Tricks History 1976

The Cooties + Patchwork = Tricks
March, 1976 - (The Very Beginning) -
After the breakup of "Patchwork", 23-year-old Rick Dutkiewicz has been band-less for several months. Rick gets a call from Michael VanDyke, former lead-singer of "The Cooties", also recently dis-banded. The phone call is a result of common friends and fans, who are followers of both Patchwork and The Cooties. These common friends know that Rick and Michael are looking to create a fun, adventurous, high-energy party band. Michael and Rick share an affinity for British Rock and American "Glitter-rock" (Mott the Hoople, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Who, Aerosmith, Queen, ...). After a long phone conversation discussing their musical goals, they decide to start a cover band. Although they both have years of experience playing highschool dances and parties, neither Rick nor Michael have ever played in a bar band.

April, 1976 - (Rich Joins Tricks) -
Rick calls former Patchwork bass man, Rich Heintzelman. Rich agrees to play bass with the new band.
Michael, Rich, and Rick spend lots of time searching for and auditioning for a drummer and a second guitarist, with no luck.

Rich Playing bass (at Hopkins High) with Rick, Jeff & Steve in "Patchwork".
This is shortly after Bill Roelofs left to join Straight Light, and Steve joined on drums.

Rick D. comment 9/28/2004:
"From March, 1976 until January, 1978 were the "Michael years" for Tricks - These two years were the only time Tricks worked with a lead singer. The entries from this era of the Tricks chronology are gathered from a band journal I kept during those years."

(Naming the Band) -
Very little time is spent deciding on a name, because Rick has a name chosen already. They agree to call the band "Tricks". The name "Tricks" comes from Bob Dylan's lyrics in the song "Like A Rolling Stone": "You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns when they all did TRICKS for you".

(Rehearsal Room - The Chicken Coop) -
The place where Tricks was born and rehearsed their first songs was in an old chicken coop at Michael's parents' house in Wyoming, on 44th Street between Burlingame Ave. and Byron Center Ave.

May, 1976 - (Rich Leaves Tricks) -
Richie's wife, Mary, tells Rich that he has to choose between the band and her. Richie makes the choice and leaves Tricks.

(Steve joins as "part time" drummer) -
After auditioning 8 guitarists, Rick and Michael decide that the songs they're working on will sound fine with a single guitar, so they drop the search for a second guitarist. After auditioning at least 5 drummers, Rick suggests temporarily using his 18-year-old brother, Steve Dutkiewicz, as a stand-in drummer for rehearsing, until they can get a "real" drummer. At the time, Steve was a fledgling drummer, still taking lessons, with very little experience playing with bands. Though it was expected that the search for a drummer would continue, Steve surprised everyone, especially brother Rick. Steve's drumming improved so dramatically from rehearsal to rehearsal, that it wasn't long before Steve was accepted as the Tricks drummer.

Steve D. comments 10/11/2004:
"I recall rehearsals at Michael's place, down in the Wyoming wetlands - the heat, humidity, and volume took a little getting used to. Michael's presence was intimidating to this young drummer; Michael had brashness and a rough 'star quality'.
I remember going over a song from Toys in the Attic called 'No More No More' and Michael wasn't able to hit the high notes at the end, but he wasn't going to quit trying. He split his lip with the microphone and was spitting blood as he sang, it was a sight.
We would learn the songs and go over them at such high energy level at practice that I would go home exhausted each night. I would find out though, that when we played out the adrenaline would reach an even higher level -
Tricks was an extremely high energy band."

June, 1976 - (Tom Baird Joins on Bass/Vocals) -
Michael enlists Tom Baird to play bass. Tom played bass in one of Michael's previous bands.

June, 1976 - (First Tricks Gig) - The Note, Gun Lake
Tricks plays in a Battle of the Bands at "The Note" in Gun Lake. Tricks put together an improvised sound and lights system with old equipment from The Cooties and Patchwork. Bill Romanowski runs the sound board (Cooties synthesizer keyboardist), Doug Gillette (Cooties roadie) runs the light board, Mike Milstead helps transport equipment in his van, and other friends help with the fast set-up demanded by the Battle of the Bands situation.

Steve & Rick at very first TRICKS gig - June 26, 1976 - The Note, Gun Lake

The "prize" for the Battle of the Bands is some paid bookings at The Note - woo woo!! Tricks is looking to break into local rock bars, and this is a chance for exposure, so it doesn't matter that no money was made for this first gig. The crowd of mostly 18 to 21 year-olds (The Note is a non-alcohol rock 'n' roll dance club) rushes to get close to the stage when Tricks comes on. The band and the crowd are completely energized. Onstage are Steve on drums, Rick on guitar, Tom on bass, and Michael on lead vocals. Michael wears a gold glitter David Bowie style jumpsuit (actually made by his mother from an old set of curtains). It's hot, the band is hot, the crowd is hot, . . . what a great show. The first song was "Good Rockin" by Montrose, and then into rockers from The Stones, Bowie, Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople, Foghat, Aerosmith, The Who.

July 8, 1976 - (Bill and Rick talk) -
Rick and Bill Romanowski (Cooties Synth-Wizard) go separately to see Todd Rundgren concert at Grand Valley's Fieldhouse, but their seats are close enough to have a long and exciting talk while waiting for the concert to begin. Rick and Bill delve into their common interest in Todd Rungren's strange & inventive musical adventures. By the end of the show, Bill is telling Rick that he would like to mix sound for Tricks and maybe bring along his Electrocomp synthesizer to add sound effects.

July 10, 1976 - (First Tricks Outdoor Party) -
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the middle of the summer of '76, Tricks drags all of their equipment outside of the chicken coop at Michael's and they jam with Bill Romanowski adding synthesized keyboard effects. A festive crowd of several dozen friends and fans gathers, but the cops put a quick end to the loud music. Here is the origin of the favorite Tricks battle cry; "We're gonna play 'til the PO-lice come" (with added emphasis on the "PO" syllable). The cops stop the music, but they can't stop the enthusiasm for the idea that Bill might be joining the Tricks band.

July 17, 1976 - (Bill joins Tricks) -
Tricks plays a weekend gig at The Note in Gun Lake - Friday through Sunday (July 15, 16, & 17).
Bill Romanowski officially joins Tricks as keyboardist / guitarist / vocalist / soundman, Sunday July 17.

Early Adventures of Tricks

Bill is a Computer / Sythnesizer Whizz Kid . Tom, Steve, and Rick at Gomery's in Muskegon . Long-haired Steve in the Basement

July 30, 1976 - (Tricks plays a wedding gig) -
Tired of rehearsing songs, and with enough songs to play some party gigs, Tricks plays for a small Friday night wedding in a hall north of Gun Lake for Michael's friend Dave. Tricks decides that they need a few slow songs in the set list. But no polkas.

July 31, 1976 - (Tricks Party in Wayland Hayfield) -
This is more like it - Tricks plays a rocking party in a hayfield just north of Wayland. Lots of young rockers from Wayland, Dorr, and Grand Rapids get their first taste of Tricks.
Steve recalls this party:
"The Party was at Perry Listopad's, he was a classmate of Tammy's. My memory of this party was that I got there after work on a Sat. and the band was almost set up on the flat bed trailer. I had to rush my set up with help from some drinking buddies there and start playing - sound familiar ?"
(Steve Raab joins as Light Man) -
It is around this time that Tricks starts putting together a better light show. Some light fixtures are homemade, the control board is made by Bill, and Tricks buys some old lights from the Straightlight band. Steve Raab works with Rick at Pet Milk in Wayland, and Steve is a very artistic kind of guy, so Tricks hires Steve Raab to run lights for the band.

August 7, 1976 - (First bar gig) -
Tricks plays at Whiskey Creek (somewhere on Alpine Ave?) to an unimpressed, quiet crowd.

August 16, 1976 - (Showcase in Muskegon) -
Tricks begins booking with Leroy Purcey Productions, a booking agent in Grand Rapids. Purcey gets Tricks to play at a "showcase" at Gomery's, a bar in Muskegon. The showcase is an audition of several bands. Each band plays a set and hopes to get bookings for their unpaid efforts.

Early Bar Gigs with Tricks
| | | |
Bill & Tom at Gomery's . . . . . . . Steve Raab working on Lights . .

. . . . Tricks Kicks - - - - - - - - - at Gomery's in Muskegon.

August 20, 1976 - (Big Outdoor Party in Dorr) -
Tricks plays to over 600 people in Avery's backyard, a couple miles west of Dorr.
STEVE'S COMMENT: Don't know why I remember this, but I'm positive that this party was the first performance of Won't Get Fooled Again. That song was a huge influence on my style of playing (can you tell?). Back when I was 16 I would pound away on my drums for hours to that song in our home above the store, (can you imagine what it was like shopping there with all that going on above you?)

August 24 - 29, 1976 - (First week-long bar gig) -
Tricks has their first booking at Gomery's in Muskegon. Most everyone in the band has a full-time day job, so the Tuesday through Sunday gig is pretty grueling. But it's a big adventure for the young band. Playing these six nighters will either make or break a band. Tricks keeps rising with each new challenge.

September 2, 1976 - (Audition in Ionia) -
On a Thursday night, Tricks plays a one-night free audition at The Barn (formerly The Ionia Inn) in Ionia. The exhausing routine is: set-up, play a few hours, tear down, go home to sleep a couple hours before getting up for work in the morning. The crowd loves the hard-rockin' Tricks band, and Tricks loves the hard-rockin' crowd. The owners book Tricks for the very next weekend.

September 10, 11, 12, 1976 - (The Barn in Ionia) -
Fun, fun, fun at the Barn in Ionia. Friday through Sunday. The drinking age is 18 at this time, and the crowds are 18 through 20-something. Lots of energy exchanged between the crowd and the band.

September 17, 1976 - (Hopkins High School) -
After the Friday night football game, most self-respecting High Schools have dances with live bands (these are the good-old-days). Tricks starts booking these fun high school dances. These are fun and easy gigs, but the band starts getting a reputation for supposedly smoking pot behind the gym with some of the students. These rumors are false, but the band plays along and lets people think what they want to think. No such thing as bad publicity.

Tricks High School Dances

Tom Baird and Michael at Hopkins High . . . . . . . Decorations at Wayland High for Tricks . . . . . Michael & Rick at Byron Center high

October 1, 1976 - (Wayland High School) -
Another great bunch of fun rockin'. This time in the Wayland High School cafeteria. The chaperones have been warned by their Hopkins counterparts to keep a close eye on the boys in the band. The notorious reputation seems amusing to the band, but a little irritating - because Tricks just wants to rock. Michael's wild costumes, along with Tricks' loud and animated stage presence is just too scary for those in charge of these High School dances. It's hardly a surprise when the dances get shut down a bit early each time.

October 8, 1976 - (Byron Center High School) -
A repeat of the paranoid attitude from the "adults" in charge of the dance. But each new High School dance seems bigger and more wild than the last one.
Rick D. comment 4/16/2006:
"Here's a story from the night of October 8, 1976, at the Byron Center High School dance. Half way through the Tricks show, we were doing "Ridin' the Storm Out". Right during the guitar lead, one of the kids came up and yelled in my ear while I was playing guitar, "does one of you own a green van"? I shouted back "yes". He keeps yelling in my ear while I'm trying to play lead, "the van is on fire". I yelled back, "is the fire department here"? He yells, "Yes". I yell, "do they have the van open"? "Yes". - I kept playing and at the end of the song I told Steve and we all ran outside to see his big beanbag chair/bed smoking on the ground with firemen standing around with extinquishers in their hands. Steve was furious with me for waiting until the end of the song before telling him. [April, 2006 - I had to add this little story to the timeline, because last night, April 15, 2006 - 30 years later - at the Dorr Country Lanes we met someone from our past: This guy came up and said "did you guys play at Byron Center back in the 70's"? "We sure did'. Then he said, " Did your van catch on fire one time"? "Yes". He laughed and said "I was the guy who came up to you and told you that your van was on fire".]

October 21, 22, 23, 24, 1976 - (The Barn in Ionia) -
Nice stage. Great crowds every night. Lots of rock fans from Grand Rapids come to Ionia to party at the Rock bars (The Barn, Slip Knot, Riverview). Tricks gains a good following in the Grand Rapids / Ionia area.

October 29, 1976 - (Hopkins High School) -
Another after-the-football-game dance at Hopkins "High" School. These kids love their rock and roll.

November - (Rich Returns to Rehearsals) -
Tom Baird is starting school at WMU and moves to Kalamazoo; that begins to hurt the band's growth. Tricks wants to work very hard learning new songs, with frequent rehearsals, and is taking every gig that comes along. In November of 1976 Tricks begins rehearsing with Rich once again.
With winter coming on, Tricks leaves the cramped shed at Michael's, and moves into the (just as cramped but with heat) basement where Steve is living in Grand Rapids.
(Pro-Co Sound) - At this time, Tricks starts to pool their money and begins to seriously shop around for new, professional sound equipment, soon becoming a good customer at Pro-Co Sound in Kalamazoo.

Nov 26, 1976 - Tricks Party at K of C Hall, Hilliards. A momentous event for Tricks fans in Wayland, Dorr, Hopkins area.

November 26 - (Tricks Party in Hilliards - Goodbye to Tom) -
Tricks (through Steve's efforts) throws a party at the K of C hall in Hilliards (located between Wayland and Dorr). The capacity of the hall is 300 people. But over 500 people cram into the little hall. The police show up but don't make trouble. It's a mess and a madhouse, but fun as hell. Tricks tries out their brand-new "Bullwinkle" speakers from Pro-Co. Tricks says goodbye and good luck to bassist Tom Baird.

December 3 - (Richie's first Tricks gig - Otsego High School) -
Adrenalized and bursting with confidence from the major success and adulation of the previous weekend's party, Tricks learns a lesson in humility from the disinterested students at Otsego High School.

December 6 - (Showcase at The Shoe) -
Tricks plays one set for a multi-band showcase at a huge bar just East of Muskegon, The Shoe Lounge.

December 18 - (Allegan High School) -
Tricks plays at a Christmas dance for Allegan High School.
Helmboldt sees Tricks for the first time and becomes an instant fan.

Slim Rick & Ampeg Amp at the Barn, Ionia . . . . Rich at Allegan High School, his 2nd night . . . . . Bill plays synthesized multi-keyboards

December 21, 22, 23, 26 - (The Barn, Ionia) -
Christmas weekend. More awesome fun at The Barn in Ionia.
Drinking age is 18 in these years - Huge crowds at the Bars - These are wild & fun times for Tricks.

December 31 - (New Year's Eve in Hart) -
Tricks learns another lesson. Leroy Purcey Agency books Tricks for a New Year's party at some redneck Elks-Club-type hall way up north in Hart. The pay is good. But while setting up and talking to the party hosts, Tricks learns that they are expecting a variety/wedding type of band. They want a little country, some 50's rock, and maybe some polkas, NOT a loud synthesized-noise rock band. Tricks tones it down a bit, the rednecks rock it up a bit, and everyone has a great time despite the stupidity of booking agent blunders.

On to 1977

Back to 1975

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