THE TRODDEN PATH – ’Don’t Follow Me’/’Can’t You See’ (Night Owl 6711) January 1967
The Trodden Path (spelling error on label) were a teenage combo and still at school when this great record was released in small quantities back in early 1967. Hailing from Mequon, Wisconsin, they were formally called Beat Ltd prior to cutting their record. They wanted to change their name to The Yellow Pipe but the record label refused to release any record that could imply dope smoking.
’Don’t Follow Me’ is folk rock genius. Nothing more to say when I’ve called it genius I suppose – The flip’ Can’t You See is an uptempo rocker with some great energetic drumming.
The best place to hear The Trodden Path is on the Ace CD ’Garagemental! – The Cuca Records Story Volume 2’ – One previously unreleased Trodden Path cut is included namely ’Keep Me Hanging On’.
Tim Urban (lead guitar/vocals)
Mike Frommer (rhythm guitar/vocals)
Steve Turner (bass)
Tom Szymarek (drums)
I was recently contacted by Mike Frommer from The Trodden Path who kindly answered my questions about his group as well as sending me a previously unseen and unpublished picture of The Trodden Path.
”We started the band in 1965 while we were sophomores at Homestead High School (in Mequon, WI — about 12 miles north of Milwaukee). It was originally called B.E.A.T. Ltd as we played a lot of British rock. The name was changed to The Trodden Path when we cut the record.
Originally we wanted to call the band The Yellow Pipe after all the yellow painted heating pipes in my basement where we practiced. But the label thought it smacked of smoking bananas. ’Mellow Yellow’ by Donovan was SUPPOSED to about smoking banana skins to make you high and the label didn’t want to have anything to do with drugs. That’s how naive we were. I think we even tried it once!!! We had not smoked pot then — that started in 1966.”
So, ”On the coldest day of the year, maybe -15F, we drove from Milwaukee to Sauk City (about 100 miles west) to cut the 45. The guitars were out of tune for the first 2 songs (side A & B) but were pretty good by #3, ’Keep Me Hanging On’ — which we thought was the best song. Our ’Producer’, a local college DJ named Ken Wright didn’t like it, so…”
We played steady from ’65 to ’67 but split when we went to different colleges. We played at local high schools, church dances, youth centers and summertime events and made decent money — about $200 a gig which was equal to about 180 hours of labor!!!
There were only 3 songs recorded. A fourth is attributed to us but isn’t ours — a mix up at the label who is still selling CDs of Wisconsin garage band music.
Q: I have the ’Cuca Records’ CD and four songs are listed as The Trodden Path. I take it that the song ’In This World I Need Love’ is not you?
”You are correct about the songs. I sent a letter to the publisher and he said he’ll correct it.
Q: What a super cool pic. Band members all had very long hair for teenagers still at school. Dig those mod style shades. Really good image and no doubt one that got plenty of girls!
”Yes indeed it was long — cause we wore wigs until our hair grew longer. HA!!!!! Crazy kids. I remember going into the ’wrong side of town’ to a wig store and buying some nasty old used wigs. Once we grew our hair out we had another problem… the school would suspend us until we got haircuts. Oh, and we couldn’t wear bell-bottoms to school. ”What are you, a pack of sailors!!??”
”The good old days!!”
”I went on to a career in Advertising in Chicago as did Tim Urban in Milwaukee, Tom is a Videographer in San Diego and Steve is an artist, a world renowned skrimshander and has a Cowboy (not Country) Music Band and plays in the mountains of California every weekend.”
The Trodden Path – picture sent in by drummer Tom Szymarek – it was taken at Port Washington High School, Winter of ’66. Sitting on the balance beam in the gym – Tom Szymarek, Steve Turner, Mike Frommer, and Tim Urban.
Originally posted on ’Flower Bomb Songs’ July 2011