed "Just Made My Reservation at the Newly Remodeled Urbana Motel 6" Sackley
WPGU Music Director 1974-1976

Mark Hamby said...

Peter Berkow, you old.... Thanks for filling in some history. Motown, eh? Well, you can't hurry love. By the way, my wife says United is running a special: $229 to Chicago from the west coast. Join us... Rich Warren's having a party. Also, do you ever dine at the Breakfast Nook in Chico? The daughter of very good friends of ours manages the place. All the best... MH

Tom Thomas said...

Is Rich Warren's party open to mid-70's graduate, former WPGU-FM disk jockeys who used to play The Ship's singles as often as possible?

Tom Thomas
The Woodlands, TX

Anonymous said...

Rich reports the Friday night party is open to everyone!

Steve Cowan said...

Since Rich will be hosting the Friday night concerts at the Red Herring that weekend, there IS NO PARTY. It was only a rumor to begin with--maybe wishful thinking--but Rich belongs on the Herring stage!

Peter Berkow said...

Mark ... I HAVE purchased the ticket and got the good price. And, I do know of the Breakfast Nook ... 

Party? We need Rich for a party? I think there's always a party of some sort when there are that many musicians in the same building. 

Does anybody remember the parties we had after the Freak Fuzz basketball games? Like something out of the Simpsons ... or maybe a Robert Crumb cartoon. 

I remember a SQUARE DANCE where Fogelberg and I and some other guys (Panda? Swinnerton?) were playing some corne-pone country/bluegrass music on stage and somebody was literally calling out dance steps ... grab your partner, and dosey-doh ... 

The policemen brought a keg of beer, and Fogelberg brought a bag of marijuana. I still remember the cops in the Red Herring parking lot toking up a joint ... and somebody (was it Todd Bradsaw?) dancing around with a lampshade on his head.

All this a week or two before police were shooting kids dead a few hundred miles away at Kent State University. 

Guess we had a better idea.

Anonymous said...

Bless 'The Ship' for it launched ten thousand lives. I remember sitting quietly in the recording studio at the corner of Race and Washington being part of history in the making. The songs still play endlessly in my mind. I would dearly love digital copies of the 'A contemporary folk music journey' and 'Tornado'. Hope we can obtain them somehow. 

Long live ruby gulch! I banged a hammer building the place in '73? Soon after that a smashed in Greyhound arrived with 'Asleep at the wheel' painted on the side. Loved to play pinball at Apple-Duck across the street while the tunes flowed through the neighborhood. 

Keep the thread alive and thanks Steve Melshenker for your subtle ways at big-wig parties. It was a honor to find you hiding with a guitar in some distant room.

Steve Cowan said...

Anonymous, I'm so glad you were able to enjoy the early days of The Ship. The people who surrounded us were as big a reason for our success as anything. So, who are you? Tell us how you knew us originally.

Les Urban said...

Anonymous....The former members of Appaloosa thank you for your hammer work. We were all there for that first Asleep at the Wheel concert. Later, we opened for them many times.

Anonymous said...

What is the story behind "Balboa" on Tornado?

I am a professional conservation biologist, and the song - especially the lyric "Tooth of a serpent so dull when compared to America's daughters and sons" - has stuck with me all these decades. I even say it to my kids.

North Texas

Jim Barton said...

I always believed that if you're going to steal, steal from the best.

The "tooth of a serpent" line was lifted from Shakespeare's King Lear: "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!"

The first time I ever heard the quote was back when I was around 14. I was having a snotty argument with my mother, and, thinking I had won, turned my back on her and started to walk away. She administered the Shakespeare coup de grâce, something I never forgot, and it seemed appropriate when I wrote Balboa.

Keep using it with your the least it makes us seem well read! Thanks for asking,


Tom Thomas said...


A personal thank you to all the members of The Ship for the great show you put on this past weekend at the Red Herring reunion in Urbana. You all sounded great - including Jeff James on the cellphone! The closers - "What's Beginning to Grow in Your Backyard" and "Gwin" were, from my vantage point in the back of the room, dead-on to the originals and sounded wonderful.

I enjoyed talking to you all again and thanks for autographing my 30+ year old vinyl copies of your lp's!

Please don't wait another 30 years to play together again!

Tom Thomas
WPGU 1974-76

Anonymous said...

My husband and I also loved listening to The Ship- A Contemporary Folk Music Journey. We have two copies of the original albums, both of which we bought used. I would love a download of the album so that we could again play and enjoy the album in it's entirety.

Steve Cowan said...

Joel, thanks for the invitation to Indy. I'm so glad our music had some influence in your life; that's the type of comment that really means a lot to us, after all of these years.

We probably won't ever do the folk opera again live, for a couple of reasons. First, it would require a huge amount of rehearsal time, to do it justice. And second, any concert we do in the future would be with all of us, including the three guys who weren't with the group when we were performing that.

However, keep an eye out every few months on We're going to try to compile collections of old (and new) songs and make them available to people, hopefully including a re-release of the two albums.

We hope to play again in Illinois in the next year, which we'll broadcast on this blog.

Again, thanks for your interest and kind words.

Todd Bradshaw said...

By far, the biggest current problem that The Ship has is that we're spread from Florida to Seattle and that's not likely to change for more than a few days at any time in the future. We sat down for the first rehearsal in over 30 years, Billy (formerly Steve Reinwand) started playing that little dah-dah-dah-da-deedy-deedy intro thing and twenty seconds later when the rest of the band came in on that first big D chord IT WAS The Ship.

In three days of rehearsals, we worked up something like 18 old songs and one new one that Mel wrote and had a blast doing it (now we have wives to go out and get food while we rehearse). The performance started a bit rough with ten minutes to set up and no check of the sound system, but it came together pretty quickly as the sound guys gradually got the monitors adjusted so that we could actually hear each other - not terribly well, but at least well enough to keep it together.

I've been in some form of the sailing, kayaking, canoeing, skiing, and even hot-air ballooning businesses most of my life, but sitting down to rehearse and play with these guys again was probably the best mini "vacation" I've ever had.

While we try to get the rights and details figured out for re-releasing The Ship and Tornado albums on CD's, we're also working with a batch of around 25 old recordings that should eventually make for a couple of excellent additional CD's. They're studio recordings and the quality is dynamite. They range from some of the very early, very folky stuff up through the later, more complex, electric guitar-oriented songs that Jim wrote. The variety is amazing and even the most die-hard Ship fans have probably never heard some of these tunes.

I've been fooling around, trying to figure out what I'd put an which CD and what order I'd put them in and it made me wonder if part of the problem we had with record companies after the original album was that we didn't really have a signature sound? Instead, we had four or five different ones and perhaps that made it hard for them to place us and hang their checkbooks on such a gamble? Who knows? At least these days we don't need to deal with them and it's a lot easier to distribute music. It will, of course, take some time to get all of this together, but we are highly motivated just from getting a chance to hear all this stuff again and work with each other, even if it can no longer be on a daily basis. It will be fun to help people replace those old, worn-out vinyl albums with something you can play on modern equipment and I think You will really enjoy the hidden treasures that we've found.

Todd Bradshaw

7phil7 said...

Just wanted to say it was great to see all of you again in our fair city of Urbana. I must admit I enjoyed the Ship more at 58 than i did at 22.
Thanks again. Phil Strang

Todd Bradshaw said...

Thanks Phil. In some ways, I think we enjoyed it more, too. Just the opportunity to get everybody together and play again was very special and something that most of us would never have dreamed was even logostically possible. 

We're scheming to try it again some time in the future - only this time with more rehearsal time, more control over the set-up and sound system (this was the first time in history that we ever went on stage without an extensive set-up and sound check session ahead of time and I'd just as soon never do it again that way). We would also like to see a bigger stage so that we all actually fit up there and a reasonable amount of pre-concert advertising. If so, we will need a better and bigger room to play in. Since you happen to be in that business, keep us in mind.

Todd Bradshaw said...

Make that "logistically" with an "i". Some of the letters wore off on my keyboard a while back and I'm dead meat without my spell-checker.

Anonymous said...

Tom Thomas, who made sevreal posts to this site, passed away suddenly on Saturday, May 10, 2008. Tom was the keeper of the Ship's Ruby Gulch WPGU broadcast tape from 1974 that many have you have enjoyed. Tom and I were in the audience for the reunion concert last month at the Herring. I am so happy Tom was there and that both of us had an opportunity to interact with the band, their families and fans.

Ed Sackley
WPGU 1972-1976

Anonymous said...

'Shaman - I am come lately to the site, and the album is no longer at your download address. Would you be willing to reload it for fellow late-comers? Thanks!

Johnboy said...

hey PLEASE i need this download, it says it has been deleted. i have been searching for this for years! please help me!!

Todd Bradshaw said...

Here is is the current situation on downloads. We, the band (the "shipmates", "shipsters", "cabin boys" or whatever the hell we are) have asked Aka to take down the link. The reason is not really one of copyright issues and such legal stuff, but rather the fact that we are trying to get the album re-released. We don't own the rights to it. Over the years Elektra became part of Warner and the rights to "The Ship" are now owned by Rhino Records, which is another part of Warner and a company that specializes in re-releasing old albums. So it seems to us that it's basically in a pretty good place for this to happen. We have been in contact with some of our old friends at Elektra and they are hunting for the masters to see what kind of shape they're in and looking at the possibilities.

In the mean time, we're trying to do what we can to plug the leaks and limit the number of available downloads floating around out here on the internet, as well as some of the commercial sources that make and sell illegal copies of old albums, including both of ours. We can't expect Rhino Records to feel good about the prospect of laying out the money for a good digital re-mastering and production of the CD and box liners if there are obvious sources offering the album for free.

Akashaman and this website have been instrumental, not only in terms of promoting an old obscure album and keeping it alive, but also in getting the members of the band that played it back together and working together to get our music out there again. It's an opportunity that none of us ever dreamed would happen and we are both highly motivated and having a ball doing it (the music business is a lot more fun when you're not forced to rely on it to provide your dinner and pay your rent).

As I mentioned above, we would like to get both albums, "The Ship" and "Tornado" re-released (we own Tornado) and we also have enough other good studio recordings to put out a couple more CD's of tunes that you would only have heard at live concerts back in the '70's and which never made it onto a record. We have purchased the domain name "" and are currently working on designing a simple website there where we can keep people informed of what's going on and what is available. This, and the production of new CD's, will obviously take some time, so there is likely to be a bit of a gap in availability of "The Ship" but we're working hard to get it filled and if things go according to plan, it should be worth the wait. In the mean time, if you're desperate to hear "The Ship" the current best bet may be eBay. My brother bought an unopened original copy of the album there last week for $19.

Pat Phelan said...

I haven't thought about Chambana and/or "The Ship" for years, but my fiancé asked about The Ship this morning which set me on a quest! I'd LOVE to see a re-release of anything from "The Ship" and will buy MP3 files or CDs on sight.

The web site appears to be experiencing technical difficulties this morning, but I'll be checking both here and there regularly for news!


jasbart said...

December 3, 2009 – The Ship releases its first new song in 33 years --
"All Come Home" by James Barton -- as a free holiday download. Joined
by Jim's daughter Nora Barton on cello, Ship members contributed tracks
from their respective homes in Philadelphia, Nashville, Madison,
Mountain View, and Seattle - with Jim handling... the final mix in his
home studio. We wish you all the joys of the holidays; may you all come

Todd Bradshaw said...

F.Y.I. on December 6th. The Ship released our first CD of new music in almost 35 years! Lots of variety and pretty good examples of the types of songs that we've been playing and writing individually since the old Ship days, but I think you will hear some parts that remind you of the original albums. We're quite happy with it. Samples are up on our website ( and the title song "All Come Home" is a Christmas song which is also available as a free download for the holidays on the very first page of the website.


Anonymous said...

The Ship was featured in last week's issue of the Chicago Reader, a column named "The Secret History of Chicago Music". !!!!!!