Frank Gutch Jr: Consider These Reruns (Glimpses From the Past); Plus Notes of a Lugubrious Nature

Looking back has become a thing of the present lately.  It began when I felt a guilt sneak over me because so many of the artists I have written about have seemingly passed their buy-by date.  The listening public, it seems, only want the past in terms of oldies or the classics. God forbid they should let the music decide for them.  Add to that my inability at times to come up with fresh subject matter and a nostalgic bent and it seems the logical choice.  It is doubtful that many of you have read many of my columns from the distant past and those who have probably have lost the gist.  So why not visit the past here and there?  I have gleaned through many columns and have picked a handful of segments I believe will be of interest to a wide variety of readers.  Let us start with one overlooking the Pac Northwest, titled…

When I Want Country, I Want Country! (Originally posted March of 2012)

And not the crap they’re telling us is Country. It seems like forever ago that I cared about Country music. Nashville pretty much put me off my feed when they started promoting artists like Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift and The Jayhawks— whom I like, don’t get me wrong— or maybe what I mean to say is, I don’t hate. But it just ain’t Country, my friends, and that’s the truth.

As much as Nashville would love for you to think that what most people in Nashville play is Country, it just ain’t (and I use ain’t because those Nashville idiots seem to want to dumb down everything because they think it’s cool and, well, I’d like some of them to read this, too, in hopes that they might learn something). It is Rock and it’s Pop and at certain times it’s damn near metal, for Chrissake! Quite a leap from Country. You know what I always say (and if you don’t, you ain’t been payin’ attention, Jethro), it takes more than a drawl and a pleather ass helmet to make you a country musician. It takes heart. And Nashville has taken the heart right out of what was once a viable and interesting genre. They have turned it to pap.

For me, it was never about the sound, though when I was a kid you could not escape it. It emanated from most radio stations and all of the taverns and bars in the old hometown and if it wasn’t Hank, it was Patsy or Lefty or Ernest or any one of what seemed like a million musicians who owned the jukeboxes in every small logging or farming town in the State of Oregon. Most were so well known that you didn’t even have to refer to them by their full names (although why would you when they had names like Ferlin or Faron or Hawkshaw?). Truth be told, I tossed those suckers aside when Rock ‘n’ Roll hit the streets because those clowns played one kind of music as far as I could tell— cry-in-your-beer music. In my defense, I was a kid! It has taken me years to gather enough knowledge to laugh at my young self and, believe me, today, I’m laughing, and that’s also the truth.

But I’m not laughing about Modern Country. That ‘heart’ I was referring to? It’s still there, it just ain’t in Nashville that much anymore. It’s in Austin and Seattle and a hundred other places. It’s in the hearts of the true Country musicians, wherever they may be.

I can think of three artists who started out far from Nashville, except in the heart: Zoe Muth (who, with her band The Lost High Rollers just returned from a relatively triumphant tour of Europe), Dave Gleason (who built a large following in Southern California before finally giving in to the lure of Nashville and the chance for fame), and Jim Waive (a son of Virginia who stays home because home is— well, home). All have country roots. It’s what they do with them that sets them apart. Nashville, pay attention. There is more heart in these three than in the vast majority of your top-selling posers.

ZOE MUTH & THE LOST HIGH ROLLERS…..

The last song which hooked me as quickly as did You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying from Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers‘ self-titled album was Michael Dinner‘s The Great Pretender from the album of the same name. Both songs reached out and grabbed me by the ears and would not let go. Both convinced me that whatever the people behind those songs did was worth hearing in detail.

I have heard both artists in detail over a long period of time (Dinner since The Great Pretender release in 1974 and Muth since a fellow music freak turned me onto her in the Steve Hoffman Music Forums in early 2010) and I am happy to report that both stand up very well, thank you, and no thanks to Nashville. They are both steeped in country music and yet step beyond the genre with forays into rock and folk stylings far enough away from Country to evade being labeled such, but when your Track One, Side One is double-dipped in pedal steel the quality of Ed Black‘s (The Great Pretender) and Country Dave Harmonson‘s (You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying), you become Country by default. Does that constitute a conundrum?

I could draw parallels between Muth and Dinner. They would center on songwriting and voice. Both have a purity and focus on their songs and deliver them with a clarity you seldom hear on record. Play The Great Pretender and You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying one after the other and you cannot help but hear it. Close your eyes and they are practically right there in your living room, singing for you alone. At one time, I thought that every album should be recorded that way until it became clear that not everyone has their voices. Distinct. Clear. Lightly textured. Intriguing.

The Lost High Rollers recently returned from Europe, the end of a long and grueling tour which started last Summer (or was it Spring?), a trek to the East Coast and back before jumping on the plane. I am assuming the tour was successful, but how do you gauge success these days? They played a lot. They exposed tons of people to their music. They did interviews and radio gigs and played some huge venues (though I am sure most were small). And now they’re back. Muth commented on her Facebook page that she is considering going back to work slinging burgers or waiting tables or something, because her blue collar days were lucrative for songwriting. Harmonson should have no trouble finding gigs, being a Seattle landmark, of sorts. The rest of the guys, the same. Oh, they’re not disbanding. They will be playing here and there and maybe lots more. They are unsure is all and probably in need of a breather.

Doesn’t matter. The songwriting will go on as will the music and the Country flag will remain planted in Seattle (Ballard, actually) for the near future. Nashville, you blew it on this one. This is what you used to be.

DAVE GLEASON…..

Now, Dave Gleason is a horse of another color.  I first heard him when an old friend, Ernie Hintereder, sent me a copy of his Midnight, California album (2004), an album released as Dave Gleason’s Wasted Days. See, Gleason is a West Coast guy. He picks and he grins, if you get my drift, and was doing it well enough to make a living but not much more. A couple of years ago, he picked up and headed to Nashville, more than likely because he could actually make a comfortable living playing and, hopefully, recording. If nothing else, Nashville does have a plethora of venues one can play, either in another band or with your own. He’s still there, plugging away. He is good enough that he will never have to look for work, but I have seen nothing in the way of physical product. I’m hoping he’s recording and saving it for the right time.

When Ernie gave me the album, I gave it the typical cursory listen and set it on the table where it was promptly buried beneath a pile of promos which seemed to come in daily. A couple of years later, I grabbed it and a stack of other CDs I had yet to listen to in detail and headed for Eastern Oregon to see Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun play in an old abandoned church in the middle of nowhere (not only was the drive exceptionally nice, but the venue and concert downright amazing). I slipped Midnight, California into the player (where it stayed for the duration of the trip)— or did I alternate it with his new release,Turn and Fade (2010). All I really remember is that it was a Gleason Fest, going and coming back, and I had been converted.

Sure, Country is Country (until recently, anyway), but there did seem to be a division between styles depending on region back in the day. Texas and Oklahoma were swingin’, Minnesota and Michigan were more polka- and rag-oriented, the South was, well, the South, and the West Coast lived in its own little world. Artists like Tommy Collins and Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant and Ferlin Husky and Dale Watson and Joe Maphis came from West Coast ponds. I remember a series of albums from Europe on White Label Records which delved way beneath the surface of small, regional and local labels, plucking out records for their compilations, some pressed in such minute quantities it was amazing that the White Label people could even find them. Hell, there was a whole scene going on! And that scene, whether he admits it or not, spawned Dave Gleason, country musician.

You hear it in his songs. You hear it in his delivery. But mostly, you hear it in his guitar, and with Gleason, guitar is dominant. On Turn and Fade, in fact, he plucks his way through two instrumentals, unapologetically, something few Country people do these days. And when he’s not picking, he’s taking you on journeys, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, like the one through Hell (If You’re Going Through Hell, the lyrics being “If you’re going through Hell, stop by and see me, ’cause that’s where I’m living, until I can be the man I have to be, where the bottle is never empty, and the room is always lonely, I’m going through hell, since I lost you, baby….”). Talk about cryin’ in your beer…..

Thing is, nobody cries in his beer better. You live anywhere around Nashville, I suggest looking Gleason up. Whether he is playing in a band or pumping out his own tunes, he is always worth seeing. My Dad would have loved his music, rest his soul. That says a lot. That says Country.

JIM WAIVE & THE YOUNG DIVORCEES…..

Jim Waive knocks me out. He is one of those I’m-stayin’-local-because-I’m-stayin’-home kind of guys and you can hear it in his music. I have heard few musicians whose roots shine through as much. First time I heard him, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him (or them, because while Waive does play solo on occasion, I believe he is most at home with The Young Divorcees sharing the stage), but it didn’t take much for me to get what he does. He is a wild-eyed Son of Virginia and isn’t taking guff from anyone. You don’t believe me, just listen. Only really listen. I know, it’s hard, what with The Young Divorcees cranking out that eerie to mind-boggling backup. Listen to the lyrics

I hate to do this because it makes it obvious that I am making it way too easy on myself, but listen to the lyrics of Why I Hunt. With slight Hank Williams inflections, Waive tells a story of an unfaithful wife and a hunting expedition. At first, you think he’s giving his wife a chance to run— one of those predator/prey scenarios. It turns out, he hunts to allay that urge for revenge. The bridge: “You better thank your lucky stars, I don’t turn this gun on you”. The chorus: “That’s why I thank Heaven for God’s creatures, They kept me out of jail, You see I’da gone and shot my loved one, but instead I go huntin’ for White Tail.” Lay that vocal on top of the almost mournful backup and I get shivers up and down the spine.

That backup might be one reason Waive doesn’t go anywhere. I cannot think of a better group of musicians to back him. Charlie Bell is masterful on dobro and pedal steel, a legend in the making. Jenn Fleisher is a Tazmanian Devil, evidently, on what the bio terms the “bull fiddle”— every picture I’ve seen of her playing live is an action shot. And Anna Matajasic squeezes notes out of rather than plays the violin on certain tracks. She can turn a jig into a dirge on a dime and vice-versa. If I was Waive, I wouldn’t go anywhere, either. Finding musicians of that caliber to play with is a longshot at best. When you find them, you try to keep them close.

Just so you know, Jim Waive is another one of those Charlottesvillains you hear me talk about once in awhile. He’s not necessarily from Charlottesville nor does he necessarily live there, but he is among the many who circle that burg like noseeums circle your face on a hot and humid summer evening. If a town or city deserves a museum just for its music outside of, say, Nashville or Austin or New York, it is C-ville. You can quote me.

You do understand that I am not dissing Nashville, the city, do you not? You do realize that my negative comments relate to the music business for which that city is known? I have had trouble with the business there since the mid-70s when some ass hat (and not necessarily you, Jimmy Bowen) decided to cap every album coming out of that city at ten tracks, regardless of length. When that idiot rule was implemented, many albums sank to sometimes barely over, if even, twenty minutes. I think the businessmen had decided that more money could be made by stretching the music out or something. Since then, the decisions they have made there have been about as intelligent. That’s what happens when you eat, sleep and shit greed.

And that doesn’t mean that everyone in Nashville is greedy. There are plenty of musicians and even businessmen (erm, businesspersons) there who have ethics. Looking at the pap the city has been pumping out, though, they don’t seem to be as visible as they could be. That’s all I’m sayin’. This time.

UNDER THE RADAR?  HOW ABOUT BURIED?

Here I had an outline all ready for this week’s column when Paul Curreri pops out of the woodwork, posting a video of Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers doing a cover of Hall & Oatyes’ I Can’t Go For That, a song which I never really liked much but now can’t get out of my head. Result? Outline scrapped, head full of Bluhm and crew and a serious jonesing for covers out of my past which in many cases are better or as good as the originals. I have to limit myself here because otherwise it would turn into a free-for-all which never ends, so I’m tossing out the Sixties when so many songs were covers (at times, it almost seemed like they all were).

I’m tossing out the Nineties and the “thousands” when labels delighted in handing out songs to bands to record so they could put out their many (and mostly musically worthless) tribute albums (nothing closes my ears faster— except lame medleys— than a bunch of popular-today bands doing alt.country versions of, say, Neil Young songs, nothing against the bands or Mr. Young outside of the fact that I think the idea lame as hell). I’m tossing out the so-called genre-specific albums for which artists like Rod Stewart record tunes from the Forties and the like. Just not interested.

What was and is interesting to me, though, are the many tunes covered by bands not because they were asked to or because there was some idea behind it, but because of maybe reverence for the song or band which originally (or maybe not even originally) recorded them— or maybe just had this need to put their mark on a classic (think The SonicsLouie Louie). Hell, some of the songs you love were covers, though you maybe don’t think of them as such. The Eagles’ version of Seven Bridges Road? A cover of a song written and recorded by Steve Young and covered by Ian Matthews on his amazingly good Valley Hi album before The Eagles recorded it, ripping off Matthews’ incredible arrangement practically note-for-note for which they have never, to my knowledge, given credit. Eric Clapton‘s Please Be With Me? A cover of Scott Boyer‘s song, originally recorded on Cowboy‘s 5’ll Getcha Ten. I remember almost throwing a guy out of a Licorice Pizza I worked at for insisting that Clapton had indeed written it, even after I showed him the writing credits printed right on the album jacket! Oh, you don’t know the troubles I’ve seen.

But this column is neither about myself nor my so-called troubles (I only wish that was the height of my problems) but about the music because when I find it, I have to trumpet it from the rooftops, King Kong-style— because it is in my DNA, I suppose. But hey, let’s make this a game. If you have heard of the band or artist, give yourself a point. If you’ve heard of the album, give yourself another. If you’ve actually heard the track, give yourself two. At the end of this, tally your points. If you accumulated more than ten, you’re as isolated as I am musically, meaning that you actually care and listen to what you hear. Anything less than that means that you maybe care but live on a different planet (most of my old girlfriends fell into that category). If you got 0, you are normal, which isn’t saying much these days, the shape the world is in, eh? So here we go. My pick for one of the best covers of all-time:

Capability Brown/Liar— You have heard the song, right? Argent originally recorded it, but it came to the general public’s attention when Three Dog Night turned it into a hit. Luckily, I had already discovered Argent’s version before Three Dog Night’s version hit the airwaves. It turned me into a diehard Argent fan, in fact, and truth be told, I don’t even remember the Three Dog Night version, but I do remember thinking, why is this a hit? Argent’s version kicks its ass. Thing was, in those days radio controlled everything. If all the stations in your area played was white bread R&B, you got lamed-down versions of the real thing. If all the stations played was Country, you got the Country version. And I would not be surprised at all to find that Liar had been covered sometime, somewhere within the Halls of Hickdom, which is what I used to call it. I’m just thankful I never had to hear it.

But here’s what you need to know about Capability Brown. There were six in the band, every one a voice, and when they stacked those harmonies it was like nothing you’d ever heard before. Turns out, not many wanted to hear it. The album which contained Liar, From Scratch, failed to find an audience in spite of those voices (and a killer instrumental bridge). If they’d have come to the States, and they may have— I don’t know— I would not have been surprised if they’d been run out of the country on a rail. They did that to Igor Stravinsky in Europe, you know. Not that they were in the same league. Of course, this was America. We all know how swell that is.

Stagecoach/Stingaree— I’ll bet few outside of San Diego have heard this. Stagecoach was a country-rockin’ hybrid of a band which lived on the bar circuit crossing that fair city and I was lucky enough to have crossed paths with them late one night in a tavern out in the middle of nowhere. I drank way too much and ended up being pored out of the car at three in the morning, luckily on my doorstep, with a phone number in my pocket and what seemed like gallons of beer with which to feed the plants. That phone number was for one Kenny Wheeler, who fronted the band and actually, at one time, had a chance to record for a label. It never happened, unfortunately, and to my knowledge, the business passed him by, though I am sure the music did not. Anyway, Stingaree was evidently this tavern on the Coast Highway in Encinitas, just north of Cardiff in California. Jack Tempchin supposedly owned it, though how true that is I’m not sure. Now, wait a minute. I’m getting to it. If you don’t recognize Tempchin’s name, then you don’t pay attention to what is written on your Eagles’ album jackets. He wrote Peaceful Easy Feeling and a few others for that band. He also wrote Stingaree, a song about that tavern. While it does not exactly qualify as a cover it should have been, but nobody wanted much to record Tempchin back in the day, even after Peaceful Easy Feeling hit it big. Tempchin would eventually get his shot, scoring a contract with Arista Records for his band, The Funky Kings, as well as a solo contract. Stingaree would show up much later on Tempchin’s self-titled solo album around ’78 or so. So I guess that would be the cover version. Nothing like having to cover your own song, eh? The reason this song is worth mention? Stagecoach, while having a country rock sound, meshed in surf here and there and that’s what you hear on Stingaree. Country-rockin’ surf. An aside: If you really want to hear country/surf, you have to hear Surfin’ All Day Long, also from the band’s one album. It’s a freakin’ killer!

Mark Ashton/Satisfaction— That’s right. The Stones’ Satisfaction, but you would barely recognize it. Don’t know Mark Ashton?  He was one of  the guys behind another band (with Steve Bolton) you probably don’t know: Headstone. Why am I telling you this? Because the two albums released by that band consumed many hours of my time back in the Seventies. They were crinkly fresh, unique as hell (they wrote the oddest songs which got stuck in my head for days) and pretty much assured of failure. They weren’t commercial, is what I’m saying. When Headstone split up, Ashton sold songs, did some session work and ended up putting together a few solo albums— well, two that I know of anyway. The first, self-titled and released on 20th Century in the States, was a step further than his previous efforts and had within it the darndest version of Satisfaction I’ve heard to-date. Slowed down, almost cathartic, Ashton utilizes synthesizers and finesse bass to elude any Stones reference beyond the accepted verse/lyric/verse format and the lyrics. I remember when Cream recorded Skip JamesI’m So Glad and someone pointed out that it didn’t sound a bit like Skip James’ song. That’s pretty much what we have here. Sometimes you cover, sometimes you morph.

Allman Brothers Band/Trouble No More— What? You think I’d pass up a chance to point out the best phase of the Allmans— the first album? I used to get in verbal fist fights over these guys. I was listening to the band right out of the box and then this Live at the Fillmore comes along and all these asshats who didn’t pay attention to the first two albums are experts? Excuse me. The first Allman Brothers album kicks anything they ever did after that to the curb. I give as example their version of McKinley Morganfield‘s Trouble No More. The Allmans take this solid blues tune into Allmans’ territory and do it up right. This is rockin’ stuff and quite beyond what Muddy Waters (that’s his AKA, kiddies) did. I dig Muddy, but when I heard what the Allmans did, I was sold. It’s that great background Hammond organ, that driving beat and the guitars. God, but I love those guitars! And yes, this is kind of cheating. It borderlines the Sixties. But I love it too much to not include it. Cut an old man some slack here, okay?

Robert Johnson/Burnin’ Love— No. Not that Robert Johnson. If you already knew that, you’re probably thinking, an Elvis song. Well, you would be right and wrong there, my friends. It is actually a Dennis Linde song, so calling it an Elvis song is akin to calling Hound Dog an Elvis song too. I know. In this day and age, who cares, right? Well, I sure as hell do and let’s set the record straight right now— Burnin’ Love was not written by Elvis nor was Hound Dog by Big Mama Thornton. Burnin’ Love = Linde; Hound Dog= Leiber & Stoller. But back to the point. What Robert Johnson did here was take all of the fru-fru backing they gave Elvis and turn it into a New Wave arrangement, the crunchy rhythm guitar dominating. Is it as good as Elvis? What can I say except that it’s different. I like it. By the way, Johnson was supposed to be an act which was going to put Infinity Records, Johnson’s label, on the map. The label was originated by MCA’s Sidney Sheinberg, who picked Epic Records’ Ron Alexenberg as CEO. There was a combination headed for hell. They put a ton of money behind Johnson, the vast majority of it spent unwisely. Even in those days, record labels were intent on self-destruction.

Amazing Rhythm Aces/Love and Happiness— Few artists could pull off a genre switch better than The Amazing Rhythm Aces and no better example exists than their version of Al Green‘s Love and Happiness. Included on the Aces’ Full Moon/Columbia self-titled album, it paralleled Green’s version beautifully but Russell Smith‘s slightly smoother vocals gave it less of an edge.  By the time I caught on that it was a cover, I was hooked by the smooth and flowing feel of the Aces.  If nothing else, it gave me a reason to revisit Al Green, one of R&B’s greatest treasures.

Hi-Fi/Man In the Station— I remember cringing the first time I heard this cover of what I considered an untouchable song by John Martyn. First off, let me tell you about Hi-Fi. They were a band consisting of Ian Matthews, David Surkamp (Pavlov’s Dog), Bruce Hazen and Garey Shelton (who played with numerous Pac NW bands before and after Hi-Fi, and Bob Briley. Surkamp had moved to Seattle alongside ex-Pavlov Doug Rayburn, played a few gigs (if I remember correctly, as Mad Shadows), then met up with Hazen and Ian to eventually put together a band. According to Hazen, the band recorded an unreleased album, then an EP (which includes this track) and finally an album (Moods For Mallards). But about this track. If you know anything about John Martyn, you know that he started out pretty much as a Brit folkie before he began delving into the spacey jazz side of folk music. It was during his earlier jazz phase that he recorded Man In the Station (included on his groundbreaking Solid Air album, an album which I loved and listened to obsessively for quite some time). So you can imagine my chagrin hearing it done new wave-style— chunky rhythm guitar, rock riff and screaming electric guitar (courtesy of Mr. Hazen). Thing is, the more I listened (and I had to because all of the people I hung out with were way heavy into Hi-Fi) the more I liked. It eventually morphed (in my mind, at least) into a completely different song which just happened to have the same melody and lyrics as Martyn’s original. I pull this EP out on occasion to remind me that it isn’t always the song, it is what you do with it that counts. And, yes, it helped to see Hi-Fi play it live. It always does.

The Talbot Bros./Easy To Slip— You can count me in the ranks of those who picked up on Little Feat early, but I can hardly take credit. All of my friends at Eugene’s House of Records wore me down until I finally listened to that first album closely and, sonofagun, they were as good as my friends had been telling me. I returned the favor by turning them on to The Talbot Bros. and I did it by playing their version of a Little Feat song. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we need a reason to discover certain songs? Well, the connection to Little Feat was the reason and most of them ended up appreciating the Talbots. They had just exited the quite popular (around Eugene) Mason Proffit and had continued as brothers, setting off on their own. Shortly after they recorded this album, they found Jesus and headed toward the fold, as it were, recording Christian music, solo and with others. Easy To Slip is not unlike the Feat’s version, but the Talbots brought their smooth harmonies to the fore and leaned more toward country rock and the song literally sings. In my head, good song by Feat, better version by the Talbots.

The Rockets/Oh Well— Let’s face it. No one will ever touch the intensity of Fleetwood Mac when it comes to this song, but you know what? Sometimes all it takes is the good sense to cover it, regardless. When The Rockets went in to record Oh Well, they had to know they couldn’t best it, so they did the next best thing. They grooved it. They took away some of the intensity and power and substituted a light groove and I think it works very well, thank you.

Although I have to admit that one reason I like their version is because it is the perfect lead-in to one of my favorite Rockets tracks ever— Lost Forever, Left For Dreaming. I was a drummer once. I love drummers, especially the ones who are the core of the band. John Badanjek, if no one has ever told you (though I am sure someone has), you rank right up there with Bobby Caldwell (Captain Beyond) and Jon Hiseman (Colosseum, among others) as drummer/songwriters who really made the difference. God love you!

Wet Willie/That’s All Right— The song starts out, “Live from Mobile, Alabama, yeah— with a little red hot chicken— The Wet Willie Band” and I don’t remember much after that except I drank a hell of a lot of beer and kept playing it over and over, really loud, until my buddies blocked me from the turntable— and they were right, even if it was my turntable. Fifteen to twenty listens, speakers cranked up to max (and they were big speakers, too— Sansui’s— six speaker/five-way suckers), two or three o’clock in the morning. Man, I was lucky I didn’t get arrested, but I couldn’t help it! There was something in the power Wet Willie was wielding that made me almost lose control. To this day, their cover of Arthur Crudup‘s R&B classic ranks at the top of my songs-with-the-best-jam list. Right from the start, they crank, and it just keeps getting better until they go balls-out on the bridge— that long instrumental break towards the end. In fact, it’s playing right now and even though I seldom drink anymore, this makes me want to start again. It smokes! Everyone rocks out, but the award has to go to Lewis Ross, the drummer, who deserves a medal just for making it to the end. Give it up for Jimmy Hall on mouth harp and Rick Hirsch on lead guitar for their question and answer tradeoffs! Whew! From Wet Willie/Live— Drippin’ Wet! Drippin’ wet, indeed.

Michael Nesmith/Bonaparte’s Retreat— You know what? That should read Michael Nesmith & The Second National Band because if Nesmith wanted anything more than wanting to be accepted on his own merits, it was being accepted as part of a real honest-to-God band. Well, he did it— first with The First National Band and then with The Second National Band, but no one really seemed to care. Though I am sure that he felt back then that he would always be known as “Wool Hat”, his moniker with The Monkees, he gained my undying respect with his version of Pee Wee King‘s Bonaparte’s Retreat. My Dad had it on 45 as a traditional fiddle tune. As done by King, who evidently borrowed the melody from that traditional fiddle tune. I liked them both, but Nesmith broke the mold when he recorded it for his Tantamount To Treason album. He stacked the harmonies mountain high and then let pedal steel master O.J. “Red” Rhodes work his magic and brought that old fiddle and later Country & Western tune into the 20th Century. And you know what? He even gives you a beer recipe right on the back of the album jacket, in the liner notes. Man, I knew there was a reason I held on to this! Actually, I have been a Nesmith fan since The Monkees. I always liked Nesmith’s songs, even back then. And oh, what he has done since! But that’s another story…..

Man, I’m tired.  I will bet you are too,i if you made it this far.  Only a little way to go now as it is time for some music videos in the form of some…

Notes…

Back in 2015, I ran across a band I thought was going to top the power pop charts, Ransom & The Subset.  They had a real touch when it came to rocking and harmonizing and put out a swell album.  Funny thing is, I got sidetracked and I don’t know if they ever gained any traction.  I mean, sometimes I felt like I as buried, the music was coming so fast and furious.  Well, I just revisited their “trailer” and am wondering why they are not a household name, if only in the houses of boppin’ teens and old farts who still have a few teen genes left.  Tell me what you think…

I certainly can’t post Ransom without posting one by one of my all-time favorite Seattle bands, the venerable Green Pajamas.  This was also from 2015 and they just keep on going.  The most prolific of the excellent bands out there.  And one hell of a great bunch of musicians and people.

The band has also released the best anti-war song since Ohio.  RESIST!

New from Andy Gabbard.  (I know, I didn’t know who he was either until I saw this, but I do now.)

The Fuzzy Crystals.  I like.

Supposedly this new video by Red House Records artist Actual Wolf borrows from the movie “Badlands.”  I probably would know this if I’d ever seen it.  But that’s cool.  The song has a good punch to it and I dig the harmonies.

Latest video from Band of Heathens

This just does not sound like a band called Ha Ha Tonka should sound, but it’s pretty good anyway.

I’ve always liked Deer Tick.  This evidently is a track from one of two albums they are going to release simultaneously in September.

A bit of old-timey mix for Chuck McDermott from his new album, Gin & Rosewater.  Digging the tasty guitar licks.

Prior to this tribute from My Darling Clementine, the biggest nod Eugene Oregon had had came from baseballer Joe Lis, who had such a great run with the Triple-A Eugene Emeralds that he named his kid Eugene.  Made headlines in the Eugene Register Guard and everything.  I don’t think Joe could play guitar, though, so this jumps to the top of the list.

From Goblin Market, a little wuthering psych…

Speaking of 2011, I was pretty enamored of The Big Motif back then.  This is why.

A number of years ago, there was a band known as Carrousel which recorded a song I really liked and then did two videos for the song— one forward and one backward.  I thought it was pretty damn  cool.  Be sure and watch the setting up of the drums, etc.  Here is the main video

And here is the staging of what they call the reverse side.

The staging of the forward side.

I often wonder what happened to these guys.  I loved the album.

=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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