West Michigan Mid-Sixties Bands


From Grand Rapids
Evolved into Natchez Trace in the early 70s

Last updated on May 17, 2004.

Saw them a couple of times. I thought they were Paul Magnan's group? They played a gig in light blue tuxedos the first time I saw them. Later I saw them in a battle of the bands and they were much edgier, and better, with a Hammond B-3 & Leslie. I was a kid, and I was impressed.

Posted by: T. Saxe at December 16, 2004 09:57 AM

I was a part of the Boyfriends in the 60's. Gary Johnson, Dick Webster, Jim Ranta were members along with Ron Burke. I left the band, moved to Ohio and went to college. Started the "ALL SMALL BAND" in Toledo. Ron Burke started Nachez Trace sometime after I left the band.

Posted by: Paul Magnan at July 29, 2006 12:37 AM

Just saw a "Flash from the Past" this recent weekend at the Old Boys Brewery in Spring lake. Turns out my wifes friends husband's cousin is Ron Burke. He was playing with Steve somebody and a woman too as Natchez Trace .. again. WoW were they Goooood! Remember seing Natchez Trace at the Intersection bar in East Grand Rapids probably in 1942-1977 era. "Ol '55" was my favorite tune. They seem better sounding now or maybe I was too drunk back then.

Posted by: Dave Petersen at November 29, 2006 02:12 PM

I'm the Steve somebody mentioned above. I was playing with a band called "Horsefeather" in the '70's during the original Natchez Trace days. I started playing with Ronn Burke in a band called Foxfire with Lynn Nowicki from "Lynn and the Invaders" and "Common People" frame in 1980. That band only lasted about 8 months when Ronn and i joined the "Dirk Rivers Band" for about 3 years. In late 1983 we reformed Natchez Trace with Kevin Radake. We've been playing on and off over the years but this recent version of the band is proably the best one to date.

Posted by: Steve Damstra at December 11, 2006 03:40 PM

Hey, how great that there is some info out there for you guys. When I went to High School at East Grand Rapids High, my friends and I would go to all the concerts. We'd die if we couldn't go. Always had a great time when they were playing. The gave us all fond memories of days gone by. Thank you guys for such great memories!!!! My name is Diane then (Turrentine) my friends at that time were Sheila Crow, Marlene Hughey, Debi Kious. We were your greatest fans guys. . .

Posted by: Diane at January 9, 2007 12:52 AM

In the fall of 1967 I was invited by Paul Scalici, who was then lead guitarist, to join the Boyfriends. I was lucky to join such a talented group of guys as organist! We were a working band; booked every weekend and generally 5 nights a week in the summer. Paul was eventually replaced by Ron Burke (a former JuJu)and the band took a completely different sound. Ron had a special voice and stage presence that complimented Paul Magnun's rich voice in a wonderful way. The group had several short-lived versions after 2 members ended up in the military(this was Vietnam era)Dick Webster and Gary Johnson our drummer and rythm guitarist. By 1970 the band ceased to exist. In it's time, it was a great dance band and we were lucky to have many loyal fans and friends. We hauled my Hammond B-3 up a hundred or more stairways and stages and only dropped it twice that I can remember. I'm afraid I'm reaching that time of life when memories and lies intertwine but I'll post more as I recollect. I look forward to reading others.

Posted by: Jim Ranta at February 7, 2007 04:39 PM

I knew Ronnie when he had a bedroom band, yep a bedroom band. I hung around with his older brother Terry when Ronn was just learning to play, you got it, in the bedroom. lol. Anyway, many years later, while Ronn and Steve Damstra played with Dirk Rivers aka (Bob Vogel) now band leader for Loretta Lynn, I got to know them well. And when they re-membered Natchez Trace, I did a series of live video taping sessions with them. I'm just in the process of releasing them on DVD, as the "Old Natchez Trace Lost Tapes". They have regrouped, yet again with original members Ronn and Steve and adding a new member Robin. Visit their web site www.natcheztrace.us and listen in on their new sound. Robin's style of playing has added a pleasing stage presence to the group. Play on NT. Doug Taylor

Posted by: Doug Taylor at January 30, 2009 03:35 PM

I remember them well…..spent all my weekends and most of my summers with them…..was married to the drummer for about 12 years and had 3 beautiful kids!!!! Will never forget all of these guys or the great times - revisiting them with seeing the pictures brings back many flashbacks!!!!! Dick's dad ran the lights - which consisted at first by an old Christmas wheel that used to reflect colors on aluminum trees!!!! Expanded to quite a system. I know they were the greatest times of his life!!!! Thanks for memories guys!!! Made for a very "unusual" upbringing through my teens!!!

Posted by: Nancy at November 12, 2013 04:23 PM
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