- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In the 1960s, four lads from Liverpool opened the floodgates — or garage doors — for many teenagers who wanted to start bands.
The Beatles, a quartet of 60-something Indian Head area natives said in near unison when asked what influenced them as teens to pick up a guitar or drumsticks.
Seeing a group of working-class guys playing music and whipping throngs of girls into hysterics was all the incentive they needed.
“When you’re 14, 15, that’s exactly what you want,” said Jim Dement, a founding member of the Warringtons, a band that played together in the 1960s.
At the time there were a limited number of recreational activities teens without cars could do to entertain themselves.
After aging out of Little League, “you could get in trouble or get in a band,” said Dale Belknap, the Warringtons’ drummer.
Indian Head had three bands that were friendly rivals in rotation to play the weekend dances and sock hops — Dement and Belknap were in the Warringtons (named for their neighborhood of Warrington Hills), there was the Suburbans and the Horizons, which featured Tony Reese and Mike Hodge.
The bands stayed booked — pulling in $65 to split eight ways if they were riding high — the Horizons played on Channel 20’s “Wing Dings,” the metropolitan area’s answer to “American Bandstand.”
There were gigs at the movie house Charles Theater in La Plata (now Port Tobacco Players Theater) where they played between movies. Then there were the school dances and shindigs held at firehouses.
“There was a dance just about every weekend,” Hodge said.
“The places would be packed,” Dement said. “Teenagers didn’t have many choices back then.”
The Warringtons cut a record, and the Horizons were played on the jukebox at a local carryout.
With graduation looming and adulthood right around the corner, the band members knew they would have to make a choice, and music would remain a hobby, not a dream career.
“You soon learn that’s what it is — a dream,” Belknap said.
Fast forward to the 1980s and a softball tournament where after a few beers, Dement and Belknap started talking about their time in the Warringtons.
It was fun. They should do something like that again.
“We called Tony, and it just started again,” said Dement, 65. “It consumed our lives.”
Band of Gold was formed and played bars, clubs, parties and weddings. The area had plenty of clubs such as the Fox’s Den, the Phoenix, Beef n Reef, Legend’s.
“You could play four or five nights a week,” Dement said.
The group — which played rock ‘n’ roll covers — would play Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, said Reese, 65.
“We were busy,” said Dement, who retired from his own contracting business.
Reese and Belkamp, who are both retired members of District of Columbia Air National Guard, would play a gig Friday and make it to formation at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, play another show that night and make it to drill Sunday morning.
After 15 years playing together, the group called it quits in 1997.
“Our lives revolved around Band of Gold,” said Belknap, 62. “But priorities change.”
But last summer after a golf outing in Swan Point and over a few drinks — this time it was vodka and tonics — Reese and Dement started talking about music again.
Reese took Dement’s dad’s Fender Telecaster off the wall and started messing around with it while Dement fiddled around on the keyboard.
The next morning Reese and Dement joked that they should call Belknap, and then they did.
“This is the Blues Brothers,” Dement said. “We’re getting the band back together.”
That was all Belknap needed to hear.
A few hours later he sent his friends a text.
It was a picture of a new drum set he picked up at Island Music Co.
To round out the band, Hodge, who is retired from the U.S. Postal Service, was called in.
Reese remembered running into fellow Horizons member at a Hot Licks swap meet months before and knew he was playing bass now.
“I hadn’t seen any of these guys in years,” said Hodge, 63, who kept busy playing music with the College of Southern Maryland’s Latin ensemble and with a folk trio.
“I was ready for this,” Hodge said about Band of Gold. “I like these guys.”
Since July the group has been practicing in Belknap’s or Dement’s garages and they have the full support of their families, including their wives Patti Belknap, Jennean Hodge, Flo Dement and Margaret Reese.
“The wives are the groupies,” Dement said jokingly.
The band is getting back into the groove and doesn’t want to play under its official name until they can be sure not to embarrass other musicians who used to play in the group.
They have an upcoming show at the Deale Elks Lodge where Reese is a member and has performed as a solo artist.
For the show they said they’ll bill themselves as Tony Reese and Three Other Guys.
They might not get swept up in back-to-back gigs, and that’s fine.
“We’re doing this just for fun,” Reese said.
“We’re just having a good time,” Belknap said.