Thursday, May 21, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Oxford Circle - Foolish Woman/Mind Destruction

Our final entrant in our Northern California region of the Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to Davis, California, the home town to both publishers of this fine music blog! Here we find Gary Lee Yoder, Dehner Patten, Jim Keylor and Paul Whaley. Collectively they were known as The Oxford Circle. The band only released this one single and it got a Fall release in 1966 on the micro-label, World United Records. That label was set up by and for The New Breed (click here for link to music), a Sacramento based band. They are the only other two releases on the label.

The A-side, Foolish Woman, was composed by Yoder and Patten (though no credit is given on the record) and is way ahead of its time. This doesn't sound too much like anything else from 1966! Sure, you can hear a little bit of Van Morrison and Them in Gary Lee Yoder's vocal approach. Sure, there is the Jeff Beck influenced guitar work performed with great dexterity by Jim Keylor. But the backwards tracking, the time changes, the feedback, the pounding drums of Paul Whaley make this a cut above most other records of it's day. There are rumors that Mac Rebennack (aka Dr. John) was the organ player on the session, but I can not confirm that.

The flip-side is a band composed instrumental called Mind Destruction. Thanks to Matt Brown of the lovely Nitro-Retro blog for loaning it to us.

The Oxford Circle played regularly in nearby San Francisco and a live recording from The Avalon Ballroom in 1966, shows Foolish Woman was not an anomaly, they were a solid band. The band went in for one more recording session but failed to get the number released, making this their lone output.

Whaley left the band to form Blue Cheer and was soon followed by Yoder who joined Randy Holden (The Other Half and The Sons of Adam - click for link) and Dickie Peterson (who sold me my first bass amp ever!) in what would become a revolving cast of musicians.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!


  1. What an epic recording! The feedback and wall of sound recalls The Misunderstood to this listener. Also that break at 2:00 is similar to The Elois' By My Side break you hear at :35.

    I remember seeing Gary Lee Yoder playing regularly at a local pub in Davis in the late '80s. He did a mean Brown Eyed Girl!

    1. I didn't pick up on The Misunderstood connection. But I did on The Elois' By My Side! Here is an article and sound clip of that recording for all to compare side by side.

      I do recall Yoder doing Brown Eyed Girl. About 10 times a night at The Paragon.

  2. I always thought Dickie Peterson was in Oxford Circle and sang on Foolish Woman!?
    Whata great tune!