Frank Gutch Jr: Vinyl Coming Back? May-beeee, There Is Just Not Enough Time, Karl Fredrick Anderson Chimes In On Spotify Etc., and Notes…..

FrankJr2There are a large number of reasons I love writing for DBAWIS.  For one thing, I get to write amongst some of the best writers out there.  I have had it in my mind to put together a list of must-read columns with thumbnail reviews and easy links so others could read what I have read, though I am sure with different eyes.  You see, I found DBAWIS very early in its existence, when Bob Segarini was writing what was then his column for FYI Music in Canada.  At first, I was just following Segarini, a musician I much admired after having interviewed him for Pop Culture Press for their “Summer of Love” issue.

When I reprinted that interview on my own site, rockandreprise.net, I started it like this: Bob Segarini is the human epitome of what the music business should be. As a youth, he took to rock music like a duck to water, cut his teeth with bands like The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, and Segarini (the band), he went on to work in radio and television, always surrounded by music and the music world. He has seen the topside and the bottomside, has partied with the superstars and the never-to-be-knowns, the rich and the barflies, the beautiful and the ugly. He has gorged himself at tables laden with exotic foods and starved in frozen hotel rooms. He drinks with the lust of a newspaper reporter during prohibition and, to his knowledge, has never forgotten a friend. Here, he talks about the underbelly of the music world, the people he has known and the times he has lived. Keeping in mind that this interview was conducted specifically with eyes toward the anniversary of The Summer of Love, I give you The Iceman, Bob Segarini…”  It took hours to write and rewrite that first paragraph because I wanted to capture the humor and the drama of who and what is Segarini.  I wanted to make people want to read what he had to say because of all the interviews I conducted for that issue {with musicians like Tracy Nelson (Mother Earth) and Peter Albin (Big Brother & The Holding Company) and Gary Duncan (Quicksilver Messenger Service) and Dehner Patten (KAK)}, his was the most forthcoming, cuss words and all (read that interview here).

segarinicartoonTo my knowledge, Segarini has never been one to pull any punches.  He was upfront in that interview and he has been upfront in everything I’ve read written by him and every dealing I’ve had with him.  So when he posted in his last two columns a basic rundown of his existence (around the houses and apartments in which he has lived), I was surprised by both the detail and the lack thereof.  The lack thereof can be chalked up to lack of time, energy and space (it is not as easy as one would think to pour your guts on the table, sift through the tripe and then edit it down to postable length).  The detail?  Perhaps it was a cleansing ritual— a wrapping up before moving on.  You see, at our age, we have to sometimes dive into the deep end before we can really move forward.  According to his columns (there were two), Segarini is doing just that.  If you think you know The Iceman, I challenge you to read those two columns.  Start here…..

You know what?  I will get to that list of columns you should read.  Some are fascinating for their stories, others are just damn good reading and yet others are exceptional for the writing.  See, I write all the time and when I’m not writing, I’m researching.  So when an exceptional column comes along (which it does with a fair amount of regularity at DBAWIS), I bite with the ferocity of a rabid dog.  My teeth are embedded in more than one columnist’s calf, let us say.  Like they used to say in radio and TV, stay tuned…..

Vinyl Watch…..

floydquadFirst off, toss aside the history of the music (ie, record) business.  The heyday is gone.  We will never see those numbers again.  Blank your mind.  Remember Quadrophonic?  Back in the Seventies, it was hyped to be the revolution of music.  If it had taken hold, it would have pumped more money into the the music economy than just about anything.  Records would have had to have been re-channeled (which would have been possible because by that time many of the artists were recording at a bare-minimum eight tracks and sometimes sixteen or more), equipment would have had to have been replaced (you would have needed a couple more speakers plus that honkin’ four-channel amp and a new turntable) and recording studios, many of them at least, would have had to have makeovers.  Why didn’t it happen?  I can tell you in no uncertain terms.  No product.  Sure, a few labels cranked out a handful of Quad recordings, but there were so few, the few people who had the guidas weren’t going to invest until the product was there.  How many titles were released in Quad?  40?  50?  Not too damn many, I know that.

A buddy of mine messaged me just the other day, after I questioned him about vinyl and its impending comeback, that he thought vinyl would go the way of Quad.  Well, I can tell him right now that if, as I think, lack of product was the main obstacle to Quad, his argument is dead on arrival.  There is no lack of product, vinyl-wise.  In fact, titles are being pressed daily.  And it ain’t the major labels doing it, though they are happy to press up a few thousand Van Morrison’s or Bob Dylan’s for the easy money.  Nope.  It’s the Indies, and not just the Indies but the truly independent labels and artists.  Do I think this will make an impact?  It already has.  Do I think it will make a huge impact?  Yes, I do.

vinyl1You see, not everyone wants just the music.  Some want something more.  They want the physical.  They want liner notes and cool labels and album art and some even want the supposed “warmer” sound of analog (I am still not convinced, but if that’s what they want, who am I to deny it?).  They want something they can hang onto beyond the ghost of a music format known as digital.  Sure, it’s mostly a nostalgic flash fueled by those of us who grew up with records, but not completely.  More and more, I talk with the younger set— the “kids” who barely remember vinyl as a force.  More and more of them are asking questions, wanting to know more, partially thanks to many artists who are pumping the format.  A real base is forming.  To see the sales charts a la vinyl, click here…..

That base is happening at the brick and mortar level too.  I use three stores as my barometer:  CDWorld in Eugene, Lou’s Records in Encinitas and House of Records in Eugene.  All three have invested heavily in the vinyl market, stocking a decent variety of indie record albums.  Two of them also sell turntables.  And they do sell them.  Word has it that turntables are also a big item on the auction sites.  Yep.  Vinyl is back.  And how long it stays depends upon sales.  So far, my bet is on it staying.

In the meantime, there are a number of albums and 45s you should be looking at.  I will try to run down the best of what is out there, searching to find the best vinyl albums available.  Here is a start.  And remember, it’s only a start:

thelonelywildThe Lonely Wild—  This Los Angeles band is stepping out, using vinyl to grow their fan base.  Their music is roots-oriented, but not all.  True, at times they sound a bit Duane Eddy-ish in a spaghetti-western vein, but it is a good Ennio Morricone-style sound and worth hearing.  What they splice between is what’s interesting.  These guys have a sense of melody and harmony few bands can pull off.  I point to Dead End as an example.  It is beautiful and haunting when it is not dead-on powerful and the female/male vocals are prime.  Their dip into vinyl begins with a very limited edition pressing of a five-song EP titled Dead End.  It states that it is available in— Crapola!  I just checked their link and there are only three left!  Take it from me, this one is worth having.  You might check with the band at this site (click here) to see if they will have any others available for sale in the future.  But, hey, the EP is available for download and I personally think the $2.99 asking price is cheap at twice the price.  You can check it out/download here…..

The Delta Saints—  I found these guys through noisetrade.com and wrote about them in my Notes section a couple of months ago.  Talk about roots.  They have a bit of the delta swamp in them as well as early Rolling Stones and one lot of blues and gospel.  What it adds up to is a mishmash of late-sixties and early-seventies R&B, some southern rhythm and a whole lot of outstanding mouth harp.  It’s rock, sports fans, but what I’m saying is that it is so much more.  And they are taking pre-orders for both CD and vinyl.  I mean, if I wasn’t dead broke, I’d buy one of these (and The Lonely Wild) for each of my friends, who actually number more than I’d expected at this point in my life.  Head here for more info…..

sandrider1Sandrider—  I know that I’ve written about these guys before— a few times, in fact— but the fact is that their self-titled album is worth writing about.  Hell, their ten-minute long The Judge is worth writing about irrespective of the rest of the album (which I respect immensely).  Three man rock, full-on chords, heavy beat, vocals which are vocals and not just vocal sandpaper.  What’s not to like?  Like, hell!  I love these guys.  My buddy Nate Hill posted a link to their Bandcamp page one day and I was sold at the outset.  Shades of Ursa Major, Wishbone Ash and Hydra (without the Southern kick).  And, yes, it is available on vinyl!  Why have you not at least checked it out yet?  Am I spinning my wheels here?  Tell you what.  Here is a link to The Judge.  Just listen.  Did I mention vinyl?  Thought I’d better check.  Oh, and they’re from Seattle.  To me, that’s a bonus.  If you like a little hard rock or metal, might I suggest checking out Sandrider‘s label, Good To Die Records?  They have a whole passel of good things you might want to check out, much of it on vinyl…..

Freedom Hawk—  Virginia is one heavy-duty state when it comes to music.  Hell, Charlottesville alone could pack out a major label with top quality musicians, but there is the rest of the state to consider.  For instance, Virginia Beach, home of Freedom Hawk, four hard rockin’ denizens of rawkin’ hard!  Sure, I write about these guys too, but why shouldn’t I?  Have you heard or seen the video of Stand BackIndian Summer?  You should!  Well, if you like to rawk, you should.  I know that not all people have that urge.  But for them, there is always…..

bellchoircoastSydney Wayser—  Again, I write a lot about her.  Jeez, is there anyone I don’t write a lot about?  Well, Sydney is a special case.  I painted a house to her once.  Her and a band from Seattle known as Goldie Wilson.  By the time I was done, I knew every note on each of those albums.  And I love them both.  But Sydney, she did something special this past year.  Not only did she step beyond The Colorful, something I truly believed she could not do, but she created a whole world on which to base Bell Choir Coast.  (Pssst!  You  can purchase a digital download of The Colorful here for a buck or, if you wish, more)  It took me a bit to get into Bell Choir Coast, but when it struck home, it completely knocked me on my ass!  And, you guessed it, vinyl!  Damn, but ain’t life good sometimes?  If you’ve a mind, you can purchase it here.  If you want to stream it first, go here…..

Xenat-Ra—   There aren’t that many bands in the Willamette Valley I can point to with absolute assurance, but Corvallis’s Xenat-Ra is one.  They are progressive, fall into jazz grooves at the drop of a hat and mix rap into the mix so you don’t even notice it’s rap.  Their musicianship is very high quality and they are very seldom not on the same page.  And they love what they do.  You can take a listen to what they do here and be forewarned, they are not your everyday band.  They are intense and take their music very seriously while having tons of fun playing it.  I’ve seen them live twice now and both shows were stellar.  And they have vinyl.  Indeed, Science for the Soundman comes in two individual jackets though it is billed as a double-LP set.  Of all the bands I’ve heard, only Seattle’s Ticktockman even comes close to these guys and truth be told, they each play a different style of rock/prog/jazz.  You can order the double-LP from the above linked page.

warhenWarHen’s 45s—  Not the band, the label!  It is no secret that I count Charlottesville Virginia among the best music towns in the world.  I am constantly amazed at the number of quality musicians who live in and around the town.  Well, WarHen knows it too and are going out of their way to make the music available a la vinyl.  So far, there have been only 7-inchers, but it looks like that’s about to change.  More on that in a week or two.  Right now, they have three releases ready for you— Sarah White‘s ILY b/w Married LifeRed RattlesUh-Huh b/w Try To Do & You Could Leave; and The Fire TapesSkull Xbones b/w Elements.  All three are very collectable as there are very limited quantities.  And I guarantee they are going fast.  All WarHen releases are streaming here.  In twenty years, these 45s are going to be going for major bucks, guaranteed.  That’s how limited the production is.

Speaking of Ticktockman, they continue to knock me out.  They have a sense of some of the seventies European progrock bands and yet have a fresh quality to what they produce.  A note about both Xenat-Ra and Ticktockman.  You can’t do what they do without topnotch drummers.  These bands have them.  You can purchase Ticktockman vinyl here.  Seriously, that red vinyl copy has to be really cool…..

I will be revisiting vinyl every week or two, depending upon information I find or receive.  I would say let me know if you know an artist or band with vinyl releases, but I only write about the music I like so I can’t guarantee anything will be written about any tips I receive.  Still, it never hurts and if you like a band’s music, you might be doing them a favor by passing a link along.

route662clockA Personal Lament—  There is not enough time.  There is never enough time.  When I was young, I thought I had all the time in the world.  Chalk it up to the Foibles of Youth.   See, this writing gig, it turns out, is a lot of work.  Nadia mentioned it in yesterday’s column— even while I’m listening to music, I am usually listening for a purpose.  To critique.  To review.  To research.  Seldom do I have a chance to lay back and really enjoy the music freely.  When I worked in retail, I could always head to The Buckaroo after work, quaff down a few Red Hooks (the original formula, which they no longer make, kicks ass on everything they have produced since) and head home for some inebriated music therapy.  I don’t get that luxury now.  I seldom drink (though I might if they still made the original Red Hook) and am always listening with a purpose in mind.  What used to be fun is now a chore.  Kind of.

These days, I get the rush out of discovering.  I still get that adrenaline rush when a piece of music sinks in and I know— I mean, I know— it’s something beyond the pale.  So I write and I talk and I’m excited and then new music makes its way in and the older music slips out and I haven’t finished with it yet but I have no time, you know?  So while I’m not apologizing for mentioning certain artists over and over, I offer this in the way of explanation.  I mean, when I find a Sydney Wayser or a Ticktockman, it is no less than finding The Beatles to me.  I love the music that much.

A friend of mine once told me that we are preparing ourselves for Heaven while living on Earth.  While I don’t exactly know about that, if we are, my Heaven will be visiting with the souls of the many friends I have made while living this musical life and listening to Cargoe and Cowboy and Barclay James Harvest and the many other artists I have not had enough time with while living.  I hope it’s that way.  Because otherwise, I’m getting frustrated with no reward in sight.

To Spotify or Not To Spotify:  Karl Fredrick Anderson Votesm(Kind Of)—

Recognize the name?  Didn’t think so.  Well, Karl Fredrick Anderson runs a label, Global Recording Artists, by name.  I became acquainted with him when I interviewed Gary Duncan for that special issue of Pop Culture Press I mentioned earlier.  Over the years, we have traded info, followed one another’s comings and goings and tried to keep in touch.  Karl emailed me when I sent him last week’s column in which I discussed musician Will Kimbrough‘s statements about Spotify.  Karl and I seem to agree on some major points but are trying separate the baby from the bathwater.  Like I said last week, this whole digital music distribution thing smells as far as I’m concerned and he thinks it does, too, but just how much?  Here is what he wrote:

nospotify“I liked your article on streaming services.  I agree they need to get it under control.  Pandora I view more like a radio station.  You can choose a style or genre and it selects music for you. You cannot play entire albums or tracks over.  I think overall that is good for the music and the artists and it gives people a chance to hear new music by different artists.

“I am not sure about Spotify.  You get the whole album with Spotify.  It even links to your iphone mp3 player so you do not have to buy new music.  With Spotify it seems we (artists and labels) are just giving it all away to the venture capitalist.  Why would you buy music if you can get it for free?   And what (Spotify and Pandora) does pay is ridiculously low.  An artist I work with, La Fleur Fatale from Sweden, had 271,000 plays on a song and got a check for 64 cents.  How can an artist or label survive on that?  They can’t.

“I know it is great to get it all for free, but working with artists I have seen the impact.  Dave Getz from Big Brother and the Holding Company consistently made about $50,000 a year in royalties from the Big Brother material till about 2002, when it started to decrease.  Since that time, with the mp3 and streaming services, he has seen that drop to $3,000.  It has had a serious impact on his life. I hear from people when I bring it up, well, the artist just has to work harder and make money from live gigs.  I tell them he is 70 years old and does about 80 gigs a year.  I should tell him he needs to work harder so he can give his music away??

“There needs to be a fair way to make music available to people. I know we are not going back to record stores and cds and the 8 track tape and that digital is the future, but the real question is how the artist and the label are going to be included in the future.”

Indeed it is, Karl.  The fact is, we have been duped.  While the major labels were squawking about all the money they were losing to the pirates and while they swore up and down that the artist was going to be the one hurt, they were working out back room deals with the shysters who set up this whole digital music scam, promising the world while giving back nothing.

majorlabelsYou think Wall Street should be held accountable for the debacle which almost brought down the world economy?  Toss these sonsabitches in with them.  Perhaps it is time we stopped overthinking things and started going for the jugular?  Who the hell gave labels a right to charge as much or as little as they want to handle product they may not even own (and I say if they do own it, legally, it’s time to tear the foundation down of the entire “justice” system they hold up as an icon of freedom).

Musicians shouldn’t have to give their music away for publicity.  Artists should not be slave to a system which holds them in such ill regard.  Music is the artist’s product, not the labels or the venture capitalists!  They should have say over how their art is handled.

Oh, I know what some of you are thinking.  The artist was the one who signed the contract.  They, by doing so, gave up those rights.  Others are thinking, why should they get more.  After all, they’ve already made plenty.  They should not be paid in perpetuity.  Still others are thinking, hey, I got paid for something once and I didn’t get anything more, why should they?

Which is why I stopped listening to most people long ago.  The basics are:  Musicians create.  Not a painting and not a special kind of mousetrap.  Music.  Record companies and before them publishing companies took that music and built a business around the music.  Then they took it over.  They basically wrote the laws as they apply to what is now called intellectual property.  And lawmakers let them.  After all, what did they know about the music business?

Not very goddamned much, I’ll tell you that.  What they did know is that there was money to be made and they wanted their share.  So they cut a slice of the pie and let others cut theirs and when the pie plate got around to the group of actual music creators, there were only crumbs.

Perhaps it is time to call the asshats’ bluff.  Perhaps it is time to demand legislation which protects intellectual property rather than defines it to the venture capitalists desires.  I know it’s time to do something— to shit or get off the pot.

What say you, Sen. Ron WydenRep. Peter DeFazio?  You’re the only two I trust in all of Congress.  You are my representatives on Capitol Hill.  Do you want to address the issue?    I mean really address it?  Stay tuned…..

Which leads us to…..

nospotifyNotes…..  That damn Darrell Vickers.  He scoops me on just about everything.  I had never heard of The Stray Birds and then Vickers features them on Radio Vickers and I’m hearing shades of Elephant Revival and Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin, two of my recent favorites.  Now I’m hooked.  You should check out their website and take a listen— if you like vocal harmonies and acoustic instruments the way they should be.  Just go to their website here and click on the player, bottom left.  Set yourself.  This, along with the other two mentioned, is beyond the norm…..  Wait!  I should have mentioned Fish and Bird, as well.  Killer stuff from the wilds of British Columbia…..  Music writer Jim Caligiuri who writes out of Austin points to My Jerusalem as his first kickass band of the new year.  It took me five seconds to agree.  They rock!  If you want to get in on them early, click here and listen.  They’re so good, I figure they have to be major label, so I will keep looking.  Still and all, this is some damn impressive music…..  Relatively bad news on The Game Plays Right front.  The singer and bass player have exited, stage left.  And here I was looking forward to watching the progress.  The good news is that the creative side of the band is intact and looking for other members.  Man, it’s Segarini all over again…..  More numbers are in.  According to the end of the year reports, vinyl sales are up.  To 4.6 million.  While that may be a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers at the apex of the music industry’s magic carpet ride, it is enough to tell us that vinyl is staging a comeback, no matter how anemic it will seem to the naysayers.  Expect more vinyl releases this year. Many from the true indies— artists who rely on themselves and not a bunch of seedy backalley salesmen (ahem, that would be the major labels, kiddies).  See the chart here…..  In the if-you-don’t-want-it-written-about-don’t-say-it category, PR man Jared Ingersoll mentioned, almost in passing, Kate Isenberg‘s 2010 album Gold Rush Town, saying that it was a keeper.  I followed the link and have to agree.  Whereas the page says she is of the Deb Talan, Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega ilk, I liken her more to the latest albums by Natalia Zuckerman, Claudia Schmidt and Meg Hutchinson, the best (to my mind) of these ladies’ outputs.  I am always surprised when records like this get buried by time without finding me.  True that there are plenty of solid albums available, but not as many as you might think are this good.  Sample it here.  Or stream some of her latest tracks here…..  Jon Gomm, who is pretty much opening up the acoustic guitar as rhythm instrument for a whole new generation of guitarists, has announced that he is finally (finally!) working on a new album.  No mics hanging from the hanging bare light bulb in his kitchen this time.  He has actually opted for a (gasp!) real studio!  If you have neither seen nor heard Gomm, here is an example of what to expect.  You’re welcome…..  And if this isn’t freakin’ cool— The Lonely Wild out of Los Angeles are getting ready to release a new album.  The cool part is that they have posted on their website (thelonelywild.com) a video of one of their tracks slowed down!  The whole damn thing!  Why is it cool?  Have you ever seen cymbals or a bass string vibrate in slow motion?  Not only that, the music is uber-cool that way.  Be on the lookout.  These cats have talent!  Listen here.  And did I mention kinkadorthat they have free downloads available?  I meant to…..  Kink Ador, one of my fave bands back East, is raising money to complete their album.  If you have not checked them out, you’re missing out.  I would describe the music, but I don’t think I can find the words.  They’re damn good, I can tell you that, and you can link to their three fundraising videos by clicking here.  Please do it.  They’re worth it.  In the meantime, here is my favorite video of them (actually, they have three or four).  Killer stuff…..

=FGJ=

Frank’s column appears every Wednesday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonFrank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at one time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.”

2 Responses to “Frank Gutch Jr: Vinyl Coming Back? May-beeee, There Is Just Not Enough Time, Karl Fredrick Anderson Chimes In On Spotify Etc., and Notes…..”

  1. Jeez, I forgot to include the link to the Jon Gomm video. I just saw that it has more than THREE MILLION hits and that’s for a guy with NO major label connections. Seriously, if you have not heard him play, you have to see this. It is live and downright amazing. And he’s a pretty cool guy, too. He knows who buys his music. Watch the video here— http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY7GnAq6Znw. NOW you can thank me.

  2. yes to kink ador! i’ve been meaning to link to their campaign for a while, good on ya frank!

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