Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band
Friday, Nov 15th, 1996
The Rathskeller
State College, PA

Tonya Browne - lead vocals
Mark Ross - guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals (tracks 2, 13, 23, 24)
Jack Wilkinson - drums, backing vocals, lead vocals (track 11)
Rene' Witzke - bass
Terry Owen (?) - saxophone

1st set:
1. opening instrumental (6:02)
2. Pride and Joy (4:37)
3. See See Baby (3:43)
4. Fortune Teller (3:12)
5. Hand Jive (5:12)
6. A Man Down in Texas (6:32)
7. Running Shoes (3:17)
8. I Hope You're Satisfied (3:39)
9. C'est La Vie (3:34)

2nd set:
10. opening instrumental 2 (3:19)
11. If You Love Me Like You Say (4:08)
12. instrumental 3 (2:11)
13. Caldonia (3:38)
14. You're Evil (2:46)
15. You Can Have My Husband (3:05)
16. My Baby Loves the Way (3:06)
17. Let Me Tell You What Love Is (3:58)
18. Flip Flop and Fly (3:19)
19. What Have I Done Wrong (4:21)
20. Too Tall to Mambo/drum solo (8:22)
21. Route 66 (6:14)

3rd set:
22. Skeller Stomp (3:16)
23. I Ain't Drunk (4:13)
24. My Girl is Red Hot (2:22)
25. I Wanna Thank You (3:45)
26. I'm a Queen Bee (fades out) (3:51)

Total Time: 1:45:42

Portable cassette recorder (?) ->
Cool Edit (WAV, filtering & track split) ->
FLAC Frontend -> flac files


The sound quality on this recording is pretty good,
surprisingly so considering the circumstances. I know
I recorded it with a hand-held cassette recorder, and
there's a note on the tape case that says I just stuck
the recorder under the stand the main PA amplifier was
sitting on. The resulting recording came out fairly
clear sounding, with little to no distortion. It's
mid-range heavy (could use more bass and treble), but
very listenable. In a perfect world, the vocals would
be a little louder in the mix. The beginning of the
second set is muffled sounding, but overall this is
really good for a low-budget audience recording. I
know I listened to this tape a lot before their
official live albums came out.

If anyone knows the names of the untitled instrumental
pieces, please let me know. It's been bugging me for years.

Unfortunately the tape ran out just a few songs into the
final set, just as the crowd was getting good and warmed
up (i.e. drunk). Up to that point they were pretty
sedate - Mark Ross even tells the crowd early on, "wake up,
it's Friday night!" Kind of a shame that a set this good
was wasted on a bunch of college kids who didn't have the
sense to enjoy it. But that was Queen Bee - they brought
it every night, whether the crowd was good or not.

During "Pride and Joy" there's a break in the vocals
(although the band keeps playing). I think some drunk
tried to climb on stage - if you listen closely, you
can hear Mark Ross say "Get off the stage!" and then
Jack Wilkinson calls for a bouncer.

The hooting and hollering durign the guitar solo in
"Route 66" is because Mark Ross is doing all sorts of
guitar tricks like playing behind his back, behind his
head and with his teeth.

I went with the song titles that were listed on my tape
case - many of these songs never made it onto a Queen
Bee album, so some of the titles are probably just guesses
on my part.

About the band:

For those who never had the pleasure of seeing the mighty
Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band, they were a rockin'
blues band formed in State College, PA in the mid-80s who
ruled the bar band scene at Penn State from the late-80s
through the late-90s, gradually branching out to play
bars and festivals all over the northeastern U.S. They
were successful enough to be able to record and release
four studio albums, two live discs and a couple compilations.

The band was formed by guitarist Mark Ross after hearing
Browne, who was working as a bartender at the time, singing
along with music in the bar. He convinced her to start a
band, and after going through a couple drummers and a few
bassists, by 1993 the band's line-up had solidified around
the rhythm section of Wilkinson and Witzke. I still
remember sitting next to Rene Witzke in Zenos one night and
overhearing him tell someone he was the bassist in Queen
Bee, and I basically told him he was full of crap because
the bassist was a big, burly guy (Ronnie Wasco). From
that night on, every time I'd go see the band Witzke would
spot me in the crowd, smile and point at himself to say
"see, I told you I was in the band". Great guy.

The Blue Hornet Band had a very hard time holding on
to saxophone players - it seemed like it was a new guy
nearly every time I saw them play live, and each of their
studio albums features a different saxophonist. That's
why I've got the question mark after Terry Owens' name
above. By this time I'm pretty sure Doug Bernstein wasn't
in the band any more because they had to use a harmonica
player on their 1996 acoustic live album, and Terry is
the sax player on 1997's live album.

In late 1998 after a decade of heavy touring, the band
decided to split up because some of the band members wanted
to settle down and start families. They put on a big
farewell show in January 1999, and that was it. The
Queen Bee, Tonya Browne, tried to have a career as a
professional singer, but sadly she passed away
unexpectedly only a couple years later March 9th, 2001,
reportedly due to complications caused by diabetes. The
news was a shock - she was still in her 30s at the time.
It was a tragic loss.

Queen Bee discography:

Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band (1987)
Harder Than a Freight Train (1990)
Dealin' The Blues (1993)
Live at the Acoustic Brew (1996)
Live (1997)
Front to Back (half new, half retrospective) (1998)
Honey From the Hive (retrospective) (2010?)



The second half of this page has a nice write-up about Queen Bee:


And here's another rememberance of Tonya Browne and the band:


Do a search for the band on YouTube - there's a lot of
great footage out there.