Frank Gutch Jr: I Got Blistuhs on Muh Finguhs!!! (Plus Notes)

Frank Gutch young

… and I’m looking for trouble because that’s just what you have to do sometimes.  Tributes and covers are sucking the soul right out of me and probably out of the goddamn entire world but you soulless bastards have no clue!  This whole I-got-to-see-the-best-bands and there-ain’t-no-good-music-anymore attitude is killing the listening floor (screw the dance floor) and I’ve had it up to my neck with the I-don’t-like-today’s-music-so-fuck-you memes on the social media and threads in the forums to the point that I’m thinking hell could not be a worse place to live— at least compared to this musical rotgut of a world we live in today.

I used to use the you-can’t-throw-a-bottle-without-hitting this fan or that fan but am now seriously thinking about throwing bottles and cans indiscriminately.  And not those aluminum things that they call cans these days.  Real cans!  Tin cans!  Hell, let’s make ’em steel cans.  Plastic bottles?  Hell, they ain’t bottles!  Gimme glass!  Thick glass!  And filled with the heaviest liquid known to man.  Sludge.  Yeah, sludge!  Just full enough so that when it clocks you in the head, it does serious damage.  Because you’ve given up.  You talk like you like music but you don’t!  What you like is The Beatles and Pink Floyd and Beyonce and a whole host of artists from your past with an odd few of newer “stars” thrown in and that’s it.  While you let the good stuff slip right past you.  Stuff like this:

And this.

This isn’t the first time I’ve flown off the handle.  I do it regularly anymore.  I think it is because I hear excuses all the time.  Wouldn’t bother me all that much except the sources of those excuses still claim they love music.  Sigh.  Look.  I know I don’t know everything about music or anything else.  I do know what giving up looks like.  Too many have done it and more are joining them every day,  Think global warming is the only problem we have these days?  Not even close.  True, global warming will probably kill us all, but I will die of boredom long before it gets to that.  Sometimes I think I’m going down for the last time.

Back in July of 2013, my column covered much the same territory.  Better I rerun parts of it than waste the energy and experience the apoplexy.  Let us hit the Wayback Machine.  While that’s going, think l I’ll go for a soda.

My original plan was to list fifty albums which totally bowled me over and, in a way, took me in directions I never would have gone— until drummer/writer Bobby Gottesman derailed that idea for what will inevitably be another romp through who knows what to an end which could as easily be a train wreck as a party.  Gottesman published a short piece about the old farts in music these days and the blanket idolatry they are afforded in spite of arthritic hands and the need to step behind the stack of amps to hit the oxygen mask, not to mention the voices which on the whole are maybe one-tenth the strength and accuracy of what they were in their prime.  While Gottesman’s rant is somewhere between a whisper and a scream (because God knows that listening to people rave about bands you thought were long past their buy-by dates is like getting poked incessantly by your three year old whose finger has just exited his nose dripping with brain excrement), it loosed maniacal screams trapped within my psyche— screams which need to be released for mental health purposes but which will remain trapped because with no one to listen, they are not screams, are they?  Think bear shits in the woods.

I myself have become an image on a movie screen, a parody of Johnny in Johnny Got His Gun, a ghost of a man with ghosts of opinions because we all know, of course, that Paul McCartney is a god and the Stones are the best rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.  When I hear opinions like that I think those people’s lives are done because whether you believe it or not, music is a microcosm of the world in which we live and when the cache is full, the computer crashes (or something like that).  Gottesman gets it (read his rant here).  Bob Segarini gets it and so does Jaimie Vernon, Darrell Vickers and everyone else writing for DBAWIS.  Maybe we all get it to differing degrees, but there is a common thread which runs through us all:  To stop listening is to live in the past.

MarkLindsay_LiveOutLoudI’m not saying there aren’t some musicians almost as old as myself who can trip the stage fantastic.  Mark Lindsay, with the able help of Gar Francis, just put out an album which I think rates right up there with most Paul Revere & The Raiders albums.  Titled Life Out Loud, it rocks and rolls and Lindsay helps it along with a surprisingly strong voice.  Ian Hunter totally caught me with knickers down with last years When I’m President album and since hearing it, I have an urge to backtrack to see what I’ve missed from Hunter’s vaults.  The Strawberry Alarm Clock reformed and picked up where they left off, their “reunion” album (Wake Up Where You Are) gaining a piece of my Top Ten from last year.

See?  I’m not all about the present and the future.  I just want substance, that’s all.  Most of you want, what?  Security?  Not to be bothered?  Another bowl of buds?  I’m sorry, but you just seem to have stopped living.  At least, you don’t care about my world.  So I ask you the question— why should I care about yours?  The truth is, I plain hate to see people die before their time, that’s all.  And please keep in mind that we’re talking music here.

Well, I’m certainly not dead (though I could very well be and just not know it).  Every day I receive files and CDs from musicians who are crying to be heard, most cries falling on deaf ears, and my world of music is as vibrant and creative as it has ever been.  Most people ignore those cries, though, and I have to ask, what is the difference between them and myself?  Basically, we’re the same people (with the exception of the extreme conservatives who have no conception of reality, as far as I can tell, but even those asshats started out basically the same).  So where did we part ways?  What went wrong?

For myself, nothing.  Were it not for a world falling down around my ears (thanks to neo-con assholes), I am happy with where I am.  I live in my man-cave, listening to music and ignoring as much of the world as I possibly can.  My computer and CD player are working overtime to keep me mellow, not unlike Hilarium in Michael Frayn’s A Very Private Life.  When the oxygen runs low, I can drive to the coast with all car windows down, CDs stacked next to me— in proper order for listening but a jumbled mess afterward.  Like you, I listen to what I want when I want (except when I have a deadline for reviews or, in this case, a column.  The difference is that you seem to want that seventeenth remastering of Rubber Soul or the alternate versions from Dark Side of the Moon or the various guitar snarks and recorded farts from the Led Zeppelin III sessions (which amazingly did not make it onto the album— gasp!).  I want a new Picture The Ocean or Alcoholic Faith Mission album or something from someone I’ve never heard before which catches my ear and maybe wrenches my gut.  Assuming that I have you nailed down, let us take a little walk through albums which have had an impact on me and see where we may have parted ways along the line.

Richard Rodgers/Victory at Sea (Scored by Robert Russell Bennett)  (1953)— While life was rock ‘n’ roll when I was young, it was not all rock ‘n’ roll.  I, like many others of my generation, was fascinated by this newfangled thing called television and for my money there was any better TV than the likes of Omnibus, Leonard Bernstein’s Young Peoples Concerts, and, of course, Victory at Sea

Sure, in retrospect, the show was as much propaganda as documentary, but we didn’t know that at the time.  The magic was in the coupling of documentary (a fairly new media format) and music and Richard Rodgers knocked the music out of the park.  In my mind’s eye, I can still see sailors aboard destroyers and cruisers loading artillery shells into ships cannons, the orchestra music blaring and keeping me on the edge of my seat.  The music blew me away enough that Mom and Dad bought me the double-album when it was released and I played it until the vinyl was so thin it played the other side too.  Through Bernstein, Rodgers and the few classical albums I had, I learned to love the orchestra with every bit of passion I came to love rock ‘n’ roll.  An interesting aside:  Whereas Rodgers is listed as composer, what he actually composed were twelve “themes”, from one to two minutes in length, which he submitted to the Victory at Sea conglomeration, composed and recorded on piano.  Robert Russell Bennett is the “arranger”, taking those themes into recorded history.  Another argument for my arrangers-are-as-important-as-anyone stance when it comes to music.

raidersheretheycomePaul Revere & The Raiders/Here They Come! (1965)— While the rest of the world was soaking up early R&B and everything from The Beach Boys to The Beatles, I was buying up every Raiders 45 I could find, upon release.  I was a senior in high school by the time this album was released and listened to it incessantly.  During the summer of 1965, I would come home for lunch (I worked at the local IGA grocery store), eat, then put on one side of Here They Come! (it didn’t matter which) while I dozed.  I knew it was time to go back to work when the side ended.  Did I love this album?  Like you cannot believe!  This was the Raiders which conquered the Pac Northwest.  By the time the rest of the world discovered them, they were a watered-down (though immensely richer) version of this band, tied to Dick Clark’s train which at that time seemingly had no end.  This has rockin’ R&B, Lindsay’s classic voice and a whole lotta sax (and some driving drums, courtesy of Mike Smith).  To show you how cool this album was, I caught Mom playing it while doing housework too many times to count.

The Grass Roots/Where Were You When I Needed You  (1966)— Once again, I check the Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits and have to headslap myself.  Yep, once again the national arbiter of supposedly important music ignored a song which was solid Top Ten in Oregon, this time The Grass Roots‘ Ballad of a Thin Man (Mr. Jones).  The winter of 1965-66, Mr. Jones was a solid fixture on radio in my home state and a favorite of a string of disc jockeys, not the least of whom were ensconced at KASH (1600 on your radio dial).  I can still hear the jocks bellowing over the intro, claiming it the superhit it was— in Eugene, at least.  I bought the album which contained the song and discovered the world of folk rock.  Little did I realize that it was a studio band and not a real one, comprised of P.F. Sloan, Steve Barri, and ‘Bones’ Howe.  I have held those names in reverence ever since.  While there is no space to go into this in detail at this time, suffice it to say that the next album, Let’s Live For Today, found a real band behind the grooves which vaulted them to fame and fortune.  Some bands evidently are put together to fit the music rather than the other way around.  You can read the fascinating story of the band here.  You’re welcome.  BTW, the band you see in this video is the original band (yes, there was one) but only the vocalist made it onto the recording itself.  I think.

Motown/Everything (1961-?)—  Jesus, how do you point to one group or album when it comes to Motown Records?  The truth is, when Motown hit radio in Oregon, they hit it en masse.  From early Miracles and Temptations to later Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder, the label steamrolled the charts.  No one was exempt from the label’s influence.  Watching the empire as it was being built was akin to watching The Beatles from beginning to end.  It was magical!

Glass Harp/Glass Harp (1970)— Fresh out of the Army in the summer of 1971, I discovered The House of Records, a Eugene Oregon institution of musical learning which is still there today.  For months, I spent every spare moment I had there, digging through records, reading liner notes and picking the brains of people who worked and shopped there.  Sometime during those first months, I grabbed and took home what is yet today one of my real treasures, a self-titled album by a band known as Glass Harp.  Upon bringing it home, I put it on and was surprised by the strings, which seemed to dominate.  I wanted guitar, drums and bass!  The more I listened, I began to hear the band, and what a band it was!  Three guys not at all like Cream or The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  More sedate.  More fluid.  Relying on flowing rhythms and subtle guitar, they for a short time totally dominated the turntable.  Phil Keaggy, the guitarist, had a command of the instrument I had never really heard before and took it in directions I had not even imagined up till then.  Glass Harp became and obsession and, later, when Keaggy went solo, so did he.  The band had such an impact on me that I mentioned them wherever I went just to see if anyone had ever heard or heard of them.  I made some of my best friends through Glass Harp‘s music.  They are back together, in a way.  When the three of them are not involved in other projects, that is.

Cowboy/Reach For the Sky and 5’ll Getcha Ten (1970 & 1971)—  If there was a band which had major impact on who I was in the early-seventies, it would have to be Cowboy.  I was finally able to look forward without war hovering over me and was in the midst of what turned out to be a growing back-to-the-land movement in Eugene, a return to simpler and more honest times.  I had dreams of finding a lady who would share a life outside of what would turn into corporations (military-industrial complex) and who held  a love for truth and land and everything else which made up my own convoluted view of a hippie lifestyle.  The first time I put side one of Reach For the Sky on the turntable, I knew these guys were for me.  The lyrics washed over me like a soft Spring rain— “I need time to find out where I’m going/I need people to show me where I’ve been/I know the answer and it feels good just knowin’/It’s my friends who show me who I am.”  After almost two years incarcerated in a lifestyle I not only did not embrace (the Army) but hated, they were words I needed to hear.  There are only a handful or records I packed extra-special-careful whenever I moved and this was one of them.  I love the album and the music, but more than anything, I loved the truth which emanated from the grooves.  I will one day soon write the band’s story and post it online.  Soon.  They mean that much to me.  Oh, and before I move on, they are one of the quintet of the bands which to me defined Country Rock, along with Pure Prairie League, Uncle Jim’s Music, Dillard & Clark, and .Heartsfield  Fuck the Eagles.  They never even registered on my radar (except for maybe Desperado).

Gabrielle/Wide (2005)—  Her name is Gabrielle Gewirtz and she is one of New York’s best kept secrets, for some reason.  (She has fairly recently tossed the Apple and is now breathing clean, fresh Colorado air)  I stumbled upon her album when I joined the handful of music writers at the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange, a site set up to promote acoustic music of all shapes and sizes.  If I remember correctly, Wide was one of my first requests for review and I gave her a damn good one.  I think I listened to nothing but this album for a couple of weeks, it impressed me so much.  From that time, I have awaited that followup album which would prove that she is no fluke.  Unfortunately, I am waiting still.  This, sports fans, was my gateway album to the true indies.  This is one of the handful of reasons that I am here doing what I do. 

Lisa Parade/Out of the Funbox and Finding Flora (2008 and 2009)—  People who know Lisa knows that she fronts a three-man (erm, woman) band right now called No Small Children and while I could use this space to promote them (they are as good a rock ‘n’ roll band as I’ve heard recently— click here to listen), Lisa has a past which has convinced me that her talent should have trumped all with her previous bands— Heidi and Lisa Parade.  There is a pop sensibility in practically everything she has done but not necessarily the sensibility that you hear as Pop these days.  She pushes envelopes at every turn, has a knack for finding her way around the boring, and refuses to stop pushing musical boundaries.  While the Lisa Parade was a band, to my knowledge it was a loosely formed band with a revolving door to fit the time and place of recording/performance.  She scored what could have been her big break when her song Beautiful Possibility was picked up by the producers of a network sitcom (Miss Guided) but, alas, the network dropped the show quickly (the bastards!) and that break became, shall we say, broken.  I picked up on Lisa’s depth of talent immediately, Out of the Funbox and Finding Flora pumping Pop (like drugs) into my system.  It has not diminished.  I am proud to say that I am not the only one pulling for Lisa and the Children to be given their just musical due.  Many friends whom I trust explicitly when it comes to music agree.  No Small Children is the real deal.  Trust me when I say that the Lisa Parade was no warmup.  Here are two videos for comparison’s sake:

Van der Graaf Generator/Pawn Hearts (1972)—  I had never thought of myself as a progrocker until I heard Pawn Hearts full-bore.  I had heard a few bands you vandergraafcould have called prog, I guess, but only snippets. The music, to me, was on the whole heavy and plodding.  Then my friend Darryl, who hung out at The House of Records, invited me to his house for a listening party.  Listening parties in those days usually consisted of a handful of guys (and the occasional girl) with albums in hand trying to gain audience for their favorite music.  This time, I was the only one who showed.  Afterward I was glad because I got a lesson in progrock I would have paid for.  When I walked through the door, Genesis was blasting through Darryl’s speakers— Foxtrot.  I was immediately entranced.  I put my records in a corner where they would not be disturbed, picked up the Foxtrot album jacket and started flipping it over and over while I listened.  (Album jackets are a wonderful thing, by the way)  Next came Nursery Cryme, Amon Duul, and some oddities he had sitting around.  We finished off the day with both sides of VDGG‘s Pawn Hearts.  When the album was over, Darryl, thinking I was under-impressed, mentioned that I should pick up the American release because it contained Theme One, a fairly short instrumental that VDGG had recorded specifically for the UK’s BBC1, BBC’s flagship radio channel.  I assured him that what I heard was plenty good, but when I went to the House of Records the next day all they had was the American pressing.  I bought it and have never looked back.  Soon, I had every VDGG album in existence (I think there were four at the time) and would buy the future releases as well.  I often wonder what happened to Darryl.  I hope he understood that he was responsible for my delving into progrock well into the 70’s.  Without his influence, I would have more than likely missed groups like Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Tempel, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Maxophone.

The Merry-Go-Round/Emitt Rhodes/Everything (1967-1973)—  There was a ton of good Pop Rock in the sixties but there was none better than The Merry-Go-Round.  Sure, The Millennium put out one hell of an album (Begin) and there were The Bee Gees and The Left Banke, but none had the staying power of MGR’s Emitt Rhodes after the original bands imploded.  Wait.  I take that back.  Michael Fennelly (The Millennium and Crabby Appleton) had a good run too.  While Fennelly was going on to other things (and other bands), though, Rhodes turned inward.  He became a recording recluse, recording in a vacuum.  What came out of that vacuum was some of the sweetest and best Pop music I’ve ever heard.  You would have to live under a rock these days to avoid mention of Rhodes, his legend every bit as important as that of Big Star and Alex Chilton.  My heart sinks every time I listen to Rhodes’ solo albums.  He could have been a contender.  He could have been huge.  I carry his music around with me all the time, hoping still to turn another person on to the music he recorded.  That. My friends, is impact.

Jimmy Martin & The Sunny Mountain Boys/Singing All Day and Dinner On the Ground (1973)— You can talk all you want about Bill Monroe, but the only Monroe I want is what he recorded with Jimmy Martin before Martin started his own group.  Martin, to me, was the voice of bluegrass and, yes, I know that I am among a very small group which believes that, but when it comes to music, I calls ’em as I sees ’em.  I grew up with a father who loved church music of all kinds, heathen that he was.  He always contended that if they sang more and preached less, he would be a regular church-goer, though I knew he said it tongue-in-cheek.  Dad would never have gotten along with the hypocrites of modern religion.  He was too much his own man.  So, though we did not attend church, the family heard hymns more than many of the supposed “saved” and out of that came a love I’ve held to this day for vocal bluegrass harmonies.  Martin’s Singing All Day contains nothing but hymns and it reminds me of so many things, not the least of which was my Norman Rockwell-like childhood.  This, alongside The Seldom Scene‘s Baptizing and the religious songs of The Blue Sky Boys anchors the bluegrass portion of my record collection.  No, I’m not a Christian, but excellent music is excellent music and when it comes to vocal bluegrass, to me it doesn’t get any better than this.

Gypsy/Everything (1970-73)— I walked into this mall record store in the Westminster section of Denver one day back in the summer of 1971 and I hear… “Warning… Warning…”  It is the beginning of the first track of Gypsy‘s self-titled double-album and after the second “warning,” I fell madly in love with another band I had never heard before.  The vocals and vocal harmonies were unique, yes, but the band was a juggernaut of rock filled with jazzy rhythms and flowing sounds like I had never heard.  When I asked about it, the guy behind the counter handed me the album jacket and I stood holding it while the music played.  Needless to say, I plunked my hard-earned coin down on the counter as soon as the side ended, walking out with what I knew was a real treasure.  I cannot tell you how much I have loved this band over the years.  Suffice it to say that when I was buying cutouts for a store in Seattle back in the mid-80s, I came across the album on a list for $1.25 apiece.  I priced them at $4.99.  No copy was getting out of the store unless people appreciated it.  The price guaranteed that.  A couple of decades later, while putting together a long piece about Fort Worth’s Space Opera, a friend introduced me to Randy Cates who played bass with the band for the last two albums.  I begged for an interview and spent a few hours going over his life with the band.  It is one of the columns about which I am most proud.  People should know who Gypsy was.  They should hear them.  They were something else.  (Read that column here)

By the way, ignore the graphics on the video.  A few of the pics, while having “gypsy” somewhere, have nothing to do with this Minneapolis/Los Angeles-based group.

Gigi/Gold and Wax (2006)— I’m driving home late at night and the rain is coming down in sheets and it’s dark and I’m tired as hell and the OPB station is on the radio (OPB is the Oregon connection to NPR) and all of a sudden I hear this music slowly snaking its way through the sounds of wipers and rain and the wheels splashing through the sheet of water on the asphalt and before I know it, I am on a spaceship navigating my way through the universe, hunched over the wheel to make sure I don’t strau fromn what that universe has in store.  I heard horns— IF horns— Dick Morrissey and Dave Quincy, to be exact, but it could not have been them unless…  Had someone found a lost IF album?  And who was that female vocalist?  I had no idea but I was quickly falling in love.  Turns out it was Gigi Shibawbaw, an Ethiopian singer who had found her way to The States and teamed up with (and actually married) bassist Bill Laswell.  The song was Salam and all I could think was, if the other songs on the album are half as good as this, it’s a killer.  I ordered the record from Music Millenium in Portland, received it a few days later and not only relived my struggle through the rain but found so much outstanding music, I could have cried (I think I did).  Besides Laswell, there were only two names which were at all familiar, Bernie Worrell and good ol’ Buckethead, but I read and reread the other names every time I played the CD, which was quite often.  What an album!  I was reminded of just how great this album was recently when both Dirtmusic and Tamikrest released albums which seem to be urging me to pay more attention to African music than I have been. 

Colosseum/Live (1971)—  I smile at myself while typing this.  I have loved Colosseum (and Colosseum II) but had never looked at the lineup beyond just noting names.  These guys were an early British supergroup, it turns out!  Check out who’s on it.  Jon Hiseman on drums: Hiseman is one of only two drummers I know of who were the core songwriter in bands with which they played, though on this one he only co-wrote one song and that with guitarist Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson.  (The other was Bobby Caldwell who played with Captain Beyond and Armageddon)  At the time of this recording, Clempson was one of the up-and-coming guitarists on the British front; Mark Clarke, who would  go on to record the first Tempest album with Alan Holldsworth, Paul Williams and the aforementioned Hiseman, is on bass; Dick Heckstall-Smith, who played with Alexis Korner‘s Blues Incorporated, Graham Bond Organization, and later John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, is on sax; Dave Greenslade, who later fronted his own band, Greenslade, is playing keyboards; and Chris Farlowe, who in England is a freakin’ legend is vocalist.  This album prepared me for not only If and the bands noted above, but for every Brit prog band to come down the pike in the next number of years.

Wishbone Ash/Wishbone Ash (1970)—  God, but I love dual lead guitar and there was no band which did it as much or as well as the UK’s Wishbone Ash.  The first time I heard Blind Eye, I was sold.  I followed the band’s progression from the first album to New England, which harvested the excellent guitar of Home‘s former guitarist Laurie Wisefield and then suddenly lost interest.  Not in the older music, understand.  I just had no idea where they went from there.  A few people have tried to call them headbangers.  Headbanging came quite a few years later, sports fans, and there were few of those bands which could hold a candle to WA.  Gather ’round kids and learn something by clicking here.

Pure Prairie League/Bustin’ Out (1972)—  I found Pure Prairie League directly after I discovered Cowboy.  You can’t imagine the impact two bands with country roots but straight rock sound had on me.  I took everything they sang about and sounded like personal and would have gone back to the earth if I could have found someone to do it with.  Bustin’ Out got a few million airplays in the days when I would get so down I couldn’t get up.  I would lay on the floor by the stereo and play it one side after another, ad infinitum, until I gained enough strength to face the world.  This is the music which allowed me to absorb the injustices in this world where truth is supposedly honored so much but ignored at will.  When I felt so alone I thought I would break, I relied on Craig Fuller (and Scott Boyer of Cowboy) to show me the way.

Brian Cullman/All Fires the Fire (2007)— Brian Cullman and I met through Nick Holmes in a convoluted kind of way.  I mentioned Nick in one of my pieces cullmanallfiresfrontabout music and Brian, through some wizardry known only to him and Johnny Carson, found it.  He sent a message which simply said “Email me” and I did.  Since, we have become friends in music if not actuality.  See, we both have a love for Nick and his music and as we got to know one another found it was not just Nick’s music we mutually admired.  It was much more.  The past few years have found us passing information back and forth, sometimes frantically, because music comes in spurts (just ask Richard Hell) and God forbid either of us finds something beyond the pale and not tell the other.  Brian has turned me on to a mountain of music and numerous artists who struggle to get that music into the hands of listeners and I would be quite different today without his input.  He has an Internet radio show he calls “Songs on Toast” I listen to, two hour blocks of mostly themed walks through the world.  You never know what he will play, but you can bet it will be intriguing.  He plays everything from deep, deep African music to 20s and 30s jazz to Power Pop (he has even bent to my boasting of the Boys from Lake Charles, Research Turtles) to just about any genre you could name.  You should search “Songs on Toast” and stop by for a listen.

Anyway, it turns out Brian knows Nick.  Personally.  He contacts Nick, Nick contacts me and I’m thrilled as hell because Nick’s Soulful Crooner album is a freaking gem of an album (I’ll explain right after I’m done with Brian) and if nothing else, I wanted to tell him I thought so.  I did and he, in turn, told me things I never knew.  That would never have happened without a message saying “Email me.”

Here’s the point, though.  Brian himself is a musician and in fact had released a handful of albums.  It took him a good month or longer to even mention it, the humility crushing him like a wine press, but when he did, I asked if I could hear them.  He sent them to me.  I listened and found one of the real treasures of my collection.  The album is titled All Fires the Fire and is one of those majestic projects you come across only very occasionally, the music and lyrics and overall feel taking you everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  It is packed with beautifully produced compositions I might have heard somewhere but I think not.  I would have remembered.  The key to the album for me was a track titled “No God But God” and the only way I can describe it is humbling.  It is a vast savanna of a song and if Brian had composed and recorded only this, it would be a worthy legacy. 

Impact?  When I need to touch base with the world as I wish it was, I listen to No God But God.  When I need to be lifted up by my bootstraps, I listen to All Fires the Fire.  Had I not written that piece about Nick, I might never have even known of the albums, or Brian Cullman‘s, existence.  Like I’m always saying, some things happen for a reason.

Here is something I wrote about Cullman and Holmes before they confiscated my computer and placed me in this nice rest home where I now reside.  Click here.

Nick Holmes/Soulful Crooner (1973)— Sigh.  If you don’t know the story of Nick Holmes by now… I have written about him numerous times and always for a treason.  His Soulful Crooner album made it into my special box back in early 1974 when I left Eugene for L.A.  That box contained albums that I was afraid to ship for fear of losing them.  So I carried it with me.  On trains and buses (I am afraid to fly).  There is a whole story behind Nick and White Elephant and now, Brian Cullman, I’ve told so many times that I am afraid for fear of not getting it right (dead brain cells and embellishment, don’t you know).  Lucky for you, I wrote it down and now can just supply a link.  If you want to read the story of Nick Holmes, click here.

I could go on and on.  At one time, I was a bit like Darrell Vickers, another writer here at DBAWIS, who owns at least three houses, two to store his record collection.  At one time, I had between ten and fifteen thousand record albums, then woke up one day and realized that if I started listening right then to the albums one at a time, I would more than likely die before I reached the end.  Since then, it has been a slow process of finding the important albums good homes because, hey, I’m not getting any younger and I have very little time to listen beyond the stacks of albums I receive each week.  What can I say?  It’s been fun, but I don’t need you anymore?  Luckily, I have photographic memory when it comes to music.  I can hear them any time I want by just thinking about them.  The problem is when something pops into my head and I can’t figure out who it is.  Lost a few nights of sleep over those.

If you made it this far, I would love to hear what you think in terms of our separate music lives.  Am I crazy?  Are you, assuming that the soundtrack of your lives contain nothing but hits, boring and done discovering?  We’re going down, you know.  Global warming, wars, fracking.  We’re going to kill ourselves.  Perhaps it’s for the best.  Like you say, there’s no good music out there anymore.  Nothing new, anyway.  Asshat!

Hey, it’s getting late so I probably should wrap this up.  Can’t do it quite yet, though.  But you can go right after you check out my…

NotesNotes….. It’s NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert time again and I have to throw my vote behind Hymn For Her, if only for their inclusion of one, ahem, tiny desk!  It’s no secret I love these guys.  I became a huge fan when they were two legs of tripod band Maggi Pierce & EJ, a Phillie-based harbinger of musical hi- jinx and folderol.  Since turning duo, they have been making fans hand over fist, playing anywhere and everywhere they are welcome.  Take a listen and head to YouTube to check out some of their more maniacal cinematic clips.

I don’t talk enough about Drew Gibson.  The man is extremely talented and writes songs which can uplift or put asunder, all with a personal touch beyond most.  Here is a video recently uploaded to YouTube of him opening for Joan Armatrading.  Hell of an opener, if you ask me.

Tom Kell, as well as having a pretty good solo career, was once a member of Seattle’s country-rockin’ Skyboys back in the late-seventies and early eighties.  More than a few times when I left work a little late, I would see lines wrapping around the block, people waiting to be admitted to The Fabulous Rainbow to see Kell and band.  After the Skyboys split, Kell headed to L.A. and signed with Warner Brothers, released a handful of damn fine albums, wrote a bunch of outstanding songs with the likes of J.D. Souther and Kenny Edwards before settling down to the business of living.  He never stopped, though.  His guitar was never far from reach and he continues to write and perform today.  Here is one of his latest, recorded in his workshop, as far as I can tell.  One day, I hope to get the lowdown from him about those glory days in Seattle.  If he can ever set aside enough time.

I cut Haroula Rose more slack than most.  After all, she has been out completing and promoting a downright excellent film she worked on (Fruitvale Station) and God knows what that entails.  But to me, she is first and foremost a musician/singer songwriter.  Well, I am happy to report that she is back on the music trail and has just released a new video for the song Moon and Waves.  Take a listen.

Life is complicated and you have to always remember that there are at least two sides to every conflict.

How long has it been since The Soundcarriers released an album?  Seems like forever.  Well, Dominic Valvona must know of my hankering because he recently uncovered a very Soundcarrier-like band, Jinko Vilova.  What?  You’ve not heard of The Soundcarriers?  Allow me to post one of their vids right after this.

I do not know Mark Isham personally but I know his music.  He was getting a lot of talk back in the late-seventies and early-eighties when he was part of a group known as Group 87, had played on friend Cam Newton‘s exceptional (and I do mean exceptional) Welcome Aliens album, and made himself a nice nest in Hollywood scoring a few million films for the movie-hawkers.  This video just came across my consciousness and thought I would share what we in the Pac Northwest think of as part of our own.

And just in case you want to know the real Cam Newton, here is a track from Welcome Aliens featuring Isham (horns), Jim Pepper (sax), Doug Ness (drums), and Steve Koski (guitar).  You may have read a bit about Koski and Ness in my columns.  They were members of Oregon legends Notary Sojac.


Frank’s column appears every Wednesday

Contact us at

dbawis-button7Frank 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 Frank bottle capone 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.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: