Afterbirth – South Pekin Studio Sessions

Afterbirth lived on a farm outside Champaign-Urbana, IL, in the early 70s.  We played lots of live shows, with lots of crazy / amazing dancing and stuff going on both on and off the stage.  The music was all original, often very complex, with lots of unusual meters (see the liner notes below), often with strong ostinatos.  These were the only studio sessions we ever did.  Until a few days ago, I though that they, like all the Afterbirth live recordings, were lost forever.  Then I received a message from Robee that she had a CD to send me!  A doubly great message – the music existed, and it was the first I’d heard from Robee in years.

Afterbirth wasn’t a commune, but we did all live together in a farmhouse about 10 miles from town, practiced in our living room, shared a job (a few of us went to Ruby Gulch each morning as the cleanup crew) grew a lot of our own food in our very large garden, and shared a lot.  It was an amazing experience, musically and life-ishly (that should be a word, right?).

I’m not 100% sure of the instrumentation for these sessions.  If this isn’t right, send me a comment and I’ll fix it.

  • Robee Rains: Lead vocals, maybe some percussion
  • Dennis Kita: Saxes
  • Michael Smith: Clarinet and bass clarinet, vocals
  • Catherine Hall: Flute, vocals
  • Johnsee Holt: Guitar
  • Jerry Fiddler: Guitar
  • Jim Kleinhans: Bass
  • Matt Higdon: Piano
  • Jim Carey: Drums
  • Tigger Benford: Percussion

Some brief liner notes:

  • Moss starts with a free jam (we did lots of that) with some beautiful Matt piano.  Most of the jam is in 7.
  • Coincidence is sort of a suite.  I especially like the transitional head that starts just after 5:00.
  • From Here and Now starts in a gentle 13, goes to a similarly gentle 19 under Dennis’s lovely sax solo.  At about 6:00 it transitions to a much more frenetic 19 with a head that sounds to me like a mariachi on acid, over a flute ostinato.  The head happens twice, sandwiching a Johnsee guitar solo through a leslie, then drifts into space.  Ahh, Afterbirth.
  • Lost in a Notebook starts with a 33 beat cycle that makes elegant sense.  Then it gets weird, including some stuff over a cool mode whose name I don’t know starting about 3:30.

You can download the songs, if you like, by clicking here.

If you were in C-U at that time and came to a show, or want to know where somebody is, or tell me where you are, please leave a comment.  If you have an photos or other tapes, that would be spectacular!



One thought on “Afterbirth – South Pekin Studio Sessions

  1. Owen Vaughan

    Hello Jerry.

    My name’s Owen Vaughan and I’m a student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I’ve recently become very interested in obscure local music from the 70s-80s. I’ve compiled a list of all my findings on a music database called Discogs here:

    After all this research, I thought it might be interesting to release some sort of compilation of my favorite stuff I’ve found. I hope to release this comp through a small run of cassettes (with a download code included) and to sell it at cost. I’m not trying to make any money, just want to get some of this music back into the community and world. I’m also studying graphic design so designing the J-card and everything will be good for my portfolio.

    I came across the Random – Tricky album in a record store, and liked it a lot. I looked your name up and then found these Afterbirth recordings too. They’re great! I’m especially partial to “Moss”. Do you think I could potentially include a song of yours on my compilation? In return, I’d be happy to send you a copy of the final product. Also, if you have any photos or other ephemera related to the CU music scene, I’d love to see those too. My email is



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