The Town Criers was a country-rock band that featured many of San Diego’s Che Underground musicians, including Ray Brandes and Dave Klowden of the Tell-Tale Hearts, Peter Miesner and Mark Zadarnowski of the Crawdaddys, Tom Ward of the Gravedigger V, and Dave Ellison of the Rockin’ Dogs. The group predated the alt-country movement of the 1990s by several years. The last few months of the Tell-Tale Hearts’ existence were contentious times. Eric Bacher had quit the band in 1986, and many of the original San Diego scenesters had either left town or simply moved on. By the time guitarist Peter Miesner of the Crawdaddys arrived to save the day, the rest of the band members had begun to feel the effects of nearly four years together, and relationships were further strained by meddling outsiders and substance abuse. For me, Peter’s addition to the group provided a welcome distraction from the band’s disintegration. Peter, David Klowden and I spent long hours listening to traditional blues and country music, as well as the mid-’60s Bakersfield sounds of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Two great inspirations for me were Gram Parsons, in particular the International Submarine Band’s “Safe at Home” album, and Doug Sahm. During the last six months of the Tell-Tale Hearts’ existence our set lists reflected the great divide that was growing in the band. Pictures from a final performance in January in the basement of the building where Croce’s is currently located show a marked change in the group’s appearance. In the photographs, Peter and I are wearing short, slicked back hair and I am playing guitar in nearly every shot. When the Tell-Tale Hearts finally split for good in February 1987, the group disbanded into two factions. Bass player Mike Stax and keyboardist Bill Calhoun reunited for a short time with Hearts guitarist Eric Bacher and became the freakbeat Barons. (Mike and Bill would later give the Tell-Tale Hearts a second run.) The rest of the band — Peter, David Klowden and I— joined forces with Gravedigger V bassist Tom Ward to create the Town Criers.