A Cub Koda Story submitted by Clay S. Conrad

The man had more testicular fortitude than the Fourth Cavalry when he needed it.

I worked with Cub as the soundman for Cub Koda and the Points from New Year’s Day 1980 until the band broke up around October of that year. CK&P was not your average rock and roll band. First off, Cub turned the Points - formerly three members of a Detroit area bar band named Mugsy - into something they had never conceived of before, a hard-driving power-rockabilly band with influences from across the spectrum. This was before George Thorogood was well known; CK&P had a force, a power, and a sense of integrity that Thorogood just couldn't hit. Mugsy - Fred Schmidt on drums, Pete Bankert on bass, and Joey Gaydos on guitar - had been playing four sets a night, six nights a week in the Detroit bars for years, and was tight and organized. Cub made them professional.

I met Cub, and got involved with CK&P, as a result of hiring them for a barn party the weekend after Halloween, 1979. Cub Koda and the Points was just getting started; the record wasn't even recorded yet. It was the ideal Cub gig: a large, two-story barn party out in the middle of nowhere, free beer, air blue from pot smoke, a huge stage made the night before from lumber liberated from construction sites (hey, the statute of limitations is long passed), and eight hundred very appreciative people who were there for no other reason than to party to loud rock and roll. A veritable drunken heathen orgy. Cub once told me it was one of the best gigs he'd ever played. It was all out. Cub was not a man to enjoy halfway measures - if he couldn't drain the last drop out of something he considered it a waste of time.

CK&P played venues from arenas to small bars, almost always one-nighters, and we didn't screw around. Cub set the tone: get in, do the job, and do it right every time, regardless of whether anyone appreciates it. He said that every audience is a potential enemy and you have to win them over. Whether playing to 20 people or 20,000, Cub worked up a sweat and connected.

We opened for Johnny Winter one night. The audience wanted Johnny Winter, and nothing else. Cub played "Pound it Out," and the audience didn't respond. He played it again. Still no response. HE PLAYED THE SAME SONG THREE TIMES. Finally, lots of applause. The audience realized that Cub was a force to be reckoned with. The man had more testicular fortitude then the Fourth Cavalry when he needed it.

He could be demanding and unreasonable at times. He could pout if he wasn't happy about something without really letting you know what it was that was bothering him; he could be upset at one person and take it out on someone else. But the man worked himself into a frenzy practically every night - you can't expect someone like that to always be rational. That was the crew's job: he expected everything to be exactly where he wanted it and to work exactly the way it was supposed to every night. Cub took the crew for granted unless something went wrong. Fortunately for him, he had a great crew. He wanted things kept simple, and wanted them to work perfectly. I'm the same way - it ain't finished until it's right - so that didn't bother me. He wasn't the first diva musician I'd worked with, and not the worst at that.

What made Cub fun to work with was that he was always creating. Whether driving back from a gig in Pennsylvania or Maryland, or just sitting around in the dressing room between sets, he'd always be creating something in his head - music, stories, jokes, whatever. The man's mind was always percolating something. I remember a three or four hour drive in which he was working on ideas for a comedy album he wanted to make under the pseudonym of "Spliblips Watson." I don't think it ever got done.

He was also a musical encyclopedia. He would bring in tapes to play during the breaks that would set the tone: obscure music, blues, rock, country, etc., with an attitude and an integrity that let you know THIS IS THE REAL SHIT. None of that radio pablum Cub called "Zetz Putz"; the tone he set was raw, passionate, and real.

It's too bad CK&P broke up. Finances, attitudes, disappointments, impatience - who can outline all the reasons bands break up? It was supposed to be a hiatus. The hiatus lasted twenty years. I think that CK&P could have MADE IT had they stuck together. Not many bands hit the big time on their first record.

After CK&P broke up, I saw Cub play a couple times in Massachusetts and Vermont; the last time I saw the man was at a bar in Michigan in 1985. We got to speak a bit at the Vermont gig. Cub was unchanged - doing what he loved was all he cared about. 20 or 20,000 people didn't really matter, so long as the ones who were there LISTENED.

Well, Cub is gone now. Fred Schmidt, the drummer, reunited Mugsy for a while, then moved to Orlando to work at Disneyworld. Joey Gaydos kept playing guitar, as did his son, who had a big part in the movie “School of Rock.” Pete Bankert opened a recording studio in the Detroit area.

I went to work doing theatrical lighting on Broadway, and then on to law school. Life goes on. But there was a time in our lives when the only thing that mattered was getting THE NEXT NOTE JUST RIGHT, and then the next one, and the one after that, tweaking every nuance to get the maximum 'oomph' we could get. And on my personal list of good old days, those are right up there among the best.

Clay S. Conrad

(If you have a story about Cub, something funny, how you met, etc., please email them to: webmaster@cubkoda.com so that they can be added for others to enjoy!)