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  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Bands uniting for rock reunion

  • Old rockers never die, they just keep on having reunions and making music.

    The latest reunion planned will celebrate not only the Gass Company and the Seibrings, bands which achieved area fame in the  1960s, but also the legendary White Grill.

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  • Old rockers never die, they just keep on having reunions and making music.
    The latest reunion planned will celebrate not only the Gass Company and the Seibrings, bands which achieved area fame in the 1960s, but also the legendary White Grill.
    The White Grill Rock Reunion is planned from 4 to midnight Nov. 10 at the Frontenac Community Center.
    A rock reunion was held in 2000 at the Frontenac center and did very well.
    “It caught a wave,” said Jon Sherman, a Gass Company member. “About 300 people came without any advertising.”
    The Gass Company also played a reunion gig last spring at the Joplin Moose Lodge.
    “A lot of the Seibrings members came to the Moose Lodge, heard the Gass Company play, got enthused and started rehearsing,” Sherman said.
    He started thinking about a Gass Company/Seibring reunion, and then suggested bringing the White Grill into it.
    The White Grill was started by Harold “Red” McLaughlin.
    “Supposedly, when Red was 18, his parents dropped him off in Wichita with two dimes in his pocket,” said Ken Waltrip. “He got a job at White Castle and learned to be a fry cook, then came to Pittsburg and was a flight instructor. In 1938 he opened the White Grill in Nevada, Mo.”
    McLaughlin went on to open the Pittsburg White Grill, as well as two more in Fort Scott and Chanute. All are gone now except for the original one in Nevada, which is still in operation.
    “The original location of the Pittsburg grill was where the T.H. Rogers parking lot is now,” said Jon Sherman. “I talked to the T.H. Rogers manager and told him the idea of setting the bands up at the side of the building and having a car show. Then a month later there was another manager, and he asked if we had liability insurance. No, we don’t, so he can’t let us use the property, and I can understand that.”
    So the reunion was scheduled at the Frontenac Community Center, and Sherman talked with John Newberry, president of the Rollin’ Nostalgia Car Show, about doing a car show.
    “We also want to get as many of those old-timers who worked at the White Grill,” Waltrip said. “We want to prepare the burgers and fries the way they were cooked in those days. Allen Jameson has a grill very similar to the what was used at the White Grill.”
    Waltrip said that the ratio of suet to meat had to be ground just right, and added that McLaughlin invented a cutter to make Suzy Q fries.
    “We fried them as we sold them,” he said. “The potatoes were peeled and in a bucket, and when somebody ordered them, we cut them and threw them in the fryer.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “Even slicing onions was very important to the overall taste,” Sherman said. “Then the burgers had to be wrapped in tissue paper so the buns would steam.”
    He said the cooks would do their best to recreate the White Grill experience.
    “But we won’t have those White Grill pies that were baked by Jane Bezinque,” Sherman said. “There was nothing else like them on the planet.”
    Other Gass Company members included Walt Kennett and Marc Marcano, keyboard player, who came to the United States from Venezuela when he was in high school.
    “I wanted to go to Anapolis, but love, peace and rock ‘n roll got the best of me,” he said.
    The Gass Company did get one shot at stardom when it had a recording session at Monument Studios in Nashville.
    “When we left they thought we were Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, and we didn’t tell them different,” Marcano said. “We just signed autographs.”
    But, Sherman said, about a month later a group called the Boxtops recorded the same song, “Buffalo Nickel” by John Jarboe.
    “Stonewall Jackson slaughtered that song and broke our bubble,” Kennett said.
    At least the Gass Company guys can still make music together. They’ll be performing after the Pittsburg State University football game Saturday at 505, and have another November gig at Barto’s.
    “We’ll be playing a lot of the old 1960s stuff, but not rocking as hard,” Sherman said. “We’re the senior citizens now, and that blows my mind.”

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