A summer musical variety show that aired on NBC on Tuesday nights, from July 20th through September 7th, 1971. The show featured The Carpenters, Al Hirt, Mark Lindsay, and others. Mark performed songs from his solo career on the show, and covered other current tunes as well.

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It's a cool pearl-grey Maui May day. Down below in the bay, the whitecaps and trade winds are dancing. The ocean explodes over the black lava reef into high fountains which fall back in slow-motion foam. The winds blowing in are carrying to me the smell and sound and beat of the sea.

I wish you could hear these wonderful sounds too, but recorded wind or recorded waves never sound like the real thing. The subtle nuances of the ever-changing harmonics somehow never make it intact through the recording chain of mic - recorder - player - speaker without losing something. Human voices suffer the same fate, some more than others. Karen Carpenter had one of those voices so rich in overtones that unless you were lucky enough to hear her sing accoustically (without amplification) you missed the full warmth of her gift.

In the early 70's, Allen Bernard, then part of The Carpenters' management team, approached me with an offer to tour with The Carpenters as the opening act. I was also asked to appear with them on their 1971 summer replacement series "Make Your Own Kind of Music." The Raiders weren't planning on touring a lot that summer; "Indian Reservation" had just been released in April and had yet to become the blockbuster it would.

So I agreed, and then called my friend Tony Peluso, who was guitarist in a band called "Instant Joy." Two frantic weeks of rehearsal later, we were on the road with Karen and Richard. This was before the days of "glam-bus tours," so we all shared one de-commissioned Trailways unit and rolled on down the interstate. On this tour, Karen was still playing her drums as well as singing. She was basically a shy person and didn't really feel comfortable standing up front. She compensated by acting slightly "tomboy-ish." So, since I considered her "just one of the guys," and being somewhat shy myself, I found it easy to talk to her.

We were seat-mates often enough that I got a lot of the early K & R history from her. Early on, with Richard on keys and Karen on drums, they played as part of a trio (mostly jazz), and Karen was a natural drummer with a great "feel." When I asked how long she had trained to get that VOICE, she stated simply, "Oh, one day we needed a singer and I just opened my mouth and there it was!"

There it was, INDEED!

On this series of shows, after I played my opening set, I would stand in the wings whenever possible, and on some of the quieter numbers I could hear Karen clearly. Her voice was so full of low rich harmonics that it gave me goose bumps! As great as The Carpenters sound on records, if you never heard Karen in person, you never really heard Karen. I am very lucky to have had the experience and I'm glad I knew her.

And by the way, whenever we found ourselves near an alley and had time, the entire tour would go bowling! I would always try to get on the same team as Karen 'cause she threw a wicked ball!

Some may say that Karen and Richard's legacy has too much "honey" in the mix. All I know is that it sounded perfectly sweet to me back then and it still does.


Reprinted from the May 1998 issue of Mark Lindsay's Steppin' Out!

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