#30: Las Vegas Scene by Wes Dakus
City: Edmonton, AB
Radio Station: CJCA
Peak Month: October 1964
Peak Position in Edmonton: #2
Peak position in Vancouver ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “Las Vegas Scene”
In 1938, Wes Dakus was born in Mannville, Alberta. He moved to Edmonton and formed The Rebels in 1958. The Rebels quickly became one of the most popular predominantly instrumental groups on the prairies. They performed in rural hotels and seniors drop-in centres. Initially the band was known as the CJCA Rebels. It was Edmonton radio station that promoted them. CJCA gave The Rebels air-time on its local talent features and helped them with the bookings. The Rebels became one of the regular bands at The Commercial and The Rainbow Ballroom in Edmonton. By the time Dakus caught the attention of Quality Records’ VP Lloyd Dunn, he and The Rebels had gotten to know Alberta’s roads like the backs of their hands. By this time The Rebels were making tours across western Canada. The band travelled to Clovis, New Mexico where they recorded with Buddy Holly’s producer Norman Petty. He ultimately became their manager, and two singles were released under the name of The Club 93 Rebels, a nod to their radio station sponsor CJCA 930-AM.
In 1960, the singles “El Ringo”, “Taboo” and “Pink Canary” got airplay in Edmonton. “Pink Canary” peaked at #9 in Edmonton and #30 on CFUN in Vancouver. In 1962, in an effort to cash in on the ‘Twist craze,’ The Rebels released the instrumental “Cavalier Twist”. And in 1963 they released “Dog Food”, with the spoken word opener “Here boy.”
A string of singles came out in 1964. The first was “Sidewinder”, which made the Top Ten in Edmonton and Moose Jaw (SK). This was followed by “Pedro’s Pad” and “Las Vegas Scene”.
“Las Vegas Scene” was written by George Tomsco who was born in 1940 in Raton, New Mexico. He was a founding member of the Fireballs in 1958. They released a number of Top 30 instrumentals in the late 50s, including “Bulldog” and “Torquay”. The Fireballs had success when they teamed up with vocalist Jimmy Gilmer in 1963 and had a number-one hit with “Sugar Shack”. In 1968 they had another Top Ten hit as they sang “Bottle Of Wine”.
“Las Vegas Scene” peaked at #2 in Edmonton (AB). The B-side, “Sour Biscuits”, was on the radio in Wilmington, Delaware.
In 1965, Wes Dakus released “Hobo” which climbed to #9 in the RPM Canadian singles chart. Their biggest national hit on the singles chart in Canada came in 1966 with “The Hoochi Coochi Coo”, which peaked at #4. It also charted in Houston, Texas. The positive reviews and attention got them a spot on the back of Buddy Knox’s North American tour. Their first full album was in the stores in the fall of 1965 – The Wes Dakus Album with The Rebels. The personnel on the album were Stu Mitchell on drums and backing vocals. He was born in 1942. Robert “Bob” Clarke was born in Edmonton and played guitar along with backing vocals. Dennis Paul played bass guitar. Barry Allen also played guitar and added vocals.
In 1965, RPM Magazine voted Wes Dakus & The Rebels Canada’s top instrumental group for the second straight year.
The single “Wheels” was released under the title of The Dundeeville Players featuring George Tomsco on guitar, and another pair of singles followed in ’66 – “She Ain’t No Angel” and “We’ve Got A Groovy Thing Going”. The latter was a Top 5 hit in Peace River (AB) on CKYL.
In 1967, Wes Dakus recorded a cover of Jr. Walker and the All-Stars hit single “Shotgun”. The cover had a Monterey-pop-festival vibe reflective of the driving rock/psychedelic pop-rock sound in the Summer of Love. It made the playlist on CFUN in Vancouver in the spring of 1967. In 1968 The New Sound of Wes Dakus released a final single titled “Organized”.
Dakus set aside recording and performing at the end of the Sixties. In the early 70s, he opened an artist management company and his own studio in Edmonton called Sundown Recorders. Soon, he became one of western Canada’s most sought-after producers. He produced records for Darkroom, One Horse Blue, Mavis McCauley, and Randy Bachman, among many others. Wes Dakus died in Vancouver, BC, in 2013.
Stu Mitchell went on to be a member of The Preachers in the late 60s, and Privilege in the 1970s. He also recorded a single in 1971 titled “A Nice Young Girl From Texas”. In the early 80s he anchored the house band for Sun Country on CFRN-TV in Edmonton, hosted by Ian Tyson. Stu Mitchell died in 2022 at the age of 79. The Edmonton Journal reported that Mitchell was “born and raised in Saskatchewan.” His obituary tells that when Stu was a teen in Saskatoon’s T-Birds band, he was spotted by Wes Dakus, and invited to join The Rebels.
Dennis Paul went on to be a member of the Calgary band the Gainsborough Gallery.
While he was with The Rebels, Barry Allen also recorded as a solo artist. His hit singles in Canada in the mid-60s include “Love Drops” and “Armful of Teddy Bears”. He formed Southbound Freeway in 1967 and concurrently continued with Wes Dakus’ Rebels into 1968. From 1969 to 1972, Allen hosted a variety show in Calgary titled Come Together. The TV shows backup band, Cheyenne Winter, toured with him in 1971. In 1972 he formed Painter, which included some former members of the 49th Parallel. He produced records after he established Bumstead Studios. He won a number of awards as a producer and in 2013 relaunched The Rebels after Wes Dakus died. At the age of 74, in 2020, Barry Allen died after a battle with cancer.
“Wes Dakus,” canadianbands.com.
“Musician Made his Unique Mark: Rebels’ Drummer Mitchell recalled as essential part of music scene,” Edmonton Journal, October 1, 2022.
Michael Jack Kirby, “The Fireballs,” waybackattack.
Barry Allen and Dwayne Osepchuk, “Barry Allen,” Canadianbands.com, April 11, 2022.
Ian Courtney, “Canadian Recording Artist and Producer, Barry Allen, Dies,” Celebrity Access, April 6, 2020.
CJCA, 930-AM – Edmonton (AB), October 25, 1964 | Top Ten