About Us


Denny Bruce started out as a drummer, and played with Frank Zappa in the “Mothers”, pre- “Freak Out” out band. Zappa  had to add “of Invention” to their name, to get signed to Verve Records.

Personal management came next with first artist Lisa Kindred, who had two albums on Vanguard Records. Lisa played a date at the Ash Grove, in Hollywood . On the bill was Magic Sam, from the “Westside” of Chicago . Magic Sam became a client, and then Albert Collins, Charlie Musselwhite, and Earl Hooker.

This led into record production work starting with a Classic Blues series with World Pacific Records. First recording was “Shakey Jake” Harris (better known as Magic Sam's uncle) with Luther Allison on guitar. Sunnyland Slim, a great boogie woogie pianist had Mick Taylor (soon to be in the Rolling Stones) and Lowell Fulsom on guitars. George “Harmonica” Smith was the best harp player on the West Coast. He was the major influence on all the West Coast players such as a young Kim Wilson at that time. We used “Big Mama” Thorton's band to play on the record

Blue Thumb Records was new, and Bruce was a consultant for them and brought Ike and Tina to the label, as well as Albert Collins, Earl Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite & the Chicago Blues All-Stars. Also, Robbie Basho, who also recorded for the Takoma label.

A friendship with Buffy Ste-Marie turned into going to Vanguard Records, in New York with her to renegotiate her artist deal with them. Shortly after the meeting Vanguad called me in LA and asked if I would like to open an office in LA for Vanguard, and be the A & R rep for them. Company car, expense account, why not?

During this time in 1969, Bruce had a room mate, Barry Hansen, a musicologist. Hansen had produced an album for Vanguard on his friend, John Fahey, several years earlier. A good friend of Hansen's was Al Wilson, a founding member of Canned Heat. Hansen, Wilson and Fahey were serious collectors of rare, original blues recordings, (“78's). In the early 60's the three of them took a trip throughout the South, mainly the Mississippi Delta area, and went house to house asking if anyone had old blues records they would like to sell. Not only that, but they found out many of the names they would mention were still living. Fahey “rediscovered “Bukka” White and made a recording with him. This eventually became the first record, other than his own solo guitar recordings, that started the Takoma label. I still have a 45 on Takoma, their first and last to my knowledge called “World Boogie” by Bukka White. It rocks.

I was in my first week on the job at Vanguard, and the New York office calls me and say they would like me to meet with an artist, who owes them an album. The artist turned out be John Fahey. So Fahey and I meet and discuss the type of record he would like to do. It was more of a production than Vanguard was willing to pay for and in my sticking up for John he was given a release, and I was fired.

I now became Fahey's manager, and got a deal with Reprise Records for him, and we formed a production company, Takoma Productions. John had a tape that someone had sent him six months earlier, and he said “let me play this for you and see what you think.” It was the tape that eventually came out on Takoma “Leo Kottke Six & 12-string Guitar.” He was signed to Takoma Productions, and a deal was made with Capitol Records. I became his manager for the next twelve years.

I was the manager of “J. Henry Burnett the Third, (T-Bone) & his B-52 Band on Uni Records. My client list started growing with Artists who later would be referred to as “ Americana ” or “roots rock”. New Age was just getting their niche, as George Winston made an album for Takoma Records, which was still owned by John Fahey, but way ahead of the curve. George and Windham Hill, and ECM, both great labels, really did use Takoma as their “template.” From the art work to the recording. But they did well, as this business has something called “timing” and “luck.”

I managed the Blasters (twice), Albert Lee, John Hiatt (who I also produced two albums for MCA). I was the U.S. manager for Jo Ann Kelly, from the UK, as so was Roy Harper, who was the first release for Chrysalis Records, here in the states, when they became an independent label. Mary Black, from Ireland came later.

By 1977, Fahey decided he wanted to sell Takoma Records. A joint-venture with Chrysalis was formed, with Bruce as President, and Jon Monday, who had been with Takoma Records for a longtime, was part of the deal. Jon is now President of Benchmark Recordings, and I am the C.E.O.

First signing to the label was the Fabulous Thunderbirds, from Austin , Texas . I produced the first three albums, and Nick Lowe did album four.
I was also the manager of the band for five years.

T-Bone Burnett had been in the Alpha Band for three albums, and we talked about him doing a solo album. “Truth Decay” made a lot of fans for him, and as I write this he has just won a Golden Globe for “Best Song” that he wrote for “Crazy Heart” Next album for him is with another Texan, Willie Nelson.

Speaking of Texas, (T-Bone is from Ft. Worth) we were able to sign Doug Sahm, who is from San Antonio, where he had his 60's hits with The Sir Douglas Quintet. We had several albums with the Quintet getting back together, including a live album titled “Texas Tornado.” Doug was now living in Austin , which was the new hot city where a band could get a gig somewhere. Doug later formed a band with his old Texas friends Augie Meyer forever the king of the Vox organ), Freddie Fender, and Flaco Jimenez.. They had a hot streak of country hits with his  new  band “The Texas Tornados.”

Joining the Takoma roster would be guitar legend Michael Bloomfield, the “legendary” (just ask him!) Swamp Dogg (first “Dogg” with two “g's) who brought R&B and humor to the label. Then I got my “dream” act to come on board, “The Poet Laureate of Los Angeles , Charles Bukowski” did a spoken word reading in front of an audience.

I think it was about this time the Chrysalis “brass” said our deal was not going to be renewed. Takoma Records ended up being sold to Fantasy Records, and I got to keep some masters in our deal.

In 1990, I started Benchmark Recordings after repacking the first four Fabulous Thunderbird's albums. Every album had bonus cuts, previously un- released tracks, new mastering, additional art work. Many independent distributors were interested, so deals were made and I was back in business with a label.

(For full bio and discography please go to “ALLMUSIC.com” and type Denny Bruce in the search engine.)


Jon Monday (born in San Jose, California in 1947) is an American producer and distributor of CDs and DVDs across an eclectic range of material such as Swami Prabhavananda, Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Huston Smith, Chalmers Johnson, and Charles Bukowski. He is also President of Benchmark Recordings, which owns and distributes the early catalog of The Fabulous Thunderbirds CDs and a live recording of Mike Bloomfield.

Monday got his start in multimedia through his own psychedelic light-show company in the Bay Area in the sixties, providing visuals for concerts by Country Joe and the Fish, Janis Joplin's Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Steve Miller's Blues Band at local Berkeley, California venues and The Fillmore in San Francisco.

In 1970, Monday was hired by John Fahey at Takoma Records in Santa Monica, working with guitar artists such as Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Mike Bloomfield, and Peter Lang. Eventually, he became Takoma's Vice President and General Manager, and also provided art direction, engineering, and/or produced albums by such artists as Norman Blake, Peter Rowan, Jim Kweskin, Maria Muldaur, Loudon Wainwright III, and Joseph Byrd.

In 1979, Fahey sold Takoma Records to a new company formed by music business attorney Bill Coben, veteran producer Denny Bruce, and Chrysalis Records. Monday continued with the new company as General Manager. During that time, Takoma signed and released albums by The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Canned Heat, and T-Bone Burnett.

Eventually Monday was brought into Chrysalis Records as its Director of Marketing, working with Blondie, Jethro Tull, Huey Lewis, Pat Benatar, Billy Idol, and Toni Basil.

In 1984, Monday relocated to Silicon Valley and had a 2nd career as an executive in various software and high-tech companies, including co-founder (with music research pioneer Larry Heller) and President of MusicWriter, a kiosk-based retail system for the on-site manufacturing and distribution of MIDI files and sheet music. He also held senior management positions or consulted with major 3rd party video game publishers, such as Epyx, Eidos Interactive, and Capcom. He was also Vice President of PlayNet, working with founder Nolan Bushnell.

Monday retired and moved to the San Diego area in 2004 and launched two labels: mondayMEDIA and GemsTone; producing, directing, and distributing original and archival material.

In 2006 Monday brought together many notable recording artists and produced The Revenge of Blind Joe Death: The John Fahey Tribute Album, which was released on the Takoma Records label, distributed by Fantasy Records. Participating artists included, George Winston, Michael Gulezian, Alex de Grassi, Country Joe McDonald, Peter Lang, Stefan Grossman, Rick Ruskin, and Canned Fish (a one-time collaboration between Canned Heat members Adolfo de la Parra ("Fito") and Larry Taylor, and Country Joe and the Fish member Barry "The Fish" Melton).

Monday is currently working on two feature-length documentaries: Save KLSD: Media Consolidation and Radio[1] and an authorized biographical documentary about the life, career, and impact of world religions scholar Huston Smith.




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Last modified: February 11, 2010