Chug and MoHawx - 2018 Rockin' in Missouri!

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ARTICLE: The story of Chug and The MoHawx
Written by: David Shaw
Date: Feb 10th, 2018

Some bands are destined for greatness, and others just seem to fall by the way side, never to be heard of again.

Most of the members on this site would regard themselves as music anoraks, and I bet most of us are still discovering bands from a bygone era, and wondering to ourselves 'how on earth did I miss out on these guys'.

This very scenario happened to me about a year back. I was listening to St Louis Classic Rock radio, and heard an amazing song, with some really grunting lead guitar that stopped me from doing some household chores and take note.

I caught the name of the band; Chug, but unfortunately in my quest to find out more information I had spelt the name wrong and did endless searches for a band called 'Chuck'.

With a little help from John Sebben, he pointed me in the direction of one Joe Bohnert, lead guitarist with Chug, and also the MoHawx. Little did I know that my path with MoHawx crossed back in 1983, when I was given a compilation tape, by Bernard Doe which had a track by The MoHawx and another band called Missouri Breaker.

I finally made contact with Joe about 6 weeks ago and recently received a CD with all the music of Chug and MoHawx.

Chug started life in Missouri, home to a plethora of Mid West hard rock bands back in 1974-1976, they (Joe on lead guitar, Bill Frog on bass, Mike Thompson on vocals and Terraine Casey on drums) spent their formative years in Missouri before they relocated to Houston, Texas.

1975 saw Chug headline the Pevely Rock Farm (on the southern outskirts of St Louis), July 4th party. Joe said 'it reminded me of the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont as there was several biker gangs all wearing club colours'.

Before Chug hit the stage all hell broke loose, the bikers all started fighting, out came clubs, chains and fists.

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Vocalist Mike Thompson, a Vietnam Vet grabbed a tyre tool and started yelling into the mic to stop. Soon the cops came in riot gear and M-16s and carted away Keith Allard who rented Pevely Farm along with the money taken in.

Ironically, Chug still managed to play and was the only band not to get paid.

Shortly after the Pevely Farm gig, vocalist Mike found a studio, owned by the Rev. Parvin Trammel, which catered for church music. Chug had the choice of either 8 or 16 tracks and opted for 8 tracks.

Joe remembers it had a big room for the musicians and separate room for the vocals and big control room, mixing board and sound engineer. Joe wheeled in his Marshall stack and they started warming up and the Rev. Parvin said 'No, you have to turn it down its way too loud, the guitar's distorting!' 'It's supposed to' replied Joe.

The end result is a 9 track demo that gave Chug radio airplay on KJCF Festus radio, local DJ Nicky Pagano played the heaviest music on his nightly show. The demo highlights 8 original tracks and a cover of ZZ Top's 'Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers'.

The music reminds me of early Budgie, Savoy Brown, James Gang and Grand Funk Railroad, with crushing riffs which could come from early Black Sabbath, but what stands out to me is the ferocity of Joe's guitaring.

This is evident on 'Red Eye'd Wanderer', with its 'I am the Walrus' inspired instrumental midway through the song. 'Boogie On, Bro' is just what the title suggests, a full on boogie with no vocals, and with a guitar, drum and bass solo thrown in for good measure.

I am sure this got the crowd on their feet at Chug gigs. What is evident here, in this 9 track demo is that the musicianship of all 4 members is extremely tight and the rhythm section complement Joe's guitaring very well.

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During Chug's career, Joe would suffer a devastating blow to his health. He was struck down with Relapseing Multiple Sclerosis.

He returned to Missouri in 1976 for treatment and while he could still play the guitar he started The MoHawx, along with Rick Fischer on bass and Dave Thode on drums.

They recorded a 5 track demo with the hope of getting a song on the KSHE Seeds album, but KWK's Moonshine Home Brewed Rock 'N' Roll! got there first and The MoHawx got 'The Maize' which was written back in 1975, on there, along with the band, Missouri Breaker, which is the tape I heard all those years back.

'The Maize', which midway through shows off Joe's playing skills, with a very tasty lead guitar. 'DS#69' has a nice funky beat, making fun of the disco scene that was just about hitting its stride back in 1976.

The demo closes with 'I Ain't Like You', the use of a vibra-slap makes for an extremely good introduction to the song. Incidentally, 'I Ain't Like You' is available on You Tube to view (see below).

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Overall, The MoHawx has a strong Jimi Hendrix influence on each of the tracks. Jimi Hendrix has been a huge influence over Joe's career. I also heard Blue Cheer in there as well.

The MoHawx are, what is now known as Stoner Rock. Joe played in bands up to the mid 90s, including Crux and Tanglefoot.

Sadly Joe's MS has now developed into Progressive MS, he can now longer play guitar due to co-ordination issues, but he has left a marvellous legacy of work.

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