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The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band

the Band
John Gorka – banjo
Russ Rentler – mandolin
Doug Anderson – rhythm guitar
Richard Shindell – lead guitar
Tim Germer – bass guitar


The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band reunion

concert on September 30, 2022

After 42 years a Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band reunion concert!

Click here to listen to WDIY's Dave Fry who talks with John Gorka two days before this reunion...
Dave Fry is a veteran folksinger, Lehigh Valley roots-radio programmer (WSAN, WMUH, WDIY) and co-founder and former artistic director of Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem.


John on his Facebook (sept 30, 2022):
This is going to be fun! Russ Rentler on mandolin, me, Alex Radus on guitar, and Doug Anderson on guitar and vocals. Alex, Doug’s nephew, is an excellent musician and singer, a welcome second generation Razzy Dazzy Spasm member. Russ is letting me borrow his Baldwin Ode banjo!

Russ on his Facebook (Oct 1, 2022):
The reunion of the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band last night was truly magical. We had such a great time! Friendship and music transcends time and space. I am so grateful to be able to play with these great musicians 42 years later. Thank you John Gorka and Doug Anderson and Alex Radus and to all the folks who traveled great distances to share the experience with us. !


The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band Reunion concert live at Godfrey Daniels
Photo by Michael J Cuoco
  The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band Reunion concert
Both videos made by Patrice Masluk Schwartzman.



    Listen or download 5 The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band live tracks
I would like to thank Dave Fry for these songs..... Dave is artistic director of Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem
  "July, You're a Woman"
  "Straight Back Home to You"
  "These Days RDSB"
  "You Can Run"


Photo made by Leah Marie Kirk
Photo: Facebook Doug Anderson

Doug Anderson on his Facebook (October 1, 2022):

What a special day...played two shows with my good friends John Gorka, Russ Rentler, and Alex Radus. Saw friends from all times in my life; what a treat! From NH, VT, State College, PA, and NJ...and three of my best former students.


RDSB members played on Doug Anderson's new CD:
Ol' Moose - No forever Road
(release date April 1, 2023)

Russ Rentler about this CD on Facebook:
My old bandmate, Doug Anderson, of the “ legendary “Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band has just released a new CD! My other old bandmate, John Gorka contributed vocals and tasty banjo! I played uke, autoharp and octave mandolin on a few tracks. Doug Anderson ‘s nephew Alex Radus who played with us at our Reunion gig also contributed some nice tracks. This is the first time all three original Razzy’s appear on a recording since a recording session we did at Godfrey’s one Sunday morning in 1979 with Dave Fry as our engineer . I am admittedly biased but I think Doug has made a beautiful album with great songwriting, vocals and instruments.

  Click here to listen to Nothing but the wind (96 kbps)
Doug is playing guitar and singing lead. John is singing harmony and playing banjo and Russ is playing mandolin.




The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band (History)

The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band was formed in 1976 at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The band consisted initially of John Gorka, Russ Rentler, and Doug Anderson. Later, Richard Shindell joined the group on lead guitar. Tim Germer was also part of the group, playing bass guitar. As Gorka would later describe it, "It was kind of a bluegrass band, but not a real formal, traditional one." Although the band never recorded an album or even went on a tour, three members (Gorka, Shindell, and Rentler) went on to have significant careers in folk music. Doug Anderson, is now a philosophy professor at Southern Illinois University, he lives in Denton (Texas) and continues to play music locally and Tim Germer is a software engineer in Northern Virginia.

Rich Shindell, Doug Anderson, John Gorka, Russ Rentler at the Floating Folk Festival -1978 Bethlehem, PA
(click on the photo to enlarge)


The original three members of the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band met as freshmen at Moravian College at an open mic held as part of freshman orientation. Gorka was performing on banjo and Rentler on mandolin. After meeting guitarist Doug Anderson in the audience the three formed a band. According to Rentler, "John played incredible 5-string banjo and Doug Andersen provided the solid rock rhythm on his custom made Froggy Bottom guitars." A year or two later the group was joined by "Rich" Shindell on lead guitar.They were also joined by Tim Germer on bass guitar.

Click here to listen to John & Russ about the early days of the band and the influence Dough had on them.... (from the "Sit Downs And Session" by Chris Poh, March 26, 2021)


In 1979 (or 1980) The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band recorded a live session at Godfrey Daniels Coffeehouse. Doug Anderson was the singer and played guitar on most of the tracks Richard Shindell played lead guitar and he did harmony vocals. Russ Rentler was the mandolin player and John Gorka played 5 string banjo and he also did the harmony vocals. Dave Fry recorded the songs and played bass from the recording booth.. On the first track Dough Anderson is playing on his Froggy Bottom guitar!

01. Backslidin' Lover (Hank Soto cover)
Delia (Bob Dylan cover)
I Saw the Light (Hank Williams cover)
July, You're a Woman (John Stewart cover)
Willin' (Lowell George cover)
Four Rode (Ian Tyson cover)
Nightlife (cover….)
Sonora's Death Row (Kevin Blackie Ferrell cover)
The Dutchman (Michael Peter Smith cover)
Black Mt. Rag (traditional)
Arkansas Traveler (traditional)
Beatin' My Time (Tim O'Brien cover)
Friend of the Devil (Garcia and Hunter cover)
Honky Tonk Women (Rolling Stones cover)
Panama Red (New Riders Of The Purple Sage cover)
Statesboro Blues (Willie McTell cover)
Me singin' (George Gritzbach cover)
No Spare Parts (Another Gritzbach tune)

As webmaster of www.johngorka.nl (the John Gorka videowebsite) I am glad I can present these 18 songs from the legendary Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band.

If you ever saw John Gorka live, you must remember the funny stories about the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band. We heard a lot about the band but we did not hear a song from the RDSB.

In September 2016 I spoke with Richard Shindell in Leiden (NL) about the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band. I asked him if he ever wrote a song together with John Gorka. He said there was one song "You can Run" and Richard thought Dough Anderson still had a copy of that song.

I wrote a letter to Dough and he wrote John Gorka was the singer of that song. unfortunately Dough could not find a rough copy. But Dough made me happy with other unique matarial played by the RDSB!

I would like to thank Dough Anderson for sending me the "Godfrey Daniels recording tape"

Jos van Vliet


John Gorka
The band played at various venues in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, particularly Godfrey Daniels, throughout four years of college. John Gorka, a history and philosophy major, shifted his focus to music before the end of college and went on to become a major figure in the contemporary folk of the 1980s till now. Click here for the John Gorka Biograpy on this website

  Doug Anderson
Doug Anderson followed a more academic path completing a Ph.D. and later joining the Department of Philosophy at Penn State University and the University of North Texas, as well as becoming author of the children's book Too Big To Dance. Doug Anderson continues to play music locally with the alternative country bands Bone Dry River Band (in Illinois) and
a variety of
Ol' Moose projects including new on in Denton.



After 55 seconds you can hear John's story about "The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band world tour". John Gorka live at Wheeler Community Arts Center. Indpls IN - April 26, 2014.

Russ Rentler

Russ Rentler went on to medical school and continued to practice general internal medicine for several years. During that time he continued to pursue music on the side. Sometime around 2003 Rentler left his medical practice to pursue music full-time. His initial efforts have been well received in the press. In 2017 Russ made his first CD in eight years: Escaped the Tide. Russ: "Some of the songs have been banging around in my head for decades but were never put on tape including 3 that were written in my early college years at Moravian College "

Click here to buy Russ Rentler CD's.


John Gorka and Russ Rentler live at Godfrey Daniels Bethlehem PA with "That's how legends are made" (April 7, 2017)

Richard Shindell
Richard Shindell eventually left Moravian and pursued his musical interests at Hobart College in Geneva, New York. Now dividing his time between Buenos Aires, Argentina and New York's Hudson Valley, Richard Shindell is a writer whose songs paint pictures, tell stories, juxtapose ideas and images, inhabit characters, vividly evoking entire worlds along the way and expanding our sense of just what it is a song may be. From his first record, Sparrow's Point (1992) to his current release, Careless (September 2016), Richard Shindell has explored the possibilities offered by this most elastic and variable of cultural confections: the song.

Richard Shindell Doug Anderson Russ Rentler John Gorka



Recent videos

.. John Gorka (2016)

"Love is our Cross to Bear" was one of the four song John Gorka recorded February 8, 2016 in the Hague, the Netherlands for the "John Gorka video website".


External link: John Gorka, official web site



Doug Anderson - Almost Memphis

Fat Men In The Bathtub - Ol' Moose (Doug Anderson), Stefan Benedetti, Trace Bivens (2017)

External link: Homepage of Doug (Ol'Moose)
Doug Anderson at University of North Texas



.. Russ Rentler (June 2018)

Russ on his Youtube Channel:

Old time fiddle tune on my homemade gourd banjar (June 2018)

External link: Russ Rentler, official web site



.Richard Shindell (March 2017)
Richard Shindell Performs "Careless" and "Your Guitar" [Acoustic Guitar Sessions, March 2017]

He stopped by the Acoustic Guitar Sessions to perform two songs from his most recent album Careless: the heart-rending title track and “Your Guitar,” in which the Argentina resident sings of his travels from from California to Patagonia from the perspective of his guitar.

External link: Richard Shindell, official web site




The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band is a result of John Gorka's studying the history of street bands in New Orleans

The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band was an early New Orleans band regarded by some as the first jazz band.
A 1897 photograph of an early New Orleans band led by Emile “Stalebread Charlie” Lacoume (second from the far left). Members of the group were Harry Gregson, Emile “Whiskey” Benrod, Willie “Cajun” Bussey, Frank “Monk” Bussey and a boy known only as “Warm Gravy.” Another member who was known as “Chinee” and a singer known as “Family Haircut.” This band performed in the streets of Storyville in the 1890’s and early 1900’s. From a book  “Storyville, New Orleans” by Al Rose. 



The Razzy Dazzy Spasm collaboration


Richard Shindell debut CD: Sparrows Point © 1992 Shanachie 8002

..............Track 11: By Now ( with John Gorka (the harmony singer)
.................... Listen to the whole song in low quality

.................. Click here to buy the CD
.................. Click here to buy the high quality MP3 song


DVD "Gypsy Life"

Road Of Good Intensions

Russ Rentler is playing mandolin on the great John Gorka DVD/Blue Ray "Gypsy Life"
Click here to buy the DVD

© 2007 AIX Records AIX 83053




Russ Rentler & Dough Anderson played together after 40 years (September 7, 2019)



Russ Rentler & Dough Anderson live - "One eyed grandma"

Russ Rentler played on mandolin and dobro with Doug Anderson (on Harmonica) live at Nod Hill Brewery in Ridgefield, in western CT. (March 8, 2020).

Also with Alysia Love (Fiddle) David Anastasia on bass and Matt who sat in on electric guitar. Russ about this performance: "A great time was had by all. It’s an extra treat to play “one eyed grandma “ with a fiddle player"




  John Gorka with Russ Rentler live at New Hope Winery in New Hope (Pennsylvania) on December 14th, 2019




On May 24, 2020 John Gorka wrote on his webpage:

"Home Video # 8 is a song by my friend Doug Anderson from our Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band days. Doug is making a lot of music presently under the name Ol’ Moose. I hope live music comes back some day. I’d love to hear him and maybe play together again."


Click here to go to the webpage with You Can Run....





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