In the bands Flag, Night Hog, Bullwinkle, Blackbird, Thunderbird, Krackerjack, Rosco, Brat and of course Lou Laser and the Pork Chop Revue!
Also stand up and improv comedian
And your first question might be, 'how did this cute little football player'
Become this crazed and unbalanced comedian?
Paul Heckmann: Hey Carter!
Carter Buschardt: That's me!
Paul Heckmann: Kirby Warnock told me to give you a call.
Carter Buschardt: Oh yea, Kirby from the old Buddy magazine.
I donated all my Buddy's to the Dallas Public Library and I never even got as much as FU from them. Yeah, that had probably been ten years ago. Willie Williams was doing the Facebook, Big D Facebook page, Big D bands and stuff. He tells me to sending them, I guess maybe 30 or 40, to the Dallas Public Library because they're gonna have like some big thing on Dallas music. And I never did hear back from them, so yeah.
But I knew Kirby. He was cool.
Paul Heckmann: Ouch! But let's talk about you. Dallas native?
Carter Buschardt: I'm a Dallas kid, born there in 1951. Lived in the Webb Chapel area. I began performing at age 14-15 as a singer. Saved up my paper route money to by my first musical instrument, a Shure Electro Voice 664 Microphone. Started playing drums at age 16. We had a crappy drummer and I kept having to show him how to play so I just switched to drums. Typical garage bands. Played mostly roller rinks and supermarket openings with the occasional private party.
By age 16-17 I was sneaking out at night and going down to The Cellar, occasionally sitting in or playing in a band. The Cellar was across the street from KLIF or KBOX radio station, can't remember which station it was. Great times and life, and I was hooked.
Graduated Thomas Jefferson High School in 1969. Went to El Centro Junior College for one year, majored in Radio/TV broadcasting. Probably subtly influenced by my cousin Bud Buschardt (WFAA, KLIF and Sumpn'Else TV show) and didn't realize it. I DID realize I wanted to actually PLAY the music rather than spinning records of other people's music. So I left El Centro and pretty much hit the road.
Paul Heckmann: And you mentioned going to Louann's the other day.
Carter Buschardt: That was about the only place you could go those days. I was too young to get into Louann’s, although I snuck in there quite often. Oh, yeah. I mean she was a real tough nut in her own way, but I never had a problem. If I was gonna sneak in, I just did it. You know I mean if you don’t act guilty, you're not guilty, you know as far as that kind of stuff goes. You know?
Paul Heckmann: I remember hearing that she said 'I knew I let in underage kids, but their parents were always glad I did because it kept them off the streets.'
Carter Buschardt: That's it. There was never really crap going on over there, I mean there used to be a couple fights out at the parking lot, but it was just really a good, fun place. I was just so glad to have a place to go, you know?
Paul Heckmann: You bet.
Carter Buschardt: It was awesome. I had a great fake ID, so I didn’t have any problems.
Paul Heckmann: So, tell me about your first time you ever went to Louann’s.
Carter Buschardt: I think the first time was to see Jeff Beck in 1968. I graduated in ’69, so I would have been a junior. And I had a good buddy who was a drummer, he had this brother who was stationed in Hawaii - he was the one that sent us all our pot back then, and he was gonna go, And he found out his brother was coming home, so he couldn’t go. So I bought his ticket and he told me to 'Go meet up with a couple of my buddies, they're two years older and just walk in with them'. And that’s what I did. I just walked in like I knew what I was doing!
And so I saw Jeff Beck and it was just awesome. And I was already a Who fan. The British Invasion had taken me by storm, so I was already 'anything British was just awesome'. I don’t remember them sounding – the sound was not all that great, but it was like The Beatles for me, it was awesome. You know?
I think I saw Paul Revere and the Raiders there too. I just can't remember if it was before or after Beck. Paul Revere didn’t have their TV show yet. But I always thought those outfits were pretty cool, pretty awesome.
Paul Heckmann: Yeah, they were different.
Carter Buschardt: And then there was The Garden. That’s really where I kind of learned how to... well, I guess I smoked everywhere at that point! There was a lot of dancing going on out there because, as I remember, there was a lot of the dances you couldn’t do inside.
Ann would not let you bump, grind, unless it was like dancing to big band stuff. I always remember that there were a lot of people outside dancing and doing bumping and grinding and that kind of stuff because she didnt allow it inside or if she was around.
Paul Heckmann: So if folks were doing that inside, how did she separate them?
Carter Buschardt: She’d just come out there and break it up.
Paul Heckmann: So, this is like a 1960 sock hop at your school.
Carter Buschardt: Absolutely. That was the main thing I remember, we’re out there dancing and having fun.
I know she made the bands quit playing certain songs because she felt they were inappropriate. There was R&B stuff that she was just appalled at. I remember. I remember one of the bands after Beck cut their song short and said 'Sorry but due to Management request, we are going to cut this tune short' or something like that. It was kinda funny, but at the same time I am thinking, 'what did I miss?'
Paul Heckmann: It was a different time, man, a different time.
Carter Buschardt: Yeah. And then I was sneaking out our a lot playing down at The Cellar. Yeah, I don’t know if you ever – did you ever go to The Cellar?
Paul Heckmann: I went to The Cellar one time when I was a teenager, got in a fight and that was that.
Carter Buschardt: Yeah, it was a place to be reckoned with. And there I am, this HS kid, sitting there playing in front of naked women and they had light systems in there, so if there was a certain light on, you had to keep playing. That means somebody is getting roughed up upstairs. The bikers kind of ran the club. They were the biker mafia, so to speak.
Paul Heckmann: What were some of the bands were you in?
Carter Buschardt: Noblemen was my first, then the Fantastics, Flag was also one of the early ones. Hard Rock band playing mostly cover tunes with very few originals. We opened for the Who at Dallas Memorial Auditorium June 1970, also Night Hog. We played mostly at The Cellar in Dallas and Vulcan Gas Company in Austin. Opened for Bubble Puppy at Vulcan Gas Company. I have a poster of that show that says 1970 so it was probably after Flag disbanded. Short lived band. Then Bullwinkle. Good tight cover band. We played the hot spots at the time, The Fog, Soul City, The Rickshaw Club etc. Only notable because the singer was John O'Daniels of Point Blank fame. He and I remained friends & connected until he passed away not long ago.
I guess Blackbird came after that. The original line up was myself, Jack Morgan on guitar. Tom Wagoner on Bass, and Christian Plique on Vocals. We replaced bass player Wagoner with Ric Webb. This was an awesome band. Band was mostly original versions of very old blues tunes. Christian Plique was originally in Blackbird with Stevie Ray Vaughn.
We changed the name to Thunderbird when the remaining members of Blackbird wanted to reuse that name. So we changed the name to Thunderbird. And you ask, how did we come up with that name? We are sitting around in this low budget motel in Waco, trying to come up with a cool name and someone looks down at their hotel key and says, 'why not Thunderbird?' And that was that. Most of the bands stayed there when they played at Club Abraxas, the big hot spot at the time. This would be 1973-74 ish.
Paul Heckmann: Oh, yeah. My hometown. But they did have some big bands come in there to Abraxas, but man it could be a pretty rough place. There and Club 18 were the two that had the bands come through. We had ZZ Top and a few others coming. Nothing like Austin or anything like that, but for a little town like Waco, it was pretty cool.
Carter Buschardt: It was a big deal for Waco. Yeah, I mean we packed that place.
Paul Heckmann: Okay. So Waco has a part in rock music history.
Carter Buschardt: Absolutely. Yes, yes. If you were around back then and you knew Club Abraxas, you knew exactly what was going on and who ran the town.
Somewhere between then and ’70, ’71, and ’75, that would have been putting us, I moved to Austin with Jimmy Vaughn and all of them. Stevie used to jam with us all the time. We were like the big dog down there, Mother Earth, in Austin. And then my band Thunderbird decided to change names again when Jimmy V took the name, Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Paul Heckmann: Texas rock royalty.
Carter Buschardt: Then after Thunderbird, I guess it would be Krackerjack. A little background information. Krackerjack was originally formed in the late 60's or very early 70's. Two of the founding members were Tommy Shannon (bass) and John Turner (drums). They were in one of Johnny Winters first bands.
As you probably know Tommy Shannon was eventually the bass player for Stevie Ray Vaughn. There were at least 4 or 5 incarnations of Krackerjack over the years. 1 or 2 guys would leave and be replaced but using the name of the band. Krackerjack had a stellar pedigree until the day the name was put to rest. We never had the slick promo shots done, and virtually any and all photos of us were from friends, girlfriends or shots taken at a performance by random club goers and later sent to me. We were honestly just living to play, were a really good band that didn't go in for all the slick stuff. Wherever we played, we packed them in, were booked solidly months in advance. We were one of the very very few that did all original songs. Some we wrote outright, or were written by previous versions of Krackerjack. Other tunes were old blues songs given a special interpretation and turned into driving grungy tunes that packed the dance floors. We were a band that other musicians came to hear. Not bragging, we were just different and risk takers, playing our own songs in a time where that just wasn't done.
Probably the best band line up wise, and musically, by far. We played some of the same type old Delta and soul blues as we did in Thunderbird, but with a crunching driving beat that was hard to resist. It was uniquely our own sound by far. We also had a lot of originals that also quite unique and we packed the clubs. One of the few bands at the time that played at least half original tunes and we were always booked. Line up was myself, Jack Morgan on guitar, Ric Webb on Bass, and Bruce "Lil Brucie” on vocals. Not puffing here, but each individual was outstanding on their instruments & vocals, and together, we just had it going on. We produced and released a single locally. We opened for Taj Mahal at The Agora Ballroom in 1975-76, can't remember exactly. We played Austin as well, and we were a huge draw down there. We were poised for the "big time" but it just wasn't to be. At the time, there was Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, ZZ Top, Nitzinger and several other bands and it was just luck of the draw as far as taking the next step.
Carter Buschardt: Yeah, I had had my shots at greatness. We were supposed to go out and hit the Palladium, I think. We were supposed to go out on the road with Taj Mahal, there was some drug use with my fellow band-members, we couldn’t go.
Paul Heckmann: Oh, wow.
Carter Buschardt: The promoter said, well, to hell with these guys. Like our singer Bruce fell asleep standing at the mike, he passed out.
Paul Heckmann: That is some bad stuff.
Carter Buschardt: Yep. Anyway after Krackerjack fell apart, Jack and I created Rosco. Funny story, Jack and I used to go fishing at Bachman Lake whenever we could. One day we are sitting there trying to come up with a name for our new group and there it sits, right in front of us, Rosco Fishing Lures. And so it began... and just as quickly, so it ended. Rosco was a great group, some fantastic musicians, but we didn't get the record deals we were counting on.
So once more, I am without a band. I went to Dicky & The Valentino's & Brat. Two very good cover bands, Brat came first, then the Valentino's. Brat lineup was myself, James Ferris on keyboards/vocals, Dale Gilbertson on bass guitar/vocals. James Ferris went on to play with Johnny Dee & The Rocket 88's down in Austin, and he also became Rocco Vasalino as a Mick Jagger impersonator. He was actually quite good in that persona. After James left, we reformed as Dicky & The Valentinos and added a second guitar player, Jimmy Saurage. This band did a lot of different cover tunes than most, threw in some ska/reggae to make us a little unique. 1976-78.
After that came The Cartoons. This is notable only because I was playing with Jimmy Randall from JoJo Gunne fame. We knew each other from the local music scene and became friends. We also had Jimmy Saurage on guitar. We released a single locally, and I can't recall that we actually played anywhere, the band basically was put together to release original material and to land a record deal, which never materialized.
Then came Toby Beau. I played a hotel circuit with this band. He was a one hit wonder in 1978 with "You're Mine Angel Baby". Billboard Top 100 I believe. I was still living in Austin at the time, not in a band and needed the work. Great pay but a miserable existence. Felt like a musical prostitute but I WAS working and playing music. Coulda been worse I suppose. He was from San Anton and I couldn’t find a gig, so I played with him.
And then I woke up one morning going, you know, I'm starting to do drugs again. I'm gonna end up at some Holiday Inn band with some gal who can't sing a lick and you know I said, 'I'm done. I couldn’t do this anymore'.
I quit. I just walked away from it. I mean I hated to, I still miss it. You know I hung on for so long and almost 20 years I just said, you know, if it’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to be.
I met Glenna in Austin sometime in the early/mid 80's. It was at a record release party for Stevie Ray (he was on the cover) and the inaugural release of Angus Wynne's music magazine XTRA. The club we met as was The Steamboat on 6th Street, and Glenna was working for the magazine in promotions. We hit it off and started dating. She lived in Dallas and I, still in Austin. A year or so later I moved back to Dallas. We married, had a child in 1987 and split a year or so later.
She was a Braniff flight attendant and they appeared in Playboy, 11 or 12 women posed and one guy, one copilot. And she also worked down there at The Playboy Club for a while.
Music had played itself out for me by the birth of my daughter, but I saw an ad for an open audition for an improv comedy troupe in Dallas. Since I was a lifetime smartass and all around funny guy and jokester (voted wittiest boy in high school), I decided to audition. What did I have to lose? The troupe, called Comedy Sports at the time, was an offshoot of Second City Comedy Troupe based in Chicago. That was one of the main feeder groups for talent for Saturday Night Live. It ended up being a chain of comedy clubs in numerous cities around the country. I got in first shot. Always quick on my feet with ad libs. We performed weekly in Dallas, and I started getting offers to audition for radio & tv commercials. And I started getting work in those fields as well.
By then Glenna's work with the magazine died when the magazine died, and Braniff came out of bankruptcy and recalled Glenna to go back to work as flight attendant, which she had done before I met her. Small world, but my dad was one of the original people at Braniff (aeronautical engineer) with Tom Braniff and was based at Love Field office. I actually donated Braniff memorabilia to the Love field museum and I think some is still on display there. As a kid, and I don't remember this, but I met Howard Hughes as a kid at a big party my aunt and uncle threw in Highland Park all before he went nuts and sometime shortly after his Spruce Goose fame.
Anyway, we had to move to Kansas City in 1988 because Braniff was based out of Kansas City and not actually Dallas, as far as her picking up her flights was concerned. So here we were in Kansas City. I was still getting work in Dallas in tv/radio, and there was a Comedy Sports franchise here. I would fly back to Dallas for occasional good paying commercials.
Glenna and I split in '89 or '90, don't recall. I continued to do comedy here, and started getting a lot more tv/radio work here. Left the comedy troupe and formed my own comedy trio, “Out On A Limb” and we did very well. Improv & sketch comedy. Had a regular long running comedy show at the main comedy club here, Stanford and Sons. Local PBS did a special on us, and we were set to hit the road and be seen by some producers and scouts for a new show being put together "Whose Line Is It Anyway". One of my comedy partners ended up diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor so that chance was gone. He passed a few months after diagnosis.
So that was the end of my entertainment run, with the exception of a few commercials here and there. I got my first real job at the age of 42 or so selling Real Estate, which am still doing.
It was a great ride. Man, I didn’t have to work a real job for 30 years.
Paul Heckmann: Well, you're probably more financially stable now, though, aren’t ya?
Carter Buschardt: Yeah, yeah. I mean I sold real estate for 20 years. I'm still selling it.
Paul Heckmann: Yeah.
Carter Buschardt: Most of my bandmates that I played with, I'd say, probably 75% of them are gone already.
Paul Heckmann: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, hopefully they're playing in the big band in the upstairs, not downstairs.
Carter Buschardt: Save me a slot. I’ll be up there soon.
Paul Heckmann: Carter, I appreciate your time, brother, it has been a fun ride!
A few more goodies Carter sent:
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