Sunday, July 24, 2011

Johnny Caswell and Crystal Mansion

Johnny Caswell – Crystal Mansion

At the Shore

School is out
Come on, let's go

Come on, baby
Let's hit that road

We're going down to the shore
Just like we did once before
Cause there's no school anymore
So, baby, meet me at the shore

Hey, there'll be lots of fun
Yeah, lying in the sun
One the boardwalk, holding hands
Beach parties in the sand

Everybody's gonna be there
The hippies, the conservatives
And even the squares
Dancing til we can't no more
Come on and meet me at the shore

We're gonna swing every single night
Everything's gonna be all right


Hey, there'll be lots of fun
Yeah, lying in the sun
One the boardwalk, holding hands
And beach parties in the sand

Everybody's gonna be there
The hippies, the conservatives
And even the squares
Dancing til we can't no more
Come on and meet me at the shore

(CHORUS) 2X to fade

Johnny Caswell At The Shore Lyrics

Listen to: At the Shore

Bill Kelly Notes: By the time I was old enough to get in the band bars in Somers Point Johnny Caswell had come and gone, though they still talked about him, and some of his songs were on the juke box at the Anchorage. Then after Tony Marts and Bay Shores were gone, Harris Berman, who tore them both down, built the Waterfront where Bay Shores was and Egos Disco where Tony Marts was located.

Although Egos had a hundred thousand dollar sound system, it was set up for disco recordings only, and didn't have a stage for bands, which Berman thought an unnecessary expense.

Harris Berman was lawyer who had worked with my father in the Camden County Prosecutors Office, so my father introduced me to him when my family had dinner at the Waterfront when it first opened. As I got the story, Berman's brother had owned a big hotel in Florida that he sold for millions and had to spend the money so not to pay capitol gains taxes, and so he bought Bay Shores and Tony Marts and tore them down and built the Waterfront and Egos.

After convincing Berman to allow us to bring a band to Egos - The Band, with Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko, he made out a like a bandit, and made so much $10,000 on liquor sales that night that he wanted us to do it again. But we said no thanks, as we got royally screwed on the deal. In any case, Berman now recognized that the bands brought in the people who drank the booze he was selling, so he brought in some acts himself - including the band from the Animal House movie.

When he asked for some other suggestions, people requested that he bring back Johnny Caswell, so we reached out and got a hold of him working in a recording studio in California and he put a band together and came back for a belated encore performance at the Point. While he played the gig at Egos, he also got a week at a casino lounge in Atlantic City.

The year - 1986, and this is the short review I wrote in my Nightbeat Column in the Ocean City SandPaper.

Nightbeat – Caswell Makes His Comeback – The SandPaper/Thursday, August 21, 1986


Johnny Caswell, with a revamped Crystal Mansion, returned to Somers Point after a ten-year hiatus and impressed a small but enthusiastic crowd with his stirring voice and tight band.

The consensus of his old fans, some of whom drove in from out of state, is that Caswell looks the same as he did 20 years ago when he first started playing this area, and sounds better.

Playing three long sets through Tuesday night, Caswell sang all of his hits – “The Thought of Loving You,” “Boogieman,” and his rendition of Livingston Taylor’s “Carolina On My Mind,” as well as some lesser-known but strong numbers, the bluesy “I Don’t Need Nobody,” and “Let Me Get This Straight Again.”

With Rick Morley on percussion (congas), Ronnie Gentile on guitar, Mario Sanchez and Greg Moyer jiving nicely. Sal Rota, who is performing in the band at the Springfield Inn in Sea Isle City, sat in with his old buddy.

Kenny and Charlie of the Soul Survivors (“Expressway to Your Heart”) were also on hand and threatening to join in a later session, as Caswell is booked to play a casino lounge for the rest of the week and hopes he can return another day to play the showroom.

Swaying sideways as he sang, and occasionally flicking his wrist in patented motions, Caswell still has what it takes to enchant an audience, whether it’s old fans or new ones. “I want to see all my old friends,” Caswell said, “I’m ecstatic, my heart’s pumpin’ fast, and I want it to happen,” and it always does.

Rock & Roll Philadelphia -

A brief history
Johnny Caswell was a successful Philadelphia Artist. He had one chart record, AT THE SHORE, that was written and produced by Madara/White. He went on to form a group called The Crystal Mansion, and had another chart record, "The Thought of Loving You," written by Dave White.

John Madara's memories
Johnny was a very exciting artist to watch. Very exciting in the studio. With him Dave and I produced eleven sides.

What happened next?
Johnny Caswell, along with partner, Jan Parent, formed a company in 1992 called CenterStaging. The company specializes in providing musical instruments, rehearsal space, and technical support to the film and TV industries. They currently maintain facilities in Burbank, CA and the Philadelphia, PA suburb of Bensalem Township.

You Don't Love Me Anymore
At The Shore
What's The Matter Baby
Carolina On My Mind

At the Shore
What’s the Matter Baby?
You Don’t Love Me Any More


Adrian said...

During the heyday of Crystal Mansion, Ronnie Gentile was my very best friend. I was the guitar player in the SJ band, Resurrection, and Ronnie and I spent many days driving back and forth from Philly to Somers Point. I was lucky enough to have sat in with the band on several occasions. A few years ago, I spent a day with Johnny at CenterStaging, rekindled out friendship and talked about many, many memories. Those early-1970s rock-n-roll days were some of the best of my life.....Adrian Silva

Sam Roberts said...

My son Sam is now a drummer in his own band, South Street , out of Charleston, South Carolina. I told him about Johnny Caswell and Crystal Mansion group and the many wonderful, fun nights spent at the Jersey Shore listening to them at Bayshores and Dunes Til Dawn! On a whim, today, I searched for them and found this and many other fabulous postings! Glad to hear that Caswell is doing great in California. They are so much a part of the happy memories of my youth and I found and am now playing the album The Crystal Mansion and still loving it and them! Just as good as I remember them!

mitchell godwin said...

Played opposite Johnny and the Crystal Mansion in 69 at Bayshores. Norman Stern was the club manager and Ray (Waterhouse) Sharp was our manager. Our group name was Candy Store, later "Candy" Caswell With Ricky on Drums and Ron on Guitar and the rest of the band made it a fun summer in 69. The best memories of my Life. You can here some old recordings back then of "Candy" on REVERBBNATION.

John R. said...

Johnny and the Crystal Mansion provide some of the best memories from the early 70's. Great times at Bayshores and Tony Marts. I also used to see them at the Wreck Room which was just off the White Horse Pike in Somerdale. Favorite Caswell songs were "The thought of loving you" and "Seeing you for the first

In many ways some of the best times of my life

GREAT memories.