Important Dates In Pentwater History


From the shards of local Chicago-area bands "Liquid Tension", "Crystal Ship", and "The Oceanna County Pioneer's and Business Man's Band", Pentwater River is formed by Mike, Tom, Phil, Ken, and original bass player Marty Sachs. The band presents songs from the Doors, The Who, Steppenwolf, and many others. Original songwriting begins and vocal harmonies are fine-tuned.

(Pentwater, MI)


Winter. Bassist Marty leaves for Florida to begin a new life. Tom's girlfriend knows of a bass player from a high school across town. After the band checks out Ron's playing in his blues band at a school dance, they invite him to join Pentwater. Many early Pentwater gigs are comprised of friend's parties, school dances, Park-district concerts, and church fund-raisers. The band plays Blind Faith, Santana, CSN&Y, and a handful of original ballads and pop songs. (Marty Sachs playing his Gibson SG bass)


By summertime, songwriting begins to be emphasized more than the copy material and a shift
towards the progressive style of the day is in motion. Early Yes, Crimson, ELP, and Genesis influences are woven into the new Pentwater sound. Towards the end of the year, weary of mistaken comparisons to folk and country bands in Chicago, the "River" is dropped from the name and "Pentwater" stands alone.


Pentwater's first studio recordings take place at Hunters Studios in Barrington Illinois. The band records "A Ballad Starts", "No One Left to Save", and "The Three Journeys". Ron plays his 2-day-old Rickenbacker bass and Ken plays a Hammond M-3 located upstairs from the rest of the band. The 4-track studio in suburban townhouse basement produces a 2-track master and several 8-track cart dubs for the car stereos. Hunters' engineer Stewart Levin thinks the boys have an interesting sound and compares the music to Sugarloaf's "Green-eyed Lady"; an AM hit from 1970.





Early in the year, the band is eager to lay down
more songs and hires out Streeterville studios in Chicago. Jim Dolan helms the 16-track Neve console. They record the newly written "Cause and Effects" and re-record the 2nd and 3rd Journeys of the Journeys trilogy. Two days after the grueling all-day session, the band learns that an engineer has erased their entire multi-track reel. The studio invites them back for a free session.



Pentwater's first radio airplay happens on May 8th on the Triad Music Program, which features Space-Rock, Jazz Fusion, and Progressive bands from across the Atlantic. Saul Smaizys hosts the FM-band show and introduces "Cause and Effects" to the public listening to WXFM - 106 on the dial.


On May 15th, the group signs a standard 10% management contract with Steve Siegel, a high school friend who feels he can take the group far. Four members are underage and need their parent's signatures to ink the deal. Steve begins to actively book and advise the band. Unsure about how to market the band, Steve coins the phrase "Classical Space Rock".

(Perhaps?) the first time Pentwater opened for a larger act occurs on June 12, in Highland Park, IL. Local favorites T.S. Henry Webb and blues legend Hound Dog Taylor round out the (unusual) bill. Later that summer, the group opens for "Birtha" at Papa Joes club in Park Ridge, IL. Anyone remember Birtha's advertising slogan for the all-female band? "Birtha has balls!"

(Hound Dog Taylor)



February 25th is signing day for Pentwater. A four-album recording contract is inked between the band and Dharma Records, headed by local entrepreneur Perry Johnson. Already on the label is Gabriel Bondage, Ken Little, & Bobby Blue Bland. A few months later, without recording a note, the label shuts down in bankruptcy and Pentwater continues to look for big-label interest. Perry opens a chain of record stores featuring dog-eared used LPs. Last seen attending a gig where Pentwater opens for Herbie Hancock, Perry sports high-water bell bottoms!

The March 1st edition of the Chicago Reader newspaper shows the results of their annual reader's music poll. Pentwater ties with The Flock and Siegel-Schwall Blues Band for "Chicago Rock Group of the Year".

On August 9th, the band signs the lease for a rehearsal space in an industrial warehouse complex hidden in gritty Des Plaines. Largely abandoned by dusk, Sigwalt Studios comes to life five nights a week with theremin and mellotron sounds echoing amongst the heavy metal machinery.

By September, Rick Kappel, Ken's older brother, begins to take on the booking chores and, eventually, the management aspects of the group under the name of "R & S Music Associates".


November 22nd, at Loyola University the band opens for an up and coming funk band named "Rufus". Chaka Kahn sings lead vocals. Mike backs the band's 25 foot International Roadstar into an unsuspecting VW bug.


In March, at another bastion of higher learning, Northwestern University, Pentwater plays with a long list of local and star talent for a dance-a-thon fundraiser. Among the groups are local Space-jazz-rock outfit, "Graced Lightning" and son of 'ol Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra Jr. A few adventurous souls actually dance to the progressive rhythms.

By June, Rick Kappel, anxious to tap into the burgeoning music video market and eager for any method to showcase the dramatic visual dimension of the band, brings the boys to the Video Booking Agency. The full stage is set up and by the end of the second number, the studio is so full of billowing fog and hazy flash bomb smoke, that the entire group is obscured from the camera's view. The tape remains lost to this day.

June 22, 23, 24 - A three day session at Lake Geneva's Vern Castle Studio in Wisconsin, gives the group a chance to update their demo tapes with more new material. They record "Gwen's Madrigal" and "EM-54". New versions of "The Sphere" (Journey's theme) and "In Spirit's Eyes" (Second Journey) are also polished and revised. Andy Waterman is at the board while the band explores the studio and its wide inventory of instruments. Andy later goes on to found the famed LA studio, The Bakery.

A few days later on June 30th Pentwater opens for the band "Journey" at the Blue Moon Ballroom in Elgin, Illinois. Greg Rollie tells tales of playing at Woodstock in 1969.

By late August, Phil Goldman decides to leave the music behind for a while and the group searches for a replacement guitarist. Ron Fox begins intense rehearsals to get ready for the fall gigs. On October 16, Ron steps out with his mean Gibson at a Thorton College performance.

December brings the Triad magazine music poll, placing Pentwater 3rd in the Chicagoland market, behind "Zazu" (Where are they now?), and an outfit called "Styx". (Who?)

The year closes with Ron L. and road manager David Bell experimenting with ways to get a brighter light from the stage flash pots. Ron spends three days in hospital with magnesium burns to his face. David is released with severe burns to his arms. The blast blows out Sigwalt Studios' windows and the PA speaker cones. Duck and cover!


(David Bell)



The Bicentennial year begins with Ron growing new eyebrows, and more college gigs. On March 4th, the group signs a new management contract with Terry Johnson, a local music promoter and music store owner.

April 11th brings the largest audience
yet for Pentwater as they open for "Starcastle" and "Rush" in Waukegan, IL.
The crowd is estimated at 3000 fans. Somebody backstage walks off with the Echoplex gizmo. Pentwater is also hassled by Rush's crew for the unauthorized use of the insect fog machine.


On May 25th & 26th it's off to Golden Voice studios in Pekin, IL where the band records an amazing 10 songs on their 24-track gear. Terry brings in producer Jesse Jackson to help refine the exuberant compositions and experimental sounds. The new tapes include: "Take", "Skywriters", "Palendrode", "Necropolis", "Comforter", and yet another version of "Gwen's Madrigal". Three days later it's back for mix down and their first use of an automated API board. Terry Jamison engineers and helps to bridge the growing chasm between the band and producer. Jesse's contributions are still up for debate. (Tom, Mike & Ken (L-to-R) prepare for the next mix take. Manager Terry Johnson and lighting engineer David Schaeffer (standing) discuss quantum physics.)

In late July, Terry books the group on three-night tour with "Straight up". The band is fronted by Xeno, who is later learned to be the original lead singer for "Cheap Trick". Good times on the road are had in Rockford, Illinois at "The Phoenix", "Lyran Hall", and at "Waverly Beach" in Beloit, WI.

September brings the boys back home to their frequent stage, "B'Ginnings", in Schaumburg, IL, owned by "Chicago" drummer Danny Serephene. Pentwater played there over twenty times as they were the favorite act of club manager "Dino". B'Ginnings' interior was decorated to resemble a Chicago street scene, complete with stoplights, "el" tracks, and street signs. Gold records adorned the dressing rooms and the free drinks and big haired girls flowed.
On the evening of the 8th, crammed on a crowded stage and flanked by one of the most unfriendly road crews ever known, Pentwater opens for Casblanca recording artists and Bean-town favorites, "Angel".
Angel - in their glory. That's where all the white spandex went!

On November 29th, Terry's efforts to grant the band a wider exposure pay off. They begin a New York tour culminating in shows at two of the premier punk clubs in the states; CBGB's and Max's Kansas City. Variety writer Kirby is in the audience to see the show for a later review.


Most of the year is spent with the usual club and college gigs and work on the Pentwater LP. Undiscovered by major label A&R people, the band decides to record, produce, and release the work on their own. Locked away at their home base studio and rehearsal space, Sigwalt Studios, they record "AM", "Living Room Displays", "Memo", "Orphan Girl", "Frustration Mass", and "War". The "War" being a five-minute excerpt from the twenty-two minute Kapple epic, "The Tale of Lufu and Hatian". "Palendrode" and "Gwen" from the Pekin tapes are tweaked and remixed to complete the album. Tom's brother-in-law, Kunio Hagio, a commercial artist and Playboy illustrator, creates the 'Troll & Pipes' cover artwork, and Beef Records is officially formed. The release party is December 6th, with local industry types invited.


February issue of the Illinois Entertainer features a review of the new album and the record picks up sales in area stores.

March 11th is surly one of the highlights of the band's career as they open for German space-rockers "Hawkwind" at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago. Playing before 5000 fans feels right at home for the band and they put on an aggressive show, determined not to be out-played by the headliner.


Several days later, at the Red Lion club in Champagne, IL, the owner threatens to toss the band out if they don't play something 'danceable'. These swings between highs and lows begin to tear at the heart of the band as Punk, New Wave, and Disco music overtake clubs everywhere. Pentwater struggles to present a concert experience to audiences expecting Dance Fever or Anarchy in the U.K.

The March 29th issue of Variety contains Kirby's positive review of the band's Max's K.C. set. In April, the Variety album review is published.

June 16th finds the group in Madison, WI opening for "Morningstar" at Bunkey's.

It's back to Golden-Voice studios on June 24th for another session. The latest songwriting efforts are realized by Ken's "Luncheon at the Parade", and Ron L.'s "Chasing". The band also reaches back into the vaults for Mike's "Skywriters".




By late summer, the winds of change are blowing. After almost ten years of trying to gain the right exposure in the right markets, and failing to ink a deal with the proper label or management, the music alone isn't strong enough to keep the effort alive and pay the bills. Most band members agree that the last Pentwater live music came from the stage of the "Old 95" club, somewhere near a Ford Motors plant in Wisconsin.


Having heard the Pentwater LP, Greg Walker of Synphonic Records contacts the band through an old phone number and expresses an interest in releasing more Pentwater material on CD.


At Seagrape Recording, Chicago, Mike begins the exhaustive task of searching for Pentwater master tapes and restoring them to an archival medium. Some masters actually need to be baked to prevent the oxides from peeling away from the tape's mylar base. Ron L. assists in the project to de-hiss and remix the songs for Out Of The Abyss. Because Mike is now a co-owner at Seagrape, Pentwater is able to take the time needed to make the details shine through.


After months of remixing, the 9 tracks selected by the band comprising "Out of the Abyss" are ready and released on the Synphonic label. Tracks from both Phil's and Ron Fox's eras are represented. Mike's school mate, Sig Bokalders contributes the cover shot from his cloud photography portfolio. Ron L. serves as art director & graphic artist for the compact disc's design and Tom Orsi composes the liner notes. Out Of the Abyss is now complete. Soon, orders are coming in from Europe and Asia as new generations get their first listen to this Midwestern take on progressive rock.



Enlisting the skills of each of the band members, one at a time, Mike assembles a Pentwater version of the 1967 Nice classic, "The Cry of Eugene". The Pentwater magic is alive and well. Progressive-pyschedelia at its best!

(The Nice, before ELP!)




Enthused by hearing the band as a whole again, Mike works to finish his on-again, off-again labor of love; recording the song "Autumn". Music by Mike, and lyrics by his mother Janet Kappler, taken from a poem she wrote while attending high school in Pentwater, Michigan in 1932. Although Autumn had been played frequently by the band, it was never recorded.


A Pentwater reunion is planned for mid-summer and takes place at Time- Warp studios and the Fox estate. Friends and fans of the band meet for music, memories and to party! Tom flies in from L.A. to join the festivities and is immediately pressed into action to lay down a new drum track to a lost instrumental passage of the Kapple/Orsi song, "Luncheon at the Parade". Mike again spearheads the remixing tasks to freshen additional tracks. The LP songs are given a new life as well as long forgotten masterpieces that weren't given the studio mix-time they deserved back in their day. The band conspires to release the Pentwater LP on compact disc with several bonus tracks from that era, never before released, and never before heard outside of the Midwestern U.S. By now, Synphonic's "Out of the Abyss" stock has sold out and the licensing rights have returned to the band's own Beef Records. As more than enough material exists for a third collection, plans are made for a brand-new Pentwater release; working title: "Ab-Dul".


February 10th. The official Pentwater web page goes live at:

August, 2003 The Pentwater LP is re-released on CD.


Production continues for Pentwater's new album "Ab-Dul" at Time Warp Studios, Thundertone Audio, and in Canada at Orsi Digital. New versions of "Entropal Pause", "Turn The Key", "Chasing", a solo piano version of "Kill The Bunny", and a long lost instumental for "Luncheon at the Parade" are newly recorded. Also many vintage Pentwater tracks are restored to full glory for inclusion on the new CD.


Phil & Tom write the new Pentwater song "You Knew". It features mandolin, e-bow electric guitar, Hammond organ, fretless bass, and vocals by Tom & Mike. Tom comes in from Canada to complete the track at Time Warp in Barrington, Il. All six Pentwater members play on this track.

2006 is the release year for more vintage-era Pentwater music alongside of new material on the forthcoming work, "Ab-Dul". Over 15 tracks will be included on the new CD.


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"Ab-Dul" © 2007
Pentwater's New CD
17 New Tracks Plus 10 Page Booklet!

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36 years later, The Pentwater Album is re-released on heavy weight limited edition vinyl by Golden Pavilion Records. Great pains are taken to remaster audio from the analog masters and reconfigure the original Kunio Hagio's original artwork for this 1978 classic Pentwater LP. Now, the Pentwater Album is being heard by a whole new generation of vinyl lovers worldwide. Distribution bt Light In The Attic
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