History of the West Park

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

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The Baskerville Hounds of West Park, Ohio
By Gary Swilik

"The Baskerville Hounds, Featuring Space Rock, Part 2."
Album released in 1967.  Dot Records.

The first major rock-and-roll concert, "The Moondog Coronation Ball," took place at the old Cleveland arena in 1952. The eyes of the music world were focused on Cleveland in those early years as we became the hottest radio, concert, and record-buying market in the country. West Park has it's own claim to music fame. The Baskerville Hounds, one of the all-time greatest local groups, has its roots right here in West Park.

The band was formed as the Majestics in 1963 with Doug McCutcheon on keyboard, Larry Meese as singer and guitarist, and John Kirkpatrick on drums. They brought in bassist Bill Emery in January 1964, and singer/guitarist Dante Rossi in July 1964. The band was renamed the Dantes, then the Tulu Babies, and finally The Baskerville Hounds. Most active from 1964 through 1972, the Baskerville Hounds performed at concerts with The Rolling Stones, Sonny & Cher, The Beach Boys, The Dave Clark Five, Grand Funk Railroad, and other top acts of the era.

The Baskerville Hounds single "Hurtin' Kind," was a massive local hit in 1965. They had three songs break into Billboard's Hot 100 national hits: "Space Rock" at number 60, "Debbie" at number 99, and "Hold Me" at number 88. They did one album and had many unreleased recordings. They appeared on local television including the popular Mike Douglas, Big 5, and Upbeat Shows. They are featured on the Cleveland Wall at the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame

The "Hounds", as they were often called, made appearances throughout Greater Cleveland drawing tremendous crowds at local dance halls, clubs, and night spots. They had long-running engagements at the Roundtable and the Americana, and appeared at all the Hullabaloo teen clubs. Their local popularity is legendary! In 1969 they drew 1,300 fans to the Cyrus Erie teen club in North Ridgeville, Ohio - an incredible crowd for that venue. That same year the band's appearance at the Playboy Club at Kamm's Corners (now Si Senor restaurant) was cheered by over 400 fans - about as many as people as could be packed into that small space!

The Hounds broke up in 1973 but briefly reformed in 1980. In 2000 they got together and released a CD titled Look at Us Now, described as "an updated version of the Baskerville Hounds with a variety of new, all-original, good ol' rock 'n' roll music." Listen to "What a Surprise (I'm Still Alive" from Look at Us Now.

Former Baskerville Hound band member Doug McCutcheon is a long-time veteran of the Northeast Ohio music scene. He has played everything from rock and country to reggae and jazz. He has written music for films and TV. In addition to his years with the Hounds, he has been a member of such groups as the Hitmen, the Rag and the Rose Band, and Soul Station. He currently performs with The Swamp Boogie Band, playing a diverse selection of classic rock, rhythm-and-blues, dance, and Motown. (More about the Swamp Boogie Band later.)

Doug is not one to celebrate the past and has a very unassuming attitude about his years with the Hounds. "I'm so busy now with the Swamp Boogie Band," Doug told the author, "playing for veterans and the disabled, jazz solo gigs, and pitching my compositions for film and television that I don't have time to dwell on past glories with the Baskerville Hounds."

"I've always had problems with articles on the band," Doug explains. "The interviewers never seemed interested in our music but more about extraneous crap, and for some reason, always with a condescending, slightly insulting attitude. I don't have much patience for questions on how long our hair was, how many matching suits did we have, or do we remember what the Stones wore when we opened for them. Now, if you want to know anything about the music . . . I'm your man!"

Fortunately, Doug has a great fondness for his home neighborhood and is willing to reminisce a bit for fellow West Parkers.

"All the band members originally lived in West Park," says Doug. "All the original members went to John Marshall High School. We grew up within two miles of each other. Most of us were from the West 140th area between Lorain and Puritas. I lived on West 144th off Emery Avenue. Larry Meese was the 'outsider,' living on McGowan Avenue off West 130th Street. I knew Dante Rossi from the time I was four-years old, but it was his late brother Franklin I hung out with before they moved to Middleburg Heights. I met John Kirkpatrick in junior high, and in high school we had a small informal jazz combo but we never played any gigs."

"A major influence was Gilchrist Records at Kamm's Corners," remembers Doug. "They had a listening booth where I would listen to records by the hour. I was influenced by Ray Charles, Jimmy Smith, and most of the other jazz and soul keyboardists of the era, including Ramsey Lewis, Jimmy McGriff , and some of the 'cool jazz' icons such as Dave Brubeck. My interest in rock came later. I would even buy something once in a while but mostly I would listen to the records, try to figure out what they were playing, then hurry home - a two-mile walk - and try it on the piano before I forgot it."

"I didn't listen to much teenage 'high school' music like Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello," Doug continues. "As far as writing, the early Beatles, Stones, Kinks, and Bob Dylan were definitely an inspiration. When I heard Ray Charles perform 'One Mint Julep' I knew I had to join or form a band someday. When I heard Joey Dee and the Starliters use a Hammond organ in a rock context - I knew the time was right."

Doug's former neighbor, Sandi Lilly, now of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, recalls the early years of the future Baskerville Hounds. "I would get to hear them when they practiced at Doug's house," says Sandi. "One of the privileges of living next door. I lived on Albrus Avenue where West 144th ended, right in the circle next to the McCutcheons. Doug used to practice for hours and, believe me, underneath that rocker is an amazing classical pianist! The band often practiced in the garage. We could sit on the tree lawn under the buckeye tree and hear them. They also played at our neighborhood block party. All the guys were very talented and meshed well."

Sheila Calanni, of Cleveland, also remembers Doug. "I knew him when he was a teenager," says Sheila. "He was good friends with my boyfriend. They would come over and hang out. Doug showed my sister and I how to play the guitar. We used to just have good times like teenagers did back then."

Doug graduated from John Marshall High in 1964 but his band began to find success while the members were still attending high school. So how did being a youthful member of a successful and popular band in the 1960s affect Doug's life?

"Obviously I was more popular," Doug tells us, "however I knew it was because of the band. The money was great because I could finally buy a car and the equipment I needed to keep on playing. It also made me realize that if I could visualize it, I could do it - playing in a band, and playing well. I knew I'd succeeded at something I had started, regardless of how long it would last."

"But it also led to a lot of tension with the blue-nosed administration at John Marshall," Doug continues. "And later, I was not happy with the way the band was manipulated into transforming from an authentic rock band to a white-bread bubblegum vaudeville act. I got into a band so I could make some of the decisions, and wasn't too friendly to the idea of anybody sticking their nose into our music and trying to recreate us in their own image. The way journalists sometimes described us - it was as if the writer never actually heard us. For instance, we were not a 'twist band.' I would say our true sound was somewhere between garage and metal; for lack of a better term, we were a 'rock band.'"

"Over the years a lot of interviewers have just wanted our 'memories' of major acts we opened for," explains Doug. "Never mentioned were the acts which opened for us. The Tree Stumps, with the great Michael Stanley, opened for us a couple of times. So did the Grasshoppers, with Ben Orr, and the Motions, all local bands. The Shangri-Las and the Rugbys, both national acts, opened for us at other times."

"Of our many songs," says Doug, "t

he 'Hurtin' Kind' is probably the most significant for me. I wrote it because we were told we couldn't record until we had some originals. It ended up being a huge local and regional hit, and, unbeknownst to us until about 2000, it was covered by many other artists in the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, France, and Germany; the most notable probably being the 2000 recording by Dee Dee Ramone on his 'Hop Around' CD. It was also used on the movie soundtrack of Gangster No.1, a British crime drama made in 2000, starring Malcolm MacDowell."

For a real musical blast from the past, the author recommends listening to The Baskerville Hounds' single, ""Space Rock - Part 2."  Ghoulardi - who we all know was local TV personality Ernie Anderson - played "Space Rock" so often it virtually became his theme song. And that's fine with Doug.

"Yes, Ghoulardi used 'Space Rock' for quite a while," Doug remembers. "One of the things that spurred me to play in bands was hearing Jimmy McGriff's version of 'I've Got A Woman' which I first heard on Ghoulardi. It was great to have our recording in that kind of musical company."

"'Space Rock,'" explains Doug, "was actually our version of the Rolling Stones '2120 South Michigan Avenue' only sped up frantically. Somebody on the management end of things thought it would be a 'gas' - their words, not mine - to change the name to coincide with NASA events. I personally thought the name change was stupid."

Is there any chance of The Baskerville Hounds getting together for a reunion performance?

"We last made an appearance in 2008," says Doug. "There are no plans for any future appearances. These days I listen mostly to jazz. I just got the Brian Auger CD 'Live at the Baked Potato' after seeing him at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights. I also listen to such local heroes of mine as Jackie Warren and Joe Hunter. Sometimes I'll listen to Bach or Tchaikovsky but mostly it's jazz. John Coltrane, Ramsey Lewis, and Jimmy Smith are favorites of mine."

"I also work with 'Music on a Mission,'" Doug tells us, "an organization which supports performing artists and brings music to those who otherwise would have no access to it. Readers can learn more about it at musicmissioninc.com We appreciate public support."

There are many opportunities for Doug's fans to see and hear him perform with the Swamp Boogie Band. The author recently attended a performance at the Lone Tree Tavern in North Ridgeville and enjoyed it immensely! They play a wonderful selection of classic rock, blues, and dance. Doug's at the keyboard but sometimes becomes lead singer as well. His vocals on "Smooth" and "Miss You" were just great, despite Doug's protests to the contrary.

"The Swamp Boogie Band consists of all veteran players of the top skill level," says Doug. "We have Gerard Parisi on drums, Tim King on Bass, Jeff Hird on lead guitar, myself on keyboards, and the phenomenal Marcia 'Swamp' Sindelar on lead vocals. I first met Marcia in 2009, and filled in several times when their keyboard player was unavailable. However I found out I had played keyboards on a recording session in 1971 for which Marcia later did the background vocals. I told her that obviously we had been working together longer than we thought!"

Doug McCutcheon is still a West Parker and will be for the foreseeable future. "West Park was a great place to grow up," Doug believes. "I found it to be a good area but tough on whiners and wimps. One of my favorite spots was the library at West 157th and Lorain; I spent a lot of time there. Also the Caboose Diner at West 150th and Chatfield; they served the greatest chili dogs I have ever had! And I can't forget the W. T. Grant store at the Puritas and West 140th shopping center. I still live in West Park, and don't plan to move."

Visit the website swampboogieband.com to see where Doug McCutcheon and the Swamp Boogie Band will next be making an appearance. To arrange for the band to appear at your own event, contact them at IMSwamp13@aol.com or call 216-382-6660.

Doug McCutcheon on Facebook

 For more about their recordings (and streaming) click here.


Cleveland. com:  Music 1960s: Out of the Garage.  The Baskerville Hounds

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Updated 15 July 2014