Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Black Canyon Gang - Ridin' High (1974)

Yeah, yeah, it's 4/20 and everyone is diggin' out their stoner songs...

Thought I would play one from the fantastic mellow Colorado country LP, Ridin' High "(featuring the finest in Colorado Country head music)," from the Black Canyon Gang.

(yes, that's how Acapulco is spelled in the title--
no need to send me a typo correction)

The Black Canyon Gang (Montrose/Olathe area brothers, Bill Bland Austin and Russell Austin, Robert Dale Mount, Bart Lyons and Paul Hunter) signed on with promoter Dick Woods, who worked extensively with Gladys Hart, the Colorado country music promotions queen. According to a 1975 issue of Billboard, Woods purchased Mountain Records from Ethel and Steve Mengee. The story goes on to report that Woods also signed Mike Bowman and Dick Kerns to his new label, along with the Black Canyon Gang. The LP was recorded at Viking Studios, in Denver.

In 1974, the band was on the bill for the first annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Categorized as singer/songwriter "hippybilly," the Black Canyon Gang made a resurgence this year, when the band's song "Lonesome City" appeared on the Numero Group compilation, Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music.

According to the liner notes: "The Black Canyon Gang were a group of farm hands who simply enjoyed making music together: “The boys spent afternoons playing music, hunting rodents, drinking beer and smoking herb." As Black Canyon Gang vocalist and electric guitarist Russell Austin reflects on that decade, he recalls, “Apathy was everywhere. We gave a generation of weary downtrodden youth hope. It actually brought hippies, rednecks, bikers, warriors and regular people together … We were trying to make it through a rough time in history and help as many people as we could. And it worked.”


  1. Best choice dude! True music, true spirit.

  2. Hello,

    I can't tell you how happy I am to find this post. Its so wonderful to find people still appreciating the Black Canyon Gang and this album. My dad is Paul Hunter and he played bass in this band. To find out someone put "Lonesome City" on a recent compilation is fantastic. I am going to have to track that down. Lonesome City was always my favorite song and is as relevant today as it was in the 70's. Alcopulco Gold is a close second. That song still "blows my mind."

    I thought it might be nice to mention the Black Canyon Music Festival. A series of music festivals held in Olathe, CO on a friends farm in the late 70's to showcase the Gang and other bands from the area and around the US. It was a bit more country than the Telluride Blue Grass festival mentioned in your post and a much smaller gathering. I have many fun and crazy memories from these events.

    Thanks for carin' about some of the finest head music to come out of the western slope.

    Gabriel Hunter (NYC)

  3. Heard this album for the first time this evening. Very enjoyable music.