About The Del-Tino's
If Cub Koda hadn't been its lead singer and guitarist, the Del-Tino's might have disappeared into the mists of undocumented garage rock history. As it stands, the Southeastern Michigan rock & roll trio is ground zero for a man who kept the rock & roll flame burning throughout his career.
Like any high school band, the Del-Tino's had modest beginnings. Koda's family settled in Manchester, MI -- a farming town in the Southeastern corner of the state -- when he was 13. As a rocker in a farming community, Cub was a little out of place, but after a while, he met Rusty Creech, a "hillbilly kid" who also liked rock & roll and, more importantly, played guitar. Koda and Creech began playing together, with Cub bashing out a primitive beat on a small drum kit and Rusty playing guitar. A few months later, Cub decided to move to guitar and sing. Shortly afterward, their duo became a full-fledged band with the addition of drummer Doug Hankes, who had recently moved to Manchester from Cincinnati, OH.
Early in 1963, the band played their first gig -- without Creech, who was suffering from stage fright -- at a junior high Band Booster concert. Satisfied with the show, Koda and Hankes decided to make a real go of the band, convincing Creech to overcome his shyness. The trio decided to name themselves the Del-Tino's, simply because it sounded rock & roll. They began playing the teen rock circuit in Michigan, slowly developing a fan base and becoming friends with local bands. In particular, they became close with the Adrian-based the Hesitations, who played regularly at the Manchester Tennis Court dances and at Allie's Resort at Wamplers Lake. Koda later admitted in the liner notes to the 1998 CD The Del-Tino's Meet the Hesitations that the Hesitations were "our idols and immediate role models." The Del-Tino's learned how to play many contemporary rock hits by listening and watching the Hesitations.
Soon, the Del-Tino's were working the high school and teen rock circuit in Southern Michigan as hard as they could, playing everywhere from Adrian to Ann Arbor. They acquired matching jackets on the advice of Ann Arbor's the Iguanas and they began to sharpen their attack, turning into a sharp, hard-rocking combo. In the fall of 1963, they entered United Sound Studios in Detroit to cut their first single, a cover of Roy Orbison's "Go! Go! Go!," which featured "Ramrod" on the flipside. They released it independently and it made a small impact.
Throughout 1964, the Del-Tino's continued to play concerts and attend high school, dabbling with home recordings. Koda, in particular, became fascinated with the blues and began to introduce his bandmates to the music. In 1965, they released their second single, "Nightlife"/"Pa Pa Ooh Mau Mau," which was issued by Sonic Records. That spring, Hankes graduated from high school and went to Michigan State University in East Lansing, which meant he only occasionally came back for Del-Tino's rehearsals. Knowing that the end of the group was in sight, Koda and Creech continued playing, with Hankes returning for the gigs. They stuck it out throughout the summer following Cub and Rusty's 1966 graduation, playing as the house band at the Coca Club and recording a final session in a basement in Adrian. Two songs from that session, "Ramblin' on My Mind" and "I Got My Mojo Workin'," were released as a single later that year, not long after the group went their separate ways.
Cub Koda was the only member to continue working in the music biz, eventually finding fame and fortune through Brownsville Station and their hit, "Smokin' in the Boy's Room." Koda continued as a solo artist following Brownsville's breakup; he also played blues with Hound Dog Taylor's backing band, the Houserockers. He also established himself as a music journalist through his work in Goldmine magazine. Soon, he began working on reissues and liner notes for a variety of record companies. In the early '90s, he became a contributing editor for All Music Guide.
All of Koda's reissue work helped pave the way for the release of Go! Go! Go! to Surfin' School: The Del-Tino's Meet the Hesitations on Norton Records in 1998. It contained all of the known recordings from the Del-Tino's and the Hesitations, providing a neat little history of Southern Michigan rock & roll. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine