Manitoba Music Museum

The Manitoba Music Museum is a website dedicated to the Musicians of Manitoba.

FINDER'S KEEPERS

Finder’s Keepers


Finder’s Keepers was the name of a rock and roll band that played in Winnipeg, Manitoba from 1965 to 1968. The name “Finder’s Keepers” was given to the band by Burton Cummings of the Deverons. The original group consisted of Graham Reynolds on drums, Bill Vandurme on bass guitar, Bob Miller on lead guitar, George Spanogiannis on rhythm guitar and harmonica, and  Len Ross on key boards.  The group was a top 40 cover band that played the hits of the day at community clubs, high schools, clubs, and private parties. Their repertoire consisted of songs that had been recorded by the Searchers, the Dave Clark Five, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Yardbirds, etc. There was no single lead singer.  Four of the guys had sung in school choirs and thus took turns singing lead on different songs. 

 

The whole thing started in July of 1965.  The band practiced for two months on the stage in the basement banquet hall of St. Mathews Church. By the end of August we had a repertoire of thirty songs, a manager (Gerry Chapman), a fan club of six young ladies, but no bookings. There were a lot of good bands in the city at that time and it was difficult for a new band to get started.  To overcome this dilemma Finder’s Keepers ran their own dance in the basement of St. Mathews Church. We hired a disc jockey (Harry Taylor) from a local radio station to be the M.C.  He promoted the dance on the radio and mentioned the name of our band over and over again along side more established bands. We invited reps from several community clubs to attend so that we could audition for them. This strategy paid off as we received three bookings and never had to sponsor a dance by ourselves again.


The most memorable dance we ever played was on a cold, blistery, January night at the Northwood Community Centre on Burrows Ave. The snow was blowing and the temperature was -35°C. Consequently a small crowd turned out. The M.C. that evening was Boyd Kozak, a DJ at a local radio station.  Just before we were about to start playing Boyd huddled us together and said, “Although you have a small crowd out there, they braved this cold weather and paid to see you play.  They deserve your best show. Are you ready to give them that?”  We nodded our heads in agreement and played our hearts out that night.

Although we did not make much money that evening we learned a valuable lesson that we never forgot.  Never take your audience for granted. Always give them your best no matter how many people are out there because as Boyd said: “They paid to see you play. They deserve your best show”.

 

As the year passed Bob Miller left the band for personal reasons.  He was replaced by Ric Stokell.  Graham Reynolds moved to Edmonton.  He was replaced by Bob Watson.  George Spanogiannis left and joined another band.

Bill Vandurme became our manager. He was replaced by Brian Rudolph.

What we had now was the second version of the band. The only person who played with both lineups was Len Ross.


With only four members in the band and having lost three of our singers, it became apparent that if we were to survive we had to find a lead singer.  Fortunately for us, Geoff Marrin, lead singer of The Mongrels, became available at this time. Our manager contacted Geoff and within a day or two he was practicing with us.  It was a match made in heaven. We all got along and enjoyed playing music together.


To distinguish our band from some of the other working groups we billed ourselves as a “show group”.  We did a lot of songs that had been recorded by The Animals and the Stones because they suited Geoff’s voice.  We were a very busy band and played a lot of fraternity and sorority parties at local hotels like the Fort Garry and the International Inn in addition to high schools and community clubs.


The most bizarre booking we ever had was a “barn dance”.  Our manager told us we had been booked to do a barn dance.  I asked him if the people who booked us realized that we were not a polka band nor were we a country western band.  He said they specifically asked for us and they knew we were a rock band.  Then I asked him if this was going to be held in a dance hall barn or a real barn.  He didn’t know.  We found out pretty quickly when we arrived at the location of the dance.  It was a small real barn that could hold about eight large animals and came with straw and all the characteristic odors that one associates with a barn.  We actually had a lot of fun that night playing a frat party in a real barn.  We tripped the circuit breakers three or four times since there was only one fifteen amp circuit in the barn. They had to run extension cords from the house and we had to turn down our volume.


The most hectic gig we ever experienced was a double booking on the same evening.  We had to play a graduation dance in a school gym from 8:30 P.M. to 11:30 P.M. Then we had to play the River Rouge riverboat for the same grads from midnight until 2:00 A.M.  Half an hour was not enough time to tear down the equipment at the school and then travel to the boat and set everything up for the next show. In order to overcome this conundrum we spoke with the grad committee and came up with this plan.  Twenty minutes before the end of the show the drummer stopped playing and tore down his equipment.  Five minutes later the key board player did the same.  The P.A. system was disassembled shortly after that. For the final few minutes of the gig only the lead guitar player was playing.  At the stroke of 11:30 P.M. he unplugged his guitar, someone grabbed his amp, and both of them ran out of the gym to vehicles that were waiting outside.  We raced to the River Rouge dock as quickly as we could.  Thank goodness there were no red light cameras at the time.  By 12:05 A.M. we were playing our first song as the boat left the dock. 


 The second lineup of Finder’s Keepers played as a rock and roll band for two years from 1966 to 1968.  In those two years we performed over 140 shows.


 One evening in April of 1968 Geoff, our lead singer, arrived at practice and announced that he would be leaving our group to join another group called “Sugar and Spice”.  Obviously we were disappointed but wished him all the best in his future endeavors.  This was the end of Finder’s Keepers as a band.  We could have found another lead singer and continued but it would not have been the same.


On January 29, 2011 Patrick Friesen, an author, wrote an article in The Winnipeg Review entitled “In Praise of Burton”. In his opening paragraph he wrote:


“I listened to the little green radio in my parents’ house in rural Manitoba in the 60s. When they were out, I’d bring it into my room and crank up CKY or CKRC.  Rock ‘n’ roll.  I loved everything coming out of England back then, 1964/65.  Each day there would be a new single followed by the album. In between numbers, I’d often hear Dino Corey or PJ the DJ announce what groups would be playing at what Winnipeg community clubs, Saturday night dances.  Finders Keepers. the Devrons, and a group known as Chad Allen and the Expressions.”


The complete article is available for reading at:

 HYPERLINK "http://www.winnipegreview.com/wp/2011/01/in-praise-of-burton/" http://www.winnipegreview.com/wp/2011/01/in-praise-of-burton/


So what happened to the guys in Finder’s Keepers?


Original Group


Graham Reynolds – Was actually an accomplished pianist and our musical director.  He could have played keyboards for any group in the city but instead chose to play drums for us.  He became a lawyer in Toronto specializing in competition and antitrust law.


Bob Miller – moved to Ottawa and worked for the Federal Government.


Bill Vandurme – became the business manager of the second edition of Finder’s Keepers.  After completing his schooling he worked as a business education teacher at Rossburn Collegiate for a few years and then at Dakota Collegiate for the remainder of his teaching career.


George Spanogiannis – moved to Los Angeles and became the president of Janis Imports Inc.


Len Ross (Rosolowich) – became a biology/science teacher at St. John’s High School.  While working as a teacher he performed as a dancer and singer in the chorus at Rainbow Stage and the Hollow Mug Theatre Restaurant in the International Inn.





Finder’s Keepers #2


Brian Rudolph – went on to play in other Winnipeg bands like The Potted Plant, The Elastic Band, and Leighton Coal.  Brian is now retired having owned a large mechanical contracting company in Calgary. He often gets together with

 Ric Stokell  to play rock and roll.


Ric Stokell – went on to play in more Winnipeg bands including The Potted Plant, The Elastic Band, and Leighton Coal.   Ric is now retired and living on an acreage outside of Calgary with his wife and grandson.  Ric and Brian Rudolph have remained friends to this day and still get together frequently to play rock and roll.


Geoff Marrin – played with Sugar and Spice for a couple of years and then left.

Some time later he resurfaced as the lead singer of a Winnipeg band called Honey Throat.  Eventually he moved to British Columbia and was employed by

B. C. Forestry. He is currently (2014) working in a provincial park on Vancouver Island.


Bob Watson – I am not sure what happened to Bob but he was a great guy and a lot of fun to have in the band........A

....after the Finders Keepers, Bob became the drummer with Mantae, after the tragic death of their drummer, Tommy Thompson. They were a really popular band, especially with the university crowd.

> Bob played with them {Mantae}until they disbanded in 1968. He then became an elementary school teacher and worked for the St James-Assiniboia School division, 15 years as a teacher and 19 years as a principal. He married me (Suzanne Hammond) in 1972, had 3 children, and now 6 grandchildren. He retired from St James in June 2006, and managed his son Neil's music school for 4 years. He still drums, and has played with Neil, a prominent Winnipeg jazz saxophonist, on several occasions. He'd love to jam with anyone from that fabulous era anytime!.....Suzanne Watson 2014 > 

Len Ross (Rosolowich) – became a biology/science teacher at St. John’s High School.  While working at the school he performed in teacher bands that played at staff social functions and student pep rallies.



Note:    There were three other musicians who briefly played with

              Finder’s Keepers at one time or another.  They are as follows:


                  Peter Koskie – lead guitar

                  Dennis Browaty - bass guitar 

                  Kenny Hordichuk – drums


Fun Fact:    Fred Finder was the name of our mascot, a plush toy dog that had

                    been given to us by our fan club, and we were Finder’s Keepers.

                 

    

 SPECIAL THANKS TO  Len  Ross (Rosolowich)