Lance "Romance" Bakemeyer - Upright Slap Bass, Banjo, Electric/Acoustic Guitars, Slide Guitar, Baritone Guitar, Electric Bass. Singer/Songwriter/Composer
Lance "Romance" Bakemeyer has been playing Rockabilly music for over 35 years. He started in 1984 with Chuck Hughes in his band "Chucky and the Cyclones". His first gig was playing for the Colorado University (CU) Boulder Football Pep Rally on October 12, 1984. (See blog). Lance played Rockabilly/Country/Blues and Rock and Roll music in this cover/wedding/show band for 10 years before starting and founding the Hillbilly Hellcats in 1993 with Chuck Hughes. Prior to the Hillbilly Hellcats, Lance played upright slap bass and electric bass for Mustang Lightning, his first band that played original music in addition to covers. Mustang Lightning played Rockabilly, Surf, Cow-punk and Blues covers and originals from 1988 to 1993 in Denver. Lance first recorded slap bass on the Mustang Lightning initial release in 1989,"Texas Voodoo Surf" - on 2 songs - Wild, Wild Women and the original tune by Phil DeVille called Sally.
Lance then went on to produce "Guitaro Loco" an all instrumental "Surf " CD released in 1991. Mustang Lightning in 1993 decided to move to New Orleans, Louisiana. Lance did not move with them. They recorded an additional 4 CD's in New Orleans, but the Record label they were on went out of business. Phil DeVille (Guitarist) then went on to tour with Cowboy Mouth and several other well known bands and artists. Lance & Phil reconnected in 2009 with the 20 year anniversary of the Texas Voodoo Surf CD. They then went on to record "Texas Radio" in 2010. Here is an original Upright Slap Bass and Banjo song from the 1991 Guitaro Loco CD with Mustang Lightning.
Originally a Bluegrass Banjo player in the Earl Scruggs style, Lance was a several State Banjo Champion in 1981 and 1982. He was very influenced by the Colorado Bluegrass Band - Hot Rize. Lance played with several local Bluegrass Bands in the Denver area and met his future wife (Marcia) through a mutual friend that was a drummer. Marcia used to back up Lance at Banjo contests on the upright bass and they were given an upright bass for a wedding present (September 1983), by one of the Bluegrass bands that Lance had played with. Having an upright bass in the house led to Lance being asked by his guitar teacher - Chuck Hughes - to play "Rockabilly" at his first gig mentioned above. Prior to this gig however, Lance attended the Stray Cats Concert in Boulder CO on March 11, 1983. Lance was very impressed with the Stray Cats, especially the upright bass player - Lee Rocker. Soon after this concert. Lance decided to learn all the Stray Cat songs on his upright bass and study all of Lee's influences. This led to Lance discovering Bill Black (upright bassist for Elvis Presley), Marshall Lytle of Bill Haley and the Comets, Dorsey Burnette of the Rock n Roll Trio, Cousin Jake with Flatt & Scruggs (Bluegrass), but most of all the influence was Willie Dixon. (Considered to be the "Father" of Slap Bass). Willie Dixon was who all of the other upright slap bass players learned from as he was "slapping the bass" in Blues way before Rockabilly was born.
Lance played with Chucky & the Cyclones full time from 1983 to 1987 and then on and off from 1987 to 1993. (While Lance was in Mustang Lightning). In 1993 Chuck and Lance attended a concert in Denver by the Moondogs. This Rockabilly band from Chicago featured Jimmy Sutton (now with JD McPherson). Because the opening band failed to show up for the show, Chuck and Lance decided to start playing Rockabilly again initially as an opening band, but then decided to form the Hillbilly Hellcats as an all original Rockabilly band. Chuck was only willing to form the band if it was "All Original". Lance and Chuck quickly wrote 40 songs to be able to play all original rockabilly. Because they already had a cover band they were able to avoid playing covers. In 1994 the Hillbilly Hellcats released a 20 song cassette tape that found it's way to Seattle, and a very popular radio station there that played Rockabilly. This led to the Hillbilly Hellcats being asked to play the Seattle Rockabilly Ball in 1995. This show was a turning point for the Hillbilly Hellcats to start touring and recording seriously.
Rev it up with Taz - Hillbilly Hellcats - 1995 - Rockin' Cat Records
Lance and Chuck Hughes in 1994 had a fan of the Hillbilly Hellcats that introduced them to the Reverend Horton Heat. This was shortly before their drummer, Taz Bentley left the Reverend to join a Blues/Rock band called Tenderloin. (Taz had recorded drums on the first 3 Reverend Horton Heat albums). Lance and Chuck approached Taz about recording and he agreed to record with them if they would record at his favorite studio - Red House Recording Studio in Lawrence Kansas. In January 1995 20 original tracks were recorded with Taz and by the Spring of that year the album was released. The first 1000 CD's sold very quickly. Touring and promotion followed and by 1997 the Hillbilly Hellcats had sold over 5000 CD's on their own label - Rockin' Cat Records.
Lance had seven original songs on Rev it up with Taz. His most popular song on the CD was recorded on the last day at the studio as track nineteen. The song Dead Man's Party has gone on to have over 1 million downloads since 1995 and the song has been used in two movies.
Our Brand - Hillbilly Hellcats - 1998 - Rockin Cat Records
Rehearsal and playing live of new original songs began in 1996 and the Hillbilly Hellcats by 1997 had another 20 song ready for recording. Because Taz was unable to tour with the Hillbilly Hellcats, the band tried out several different drummers, but could find no one that could replicate his style. After several false starts and recordings with several drummers, the Hillbilly Hellcats decided to again record with Taz in a studio in Dallas Texas. As was the case with Rev it up with Taz, most of the 20 tracks were recorded with Taz on a first or second take. Our Brand quickly started selling and within 2 years had caught up with Rev it up with Taz in terms of sales. Also during this time the Hillbilly Hellcats started selling both CD's on Amazon. (The Hillbilly Hellcats have consistently been in Amazon's Top 10 Rockabilly Chart). Sales of both CD's quickly took off until the Napster era of file sharing started in 1999-2000. At one point, Hillbilly Hellcats CD's were getting downloaded at 50-100 per day from this free service. This greatly impacted Hillbilly Hellcats physical sales and by the year 2000, the band saw no reason to record or tour as basically the albums had become "free". This fact, along with the inability to find a drummer that could replicate the Taz drumming on a live basis, led to Chuck Hughes moving to California, and Lance to start a Home Building business in Elbert/Douglas Counties in the early 2000's.
Both Rev it up with Taz and Our Brand made the College Music Journal (CMJ) charts in the Top 40 during 1996 and 1998.
Lance had five original songs on Our Brand. His most popular songs on the CD are the Roadkill Cafe, Hillbilly Cat and My Baby Drives Me Crazy. All three songs have been used in TV extensively.
By the end of 2019, the Hillbilly Hellcats and Lance Romance Bakemeyer had:
- Over 300 Youtube videos.
- Been elected by Denver's Westword Magazine Readers, as best Roots Rock or Rockabilly Band each year between 1995 to 2000.
- Over 2 million Spotify Streams. (This follows thousands of recordings sold on iTunes and Amazon in pre-streaming days).
- 4200 TV and Film placements since 2011.
- Toured to 16 Countries and 40 States.
Good Enuff!? - The Calf Branders - 2004/2005 - Rockin' Cat Records
Between 1971 and 1981 Lance was employed by, and partnered with a Parker Colorado Rancher (Rex T Garrett) that owned and leased 3500 acres in the Parker area. Rex ran 100 head of cattle and 100 head of horses on these 3500 acres. Lance was hired to fix fence, break horses, train horses, show horses, farm, and do general ranch work including branding the yearly crop of calves - Calf Branding. These "jobs" led to Lance becoming interested in Calf Roping and Rodeo. Lance became a very good roper and rider and excelled at roping in Little Britches Rodeo, High School Rodeo, and local jackpots. This led to Lance receiving a scholarship for rodeo to Colorado State University (CSU). While at CSU, Lance took up playing the Banjo, and becoming very interested in Bluegrass music. While attending several Bluegrass Festivals, (entering in the Banjo Contests), Lance was exposed to the Upright Bass and "Slap Bass". Also during this time, Lance met his future wife, Marcia Hawley who played the Upright Bass for Lance in the Banjo contests. In 1983 Lance and Marcia got married and one of the wedding presents was an Upright Bass. This Upright Bass was what led Lance to join the Chuck Hughes cover band "Chucky and the Cyclones" in 1984 as described earlier. In 1987 Lance and Marcia built a house in Parker across from Rex's ranch, and they took over the Cattle ranching duties. In 1988 they had the first "Calf Branding Party" for their friends and neighbors and the Calf Branders were born as entertainment for the "workers" that had helped brand the calves that day.
The Calf Branding parties continued every year from 1988 to 2001 and became big yearly events. Many musicians were "Calf Branders" including Lance's brother Scott Bakemeyer, and Lance's brother in law Dave Hawley. In 2002 Lance and Marcia moved to Elbert Colorado and the Calf Branding Parties became yearly Calf Roping Parties/Competitions with Professional Rodeo Cowboys competing. In 2004 Lance meet Buddy Gould who was a drummer and who expressed an interest in forming a "Country Band". The Calf Branders seemed a logical choice as Lance had already written many "Country Songs" including Drinkin' Buddies which was covered by the Railbenders. Soon after forming the band with Buddy, Tony (NASCAR) Asnicar and Christian Dulin joined and work began on the first CD - Good Enuff!? This all original song CD had 15 tracks including "We're the Calf Branders" which described the Calf Branders pretty well:
It's Time to Party!? - The Calf Branders - 2009 - Rockin' Cat Records
The Calf Branders started playing live in Colorado in 2004 and all four "Brothers from different Mothers" sang and wrote songs. Calf Branding, Rodeo, Cowboys, having fun, and drinking were all themes that became successful songs for the band. By 2007 another 17 songs were recorded and It's Time to Party!? was released in 2008/2009. Shortly thereafter one of the "Brothers" moved to Mexico and the band disbanded. Tony "Nascar" went on to become the lead guitarist of the Railbenders, Lance went on to re-join the Hillbilly Hellcats when Chuck moved back from California to Colorado in 2007, and the other members went back to being Cowboys. Almost every song on both Calf Branders CD's are being used in TV on many popular shows.
In 2018 and 2019 Tony Asnicar (NASCAR) and Lance Romance got together and recorded some un-recorded Calf Branders songs. All these "singles" have been released on Spotify and iTunes. Here is an original featuring Christian Dulin on lead vocals:
In the early 2000's Lance and Chuck Hughes were approached by both CD Baby and Pumpaudio. Both start-up companies were looking for "Rockabilly" for their catalog. (They had none). Chuck and Lance complied and that was the start of their music licensing that continues to this day. By 2005 almost every song from both Rev it up with Taz and Our Brand were being used somewhere on TV, and several songs including Lance's Dead Man's Party and the Roadkill Cafe were used in the movie Dead and Breakfast. (Comedy/Horror film) starring among others David Carradine, Ever Carradine and Erik Palladino. Music licensing continues to this day and Hillbilly Hellcats music, Calf Branders music, Lance "Romance" Bakemeyer music, and Kerry Pastine and the Crimcescene music. Some examples include being featured in a Toyota commercial, a Beer Commercial, a Theme Park Ride, Better Call Saul, VH1, MTV, and many, many TV show spots as background music. Tunesat.com has detected over 4,000 plays of Hillbilly Hellcats songs on U.S. TV in the last 5 years. Music publishing and Music licensing are both very important sources of income for both Lance and Chuck.
It has been the Hillbilly Hellcats' songwriting which has garnered them the invitations to play all over the world and to get their music on many TV shows daily.
Return of the Hillbilly Hellcats - 2003 - Present
Starting in 2003 Hillbilly Hellcats royalty checks and CD sales took off. At one point from 2003 to 2006 Lance was shipping 50 to 100 CD's per month to Amazon and another Rockabilly Distributor (Hep Cat Records). Lance believes that the sales took off because NAPSTER was being sued by a collective of Musicians and Artists, and that the effects of touring nationally were paying off. Regardless, CD sales went through the roof and to date (2017), CD sales have surpassed 100,000 (Not counting Bootleg replication on-going in Europe). Many songs have had over 1 million listens on various formats. (Including the old MP3.com site from the early 2000's). The Hillbilly Hellcats consider this pretty good for a band that never had a Record label or never had Representation. (The Hillbilly Hellcats had their own label). - Rockin' Cat Records.
In 2005 the Hillbilly Hellcats were invited to play Finland for a Rockabilly Festival. The response was overwhelming, and this original International tour has led to the Hillbilly Hellcats having played in 16 Countries and over 40 US States to date. (In 2017 the Hillbilly Hellcats played in New Zealand, Australia and Mexico).
Lance "Romance" Bakemeyer - Record Release - 30 Years of Rockabilly - 2007 - 2017
In 2007 Chuck Hughes moved back to Colorado from Hollywood California. The Hillbilly Hellcats reformed on a limited basis to tour and play in Colorado. Touring consisted of usually flying to Rockabilly Festivals out of State and driving to Colorado shows. The band became very effective at flying with Lance's Fly Bass, (an upright bass that comes apart), a 42 pound MarkBass amplifier, a nesting drum kit, a take apart slide guitar, a PA that weighs under 50 pounds and a small guitar amp. In Lance's estimation the band traveled over 100,000 miles by air between 2010 and 2013. In 2011 The Hillbilly Hellcats played to a packed house at the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Festival and sold over $3500 of merchandise after a 45 minute set.
Between 2004 and 2016, both Lance and Chuck wrote many songs and recorded in various styles. Chuck mainly concentrated in a Hip Hop style using a Rockabilly guitar style. Lance continued to write Rockabilly, Bluegrass and Classic Country styled numbers. (Lance also wrote a Hip Hop styled song called "Hick Hop"). This song turned out to be one of Lance's most popular singles in terms of downloads and streams.
Between 2010 and 2014 Lance was asked to play and back-up several Rockabilly/Country Artists both live and on recordings. Jinx Jones, Danny B Harvey, Jonny Barber and Casey Miller and the Barnyard Stompers. Here is a song that was recorded with Casey Miller that features Lance on both Banjo and Upright Slap Bass.
Phil DeVille of Mustang Lightning and Lance in 2010/2011, together worked on a 20 year reunion CD of new Mustang Lightning songs for the 2011 CD release Texas Radio. Lance had 6 songs on this CD. One of the most downloaded songs of Lance's was this Latin styled number.
In 2014 Lance decided that he had enough recorded material that he could release a double CD of 30 songs on the anniversary of his first "Rockabilly" show in 1984. This release of songs (many already in use in TV), became the 30 Years of Rockabilly 2 CD album that featured Chuck Hughes (Hillbilly Hellcats), Danny B Harvey, Tony Nascar (Calf Branders/Railbenders), Jonny Barber, Jinx Jones, Phil Deville (Mustang Lightning), and Lance himself on Guitars. One of the most popular songs on the double CD album was Long Lonesome Highway with Danny B Harvey on Guitar. This song was covered by a Russian Rockabilly group named Route 67, they released Lance's song on a 45 rpm record. (Crazy Love Records). Here is Lance's version.
Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene - 2014 to 2018
Between late 2014 and April 2018, Lance played upright bass with Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene - www.crimesceneband.com. This band featured several Lance Romance original songs, including this one by Dark Angel who put together this video for the song!
Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene also recorded a re-work of Lance's song "Restless", that became the song Breathless:
After leaving Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene, Lance has been concentrating on releasing singles on his own, and with the Hillbilly Hellcats. Lovesick and Lonely is Lance's latest 2018 release:
Hillbilly Hellcats Today (2018 - 25 years of Colorado Rockabilly)
2018 marks the 25th year of the Hillbilly Hellcats. Also in 2018 the Hillbilly Hellcats have placed a song in the new FAR CRY 5 video game. This game is expected to sell 100 million copies and the Hillbilly Hellcats have already seen the effects of the games popularity in terms of sales and streaming income. Lance is now concentrating on playing live with the Hillbilly Hellcats along with Jinx Jones in the summer of 2018.
It has been a long strange trip for Lance Romance Bakemeyer since he first picked up a banjo in 1977. He continues to play live and record new music to this day. Check out his touring and live playing schedule at www.hillbillyhellcats.com