Welcome to the White Light Archive
Created and maintained by Rob Haeuser

More than 30 years ago a dream nearly became a reality. White Light, first formed in New Orleans in the late 60's, and later resurrected by founding members Rob Haeuser and Mike Hobren in Austin, Texas during the mid-70's, ended its journey with the passing of Bill Josey, a man who helped Austin become the musical powerhouse it is today. Bill first set the stage by broadcasting radio shows live from local clubs. He went on to establish one of Austin's premier record labels, Sonobeat Records. He recorded and produced Johnny Winter's debut album, and first recorded guitarist Eric Johnson when he was barely 15 years old. He had an ear for talent that ultimately led him to make a proposal in the fall of 1975: he would produce a work-tape for a concept album written and performed by a band unlike any other he had worked with before - White Light. What follows is a brief glimpse into what can make, and break, a band...

New Orleans, Louisiana, 1967

White Light was founded by Rob Haeuser (Bass guitar), Mike Hobren (Lead guitar), Tracy Pfisterer (Drums), Dennis Saucier (Rhythm guitar), and Jayce Tohline (Vocals). While others were playing Dixieland and Blues, White Light focused on what we considered the future of music: Progressive Rock. Bands like Jimi Hendrix ("Purple Haze"), The Vanilla Fudge ("You Keep Me Hangin' On"), and The Doors ("Light My Fire") epitomized the sound White Light was developing. In fact, we played "Light My Fire" even though we didn't have a keyboardist.

We were all underage, but that didn't stop us from gigging in Uptown bars like The Rathskeller, cruising the Mississippi on the riverboat Mark Twain, or bringing down the house at Tulane fraternities like Sigma Nu. Possibly our strangest gig was on November 5, 1968, when we provided the entertainment for Richard Nixon's election celebration, sponsored by the Tulane Young Republicans.

The band split up in early 1969, less than 2 years after its inception. College life was looming large, and the age disparity between the youngest and oldest members had become a hindrance to real progress. While some of us (Rob and Mike) went on to form or join other bands, the rest apparently dropped out of the music scene entirely. It seemed that White Light was dead and buried.


White Light band practice in New Orleans, circa 1967
From left: Jayce Tohline (vocals), Tracy Pfisterer (drums), Mike Hobren (lead guitar, vocals), Dennis Saucier (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Rob Haeuser (bass guitar)




Austin, Texas, 1974
For reasons too numerous to mention, I joined the Air Force, ending up at Bergstrom AFB in Austin, Texas. In September 1973 I drove from New Orleans to Austin in a rattle-trap Ford stationwagon, stuffed with all my worldly possessions. I was convinced I had died in my sleep and was headed straight to musician's hell. After all, Texas was home to country-western and Willie Nelson wannabes. A few miles outside of town I picked up a local radio station, and much to my surprise, they were playing Purple Haze! Perhaps I had misjudged Austin.

Over the years my musical ambitions evolved, and I abandoned the standard model for starting a band: Find some players, work up a few top-40-hit sets, and go play the bars. Instead, I focused entirely on all-original material in the genre of bands like Yes and Genesis. The only problem was finding musicians that shared my vision.

Prior to White Light, I had played briefly with my brother Rusty, a drummer. Although polar opposites, he and I shared a common musical heritage that transcended personalities. Sometime after I left NOLA, he and Mike Hobren crossed paths in "Shepard's Bush". Mike and Rusty left that band after a few months. The other guitarist, Randy Jackson, was really into Led Zeppelin. He morphed Shepard's Bush into Zebra, moved to New York, and in 1983 released their self-titled album with the hit "Who's Behind The Door?".

Although out of touch for some time, I contacted Mike and Rusty and discovered that they were both available. I described the Austin music scene, how it was open to progressive thinking, and my plan to resurrect White Light as an all-original jazz-fusion band. I was living in a small farmhouse southeast of town, and suggested that they join me. They agreed, and moved to Austin in September, 1974.

Clicking immediately, we began a series of extended jam sessions to flesh out our concepts. We jammed for hours on end, periodically hitting on themes that formed the core of our new sound. The spontaneity was sometimes magical, as if we could read each other's minds. It's a good thing I had a tape recorder, because the ideas were coming fast.

We decided that the resurrected White Light would be a 3-piece band, with Mike on guitars and vocals, me on bass guitar and keyboards, and Rusty on percussion and flute. Even as a 3-piece, our full, intricate sound convinced the audience we had more personnel on stage.

We rehearsed for months before even considering performing live. Our music was multi-textured, with a complexity that rivaled the most progressive bands of the day. The audience didn't know the difference between our "skeleton" versions and the full pieces, but we did. All along, the idea was to bypass the local scene if at all possible. Not to say that we wouldn't play local gigs; the experience is invaluable, and it's just plain fun. But the theory was that if the music was good enough, the need to develop a large local following to impress the recording companies could be sidestepped. It turns out that we were right, and circumstances almost proved it.



Fun Times: In search of a home; A hasty retreat; Uphama Blechschmidt, and a real redneck encounter

The Farmhouse
You know, it was too bad the roof leaked and there was no running water. I really enjoyed the fact that my nearest neighbor was half a mile away. I had gotten used to the cows scratching themselves against the corner of the house just outside my bedroom window. The rattlesnakes generally avoided the indoors. But the water tank was springing new leaks almost daily, and the jam-a-stick-in-the-hole trick couldn't stop a 2-incher for long. I seriously considered using 2-by-4's, but good wood was scarce, and when the tank went, so did we.

The Garfield Trailer
Garfield didn't last long, but not because we were freaking out the neighbors. Quite the opposite. Really early one Sunday morning we woke to blood-curdling screams that were decidedly non-human. The family in the house behind us had tied down a huge hog, and was proceeding to prepare it for a roast. I'll leave the gory details to your imagination. We immediately started looking for another place.

A hasty retreat: The Liberty Hill Trailers
Desperate to find a secluded place to practice, we found ourselves deep in the cedar woods outside Liberty Hill, Texas. We had read an ad describing what seemed to be the perfect setup. A huge trailer for only $150 a month, with a 20-by-20 addition that would make a great studio. Out in the middle of nowhere, we thought we had found paradise. Nobody to bother; nobody to complain about our loud jams.

We could move in almost immediately with just a $150 security deposit and the first month's rent. It should've been obvious that they were making a hasty retreat, jamming stuff into their pickup while the guy was installing another motor, but we were blinded by our apparent good luck, and they seemed nice enough.

Paradise lasted exactly 2 weeks. The repo-man arrived early Saturday morning, ready to haul off our dreams. The driver had no idea anyone was still occupying the trailer, but he was a reasonable guy, and agreed to give us a few days to evacuate. Fortunately, another trailer was up for rent barely a hundred yards down the road. Providence seemed to be smiling on us, albeit with a grin missing a few teeth. It was a much smaller place, and the guy renting the trailer lived in a frame house maybe 50 yards behind it. Far enough not to be bothered, we hoped. We were wrong.

Uphama 'round here?
After getting ripped off for $300, we felt justified in what we did next. In their haste to exit, they had overlooked the propane tank, which carried a $150 deposit. Oddly, the propane company didn't care that we weren't the original depositors, and gladly refunded us the cash. Ah, finally some justice had been served!

We never met Uphama Blechschmidt. She lived in California, and all we knew was that she was the aunt of the woman who rented us the trailer. Apparently Ms. Blechschmidt had tried to claim the deposit, but much to her surprise, we beat her to it. Rather than acknowledge that her niece had knowingly rented us a trailer earmarked for repossession, which amounted to theft, she filed charges against us with the County Sheriff's Department, claiming that we stole her propane tank.

The irony was that the arresting sheriffs were apologetic to us for doing so. They fully understood that the charges were without merit, but their duty was to bring us in, which they did. We spent one night in jail.

Weeks later we got a call from the Sheriff's Department. The Grand Jury had laughed at the sheer stupidity of the case and dropped all charges against us. In the end, Uphama's niece got away with stealing from us, Uphama got away with filing false theft charges against us, but somehow we spent a memorable night at the "Iron Bars Hotel", losing a day's pay in the process.

The Gigs: The One Knite, Sunshine's Party, Liberty Lunch, Castle Creek, but first and foremost, a Pop Festival

The Pop Festival
White Light's first Austin gig was a Pop Festival called the "Joshua Ives Festival of Love", where we shared the stage with a number of big-name acts and local bands. Named for Joshua Ives (apparently nobody knew who he was), his Festival of Love featured a diverse mix, including  Mike Bloomfield,  Alvin Crow,  David LaFlammeLink Wray,  and of course, White Light.

... more coming ...

Almost making it
What do White Light, Johnny Winter, and Janice Joplin have in common? Bill Josey!

... more coming ...



White Light recorded at Blue Hole Sounds from December, 1975 to February 8, 1976, and was produced and engineered by Bill Josey. After Bill's death, many of his tapes sat in a station wagon for months, and seriously suffered from exposure to extreme temperatures and humidity. At some point these tapes were moved to a closet, where they sat for 30 years before being rediscovered by Bill's son, Jack. Jack rolled the dice and dubbed the old tape, which literally peeled like a crayola on the tape heads. Jack was very gracious in providing us with a dub of the tape. Unfortunately, the tape's exposure to the weather and its age took a severe toll on the sound quality. Both channels were seriously degraded, but the right channel was so severely damaged that it was more hiss than music, and was barely half the volume of the left side. After extensive remastering, the sound quality has been restored to a point where you can at least get an idea of what the original Master Tape sounded like. The following excerpts are from the remastered digital transfer of that old Master Tape.

Side One    Fields
  Mere Drop (in the Pool)
  Solar Offering
  Spirit On The Wing
Side Two    Pacemaker
  Song For Leo




Rob Haeuser at Blue Hole Sounds, 1976


Rusty Haeuser at Blue Hole Sounds, 1976


Mike Hobren at Blue Hole Sounds, 1976


Rob Haeuser at Blue Hole Sounds, 1976


Mike Hobren at Blue Hole Sounds, 1976


Mike Hobren at Liberty Lunch, 1976


Rob Haeuser at Liberty Lunch, 1976


White Light at Castle Creek, 1976


Bill Josey at Blue Hole Sounds, 1976

Unfortunately, Bill passed away in September 1976, just a few months after recording White Light.
Read more about Bill Josey on the site dedicated to his memory by his sons Jack and Bill, Jr.,
and how White Light became Bill's last grand experiment.


After nearly 40 years, the White Light work tape Bill Josey recorded in 1976 is finally being released, by Shadoks Music (Thomas Hartlage) in Germany.

Rob Haeuser and Mike Hobren interview by Klemen Breznikar on Psychedelic Baby

New Releases for Shadoks Music

Liner Notes for the White Light album


Rob Haeuser, founding member of White Light, is now...

Let's Go For A Ride       Life's a Loop       My Fingers Hurt!       Seven-Eighths is better than nothing

© 2015 Rob Haeuser All Rights Reserved