Frank Gutch Jr: My Morbid But Sanguine World, Part Deux; Plus Notes…


Let’s kick this weeks column off with a brand new video by guitarist Jon Gomm.  This dude has worked his ass off to get where he is and deserves all the publicity he gets, which is a damn lot.  Brand new and hot off the presses.  If nothing else, Gomm is famous for spitting in Simon Cowell’s eye.

I had so much fun with last weeks clumn that I thought I would do it again.  This time, though, allow me to explain.  I have been writing for DBAWIS since 2011 and have patterned a piece of my column after the late great Ralph J. Gleason‘s Random Notes writings which began appearing around the advent of Rolling Stone Magazine, of which he was a founding member.  At least, I think he was.  He also wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle and Downbeat Magazine, so I could be confusing the three.  Anyway, in the Notes sections of my weekly column, I try to give a decent overview of news you might have missed and the newest and/or most intriguing music videos/audios.  Last week, I dug back to the beginnings of my writings for DBAWIS and plucked out some of the many excellent and/or oddball entries and piece them into a look back piece, if you will.  I had forgotten how many lost and forgotten videos I had posted (though I reposted many of them numerous times later).  It brought back so many memories mixed with a bit of sadness.  Many of those videos I had posted are videos I truly thought exceptional in one way or another.  I looked at them as these-should-be-contenders.  Last week, I listed them as these-should-have-been-contenders.  Thing about is is, most could still be.  After all, Big Star didn’t really take off until long after they had split up and it took REM covering the classic song Superman to make the listening public notice The Clique.  So bear with me and check out these—- videos interrupted by maybe a news flash or two— music I thought should have been given a chance (or more of a chance if they happened to get a buzz in Poughkeepsie and nowhere else).

The Allies…..

Has there ever been a better song written about Emma Peel than Emma Peel? The Allies‘ version? Who are The Allies, you ask? If you lived in Seattle in 1983, you would not ask that question. We all knew who were The Allies back then.

They were the guys who, along with The Heats (originally known as The Heaters until they realized that at least one band and probably many more had played/were playing under that name) were going to put Seattle on the Power Pop map. Neither band did, of course, but that was through no fault of their own. Major labels dominated the music market back then and, of course, the major labels ignored them. The bastards. Two rockin’ examples of what could have been (and was, for the people lucky enough to have discovered the bands).

The Allies actually came closest to success, getting airplay with what would become a cult classic, the aforementioned Emma Peel. You know Emma, of course? If you are over forty, you should, because Emma Peel (as portrayed by Diana Rigg) was every male teen’s dream girl and potential sidekick. Yes, we all wanted to be John Steed just so we could inhabit the same general area as Rigg, the smooth and beautiful and long-legged sidekick who made Batman’s Robin look like— well, Robin. Teen girls, I’m sure, hated her because her mere presence on a TV screen had us guys all drooling, no matter how much we thought we loved the girl of the moment.  I mean, Emma was something else.

So The Allies recorded a song about her which starts off “I’m in love with Emma Peel…” and, in grooving rock form, went on to tell us all why. They even did a video for it, something which happened all too little on the local scale, money being what it was back then— for musicians, very scarce. It was played on local TV as was the song played on local radio, but not enough. The classic stations (in those days, KISW and KZOK) pretty much ignored it and the small stations had few listeners.

Another opportunity missed? Not really. A key player in the band, David Kincaid, migrated to New York along with Larry Mason and formed The Brandos, who signed a record deal with small label (at that time) Relativity and did fairly well. They still are, though I believe Kincaid might be the only original member of the band left. Still cranking out that music after all these years…..

A surprisingly good version of Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow from the 2012 version of Strawberry Alarm Clock

Alice Texas got this far and then dropped out of sight.  Our loss.  2011.

Winterpills is one of those bands that I picked for a breakthrough but the breakthrough never really came.  And I don’t know why.  They caught my ear and to this day occupy a lot of my airtime, but only a small percentage of us have caught the bug.  Maybe it is because their beginnings were humble.

But there is nothing humble about the songs they have written and recorded.  When they hit highs, they hit highs which shake me to the core.

How is this band not among many listeners’ favorites?

Thomas Hunter has done something few will do. He recorded an album (White China Gold) in movements and while it is not technically psych, it is put together so magnificently that it is. That state of mind I was talking about is captured in a bit less than 42 minutes. This guy is a freakin’ monster when it comes to stringing together musical segments. White China Gold is a symphony for the head. This is psych in the same sense that Sgt. Pepper is psych. It’s in the stories and the combination of sounds and feelings. I felt compelled to write about this album too. Read the review then listen to the complete album.  For best effect, anyway.

Thomas Hunter‘s album was mastered by good friend Steve Turnidge who also mastered another favorite, Sage Run.  Man, I have found so much good music through Turnidge it hurts, but Sage Run is a special case.  The album was put together by one David Stace-James and is straight out of the early days of Simon & Garfunkel in places.  In others, it is straight of of the cathedral.  In others… suffice it to say that it ranks high enough for me to place it in  the never-to-be-removed-from-my-collection category.  Again, best if listened to front to back in one sitting.  Amazingly good stuff.

Now for a commercial interruption…

Darrell Vickers— this is what your old boss was doing in the Pac Northwest…

On a larger scale, of course, Budweiser and Miller sponsored tours, as well as a handful of distilleries like Jack Daniels and Absolut. It is a long and gloried partnership, music and alcohol, so it was a real pleasure to discover a company which went a step further: Oskar Blues. Originally just a small brewery, OB discovered cans early and were among the first to can their ale rather than bottle it. There are numerous reasons, all sounding pretty logical to me, but logic has not always been my strong suit and it was left to music to make the real impact. Thus, Beer That Sings. Thus, The Singing 12-Pack.

It made enough of an impact that I wrote about it then, but only a small piece. I had hoped to write a much more involved history of the beer and its musical promotions. But life got in the way.

See, it appears that someone at OB got to drinking some of that amazing nectar they produce, that liquid ambrosia, and in a moment of inebriated inspiration decided to combine brew and music. Not just any music, and here is where the inspiration really kicks in, local music and “do-it-yourself” music. They figured, what the hell, we’re both doing it ourselves. Let’s take it to the next level. So they went about finding artists from Colorado (the brewery was based in Lyons, Colorado) and about grabbing music those artists had recorded. They headed to Big Bender Records somewhere along the way and put out a sampler of music from that label. When they finalized distribution for Washington State, they made a deal with Supersuckers for an EP. They hit up Yonder Mountain (then, The Yonder Mountain String Band). And then things got interesting. They looked outside the lines, approaching labels like Yep Roc and radio stations like KCUV AM 1510 (Colorado’s Underground Voice) and magazines like Marquee, a music magazine of no small repute. They utilized the talents of music masterminds Steve Garvan and Marty Jones and Morris Beegle. And they cranked out some downright cool collector’s times.

They are all produced, physically, within the confines of brew. You get your basic six-pack, assumedly included with the purchase of a six-pack, and you get your Singing 12-Pack, that glorious 12-song “album” included in what we in Oregon back in the old days referred to as a “short case.” Actually, I overspoke. You can’t get them, but you could have. If you had been around between 2004 and the last in the series (Vol. 7: Rockin’ Roots Sampler), which was put out when, 2008? 2009? I would check with the brewery, but I don’t want those guys to lose their place. That stuff they produce is pure liquid gold.

For your dancing pleasure.  Look closely. You might recognize someone in this video.

Lisbee Stainton‘s take on superheroes…

One of Canada’s best… Royal Wood

Few people realize that I am a huge Rheostatics fan.  I came about them in reverse, though, having first discovered Tim Vesely‘s later band, The Violet Archers first.  Before the music, though, watch this video of Rheo frontman Dave Bidini talking about Tragically Hip‘s Gord Downie.

I have got to see the movie Whale Music as it uses Rheostatic music in its soundtrack…

The Violet Archers remain one of those bands whose two albums just did not satisfy the appetite.  I would rather that they were recording their tenth album this year, but…  I love these guys.

Sean Kelly & The Samples… how did the world miss them?

Remember Fukushima?  Seems like mo one does anymore.  It wasn’t that long ago, sports fans.  I do believe we are headed for hell.  We can thank corporations and the assholes who make up their infrastructure.

Tom House has just released a new album titled Strange, I Reckon which catches him at his folk best, but I want to insert this video instead.  Whiskey Sings Like Angels is from his previous (and also excellent) album, The Long Winding Road.

The Collectors were one of those West Coast phenomenons which pretty much stayed on the West Coast, except in Canada.  In Oregon and Washington, they hit it fairly big (as did most bands and artists out of B.C.  You want classic 60s psych?  Watch this.

These guys should have made it, hands down.  The Tarney Spencer Band.

God, but I love catching musicians on the way up.  Here is an early video of Phoebe Bridgers I posted back in 2012 (the video itself, I believe, is from 2009).

Here she is in 2015 with Buster.

And here she is this year.  From her new album titled Stranger In the Alps.

That, my friends, is progress.


Ken Stringfellow is one music producer I follow closely because you can never be sure how he will handle the artist “around the corner”.  This time around it is Mimi Schell, whom I believe is from Germany.  I couldn’t understand a word she was saying but I could hear the music in the background and based on that alone, I believe her new album, Heliodor, is a winner.  Stringfellow claims he created “environments” for Schell to work in.  While I haven’t yet heard the album, I can hear the dynamics.  Environments, indeed.  This is one to watch closely (and hear, for sure).


Blonde… James Blonde

I loved Emmylou Harris‘s version of this song.  Cherished it, in fact.  Here, The Wailin’ Jennys nail their version down.  The voices of angels.  From their latest album, Fifteen.

A beauty of a video by ex-Charlottevillain Wes Swing.  Very short and just long enough.

What better way to finish off this column than a couple of videos put together by Steve Riihikoski of Notary Sojac fame highlighting Fred Cole, who passed away recently.  These are rough and early recordings when both were playing in Weeden, a precursor to The Weeds and Lollipop Shoppe.

And let us not forget this.  RIP, Fred.


Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

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.”

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