The Three D’s, wandering minstrels

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Cool  evening, canyon breeze, warm campfire, guitars strumming, good friends  singing, what could be more enjoyable? Plenty if the strumming and singing  were from my friend Dick Davis and me. We brought our instruments and voices  to the party as usual in case anyone needed to be serenaded or needed our  singing to drive away wild animals. Dick and I were long on enthusiasm and  short on aesthetics. We fit the description someone once gave of a junior  high school orchestra concert. They played Mozart. Mozart lost.”

We were  in the midst of flogging our guitars and wailing to the wind when from our  small gathering of new and old friends a smooth tenor voice came floating.  Endure me as I dip into my limited knowledge for an epicurean metaphor. The  voice was as grilled Portobello bisque sauce poured on to slumgullion stew.  The voice turned two homespun hollerers into a rich three part harmony.  People would later tell us we had a blend like brothers. To those who would  understand we would respond, “Or like brethren.”

Denis  Sorenson has a maple syrup voice when he chooses. And he can also soar to the  rafters when the occasion arises. His rendition of the Spanish flavored  classic “Granada” always brought  down the house in our shows. His fluent Portuguese and Spanish from serving a  mission in Brazil  added authenticity to his delivery.

Soon  after that magic night around the campfire we got together to see where this  musical ticket might take us. The journey began modestly with campus shows,  functions in nearby communities, and tours with the university’s student  program bureau.

The grand  tour expanded with a show we did near the close of our college days. In the  audience was a former pool hustler from Kentucky  who had later found religion and ended up at Brigham   Young University.  Still possessed of his entrepreneurial skills he spotted a step ladder to sit  on and see above the crowd. His full name (very full) was Christopher Dwight  Athenasopoulos, otherwise known as “The Greek of the Week.” His more user  friendly name was Chris Poulos. He liked what he saw on stage that night, and  even more the reaction he saw from the audience. He offered his services as  our manager. We took him up on it, and he made the grand tour even grander  including most of the United States,  Canada, Japan,  Korea, and Viet    Nam.

Our  venues varied from The Rose Bowl to the elegant Queen Elizabeth Theater  in Vancouver, Canada, to a few planks resting on oil drums with 155 mm Howitzer cannons behind us  booming shells at the North Vietnamese. Those cannons were the most impressive  percussion section I have ever performed with.

In  addition to our own concerts we opened for some of the bigger names of the  1960’s and 70’s including Bob Hope, Jonathan Winters, and Bob Newhart.

Dick was  a triple threat on stage with his fine acting, hilarious comedy skills, and  unbridled enthusiasm. He could strum a guitar or banjo with the blur of a  humming bird wing. One of our early audience favorites was “Fast Freight”,   Dick pulled out of his guitar a locomotive that threatened to break the sound  barrier and set off the smoke detectors in the concert hall. The flip side of  our first release on Capitol Records was an old folk song titled “Sinner  Man.” Dick’s supersonic speed banjo backup would have scared the Hades out of  the most hardened sin bound soul.

Dick also  happens to be an instinctive musical genius. The signature harmonies, musical  arrangements and original melodies in our concerts and recordings were from  his fertile mind and artistic sense.

My modest  contribution was words, written and spoken and adding a third voice, I  scripted the shows, and kept the patter rolling between songs.

The Three  D’s performed from 1960 to 1969 when Denis left the group. Dick and I as The  D’s continued full time until 1975 and part time for a few years after that.  The Three D’s did a stint at the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas with Sandi  Jensen and Salli Flynn who then went on to the Lawrence Welk television show.  Later we played the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas  with the Terry Sisters Carla and Becky.

The Las Vegas Journal called us, with Sandi and Sally, the most talented new act on the Strip. They also  called us Purity Playhouse. Fair enough we were not typical of Las Vegas acts. My Bishop Penrod Glazier was in Vegas at  an educators’ convention. He stopped in to see our show. I was grateful we  didn’t have to change a word, a joke, or a song in the show. It was  appropriate for him, and would have been for the president and prophet of the  church if he had dropped in. Las Vegas  was a learning experience, but not our native habitat.

The best  audiences we were privileged to play for were at colleges and universities,  youth conferences and church Education Weeks. We did a network spot on the  Joey Bishop TV show, the theme for a movie titled Town Tamer ( now playing at 4 a.m.  on a cable channel near you.), a lot of local and regional television and  radio appearances. We covered miles of highway, saw most of America,  had a great time, met a lot of fine people and did some good. I felt I was  doing work for which my abilities and interests were most appropriate.

We were  featured on the cover of the News of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. We were even a  footnote in church history. Somewhere along the way we crossed paths with  Howard W. Hunter, later the president and prophet of the church. He  remembered us in a talk he gave before a crowd of about 25,000 at Brigham   Young University.

He began saying, “Years ago there  was a popular music group… named the Three D’s. They took that name from the  three singers’ first names. My fear is that if in the nineties our young  people were to form a popular singing group, they might still call themselves  the Three D’s, but that could be for Despair, Doom, and Discouragement.”

At that moment a nutcase named Cody Judy  burst through the door waving a brick size object, and shouting, “This is a  bomb. Don’t anybody move!” He ran down the stairs to the podium and demanded  that President Hunter resign as prophet and president of the Church and make  him, Judy, the new prophet.

He got distracted momentarily.  Security and the crowd jumped him, and his short reign as self-appointed  prophet was over.

I was relieved to find out his  motive was to take over the church. I thought for a moment it was something serious such as being a disgruntled audience member from a Three D’s show who wanted his ticket money back.

Your next installment is: Proper  perspective

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.