MARSH CRABBITTS & his CLAPFOLD PLATUNE
Mind-Numbskull Trip-Bombastic Classical Chamber
OFFICIAL BAND MATES
Larry Miller: Composer, Bb Clarinet
Ben Miller: Composer, Alto Saxophone
Julian Catford: Composer, Alto Saxophone and Flute
David Swain: Alto and Tenor Saxophone
Macky Ives: Bb Clarinet
Click on thumbnail to see poster for
their gig at The People's Ballroom
Heading off to a grand start leading the 1st ANN ARBOR OZONE PARADE, Fall 1972.
An odd cross breed mix of members from both MARSH CRABBITS and David Swain's CRUZONICS.
BELOW we have two pieces of music from one of Ann Arbor Cable Television Network's FIRST broadcast!
(circa August 1973)
(c) 1972 Laurence Miller
(c) 1972 Tom Grimes
Laurence first began writing music note for note on manuscript paper in the summer of 1972. He was 18 and had nearly no idea what he was doing. "This came as a great relief". Sure he'd written songs before, but these weren’t songs. These were compositions which didn't follow traditional songwriting format, and were in fact always jam packed chock full of the absurd. For instrumental breaks, instead of figuring out chord progressions (yawn), Laurence would draw hallucinogenic noodling to inspire the player. "Why not?"
Laurence then formed a band called MARSH CRABBITTS & HIS CLAPFOLD PLATUNE that summer,
comprised solely of clarinetists & saxophonists -- good friends of his. Although some had been formally trained, none were particularly proficient on their instruments, nor was he. With
no composition theory, Laurence began a wonderful time composing
bombastic numbers with complete naivete. Several of his band mates also pitched in with their equally interesting compositions. Good times.
This lasted from summer 1972 thru 1973 where MARSH CRABBITTS & HIS CLAPFOLD PLATUNE topped off their short lived career in cahoots with David Swain's CRUZONIC ensemble members, leading The 1st ANN ARBOR OZONE PARADE in the spring of 1973 (see above video clips). Our picture made the front page on the Ann Arbor News (see top of page). The band also performed at the 1st ANN ARBOR HASH BASH with an audience of jocks and college kids (long before "out of towners" began their hideous annual mass migrations). And last but not least, the band triple billed at THE PEOPLE'S BALLROOM with David Swain's band, THE CRUZONICS along side an equally wacked instrumental guitar band they all put together for the fun of it, called THE HALLUCINATIONS.
MARSH CRABBITTS & His CLAPFOLD PLATUNE was ultimately a loose collaboration of friends and family, as most of Laurence's bands tended to be. They tried desperately to write something significant in the realm of neo-contemporary classical music (indeed a contradiction in terms) with psychedelic improvisation over top. They took pride in blindly writing everything out in manuscript, including their "hallucinatory artwork" (to provide insight, motivation, and direction). Although purely instrumental at it's initial inception, MARSH CRABBITTS & His CLAPFOLD PLATUNE eventually saw lyrics enter the arena near the end of it's hay day, in the summer of 1973. (NOTE: A vast collection of "similarly absurd material", written and recorded in the mid '70's, was finally released on FarFetched Records in 2002 called TURN A LEFT AND DOWN THE HALL)
NOTE: Classic hits recalled might include THE OIL'S AWAKE, ROBOTS, JACK-O-LANTERN JEW ISLAND, ARCTIC BLEND, and THE STOLEN GULF.
Roger Miller : "... I saw Marsh Crabbitts and his Calpfold Platune at People's Ballroom in October of 1972. That was the only time I saw a full set by Marsh Crabbits, and I was knocked out!..."
Ben Miller : "...Marsh Crabbitts had a significant influence on me..."
Laurence Miller : "...Marsh who?..."
Again, Ann Arbor's 1st Ozone Parade -- in color, if not a bit fuzzy...
Andy Overmyer, Laurence Miller, David Swain, John Harris, Ben Miller
THE CRUZONICS was a wild, Zappa influenced horn based Ann Arbor band lead by today's II-V-I JAZZ ORCHESTRA leader, David Swain. Full of spunk and variety, this collection could have easily gone on tour with MARSH CRABBIT'S band, opening up for each other -- all across the U.S.A....
Seen here, a rare pic of THE CRUZONICS playing at THE BATTLE OF THE BANDS,
Circa 1971 or 1972!
(We actually won the first match!)