A Brief History of Cat Mother by Ellen Callas.
Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys was a band born during the late spring of 1967 in New York’s Greenwich Village, the brain child of musical collaborators Roy Michaels and Bob Smith. Combining amplified violin, mandolin, banjo and a basic rock quartet, with complex melodies and intelligent lyrics, Cat Mother was an instant NYC success.
After their Top-Ten hit “Good Old Rock and Roll,” a stint as “The Electric Circus” house band and extensive national touring with Jimi Hendrix (who produced the first of their four albums), Cat Mother migrated west to California. In late 1969 Cat Mother with family in tow, landed quite accidently in Mendocino. On December 31st, that laid back community danced wildly into 1970 to the sounds of it’s newest residents.
The band’s socio/political views often found them organizing for activist causes. In New York City, they held benefits for the War Resistors League, WBAI and a variety of community groups. While living upstate in the summer of 1968, they held a bi-weekly outdoor “Woodstock Festival of Sound and Lights” that became the inspiration for the summer 1969 festival.
For the next decade, keyboardist Smith, bassist Michaels, drummer Michael Equine, new percussionist Steve Davidson and a variety of guitarists would be the musical epicenter of the Mendocino Coast community. They held regular dances, outdoor “boogies”, voter registration drives and countless benefits. Continuing touring and recording, Cat Mother eventually morphed into the Gonzo Bandits, and then Horse Badorties and Smith. For many Mendonesians, they remained the soundtrack of our memories.