Condor: Duluth band in the 1970s - Perfect Duluth Day

Condor: Duluth band in the 1970s

Condor group photo shot before a gig at Press Bar in St Cloud.

One of Duluth’s more notable bands of the mid-to-late 1970s was an act called Condor. There was very little information online about the band in 2021, when this post originated as a crowdsourcing quest to change that. Photos have since been added, along with new information at the bottom of the post.

First, here’s the rest of the original post …

* * *

There are at least two online references to Condor vocalist Margaret Carlson that mention her former band.

One is a 2002 Chicago Tribune article that notes Carlson “crisscrossed the U.S. with a rock band, reprising Jefferson Airplane and Steely Dan hits in smoky bars,” before noting she was making moves in the Chi-town jazz circuit.

The second is a 2003 Budgeteer News story reporting that Carlson was singing that summer with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra at Lucius Woods Performing Arts Center. Carlson told the Budgeteer reporter she sang several Heart songs with Condor

“I did ‘Barracuda’ and ‘Magic Man’ and ‘Crazy on You,'” Carlson said.

The Chicago Tribune story provides these details about Carlson’s career following Condor:

After quitting the rock cover band, she worked as a bookkeeper in Wisconsin, where she met and married her husband. The couple settled in Florida, where Carlson performed at resorts with a pianist who introduced her to the music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Big Band-era composers.

In the mid-1980s, around the time her husband’s job in the printing industry brought the couple to Batavia, Carlson dropped out of music again, this time to raise a family. “Once in a while I performed at a party, but most people I knew had no idea I was a professional singer,” she said. “I kept up my contacts, though, because I knew I would want to get back into music when the kids were older.”

Carlson’s singing career rebooted with a pair of jazz albums in the late 1990s.

… and that’s all we know at the Perfect Duluth Day headquarters. Who were the other band members? Are any of them still performing? Are there Condor recordings out there? Band photos? Posters?

* * *

And now, the new information and more photos …

Brian Torney, the band’s sound technician during its final years, got in touch to share some information about the band, which he said was booked 48 weeks a year all over the Midwest.

My history of Condor: I was working as a freelance sound engineer based in the Twin Cities. Many of my jobs came through a talent agency that handled rock acts. I got a call to fill in for Condor’s regular sound tech during a 1-week gig in St Paul and ended up staying with the band for most of 1977 and 78.

Condor was a full-time traveling band that appeared throughout North & South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Although we covered a lot of territory, we had a few “home base” club locations where fans could expect to find us on a regular basis. Those included the Cove Cabaret in Superior WI, The Hideaway in St. Paul (North Metro), Doc Holiday’s in Shakopee (South Metro) and Mitch’s in Eveleth, MN. We regularly drew capacity crowds at those venues.

1978 brought the disco scene to the Midwest and greatly impacted the entertainment that clubs wanted to present. At the end of ’78, members agreed the market for traveling bands was shrinking and we decided to go our separate ways.

Members included: Roger Rutter guitar, Michael Thoreen Bass, Andrew Wilcox keyboards, Mike Valasquez drums, Lance Cloutier vocals and Margaret Carlson vocals. Most of the members have family and musical connections to the Twin Ports.

Working with Condor was a great experience for me. Everyone in the band was hard working and did their part to make the group successful. We all got along and had a lot of good times.

Torney is also the source of the photos at the top and bottom of this post.

Promo photo for the original tune “Long Night” that the group was featuring in summer 1978.

Snapshot of a poster photo taken at Doc Holiday’s in Shakopee, 1978.

Original Doc Holiday’s poster from 1978 found online.

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