This is the story of
(Formerly “The RiverRoad Band”)
(1973 – River Road: from left to right: Randy Hoggatt, Mike Hughey, Terry Gilpin, Ron Hoggatt)
(1999 – The RiverRoad Band: from left to right: Randy Hoggatt, Mike Hughey, Terry Gilpin, Ron Hoggatt)
(2005 – Verdigris: from left to right: John Loffer, Randy Hoggatt, Mike Hughey, Rik Tanos)
The History of The RiverRoad Band/Verdigris
Written by Mike Hughey
VERDIGRIS was originally formed in 1973 as The Verdigris Valley Boys (that name really sucked). All the members of VERDIGRIS grew up in the Coffeyville, Kansas area. The band really started when myself (Mike Hughey) and Randy Hoggatt got home from Viet Nam. We met and started sitting around jamming on acoustics. After awhile, Ron Hoggatt and Terry Gilpin joined in on the fun and that was that.
The band played one gig under the name Verdigris Valley Boys and then changed to River Road. The name River Road came from the fact that in Coffeyville there is a river named Verdigris that flows around and through the town. There is a road in the country that follows the river and is known locally as the river road (go figure). In the early 70’s, this was the spot for many great parties. So the band, having either attending or starting the parties decided to use the name River Road. Anyone from Coffeyville knew why the band chose that name. It does sound kind of country, but believe me, River Road was anything but country.
The four original members of River Road were Randy Hoggatt (lead/rhythm guitar, lead/backup vocals, songwriter), Mike Hughey (rhythm guitar, lead/backup vocals, songwriter, sound and recording engineer), Terry Gilpin (bass, backup vocals, songwriter), and Ron Hoggatt (drums). After a couple of gigs, the band added two other members. They were Frank Trotter (lead/backup vocals) and Gary (knobs) Phelps (sound engineer).
The band began playing locally and soon found a huge following of very loyal fans. At that time Coffeyville had a number of clubs that bands could still play rock and roll in and this fit River Road just fine. We put together our 4 hour set of original songs, and early 70’s country rock, rock, and pop/rock cover songs by artists such as, Jackson Browne, Pure Prairie League, Poco, The Eagles, Jerry Jeff Walker, Willis Alan Ramsey, Eric Clapton (you get the picture). We continued to play in Coffeyville and the surrounding area honing our show.
Finally, in 1975 we were ready to hit the road. We got an agent and started booking gigs. We played in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and of course Kansas. The road was long and hard and in October of 1976, just about one year after hitting the road, we came home for the birth of my son, Cambron (obviously we came back home from time to time during this year on the road) 😉 LOL. After Cam was born we never went out again. We played a few local gigs and then the band broke up. I had a new son, and my priorities changed. The rest of the band went on to form Hog Jam. Hog Jam stayed together for about a year and then they all went their separate ways. There was never any fights that caused these break-ups, just different wants and needs. After playing in many different bands in the area, Randy, Ron, and Terry started playing with the country band Predator and became very popular in the mid-west. They opened for many famous country acts including; Brooks and Dunn, Diamond Rio, and Mark Chessnut, just to name a few. They played with this band for 5 or 6 years. This was in the early to mid 90’s.
I kept the name River Road and along with Frank and Gary (the sound engineer) put together a number of different line ups of the band over the years. In 1979, myself and Gary opened River Road Recording Studios in Coffeyville. It was just a 4 track, but all brand new equipment. We did some commercials, demos, and one album for a local band. One year later, we sold the studio to some friends and went our separate ways. Frank played with many different bands over the years and moved away. Gary moved away and was later killed in a car wreck (God rest his soul). We all still miss him very much. He was the best sound man any of us have ever worked with.
In 1981 I moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma and went to work for Phillips Petroleum Company. While in Bartlesville, I met Henry Baker. Henry owned a small music store and me and him hit it off. Henry was wanting to build a studio, but didn’t know how. I offered to build it for half the studio. The deal was done and so was the studio. This one was an 8 track. In the 3 years the studio was open, a half a dozen albums were recorded there with me at the board. One of these albums was with members of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Now this wasn’t my kind of music, but the chance to work with musicians like Johnny Gimble, Glenn Duncan, Glenn Rhees, Gene Crownover, Clarence Cagle, Bob Kiser, Ramona Reed, and Curly Lewis was just too good to pass up. Now these guys where real musicians. When the album was done, I went to Nashville and got the record pressed on OK Productions label. While the other guys from River Road had done well, I had finally done well myself.
Not long after that project I moved to Tulsa, OK. and put together a small 4 track demo studio in my home. For the next year, I wrote and recorded demos of at least 30 songs. After a year in Tulsa, I moved back to Coffeyville. In 1991 I married Kim Owens. Kim is a keyboard player and in fact, played keys for Hog Jam. Kim grew up with the other three original members of River Road. They all lived in the country and went to school together. I started playing with other local musicians and even played in a couple of bands, but nothing that I really liked. Country was the big thing around southeast Kansas and I didn’t want anything to do with that. You’re never too old to rock and roll. Rock and original songs was what I wanted to play and it just wasn’t happening. In 1993 I sold all my equipment, everything, even my acoustic and just dropped out of the music scene all together.
In 1998, Kim and I went to Kansas City to see Eric Clapton on his Pilgrim tour. Eric happens to be my favorite guitar player. As far as I’m concerned, Eric is the best there ever was and still is. Anyway, the concert was great and the next day, I went out and bought a new strat and amp while still in KC. Things were starting to happen. First I got in touch with Terry. Kim, Terry, and myself started jamming at my house. Next, I went down to Tulsa and bought a little 4 track cassette studio and we started playing cover songs. Then Terry’s daughter Terah, joined in. She was just 15, but she wanted to sing, so she did. Not bad either. Soon I got in touch with Ron. Ron and Randy are cousins, so when Ron started coming over, it wasn’t too long before Randy followed. The next thing we knew, the old band was back together. Terah quit coming over and Kim just sat and listened. The magic was still there. After 22 years we still had it.
The four of us decided to start writing and recording all original songs. No covers, no bars, just our own songs. It was obvious that something was really happening so I asked the rest if they were really serious about getting back together. The answer was YES. The little 4 track was sold and I jumped in with both feet and bought a new all digital “250” (that’s right 250 tracks) track studio and live sound equipment. The stage was set for the revival of The RiverRoad Band. First we decided to change the name of the band from River Road to The RiverRoad Band. After that, we started laying down tracks. One year later we had our first CD entitled “Dreams”. The CD was released in December of 1999 on the bands own label, “OldNewDam Productions”.
In January of 2000, we were all reunited with an old friend from Coffeyville, Jan DeHaven. Everyone in the band new Jan well. She was living in Memphis at the time and was a singer/songwriter. At this visit, we asked her to play some music. She played one of her songs and then she had to leave and head back to Memphis. After she left, we thought she would be a valuable addition to band. We decided to contact her and see if she wanted to move home and join the band. Her parents lived in the area and it would be good for her and the band. I made the call and she came home. Kim had played keys on a couple of songs on the bands first CD, so it was decided to have Jan and Kim both join the band.
In February of 2000, the band started laying down tracks for our second CD. We played a few gigs locally and kept working, writing, and recording songs for the new album. As time went on, Jan, who was divorced found a new guy who just happened to be Kim’s brother. She had too many irons in the fire and by mutual agreement Jan left the band in late October of 2000. Now it was just the four original guys again. Kim would be a session musician and play on songs only if the band needed keys. So it was back to the original band. During the recording of our first CD, we found out that there was a country band who had taken the name River Road/The River Road Band and had a hit on the country charts. We decided to change the name of the band to VERDIGRIS.
In February of 2002, Terry Gilpin (original bass player for the band) left the band to pursue his own style of music and other interests. Randy and I decided not to replace Terry, but use a session bass player instead. We found an old friend, Danny Strunk of Independence, KS. I had known Danny for 20 years and knew that Danny would do a fine job for the band and bring some fresh sounds. Randy and I wished Terry all the luck. He is still a dear friend.
In May of 2002, Ron Hoggatt (original drummer for the band) left the band to pursue playing live gigs with another band. We all wished him well and he came over from time to time to see how we were doing on our new CD. Again we decided not to replace Ron, but to use a session drummer. We picked John Loffer. John is an old friend and Randy and myself have played with John before. Randy played with him in a country band many years ago and I had jammed with John on many occasions.
Now it was down to Randy and me, back to where it all began. With the two original members of the band left, Randy and me were now producing our own music. Since we were writing all the songs anyway, it now made it easier to get the sound we really wanted.
Randy and I started playing live acoustic gigs under the name Déjà Vu and then Verdigris. We had started writing songs for our next CD and were playing regular gigs at The Woods in Independence, KS and at a new place in Coffeyville, KS called Tavern on the Plaza. When we started laying down tracks for the new CD we quit our live gigs and started recording. The new lineup for the band was Randy, John, and myself. The only problem was that we didn’t have a bass player.
On January 1st, 2005, we added Rik Tanos on bass. Rik and his wife Elaine just moved to town and we were glad they did. Rik is one hell of a bass player and we were glad he was part of Verdigris.
In November, 2005 we finished our new CD entitled Verdigris V2.0. In early 2006, after 8 years and a lot of good times, Verdigris was no more. Randy left town to live with his brother on Grand Lake in Oklahoma. With Randy gone and leaving me without a writing partner it was time to close another chapter in the life and times of River Road/Verdigris.
On May 27th, 2009 Ron passed away. We all miss him very much.
On June 21st, 2016, John Loffer passed away. We all miss him very much.
On November 9th, 2017 Randy Hoggatt passed away. I’m going to miss him forever. We were music partners and great friends for 44 years. We made a lot of great music, and had a lot fun together over those years. He was truly the best guitar player and friend I ever had the pleasure of picking with and knowing. I will always keep Randy in my heart. Miss you brother. May you find peace and happiness in your new life.
With three of the members gone, I’m glad we got to make music one more time before they went to join the great band in the sky. I still miss them.
We had a great run and a lot of fun, but all good things must end.
Mike Hughey, Randy Hoggatt, Ronny Hoggatt, Terry Gilpin, John Loffer, and Rik Tanos
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