Timbercreek “Hellbound Highway”

Timbercreek, a young band of ruffians who hailed from the small town of Boulder Creek (pop. 4081), nestled deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California, recorded this lost country-rock gem with a for-real-not-ironic-rural-vibe in 1975. The small California indie label Renegade Records released the lp, and depending on who’s story you choose to believe, somewhere between 100 and 3,000 copies of Hellbound Highway were pressed. Needless to say, this record is very rare, and very, very good. If you’re a fan of The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Band, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, or Workingman’s Dead/American Beauty era Grateful Dead then today is your lucky day.

Larry Ross, Jon Hicks, Carl Holland, Bill Woody, and Frank Gummersal met in the Santa Cruz Mountains area and began, along with the help of lyricist Frank Andrick, writing tunes not unlike those being churned out some fifty miles north by the great songwriting team of Garcia/Hunter. Before long they were playing the Bay Area circuit, hitting clubs from Santa Cruz to Palo Alto to La Honda, the one time home of The Merry Pranksters and the site of numerous acid tests. By the time the group of friends entered The Church in San Anselmo, Ca to record their debut record they had developed a solid rural country-rock sound complete with twanging telecasters, bluesy benders, Big Pink harmonies, and tales of life on the road and the fight to take it easy.

The title track is the highlight of the bunch, the story of a highway kind enjoying the finer pleasures in life–jukebox tunes, honky tonk saloons, and of course the midnight special with the truck stop girl. The narrator seems to know that the life will kill him eventually, but he’s trying to make the most of the cards that he’s been dealt. Complete with a few sounds of the road, a killer opening and closing riff, and a nauseous phased out bridge, this song surely delivers. “Nobody on the Streets” has that funky backwoods bootcut sound, complete with wah-wah guitar and a groovy bassline–played by bassist Jon Hicks on his completely homemade bass guitar no less! “Hell in the Hills” is a wonderful album closer that really shows off the band’s jammier side.

After working the circuit, opening for groups like Kingfish and The Sons of Champlin, and even receiving radio play in the San Francisco Bay Area, the members went their separate ways. Fortunately we have Hellbound Highway to remember them by. If you’re looking for a tasty tonic to satisfy your craving for more laid-back West Coast country-rock, Timbercreek’s Hellbound Highway will get you drunk on funky rural vibes straight from the backwoods hill country of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Avoid the unlicensed Radioactive Records bootleg cd release and score an original pressing on vinyl, you won’t regret it!

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“Hellbound Highway”

:) Original | 1975 | Renegade Records | search ebay ]

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  • Len Liechti

    Very New Riders, D.A., and, as you say, very good indeed. Bill Wyman also famously started his career with a home-made fretless bass that he cobbled together himself, and it didn’t do the Stones’ sound any harm on those early recordings.

  • Doug Osburn

    Not sure where D.A Glasebrook got his information but it is not entirely accurate. Anyone who was really there, and as documented by photos on the album cover and by album credits, will know that the pedal steel player and 3rd guitarist was myself, Doug Osburn, from Santa Cruz. Bill Woody’s older brother played banjo on some tracks that were recorded by Gary Faller in his remote truck for a movie, but Bill Woody did not perform live with the band during this time. When the band broke up we all went our separate ways, no doubt, and unfortunately since then we have lost John Hicks, who built his own Alembic-style bass, and Frank Gummersal, who played left handed Strat and always wore shorts and flip flops. If anyone else has a copy of the album as I do look for my name, and in the photo I am the one inside the car with my arm out as if saying whats up lets go! I can tell you stories of my audition with the band in Palo Alto, of Captain Whizzo who always ran our light show, and the little biker bar on Stevens Canyon Rd where we played many weekends.

  • Steve Roth

    Doug, I just heard a track from your album on Pandora. Sounded great. I am surprised I never heard your band before this.

  • DougOsburn

    Steve; Unless you were around the Santa Cruz/San Jose area in the early 70’s there would not be much chance of being exposed to the music of Timbercreek. It is a pleasant surprise that Pandora featured a track from the album. The actual vinyl 33’s are still out there but distribution was very limited. The label Renegade Records was actually made up of the band members, the recording engineer and a couple of close friends The albums were sold in a very small number of music stores. I’m glad you enjoyed the music. It may sound a little rough in the mix but the band had a tremendous amount of heart and we really felt the songs.

  • Josh

    I absolutely love this album. It’s like the best mix of the whole Dead-Kingfish-NRPS sound, figures as they played with Kingfish. Good steel player and great songs, their live stuff off the record and on a website is just as good as the album’s songs (Cody, You Can Be Anything, Landslide). Highly recommend.

  • Doug Osburn

    Josh, it is so cool to hear from music lovers who appreciate Timbercreek. The songs and performances were all heartfelt and humbly offered. Thanks for sharing.

  • Bing

    I was busy being born about this time…..
    I was obviously born to the wrong generation…
    great stuff, i love to listen to it when I camp the canyons. Could you talk about your experiences playing
    at the Chateau Liberte?

  • Me
    To The Rising Storm, Bing
    Today at 1:31 PM
    I became aware of Timbercreeek’s existence from a flier that was posted at Cabrillo College where I was a student. The performance advertised was to be at Chateau Liberte’ and I was intrigued by the name of the band, the artwork, the venue, so I went. I met the group, loved the music, and arranged an audition, which took place a few days later in Palo Alto at a rented rehearsal space in a warehouse. I became the groups steel player and third lead player a few days later. Chateu Liberte’ performances were typical Bay Area style performances for the era, early 70’s, with liquid projection light shows, presented by Captain Whizzo, a Jerry Garcia look alike and talented light man with a weakness for MD 2020 wine, really loud music, long jam sessions and a lot of sweet smelling smoke in the air.Every time we played there the place was packed with wall to wall party goers. As I recall it was a fairly large room and the acoustic were not great, the sound rumbled and reverberated a little. I loved it.

  • Bernard Bascoul

    Sorry for my english guys but I’m french !
    I love this record . When I heard it , for the first time, it seems to me it was, at times, an unknowned record of the Dead in the early 70′ !
    Really goodjob.
    I can’t understand why this record is so unrecognized.
    Are there, somewhere, any other recordings of this guys?

    Good luck to all

  • mark majors

    still have the record.new Frank casually in high school.seems to me they played with Ford Bros(Robin() at a private party in a pizza place? in palo alto? either Timbercreek
    or The Ford Bros last show. anyway just stumbled on this and remember them fondly

  • Joe Rubin

    I’m looking for Doug Osburn. I actually played with Timbercreek for a short while. Hicks brought me in on guitar to rough up the edges a little bit. Not too long after I dragged him back east for another musical project that went down in flames, and he blew out to Austin in the late `70s. Love to chat if I can only find you. jrubin999@gmail.com

  • Buny lotus

    Doug osburn, i just happen to have an unopened originally sealed copy of your record. Im not going to open it, because it is so rare. But i believe i will love your music.

  • Buny lotus

    Doug osburn, i just happen to have an unopened originally sealed copy of your record. Im not going to open it, because it is so rare. But i believe i wil l love your music.

  • Rick Sovel

    Carl Holland the drummer for the band has past on. He was a roommate in the late 70s and early 80s. He worked for Lockheed as a head systems annalist that kept our early satellites flying. I miss you Carl thanks for the moment in my life.

  • As someone who was involved with Timbercreek from the beginning, I can say this group should have gone much further than they did. They were rough in the studio and really excelled as a live band. Audiences always responded to these guys! The energy they created during their live performances was astounding. Jon, Larry, Carl, Frankie and Doug were all amazingly talented musicians… I am so sad that we have lost so many of them. With better management and direction, these guys could have gone so far!

  • Rachel from the Canyon

    Well, well well…who would have thought I would ever run into you guys again! Will the wonders of technology ever cease? Hi Robin and Doug and good heavens Joe too. That was my house on the back of the album. A few years ago I happened across an entirely separate recording of Timbercreek on a CD which has Glue Annie on it and a few others that are not on the album. Would like to share it but not really sure how . It was full tilt boogie wasn’t it?

  • forrest

    hey everyone, I found this album through the blog here! I absolutely love the album top to bottom. I’m in virginia, and I play pedal steel and guitar in a couple bands. I was trying to learn a couple of the tunes and I can’t decipher some of the lyrics – just curious if any of you have access to the lyrics? I would love to play and share these songs with my friends and all the good people out this way! and to Rachel – I’d be happy to digitize that CD for you! forestfloorstudios@gmail.com

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