This morning was the final day for KMSU BMI record charting. For the past three days we've had to record all the songs, artists, and songwriters that we've played, and then BMI takes that info and cuts checks for the artists they represents. During these days we tend to focus on lesser known musicians, or at least well known musicians that don't have crazy insane Rock & Roll money. No Elvis, Beatles, or the Rolling Stones, as Joe Strummer once sang. We're stickin' with the underdogs.
One of the bands we played today was Haze. Haze looms large in our legend, having been the subject of a quest for several years, during which time their name was unknown to us. All we had was this unmarked test pressing that Shelley found among countless run-of-the-mill seventies record that she acquired under the strangest circumstances.
This is a story that has been told many times by us over the years, but it's also a story that we never tire of. In a nutshell, Shelley was at Cheapo in St Paul when a woman came into the store with several crates of records. A friend had passed away, and the woman was looking to get rid of the records that the friend had left behind. Cheapo looked through them and wasn't interested, so the woman asked the clerk where the nearest dumpster was. Shelley was standing nearby and heard this, so she stepped in and said "I'll take a look at them!" The woman told Shelley she could just take them, so the crates were loaded into the car and hauled back to Mankato.
As I said before, the contents of the crates were fairly generic as far as seventies popular music is concerned. Chicago, Neil Diamond, Elton John, etc. There were some cool titles in there, but nothing extraordinary, at least until the unmarked test pressing popped up. There was no band listed, no song titles given, no real information at all. Just a plain white sleeve and a date written on the label. Now, record collectors tend to pick up test pressings out of curiosity and the hope that there might be something magical hiding in the grooves. 99% of the time there's nothing more interesting than some polka or a church choir. Then there are times like that 1% when you find a test pressing like the one in this collection.
Shelley dropped the needle on the record and instantly knew that this was something special. I heard her yell "TIM, GET IN HERE! YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS!" so I rushed into the room to see what was up. Right off the bat I was blown away. This was a solid funk record, with great harmonies and amazing drumming and REALLY great songs. WHO WAS THIS BAND? We immediately started googling what little information we had, but it turned up nothing. Literally the only thing we knew about this "mystery record" was that if was friggin' great.
The find happened about thirteen years ago (where the hell did the time go?) and through the next five years we would do periodic searches on the record and play it on the show, hoping that we might turn up any information on the band, but nothing ever turned up. Flash forward five years and we're celebrating the 8th anniversary of the Shuffle Function nighttime edition. We decide that this is the moment that we put in a hardcore effort to solve the mystery. The entire record would be played on the show, and HOPEFULLY someone out there could provide the last piece of the puzzle.
The day of the show, Shelley was listening and searching random lyrics, which she typed in the keywords I Do Love My Lady. Right away she got a hit. There was a song called I Do Love My Lady on soul comp called Soulful Thangs Volume 6 on the Latin Soul Label. A sound clip was available, so she clicked on it. This was one of the songs on the mystery record! We had our band! Shelley reported the news on the blog, and a call was put out to anyone in or related to the band. We wanted to hear the full story behind the record we had been pursuing for all these years.
In September of 2009 we heard from the wife of one of the band members. She had stumbled across the blog post while looking for things about the band, and through her we suddenly found ourselves connected with all the members of Haze. They were stunned, because they thought that the world had forgotten all about them, and they were thrilled to be rediscovered. It didn't take much to convince them that their story needed to be told, so we set about interviewing them and put together a two part radio special dedicated to using their voices to tell the story of the band. It was amazing.
Jumping ahead to 2017 and this morning's show. Hearing all those songs this morning brought so many amazing memories back. The story in the years since we did these interviews has been filled with spectacular highs, as well as heartbreaking lows. There was a period where the lows were so painful that we couldn't even listen to the music. With time comes healing, and we're able to reflect on what an amazing story this has been. We got to meet the members in person, they gave us signed copies of their exceptionally rare second record, the story became a cover feature in City Pages, Haze was included in a Grammy nominated compilation of Minneapolis funk put out by Numero Group, members joined us during a Shuffle Function 24 Hour Pledge Drive A-Go-Go to sing MacArthur Park, and we even got to see them perform for the first time in 40 years as part of a commercial shoot. Haze was an incredibly tight group, and they were tight like brothers. They also hurt like only family could hurt. It's the full spectrum of human emotion with these guys.
The YouTube video above has the full two hours that we dedicated to Haze. You get the entire story, from childhood through breakup, from early gigs to walking away from a major record deal. Everything in between is remarkable, and we're so proud that we've played a role in keeping their story alive.
Pick up this record if you find it! It's rock solid.
We met the gang from Haze on January 3rd, 2010.
Solomon Hughes models his Shuffle Function shirt.
Sonny Knight and Peter Johnson check out the Mystery Record.
Diamond, Solly, and Peter joined us in the studio in 2010 to reminisce and sing MacArthur Park!