Sugar Creek

Band members               Related acts

- John Beatty -- drums

- Joe Dolce -- vocals, guitar, harmonica (1967-69)

- John Edwards -- vocals, guitar (1967-69)

- Gary Gans --  (1967-69)

- Malcolm McKinney -- lead guitar (1967-69)

- Todd McKinney -- (1967-69)




- Jonathan Edwards (solo efforts)





Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Please Tell a Friend

Company: Metromedia

Catalog: MD-1020

Year: 1969

Country/State: Boston, Massachusetts

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4886

Price: $200.00



Remember your elementary teachers telling you 'never judge a book by its cover'?  Well forget what it is one of rock's uglier covers (apologies to John Edwards), and you're in for a major treat.  


Remember a guy by the name of Jonathan Edwards who had a hit back in 1971 with 'Sunshine'?  If you're actually reading this stuff there's probably a pretty good chance that you do.  Well, this is Edward's pre-solo career band.  I've owned a couple of Edwards solo albums for years (they're fairly easy to locate in Northern Virginia since he lived in this area for quite some time), but never made the connection between the two entities.  Anyhow, here's a little blurb I lifted off of Edward's website (the URL is listed below): "I started getting electric about the time Dylan did, doing electric folk music. I joined bands by saying 'Can I be in your band?', and they'd ask, 'What do you play?', and I'd say 'What do you need?' I'm still that way. I still love to play different instruments. It helps me understand production techniques and performance capabilities". Instead of graduating from college, he decided to give music a shot. He sold the car that his father was lending him, bought a van for his band, and headed for the music scene in Boston.  The band soon found work, playing "6-40" jobs--six 40-minute sets per night--all over New England. They played cover tunes as well as their own country blues originals under various names, including the Headstone Circus, St. James Doorknob, and the Finite Minds, and they made an album for Metromedia Records as Sugar Creek."


A little more information on the group.  In 1965  Edwards was studying art at Ohio University when he met fellow student/guitarist Malcolm McKinney.  The pair quickly decided to form a band recruiting McKinney's brother Todd.  As St. James Doorknob the group became quite popular playing dances, parties and clubs around Athens, Ohio.  At the same time fellow students Joe Dolce and Gary Gans were playing in The Finite Minds.  When the Finite Minds lost their lead singer, Dolce and Gans were invited to join St. James Doorknob, which quickly mutated into The Infinite Doorknob and then The Headstone Circus.  In June 1967 the band decided to take a shot at the big time. With the rest of America decamping for San Francisco, Edwards sold the car his father had lent him for school, bought a breaktruck/van and headed for Boston.  The band began touring throughout New York and New England, writing material at a farm owned by McKinney's parents.


By the time the Sugar Creek finished recording their sole 1969 album Dolce had quit (though he's represented by two of the standout selections), leaving a line-up featured Edwards, Gary Gans, and brothers Malcolm and Todd McKinney.  Recorded in New York City with Peter Casperson producing, "Please Tell a Friend" will come as a major shock to anyone familiar with Edwards' sensitive singer/songwriter solo career.  With Edwards and Malcolm McKinney responsible for the majority of the ten tracks, the album featured a mixture of driving blues-rock ('Old House' and the feedback propelled 'Where Do You Find The Answer') and excellent psych outings ('A Million Years').  Anyone familiar with Edwards solo career will find that his voice sounded surprisingly impressive belting out tougher material, though numbers such as 'Who Do You Think You Are', 'Lady Linda' and the Gospel-influenced 'Heavenly Road' wouldn't have been out of place on one of his early-1970s solo albums.  Personal favorites include the band's psych efforts including 'Memory Tree' and 'Night Flash'.  Killer tunes. Blessed with excellent sound quality, this one sounds great on an upscale stereo system.  (By the way, Joe Dolce is the same guy of 'Shaddup You Face' fame.)


"Please Tell a Friend" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) A Million Years   (John Edwards - Joe Dolce) - 2:31

2.) Old House   (Joe Dolce) - 2:36
3.) Who Do You Think You Are   (Malcolm McKinney) - 2:48
4.) Where Do You Find The Answer   (Malcolm McKinney) - 6:43
5.) Woman   (Malcolm McKinney) - 2:38


(side 2)
Heavenly Road   (Malcolm McKinney) - 2:50
2.) Memory Tree   (Malcolm McKinney) - 5:20
3.) Miss You  (John Edwards) - 4:24
4.) Lady Linda  (John Edwards) - 2:02
5.) Night Flash   (Malcolm McKinney) - 3:17


The band apparently continued to tour following the album's release.  Back to Edwards' website for a description of the end: "After several years, Jonathan began to tire of the 6-40s and grew fonder of the sound of an acoustic guitar. "I just one night said, 'Hey fellas, this isn't sounding as good as it could, and I'd like us to sound more intimate'. I liked the sound of bronze strings on rosewood better than steel strings on magnets, and so I walked out of that club in Vermont, rented myself a van and PA system, and started traveling around the colleges in New England by myself, without gigs, just setting up in the lobbies of dormitories on a Saturday."

Edward's website is located at:

Malcolm McKinney performed solo and with his brother Todd in the New England area during the 1970s and worked in Nashville with a small publishing company in the early 1980s.  He moved to Southeast Florida in the mid-1980s.  He has a small website at:


Gans became a fundamentalist and dropped out of music.


Still active in music and perhaps the most successful of the group, Dolce lives and works in Australia.  He was also kind enough to send me a little more  information on the band:

Thanks for writing. I can only reply briefly as I am in the middle of recording.

I met Jonathan Edwards (then called John Edwards) at Ohio University, in the late 60s, when I was in a blues band called 'The Finite Minds,' and he was in a
band with Malcolm McKinney and Todd McKinney called, 'St James Doorknob.'  When we lost our lead singer, the two bands decided to join forces and form one, first called 'The Infinite Doorknob,' then 'Headstone Circus.'   We performed for a couple of years around the college town of Athens, Ohio, and then moved to Boston, (for the East Coast music explosion!)  where the name of the band was changed to 'Sugarcreek,'  (To remove the drug overtones. Stupid move and the beginning of the end.)  After we recorded the 'Please Tell a
Friend' album, I resigned from the band (after all our equipment was stolen one night from our traveling bread truck band vehicle) and went solo. The other
members decided to drop all mention of my participation from the album credits and close ranks for professional reasons to work as a foursome.  But
John Edwards quit shortly afterwards and also went solo, as it wasn't happening, and the band broke up. He had the hit song, 'Sunshine,' a year or so later. About two years later, I wrote 'Hall of Fame,' and later had my own international hit with 'Shaddap You Face.'

I have only recently made contact with Todd McKinney, who I saw a couple of years ago in Athens. He performs in a duet with his wife. His older brother Malcolm still lives in Nashville, I think, and has a small publishing company. He has a website. Our  other lead guitarist Gary Gans became a fundamentalist Christian and stopped playing the music he felt it was the work of the devil. (The rest of us, unfortunately, remained possessed.) I've lost contact with drummer, John Beatty, who I heard was playing professional jazz.
Jonathan Edwards is still actively touring as a performer and also album producer. He and I were out of touch for many years but only this month found out that we are both doing solo showcase performances at the US Folk Alliance Conference in Austin, Texas, in February 2006, so that ought to be interesting. We will most likely be playing some music together during
that conference. He has recorded five of my songs over the past 30 years.

I played guitar and blues harp on the Sugarcreek album (recorded for Metromedia Records in New York and produced by the same guy who produced a couple of the Four Seasons' hits, like 'Walk Like a Man, ' etc.) and
have two songwriting credits. There was another great blues song that I sang solo on and wrote and played a wonderfully inventive acoustic harp solo on but that was omitted from the album (as I was no longer a member of the band) before it was released. I would love to find the master for that but I think it is

Another song recorded for the Sugarcreek album, but also omitted, was a cover version of 'Two Trains,' by the Blues Project, and was sung by Malcolm. It has, in my opinion, the most inventive and original acoustic harp improvisation ever recorded, but that exists only on reel-to-reel tape. However, I kept a copy and extracted the harp break instrumental section and included in on my blues harp CD released some years ago called 'Memoirs of a Mouth Organ,' under the track title, 'Remembering the Headstone Circus.'

Thanks again for jogging the old memory banks.

I also have one copy of 'Please Tell A Friend,' in my record collection!

Best wishes,
Joe (December 2005)


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