ru-jac records

Dynamic Corvettes

dynamic_corvettes Robert Moore, Earnest Baker, Wondel Brown, Paul Wills, and Joe Bennett (l-r) in manager Louis Chesley’s Maryland garage.
Funky Music Is The Thing – Dynamic Corvettes

It should come as no surprise that a Chevrolet played a significant role in the history of southern Maryland’s Dynamic Corvettes. In 1964 Louis Chesley purchased a Chevrolet station wagon for $77 to help transport the equipment for his brother’s band and worked his way up to being their manager.

The fact that the Dynamic Corvettes stayed together even after players left for college or the military is a testament to Chesley, who ran a tight ship. He offered loans to band members to purchase instruments and kicked them out when they couldn’t pay him back.

“We were poor boys,” says Chesley. “We needed each other to make it. We [were] poor together and weathered the storm. We chipped in together. All for one and one for all. If I had it they had it. If they had it I had it. That’s the way I operate.”

The Dynamic Corvettes played throughout Maryland including at the Starlight Club, Toys End, Warrens End, Club Paradise, Pomonkey High School, and Marshall’s Corner Hall. Along the way they crossed paths with the Midnighters, King of Hearts, The Hounds, The Diamonds, the Van Dykes, Scacy and the Sound Service, The Soul Searchers, and the Continentals.

In 1971 the Dynamic Corvettes recorded their first single, a funky organ driven anti-drug song called “Keep of the Grass” on Baltimore’s Ru-Jac Records. The b-side of the 45 was a track called “It’s A Trap.”

Ironically the lyrics of “Keep of the Grass” were misconstrued as pro-marijuana and the Dynamic Corvettes received some negative publicity. Undaunted, they returned to the recording studio—this time American Star Recording Studio in Falls Church, VA—in 1975 to record two 45s on the Nashboro Records imprint Abet, “Funky Music Is The Thing” and “Key to My Happiness.” The lineup at the time of the recording was:

Paul Wills: keyboard, lead vocals
Robert Moore: trumpet Ernest Baker: trumpet
Wondel Brown: trombone
Tyrone Thompson: bass
Irving Bennett: guitar
Dean Louis: drums

Produced by Joe Tate and Carroll Hynson, the “Funky Music is The Thing” featured a drum solo by Louis and electric piano with a wah-wah pedal by Brown that was later sampled by Double Dee and Steinski and DJ Shadow.

The two 1975 45s proved to be the Dynamic Corvettes’ last releases and ultimately even Chesley couldn’t prevent the group from parting ways. The Dynamic Corvettes still reunite on occasion to perform, as recently as 2011.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul


(I Got) So Much Trouble In My Mind – Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul

Sometimes you have to fake it to make it. Joe Quarterman told a white lie to his junior high school music instructor at Shaw Junior High School when he said that he could play trumpet, but thankfully he was a fast learner. Quarterman was still at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School when he joined the El Corols Band and Show as a trumpet player and a recent graduate when he toured with The Magnificent Seven. A budding songwriter, Quarterman had a burning desire to record and perform independently from the group. In 1963 Quarterman released his first of several 45s under the management of Baltimore singing duo Gene and Eddie as Sir Joe and The Maidens—“Pen Pal”/”Jivin Gene” on Lenox Records. Quarterman released several other singles as Sir Joe and Sir Joe and The Maidens but nearly called it quits when some Washington Redskins players stole the members of his new band, Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul, for their short-lived singing group. Quarterman found new members for Free Soul through the help of his brother—Gregory Hammonds on bass, Allen Stewart on drums, George “Jackie” Lee on guitar (pictured with Quarterman from left to right), Charles Steptoe on drums, Karissa Freeman on keyboards, and Leon Rogers on saxophone.

Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul recorded their self-titled debut LP on GSF Records, a subsidiary of ABC Paramount Records in 1973. The bandleader presented a sketch of his idea for the album the cover—the group breaking through all the troubles of America—but instead of commissioning a photo shoot the label printed the original sketch on the cover. The album’s single (I Got) So Much Trouble In My Mind” reached the Billboard R&B top 100 and the cover ultimately appeared in the book “The Greatest Album Covers Of All Time.” Sir Joe Quaterman & Free Soul later released the singles “Thanks Dad” and “I’m Gonna Get You” on GSF Records and “Get Down Baby,” which also reached the Billboard R&B top 100 and “I’m A Young Man” on Mercury Records, but Quarterman didn’t attain the level of success he was hoping for and attended the University of Maryland to study architecture shortly after.

Encouraged by a renewed interest in their music decades later, Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul released the album “They Want Funky Music” in 2003 and toured France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. “(I Got) So Much Trouble In My Mind” was featured in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and numerous advertisements and Daptone Records’ Charles Bradley covered “No Time For Dreaming,” an outtake from Quarterman’s GSF Records demo, for his 2011 debut album of the same name. Quarterman continues to perform today and will be releasing a new album, “Alive N’ Well,” on January 15. Guitarist Lee performs with Free Soul and also with Jimi Smooth & Hit Time.

Sir Joe Quarterman and Free Soul have also reissued their debut LP with b-sides and rare earlier materiel, which you can purchase here.


Design by Jessica Ellis

Mmm, mmm, mmm.
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