October 15th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 40
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Remembering ‘The Teenagers’ band
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Donald Smaniotto photo
An early photo of four of the original members of The Teenagers practicing at Cynthia Bond’s house in Coleman. Left to right Ron Sikina hiding behind his accordian, Don Smaniotto, Marty Kubic and Bond.
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Though they never released an album or dabbled in song writing, and all of their recordings are probably lost, some people in the Pass might remember The Teenagers.
With the recent passing of their guitar player Willy Sygutek, Donald Smaniotto is asking Pass residents to share their memories of The Teenagers.
In 1956, Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent and Fats Domino were dominating the Billboard Top 100, but in the Crowsnest Pass and surrounding areas it was all about The Teenagers.
“We were going to high school, junior high at the time,” says Smaniotto. “We formed this little band and we performed at dances all over the place.”
The Teenagers played their first gig in 1956 at Frank and Edith Petras’ wedding in Hosmer B.C. Back then, the band was made up of drummer Marty Kubic and accordion player Ron Sikina, but Smaniotto soon joined them.
Later, pianist Cynthia Bond, and guitarists Don Townsend and Willy Sygutek would join the band. They featured Josephine Kubic, Marty’s cousin, and Sygutek’s aunt as a guest pianist at one dance in Coleman.
Smaniotto does not recall how the band got its name, but all the members were teenagers at the time.
Without the fancy amplifiers and electric instruments of today’s garage bands, The Teenagers were purely acoustic and played a mix of early rock, polka, and calypso. Smaniotto says their sound was also influenced by another local band called The Arcadians.
“The only way we heard music was on the juke box in cafes. As teenagers we went to other dances and listened to what they were playing,” says Smaniotto. “I thought we sounded not half bad.”
Their big break came playing at a concert at Miner’s Hall in Blairmore charging 25 cents admission. From there they played many venues and covered different musical styles from polka to rock and roll.
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“We just enjoyed playing,” says Smaniotto. “We got a little bit of money to put gas in the car.”
They played shows at Summerview Hall, IOOF Hall in Belleview, Elk’s Hall in Blairmore, Coleman High School, Polish Hall, Beaver Mines Hall, the Michael Hotel and a dance hall in Fernie to name a few.
Smaniotto recalls playing at Joe and Mary Bodio’s wedding in Hillcrest, carrying all the band’s equipment to the venue in a Hillman Minx car, which were in production from 1932 to 1970, and then having to drive home with no working windshield wipers.
“I was sitting in the shotgun seat and had to work the wipers so we could see to get home,” says Smaniotto.
Their peak came during a contest in Lethbridge when they got to play a televised set along with many other talented bands in Southern Alberta.
Smaniotto credits Marty’s mother Francis for sharing her knowledge of dance bands from her time living in Chicago.
“She told us what to do, how to play and how to make the music go,” says Smaniotto. “Her and her husband used to go to dance shows in Chicago and dance polkas and waltzes in a time before rock and roll. Before rock came in the fifties, people were dancing more.”
By the early 1960s, the band members went their separate ways. Kubic became an accountant, Sikina went to California but eventually came home to the Pass, Smaniotto took up plumbing, and Bond became a music teacher and traveled the world with her husband John Squarek. Don Townsend became an environmentalist and still lives in Bellevue, and Willy Sygutek stayed in the Pass and continued playing music with the Lightermen.
“I just wanted this written down so that we never forget the good times that were had by a bunch of Pass boys and one girl, 50 plus years ago,” says Smaniotto.
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October 15th ~ Vol. 84 No. 40
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