Frank Gutch Jr: The Pac Northwest— Not Just The Raiders, Sonics, and Wailers; and Notes, Notes and More Notes

FrankJr2One thing about history.  Given enough time, it is a shadow of its former self.  No matter what happens, importance of virtually everything is either magnified or diminished depending upon a number of factors.  By the time it has been filtered over the years, it is not even remotely what it started out to be.  The Twenties obviously weren’t all Gatsby and The Thirties weren’t all dust bowl and depression.  There was so much more than the War (that would be of the Second World variety, sports fans) and recovery from to the Forties and if the US had lived the Fifties like Hollywood said, we would have fought like hell to stay there.  Of course, by the time it got to us, it was Cliff’s Notes all over again.

With that in mind, let us take a look at what was really going on during my favorite period of Pac NW music, the Sixties.  Yep, you can have your grunge and whatever else the Pac NW is known for (rain, salmon, logging, beer— did I mention rain?) and leave me with the Sixties and I’m a happy man.

revereheretheycomeb&w

Here’s the thing, though.  What you thought happened in the Sixties?  It didn’t.  True, Paul Revere & The Raiders took the NW to California, thanks to Dick Clark, and became superstars, but most of their original fans (meaning myself) were already done with them.  When they gave up the harder edge and went for slick, I went for bands with more meat and less— how to put this— anyone know a synonym for fru-fru?  The Raiders I loved still wore the costumes presented on the cover of my to-the-present-day favorite Raiders album, Here They Come.  No powder blue.  No glitzed-up tri-corners.  Just the basic revolutionary step-in-unison-while-wowing-the-crowd-with-rock-n-roll outfit.

thesonicsccover

The Sonics?  They have the history now, but that history didn’t start out that way.  They had the 45s and they had a following, but their sound was more for the harder-edged crowd and, to be truthful, they were not in the majority.  Put together a crowd of 10,000 and give them a choice of The Beatles or The Sonics and they would have ripped all three of us Sonics fans limb-from-limb.  Of course, I have already covered similar territory in a previous column (click here to read about the night I saw The Wailers and The Sonics “face-off” one night at The Albany, Oregon Guard Armory).

The Wailers

And that leaves The Wailers.  They were both the band from the NW which should have made it (and did) and should have made it (and didn’t).  The “did” part came in the early 60s, as a very early version of the band followed their one big hit, Tall Cool One, to the big-time.  The “didn’t” didn’t happen when they busted out bigtime in the NW with their crunching Out of Our Tree album but couldn’t get a bite anywhere else outside of tiny pockets like Jacksonville, Florida and Boulder, Colorado.  I guess it didn’t matter anyway.  The only NW band the vast majority seem to remember these days is The Raiders.  (Suck it up, Sonics fans— like Big Star, The Sonics did not strike gold until long after they were gone.  Being big “in retrospect” does not count)

Even music historians have a tendency to forget the whole scene for the “stars.”  To listen to most of them, you would think that rock ‘n’ roll would never have happened without Elvis and rock would never have happened without The Beatles.  I am not denying influence here, just saying that there was so much more to the scenes than historians admit.

 

I was in a rock band, you know.  A rock band, I should say.  We started out as The Survivors and soon became The N Crowd and eventually, A Six Pack.  For those who know the band but are unawares, the picture posted as A Six Pack on pnwbands.com is actually a photo of The N Crowd.  Here is the only photo of the original lineup of A Six Pack of which I am aware.  (I am the drummer)

My beautiful picture

I don’t think there was a region in the US of A (or anywhere in the world, actually) which didn’t have its circle of artists and bands.  Fort Worth housed a few bajillion, among them The Mods, The Elites, Larry & The Blue Notes, The Barrons, The Cynics, The Novas and so many more.  Chicago scored nationally but mostly regionally with bigger acts such as The Cryan’ Shames and The Shadows of Knight, but fielded some pretty exceptional bands limited in national prominence— The Mob, The Mauds, H.P. Lovecraft, and The Trolls, to name only a few.  Florida had their raft of bands/artists as well— We The People, The Bitter End (which morphed into 31st of February) (both of those bands would give Cowboy two prominent members— Tommy Talton and Scott Boyer).  Plant Life, The Tropics,  The Nation Rocking Shadows— man, the list goes on and on.  But you get the drift, do you not?  So bear with me while I point out a few of the heavy hitters who dropped through the cracks in th Pac NW— most via Oregon.

The Bards—  From Moses Lake, Washington, these guys came close to busting out of the Pac NW when they released two singles, one after the other, and received solid airplay.  Tunesmith and Never Too Much Love, regardless how they did in the rest of the country, scored big on Lebanon, Oregon’s KGAL Radio, each slipping into the station’s Top Ten when respectively released.  I was fortunate enough to have caught them at The Lebanon Guard Armory when Never Too Much Love was peaking and was surprised at how good was the sound in a very unforgiving quonset hut setting.  Originally one of Jerry Dennon‘s artists, they went on to place tracks on Capitol Records and even recorded with Curt Boettcher and Keith Olson, songs which would remain unreleased until, I believe, 2003.  Thyey also recorded under the name Moses Lake.

The HeirsThe Critters/The Heirs/X-25—  Word on the University of Oregon campus was that The Critters hailed from somewhere on the Coast, but they say they were from Portland.  They were basically a U of O band, the Siler brothers working out of Eugene while they went to college the first year of the band’s existence.  They had recorded a 45 and prefaced the release by spray painting “The Critters Are Coming” on the sidewalks all over campus one night so that when classes started in the morning, the students would not be able to miss the message.  The students didn’t miss it but neither did the administration, which called the band into their offices to “negotiate” removal of said messages.  Ploy or not, it worked and the handful of copies of In Time b/w Slow Down (self-released on Design) sold out quickly, thanks in no small part to blanket airplay by radio station KASH.  They shortly thereafter were made aware of the national recording group, The Critters, and changed their name to The Heirs, under which name they released a 45 for Panorama, one of Dennon’s labels— (You Better) Slow Down b/w Do You Want Me.  Like a bad penny returning, they later found that that name had been taken by a band from the East Coast and ended their run under the name X-25.

The Moguls (later, Round Randy & The Moguls)—  I don’t think there was a bigger band in Eugene when I hit campus in 1965.  They had recorded a single themselves at Graves Recording in Eugene and released it on their own label.  An instrumental, Avalanche began with the sound of drums rolling to a head, the resulting sound a cacophony of booms and crashes as well as slight low-bottom feedback (live, of course), before driving out of the supposed devastating snow and into a wild surf instrumental only it wasn’t surf.  It was ski.  Their schtick was ski gear.  The Raiders had the revolution.  The Moguls had ski season.  In 1965, they were the biggest band on campus, playing the student union dances as well as the biggest frat and sorority gigs.  Round Randy, whose last name was Bryson, was a disc jockey at KASH.  Needless to say, KASH played the hell out of the record.  These guys also signed with Dennon, releasing the flip of Avalanche, Ski Bum as an A-side backed with Try Me.  It flopped and as far as I know the band at that time dissolved.

ViceroysThe Viceroys—  This was the band which spawned Jim Valley (Harpo of the mid-period Raiders).  They had a substantial hit early on, an instrumental called Granny’s Pad, and became a band to beat in Seattle.  There is a history behind this band which would take pages to write, but suffice it to say that by the time I got to them, they had released one of my all-time favorite songs of the period, That Sound.  The first time I heard it, I headed straight to Lebanon or Albany (the closest towns to have records besides the racked LPs at the drug store in Sweet Home) and bought a copy.  It was slicker and more rock than earlier efforts and was a fairly big 45 in the NW.  Unfortunately, it was a bit too late in the band’s existence, they being ready for change and already with one foot in San Francisco.  If my brain cells are not failing me, they changed their name to The Surprise Package, signed a short-term deal with Columbia Records and recut That Sound as Out of My Mind.  It did not have the punch of the earlier version and immediately tanked.  If any band could have busted out of the Northwest with one song, my money was on this one.

The center of Willamette Valley music in the mid-60s was EJD Enterprises, a concert promotion company started by Ed J. Dougherty, supposedly a middle school math teacher.  We had heard rumors that some cat was bringing in music up in Salem and that he had plans to spread the joy if things worked out.  He started with The Wailers and Paul Revere & The Raiders, then a growing but still small-time band.  It was a meteoric rise from there.  This is a long one, sports fans, but this gives the real lowdown on what was happening before the big guys came in and locked everything up.  I found this fascinating!

LiveFive5The Live Five—  They were from Salem, The Live Five, and were as close to success as any band from the Willamette Valley.  They released two 45s which charted all over the Valley, the first a Zombies-like tune titled Yes You’re Mine and a solid rocker with punchy guiitar and super pop overtones titled Hunose (The story behind the title is simply that the engineer, when marking the box after the recording session, asked for the title and the guys shrugged their shoulders and said, “Who knows?”).  It was a hell of a song and lodged them in my head as a band which could really go places.  They had EJD Enterprises behind them, Ed Daugherty being the main man behind the booking action in the Valley.  Not only that, they had equipment.  So many bands in those days had the talent but lacked equipment.  It made a real difference.  The band rode those two 45s and a few other decent ones until life got in the way and they headed separate directions.  I seem to remember drummer Craig Martel checking things out at a fraternity I lived in for one quarter, he coming in, me going out.  I asked about the band and he shrugged, leading me to believe that the run was almost over if not completely.  Too bad, really.  These guys had real talent and were getting better all the time, sharing stages with acts like The Raiders, Sonny & Cher, The Mamas & Papas, The Rolling Stones and a handful of other national and international acts.  I was surprised to find this little vignette about the band’s history.  It was cool to see something like this.

There was one band I had heard only a few times on radio called Morning Reign.  They had a buzz going on all over the Valley and had headed down to L.A. or something like that to record at Capitol Studios or one of the other major studios.  I saw their posters up everywhere whenever they played and was floored to see this little semi-doc when I found the one on The Live Five.  While I always thought their music a bit wimpy, pay attyention to what their drummer says in this little clip.  Evidently he had joined the band after the recording session was over and brought something new to the sound.  Makes me wish I had made a trip over to Salem for one of those gigs.  But 50 miles was a long way back then.

Those who don’t want to, right now, sit through over an hour and a half can get the idea by watching this trailer from the documentary.  If you lived it, you’ll want to watch it.

Damn if I’m not feeling guilty here.  I have just handed you a lot to watch as well as hear and the Notes section is packed too.  Tell you what, I will save the rest for some other time.  I think you’re going to have a bit of fun watching some of the vids I have found, so right now, let’s call Music Notes smallit a day except for…..

 

Notes….. This just in from our Girl on the Beach, Laurie Biagini.  A brand new video to support her recent release, Sanctuary of Sound.  The title track, in fact.  This girl is a flashback to the fifties and sixties both attitude- and sound-wise.  Guitar imported from Italy via Fabrizio Serrecchia. 

Here is a video I will have to watch many times before it really starts to sink in.  Back in 1959, Aussie Leon Isackson began taking 8MM film of tours with his band, The Rajahs.  Naturally, the clips are so short at times that they fly by, but the scenes are classic fifties and early sixties and of AUSTRALIA!  Munro Melano, whom I have written about many times, has used these film clips to back his new song, My Hometown.  I dig this.

I love behind the scenes look at the making of anything musical and an Irish band, I Draw Slow, has provided the latest I’ve seen.  They recently recorded an album and worked on videos for two songs from that album, Goldmine and Valentine.  Watch out for these guys.  Both tracks are first class!  Take a peek!

Here are the end results.

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything new out of Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin.  This time, we get a healthy shot of the youngest kin, Daisy, on resonator guitar (that’s a generic way of saying dobro, sports fans).  God, I love these kids!

The Dixie Bee-Liners are presently on hiatus and I’m getting quite discouraged.  They are one of the best of the vocal bluegrass bands I’ve ever heard.  Their originals floor me.  I just don’t understand where people who also love this kind of music are?  Only 2600 hits on their video for the song Heavy?!!!  Don’t be surprised if I go ballistic one day and pour hot sauce on millions of tin-eared idiots!

For those who caught my recent piece about The Professor, Brady Earnhart, THIS is Brady Earnhart, recorded in 2009.  Brady was a prominent member of Charlottesville’s Acoustic Mafia back a number of years ago, a magic moment in C-ville’s music history.

unrehearsedDC served up this little song on a platter— Erin Lunsford & The Wildfire playing Here I Go, off the cuff, totally unplanned and unrehearsed.  The concept is intriguing— catching bands on the fly and asking for a quick tune.  Lunsford and crew nail this one down solid.  These guys are gaining a following fast.  Another example of Charlottesville magic.

I am a huge Omnibus fan from childhood.  I don’t think I missed one broadcast, even the one which delved into theater (Aristophanes’ “The Frogs” comes to mind).  Here, Les Paul & Mary Ford demonstrate how they made the sounds they made.  This is outstanding stuff!

I’ve been playing this video by Lost Leaders while I gather my notes for reviews.  From their new album, Lost Leaders.  This album is guaranteed to be in my Top Five of this year.  Here’s one reason why:

Turn this one up.  It is recorded at a low level, but, man, it is outstanding!

We finally know what they’re drinking in Charlottesville.

Speaking of cool, I smacked into/stumbled over/got blindsided by this thing they call a vinyl record club up in Canada which I would have loved when I first started collecting vinyl.  They feature 7-inchers.  I assume if you subscribe, you take what they put out, potluck.  That’s the cool part of it, though.  It’s adventures in music!  Courtesy of Seventh Fire Records.  The present offering is by Melissa PayneHere is the link.  And here is the video:

I am torn.  Sydney Wayser, who records and performs under the name Clara-Nova these days, just announced a deal with Sony Records.  It is no secret that I hate the major labels, yet I know that being signed is the goal of virtually every musician sweating their asses off in the clubs night after night.  Sydney deserves it (and I wonder what took the labels so long) but damn!  I guess the secret which isn’t is that I’ve loved Sydney’s music (and plugged it unceasingly) for a number of years now.  I wish her well and will be watching those clowns at Sony every step of the way to make sure they don’t blow it with her like they have with so many others.  Here is a Clara-Nova video from a few months ago.

And here is a video of a song from her Bell Choir Coast album.

I just found out that Joseph Darbonne, formerly of Research Turtles and now solidly ensconced with the RT’s alter ego, The Flamethrowers, is getting married to The Flamethrowers vocalist, Dominique Meyer.  Sigh.  I knew Joseph back when he could pull off the Van Halen kick and swirl without having to get permission, like here…..  I mean, is it any wonder that I thought these could make it?

Wes Race is as learned about blues and country blues and jazz as any man I’ve ever known.  We began a friendship through a handful of Texas boys who have as much music in their veins as do I.  Turns out, Wes has been working on some pieces in the studio.  This one is a talkin’ blues piece of history backed by Jim Colegrove on guitar.  Aunt Jessie’s Blues.  Shabam.

Hey, there is more Wes Race for you to enjoy on YouTube.  This guy was hip.  Only hip thing about me was the one which needs to be replaced.  Shabam.  Fortified by Thunderbird, he sez, and lots more.  Hip Card Punched.

=FGJ=

Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

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.” 

 

 

One Response to “Frank Gutch Jr: The Pac Northwest— Not Just The Raiders, Sonics, and Wailers; and Notes, Notes and More Notes”

  1. […] Dissecting Pop Culture Since 2011. Great Music. Great Stories. Great Googa Mooga. « Frank Gutch Jr: The Pac Northwest— Not Just The Raiders, Sonics, and Wailers; and Notes, Notes… […]

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