Bison Control was an innovative rock and roll band that performed in the 1980s and early 1990s. To witness a Bison Control performance was an experience never to be forgotten. Although Bison Control stopped performing in the early 1990s, they did reunite a couple of times for special events. The most recent was in June of 2005, when an outdoor event was held at Opus 40 in Saugerties, NY to celebrate Jim and Wendy's 40th birthdays.
Here's some bison control video from the Purchase Fair, 1987:
Here's some bison control video from Opus 40, 2005:
Bison Control also reunited on February 28th, 2004 at the wedding of Paul and Christi Dott in Nashville, TN. Recently married Chris put down the bass to renew his first passion, the drums. Without a rehearsal, the band played a 5 song set of Hidden in the Greenhouse, Was I mistaken?, Cle Elum, Bedroom Window and Starting to Sway. Paul took the drums on the last song. He didn't take them out of the room, though. He played them.
Be sure to scroll down to the "In the Beginning" section, written by Chris Dott. He gave me a tape of outtakes, probably in 1988, and included some liner notes to go along.
Instead of posting the usual strange tracks and live efforts, I have finally posted a few good old-fashioned bison control songs that were actually recorded in a studio. These came from the late 1980s, except for "Starting to Sway", which was more like the mid-80s, I believe.
Sound clips to enjoy:
Below is the biography that was included in the final Bison Control press kits before the band's casual demise. It was no doubt written at the cobblestone.
Welcome. Bison Control began as Blue Gelati back in the summer of 1981. We initially appeared in garages at local parties, performing cover songs of bands ranging from CCR to ZZTop to R.E.M. By 1985 we were calling ourselves Albee and his Chainsaw and playing both covers and originals at local bars. Today Bison Control plays primarily original material, but often scatters in our versions of a variety of cover songs.
Over the past nine years we have developed a truly original sound. It is a progressive and unique mix of slashing guitar, driving rhythm, melodic vocals, and an electric mandolin. We love to play, and we bring a truckload of energy to our shows. We have performed to an increasingly large group of fans at such clubs as Marty's, 7 Willow Street, and the Crazy Horse Café in Westchester, CBGB's and Downtown Beirut in Manhattan, as well as several colleges, schools, and institutions in the Northeast.
Thanks for visiting this site. Songs, sounds, photos, and stories about Bison Control will be added once every decade or so. So please come back often.
If you would like more information about, or have information to offer about Bison Control, please e-mail Tom Havard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THE BEGINNING...
It all began harmless enough back in the summer of 1981. Four young hopefuls who wanted to produce some good old American R n' R got together to do just that, and called themselves Blue Gelati. Since those first few get togethers, the band has been quite successful in providing willing listeners with strong originals as well as some decent cover tunes. Most of these songs can be found on a number of demo and live cassettes that are floating around, and that are fairly easy to get if one wanted to obtain one. However, some of the songs done by the band did not work out as well as desired, and others were just not considered appropriate for the changing Blue Gelati image, and either taken out or faded from the band's repertoire. So I took it upon myself to dig out these forgotten tunes, although some would have been better off if left to evaporate into total forgetteness, as you will undoubtedly soon see. One might consider this tape Blue Gelati's answer to R.E.M.'s Dead Letter Office. Then again, maybe not. If nothing else, this tape represents the beginning of a solid and successful rock band. After all, before you're able to walk, you have to crawl and take a few spills first.
Party on the Patio - This ZZTop rocker was the first song ever attempted by the group, and it lasted through quite a few years before fading out. This particular version features Tom Dott as a special guest cowbellist. However, this recording was done before the extended power ending was dreamed up.
Rainy Day Schedule - The first "original" Blue Gelati song. This was taken from a recording of Mikey T's new years eve party, which started off 1984. Plenty of beverage resulted in a less than tight execution of this as well as the rest of the tunes done that night, a few of which will be heard later.
All I Can Do - Back from when cheesy mandolin lines ruled, this Cars number may have been a mistake from the start. At the time it seemed okay.
6 - This was always one of my favorite Tom Havard originals, and I never did find out exactly why it stopped being played. Several versions of this are out, but this one seemed to reflect the era best. I always loved it when we came to the middle part.
Message in a Bottle - Recorded through Tom Fine's Walkman, this gem featured Tommy on trumpet because he heard The Police do it like that once. While the end of it seemed to crank (at least Brian D. seemed to think so), this tune was never attempted again, even while sober.
Leave You Far Behind (?) - I must have some sort of mental block or something, because for the life of me I can't seem to recall doing this tune. I'm not even sure if this is the real name of it or whether or not it is an original. It sounds like something James would write, but.....go figure.
Helen Wheels - While some may say this number should never have been tried, others may argue that the ending makes up for any shortcomings it may have.
Different for Girls - Joe Jackson would be proud to own up to this work. It comes from the new years eve extravaganza, and was dedicated to Mike F. (a.k.a. Fine Boy). Like the Police tune, this was tossed after that night.
State Trooper - In my opinion, this Rainy Day Schedule-based Bruce tune cranks. The opinions of others may differ. This one comes from the very first time the band recroded in the studio. The burglar alarm in the middle makes the song.
Under My Thumb - I was always psyched for the beginning of this tune. It's not the best cover version of this classic tune, but at least it's more in tune than the original Stones' version. People always liked this one.
Don't Jump into the Sea - Another cool original that just seemed to fade away.
Slow Down - This cacophonous onslaught never seemed to really work well. This version comes from the Havard's basement, and features a much buried mandolin line. While there are a few other recordings of this song, believe it or not, this version was the tightest.
The Martyr - While definitely not a typical T.H. original, this funky yet lovable tune stayed around for a while. It was always a kick watching people try to dance to it when we did it live.
Melissa - This song was only played live once, when Jim asked to play it to impress a dame, I think. I never even heard the original version until three years later. It had one of the shortest stays of all the songs that were ever tried.
The Elephant Song - While this was long after the good ol' Blue Gelati days, I felt I owed it to the listener to throw this fiasco in. This classic was only done this one time, at Marty's, and will probably never work again. It features T.H. mastering the trombone. True art.
There is never going back to times like that, and maybe that's good. But this should not be taken as a tape to be embarrassed by on the part of those involved. Instead, it may be looked upon as one would look at his baby shoes, or an old photo album or home movie of one's childhood. None of us started off great, we had to work at it by learning from our mistakes and strengthening our weaknesses as well as our strengths. This is what these songs represent. Blue Gelati was a solid band, and while the selection here consists of mostly songs that turned out to be mistakes, the band cranked.
So sure we could laugh at these gems, because they are funny to hear now. Heck, whenever I hear myself play drums I have to chuckle a bit. As you can bet I'll never play drums again, you can also bet that these tunes and the times they represent will be left only to the memories. It's all just the birth of a great band.
Christopher J. Dott