Sunday, January 23, 2011

Campos & Nole at The Petroleum Club (1970's)

Lounge singers have a lengthy history stretching back to the decades of the early twentieth century. The somewhat derisive term lounge lizard was coined then, and less well known lounge singers have often been ridiculed as dinosaurs of past eras and parodied for their smarmy delivery of standards. In any event, these lounge singers, perhaps performing in a hotel or cocktail bar, are usually accompanied by one or two other musicians, and they favor cover songs composed by others, especially pop standards, many deriving from the days of Tin Pan Alley. When one thinks of lounge acts, you first think of acts appearing in Las Vegas or The Catskills of New York, but back in the day there was a thriving lounge circuit that took acts from coast to coast, from border to border and yes, even to Corpus Christi.

"Most lounge acts are bought blind for a blind room, for this reason lounge acts are at the lowest end of the entertainment field although there are 10, 000 nightclubs with the hotel chains accounting for 6,500 of these." From the article: Firm to Rate Club Talent for Buyers Bill Board 1973

The premier venue for the professional touring lounge act in Corpus was The Petroleum Club. The club featured a house band that if I remember correctly consisted of an organ / piano, a drummer and possibly one other piece. The top billed entertainment included over the years lounge legends The Three Suns, former Harmonicat Don Les, south of the border actor / crooner Tito Guizar of El Rancho Grande fame, a Beetle (not Beatle!) from the Brando pic, The Wild One's harmonica player Danny Welton and many many others.

Sometime in the 1970's Campos and Nole performed at The Petroleum Club in Corpus Christi.

I do not have a lot of information on Phil Campos early career, but I do know he recorded a wild bongo JD rocker on Impact Records called Street Fight. (It along with Rebel Rider has been re-issued on various compilations including Sin Alley, Volume 4)

It appears that either at the same time or a few years after he became involved in the folk music scene. Campos was recruited by the great exotica composer / arranger Les Baxter for a folk music vocal group a la New Christy Minstrels, to be christened: Baxter's Balladeers. An apparent one-off LP on Reprise followed. Eventually Les Baxter's Balladeers gave way to a one-man - two women ensemble called The Forum that recorded a 1967 hit The River is Wide. Comprised of Phil Campos, his future wife Rene Nole, and teenager Riselle Bain, the Forum were formed in 1966 by Campos. When Bain left for a solo career, Phil and Rene were married and formed their own act. It is this incarnation that Corpus audiences were given the chance to enjoy. Let's hope he closed with Street Fight!

A review of Phil Campos at The Ice House in Pasadena, Ca.

"From the first chords of the second act the audience knows that Phil Campos is a folk singer who really commands his guitar. His mastery of that instrument is obvious during gentle passages and very impressive when he tries to rip the strings out of his guitar while still producing great music. To supplement his guitar work, Phil adds a strong and musical voice. His quiet and blue rendition of "2:10, 6:18, 10:44" leaves one entirely unprepared for the violence and strange comedy of "The Street Fight" or "Big Jack," the love song of Jack the Ripper. "
FRETS & FRAILS - California Tech Student Newspaper 1966

"One of the most outstanding of those aboard was Phil Campos, who appeared in the final slot. He combined a key sense of dramatic song projection with humor, and brought the house down with his offering of Street Fight."

"Renee Nole...nice, brassy, sexy, one whale of a singer."
Gus Dana Nightclub Review - MIAMI BEACH SUN

"a strong and colorful duet...highly enjoyable...loaded with talent."
Louie Morales - THE BANGKOK POST

"an unfailing hit wherever they play...sparkling polished act"

"Felipe Campos...dramatic and talented song stylist...electrifying...exciting vocals"

See a video of Campos and Nole and read more at
Other sources include liner notes. Billboard and Wikipedia.

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