Thesda is a homegrown gem of late-70s funk. Musical ideas collided in a small studio, then were packaged in a record graced with generic cover art; The result, "Spaced Out," was pressed in minute numbers. The only distribution it got was as a Christmas present one year. So producer Eugene Hagburg was surprised when he realized that a small group of collectors not only found out about the album, but thought highly of it. In April 2007, a record collector in Washington, DC, found the album at a thrift store, and contacted Hagburg. After the word got out and a copy sold for top dollar on ebay, he quickly received calls from fans as far-flung as Italy and Vermont.
The story of Thesda begins in the mid-70s, with Eugene Hagburg. Professionally, he was Director of the Management Academy for the United States Postal Service then located in Bethesda, MD. He later became Assistant Postmaster General in charge of Delivery Operations in the US. One of his passions was moonlighting as a music writer and producer. Hagburg and Thomas Crawford led the group in creating two albums released on their private press label IPSI: The Peak Experiences Crawford and Thesdas Spaced Out. Crawford was recorded in 1976 in the same studio Linda Ronstad recorded Heart Like A Wheel. The traditional folk rock sound of Crawford belies its complex inspirations; Oceanic Feeling was, according to Hagburg, an early Freudian concept stressing the need to be different and to avoid the lulling motions in society which try to mold you.
Hagburg accumulated enough equipment to record in his home by the time Thesda was recorded in 1979. The group is even named after the town Hagburg lived in: Bethesda. The combination of a controlled location and recording tools offered, as Hagburg says, more time to experiment with sounds and mixing. They werent rushed by expensive studio time, but could also record and capture first takes.
Everybody arrived past midnight for the sessions, which ran until 7AM. Music arrived spontaneously from Hagburgs lyrics, with Tom Crawfords guidance. The goal was to capture a freshness of interpretation through a group that simply wanted to express themselves with creative sounds. It was a carefully controlled chaos, with no written notes, but plenty of enthusiasm. The resulting album is sounds at home in the late 70s, and even gracefully embraces disco. Its especially noteworthy due to the talented musicians, who 30 years later gave the music an edge that still sounds contemporary.
Co-producer Tom Crawford, a graduate of Hoagy Carmichael School of Music at University of Indiana, was responsible for assembling the musicians and helping them realize the true sound of the music. A few names carry over from the previous Crawford album, such as guitarist Jeff Flemming, but Spaced Out is the only album recorded with this talented group as a whole. One voice stands out from the rest, that of Lateefah. Her vocals soar on songs like Holding Back, belying a young woman with little formal training. Hagburg remembers how she, would sit huddled in a corner listening waiting and then sing her heart out.
Hagburg says, to sum up the experience, the trip ended as each participant went down lifes many paths, never to create as one again. But the sounds of this clustering are still with us and add to the library of special sounds.
Thomas Crawford - Alto, Soprano, and tenora saxes, all pianos and string ensemble, back-ground vocals, and fife Thomas Crosson - Guitars, background vocals Raymond Hainsworth - Drums Lateefah - Lead and background vocals Charles Morritt - Tenor sax Anthony Moxley - Funky bass Keith Waddy - Lead and background vocals
Jeffrey Fleming - Guitar Solos (all), all acoustic guitar Randy Stewart - Synthesizer solos Jerome Carroll - Background vocals
Produced by Eugene C. Hagburg and Tom M. Crawford All lyrics by Eugene C. Hagburg Engineered and mastered by Tom Crawford.