Frank Gutch Jr: Sweet Relief III— An Album Recorded For All the Right Reasons, A Look at Record Stores Through Others’ Eyes, and Those Goddamned Notes (Pay Attention! Quiz at Eleven!)…..

FrankJr2Want to know how stupid we are?  Us Americans, anyway?  Pretty damn, as far as I can see, and all it took was sitting down and taking ten minutes to map out one day.  I have had people tell me that if I really want to know what is happening, I should sit down every day and write down everything I did.  Not in detail but with enough to show me what really happened and not just what I thought happened.  When I did, I was stunned.  See, I live on a very limited budget (What?  You think we get paid for all the fun we have here at DBAWIS?) and I thought I was doing pretty well navigating through life.  One days list and I’m not so sure.

For instance, I drove into town three days in a row.  Granted, it is only eight miles one-way, but it adds up.  I bought a hamburger basket at Carl’s Jr. (I am partial to the Famous Star) which set me back almost six bucks.

I stopped by the store to get what I thought were necessities (and, no, toilet paper was not on the list— the only necessity I seem to have since I stopped drinking beer).  I stopped by The Dollar Store for hand soap (I have six bars sitting in my cabinet but evidently did not think that was enough) and bought a box of Red Hots (Ferrara Pan is my favorite candy manufacturer and The Dollar Store is the only place I can find them outside of those multi-packs other stores carry which have what looks like a hundred little boxes, but they only hold seven hots apiece and I consider that a ripoff).  One, maybe two errands a day over three days.  When you look at the list, it doesn’t seem like much.  When you write it down, though…..  For instance, I wasted a gallon of gas.  I could have made one trip to run those errands, but I tripled it.  Four bucks down the drain.  I had food in the fridge which needed to be eaten.  A Famous Star?  I’m already fat enough!  Six more lifted from Red Hotsthe bank account.  Red Hots?  Like I need Red Hots.  A buck.  I now have eight bars of soap in my cabinet.  Sure, they will be used, but it’s not like they will be used today or tomorrow.  Another buck.  I am stunned.  Twelve bucks I could have saved and I hadn’t even noticed.  You probably don’t, either.  How much does that cappuccino at Starbucks cost you?  Do you really need that extra pair of shoes with three pair collecting dust in your closet?  How many gallons of gas have you wasted lately?

Now, I’m not saying that you should cut out all of your indulgences.  We all have moments when a store-bought coffee is a real pleasure and a hamburger is a treat.  What I found out, though, is that I overindulge.  All the while I am budgeting for food, I am wasting money elsewhere.  Twelve bucks!  I know.  It doesn’t sound like much to some of you, but to some others it is a fortune.

sweetrelieflogoMy point.  Next week’s column will be a rundown of a charity organization called Sweet Relief.  Those of you heading for the door, freeze!  Hear me out.  It started a number of years ago when musician Victoria Williams fell upon hard times, health-wise, and put together a fundraiser to cover costs.  What she did was put together a CD of her songs performed by different artists, including Lou Reed, Pearl Jam and others.  All proceeds from the sales went to cover medical costs.

After the good had been done, rather than kill the structure, people decided to expand the idea— to build the organization around all musicians who needed help, medical and otherwise.  As big a music fan as I am, I could not help but be moved.  For awhile, I teetered.  I am busy enough, to be sure, and don’t really need more weight in my duffel bag.  But the cause won me over.

For the past year or so, I have been in contact with Sheldon Gomberg, who owns and runs The Carriage House, a recording studio in L.A.  Turns out, he is the man behind the recording of the third benefit album for Sweet Relief.  He has put together a hell of a package and SR has negotiated with Vanguard Records for distribution— release date:  July 9th.  Just to whet the appetite, a few of the artists on the album are Ron Sexsmith, Rickie Lee Jones and Jackson Browne.  All tracks are exclusive to the project.

But I am rambling.  The point is, next week I will be writing a whole column about Sweet Relief, how it functions and why you should participate.  And I was afraid that if I included this in, say, the Notes section of this column, it would be overlooked.  So don’t miss next week’s column.  It will be enlightening, if nothing else.

Let’s see… Where were we?  Ah, yes… Meanwhile, back at the record stores…..

Before I even wrote last week’s column about record stores I revered, I had asked others about their favorites.  Truth be told, I was beginning to question my sanity.  I feel sometimes as if I live in a vacuum and my life nothing but one long dream.  I need the reinforcement to keep me balanced.  So, in hopes of preserving my sanity, let us take a look at what others said about their experiences with the old “brick and mortars” as they are so irreverently called these days.

recordtownElaine McAfee Bender—  Did you know that Elaine was, in her teens, an actual honest-to-God go-go dancer?  I always thought they were manufactures of the movie and TV industry— something to spice up Miami Vice or to give Goldie Hawn and  Joanne Worley something extra to do on Laugh-In— but nope, they were actual animals down around the Dallas-Fort Worth area back in the days of The Five Americans and Mouse & The Traps (whose video Elaine just happened to post today on Facebook).  Her favorite store?  Record Town.

The store opened in the 1960s on University Drive in Fort Worth and is still there today, she happily reports.  Every time I drive past, I cannot resist looking over and remembering the many happy hours I passed looking through the record albums.  I worked for KFJZ radio and got my hands on early promotional 45s but nothing could compare to the feel of a full record album in my hands!!!  The thrill of examining the photos and artworks on the covers!

Record Town was a gathering place for teens and all local music fans.  The exchange of music information, debates, and the bonding with those who shared similar musical tastes was an unforgettable experience!

Of interest was the fact that Record Town was owned by the Bruton family.  The late great Stephen Bruton was a personal friend and I would often run into him there.  His father opened the store and Stephen and his brother Sumter worked there.

Assumedly, for years, though Elaine didn’t say so.  Go-go girl?  Radio station employee?  No wonder she loved Record Town.

Steve Turnidge—  Steve is some sort of as modern day digital wizard, always tinkering with electronic toys and occasionally taking time off from his Disneyland existence to master and album here and there.  I met him through a few musicians I found through a web page he keeps to promote his work.  The guy works with a handful of exceptional artists, including Laurie Biagini, Thomas Hunter, Dissonati and Sage Run.  If you haven’t heard them, do a little search.  He works with some very talented artists.

everybodysrecordsTop three favorite stores in my young life, he starts out.  And I suppose I should point out that his young life happened in Seattle.  Everybody’s Records:  They were my refuge during my teen years.  Those were the days when working at a record store was a sacred duty and I could only imagine the joy of spending each day discovering new music and having the honor of sharing those discoveries with loyal customers.  The real reasons Everybody’s Records is at the top of my list is that it was the first place I learned to read album credits and was guided from 801 Live through Brian Eno to Roxy Music, UK and beyond.  Pete Frame‘s Rock Family Trees came to life in the record bins in 1978.  Notable guides were Rob Morgan, Gary Bauder and Tom Dyer.

Budget Records & Tapes (the three locations I haunted in the greater Seattle area were Lynnwood, Aurora Avenue and Northgate).  These stores supplied my concert tickets for years.  I still have a good number of my original ticket stubs.  And you wonder why he was beaten up on a regular basis.  Knowing the sales people (which is a misnomer as they were more guides and mentors) allowed me access to advance notice on upcoming concerts.  For instance, one treasure I still hold from those days are tickets number 00001, 00002 and 00003 for the first Seattle Boomtown Rats concert.  The encore for that show, by the way, was the first ever public performance of “I Don’t Like Mondays”, since the Monday morning shooting event had happened just a couple of weeks before.  Budget is also where I discovered my love for Gentle Giant, Genesis and Jethro Tull.

The true record center for the first couple of decades of my vinyl addiction would have to be Tower Records on Mercer, just across the street from Seattle Center.  When Julie (hopefully, that’s his wife) and I first decided where to live, distance from Tower was a primary factor.  I bought my first CDs there (ABC‘s “Beauty Stab” and Human League‘s “Dare”).  My “crazy flipper fingers” were all about records, though.  My favorite pastime was flipping through the stacks searching for treasure (which I often found).  Once you memorize the inventory of any store, new items pop out pretty quickly.  Tower Books, by the way, was right up the street and between the two stores, my thirsts for music, information and ultimately knowledge were slaked regularly. See how he snuck in “slaked”?  Refer to the getting beat up regularly comment above.

Honorable mention must go to the Seattle University District record stores— Campus Music, Cellophane Square, Second Time Around and Peaches.  They were all stations to be tagged regularly and the sources for the best imports and singles. 

These were truly my houses of learning and of what I considered holy.  I remember the day when I realized that all the time and money I was “wasting” was actually a huge investment in my future.  It turned out I was right.  I am living the dream of my inner teenager.  I now get paid to listen to music.

howieeverybodysportlandHowie Wahlen (with a “Sr.” behind it)—  When Howie first came to work with me at Peaches, I seriously wondered about the guy.  He bent my ear with tales of Everybody’s Records, his last place of employment, which I enjoyed.  He also deluged me with The Beatles, The Monkees and every other sugary-sweet artist and group all the way down to The Archies.  I was seriously thinking of having him committed when I found myself actually enjoying the one-two punches of artists like Tommy James and The Archies with occasional side trips into Boyce & Hart and Matthew Sweet.  He was into Pop even more than I was, and enthusiastically so.  I have never met a guy who loves melody and harmony as much as he does.  To him, jingle and jangle has nothing to do with spurs.  Howie now works at Green Monkey with the ol’ monkey himself, Tom Dyer, and spends a lot of time enthusiastically promoting artists such as The Green Pajamas, Jimm McIver and Jim of Seattle.  Like Turnidge, Howie is living the dream.

I bought my first two singles (The Beatles‘ “Ticket To Ride” and The Beach Boys‘ “Help Me Rhonda” at Bartell’s Drug Store in White Center, Howie writes.  I had to ride my bike and that was the closest place for 45s.  Later, Bartell’s gave way to Market Time, which had a bigger selection and was closer.  When I could catch a bus downtown (Seattle), I would visit the listening booths at The Bon

My favorite place, eventually, was not a record store, but a whole area called The University District, over by the University of Washington.  On the Ave, as they called it— in the late sixties through the eighties, there were at least seven record stores in easy walking distance from one another.  New records, Used, Imports, Bootlegs— you name it, you could probably find it.  I don’t know if all that was good for the business, but it was good for me and my pocketbook and the selection was FANTASTIC! 

Other than that, Everybody’s Record Company and Peaches Music & Video are important to me because I worked at both and was able to turn a lot of people on to the music I loved.

I can attest to the fact that Howie was enthusiastic about his music.  Unnervingly so, at times.  Cool thing was, he was a walking encyclopedia of everything Pop, so when people wanted information in that vein, all I had to do was point.  I have learned a lot from Howie.  I still am.

Bobby Gottesman—  Bob’s a drummer.  You can tell by how seriously he takes all drummer jokes.  At the same time, he believes bass jokes are funny as hell.  The past few years he has taken to coining jokes about guitarists and lead singers, all to no avail.  Letterman won’t even take his calls anymore.  Still, he is one of us, as is evidenced by his massive record collection and inability to work when he hears music (he is not a multi-tasker, I guess you would say).  His favorite?  Sam the Record Man.  Oh, yeah, he’s Canadian.

Toronto, particularly Yonge Street, was a special place in the early sixties.  I grew up in the suburbs far removed from the excitement of the music scene that was then exploding.  My uncle had taken me downtown once, to Sam The Record Man‘s, on a Saturday afternoon.  The store was amazingly cluttered with records and posters affixed to the walls and music was playing through a, for those days, state of the art P.A. system.  I went back to Sam the Record Man a year later and purchased my very first record— The Beatles‘s “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.  Every Saturday from that point on, I took my allowance and went downtown to Sam’s and began my career as a collector of vinyl.  Sam’s had everything and they always had it first.  The store unfortunately closed in 2007.  I had stopped frequenting the place years earlier as they stopped selling vinyl.  But the memories still live on.

fennellyMichael Fennelly—  Real music freaks know Michael as a member of The Millenium and Crabby Appleton.  Friends know him as a music lover you don’t want to cross.  He has been known to draw blood at thirty paces.  Michael lives in Portland, Oregon these days and feeds his music habit on a regular basis.

My first favorite record store was The Music Stuff in my hometown of Westfield NJ.  It was my after-school hangout, full of wonders and delicious sounds;  Bi Diddley LP covers featuring bizarre rectangular or fur-covered guitars, James Brown albums showing THWMISB covered in sweat (Don’t ask me— I just type what they send me).  I got my first real job there during the British Invasion of the mid-sixties, working after school, playing 45s piped into the two listening booths jammed with teenagers like some phone booth prank, and hawking my favorites to parents looking for gifts for their kids.  I took home most of my pay in records.

My second favorite was Wallach’s Music City in Hollywood— huge and powerful and with listening booths, too!  My current favorite is Portland’s Music Millennium.  A record store in the classic definition, it looks and smells and sounds JUST the way a record store should, giving me the soulful warmth upon entering that must be what religious zealots feel upon crossing the Holy Land.

You know, one thread throughout all of the responses I received was one of true reverence.  I know that Fennelly would fight tooth and nail to save the Millennium.  And myself and others would stand side by side to fend off barbarians who would want to loot and pillage and destroy it.  Like many of these people have said at one time or another— good record stores are sacred ground.

Roxanne Tellier—  Roxanne is another Canadian, a musician who has found a writing home at DBAWIS.  She is funny, at times blasphemous, and, like the old days and nitroglycerin, ready to go off   at the slightest tremor.  Set yourself.  Her take is a bit, shall we say, for lack of a better word, Canadian?

When I came to Toronto to Montreal in 1976, she writes, I left behind most of my record albums.  I had Charlebois, Beau Dommage, Boule Noire, Harmonium, Diane Dufresne— even the Roxy album, a band from California which I found in a delete bin for 99 cents.  But now I was embarking on a brave new world.  I put on my big girl panties and discovered what Toronto’s Yonge Street had to offer.  And, oh, there was so much!  A veritable banquet of sounds and sights, none of which had caught my attention in my Quebecois reverie.  Suddenly, Goddo was assaulting my ears, Rough Trade, my senses… and I was dancing to Pye Dubois‘ lyrics for Max Webster.  Everywhere I looked, another incredible band was playing, and usually for no charge.  Six night a week, club after club— and most of them were recording acts. 

montreal_cheap_thrills_2I went back home to Montreal once a month and after hitting Le Chateau‘s warehouse for the hottest clothing, I would be off to Cheap Thrills, a tine hole-in-the-wall just off St. Catharine’s on Metcalfe, where the bins were full of records, laden with goodies.  And where no one else had scooped up the Various Toronto bands’ goods.  For less than $2, I could purchase any album I fancied, from Jackson Hawke to Madcats, The Mandala to Max Webster.  Mine!  All mine!  And while these albums were expensive in Toronto, they were little more than deletes in Montreal.  It seems incredible, but the store is still there, a mecca for music lovers since 1971, and yes, they do mail orders.  It was my heaven then— let it be yours now.

I think I’ll charge Roxanne for the plug.  I’ll have to dig through her record collection and see what she has.  Jackson Hawke, huh?  Hmmmmm…..

Dave Pyles—  When I decided to restart my life as a music reviewer, the first place I went (beside setting up my own shop) was the Folk and Acoustic Music ExchangeBill Pillmore of country rock band Cowboy had heard that they were always looking for writers and when I checked it out, it looked good.  Dave checked out my writing samples, went over the rules and I was up and writing.  Over the years, we have developed a pretty good working relationship based, of course, on music.  Where is he now?  Maine?  New Hampshire?  One of those states where leaves turn pretty each Fall and political battles are waged with fists as much as lawsuits.  Without FAME, I don’t believe I would be here at DBAWIS.

I really don’t have any loving remarks for the brick and mortar record stores I patronized, Dave begins.  When I was a teenager we had a locally owned record store in my hometown (which he doesn’t identify).  I don’t even remember the name of it anymore.  Hell, it was sixty years ago (which I would have ended with “fer chrissakes”, but he doesn’t).  The store had listening booths where you could listen to anything in the store.  I spent a lot of time in those booths. 

When I lived in Rochester and Buffalo NY, I tended to buy records at the Tower Records stores because they had what I wanted.  When I moved to NYC, I discovered J&R Music World on Park Row in Manhattan.  They were locally owned and had most of what I wanted outside of the music of some of the local musicians I was discovering.  I bought most of the local music through the musicians themselves.

You’ll have to excuse Dave.  He’s a crusty old sonofobitch but he loves the true indies as much as myself and he really knows his stuff.  Not only that, he’s heavily into solar power systems.  He should move to Oregon.  Wind and sun seems to be this state’s future, power-wise.  He would fit right in.

Jaimie Vernon—  Jaimie makes me laugh.  He professes to be this hard-shelled curmudgeon, ready to take anyone down at the drop of a glove (see, that’s Canadian— in the States, we would have said hat— then again, maybe hats are sacred up there— isn’t Medicine Hat the capital of Canada?), yet mushy like a warmed marshmallow on the inside.  When it comes to music, I have to stand aside because Jaimie not only knows music, he knows the music business, having managed bands, played in bands, recorded bands and signed bands to his label.  Here’s what he had to say about stores…..

Best music stores:

During its heyday in the late seventies and early eighties, Record Peddler in Toronto was the premier alternative music and record store in the city.  While wholesome retail chains like Sam the Record Man and A&A‘s competed for the major label mass market, Peddler had its pulse on American, British and European imports.  Rare 12” singles and domestic imports of things like the first Clash album (before it was sanitized with a different track listing when released in North America, Jah Wobble, Captain Sensible and PiL, among others.  You could also get the entire Zappa or Bowie catalogues, including film soundtrack material and funky off-market compilations.  Owned by Ben Hoffman (who also ran the alternative record label, Fringe Product), the store’s front-line was kept ship-shape by former hardcore punk vocalist Brian Taylor (ex-Youth Youth Youth) who would make no bones about telling you to your face that the albums you were buying were shit and then suggesting something better to spend your money on.  He was 99% correct every time.  After 24 years, the stores closed its doors— in 2001— popping up briefly online, before Hoffman retired.

forgottenrebelsStar Records started life in Hamilton, Ontario in the mid-seventies as a single store, owned by Paul Kobak.  He too brought unavailable imports to Steeltown and was soon being frequented by local high school kids anxious to keep up with the latest trends elsewhere.  Many of those kids were in the midst of forming bands.  One of these acts, Teenage Head, began hanging around the store, eventually rehearsing in the loft above the retail outlet.  Kobak soon began managing them.  Within a very short time, he was booking their shows, driving them to gigs, getting them gear and lending them money.  The store was left in the hands of fellow alternative music fan Bob Bryden (formerly of the 1960s psych act Reign Ghost and 1970s experimental band Spirit of Christmas/Christmas.  Bob also had an ear for the new, the wild and the cutting edge, allowing the store to remain the center of the alt universe through the late seventies.  Eventually, Kobak lost the store but not before two more in the franchise— run by family members— sprang up in Scarborough, Ontario and Oshawa, respectively.  The Scarborough store fell in the early 1990s but the Oshawa store remains as one of the last beacons of new and old vinyl glory to this day.  Star Records was also, at one time, a record label which discovered and released music by The Forgotten Rebels, Durango 95 and The Purple Toads.

The Village Idiot in London, Ontario (two hours west of Toronto) carries on the same homespun, music loving patronage that Star Records also enjoys.  The store was started by former Daffodil Records PR man Robert-Charles Dunne, whose record label (El Mocambo Records) was the home to releases by comedy duo MacLean & MacLean, Goddo, The Guess Who, Straight Eight and Toby Swann (ex-Battered Wives), among others.  Robert-Charles is the consummate music fan and runs the shop not merely for a living but as a community hangout for diehard vinyl and classic rock, pop, soul and blues music fans of all ages.

Encore Music in Kitchener, Ontario (an hour and a half west of Toronto) is owned by Mark Logan who— wouldn’t you know— also runs an indie record label to help cultivate some of the independent artists who come through his store.  He, too, is a music fan and carries the most obscure and rare CD releases as well as vinyl… and he helps the local scene as a ticket distributor the the area music clubs.

Until Jaimie handed me this little monologue, I was woefully ignorant of the Toronto alt scene.  I still am, but feel a little more schooled.  If you haven’t been reading Jaimie’s DBAWIS columns or if you haven’t already checked out his Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia (click here), you should.  The man is a walking, talking example of the best in the Canadian (or any) music biz.

darrell-vickersDarrell Vickers—  I don’t know much about Darrell beyond that he used to write for Johnny Carson, he has a record collection that would fill the Marianas Trench and is three times the writer I will ever be.  Oh, and he loves his music.  He even listens to music for camp’s sake, taking joy from albums which maybe should never have been recorded.  He has some really oddball things and posts them as part of his Radio Vickers page.  You really should check him out on Facebook.  He freaks me out with some of the things he comes up with.

Having that large of a collection, you know that he has spent major time in record stores.  He, like the rest of us, looks at them as if they were humans too.  A place we go to hear and buy music but which speaks to us.  I sent him a note saying give me your top two or three favorite record stores and the reasons why.  I shouldn’t have bothered limiting him.  He certainly didn’t pay attention.  Here’s Darrell’s take on the bricks and mortars.  He-e-e-e-r-e’s Darrell!

Here’s what he starts off with:  These are just the ones that come to mind.  Yeah, right.

Starr Records—  Oshawa.  It’s in Canada.  Mike Shulga is not just a record store owner but a crusader for vinyl.  The store is still chock full of treasures of a bygone musical time, but he also stocks new vinyl releases and micro-releases.  (Micro-releases?  What the hell?  Showoff.)  Mike is hugely knowledgeable and, depending on his mood, will be glad to guide you to some great new discoveries.  That plug, Vickers, will cost you that Three Stooges Sing the Beatles album.

Moby Disc (on Ventura, L.A.)—  Back in the middle eighties, this store rocked.  They used to have a large selection of quality used vinyl.  There was a system in place where they would put the most recent used stock on sale for $4.99.  If it didn’t sell, it went to 3.99.  If you waited long enough, you could get that (as yet unsold) prized album for 25 cents.  For someone on a tight budget, this was a magnificent game.  The old store even made it into Spinal TapPaul Shaefer implored the band to kick him in the ass among those beloved bins.

Aron’s (on Melrose, L.A.)—- Before they moved into the big new location on Highland, Aron’s was a long thin musty-smelling store on Melrose that was always too crowded for its own good.  It had a great selection of hard-to-find imported CDs (this was in the store’s early days) and a rich collection of used vunyl.  They had a big section of 29-cent records that was filled with albums considered to be very collectible today. 

When they moved to the new store, they used to hold parking lot sales.  I would pick up a thousand CDs at a time for 10-cents each.  I would just fill boxes until my back gave out.

Phi Beta (on Ventura, L.A.)—  This store was started by two guys who used to work at a Record Surplus branch store on Van Nuys Blvd. which got closed down after the quake.  Phi Beta was the gold standard of record stores and they had the best quality used vinyl in town.  They were very picky about what they bought and were super nice guys.  There was a small collection of used CDs and the rest of the store was full of magnificent vinyl at reasonable prices.  From original soundtracks to rare jazz to sixties rock and pop, this store was a vinyl collector’s heaven on Earth.

record_surplusRecord Surplus (on Pico, L.A.)—  Alas, Record Surplus has recently moved to a smaller store on Santa Monica Blvd.  A very sad sign of the times.  This store offered massive amounts of vinyl, mostly in pretty good shape.  They had a wall of rarities and bins full of hard-to-find recordings.  Depending on how wide your taste was, you could soend days in that store.  Jazz, novelty, rock, easy listening, blues…  they had it all.  There was also an attic where you could get albums for about a buck.  On sale days, those would drop to three for a dollar.  Record Surplus used to also have parking lot sales.  Crap and treasures were there in abundance and priced at three or five for a dollar.  The other collectors were older and smellier than at CD parking lot sales but the musical bounty more than made up for any olfactory inconvenience.

Rockaway Records (Silverlake— basically, a suburb of L.A.)—  A big bustling store during its heyday, they have now shrunk down to the floor space of a boutique.  The vinyl wasn’t exactly terrific but the new and used CD collection was massive.  Rockaway had big parking lot sales in the 1990s.  I think most of the stock was priced between 25-cents and a dollar.  CDs were expensive then and this was a great way to score bands you had never heard of for a good price.

Sam's 2Sam The Record Man (Toronto)—  This was the Holy Grail for records when I was in high school.  You had to get stuff on sale because the regular prices were daunting, but the selection was gigantic.  The store had four or five floors packed to the rafters with vinyl of all descriptions.  Later, it became a great place to get Canadiana CDs.  No one seemed to be interested in Canadian musical history, but Sam had a huge collection of Canuck CDs and they were all marked as such.

Rhino Records (L.A.)—  I was never knocked out by this legendary store.  The selection was good but a tad overpriced.  They had parking lot sales, but even those were the most expensive of all stores offering them.  There were a few good CDs to be found but the store wasn’t my favorite.  I don’t think I ever bought much vinyl there.

I’m still sad about Moby Disc and Phi Beta closing.  I was going to a concert a few weeks ago and we passed by the Record Surplus store on Pico.  It wasn’t there.  I had my wife drive past it three times to make sure I wasn’t wrong.  I just didn’t want to believe it had closed.

When I was in L.A. in the mid-seventies, Rhino was known for its expertise.  Between the various employees, they could answer just about any question one might have had.

I was going to include quotes from Bob Segarini, but have decided instead to provide links to his excellent series of columns about growing up in Stockton and beyond.  It is an excellent recounting of growing up fueled by cars, girls and rock ‘n’ roll.  If you haven’t read it, I recommend it heartily.  Bob goes out of his way to make the telling incredibly informative and amazingly entertaining.  Here is a link to the first column (click here).  You can follow the story from there.

Remember.  Next week, barring act of God or Congress, we will be undressing Sweet Relief, providing help for musicians in need.  And now, here are some…..

Music Notes smallNotes…..  Whew!  For those of us who remember the amazing Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West, a guy named Jerry Miller is a flashback and a half!  No, not the Jerry Miller from Moby Grape, but after hearing it, you won’t care.  This is pickin’ like you seldom hear these days.  Guitar/pedal steel duos straight from Heaven!  Country swing.  All Instrumental, too.  (Well, not quite, but close enough)  You can sample the music and purchase by clicking here.  And why the hell didn’t anyone tell me about this guy?  He’s been around for years!…..  Under the heading “This is so freaking cool”, a kid wants to ask a girl to the prom so he hunts down Cleveland musician Dan Miraldi and asks if he will do a video of Miraldi’s Helen of Troy as incentive.  Miraldi does it and at the end explains and asks by proxy if she would and, not surprisingly, she said yes.  I love the song and I love the album it is from (Sugar & Adrenaline) and I dig the fact that Miraldi did it.  He’s a good man not to mention killer singer and songwriter.  Here it is.  Helen of Troy, the acoustic prom version….. I have a thing for these two ladies out of Portland calling themselves The Shook Twins, assumingly because they are twins and share the last name of Shook.  The few tracks I’ve heard had an intriguing slant (click here and be sure to check out Elephant Revival‘s Morning Ritual.  Ben Darwish and the Shook Twinsperformance as well) and I confess to being quite curious.  Well, the Shooks have evidently joined a new lineup calling themselves Morning Ritual and have recorded and released a concept album titled The Clear Blue Pearl.  It is based on a search for an aquifer during drought, sources for water having dwindled to crisis level.  Good concept handled very well, indeed.  You can get a taste at the band’s bandcamp site (click here) or on Soundcloud (click here)…… Good buddy Joe Lee proves once again that he has my back, this time linking me to a rockumentary which fills a huge hole in rock history— Akron!  Yep, there was a time Akron was a hub for the New Wavers with a plethora of bands only the serious record collector and the people who were there seem to remember— bands like The Bizarros and The Rubber City Rebels!  I loved what came out of the area back in the late seventies and am ecstatic that this film exists.  It is called It’s Everything, And Then It’s Gone and is available for viewing at this link.  Don’t miss it!  I have watched ten minutes and can’t wait to complete this column so I can get back to it…..


Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

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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.”



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