EK, This is actually Stoney, not Joe. The reason I am reponding is because I gave the band its name as a nod to the New York Dolls. David Johansen's band before the Dolls was called "Vagabond Missionaries." Not really sure what the deal is with "handle the truth" and "the truth shall set you free" since we've never kept it any kind of secret not that we go around announcing the fact every chance we get. Not really seeing what the challenge is since no where in Joe's rendering of the VM story does he mention the band getting their name any other way.
Joe, I need to challenge something about the "VM's" and let's see if you can handle the truth. Where did you get the name "Vagabond Missionaries? The truth shall set you free (and make me feel better). EK from VM/1965
?Vagabond Missionaries, Augusta, GA Website: Vagabond Missionaries
... for the early part of the 00s, the Vagabond Missionaries made its presence felt on the local music scene of Augusta, Ga... the music was unrefined... mostly raunchy... oftentimes unrehearsed... attitude took prescendence over the music, and the name Vagabond Missionaries will forever remain infamous to those who beared witness to the spectable..
To say that the VMs original vision ever came to full fruition during its original run would be mostly false... the VMs began as the project of our own John "Stoney" Cannon. Stoney had a handful of original songs and a vision to create the perfect bar band... think, Rod Stewart and The Faces... late 60s-70s Stones... and a softer side that was, at its best, comparable to a tender hearted Cheap Trick ballad.. the band started this way... but it ended on a completely different page.. in a completely different book...
and now I bring to you.. the story of The Vagabond Missionaries ...
The VMs original lineup consisted of Stoney on vocals and acoustic. A young Brian Pinkston took on lead guitar duties, while Melvin Silvery and Johnny Holwein rounded out the original 4-some on bass and drums, respectively.
In Sept. of 2000... the VMs made their debut at the now defunct.. Continium on Ellis St. in downtown Augusta..
While the original VMs were likely closest to the original concept and idea, it didn't quite turn out the way it was intended. The group took on a handful of covers in addition to their original set, which included everything from the Stone's "Dead Flowers" to "Cold Gin" by KISS. Tales of debauchery followed these guys around for several months, and at the end of 2000, their 1st cd was released... "F*ckin' Live"... this cd was recorded live at the old Bayou on Broad St. at the annual Rockin' The Stockin' benefit for the Empty Stocking Fund. This night was signficant in the history of the VMs, not only because of the show-stealing set that would become their first album.. but also because it was the first time Stoney and I ever appeared on a stage together. My old band the Wave was in the history books by time for Rockin' The Stockin', and not wanting to "sit out", former Wave drummer, Shaun Vause and I put together an impromptu cover band featuring Doug James (420 Outback) on guitar, Stoney (lead vocals), Shaun (drums), and me (bass, some lead vocals), and we called ourselves... Swamp Juice... it was a name I got off one of the daquity machines at the frozen drinks bar... we played everything from Eric Clapton and Cream to Neil Young... it wasn't groundbreaking, but the set has it's place in VM history..
As 2001 began, there was a bit of inner turmoil between some of the bandmates in the VMs. The turmoil eventually led to the depature of original bassist Melvin Silvery. In Feb. 2001, Stoney and I put together a side project to pefrom a one-off show at the Bayou, for the Michelle Adkinson Liver Transplant Benefit. On the bill that evening was The Lower Side Band, 420 Outback, Quiver, and... yep, The G-City Rockers... which featured Brian Pinkston of the VMs on lead guitar. We played a set of cover songs that evening, which ranged from Motown to 70s AM Gold. Things went so well that evening, that I was invited to stand in for Melvin in the VMs on bass, and eventually would become his replacement.
Summer 2001 and the revolving door begins rotating...
After getting back to the basics on the VMs original material, drummer Johnny Holwein inconveniently.... turned up missing... as they say in the business. I know... it's an oxymoron, but he did infact turn up, and the details of his disapperance might have to remain missing from this blog.
During the summer of 2001 we were joined by J. Karow (Rock Bottom music's own) on drums and Aaron McIntosh on rythm guitar and vocals, and became a cover band (something I hope never to do again), playing to full houses at Kokopellis for 3 plus hours per night.. oftentimes both Friday and Saturday nights. We ran the gauntlet from Pearl Jam (gag thee), to the Doors (gag thee even more), to The Stones... in July, we were offered a July 4th gig... Karow unfortunately could no longer participate in the band...
Brian Allen (Confederation Of Noisemakers website and currently local bands Joe Graves and the DLH and 48 Volt) graciously stepped in to fill in for Karow on drums at the Riverwalk's Rockin' 4th Celebration .. afterwards, Brian joined us one last time, in addition to the returning Johnny Holwein for our first farewell show at Kokopellis... the first of many farewells... we had more than Cher, The Who, and KISS combined..
Sept. 11th... Rockin' The Stockin'... and the original 12 Bands of Christmas
Around Sept. of 2001, Stoney and I began kicking the idea around of reforming the VMs. With Pinkston and McIntosh doing working on their own project, we enlisted the services of guitarist Ryan Nair and metal drummer Riley Williams (who now fronts Electric Voodo on guitar and lead vocals). With hardly any new original material, and not wanting to become a cover band again, we were looking for a new direction. Tragedy struck on 9/11/01, and it was then that we came up with an impromptu single called, "Tears of America" which was recorded at Doug James studio. The single was in print for a short time, and I am lucky enough to still have an original pressing. The few, few shows that we played with Riley and Ryan proved to be very intersting. Most intersting may have been the time Riley set his drums on fire, causing the stage at Woodstock (now 1102) to catch on fire during a set... leading to an angry bar manager spraying the stage (not to mention us) with a fire extinguisher...
Dec. 2001 was the end of the VMs as we knew them...
In early December, we played Rockin' The Stockin' 2001 at Kokopellis, along with The Hipnotics, Pat Blanchard, and the brand-spanking new LivingRoom Legends, Ken and Mindy Stephens. Joining the VMs that evening was Gene Childers and a lead vocal cameo..
Later that month the VMs morphed once again, with Johnny Holwein returning on drums. The 4-some of Stoney, Ryan Nair, Johnny, and myself played at the very first ever 12 Bands Of Christmas at the Imperial Theater, along with the Riff Raff Kings, Red Belly (now Dead Confederate), Ether, The Vellotones, and Horesepower. We played a short set of original materials, and ended with a mini Stones medley, closing out with Sympathy For The Devil.
In February of 2002, the VMs consisted of Stoney, Johnny, and myself. Lacking a guitar player, we enlisted the help of Skip Neal for a set at the 10th Anniverary Lokal Loudness Award Show at Crossroads. It was at this show that the world was introduced to future Vagabond, Dino Jay. Dino gave the world famous... "if you ain't in local music, you ain't shit" speech, to a very boisterous, rowdy crowd. And during our set, we gave a tribute to the late Matt Keenan, as we played the old local Symon Sezz stadard, Fat Ass Woman. Dino (who sported a great looking Bob Seager style mullet at the time) assisted me on lead vocals. We closed out the night with Cheap Trick's Surrender. It was offical... we were no longer a band with a vision... or purpose (besides drinking heavily)... we were a jukebox... no different than any other cover band to ever walk the beer joints of Augusta, Ga... something we never wanted to do again...
Back to the basics...
After seeing Dino around town, performing at local open mic night at The Playground, it became obvious he'd be a great rythm guitar player and back-up vocalist. We asked Dino to join us, and he glady accepted. He played a gig with Doug James on guitar, but it was obvious....we needed a full-time lead guitarist. And that was just about the time a certain transplanted northerner by the name of John Berret walked into Crossroads on a random Tuesday night. The rest was history..
We played several shows, performing a healthy mix of older and newer originals, with some random cover songs. We played for several months, with Stoney on leads vocals, and the occasional lead vocal from Dino and myself. We even recorded the "Dirty Ashtrays And Empty Beer Cans" EP at Hangnail Studios, which featured the only song ever co-written soley by Stoney and myself, Fall On Me, which appeared several times on 95 Rock's Homegrown. In May 2002, we played the Garden City Music Festival at the Riverwalk Ampitheater, along with Neato Torpedo, 420 Outback, and Drivin' N' Cryin'. This would be my last show with the VMs. Dino would leave shortly after.
After I left the band, Big Al Beasley (formerly with The Vellotones, currently with the Jeremey Graham Band) filled in on bass for a bit, but Melvin eventually returned on bass, reuniting 3 of the orignal 4 members of the band. It was in late 2002 that a small east coast roadtrip tour was booked... John Berret left the band before the tour ever happened, and it was subsequently cancelled. John went on to join the band Knowface.
Replacing John was a guy who looked like he could have been HHH's twin brother.. Tony "TNT" Thomas. The 75% original version of the VMs went on to record several new songs, among the better of the VM discography in my opinion, but featured a far more rockin' edge, and the subject matter was a bit more serious and darker than prior versions of the band. This wasn't the bar room rockin', tender hearted concept version of the VMs...
2003 and beyond
After Tony parted ways, the VMs played several more shows with other guitarists, most notably, Fred McNeal, who had been kicking it around Atlanta with Johnny Colt and The Georgia Satellite's Rick Richards, and of course his own band, St. Friday..
The VMs played their last show in 2003 at a bar in Atlanta, playing a show with Fred McNeal... with little fan fanfare, and no farewell in their own hometown, the VMs disappered, never to be heard from again after that show...
Stoney and Fred have been performing together in the G-City Rockers since early 2006... a great live band, G City is indeed a fine bar room rock band in the vein of the Faces and Stones...
I am playing with the Dew Hickies, Augusta's first and only Codger Rock band, along with Ken Stephens, Billy Shears, and the other codgers.
I still see the other former members (of the 500 of them from time to time....) around town... some of them anyway. Some have turned up missing though.
So what's the future of the VMs. There isn't one. It's a great footnote in the history of Augusta's music scene, and it's a legitimate excuse to mention 90% of the musicians who have played in our town... because, well.. they all played in the VMs at some time or another.
Ah, but there is one final footnote.... in 2009, the VMs will play a proper farewell show in Augusta, Ga... the lineup will be the originals... Stoney, Brian, Melvin, Johnny, and myself rounding out the group of rythm guitar. Expect a new single, and 1 final show... after that...
expect nothing... the VMs all about... well, being the VMs.. whatever the hell that ended up being... who knows..
the VMs are done...
The Story Continues (updated 9/15/10)- JoCo
Well, as fate would have it.. the VMs are not "done". The above bio was written over a year ago. The Vagabonds did infact play a final farewell show on 9/11/09 at Sky City. The band featured Stoney, Jon Berret, Johnny, and myself. We played on a shared bill with False Flag and The Hot Rods (feat. Fred McNeal). A month prior to this, the VM played a short set at Lexies Legacy. THe band debuted the new tune, "True Love Never Dies" that night.
In 2010, the VM reunited onstage (along with Edmond "Lurch" Kida) after the G-City set to perform "True Love Never Dies", a song which appeared on the 2010 Lexie's Legacy compilation disc. This song was also entered into the Augusta Chronicle Singer Songwriter Contest... and selected as a finalist.
On 9/9/10 the VM played at Sky City with the other 5 finalists for the Augusta Chronicle Singer Songwriter contest. The band played a short set, along with the other finalists, which included Livingroom Legends, who had played their debut gig with the VM at 2001's Rockin The Stockin' at Kokopellis. The VM played a tight set (very tight by VM standards, especially). On 9/18/10 the VM will perform at Augusta Commons at Arts In The Heart, with the finalists in the contest again. A winner will be selected by a panel of judges. A DVD is scheduled to be released later this year... featuring footage from the upcoming show, along with interviews. I dare not call this the VM last show... we've already had 4...
On 9/18/10 the Vagabond Missionaries won 3rd place in the Augusta Chronicle Singer Songwriter Contest. All 6 of the finalists did a great job, and the VM were happy to have been a part. Not 3 minutes before the VM were set to take the stage, the sky opened up and poured on the crowd (and very nice turn out for the contest), however, before the 1st note of "Shotgun Serenade", the opening number, the rain ceased, and the crowd enjoyed the set. Livingroom Legends took 1st place in the contest. 2nd place went to John Allen Lifsey. After all 6 finalists played, People Who Must took the stage for a reunion show.