The Lovely Savages 

The Lovely Savages crawled out of a Southern Oregon burn pile hot and fast with a heartbeat wide open and ready for all comers. 

The band was the brainchild of guitarist and singer Stacey Vanderbuilt - who personally changed names multiple times, so try to keep up. After riding out the glorious rock cliché implosion of the Medford, Oregon moss rock band My Own Black Eye, Vanderbuilt started a new group with a more stripped down, driving sound and a power trio line up. He named the group The Lovely Savages and started working on demos.

He connected with NYC transplant and wizard of thick bass tone Brett Wilder (The Rousers, Philippe Marcadé, Praise Jockeys, and more) and wayward California drum savant Donald Albert. This iteration of the band never played a single show. But they did record three badass songs. Unfortunately, while mixing the new set of songs, Albert announced that he had to move back to California to dry out and enter the family business. This left Vanderbuilt and Wilder, which sounds like an amazing Vaudeville act but proved to be an unstable union without Albert. They auditioned  a number of drummers without being able to agree on a replacement. After differing in opinion over the sonic direction and even the name of the band, Vanderbuilt and Wilder parted ways. 

Somewhere around this time Vanderbuilt changed his name to Spanky Bowpeep . The dubious explanation given in an interview at the time was that he found out Stacey Vanderbuilt was already taken. This was a tumultuous time as Vanderbuilt, now Bowpeep, cultivated an increasing reliance upon box wine to cope with personal issues.  Dispite this, he did not languish. With the encouragement of his long time patron, Lando Frock, he released the three songs as an EP called 'YES' on the Land Frock Recordings label. 

Then, through a series of weird coincidences, he met a phenomenal drummer named Robert Wright. The two instantly developed a deep musical connection. Bowpeep was adamant that they keep it a two-piece unit. He wanted them to improvise in any direction during live performances - and the fewer personalities to deal with the better. Those close to the band at that time say that between Bowpeep and Wright, they had a "personality" surplus measured in tonnage. 

Newly constituted as a duo and brimming with fresh songs, The Lovely Savages started making a big noise in Southern Oregon - literally and figuratively. Their live act was dynamic and ever changing. They quickly found a home at the legendary Medford rock venue Johnny B's. Club owner John Bach became a great friend to the band and booked them regularly. There were many after hours jam sessions with a round table of local greats including: Mr. Bach, himself a drummer and standup bass player; Robbo DeVille, legendary SoCal punk guitarist and centerpiece of local surf group The Sleezetones; members of gypsy folk phenom Ole Mountain Do, and others. 

Back at their woodland rehearsal and recording space in the Applegate Valley, The Lovely Savages recorded their first full length album, cheekily named 'Two'. This was very much a DIY process with Bowpeep engineering and mixing the record himself. He was not unskilled as a recordist, but the combo of a river of box wine, a variety of other inebriates probably contributed to variations in the sonic quality. After briefly considering paring the selections down to an EP, they decided to release the whole shebang as a full length record "warts and all." The resulting album fused exceptional songwriting with rickety charm into a true gem of gritty, Southern Oregon garage rock. 

They quickly followed up with a "Live EP" called 'Live At The Dirty Trick Vol1' - which was not recorded at Johnny B's as many people thought. It was actually recorded live at the Applegate studio to an empty room. To this Bowpeep layered in an announcer and crowd noise. He intentionally tips his hand in a couple of ways. The title is the first give away. The announcer is pretty clearly a computer generated voice, and after the final song 'No Trouble' the sound effect used is an excessively large arena of applause and foot stomping. Bowpeep insisted for some time that it was recorded at a secret gig in San Francisco (or Vancouver, or Kansas City - choosing a different city every time he told the story.) Eventually he owned up to what everybody already knew. "I love creating fictional scenarios. It's not the first time I've built a fictional live event on tape. I probably should have been a Foley artist." 

Things seemed to be going well for the band, but Bowpeep's personal life was getting ever more complicated. Boxed into a corner by the 1-2 punch of divorce and  loss of employment, an opportunity for a cheap apartment and a job in San Francisco arose and he felt he had to take it. While the plan for the band was to 'make it work' by scheduling bi-monthly rehearsals at a friend's studio in Grants Pass, Oregon, it was all made moot when tragedy struck. 

Bob died of a heart attack at his home in the Applegate Valley just a couple months after Spanky's move to California. Bob was beloved in the Southern Oregon music community and all were devastated by the loss. Musicians came out of the woodwork for Bob's wake in Grants Pass. It culminated in an epic jam session that included the legendary Dennis Dragon (Beach Boys, Surf Punks), Bowpeep, and a who's who of local musicians jumping on stage. It was an incredible send off for Bob, and seemingly for the band too. 

Almost two years later a third incarnation of The Lovely Savages briefly occurred when Bowpeep, who had subsequently and secretly changed his name to Chesterfield Mondunkus, started jamming with local East Bay motocross nut and drummer Bradley Blemker. The two began jamming at a rehearsal space in east Oakland. They played a handful of raucous, well received gigs, and for a split second it looked like there might actually be a third act for The Lovely Savages. 

But then, without explanation, Mondunkus simply disappeared. He stopped communicating with Blemker and other music friends and connections, and stopped responding to inquires through the TLS website and social media. A few years later eagle-eyed fans noticed that the location listed for The Lovely Savages changed to Austin, Texas. But nothing was said about it officially, and no recordings or performances from this time are known to exist. 

So how did Heavy Mediums come hear the story and recieve control of The Lovely Savages material? Well, that too involves the same kind of odd turn of events that seems to be a hallmark of the band and its erstwhile leader. To be continued...