the Natchez Trace
July 1969 picture
The Natchez Trace were one of the first Cleveland bands to play country-rock. They were heavily influenced by the Byrds "Notorious Byrd Brothers" and "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" LPs in their beginning, and kept playing into the early 1970s while changing their style into staight rock.
The band's founder and one constant member was Bob Kruck. He was from Euclid, and along with another Euclidite, Jim Murray, started the band in 1967. Bob and Jim were the guitarists. The early band had Bruce Kentner on bass and Ben Cavell on drums.
One the band's distinctions was performing original songs. Jim Murray met Ting Markulin of the Human Beingz in a music store and that led to an invitation for Jim to audtion at Cleveland Recording. The Beingz were working on their "Evolutions" LP and needed some songs.. Jim Murray provided the song "Close Your Eyes" while Jim and Bob Kruck contributed "Two Of A Kind". Jim is playing acoustic guitar on the band's recording of "Close Your Eyes".
The band played a lot on the east side, and when the rock concert era started around 1969, they were the opening act for some shows. The band also went on some tours, according to accounts from back then, but we don't have much details. There is record of one show in Duluth, MN, Jan 1970. Lucky them, they found a place colder than Cleveland in January!
Above article from March 1970.
In 1969 they recorded some original songs at Cleveland Recording that won them a talent contest, as seem in the posted article from March, 1970. While the story looks good, like 90% of these contest winning stories from back in the day, nothing came from it.
As the 1970s came on, the band changed their sound. Jim Murray moved to Los Angeles to try and break into the music scene out west. Tony Petrarca was the lead guitarist, he came from One Yere.
The band's name appears sporadically in 1973-4. They were listed as Jim Murray and the Trace for one gig at the Viking, two years after the ad posted above. A 1975 story in the Scene mentions Don Adams, a bass player, as a former member, possibly in the 1974 band.
Bob Kruck and Jim Murray are deceased. Jim was a talented songwriter and musician who played with many notable Cleveland players, unfortunately he had a rough life and never got the recognition he deserved.