Frank Gutch Jr: Old Is Not Irrelevant

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While working on this weeks column in which I had hoped to give insights into record labels and how they evolved, I realized that much of the music of the past and my attitudes toward it and the business surrounding it needed to be readdressed.

We live in a soundbyte world these days and things do not stay still long if at all and if I have had any good thoughts or epiphanies since writing for DBAWIS, it would be ridiculous to keep them buried.  So rather than steer you through what could turn into a dry, historical look at the core of the music business as we knew it and know it, I am going to revisit a few columns from the past— just the portions I think need a fresh airing.  Many of the topics of yesterday I believe should be topics of tomorrow, but like boaters, we sweep the water behind us and more often than not, forget.  So welcome to both my musical past and perhaps music’s future.  Let us begin.

The New Musical Landscape (from 2012)…..

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You don’t know how many times a day I just plain want to kill myself.  I wake up in the morning, turn on the computer and while it boots up, brush my teeth and wash my face only to confront a computer aflame with news which is not news and a world going to hell in a handbasket.  I never thought that this country would turn into a seething pile of manure but it’s well on its way and there looks to be no turning back.  What the hell happened?  Is it the Internet?  Is it the smart phone?  Is it The Bible?  Whatever it is, something has turned us against one another.  Democrat against Republican.  Vegans against red meat eaters.  The Tea Party against everybody.

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Of course, the Boomers shouldn’t be surprised.  We as a world have been spinning headlong into the hell that is the future and were warned.  The Kingston Trio turned that warning into a hit, even.  Remember?  “They’re rioting in Africa/They’re starving in Spain/There’s hurricanes in Florida/And Texas needs rain”  (Lyrics to They’re Rioting In Africa (The Merry Minuet), a hit for the Trio back in 1959 but written by one Sheldon Harnick in 1953).  We laughed then.  Not so funny now, is it?

They have fired the warning shot across our bow, whoever “they” are, and we have responded badly.  At first, we napped.  Then we grumbled.  Now, it’s you against me, you against them, us against them.  There is less and less dialogue and more and more monologue.  It is I, I, I all day long and far into the night at which time we reload for another day of backbiting and screaming bloody murder when it suits our cause and fancy.  There are more causes than Carter has liver pills (one of my dear departed mother’s favorite phrases when I was a kid), everyone knowing what’s right even when they have no clue as to issue.  Corporations have convinced a court system which is obviously corrupt (Pssst!  Wanna buy a judge?  Step right over here.) that money and brainwashing equals free speech and we all know that free speech is politburospeak for General Bullmoose (Li’l Abner?  What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA?  Crap!  No one?  I’m older than I thought!).  And I would love to end this by saying that the Pussy Riot debacle is the endgame but it isn’t.  They were rioting before and they will be rioting after.  That handbasket?  Only a fool would not realize that we are in it.

I knew it long ago but the past couple of weeks have driven it home.  Yes, Pussy Riot had something to do with it, but there is also a small unheralded battle brewing in music which needs addressing.  It revolves around pay for artists (in this case, musicians) and many venues’ anti-pay stance. In the midst of the chaos brought on by the major record label implosion, pay for live shows has diminished— not a little, but a lot.  At a time when it looks as if the music business is booming, it is evidently not.  Not according to musicians who are tired of being asked to play for free and not according to venues which claim they are one step away from bankruptcy and can’t afford them.

venuevsartistWhat started out in appearance as negotiation on social networks has now blossomed into a movement among musicians.  Statements are being bandied about on Facebook and Twitter and various music forums which say, in no uncertain terms, to hell with the bastards.  The first time I saw them I thought, shit!  Here it comes.  I was not wrong.

Thanks to the structure of the social networks, the repost button has been clicking overtime passing this statement of redress throughout cyberdom.  They might as well be on street corners carrying placards and screaming “We’re getting screwed!” at the top of their lungs whilst asking for honks of support.  For free, of course.  And with that statement I hear the hair raising on the backs of musicians’ necks because what they do deserves pay and who am I (or the venues) to take that away from them.

They are right, the musicians.  So are the people representing the venues.  Oh, it’s not all black and white.  You can’t lump any large group together based upon mutual interest.  The Tea Party is proving that, in spades.  But, yes, the musicians are right.  The musicians are entertainment and the venues have to pay for the rights to use music and sell cigarettes and liquor and a whole host of other things which are also entertainment related.  Why not pay them?

You would think it would be that simple, but I assure you it is not.  For one thing, we are no longer dealing with a handful of venues with a large pool of talent from which they can choose.  The Whiskey/Troubadour scenario has long since passed.  Where before musicians almost needed mob connections to play the few venues available, today it is wide open.  Check the free entertainment paper in the city closest to you and count the shows for the week or month.  Count the venues.  You’ll run out of fingers and toes very quickly, my friends, and you will not have even scratched the surface.

willplayforfoodOn the other hand, count the musicians who want and need a place to play.  There are reasons that there are lots of music stores selling guitars and amps these days and most of those reasons can be counted as bands and musical artists.  Not every musician is trying to make a living playing out, but I’ll bet that most every one of them dreams of it.  There is that “If I could only get popular enough” thing streaming in the back of their heads at all times, I am sure.  It is what dreams are made of.  As in any world based on not only quality but supply and demand, the market adjusts accordingly.  And, no, I’m not saying that just because there is a huge pool of musicians that they should all have to bow before the venue gods.  I am just saying that’s the way it is and you have to adjust.

I take no side.  I understand both.  Were I a musician, I would be discouraged to the max.  I would also bemoan the state of the live performance situation and cry and bitch.  But I would not whine.  Whining says to me that you do not accept the way things are.  You have to get past that.  You have to see what is and find a way to work it in your favor.  You have to build an audience and a reputation not only as a musician or group of musicians, but also as good people.  Bitch and people listen.  Whine and the ears close.  Be fair.  All venues are not alike.  Some are barely making it.  Some are failing.  To ask those which are failing to pay is defeating your own purpose.  Musicians need venues.  That is, assuming that they do not initiate an agreement asking you to play for free.  In that case, whining is accepted behavior.

Venues:  Do you not have a sense of fairness?  Profit is the bottom line.  I get that.  But when a band or an artist brings in patrons and makes you a profit, should you not share that profit?  Isn’t there an implied contract?  On the other hand, if you cannot make it paying musicians, what alternatives do you have except presenting music for free or not having music at all?

So here is what I’m saying:  Musicians, get off your high horse.  Stop bitching about the venues who want to but cannot afford your fee.  Just the ones who truly wish they could.  Give the good venue a break and maybe play a free show now and again.  The venues which can afford you  but don’t?  Avoid them.  Accept the fact that they won’t pay.  Stop asking them to.  Don’t play there.  And spread the word.  Soon, other musicians won’t play there, either.  And real music fans will stop going there.  If you want to hurt a businessman, do it in his pocketbook.

I frequent a few venues which don’t pay.  They can’t really afford it.  I can tell.  The music is not the driving force behind those venues, but they love the music.  They try to help in other ways.  Some allow the artists to charge a cover and keep the money.  For a couple of those, it works well because they are located close to major college campuses (campi?) and have a ready-made clientele.  For other venues, the door might mean gas money, if that.  Still, it is something.  To be fair, those venues also allow the artists free drinks.  Not unlimited drinks, of course, but a few beers for a hard night’s work can go a ways toward compensation sometimes.  And the music gets heard.

albertastreetpubA few venues offer advertising as well.  Usually, it ends up being your name on a reader board and a mention on the venue webpage, but that is at least something.  What I would love to see is a venue willing to put sweat equity into the bands they book.  Real sweat equity.  Make deals with restaurants and stores to promote the schedule— find musicians and radio people who would help promote shows of bands they like— go the extra mile so that a band from Pittsburgh will not play to three guys named Jake in a bar in Boise on a Monday night with the TV drowning out the guitar.  That is respect and the least they can do for musicians, in my mind.  Then again, my existence is not dependent upon making a profit.  I survive by my wits.

I was involved in the first ever punk concert for local San Diego bands back in the late-seventies.  A store I owned was the catalyst for a large group of musicians and people to pull off a show with The Zeros, The Dils and The Hitmakers.  To this day, I have no idea whether any of those bands even got gas money.  The whole thing could have been a money loser for all I know.  But I do know that money was not the reason for that show.  Not for any of the people involved.  It was about the music.  When we forget that, I think we’ve lost the reason for having shows in the first place.

Here is a musician’s rule of thumb:  Know your venue.  If they don’t pay and that bothers you, don’t play.  On the other hand, if there are ways around playing for “free”, find them.  Compensate yourself.  Venues:  Show respect.  Work with musicians.  Help them.  It is to your advantage in more ways than one.  That profit you’re not making?  Maybe you can correct that over time by getting musicians behind you by doing right by them.  Do right by them and they will do right by you.  Simple as that.

Know where I learned that?  The musicians who played San Francisco previous to and during the Summer of Love.  They all liked Chet Helms but they loved Bill Graham.  Graham paid.  As agreed upon.  Helms sometimes struggled to get the funds together.  They were both reasons San Francisco put flowers in our hair, but Graham was rock solid.

Like I said, it isn’t just politics anymore.  We’re getting crazy in all areas of life.  I personally think we need more music— or we need to listen to more music.  Sometimes I think that’s the problem.  We’ve somehow forgotten to listen.  To anything.  Or anyone.

While You Were Waiting To Get Out of the Parking Lot, I Got To See…..

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I May Be Old But I Got To See All the Good Bands!  It’s a T-shirt thing but it says way more than most people will ever know.  Sure, the vast majority of you out there are thinking, yeah, The Beatles at Shea, or maybe Woodstock.  Maybe Led Zeppelin at The Forum in L.A.  I yawn.  I suppose they were good and all, but music is an adventure and sitting in the midst of thousands to barely hear music played not nearly as good as the record (not to mention exposing yourself to possible burn damage from those lighters idiots used to hold up in the air at the oddest moments) is hardly my idea of adventure or even a good time.  Have I ever gone to a big show?  Yeah.  I saw Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie, and Taste in Portland.  You guessed it— my favorite was Taste.  I saw David Bowie in Los Angeles the year he opened his shows with Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou.  I liked the movie better than the show.  I saw Queen at the Sports Arena in San Diego but was there to see Paris, ex-Fleetwood Mac Bob Welch’s band, which didn’t play because Queen would not allow them to do a soundcheck (and I don’t care why) and preferred announcing that Paris’s equipment truck had broken down to telling people that they (Queen’s management or possibly even Queen themselves) were assholes.  How do I know?  I stood twenty feet away and watched Paris‘s manager argue with Queen’s goons before storming away.  I wanted to cash in my ticket but I was there with someone else, a dyed-in-the-wool Queen fan, and he was my ride.  The result was a couple of wasted hours watching Freddy Mercury prance around the stage (argh!) and listening to a way too long guitar solo by Brian May (and it was solo, the rest of the band having left the stage) which would have sounded great in 1968 but was lame as hell in the mid-Seventies.  Of course, the crowd did not see it that way, but I was not the crowd.  If there was ever a chance of me being a Queen fan, it was destroyed that night.  And what kind of an adventure is it, anyway, fighting thousands of people to watch a show you didn’t really want to see in the first place and listen to music you can barely tolerate.  Not much of one, I assure you.

No, the adventure is in the journey and my journey pretty much circumvented the coliseums and arenas, though I did sit through a long hot day at California Jam but that involved a girl and, well, when it comes to girls I have a track record as good as George W’s with the dictionary.  I tell people about some of the things I have seen and some get excited but all I do is yawn because it’s not like Stevie Winwood invited me to his house in England after the Blind Faith show or Eric Clapton wanted me to sit in on cowbell on his next session.  I just happened to see George Harrison (supposedly) behind a bank of speakers playing along with Blind Faith, or so the guy sitting next to me said.  He couldn’t play the show, this guy explained, because he was under contract and, in fact, could only play on sessions not okayed by the label under a pseudonym (which was, I believe, l’Angelo Mysterioso— correct me if I am wrong).  This guy shoved his binoculars in my face and said take a look and I did and it did indeed look like Harrison and he was playing along, if not doing a great simulation of it, so I took him at his word.  Better than getting in a fist fight in the middle of the show, which is what this guy seemed to want to do.  Something about honor or something.

I have never had a sense of camaraderie at big shows nor do I enjoy watching bands play from outfield bleachers.  I want sound.  I want immediacy.  I want to see the equipment up close and to watch the band sweat.  I want that thrown drum stick impaled in my chest because I was so enamored by the music that I forgot to duck.  I don’t want the experience of the crowd.  I can get that at a baseball game.  No, I want the music!  So set yourself.  Today, it is (once again) all about the music!

You Ready, Boys?  Let’s GO!

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It’s either the 3rd or 4th of July of either 1983 or 1984 and I’m sitting in the Buffalo Tavern in Ballard, a suburb of Seattle, with my buddy The Duck (if I had enough room, I would tell you how he got his name, but…) and pumped to see and hear The Slamhound Hunters, a band put together by Mink DeVille‘s former guitarist, Louis X. Erlanger, and mouth harp specialist Kim Field.  They had been stopping by the store I worked at at the time, Peaches, attempting to vacuum all I knew about labels and distribution and record stores and radio from my brain.  They had a record in the works.  They wanted it to sell.  My brain must have been vacuumed clean because it didn’t.  But I digress.

The Duck and I sat there quaffing down a brew when onto the stage stumbled the Slamhound Four and three, uh, chicks— and don’t blame me because that’s what they called themselves.  They were, in fact, The Spitting Cobras, an amalgamation of three vocalists of local semi-fame (let’s see— there was Donna Beck who sang with The Jitters, the lady who fronted Bellingham’s Wet Paint and a third whose name I never could get for some odd reason).  The Duck looked at me as if to say what the fuck?  He was not a fan of female singers.  I told him to cool his jets and after a few loud plunks and a boom and a crash, they kicked into warmup fare— songs to loosen the crowd up, so to speak.  This was cover city but covers that you seldom heard done right.  They may have started out with Chapel of Love or maybe it was Iko Iko or maybe even Respect.  The order of songs presented were not important.  What was important were the vocals (pretty damn good), the attitude (downright snotty when they wanted to be) and the dance routines(straight out of American Bandstand or Motown).  A full set of excellent songs presented professionally.  Maybe not anything to write home about, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

slamhounds2A short break later, the Slamhounds hit the stage with what was to become the new album.  All I remember is, “You ready, boys?” and a guitar riff which led into a pounding straight out of ZZ Top territory.  It was plant-you-in-your-seat type stuff.  I was in awe.  After that song (their signature track, The Slamhound Hunter), they took us through surf and Fifties and some deep Chicago blues (Field proved himself a monster harpist) and I was sold.  I looked at The Duck expecting a smile and a nod.  He sat there in a coma.  I thought I had him, but when the Slamhounds finished, he leaned over and asked if there was another band we might go see.  I was stunned.  The Slamhounds had just chain-sawed through a killer set and he wanted to go?

annieroserainbow2Well, he was in town visiting and if my Momma had taught me nothing else, it was that visitors are always given preference.  Something about guests in the home.  So we left.  I missed the last set.  I was bummed.  We headed over to The Rainbow Tavern where Annie Rose & The Thrillers were getting the dance crowd pumped up with Stax and Motown covers and, yeah, they were good for what they were, but I have to tell you that if I wanted to hear some band doing soul hits, there were a dozen bands in Seattle doing that at that very moment and after The Slamhounds, the Thrillers sounded average at best.

The Slamhounds were good enough that I remember that night like it was last night— the renovated insides of the tavern, the new wood smell, the excellent sound and the feel of summer seeping into the night.  The Slamhounds killed.  The Thrillers barely thrilled.  One day I’m going to tell you how The Duck got his name.  That sonofabitch.

Oh, by the way, The Slamhound Hunters recorded two albums and the Cadillac Walk EP 4/1 Mind (the album which contains the songs heard that night) and Private Jungle.  The latter is available from Seafair-Bolo Records.  Not long ago, I received an email that stated that a few copies of 4/1 Mind were available also, but only on vinyl.  That’s the way I’d go.  I suggest if you’re interested, you contact the label here.

Goin’ To Carolina…..

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Not the state, my friends.  Carolina is a state of mind, a song Pac Northwest legends Notary Sojac used to play to get the crowds warmed up and I have to tell you, it never failed.  The first time I heard it (and saw them), I was amazed.  It was everything I expected out of The Dead and The Allmans and every other hippie band storming the festivals and stages and taverns at the time (the summer of ’71).  It was, to use a kid word, awesome!

sand1They were playing the Rainier Sunbust at Skinner’s Butte Park in Eugene on a beautiful sunny afternoon and I had no money and a girlfriend, so she suggested we go.  We did and, let me tell you, few bands have impressed me as much.  It was a two-fer, really, because on that same bill was Portland’s country-rockers Sand, another band which blew my socks off.  You know that cartoon of the hippie who’s just taken drugs and the mushroom cloud has blown the top of his head open?  That was me.

Oh, the things Notary Sojac did to me that day.  I was fresh out of the army, hair barely Beach Boys-length (the early days) and dressed in the only civilian clothes I owned at the time (bell-bottom jeans, blue work shirt, sheepherder’s vest and jungle boots and a chain around my neck— that’s right, just a chain— hey, it was a statement!) in the midst of a crowd of some of the coolest and hippest people that side of the Mississippi, and I wasn’t even stoned!  The music did it to me, Officer!  Honest!  I was standing there listening to this, this music and that’s the last thing I remember!

It was Carolina, this light riff straight out of The Allmans’ bag of tricks which built into that mushroom cloud coming out of my head.  Verse-chorus-verse and then I forget.  I remember seeing three guitars lined up playing a theme-and-variation bridge to nowhere and at the same time everywhere.  I remember the organ player (a Hammond B-3!  And Will Herold made it scream!) taking us on a ride which almost had my heart  exploding, it was so good, with drummer Doug Ness and bassist Jim Lowry driving and driving and driving!  Those guitars— it was powerhouse Tom McMeekan and the swingin’ Steve Koski and brother Bob Koski, who only played guitar on that one song and played flute and sang on the others.  Yes, I know them by name.  I knew them by name right after that gig.  I had to.  I had to know who those guys were.

They played another Sunbust two or three weeks later in Portland at the Rose Gardens, in this natural bowl-like setting.  Sand was there.  I expected a letdown.  Lightning can’t strike twice, right?  Wrong!  Both bands killed.  It was freakin’ free and the bands killed.

I feel sorry for people who have never heard (or heard and didn’t get) Notary Sojac.  They were an experience.  You can have your Led Zeppelin’s and your Phish.  I saw the best.  Many times.  And I never walked away disappointed.

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Notary Sojac, by the way, put together an album of tracks mostly recorded in taverns through one or two microphones hung from a ceiling— because us fans demanded it.  The sound is rough and in places, muddied, but it captures what those guys did live.  I have no idea what people these days would think, but I love it.  Of course, I was there.  It can make a difference.  Available through CDBaby.  And for the fans who might happen upon this, the band is slowly putting together an album of the only studio-recorded tracks they ever did, an album I call The Tioga Sessions because they were recorded at Tioga Studio down around Coos Bay, Oregon.  Hopefully, it will be available soon.  (And as of this posting, is)

Watching Burritos Fly…..

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And, no, when I saw them, Gram wasn’t there except in spirit.  I get that people are Gram Parsons fans.  I like his music too,  but The Flying Burrito Brothers did not end with Gram’s death.  They continued on and on and by the time I saw them, were… a shadow of their former selves?  That’s what one guy said the night I saw them play and all I could think was, what an asshole.  True, Gram wasn’t there and Chris Hillman was working elsewhere.  This was about the time of Live From Tokyo (early 1980s) and the band was fronted by Gib Gilbeau and Skip Battin (I believe) and, no, they didn’t sound like the original Burritos, but they smoked anyway.  They rocked and moaned and bluegrassed and even souled out.  They convinced the few who were there that they didn’t need Gram Parsons to be a band, and that’s no slam on Gram, just a recognition that they were that good on their own.  At one point, when they were rockin’ out,  Sneaky Pete had the crowd on its feet when he tipped his pedal steel on its side, got on his knees and soloed like a bona-fide maniac.  I have never heard pedal steel like that.  I expect I never will again.

You Don’t Like The Carpenters?

carpentersThen you didn’t see them the night I did back in, what was it… 1970?  They were touring to support their first album and their new hit single, We’ve Only Just Begun, and I’m not sure what happened, but there was no one there.  They were playing this plush night club, the decor practically out of Las Vegas, with tables and velour-seated booths and a full dinner menu and a stage bands would have killed just to stand on, let alone play on.  It must have been Thanksgiving or something— it was an empty cave and it was The Carpenters, for chrissake, and to this day I wonder what happened.  Eight people?  Ten people?

I was in the army at Fort Lewis when my buddy Dave Gray came up to me and said, hey, The Carpenters are playing at this night club in Seattle.  Wanna go?  It wasn’t my cup of tea, really, but Dave was a great guy and I said, sure.  So we went.

I am so glad I did.  There were only four of them— Karen, Richard and two guys who were multi-instrumentalists (I know, because one of the guys had this clothes-tree type stand with what seemed like a hundred instruments hanging on it and he played every damn one of them before the night was over, I swear).  They sounded like they were seven or twenty.  Karen’s voice was clear as a bell.  Richard’s voice was perfection and his keyboards filled holes no instrument should have been able to fill.  The two others were pros— you could tell by their demeanor and the sound of the instrument of the moment.  You want to hear something amazing?  You should have heard them nail Close To You and We’ve Only Just Begun.  Amazing, like I said.

The real thrill, though, was Karen herself.  Most know her as a vocalist.  She was also a drummer.  She had this drum kit with every sound-making apparatus you could think of— cowbell, block, sleigh bells, cymbals of every kind— but with this ring of toms you only see in movies.  They ringed the set, Karen’s left to right, smaller to larger.  I couldn’t count how many she had there and she used them like keys on a piano.  She played songs, almost.  And was she smooth!  I mean, I was a drummer.  I studied drummers, from Ginger Baker to Jon Hiseman to Joe Morello (Dave Brubeck Quartet) to Elvin Jones and beyond.  And I attest to the fact that Karen Carpenter was a drummer!

I am not really a fan of musicians just because they become popular.  I know how big The Carpenters became.  What I saw that night, though, was one reason they became that big.  They were…. damn, what is the right word?  Amazing.

Steve Young at The Backstage…..

steve_young2 (1)You want to talk about an empty cave, that’s what The Backstage was the night Steve Young played.   When was it? Mid-Eighties?  The info has gone the way of dead brain cells, I guess.  Not the night— just the date.  The night— well, you had to be there.

They call Steve country and I suppose they have every right to.  His two most critically-accepted albums were country— produced in Nashville by Nashville producer Roy Dea.  He sounds country, though he sounds as much blues and folk and rock, at times.  Which was his point when I talked with him about his life.  He didn’t think he was country.  In fact, he didn’t think he fit into any genre because he loved and played all kinds of music.  But there you have it.  It isn’t what you think, it’s what your fans think.

Well, if you were at The Backstage the night I was there, you would have thought that he had no fans.  How many were there?  Six?  Eight?  Most musicians would have walked away.  Not Steve Young.  He has this thing about giving his fans their money’s worth.  He will play to one if need be.  Something tells me that he has.

That night, though, you would have thought there were hundreds.  Young went through a set which included most songs on the albums I have (I have them all) and a number of classics he just felt like playing.  He sang, he picked, he stomped.  He told jokes.  He made friends.  He was incredible.  I don’t think one of us walked out of that club less than thrilled with what we had just seen and heard.

It was partially because of that night that I called Steve a number of years later and asked for an interview.  That interview turned into a few interviews and interviews with members of his family and his friends and eventually became a story which needed to be written— Steve Young: Reluctant Son of the South.  I mention it here because it is a fascinating story told mostly in Steve’s own words, a testament to his spirit of survival in the music biz.

Herb & The Spices— Sports Rock Fusion…..

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I laugh every time I think of the night I stumbled into The Rainbow Tavern and saw the stage setup for Herb & The Spices.  A big scoreboard with the names “Herb” (or maybe it said “Spices”) and “Them” next to the numbers.  Running platform shoes (that’s right— running shoes with platform soles, like if The Sweet wanted to get any real exercise).  Football, lacrosse stick, basketball, hoop.  Baseball glove and bat.  I saw that and I had to stick around and see what the hell it was all about.

What it was about was Bruce Kirkman, who had played in a variety of bands in Seattle over the years, including a long run with Fat Jack.  He decided he needed to get out and play a bit, something he did only once in awhile, and called a few of his friends (the drummer, whose name I forget, had played with one of the big Pac NW bands— The Wailers or a band of that stature;  Barry Curtis of The Kingsmen and Fred Dennis, who played in a later version of The Liverpool Five) to help out.  What it turned out to be was a laugh fest, Kirkman cutting up on stage, telling jokes (if they laughed, he gave himself a point, if they didn’t, he gave “Them” one).  They worked their way through a number of classic Pac Northwest tunes, from Louie Louie to Little Latin Lupe Lu (a standard dance tune for the Sixties’ Northwest bands) to whatever hit their fancies.  It was a hoot.

I found out later, thanks to a visit from Kirkman, that Herb & The Spices had at one time had a 45 which Dr. Demento adopted, Swimming Pool b/w Cannibal Cutie.  I don’t know if they played it that night or not, but I would not at all be surprised.  See, Cannibal Cutie is about this girl who asks a guy out on a date and ends up inviting him for dinner— to be dinner, actually, and to this day it makes me laugh.  What can I say?  Bruce Kirkman Is a Funny Guy… Right! 

Hey, I could go on and on.  I saw Rockin Foo at the Eugene Pop Festival in 1969, Seattle’s The City Zu at some park somewhere in that fair city (they had their equipment and just decided to plug into the electrical outlets next to the picnic tables one Sunday); The Turtles at The Tork Club between Eugene and Springfield and again at the Washington County Fair in Hillsboro (both shows were outstanding); Barclay James Harvest at The Troubadour in Los Angeles (if you can believe that— supposedly, John Lees was so sensitive about the band’s sound that he had the roadies set up all of the equipment and balanced the sound by eliminating amps and speakers one at a time);  The Phil Keaggy Band at The Paramount in Seattle (now that was a show I went to by myself because I didn’t want anybody bothering me);  The Wailers and The Sonics at the Albany, Oregon National Guard Armory;  Deep Purple at The Eugene National Guard Armory (with Rod Evans, my favorite lineup of the band);  and The Mendelbaum Blues Band at The Matrix in San Francisco, before they changed their name to Mendelbaum and pretty much pushed the blues to the back.

But my time and space has run out.  I might revisit some of those shows at a later date.  I don’t know.  I’m a wild-hair-up-my-ass kind of guy.  You never know what piques my interest from one moment to the next.  But, hey, this is not over yet.  There are still…

NotesNotes…..  Every summer I fall into a funk of sorts, pushing aside the rockers for more of the emotive and melodic music, preferably with vocal harmonies stacked to then ceiling.  A little over four years ago, a musician named Sunday Lane took up a whole summer with songs like this:

Just this past week, she put up a song which rivals that for mega-popdom and while it is not available on video yet, it is available for listening at this website for a short time:

http://www.songwritingmagazine.co.uk/news/exclusive-parliament-by-sunday-lane/24567

I love this kind of stuff.  People have compared her to Tegan & Sera and Beach House, though I wouldn’t know, not having heard either.  She also plays in a band called Thick as Thieves and in a group with Jessy Greene known as Fauntella Crow.

Some things certain people would never believe unless they saw or heard them.  Here is a clip from an F Troop episode featuring a pre-Little Feat Lowell George with his then group, The Factory.  I don’t recall this being a hit.

Backtracking on Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer, all the way back to their Seed of a Pine album.  I’m hoping they come to Oregon soon.  I need a live music fix.  If I had the money, I would fly to The Netherlands to see Tom Mank & Sera Smolen in October.  If I had money, I would fly to wherever McGraw & Fer are playing.  Maybe I’ll crowdfund!  Ha!

Jimm McIver, who fronted The Life back in the first round of Green Monkey Records‘ existence, is back with a new album— Sunlight Reaches.  Here, he answers a few questions from GM prexy Tom Dyer, who himself has just released a new album, History of Northwest Rock Vol. 1 (1959-1968).  Two heavyweights on today’s Pac NW rock scene.

In case you have no idea who The Life was, here is a clue and a half.  That’s McIver on lead voice.  I love this track!

=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.”

One Response to “Frank Gutch Jr: Old Is Not Irrelevant”

  1. VonRiesling Says:

    Yet another serving of observations, nostalgia, thoughtful insights, and at least two more CD’s I’ll be picking up from groups I have never heard of before today. A cultural ambassador. Thanky!

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