Frank Gutch Jr: Daisy House— An A&R Dream

Frank Gutch young

In all my years in music, I never worked for a label.  I wanted to.  But I wanted to work only in A&R.  Artists and Repertoire.  They were the people who found the artists, who were liaison between the artist and label management, who groomed the performers and worked with them on the songs for their albums and maybe just the direction of focus.  I knew a few A&R people in L.A.  They loved it.  They wouldn’t have done anything else.  Most of them, when their A&R gigs ended, got out of the business because it was a sewer everywhere else.  Sales?  The pits.  Promotion?  Real work.  Management?  A path, most of the time, to disaster.  I mean, A&R was where the adventure was.  And is.

I know because I live the dream.  Sure, all I do is write, but I write about the dream.  Finding the band, the songwriter, the singer.  Picking them off the tavern and bar circuit and putting them on a tour circuit.  Helping them in the studio.  Readying them for success.

daisyhousepromo

In my head, that is what I do.  I dream.  So last week when I got a message from friend Christian Anger linking me to a band calling themselves Daisy House, I followed the link.  What I found and heard on the end of that link made me wish I either worked A&R or owned my own label.  This band I would sign.  In a New York minute.

You think I’m alone?  I posted this video in social media.

Here are the responses I got.

peterhackettFrom Peter Hackett, the musician behind the UK’s Cult of Wedge and producer/sideman on various Maxi Dunn albums (Edmund & Leo is a work of distinction and should be heard in its entirety):  Blimey, that voice is almost Sandy Denny. This I like!

From famed disc jockey Robert W. Walker, who built a career in radio when radio ruled the roost on major stations in Tulsa, Memphis, and Miami, and is now writer/director/producer at Walker/Fitzgibbon TV & Film in the Los Angeles area:  This is now #1 in my inner 1968.  Bless you, boy.  I just skimmed a couple more Daisy House things on Bandcamp.  Seriously, they would have been big at one time.  This music is like…new nostalgia.  It certainly appeals to me.

From David Graves, who worked with T-Bone Burnett at Sound City in Fort Worth, Texas when T-Bone was just beginning to hone his chops:  How about one-man band Doug Hammond?

From musician and live performance artist Gary Heffern, who began his career as part-time punk and part-time performing poet (I had asked Gary if he might come up with some ideas on where to go to spread the Daisy House gospel to record labels, etc):  wow this video is really good.  okay will listen more tomorrow.  (and later)  i’ll see what i can do.  for sure.  i can tell they deserve something good.

TomHouse1And from Tom House, a musician for whom I have the utmost respect and who is usually quite reluctant to hand out praise:  Found this on Frank Gutch Jr’s site.  He champions many an unknown artist (myself included) and has turned me on to many a fine tune.  Been listening to these guys all morning/blowing me away.  She (Tatiana Hammond) reminds me of a young Maddy Prior and the music of muscular British folk bands Steeleye Span and early Fairport. S ongs that come from deep in the soil, say, as opposed to the damned nearly anything called “root” music these days. I look forward to hearing much more.

Even The Green Pajamas‘ own Jeff Kelly who has written so many psych and folk/psych classics over the years chimed in with Cool song, great recording!

This is very high praise considering the sources.  Very high, indeed.

Yep, you can bet that before I go running off half-cocked, I am going to check with people I trust.   Except this time I didn’t check (except with Heffern).  This time, they volunteered.

Before I reposted the video, I scanned the full array.  I think I may have even reposted the vid for Yellow Road Moon first.  A look at the dark side, it steps into cinematic Western territory, the male and female voices talking rather than singing, the mood acute, a sense of plodding through a garden rather than tripping through the tulips.  The intensity is a bit more pronounced than, say, Stephen Young & The Union‘s Shadowman, and maybe it steps a bit more toward psychedelia thanks to the farfisa organ sound, but the feel is the same.

Who’s there?

They cover a lot of ground, does Daisy House.  The most obvious is the folk/psych framework of songs such as Emma In the Morning (I almost typed in For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her— freudian slip) or this stunning beauty from the band’s first self-titled album (click here).  I was floored when I heard Cold Ships for Tatiana captures the voice of Sandy Denny without, I am sure, even trying.  As the song progressed it sent shivers up my spine.  This, I thought (and still do), is magic.

They slip into what I always labeled Hollywood Psych on a few tracks.  Those are the ones which are obviously straight out of Los Angeles, embodying the cinematic side— music which while used for background music in certain films overwhelms the filmed scene itself.  I have no idea why I think this— possibly because of a fascination with how Hollywood accepted psych music but only on their own terms.  Lots of paisley and miniskirts and go-go boots and strings— always strings.  If not floating above, supporting from beneath.

Folk Rock.  I loved it.  From the early days of The Grass Roots (the first album, Where Were You When I Needed You, is not a band as much as studio musicians— P.F. Sloan, Steve Barri, and Bones Howe plus, I am sure, others), I was hooked.  Twelve-string guitars, stacked harmony vocals, real depth and even echo on the instruments played like they had never been played before.  Enter harpsichords and tack piano and organs which were unlike the Farfisa and Hammond, the only organs I knew at tnhe time, and my mind was blown.  I bought that Grass Roots album and then Let’s Live For Today and was convinced it was the future.  I also thought that about the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and The Id and The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.  Daisy House picks up the Pop side of all of those but has the Sloan/Barri feel as a core.  They even slip into Mamas & Papas territory on occasion.

While the sound seems to be based upon the stellar voice of Tatiana, it depends upon that of Doug Hammond as well.  There is a smooth texture to his which has me thinking of some of my favorite singer/songwriters of the late-sixties and early-seventies— you know, before the term was even coined— like Jimmie Spheeris and Jim Dawson and Scott Boyer of country-rockers Cowboy and even James Taylor.  Like on this excellent track from the latest album, Western Man.

What really makes this work besides the interplay of voices is the overall abilities of Hammond.  He is a master songwriter, capturing not only the sound but the soul of the genre he has embraced.  He is a multi-instrumentalist of no mean ability.  He writes songs to the voices and fits voices to the songs with ease.  But where he really excels is as arranger.  I have said this before and I will say it again— sometimes arrangement is crucial to a song.  In this case, it is crucial to all songs.  Hammond weaves tunes together as if he is born to it.  He works hard at it.  No one makes a case for arranger being a category at the Grammys like he does.

And he lives what he writes and performs.  In case you wondered where the protest song went.  Shades of Brian Cullman— not in terms of musical style but in terms of heart.

I saved this for last not because I planned it that way but because I just found out myself.  Daisy House is presently in the studio working on a new album.  Drinks all around.  On me.

 

NotesNotes…..   Holy crap!  The rumors must be true!  Old Californio made mention somewhere (or so the rumor goes) that they were going to get together for the occasional gig and were (please) going to record again.  I am guessing here, but I think this track is from a previous album and maybe one which was never officially released titled  Along the Cosmic Grass, but the mere fact that they put this video together and placed in on YouTube is reason for hope.  I love these guys and my heart sank when they announced an hiatus a couple of years ago.  I dig this.  OC when they were busting their asses touring.  In fact, it cheers me right up.

As far as I can tell, the legacy of Harry Nilsson blows hot and cold across the musical landscape.  On the one hand, musicians and people immersed in music love the guy, constantly talking him and his music up at every opportunity.  On the other, the general public doesn’t seem to care, or at least I can find very few who do.  While I am not obsessed with him, I do enjoy his music tremendously because he was one of only a few who really stretched limits.  It has taken me years to hear how much.  Well, Bryan Thomas over at nightflight.com has done us a real favor by spotlighting Nilsson in an article and has included a string of Nilsson videos, some of which I have not seen.  I heartily recommend that you read the article and watch (and listen to) the videos.  It might make an impression on you.  It certainly did me.  Click here.

Some songs will live forever.  Steve Young, we never gave you the credit you deserved while you walked among us.  Let us make up for it now.

In last weeks column, I erroneously stated that a video from Gileah Taylor‘s new album Songs For Late at Night Vol. 2 did not yet exist.  Gileah herself corrected me and sent me this link.  This is beautiful stuff.

Got a note from buddy Stan Twist again.  The guy won’t leave me alone.  Something about a band known as Whitehorse, so I checked them out.  I figure he has to be right some of the time.  He was right.

I seldom get a chance to write about Charlottesville’s Sam Wilson because he puts so much time in with his band, Sons of Bill, there isn’t that much out there.  Recently, though, Sam stopped by WNRN and recorded a few songs to slake my thirst.  This guy is a musician in the real sense of the word.  Just lay back and listen and watch.

Floating Points shares some of the same musical directions as does The Curtis Mayflower.  Very adventurous.  Reason enough to listen.

And then there was Captain Beefheart…..

From Seattle, Washington, it’s The Navins!

This is not the same Vinnie Zummo I used to promote, is it?  Yup.  And I’m impressed.  A little jazz for your ears.

It’s Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers recorded by a demented fan from the dance floor.  These guys fry my brain!!!

And finally, courtesy of friend Nick Hornbuckle who gave up playing bass for Seattle band Son of Man to pick up a banjo, here is a little recent bluegrass to cool your jets.

=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.”

One Response to “Frank Gutch Jr: Daisy House— An A&R Dream”

  1. Please take a little time and check out my music @ http://nealstorme.com/
    Thank you

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