Ernie Story: Chain Gang/Disco City
From Meditation Blue (Legend, 1977)
This strange, private press album out of Minnesota came via the Groove Merchant earlier in the year. It was one of those cases where I had credit to burn so I took a chance on an eclectic LP and once I really sat with it, I’m glad I did.
From the title and look of the album, you’d think Ernie Story was some kind of Christian/New Age folk singer but on the LP, it boasts that Story was a songwriter for mostly R&B groups such as The Impressions and Chi-Lites and this seems true – he wrote “Simple Message” for the Impressions’ Preacher Man album though I can’t seem to find which Chi-Lites song he did.
For his own album however, Story’s styles are varied, to say the least, a contrast best captured on these two songs which close out Side A. “Chain Gang” reminds me of Rodriguez’s soulful, folksy rock in one moment, but then it drops into a funkier, fuzzed out sound just a few beats later and then there’s that unexpected transition into “Disco City” as Story puts together what you might call a “garage disco” joint.
It must be said – Story might have skills as a songwriter but he’s not really a very good singer but given that this is a private press album, I suppose that fact is more endearing than annoying (that said, if you don’t like his singing on “Disco City,” you’ll much prefer the B-side’s “The E Groove” which is a fantastic little disco instrumental.
I’m curious what Story is doing these days – he doesn’t seem to have had an extensive musical career after ’77…
Ernie still writes music. He plays and sings gospel/christian for nursing homes and church.
@Ann Story. On the off change you read this I would really like to get in touch with Ernie to discuss a music project I am working on in Auckland, New Zealand. Could you please reach out with some contact details, happy to provide a summary via email initially if that works, or can arrange a call at a time/date that suits you 🙂
Thanks so much.
Somewhere arond the time of the years 1971-1973, I knew an Ernie Story, a man of about 30 years then, but could have been more or less, I don’t know. At that time he lived in a coach house in the back on the 34 hundred block of Janssen Ave. in Chicago. I’d visit him every now and then and saw him play with different groups. He was already a songwriter then and had a very pleasant voice. He loved cats. I was a young guy of about 20 or 21 years at the time, a music student and played piano. Ernie was a guy I looked up to. I left the area and then Chicago, went as a musician all over the world and now live in Germany.
I wonder if this here is the same Ernie Story I knew back then and does he remember me? Anyway, hi Ernie. Thanks.
Addendum: It’s ok to print my email address:
I remember this guy coming to a bar in St. Cloud, MN called the Grand Mantle. Each time he would roll into town my college roommates and I were sure to be there. Always thought he should have made it big. He reminded me of Jim Croce. I went off to school in Europe in 1974 and when I got back he never apparently cmae back to the Granite City. Hope he is still kicking and writing music. God Bless and thanks for the soulful tunes.
@ann story he use to sing at my Dad’s church back in the 90’s. Please have him contact me, as my father has recently passed and my mother would like to get in touch with him.