Frank Gutch Jr: Skyboys Redux— Live at The Fabulous Rainbow! Mark Lindsay Redux! Plus Notes

Frank Gutch young

But first, some incredibly sad news.  Jim Manolides no longer wanders among us.  Jim had been a longtime stalwart of Pac Northwest music, having played with James Henry & The Olympics, Dave Lewis, The Frantics, and Jr. Cadillac, among others.  In addition to having played music in the Northwest for decades, he was also looked upon as a music historian of repute.  I mean, he had been around since almost the beginning.

Here are a couple of examples of Manolides’ work (he plays bass):

You can read more about Manolides by clicking here and here.

He was one of the good guys….

Jim Mandolides

Jim Mandolides

It’s Skyboys Time Again!

Notes from the underground….

waldbauerkellPeople in Seattle know Tom Kell from The Skyboys— well, the older people anyway.  I moved from San Diego to Seattle in 1978 and was pleasantly surprised to find a local music scene more impressive than any I could find down south but which unfortunately was a bit limited in its scope.  Venues are the key to any scene and there were few which supported bands beyond those of the meat-market variety (bar bands whose sole mission in life is to play cover songs, ad finitum).  Selling beer is the name of their game and one certainly could not blame taverns for wanting to make money and/or survive.  So few allowed music anyway and if you could sell kegs of beer whilst bands cranked out Bungle In the Jungle or New Kid In Town for the young adults lusting for the hits (and, later, the sex), what the hell, eh? 

When I hit town, there were few bands who could pack out whichever venue they played: The Skyboys, who found themselves smack in the middle of the Country Swing craze; Jr. Cadillac, what would now be called a ‘roots’ band, full of sixties’ Pac NW rock ‘n’ roll and R&B; and Annie Rose & The Thrillers. They were the core of the Seattle bar scene and if you wanted to party with those guys, you had to show up early. I remember lines around the block on weekends and packed houses on weeknights.

fabulousrainbowAnnie Rose had this soul revue thing going on then— lots of Stax and Motown with a few bar standards thrown in for good measure and when they were on, they were really on. Members varied for the various shows and while they had a core of musicians who were very impressive (there was this guitarist known as Vashon Dave who never failed to catch my ear), they were most impressive with the whole revue— backup singers and horns included.

Jr. Cadillac were the essential Pac NW band, having at their core Ned Neltner, who started his rock & roll life with Spokane’s The Mark V.  A move to Seattle later and Cadillac took form. Ned was a roots kind of guy from the beginning, living the rock ‘n’ roll and R&B lifestyle. You never knew what you were going to hear when Cadillac played, but you could count on plenty of originals along with classic covers from bands like The Dynamics, The Viceroys, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Don & The Goodtimes and a plethora of Pac NW greats.

The Skyboys, though, were the King of the Locals (I discount Heart because after they scored their major label contract, they were no longer part of the local scene).  I remember standing outside The Rainbow Tavern watching the band (or what I could see of them because it was standing room only and they blocked my view somewhat) and hearing them faintly through the huge plate-glass window.  Even under those limiting circumstances, I could hear they were good.  I would not see or hear them live for a number of weeks when I attended the band’s album release party. And party , it was.

Scott Boyer was there.  Scott, a member of country-rockers Cowboy, had flown in from the South to produce the album, recorded at Tioga Studios in tiny Allegany, Oregon, the same studio at which Notary Sojac had recorded theirs.  Duncan Cameron, guitarist with The Amazing Rhythm Aces was there.  He had played on the album.  Lots of people were there.  It was packed!  The Rainbow wasn’t the biggest tavern in town and the stage was already overflowing with the equipment and bodies of the band, which numbered seven at the time, so you can imagine the shifting which went on every time someone came out of the audience to sit in.  The only one I remember was Boyer (actually, Duncan Cameron also sat in on one or two songs), largely because I have from the outset been a huge fan of Cowboy.  He only played one song with the band and graciously bowed out.  That must have been when the alcohol really kicked in because the next thing I remember was stumbling the three or so miles home in the dead of night singing Skyboys’ songs to wake the dead.

skyboys1

Skyboys

Kell recently told me that the band had recorded only two albums.  Evidently, the first was a demo and was not released to the public, so their one album, self-titled (First American FA-LP-7709) was the total of their album output.  Two singles made their way to the stores— one in 1981 (Get It Up b/w Backing Into a Heartache— Mench Records MHR-001) and one in 1982 (She’s a Young Girl b/w Memorize My Number— Mench MCH-9329225).  Shortly thereafter, and I hope I get this right, Kell left for Southern California and greener pastures, eventually provided by Warner Brothers Records.  Everywhere I find Kell’s music, I find notes about John David Souther, obviously an influence.  One day soon I hope to hear about Kell’s relationship with him.

There is a whole story behind this band which should be told.  I shall attempt to contact any and all members of the band to tell me the ins and outs of the Seattle bar scene to their recording experiences.  Stay tuned.

Stay tuned, indeed.  Just this afternoon, I received a package from Mr. Kell which included two dubbed discs of a show recorded at The Fabulous Rainbow, live, on a June night of 1979.  I was heading into town, so I ripped that packaged open and jammed Disc One into the player and became lost in the ozone.  I remember wondering what the hell it was about Skyboys that had people lining up around the block for a mere chance at getting in to see them.  Well, I heard it.  Disc One kicked my ass.  Di9sc Two finished me off.  Mixing board tapes which now have me kicking my own ass.  I could have seen those guys a hundred times before they finally called it quits.

I am a bit confused regarding the albums, though, as I know of two LPs, each titled Skyboys.  The first had a red cover in plastic sheet.  The second the one for which the band had the album release party.  Tom had mentioned another, though.

There actually was an earlier album made that’s now just referred to as “The Bredouw Sessions” that was the best record we ever made by far (all would agree)…unfortunately it didn’t come out…all of these recordings are saved digitally I think,,,,but they aren’t available for sale. 

Could that be the red-cover?  I think I need to do some research.  I am hoping, in fact, to contact a few of the band’s members regarding their time with the band.  Both guitarist Leon Waldbauer and pedal steel player Chris Middaugh have agreed to talk.  Perhaps I can run down the others as well.

After hearing the two live discs, I feel it incumbent on me to do it and do it quickly.  Guitarist Dudley Hill, it turns out, died back in 2005.  I am uncertain as to the status of the others beyond Kell, Waldbauer and Middaugh.

skyboysalbumcoverBut let’s talk a bit about these newly rediscovered discs.  All but one song are covers— a set designed to get the crowd dancing and drinking.   And the band is smokin’ hot!  This is what to me is the classic lineup— the one on the First American album:  Tom Kell– vocals, acoustic guitar; Dudley Hill– electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals; Gaye Winsor– Electric Piano, Hammond B3, vocals; Leon Waldbauer– electric guitar, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, vocals; Scott Smith– piano. Electric piano, acoustic guitar, vocals; Pat Bohle– drums; Ken Parypa– bass.  And what they did on this night is exceptional.

They play everything from rock to every kind of country there is— from T For Texas to Kansas City Southern to an excellent cajun-flavored Big Mamou to Luxury Liner, all played to virtual perfection but with that energy you only get when performing.  The surprises to me are the Waldbauer-penned Nobody Lives Here, the band’s outstanding take on Pittsburgh Steelers, and the instrumental which ends Disc One— Ghost Riders.  Had I had my shit together, I would have traveled the Skyboys circuit and yelled those titles each and every show just as I did with Notary Sojac and Carolina.

I don’t think Tom really knows what he is going to do with this.  He hasn’t had them in hand for all that long and, of course, he needs to put heads together with the other members of the band before any action can be taken, but I would put my vote toward release.  On certain of the tracks, I’m thinking Asleep at the Wheel, you know?  These recordings are that good.

I will keep you posted.  Hopefully something can be done to bring these tracks to light.

My heartfelt thanks to Mr. Kell for putting these discs in my hands.  They are already treasured.  And the reason I call him Mr. Kell is that his students and the parents of his students call him that.  That’s right.  When you can’t do, you teach.  Just kidding, Tom!  You da man!

It is late.  I have been listening to live Skyboys since picking up the mail this afternoon and am going to cheat right now and complete the column with a reprise of a short piece I wrote regarding another Northwest great…

Mark Lindsay:  Here He Comes…..  Again! (Originally posted June of 2013)

Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders, put on a benefit concert Saturday evening at the F. Richie Walton Performing Arts Center to help raise money for several community groups. Photo/Elaine Moore/emoore@ chronicle-tribune.com

When people began talking up Mark Lindsay the past few weeks, I admit to a fit of apprehension.  I mean, Lindsay was not only one of the Pac Northwest’s biggest musical exports, he was the biggest.  When it came to rock ‘n’ roll, Lindsay was a monster here in Oregon and in fact all over the Pac Northwest.  Well, Paul Revere and The Raiders were and, of course, Lindsay was the Raider of choice for most of us.  At least by the time Dick Clark dragged them down south to bolster Where The Action Is (more than one of us felt betrayed that they went, even if it was their big chance).  Pre-Action?  Maybe not.  It took Lindsay a bit of time to make his mark and when you’re playing the D Street Corral and county fairs, it ain’t easy.

Lindsay did it, though.  He was a wild man.  Crazy as a loon.  A friend of mine told me a story about him, about how he disappeared one night when the Raiders were playing this club outside of Springfield— The Cascade Club.  The band could hear his voice— he was still singing— but they couldn’t tell where he was, exactly.  Finally, they looked up and there he was, hanging from the rafters with one arm, holding the microphone with the other, singing his ass off.

Was it true?  Hell if I know.  Rumors like that spread like wildfire when the press started picking up on the band and Lindsay was the brunt of most, so who knows?  Do I believe it?  Why not?  Like I said, the guy was a wild man (and yet a gentleman).  And when he played, he played like a wild man.  The whole band was wild, for Chrissake!  That version you saw on the TV screen?  That was the G-rated version.  From what everyone tells me, depending upon the night, the band could crank it up to XXX.

raidersheretheycomeSo was I nervous about Lindsay doing a new album?  Absolutely.  Paul Revere & The Raiders’ Here They Come is a favorite today, but when I was a senior in high school, I played it a minimum of once a day for months.  I loved those guys!  Do I ever want to see Lindsay fall on his face?  Hell, no.  I may have stopped loving the band, especially after personnel changes, but the band which played on that album were gods to me. I was heartbroken when Doc Holliday left the band.  I accepted Phil Volk, but Doc was my man, you know?

Well, there was no Doc on the new album, Life Out Loud.  I know.  I checked.  No Raiders at all, in fact.  There was a Grip Weed, though. The Grip WeedsKurt Reil played drums on about half the tracks and supplied some backing vocals.  Little Steven sang backup on a track.  East Coast legend Gar Francis added guitar, keyboards and vocals. Mike Caruso on bass, ladies and gentlemen, and Richard X. Heyman on drums when Reil is missing. Myke Scavone on harmonica and Mike McGinnis on sax (along with Lindsay— he was a sax man back in the day, don’t you know).  Do I recognize any of them?  I do now.

Truth is, the album grew on me and it didn’t take long.  By the end, first time through, I was a happy man.  Not only was the album not an embarrassment, it was good!  In fact, it was damn good!  Successive hearings have had me bopping my head and smiling like a demon because while this is not the Mark Lindsay who fronted the Raiders, this is an alter ego who approaches and on occasion equals him.

MarkLindsay_LiveOutLoudThe band?  Solid.  On certain tracks, freaking outstanding!  Special notice has to go to Gar Francis who completely blows the amp apart on a couple of tracks and whose musical legerdemain surpasses even what he did on his own project (read my review of Francis’s Shine On EP here).

Surprises on the album are Rush On You, written by Francis and sounding like a followup to The Sonics’ You Got Your Head On Backwards with touches of the Raiders’ hit Steppin’  Out, complete with Yardbirds freakout; I Can’t Slow Down, immersed in the late fifties and early sixties with question and answer sax and guitar; the completely smokin’ Easy Street; and the very Raiders-like New Thing.

Ah, hell.  Truth is, they’re all surprising.  Lindsay and Francis put together a string of impressive songs, hence an impressive album.  Of course, songs without attitude mean nothing.  They have that too.  

When you buy this, play it LOUD!!!!!

NotesNotes…..   Musician Dan Phelps has announced his latest release, Arc, scheduled for release May 17th!  Features Jim Keltner on drums!  For those yet to hear Phelps, he is one of the most adventurous and creative musicians I hear right now. He has produced and backed up numerous musicians on albums— Jess Pillmore,

When I worked at Peaches Records in Seattle, I had the great fortune to work with some of the best people I have had the pleasure to work with, many of them musicians.  I won’t drop any names here because they were more than musicians to me.  They were friends a good people more than anything.  I will point to Mark Lanegan, then of Screaming Trees, though.  Largely because this is the first time I have seen one of the band’s videos.  He was a good man and one hell of a musician.  I hope he still is (of the musician, I am sure he is).  Fame can take you on some strange journeys.  Here’s to you, Mark.  I hope things are good for you.

It seems like just yesterday that Cleveland’s Dan Miraldi knocked me on my ass with a tasty little album titled Sugar & Adrenaline, but that was way back in… 2012?  WTH?  I’m getting older as I type, swear to God.  Well, Dan is back with a new video of a track taken from last fall’s Chaos, Destruction & Dancing and it’s a beaut.  Typical rocking Miraldi… punch rock.

And here you thought videos made themselves.  You have to struggle with subtitles if you are limited in foreign languages to really get it (one of my biggest regrets has been not learning Spanish), but if you are willing to do it, you discover that there is more to videography than having a few ideas and pointing the camera.  This is one I have a special interest in, The Lonely Wild being one of the bands I came across early in their existence and latched onto.

=FGJ=

Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

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.”

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