Houston, Texas, has always been a musical hotbed of Black music – from Melvin Sparks to Beyonce. Fans of Now-Again’s brand of Deep Funk rarities will be familiar with the legendary reign of the Kashmere High School Stage Band – the indomitable young warriors of sophisticated funk and soul, led by the experienced guidance of long-time band instructor Conrad O. Johnson.
Johnson put out numerous sought-after slabs of incredibly funky wax on his Kram imprint to showcase the sound of his high school powerhouse band. A lesser known fact has come to light recently: many of Johnson’s young Kashmere High players were trained under the expert tutelage of one Leon Mitchison – saxophonist, band-leader and one-time principal at Houston’s Isaac Elementary. Some of the top thoroughbred musicians from the Kashmere stable came up under Mitchison – including Gerald Calhoun (bass), Craig Green (drums) and Earl Spiller (guitar). This tight rhythm section was known as the Nut, Bolt & Screw over at Kashmere High. Along with Kashmere organist Alva Nelson, they were known as the Eastex Freeway Band when they recorded with Mitchison on his Mitchitone Records label.