Combing through a closet at his home in Las Vegas, Mike Ybarra makes a discovery. He finds his late father's 45s.
These records are special. They're tracks recorded by his father, Dolph Ybarra and The Fantabulous Jags. The Jags were a 1960s rock n' roll band from Wellington, who rolled on the cusp of the new sound.
Ybarra recalls his father giving him the records.
"He brought the 45s to me while I was a kindergartner, back at Madison School. A big white Cadillac pulled up with the band members."
"These are for you, son. We have to go back to Denver," said his father. "Here I was with a bunch of 45s in my hands on the playground. My teacher asked, 'who was that in that big Cadillac?' … That was my dad."
Ybarra and his son, Lucas, decided to revamp the Jags. They transferred the records to CDs, capturing the original hiss and pops that make a record sound so special.
Local litigator and rhythm guitarist, Jack Potucek, remembers the inception well.
Their first gig was at the "It'll Do Club" – a rough bar at the corner of Jefferson and Botkin Street. Today, a row of apartments line where the boys entertained youngsters from Blackwell, Winfield, Ark City and South Wichita.
"I made a deal with (the owners) Everett and Alice to play for the gate – a dollar a head at the gate, only the gate, with no guarantee," said Potucek.
His quick tongue and logical argument made sense.
"I was talking to them on a Sunday morning, while they were cleaning the place. I remember Alice saying, 'this is a win-win for us. If they don't have anybody, we don't have to pay them. If they fill it up, we don't have a big enough beer cooler to take care of them.'"
Drummer Harold Little was coaxed into the band by Potucek. He was only a high school freshman, but his skills on the skins were apparent. Little was a two-time, first place performer at the Kansas High School band competition.
Little recalls his first live performance.
"Jack Potucek's dad was a judge and my dad was the chief of police. We had to be careful. I was the youngest member of the band," said Little.
Little did Police Chief Little know, Harold was having a little too much fun.
"I'd have some friends give me a beer in the men's room because I was underage -- the little sneaky things you pull when you're young," jokes Little.
The "It'll Do" was the Jags home, but they wanted more.
As The Jags matured, so did their sound. They took their act to Wichita and surrounding communities.
Page 2 of 3 - One out-of-town gig stands out in Potucek's mind.
Wellington native Jerry Koepen, who was elected student body president at Fort Hays State University, brought the Jags to play the homecoming dance.
"We kicked the [expletive] out of the place -- to the point the college kids, who were anxious to get out and have a beer at the club, passed the hat and we played a fourth hour."
But the story of the night began years earlier; Dolph was given an ultimatum from his high school band instructor, Lyle Dilly.
"Dilly said, 'you can either play that crap with Potucek, or you can be in my band. But you can't do both,'" said Potucek.
As fate would have it, Dilly moved on from Wellington to become a music professor at Fort Hays – a fact that Potucek found ironic the night of the big show.
"I couldn't let this pass, right?"
Potucek quieted the crowd and asked a question.
"How many of you guys and gals know Professor Dilly?"
A scattered group of hands rose.
"Tell that son of a [expletive] my sax man, Dolphie Ybarra, says hello."
Potucek went on to Kansas University and couldn't keep up with the band. He knew they had something special, but after becoming the president of his fraternity, he gracefully bowed out.
"When I left the Jags, I wrote my father a hell of a letter. I basically said there is no reason to worry anymore. He wanted me to go to law school, get into politics. But all I wanted to do was fly airplanes and play music," said Potucek.
Potucek ultimately left the Jags, but later formed the Comancheros – a band that would eventually be inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.
The Jags signed a deal to play in Missouri, the six-night-a-week-gig they deserved. Following their stint in Joplin, they made their way to Kansas City, playing the strip with the Comancheros.
Two bands with Wellington ties were playing the hottest clubs in the big city.
The Jags made their way to Denver and ultimately Las Vegas, headlining the Vegas Strip. The members changed, but Ybarra and Little were mainstays.
"I guess I can blame Jack for what I've done all of my life," jokes Little.
Little's life as a professional drummer continued, playing countless shows with notable musicians.
With a group called the "Orange Colored Sky," he signed with MGM records and the William Morris Agency, even appearing in the movie, "The Love God", starring Don Knotts.
From Frank Sinatra to Burt Bacharach, Little opened and played with the best. A seasoned drummer, he's still in top form -- although the economy has put his drumming on hiatus.
Page 3 of 3 - Before his death, Ybarra was still blowing his sax, and even opened up a club in Salt Lake City.
Bassist Bud Gorman has passed on, but Potucek remembers a compliment given to him by a little guitar player named Chuck Berry.
"Chuck always thought his bass playing was truly unique and interesting. He played his scales like a standup bass."
Potucek practices law in Wellington, living in the same home where the Jags first practiced.
Does he still play?
"You bet. I play a little piano -- enough to drive my friends out when it's time to go home," jokes Potucek.
Thanks to Dolph's son and grandson, his music lives on.
A little thing called rock n' roll changed the lives of some of Wellington's brightest. Who knows what would have happened if Mr. Dilly would have made a better argument against rock n' roll?
I'm glad Jack Potucek can make one heck of an argument.