Eastfield Meadows

Band members                             Related acts

   line-up 1: (1963-68)

- John Bierber -- lead guitar

- David Carpenter -- vocals, bass

- Wayne Grajeda (RIP 2020) -- vocals, guitar, harp

- Dwight Payne -- drums, percussion, vocals

- James Whittemore -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

   line-up 2: (1968)

- John Bierber -- lead guitar

- David Carpenter -- vocals, bass

- Wayne Grajeda (RIP 2020) -- vocals, guitar, harp

NEW - Chet McCracken -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Dwight Payne)

- James Whittemore -- vocals, guitar, keyboards




- The Doobie Brothers (Chet McCracken)

- Wayne Grajeda (solo effort)

- Anthony Harris (solo efforts)

- The Luved Ones (James Whittemore)

- Bob Williams and Wayne Grajeda 





Genre: country-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Eastfield Meadows

Company: VMC

Catalog: VS133

Year: 1968

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4222

Price: $120.00

Cost: $30.00


Even though I'd never even heard of Eastfield Meadows, I grabbed this LP at a yard sale due to the fact "The David" (one of my favorite slices of mid-1960s psych) was also released by the Vance Music Company (VMC) label.  


In terms of biographical information I was never able to dig up much on this outfit.  The minimal liner notes on their sole LP didn't help much.  Apparently from Southern California, the line-up featured guitarist John Bierber, bassist David Carpenter, singer/guitarist Wayne Grajeda, drummer Dwight Payne and singer/guitarist James Whittemore.  Ironically the liner notes didn't even tell you what instruments each member played.  Grajeda and Payne met while attending college in Southern California.  Discovering a common interest in music, the pair formed The More, playing church socials. Whittemore had been a member of The Luved Ones.  When that group called it quits he joined The More who subsequently recruited guitarist Bierber and  bassist Carpenter.  As The Eastfield Meadows the group played college dances and small Hollywood area clubs.  Working as an A&R man for Vance Music Corporation, Tony Harris spotted the band, signing them to the VMC label. 


Serving as producer, Harris brought the band into Hollywood Sound Recorders.  As was standard procedure at the time, in order to speed up the recording process and ensure quality sound, Harris supplemented the recording sessions with an array of un-credited studio musicians including drummer Mike Botts and guitarist Kent Henry. So what's the Harris produced cleverly titled "Eastfield Meadows" sound like?  For whatever reason  I've never seen a detailed write-up, or review on the album.  Most of the brief comments I've seen draw comparisons to The Buffalo Springfield and late-inning Byrds.  I can certainly hear it.  Along with Harris, all five members contributed to the writing chores which gave the collection a touch of diversity. Exemplified by material such as 'You're Nowhere' and 'Love's Gone' the predominant sound was harmony-rich country-rock a-la Gram Parsons era Byrds.  'Travelin' Salesman' and 'Cowboy Song (The Time Spent)' actually sounded a little like something Michael Nesmith might have penned for The Monkees.  'Young Love' and 'The Price' sounded like an early Buffalo Springfield efforts.  Carpenter's jazzy ballad 'Helpless Is a Feeling' recalled The Association at their best.  Less typical, 'Only Girl' and 'Silent Night' sported more of a rock/psych-oriented sound.  It's an album that didn't make a gigantic impression on me for years.  It wasn't that the performances were bad, rather the predominant genres didn't register with me.  Subsequently the collection's charms have revealed themselves to me.  Shame they never got to record a follow-on.


One other piece of needless trivia, the actual track sequence differed from what's shown on the back cover liner notes.  


Postscript:  Besides taking too much of my disposable income on records, a friend of mine, David Handyside published a great book on obscure '60s bands - The Psychedelic Digest.  


Having bought a copy as a Christmas gift to myself, I was pleased to see Eastfeild Meadows was one of the bands in his book.  David's section on the band includes some discussion about the band's unhappiness with VMC's original cover art.  The band members were not big fans of the original artwork so it was ultimately dropped in favor of the end product.  Here's a copy of the planned original cover art.  Poor decision on their part.




"Eastfield Meadows" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Travelin' Salesman   (Wayne Grajeda) - 2:58   rating: **** stars

The opener 'Travelin' Salesman' was a good example of the band's strengths and weaknesses.  Musically the tune's cutesy country-rock flavor reminded me of something Mike Nesmith would have brought to a Monkees album.  Even for someone who wasn't a big country-rock fan, this one was bouncy enough to make me smile.  Grajeda's dry delivery was well suited for the song.  Strong melody, nice harmony vocals ...  just not the most original song you've ever heard.  Not sure why, but VMC tapped it as a promotional single:





- 1968's 'Travelin' Salesman' b/w 'Helpless Is a Feeling' (VMC catalog number V-736) 







2.) Only Girl   (James Whittemore) - 2:35   rating: **** stars

Opening up with engrossing some circus organ washes, Whittemore's 'Only Girl' offered up a sweet, highly commercial ballad.  I'm guessing Whittemore handled the lead vocals.  Nice job.  Easy to image Davy Jones covering this one.  Always wondered what the typewriter sound effects were about.

3.) You're Nowhere   (Dwight Payne) - 2:26   rating: **** stars

Drummer Payne's country-rock 'You're Nowhere' was one of the tracks that bore a strong comparison to The Buffalo Springfield.  That was particularly true on the harmony vocals.  As a big Springfield fan, this was one of the album hightlights.

4.) Cowboy Song (The Time Spent)   (Wayne Grajeda) - 3:01   rating: **** stars

Not only did Grajeda's voice remind me of Michael Nesmith, but the slightly quirky country-rock structure underscored the comparison.  Love the song's harmony vocals.

5.) Love's Gone  (James Whittemore) - 4:15   rating: *** stars

The pretty acoustic ballad 'Love's Gone' reminded me of Gram Parsons-era Byrds.  Perhaps a touch too country for my tastes, I could still appreciate the sweet vocals.  Loved Payne's drum work on this one.  Grajeda's end-of-the-song harmonica solo was a textbook example of forlorn.  


(side 2)

1.) Weekend   (Tony Harris) - 3:21   rating: **** stars

The album's lone non-original producer Harris' 'Weekend' offered up a commercial ballad with some nice vocals and a slightly jazzy, under-produced sound.  The tune sounded like it had been recorded in a gym shower which also gave it a slightly lysergic edge.  Carpenter provided some nice bass lines. 

2.) The Price   (Wayne Grajeda) - 3:25   rating: **** stars

Grajeda's vocal was beautiful and the harmony vocals were gorgeous.  Easy to mistake this pretty country-rock ballad for a Buffalo Springfield performance.

3.) Helpless Is a Feeling   (David Carpenter) - 2:20   rating: **** stars

The jazzy opening was attention grabbing and then the song shifted into The Association territory - good Association, rather than sappy MOR song.   .  

4.) Young Love   (James Whittemore - Wayne Grajeda) - 2:40   rating: **** stars

Gorgeous Springfield styled ballad.  Damn these guys can churn out some beautiful harmony vocals

5.) Silent Night   (John Bierber - James Whittemore - Wayne Grajeda) - 4:01

Nope, this wasn't a cover of the traditional Christmas carol.  The album's hardest rocking tune, an edited version of the song was released as a single:





- 1968's 'Silent Night' b/w 'Love's Gone' (VMC catalog number V-734)








The band continued to play dates throughout Los Angeles, but with the album tanking personnel issues began to take a toll.  First to leave was drummer Payne.  He was quickly replaced by Chet McCracken.


One final non-LP 45 and the band was history.


- 1968's  'Friend of Unequal Parallel' b/w 'Love All Men Can Share' (VMC catalog number V-745) 



Harris went on to work the production side of the business.  


Payne continues to work in music.


Grajeda kept his hand in music.  Starting in the early 1970s he split his time between Germany and California.  Taking a role in the German production of Jesus Christ Superstar, he moved to Berlin and decided to stay.  He became a member of the Hagelberger Street Group and over the ensuing decades  recorded with a mix of American and German performers in The Band of Brothers.  He also formed The Wayne Grajeda Band and released several solo albums.  While living in Southern California in the '80s he started working in television and film production. Prior to his August, 2020 death and moving back in Berlin, he'd  become far more popular in Germany than the States. 


There is a small Grajeda website at:  http://www.hagelberger.com/Wayne.htm