You Will Be Remembered, Frank Gutch Jr


gutch thru the yearsYesterday I went through all of the private messages I’d shared with Frank Gutch Jr, since I’d first encountered him. It was in 2013, just after I’d begun writing a weekly column for Don’t Believe A Word I Say, and right from that first message, it was as though we were separated at birth.

Cheri Hill: “This is such sad news. My heart is hurting so much to hear that our dear Frank has passed. We were in Junior High and high school together. We were one of the band geeks and I had such a crush on him. Please someone, let me know what happened and when and where are the services. Thank you.”

Suzi Stark Brubaker:OMG … I can’t believe this is true … I am hoping it is a cruel joke, Frank and I went to school together and have remained friends over the years, coffee buddies and someone to reminisce with about our early days in good old Sweet Home, Oregon. He will be missed! My heart is heavy.”

There was no tentative, pussy footing around in our chats; it was always right to the good stuff, the things you joyously share when you find a like mind and spirit. We spoke about music, of course, but also of our love of reading, and our shared childhood experiences of hiding under the blankets with a flashlight and a new book. We’d speak about the roads not traveled. “What if, ” he once said, “your grandma had not taken that wagon train all the way to Alberta? What if she’d stopped in Oregon instead? Who do you think you’d have been, what sort of life might you have lead?

friends of the heartFrank didn’t waste any time, when it came to his friendships. He walked right into my life, parked himself on the cosy chair beside mine, and poured himself a drink. You need to be comfy when you’re busy taking apart the world, and figuring out how best to put it back together.

For all of us at Don’t Believe A Word I Say, he was a part of what we did, even though we had never met him. We all spoke fluent ‘Gootch.” He was there with us at the Bobcast, beside us at every birthday, every get together, every gig, and we’d so often reference him at our gatherings that it felt like we could see him sitting there beside us .. and yet we’d never physically met the man.

The Green Pyjamas, Seattle WA: “When I heard of Frank’s recent passing, I was startled by the realization that I had never actually met him. The thoughtful yet easy way he expressed himself in his writing, and how he was so very passionate about music -especially that of the underdog – bonded me to him, and I considered Frank a friend and comrade.”

Thane Tierney: “Just gobsmacked. We never met, but we conversed and exchanged music geekery and ideas and suchlike, and both of us were 100% positive sure that we’d be thunderbuddies for life if we had just crossed paths earlier. Gonna miss him.”

He could reference the boys in XPrime and their abilities as easily as any band he’d seen in person. He loved to hear about the bands we’d showcase on the Bobcast, and he made a point of getting to see Mad Anthony and their leader Ringo Jones, and to introduce himself to the lads, when their circuit ran close enough for him to catch their show.

When I sent him the early recordings of the songs that would be on my CD, he was enthusiastic and nurturing, warmly congratulating me on how well my vocals worked within the music. He was a hugely supportive listener, as so many musicians, all around the world, would attest. His critiques always found the best in the artist, and always left those being reviewed with pride in their creation, and a warm spot in their heart for this man who could really ‘hear’ what they were trying to say.

Jeff LeGore:He gave us a great review on Chris Laterzo’s “West Coast Sound” record I produced with Chris and engineered. He REALLY LISTENED. Sad to lose such a true music lover.”

Maxine Dunn: “I was very sad to hear that Frank Jr. Gutch has passed away. He was one of those rare people who truly believed in my music and wrote amazing reviews. The music community are really going to miss him. My thoughts go out to his family at this sad time.”

(On why he wrote about indie music) “It is not just an album or a song, but the journey it took, and how it changed them. And I love the fact that, no matter how similar musicians can be, when you dig deep enough, they become so unique. ”  Frank Gutch Jr., August 23, 2016

Frank didn’t often write about politics, per se, but oh! how we discussed them in chat! He had very strong opinions, but kept his political views to himself, as a rule, so as not to allow the perceptions or perspectives of others to colour his musical views. It was always about the music, first, last and always.

Some dark and wintry nights, when maybe we’d had a few drinks and were feeling philosophical, we’d talk about the span of our lives, what we’d felt we’d done right or wrong, and where we saw ourselves in the future. I remember a night in 2016 when he wrote, “Time was never a factor in my youth. It is now looming over me like a dark cloud.”

But he wasn’t a guy to worry about what was to come. No, he had far too much to do, far too many books he wanted to read (he was a huge fan of Canadiana, especially the works of W.P. Kinsella,) far too many CDs on the table that he had to listen to, with that critical but supportive ear that made so many ask for his attention.

And yet he must have sensed that his time was coming to an end, because last October, he wrote, “It would be wonderful to have done something for which one could be remembered.”

I think you did that, Frank. I really think you did. I think you’ll be remembered for a very long time, just for being who you were, and what you gave to the musicians lucky enough to have known you, in person or online.

I’m gonna miss you, Frank. And I’ll never forget how much you loved all of us in the DBAWIS family, and how much you always cared about the peaks and valleys of our lives. And I’ll remember one of the last things you wrote to me …

“Knock ’em dead, Roxanne. And if you can, keep Bob honest.”

Sweet Home, Oregon 1964                       Members: Frank Gutch, Jr. ~ Drums; Dave Horner ~ Guitar, Vocals; Bill Johnson ~ Guitar, Vocals; Terry Rice ~ Piano; Dayton Turner ~ Guitar

“In the little writeup about A Six Pack, I mentioned an earlier band called The Survivors. Frank Gutch, Jr. has located a snapshot of that band.
The photo shows one of the few performances of that band, probably a post football game dance in the fall of 1964. This band, formed in Sweet Home, Oregon, in the fall of 1964 never, got out of town and may not have even survived football season!”

gutch band The Survivors

Pictured are, Terry Rice on piano, (from left) Dayton Turner, Bill Johnson and David Horner on guitars and Frank Gutch, Jr., on drums. The photo, we think, was taken by a Sweet Home High School student, Ernie Dunigan.

Dayton Turner, February 2006         http://www.pnwbands.com/survivors.html

Jaimie Vernon:My soul continues to get hammered from all sides. The loss of Jon Long on the weekend, Toronto’s tragic mass murder yesterday, and now I find out that a fellow blogger – someone who I shared the same pages with for nearly four years and was a constant, unwavering cheerleader for everything I did – Frank Gutch Jr has passed away. We were two penpals (though we did talk on the phone several times) living 3000 miles apart, but we were like old friends. We “got” each other. I don’t know the circumstances as yet. Knowing won’t make it hurt any less. “

Darrell Vickers:A few weeks before Frank passed away, he was generous enough to send me three boxes of Lp’s from his collection. I thought I’d spend the day digitizing some of those records and being grateful that I was among the lucky people that knew him. Sleep well Frank.”

Bobby Gottesman: “Deeply saddened by the loss of a man who was a mentor, a fellow lover of indie music, a kind and generous soul. A man I considered my friend. Pretty sure he’ll still be listening and writing. You will be missed Frank…..”

No Small Children: “We are so sad to hear this news. We would love to be involved in any tribute for Frank. He was a champion for all music. We are so grateful to have known him. 

gutch in san diegoHowie Wahlen:I’m going to try to hammer this out while it’s still raw.

Here’s one of those columns you wanted me to write, Frank.. You always find a way.

Frank Gutch Jr tripped off this mortal coil yesterday (April 23rd as far as I know). I had been in contact with him as recently as Friday last week. It comes as a bit of a shock. I know that the clock is always ticking and we all have a limited amount of time. This is another reminder.

I first met Frank as a new hire at Peaches Music and Video in Seattle WA about spring 1983. I was hired as a buyer and worked side by side with him for 6 1/2 years. It was a fucking great job. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and by December, 1989 I’d had enough. I needed to get away from his looming presence. I can’t remember how we reconnected, but we did by 2005 or maybe before then. I’m not sure. Love of music was always the common denominator.

That’s the short version.

From the get go at Peaches, Frank was supportive and my first duty was to go through the racks at Peaches to learn what the store carried and where things were and pay no attention to what went on before (as far as buying went). It was the biggest record store I have ever worked in and, at first, it was a little intimidating. Actually, it was very intimidating. In my search of the racks, I must have found more than a dozen records that either I didn’t know were available still or even existed. I later found out this was mostly due to Frank and the “bag system.”

Through this rack education, we developed our rapport. He saw what I liked and I learned what he liked. The conversation began for that intense 6 1/2 years of a working relationship trading favorite record stories. We turned each other on to our favorite unknowns or should of been huge artists or bands.

We had similar interests, but complimented each other well. He was the “indie” buyer and I was the “majors” and hits buyer. He said he didn’t want to have anything to do with that mainstream crap that the gullible public seemed to so easily drop their money on. He knew it was the bread and butter for the store and that he needed those sales to stock the racks with the really good stuff. We had return margins (it’s a record industry thing) that were so phenomenal that we could feature (and sell!!) some of our favorite unknowns without worrying about a few that didn’t. It surprised me what we could actually move at that store.

We were a good team, but we did have our off days. My biggest pet peeve was his damn moodiness. His pet peeve was that I had to play my flavor of the month to death. I’d go to work each day wondering what the mood for the day was going to be. Grumpy silence or enthusiastic music rap. It made it tough at times. Those who were there will remember this. I don’t write this to be mean. Shit, I had to endure, “John Lennon’s still dead,” almost weekly for 6 1/2 years! He later apologized for that long after I’d almost forgotten about it. What a guy. I never apologized for playing Let’s Active so much that he swore they were huge in the 80s (my kids thought so too).

Years passed and somehow we got in touch again around 2005. It could have been the phone, but it might have been the interwebs. About 2009, after much resistance, Frank Gutch and Tom Dyer convinced me to open a Facebook account. I did it because I was getting involved with the re-activation of Green Monkey Records, but it quickly turned more personal. So it began again in the naughties. We began trading the inevitable “have you heards.” Both of us still as enthusiastic as ever, but he was more willing to share this with his writing and on FB.

Frank was very interested and supportive of what Tom and I were doing with GMR and wrote about it a lot. Go back and look at Frank’s columns on Robert Segarini’s “Don’t Believe a Word I Say” blog. If you want to really know Frank, just read those columns and other reviews he’s done. I learned most of what I do know about Frank through those columns. He gets very personal at times. If you can find his very first review check it out. It seemed to me to be his music manifesto. (If I ever find it again, I’ll post a link.) It had more him in it than the album he was reviewing. Here’s a link to his own website…

http://www.rockandreprise.net/index.html

Read the Cargo and the Space Opera overviews. They were a couple of his favs. His strong suit was asking the right questions and letting the responders go with it.

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to have, not one, but 2 jobs that I really loved with people that I really loved. The first was Everybody’s Record Company store #5 in the 70s. What a crew! I never thought it would happen again but, the second was at Peaches in Seattle in the 80s thanks to Frank. What a crew!

I’m pulling a Rainier Beer outta the fridge now. Hoisting one for Frank. Thanks my friend. You had a heart of gold. I’m gonna miss ya.

Oh yeah, I’ll give SF Sorrow by The Pretty Things a spin in your honor. Love you.

Tom Dyer:Wow. I’ve been in sessions or meetings all day and just saw this.
Frank. I never met Frank. We never sat in the same room. We never even spoke on the phone. We just typed at each other. Nonetheless, I consider Frank my excellent friend. Howie intro-ed us when I first re-fired up the Green Monkey motor. He said you need to know Frank. And Frank was a person that got it. He understood what we were doing. He gave me a lot of crap (very wise) but he got it. And not just championing the Green Pajamas, where it is relatively easy to grasp and love their brilliance, but the more obscure. He did a retroactive review of Jim of Seattle, just because Jim is so fucking great. Who does that? He even gave my own personal (and at least sometimes annoying) music efforts a gratifying amount of attention.

I suppose I could just say good on ya – thanks for the reviews – and we’d be all set. But there’s something more going on here. Frank was simply a good human and our typing connected us well. I think there was a link of mutual respect and really, just the simple enjoyment of interfacing as humans.

So am I going to miss Frank? Yes I am. Do I feel sad? Not too much, I think Frank had a pretty good life and used his time on planet earth pretty well. Nothing to complain about. I consign you to the cosmos Mr. Gutch and I thank you for the time you have given us. Fair thee well. I will join Howie on the Rainier this weekend.”

Jim Gratton: “Howie, Thanks for posting this. I met Frank because of a mutual love for the band Notary Sojac. He had a shaky web page dedicated to the long-gone band (1969-1974). I wrote him about an encounter I had had with two of them a few years after they broke up which he posted on the site. We exchanged numerous emails, and when my job took me to Eugene, I looked him up. I loved the irony of a writer who lived in a town named Tangent. We got together several times for beer, and last time for dinner at a Eugene restaurant. My Facebook friendship with him reconnected him with another Facebook friend of mine, Mary E. Kohl, who worked with Frank back in the day, too.”

Debbie Dodd:Unlike Howie, I had to wait a bit for this to sink in. Like many of you, Frank has had a huge impact on me. I started working at Peaches in 1983. I wanted to work there because they had a really neat greeting card section. Didn’t think I really had any business working there with my pitiful music knowledge, but I got in the door nonetheless. Frank and Howie were those cooler than cool buyers who intimidated the heck out of me, a lowly sales clerk. As Howie said, Frank could be a real curmudgeon and cranky cranky cranky. You always knew who had control of the store turntable–seems like Frank always played way more Steve Goodman than anyone else wanted to hear.

But Frank was sort of our guru, and the Peaches-related folks I have had the privilege of knowing, well, as Frank has said, “mean more to me than you will know.” It was a very special time and my real coming of age. And although Frank was the anti-schmoozer, we had some good times at Breakers/Thunderbirds games and minor league baseball games. Outside of work was where I learned what kind of man Frank really was–generous, sensitive, thoughtful, and a true supporter of the underdog, especially in music.

When I left Seattle, Frank wrote, “Remember me as 20 pounds lighter and 20 years younger.” I don’t know if I ever cut those 20’s off of my memories of Frank, but Facebook reunited us and for the past 8 years we have been in touch one way or another. Frank has said some of the kindest words to me I have ever heard. Frank and my husband Sam had become somewhat pen pals, both passionate about discovering new music and poo pooing the idea that there is no good music being made anymore. I can only hope that many of you, Frank Gutch Jr fans will continue his legacy and keep exploring new music and getting the word out. Because yes, you can teach an old guy new tunes. Bye Frank.

gutch in 1983Gary Heffern: “here is a photo of frank at his apartment in san diego, the night before he left to seattle. i will miss him so much. thank you for your beautiful post. i posted a bunch of his messages to me about music and art on my wall… just gobsmacked. love to you all. life is short.” 

The Minnows:It is with very heavy hearts that we write this post, having only just heard of the sudden passing of our good friend Frank Gutch Jnr.

We always joked that Frank, from Oregon, USA, was one of the best music journalists on the planet… on the basis that he really liked our music! But his knowledge and support of indie music was indeed vast.

As a musician or band, writing, recording and releasing your own music, you always want someone to hear your music as you do.

Frank Gutch Jnr was that man and reading his review of our Leonard Cohen’s Happy Compared To Me album was an amazing thing… that someone we’d never met could appreciate and articulate everything we were trying to do on that album – better than we could ourselves.

He’s been a supporter ever since and a great friend on social media.

He gave us some stick (and rightly so) about the length of time it was taking to release our new album – but we are very happy that he, along with our dear friend Bobby Gottesman, was one of just two people outside of the band to have heard the completed album from start to finish. And he loved it.

It’s a very strange feeling to lose a friend that you’ve never actually met but that’s what Frank was to us.

We’ll sign off now with a video from the new album that Frank loved and always said it made him cry. It’ll bring a tear to our own eyes tonight.

The one’s for you Frank. RIP. 🎸 😢

Jim Parrett: “Just learned that Frank passed away. A great guy and frequent contributor to this page, Frank gave us first-hand accounts of rock and roll in Oregon during the 60’s with inside info on some of the magic of that wonderful time in a wonderful place. He always took the time to provide background on the 60’s Oregon bands I would post. A fountain of knowledge with a real love for rock and roll, Frank’s input was educational but more than that, fun. “

The Posies – Ken Stringfellow:I just got word that Frank Gutch Jr passed away this week. Frank was an avid music supporter, going back to the earliest days of the Posies, and continuing to the present with his enthusiastic reviews not only for my own work but for several albums I produced — albums with a very small base audience that needed a champion – he was there. Music has a lost a great listener, right when we needed it most. Rest in peace.”

Bobby Gottesman:Deeply saddened by the loss of a man who was a mentor, a fellow lover of indie music, a kind and generous soul. A man I considered my friend. Pretty sure he’ll still be listening and writing. You will be missed Frank…..”

Julian Taylor: I’m trying to find words to express how I’m feeling right now. I’m trying but not too hard because that could be the breaking point. Life is tough. I’m tired of losing people that I care about. It can be a tad bit crippling. It hurts and it’s a hurt that’s never gone away since the beginning of losing. Even if you’re expecting it it is unexpected. It subsides a bit sometimes over time but it never really ever goes away.

The world lost another good one today in Frank Gutch Jr. He was my friend. A beautiful writer and supporter of original art.

I don’t think that journalists get the credit they deserve these days but where would we be without them. Frank was a purveyor of good taste and authenticity. He was a pure human and a soulful American. One of the good ones, and good ones go each and everyday. It’s been a difficult realization to come too for me but no matter how hard it is to lose people it’s never ever truly permanent. We ALL come back again. I suppose that’s the lesson that I’ve come to learn over the past three decades. I struggle. I do. I struggle almost every second of the day. I know we all do. I’m trying to just breath. It’s a rough road sometimes but the beauty in it far exceeds any of the tough parts that life throws at us. Over the past four months I and so many people that I love and adore have had to say goodbye to people we love. At this moment in time my mind refuses to let go because I only want to remember the kindness, love and support people have shown me and cultivate that.

Rest In Peace Frank, Jon, Maggie, Colin, Doreen and Wingrove. It’s been a whacky four months.

To all those who’ve lost someone recently. I feel you. I’ve always felt you and to Frank I hope you keep writing. There’s a great big party in the sky with a few good musicians that might appreciate your insightful reviews. #giver”

Sam Taylor:I was just notified that an incredible, monumental lover of original music and an integral supporter of my work,Frank Gutch Jr, has passed away suddenly. This breaks my heart. Frank lived in the US and gave so much support and assistance to musicians from all over the world. I remember fondly a Skype session that Julian Taylor and I had with Frank last year that was a bit of a career State of the Union so to speak. An intelligent and generous soul that I wish I could have gotten to know better. Cheers, Frank. The world needs more of you.”

Adam Dawson:The world lost a good one this week. R. I. P. Frank Gutch Jr”

Terry Varner:Sad to hear that Frank Gutch, Jr. will no longer be promoting obscure and purely honest music – not on this earth anyway. A man I never met, but what a difference he made in the lives of so many – many of whom also never met him. Go to his FB page and read the comments. This guy spread a lot of joy, simply by being honestly appreciative and expressing it. RIP and light perpetual shine upon you Frank.”

Suzi Stark Brubaker: “Those of us who knew Frank were extremely lucky … he was a very talented individual who only gave his true self to a very few. He loved his music and his musicians without having to put himself out there too far. I will miss this wonderful, loving, entertaining, sweet man for all the things others never got to experience!~ RIP my sweet friend Frank!”

Cindy Lee Berryhill:Things can change in a heartbeat. Last summer Frank wrote one of my favorite reviews of The Adventurist. Frank passed away in the past day, I’m sad to say. He’d been, many years back, fellow brethren of the southern Calif-music-cult of San Diego from which many of us labored and arose and some of us extricated ourselves from. Frank was one of those. I didn’t know him then, but my dear friend Gary Heffern, introduced us via electronic gadgetry. And prompted by his review of the album we embarked on several enjoyable electronic conversations. The last thing he wrote to me was this: “One thing that always connected Heffern and I was the truth in music. Whenever I hear it, I have to write about it. There is a lot of truth in The Adventurist whether you choose to see it or not. And it means a lot to me that you appreciate my appreciation.”
Sail on dear Frank, free spirit of words..”

Bill Jackson:Just heard in Australia regarding the passing of Frank Gutch Jr. and we are absolutely devastated. Frank and I had just video chatted a few weeks ago to set up time for an long retrospective interview in May. The best friend and supporter of my music I never met, even though Rue Hazel (Ruthy) and I had long phone conversations with him. Ten years we have been corresponding. His knowledge of and hunger for independent music was second to none, insatiable and inspiring – I trusted him implicitly to always be encouraging as well as direct. I always thought we would meet someday and this doesn’t seem real – more later. Rest In Peace Frank – you made the world and making music a better place for so many people x — with Hannah Gillespie.

Thane Tierney:One of the wondrous aspects of this set of tubes we know as the Internets is that it can collide you with people who should have –and would have — been friends, had you ever met them. Frank Gutch Jr was one of those guys. We geeked out over artists from McKendree Spring to Old Californio (he was chuffed when I told him I’d jumped in on one of their Kickstarter campaigns years ago) to Daisy House, about whom he writes in the attached.

Those same miraculous tubes that brought us together delivered the news that he’s gone crate-digging in the Great Beyond. As the Pogues say In “Sally Maclennane,” “some people left for Heaven without warning.” Shoot.

It’s not everyone who can bring a casual Richard Rodgers or Modest Mussorgsky reference into a column on roots music, and I totally dug that about him. This place is poorer for his exit. To borrow (and modify for gender) a couple of lines from the late sportswriter Jim Murray, “We cry for ourselves. Wherever he is today, they can’t believe their good luck.”

Mark Strong:I just heard the sad news that a man by the name of Frank Gutch Jr had passed away. Frank was a musician, a writer/journalist and a major music lover. I had never met Frank but I felt like he was a long-time friend. Frank was such a big supporter of my music over the years, he’d always share ANY post I made that contained a song, demo or video from any of my bands. Even as recent as about two or three weeks ago, he shared my acoustic demo video of “Fine On My Own” on his Facebook page. He’s written a few flattering blurbs about my bands, Salton Sea and Witherwolf in his online music blog (which I will link to in the comments). He was such a supporter of my music, even if no one else took much notice or had much interest in a new demo or song I posted, Frank did!

Now I know I’m probably nothing special or different, as he seemed to support many artists just as he had me. However, regardless of how many artists/musicians Frank supported, it seems he made each of us feel as if we were one of his favorites. Just look at his Facebook page and you will hear similar words echoed by many. He had such a vast knowledge of music from the very beginnings of rock & roll all the way through to the modern indie sounds. Just recently I recall we were both really enjoying the Phoebe Bridgers album. Anyway, I just wanted to share what a special person Frank was and while I had never met him I’m going to miss him horribly. I’m sad that he won’t get to hear the Salton Sea album and single I’m working on. I know he would’ve loved it all. My condolences to his family and friends. RIP Frank Gutch Jr.”

Eric Rife:I feel terrible. We were supposed to hook up at some point for an interview. We never met in person but he was always very kind to me here on FB. I am so sorry Gary, James, and everyone else who had the pleasure of knowing him. Another piece of San Diego music history gone too soon.”

Ray Brandes:RIP Frank Gutch Jr, writer and all around great human being. I met Frank when he stumbled upon an old recording of mine on YouTube, and became my biggest champion. Frank owned a very influential independent record store in Mission Hills in the 1970s called Scratching the Surface, and was a great source of information for my book. You’ll be missed, Frank!”

Tom Smith: “The Frank Gutch mixed tape!! Legendary. But these were too deep, and impossibly obscure, for me at age 20. But I kept listening. …For years and years!! My interest in so many great records and bands started with these tapes. THANK YOU FRANK!!”

Ryan Collins:Raising a porter as a toast and farewell to my ex-boss, Frank at Peaches Records. One of the best straight jobs I ever had working in a basement warehouse stocking three Puget Sound record stores.

Once one got past the grumpy bluster one found a really good friend – from the gruff quiet moodiness to the loud room filling belly laugh. Such a generous guy – from pizza and beer in summer to a bottle of spirits at Christmas. Always the first to share an opinion and critique – and mebbe an insult.

He loved his crew and I loved working for him. A good good man. Rest easy, my friend – job well done”

Toby Schwartz Demain:Dang I am shocked to hear this news. I loved working for/with/alongside Frank. I will always remember his love of music, gnar work ethic and strong opinions on everything under the sun. ❤️”

Maurizio Michelino: “During the life of each one alternates events full of joy, serene and sunny days to other times and periods more complicated and less pleasant. We know that life does not always reserve some nice surprises and often has not prepared to face these events, I met Frank in 1978 … a lot of music, a lot of generosity, an immense person, you will miss a lot, So Long!”

Dave Coker: “Just heard My Friend, Frank Gutch Jr, stepped on a rainbow. We would converse on FB about obscure, little known west coast bands. This Hendrix song popped into my head, while thinking about you…

Michael Fennelly:sad to learn of the sudden passing of Frank Gutch Jr. Frank’s knowledge of and enthusiasm for music was always a delight, even when we disagreed about an artist or record. he was always kind in his support of my music and wrote some pieces about my more recent record releases that I shared here with pleasure. we met up a few times at Music Millennium for events there – and we shared a devotion to Portland’s great record store that felt like brotherhood. I’m reading other Facebook friends’ tributes to Frank, and we all seem to have the same sense of loss and the same gratitude in having known him..”

Julie Cain (Little Lonely): “RIP Frank Gutch Jr. So saddened to hear the news of his passing. I went through some old correspondence of ours and hung out there for a few minutes in that conversation. It was one that started back when he reviewed my record and continued now and then when he was reminded of me, one of my songs or a video and would mention it in his blog, or he’d drop me a note to see what was new. He lived for music, just soaked in it from morning to night, and was so generous with his support and loyalty.

I wish I could play you the new stuff, Frank. Wherever you are now, I know you’re listening. Little Lonely

Johnny Hicks:RIP Frank Gutch Jr … one of the coolest,.. most knowledgeable music heads I’ve ever known. Taught me a lot,.. always hilariously sharp. Really really sad.. damn.”

mike marino and frankMichael Marino – Frank Gutch Jr Army Nuggets
(Photos: Frank and I at his home in Oregon enjoying beer and wrestling ha)
One guy that clearly stands out is a plaid shirt wearing Oregon logger type who was a writer. I write too.

Must have been the chemicals we both fortified ourselves with. Frank Gutch Jr. you may have heard of him as he has not been mentioned all year in a sexual assault case in Hollywood by Reese Witherspoon, although she has a restraining order on him. He was and is Numero Uno buddy and quite “Frankly” got me through those days by covering my ass from the brass.

Frank and I met while stationed in 1970 at Ft. Lewis, Washington and were both Company Clerks at the Headquarters Company. Think, Radar O’Riley on M.A.S.H. One day a young GI had done a tour in Vietnam, re-enlisted and came to us to fill out paperwork to go back for another tour to as he said, “To Kill me some more gooks” Frank and I working for the military underground he as an organizer and me as a writer for the Ally underground newspaper decided we would fill out the paperwork for him except instead of Saigon, we were going to send him to Germany where he couldn’t get his wish.

He signed the papers, not reading them (we were counting on that) and they were approved. Frank and I made sure we were scarce that day as we didn’t want to get napalmed by this redneck. (He was pissed and looked for us all day until he was ordered to report to his shipping out station. We figured we saved a few lives that day from the Ugliest of Americans!)

Frank and I were shall we say heavily into LSD and marijuana. Me more so and the day we were to have our barracks inspected by the General I was already on a boat on a river finding looking glass ties. Sure enough, stockade time for me if caught. I passed out and Frank, McCarthy and Will picked me up and locked me passed out in a basement closet. I missed the inspection and the stockade. They eventually called in a medic friend of ours who said by rights I should be dead..but lived to bang a gong anyway…Thanks Frank. He’s written about this as well….

On another time, Frank, me and three other guys went camping and doping on Puget Sound. We were quite loaded on Orange Wedge acid and when we finally crashed listening to the waves and the campfire still crackling I was awakened by screams. Seems in my drugged sleep had rolled into the campfire and my sleeping bag was a blaze. Frank awakened and grabbed the bag with the others and dumped me ablaze into Puget Sound. A hell of a way to wake up I mean to tell ya…again..Thanks Frank….

One Friday night Frank and me and others went to Seattle for two and half drug saturated days in the U District. Along for the ride, were Red, Morgan, Ed, Kelly, McCarthy (the crazy one) and myself. We each had a hit of Sandoz red at noon when we arrived (that evening around sunset we had another hit of Sandoz red, one cap of mescaline and throughout the evening with the ladies we met at the crash pad we all enjoyed smoking 2 dime bags.

The next day, we all had more acid and went to see the premier of “Woodstock” first going to the Ave to score more acid. Six hits of purple double domes at $3 bucks each. McCarthy was so stoned he stood on his seat doing the Joe Cocker song singing along. Frank and I got him to sit down and shut up but I wanted to do the Who impersonation! Afterwards we we smoked more dope and scored more acid in the morning on the Ave. Blue flats for $2.50 each for band of outlaws. We went to the Spacearium and Planetarium spacing out on space then to the Space Needle. I was rushing fast on the elevator and when we got to the top I thought we were in a flying saucer. I told Frank that and he believed me. We had to head back to Ft. Lewis so scored some green flats $3.00 a hit smoked a joint and took the bus back.
frank from mike marino

We shared a lot of drugs and politics in those days including the attack on Ft.Lewis with Jane Fonda… also have reams of stories we wrote together,,,he has my half of them and I have his..I’d start the story about the army (parody) send it to him and he’d follow up and send his portion to me…we talked a few months back about putting them together and cleaning them up for a comedy short book of insanity…ha…a few years back I picked him up in Oregon and we headed for two weeks in Northern California for campfires, beer and good times amongst the Redwoods…took the coast road all the way…camping and enjoying life…

Yep…Frank was a friend…a brother I never had and a guardian angel ..lets face it…Frank was the man!! 

Christian Anger: Just learned about the passing of my friend Frank Gutch Jr 😦 Frank wrote for No Depression magazine. I was able to discover a lot of great music through him. Thanks to him I got to know about the great music of Thomas Shelton House, Drew Gibson and Tom Braam . Together we found out about Daisy House and I even was honored to be mentioned in one of Frank’s articles. He was one of a kind, a great person and music lover, always open for new stuff. Although we never met in person I’m thankful to have known him. Rest in peace, my friend. I will always remember you. “

Davina Jackson: “Sad to hear about the passing of Frank Gutch Jr. He was such an awesome, music loving individual that will be greatly missed. I will always take to heart our conversations we had about music and my vocals. Glad to have known him, and to have known that he said every time he heard my singing it would make him happy. Rest well dear friend!!!”

Jen Morris:RIP Frank Gutch Jr, a fierce advocate of indie music, and always a strong supporter of Keith’s music. So sad.”

Devon Sproule:Damn. Outta nowhere and so sad. Wish I could tell him how much I have appreciated his communication over the years. His thinking C’ville (Charlottesville, VA) music was cool always reminded me that C’ville music is so cool. And just music in general, of course. Goodbye & thank you, Frank!

The Real Shade: ” I’m very sad to learn of the passing of one of indie music’s great champions, Frank Gutch Jr.  Frank had been endlessly supportive of our music, and of that of so many bands who may otherwise have passed under the radar. He wrote in thoughtful detail about lyrical significance, melodic nuance; about everything that the music made him think and feel, and that which he hoped others would also think and feel.

I never had the chance to meet Frank in person, but was looking forward to giving him a big hug one day if we ever played a gig in Oregon. He was a good-hearted person, with a cheeky sense of humour which I appreciated. He and I had great exchanges via fb and email, and spoke just days ago.

The band and I send deepest condolences to Frank’s family and friends. If there anything we can do to help through this difficult time, we are here.
love,
Jane (Gowan)

Tom Kell:Rest in peace Frank!! Such a wonderful guy! You will be missed. A Skyboys fan for the ages…”

Kim Grant:Shocked to hear about the passing of Frank Gutch Jr. he was a real likeable person and a great supporter of independent music. He will be sorely missed. Rest easy, friend. xo”

Rich McCulley:Oh no! Fuck! He came to a gig of mine in Oregon 4-5 years ago and we hung out and he was such a cool guy. We kept in communication often. He lived for music and such a supporter of it. RIP my friend.”

David Graves:Many of us lost a very good friend with the passing of Frank Gutch, Jr. I’ve lost a kindred spirit, as well. Frank and I came of age at the same time…an age of activism. Frank remained the activist. Fighting for independence artists striving to present their art…railing against corporate greed cheating those artists. I will miss his presence in my life. He was always a breath of fresh air. Rest well Frank.”

Stephen Marcus: ” So sorry to hear of Frank’s passing. He was truly one of a kind and, even though he was a bit o a crank, a mani of my own heart in many ways. Sorry for your loss, Debbie. May Frank Rest In Peace.
“Who Knows Where the Time Goes” . . .”

Astrid Guldenmann:My first go round w/Frank was around 1979 when I worked as a cashier at Peaches. Those were the early days, and Frank was much less grumpy then. Fast forward to 1985 and I was back as a label rep. Enter grumpy Frank. And honestly, I didn’t like him much. Then time rolled on and FB happened, and somewhere along the way we became “friends”. And now I’m a little sad. RIP, Mr Gutch. You made your mark. And you were loved, whether you like it or not.”

Justin Smith: ” This is such sad news, Frank was such a cool and amazingly supportive person. He just loved music more than anything and he was such a kind human being. This is a huge loss.”

Kevin Casey: I read, liked, listened and enjoyed the posts, and the exposure to acts I wouldn’t have heard otherwise. My condolences to Mr Gutch’s family and friends.”

Laurie Biagini: “Frank Gutch Jr was a great supporter of Independent Music. He always had nice things to say about my music in his columns. It was a shock to hear of his passing today. RIP Frank.”

Rich Krueger:Frank Gutch Jr, who was a wonderful guy and an enormous supporter of my music, has died all of a sudden. This is just awful. My deepest condolences to the close family and friends.”

Elliott Randall:RIP dear friend.”

patricia davis imagePatricia Davis 

Keith Morris:It’s been sad around here. Frank was practically extended family for my wife Jen and me. We’d known him since 2007, when he reviewed my first album, and had an ongoing correspondence after that, talking about everything from life to songwriting to Charlottesville’s music scene (he was a huge fan of what he’d heard from Charlottesville and asked me to point out my favorite local artists) to baseball to the ongoing dumbing-down of America. He was always interesting, highly intelligent–and funny. And he loved to laugh, so we kept each other entertained.

It’s bittersweet reading these wonderful posts about Frank. He blessed so many of us with his attention to our music. If he liked what you were doing creatively, he was a constant supporter. And if he didn’t like something you were doing, he’d tell you about that too. Typically, this meant encouragement to maintain your focus and keep producing records he liked. This kind of feedback is of course hugely important to a young artist, as there aren’t too many people otherwise who’ll give you the time or attention. Frank’s feedback was always helpful. You could trust what he was telling you.

Frank was endlessly kind, devilishly funny, and always on-point. The best interview I ever had was the first one I did with Frank. I was a bit nervous, as I hadn’t done a lot of interviews at that point, but as soon as we started talking, things just took off. We spent a lot of that hour on the phone laughing at each other’s quips, and that openness allowed me to speak truthfully without holding a lot back. We covered significant & difficult territory–particularly race in america–and Frank liked what I said enough to turn that one interview into several pieces. This was a decade ago, and America was still touting a “post-racial America.” What a laugh to think of that today.

Frank was under no such delusion–he knew the significance of the issue, and edited none of what I said…and what I said was harsh indeed. Frank never blinked. As a matter of fact, what he did was take one of the articles and re-print it every spring. He did this as a favor to some degree, but mostly my sense was that he wanted that interview about race to remain out there. Because he gave a damn. That’s the type of character he had.
Indeed, as wonderful a man as he was, he was also a staggeringly productive & insightful critic. Years ago, I held a job as a music reviewer, and it can be a difficult & time-consuming task if you approach it with integrity. Also, it can be a thoroughly thankless job. You don’t get paid huge sums of money for yr work, so most reviewers sorta phone it in–give a record a quick listen and write a short review full of glib nothing. Not Frank. His work ethic was dazzling when you understand how long it takes to properly review an album. And Frank took no shortcuts.

Just look at all the columns he’s put out and how many bands are reviewed in each column. It’s astounding to me. Reviews like Frank wrote require at the very minimum five hours per album. Much of that time is spent listening. Anyone who writes a review before having listened to an album several times is writing a poor review. It would take me about 8 to 10 hours to listen & then write a review I felt did justice to the artist.

Given the amount of insight he provided in a review, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Frank spent at least 10 hours — probably many more– writing some of these reviews. He knew my albums–and those of my friends–inside/out. These weren’t short and poorly-written reviews like you see these days. Frank was interested in the songs, what they meant, how they came about, how they were sequenced, produced, their imagery, meaning, and who the songwriter is and what makes her tick. Frank had a unique ability to see right through to the heart of an album, and bring it to life for the reader.

And there would be several of these in-depth reviews in every column. Often with an interview–which he had to transcribe. This is a stunning sense of dedication. And he worked at this level of productivity for many years. I have great respect for his work ethic & dedication–all should.

Frank loved indie artists. He admired our courage to pursue our art, our purpose. He saw life as far bigger than most. He understood the value of doing what you love. He related to that directly, of course, as he practiced what he preached. Frank got it. As a writer, he redeemed yr commitment by listening closely, and then conveying your vision to others.
It’s important work, and few do it with the insight, grace & understanding that Frank did. I’ll miss his friendship greatly, and I’ll miss his writing. We lost a great man. Thanks for everything, Frank.

yr (“crime-fighting son of a bitch”) friend, keith morris

Sheila Ellis – Annabel (lee) : “Frank Gutch Jr was a true champion of the Unsung, the artists yet to be discovered, the hungry ones. He introduced their works to a larger public, as if revealing a secret that only he knew of. He was proud; I was flattered. He stepped into the dreams of our project, Annabel (lee), took my hand, and said, ‘you can trust me, I’ll share your story’. I am stunned, saddened, but ultimately thankful for his walking into my life. I send all the warm embraces of comfort to his loved ones, be they family or friends. Rest easy, Frank. May you discover more unsung treasures on the other side. May our Requiem play in your ears. (with Richard E Further Out)

Thomas Shelton House:Frank exploded into my world about 5 years ago. Keith Morris hooked us up and what a fun ride it was. You hear people say there’s no great music anymore. Frank was on a mission to find it everywhere, and he did. Fun to read through his old columns and the testimonials the many liives he touched online and the daily comings and goings his life in Oregon. He will be missed by many”

Mimi Schell:I’ve never been able to meet Frank Gutch Jr personally, and yet it is my heart to know that he has passed away. This good spirit of music reviewer wrote to me recently, and I was happy as audit about his interest and that he wanted to discuss my album. It occurred to me that this was a special gift, not from this time, but from a place where love to music is the only criterion, an independent, independent selection. I would have liked to stay in touch with someone like him. My thoughts go to his family and to all those who sorely miss him. All the best on your way to infinity, Frank Gutch Jr.”

Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep


keep calm and gobble onHappy Thanksgiving weekend! Hopefully most of us will be lucky enough to be gathered together at some point with friends and family to share the bounty of the harvest – or at least the goodies we’ve bought from our local grocers — and that most precious of commodities …. our time.

It’s crazy how fast the days and years go by. That’s not an ‘old people’ thing anymore; even kids in grade school find it hard to accommodate all of the information and entertainment they need to constantly absorb in order to successfully process their world. Those of us with much to remember don’t stand a chance, post-retirement, of guessing the day with much accuracy. (Helpful hint: Write everything down!)

Although I’m not a religious person, I consider myself blessed. I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, and a husband, family, and friends that love me. I also have a keen awareness that I am more fortunate than a great many people, who often lack the things that a lot of us take for granted.

While I do try to do what I can to help others, this weekend I’m grateful to be enjoying the hospitality of two lovely friends, who asked us to share their respective feasts.

toronto-skyline-nightOn Saturday night, we joined long time friend and writer Ira Band for dinner at the Island Yacht Club, on Mugg’s Island. It was a beautiful night, with weather more like August’s than October’s. Earlier this summer, the island was horrendously flooded, but is now back to being it’s luxuriously landscaped self. After a delicious Thanksgiving buffet, we alternated between enjoying the fireplace inside, and the view of the Toronto skyline from the comfy lounges outside. A perfect evening!

Today, we’ll be joining fellow scribe/photographer/Energizer Bunny Pat Blythe for her amazing festive spread. That woman can cook most people under the table, and still sparkle as the hostess with the mostest. We will enjoy the company of friends, and Pat’s famous pies, and who could ask for anything more!

i-came-in-like-a-butterballMonday will be Bring On The Fat Pants Day and let it all hang out. I can live with that.

But let’s talk about Canadian Thanksgiving. I like when we celebrate the holiday. Let the Americans have theirs on the fourth Thursday of November; ours is just better positioned. We’ve got Halloween at the end of the month, which acts as a speed bump before we get on the tilt-a-whirl that is the countdown to Christmas, and that’s just fine by me.

So why aren’t our holidays celebrated simultaneously, you ask? It’s all about history.

According to wiki, “the first Canadian Thanksgiving is often traced back to 1578 and the explorer Martin Frobisher. Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean, held his Thanksgiving celebration not for harvest but in thanks for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs. On his third and final voyage to the far north, Frobisher held a formal ceremony ifrobisher-thanksgivingn Frobisher Bay in Baffin Island (present-day Nunavut) to give thanks to God and in a service ministered by the preacher Robert Wolfall they celebrated Communion.”

Over the years, succeeding waves of immigrants brought their own harvest traditions and delicacies to Canada, and we gratefully blended those new foods and tastes into what we now call Canadian cuisine.

And of course, we cannot forget how new Italian/Canadians brought their own tradition of the Spaghetti Harvest to our great land.

What we think of today as a traditional Thanksgiving feast owes a lot to what American film and TV has idealized as the proper fare… the groaning board that begins with pickles, olives, and hot dinner rolls (Pillsbury Crescent Rolls are a favourite for me) and carries on with mashed potatoes , roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing and giblet gravy, all but the preliminaries to the guest of honour, the roast turkey.

And when you’ve had your fill, and have moved your belt buckle over a notch, lo and behold, the desserts arrive – pumpkin or cherry or raspberry pie, carrot cake, ice cream …. Ahhh … yep, sounds like Thanksgiving at Pat’s!

I’m happy to have a day designated for giving thanks. We’re an entitled bunch of gits, and having to stop and actually think about what’s good in our lives is rare; we’re far more likely to be complaining about what we don’t have. This is a day – or a long weekend – on which Canadians can all agree that they are blessed to live in a country which, because of or in spite of current leadership, allows us freedom in so many ways.

thanksgiving-gratitudeI try to have an “attitude of gratitude” as the platitude goes. No matter what life brings, I try to remember that there are people on this planet who would kill to be in my shoes. Which is not to say that I don’t occasionally complain, but I do value what I have, and I thank those who make my life better, just by their presence and love.

 

“When we neglect to require our children to say `thank you’ when someone gives them a gift or does something for them, we raise ungrateful children who are highly unlikely to be content. Without gratitude, happiness is rare. With gratitude, the odds for happiness go up dramatically. The more you recognize and express gratitude for the things you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for.” Zig Ziglar

grateful-for-everythingSo, what are you grateful for in your life? I’m grateful for my husband, my children and grandchildren, and my family and friends, who continue to love me despite my many, many quirks and odd behaviour. I’m grateful for the food in our pantry and the roof over our heads. I’m grateful that I’m getting older, because the alternative sucks. I’m grateful that I get to write this column every Sunday, and some of you actually read it and even discuss ideas with me, whether you agree or disagree with my points. I’m grateful that I’ve never lived in a country ravaged by war or pestilence or famine, and probably never will.

Little girl asleep in bed.I’m grateful when I lay my head down on the pillow at night, and know that the odds are good I’ll be waking up in the morning to another day filled with possibilities. I’m grateful for every bit of my life so far, and the wonders that still await my discovery. For as long as I am on this planet, I want to be cognizant of the beauty that is all around me, and never take for granted the gift that is existence.

Even when the going gets rough and it seems like there’s nowhere to go but down, it’s best to consider the good you have in your life, and be thankful. That small shift in thinking can put things into perspective.

Never underestimate how important it is to have people in your life who are kind and loving and thoughtful. When all else fades away, love and kindness are the greatest gifts you can give or receive.

There’s a reason why this song has over 52 million hits … the simple lyrics, and the joyful delivery remind us of the things that are most important in our lives.

Have a wonderfilled Thanksgiving weekend, everyone, however you choose to celebrate.

 

 

Musical Friends Are Making Me Happy


No matter how you’ve lived your life … saintly, and with a whiff of heaven in your aura, Dora, or a little naughtily, with a more checkered past than you’d care to admit … you want to be rounding third base and heading into home plate with a fine group of worthy team mates, and a cheering section that still likes you, whether because of, or despite, your resume and reputation.

I must have done something right, because I’m blessed with a lot of wonderful people in my corner. And so many of us share a musical background.

I’m writing this on Friday night, because the weekend kicks off in about an hour, with the arrival of my old friend and band mate, Sharon (Kaid) Kaczmarczyk. We go waaaay back, to the days of Lady, before Lady morphed into Performer with my addition, when she was the haughty, sexy, blonde drummer, and I was the shy and mostly innocent new ‘chick singer’ the group reluctantly admitted to their midst. Where it not for Sharon and Helen Dreyer (on keys,) both far more seasoned and experienced than I was at the time, I’d likely still be wearing my Peter Pan getaway boots with a tie-dyed tunic, and sporting a Cleo Laine ‘fro. Hey, it had worked for me in my pop/jazz quartet, Tangents! 😉

Performer 81Sharon and Helen taught me how to make up, ‘zizzed’ my hair so that it stood up in a jaunty rock helmet, maintained with a zillion cans of heavy duty hair spray, and encouraged me to experience the joys of spandex, glitter, and six inch spiked heels.

Through my connections with this group, I went on to meet so very many wonderful players, and devotees of the music we created. Sure, some were jerks, but you weed out the losers, and if you’re lucky, you get to know and love a lot of funny, talented, professionals who are experiencing life slightly differently than the average citizen. Not necessarily better lives – but usually a great deal more challenging, and thus, great candidates for long, convoluted, and very interesting tales around the campfire.

So yeah .. Sharon. She didn’t know what to make of me at the beginning. I was Little Suzy Sunshine, the Pollyanna of the group, always chipper, up with the dawn, busily scouring the thrift stores for stage clothes and shoes, doing my daily 500 leg lifts, endlessly practicing scales. I was not rock n roll at all!

(before and after shots of the first Performer band shoot. At some point, our manager said, “Say, I wonder what would happen if we got the girls high enough to take off their tops?” The topless shot went on to be banned at most of the high schools we’d been booked to play.)

Before:    Performer original poster 001

After:    Performer nude top poster 001

 

But at some point, I must have worn down her resistance to my infernal cheerfulness. Or maybe it was because in most hotels that had band accommodation, there was a minimum of band rooms, and with 2 guys and 3 girls in the band, we had to double up at times. Helen was a Tequila drinker; Sharon and I were fond of the cheap white wine,   Colli Albani .. or as we renamed it .. New York Dog. Sharon and I teamed up in many a room to kill a litre or two of the dog, gulped down between sets and daytime drug store forays. Long days and nights on the road turned into long weeks and months of bonding.

Beyond being a powerful drummer and vocalist, Sharon was also a terrific songwriter. I’d know – I vocalised and demoed a lot of her songs. “Blue Eyed Boys,” “Show Me,” “Girls on Top” .. it was the 80’s and the messages were short, sweet and to the point.

While a lot of our Toronto contemporaries were getting media exposure and getting signed to record deals, Performer spent far too much time out of town, and as far out of town and up north as you could go. Kirkland Lake, Kap, Timmins, Chapleau, Thunder Bay … for months at a time we’d be enduring Northern tours that would have crushed the spirits of younger bands. On one famous “Moose Tour,” we narrowly escaped death by Bull Moose three times in three weeks. Bullwinkle was not our friend.

But we were young, enthusiastic, hardy, and possessed – thankfully! – of a good sense of humour. Even our road crew knew enough to temper their grumblings with a heavy dose of levity.

Now, here’s the thing about just about every single female musician I’ve ever known in the last fifty years … none of us ever thought of ourselves as much more than pretty ok looking, and marginally talented. Which is odd, because of nearly every male musician I’ve met in those same five decades, the reverse is true. The guys would generally overestimate their own attractiveness, and were convinced that they were natural born leaders and stars, possessed of legendary talent and ability.

And they had the groupies to prove it. While most female musicians had an entirely different crop of stalkers and weirdos to ward off.

Helen, Sharon and I spent months at a time on the road with nary a beau in sight. It’s an odd thing, being desired while on stage, but being either ignored or feared as being untouchable, off stage. Road time is tough enough; filling the hours between waking up and playing, while living on very little money and with few resources, is challenging. Moreover, it was lonely.  And rockers are generally pretty sexualized people – seems to go with the territory – so it wasn’t the best place to be companionless. That’s why you’d see so many hook-ups within bands and crews … a lot of times it was just proximity, a release from the coming down after whipping up the audience, and ourselves in the process. We’d have much preferred to be on home turf, where our own, pre-qualified letches lurked, but when in Collingwood

kaid foreign affairs great head shotSharon had it worse than Helen or I. Blonde, statuesque, with laser focused blue eyes that could burn a hole into a wannabe suitor at 20 paces, she worked her Amazonic magic from atop a drum riser.  On stage or off, she had presence. Although single and looking, few males could see through her powerful appearance to the warm, caring woman within.

And those that did have the guts to approach her tended to either be fuelled by liquid courage, or to be in possession of egos far larger than the sum of their intelligence …  I’ll never forgot one road trip that had left us exhausted and fit for nothing more than 48 hours in our own beds. At a truck stop, at about 4 a.m., and about two hours out of Toronto, the band, running on depleted adrenaline and road coffee, and still dressed in our spandex, glitter, and rock and roll hair we’d rocked hours before, ran into another band also heading home from a gig.  The male lead singer of the other band went into full peacock mode and approached Sharon. “Hey, blonde,” he said, “You need a lift?”

Sharon kept her cool, but the rest of us were falling about at the very idea that this fellow could actually think that his mere presence (and perhaps the promise of candy,) would lure a blonde rock goddess into his stinky van in the wee hours. Never happen. Trust me. We weren’t that lonely.

Performer live shot 001.jpgBut we did live in rarefied air. The images we presented of ourselves took time, money, and considerable energy. Women in rock, especially in the eighties, were expected to look a certain way, and to emphasize their sexuality. When you’re getting up on stage in front of live audiences, night after night, you can never let the mask slip. Your attention is on taking whatever raw material you’ve been given, and shaping it into something worthy of posters and album covers.

Guys in rock, on the other hand, usually had it easier .. and damned if they didn’t often look better in makeup than the women did! Depending on the musical genre they represented, they could get away with a lot less primping. And people rarely commented on them wearing the same outfit, night after night.

Despite our constant vigilance, and belief that we had to keep fine tuning how we looked, Sharon and I were both good eaters and reluctant dieters. Nothing made us happier than a Sunday night on the road that featured an all you can eat pasta buffet! We’d get out the fat pants and have at ‘er. “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we diet!

If only we were as fat today as we thought we were then! We were so very hard on ourselves, firm in our beliefs that it was only by reaching an elusive physical perfection that we could catch life’s brass ring. But sometimes, the ring is elusive, and the grasp just a trick of fate.

Just as the band entity “Lady” had morphed into “Performer”, Performer eventually fell victim to road fatigue and cynicism. A reformed quartet, of Shawn O’Shea, Al Corbeil, Sharon and myself had a brief stint as Foreign Affairs, before taking one last kick at the can, showcasing at the El Mocambo as Ice Age, with the late, and very much missed, Phil Parmentier on bass.

Thirty five years later, Sharon and I remain good friends. We still giggle like teenagers, rejoice at each other’s good news, and mourn each other’s losses.  The base of friendship that was formed in proximity and happenstance has widened to include a deep love and commitment to each other that I can’t see ever ending while we can still draw breath. Perhaps for even longer than that.

Addendum:  Bilan BBQ Aug 2016On Saturday we were invited to a BBQ hosted by yet another long-time friend and his family, and attended by still more of our musical comrades-in-arms. Some of us have known each for nearly fifty years. We marveled at how we’ve navigated our lives and careers, celebrated our successes, and commiserated on our war wounds. Pictures of past glories were produced and admired, greeted with gusts of laughter at how dated our band pics, head shots, and press clippings seem today.  We’re older and wiser, and there might be a little more of us to love than there was in our heyday, but damn! We’ve made it this far and haven’t lost our sense of humour or our commitment to creating and enjoying music. I’d call that a legacy worth celebrating.

 

(first published in  bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/roxanne-tellier-musical-friends-are-making-me-happy/)

Under Construction


We are all ‘works in progress.’  Or should be.

work in progressPeople are not meant to be static entities. It’s human nature to constantly grow and change, to take in new ideas and incorporate them into a whirling dervish of a world. We watch nature’s cycles, the patterns of waxing and waning, and STILL we want our own dealings with other actual people to remain constant. Our highest praise to an old friend is that they haven’t changed.

And yet, everyone responds to a continuum of change in different ways. We may begin every one of our interactions with other humans with the best of intentions and the highest of hopes, but not being attuned to each others progress through life can only end in stagnation or regret.

One day, the world is our oyster … the next, it all seems very challenging. Sometimes we love everyone; sometimes the people in our closest circles are growing and changing in ways that no longer meet our needs, or match our core values. To be human is to recognize and respect not just our own need to evolve, but the evolution of each other.

dolly parton quoteI will never understand how some couples can hold strong, solid, passionate political leanings that are in complete opposition to their partner’s. I can admire those couples, but I just can’t imagine that they can be truly mentally intimate. Having to compromise in a relationship is to be expected, but having to suppress words and feelings to avoid pressing a partner’s hot buttons would wear me down to a nub.  Eventually, conversation would become so controlled that you’d be down to hoping that ‘pass the butter’ didn’t unleash a torrent of fury. We are drawn to the politics that mesh with our core beliefs, and that reflect our attitudes on every interaction we have with the world and each other. ‘Politics’ is just another way of defining who we are, and of displaying our team colours to those we have yet to know.

Camus quoteWe can try to alter ourselves to meet the wishes and expectations of others, but that way lies madness. The controller inevitably becomes the controllee, a slave to enforcing a status quo that’s no longer applicable, or even much fun, to either party.

Which is not to say that all of life has to be fun, or perfect, even though that is what we all think we want. A life without obstacles might seem desirable, but stumbling blocks are what strengthens our essence, and makes meaning of our existence. A month of intense heat makes us long for the chill of winter snows. Intense sadness, leavened by moments of great joy, allow us to appreciate the highs, the lows, and the calms in between.

When we try to halt that progress, try to capture a moment in time and make it our only reality, we are doomed to tainting that wonder. You can’t pin a butterfly to a board and expect it to retain its colours and movement … even if you try just to hold it for a time, you’ll likely damage it. Admire the beauty of its flight; a butterfly must be free to enjoy its brief dance in the sun.

“Stuff your eyes with wonder,” he said, “live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,” he said, “shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.”  ― Ray Bradbury     

walk away from drama meme.jpgThroughout our lives, we will enter into relationships with many people. Some will last for as little as a conversation, others, for decades. All of our experiences, all of our past encounters, combine with who we are when we present ourselves, and how the other person presents to us, and will determine how loosely or tightly we connect in that first meeting.  The longevity will depend on mutual respect, not just for what we think we want, but for who we become in the process.

I often think that life is a dance. The choreography depends on our own internal music, and the steps we’ve invented with our needs and wants. The tempo changes with our reality and perceptions – sometimes life is a tango, other times a waltz.

If you are very lucky, your life may be a Pogo, formed of joy and enthusiasm and the sheer giddiness of really feeling alive and in the moment. And the beauty of joy is that it is always available .. you only have to choose to see it and seek it. No one can give it to you – you have to reach out and take it. From cradle to grave, joy is always just a grasp away.

The dance can be frenetic, like riding in bumper cars, crashing head to head or bouncing off of each other, all great fun in the moment. Some see the dance as a long game, like chess, and carefully plan each move far in advance. The trouble with planning those moves is that we can never assume what the other dancer might do.  All is subject to change. They are dancing their own pas de deux.

Life’s dance can be a solo turn or a chorus line; pas de deuxa Balanchine ballet, a polka or a frenetic Frug. The dancers weave in and out, entering our line of vision, participating in the exercise, enriching or detracting from the show. We can ask the other dancers to accompany us in our dance, and it is a lovely thing when we dance together in perfect harmony.

What we mustn’t do, however, is hobble the other dancers. Each one’s dance is their own, and subject to change. Each of us has a time to lead and a time when we must follow. Every dance has its own beauty and dignity. Every dance and every life is a work in progress.

 

 

(first published July 2016 – bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/roxanne-tellier-under-construction/)

 

The Last Taboo


The latest round of celebrity deaths has shaken Baby Boomers to the core. Even if they hadn’t thought of the artist, or listened to their music in decades, the sudden realisation that another part of our youth is irretrievably gone, resonates. deaths 2016

It’s not the physical body of the artist themselves we’re mourning, though. It’s how the music made us feel, what it was like to be young and dumb and possessed of hopes and dreams and aspirations, along with a strong and energetic body that could propel us to our heart’s desires. The music spoke to us and for us; it knew what we were going through, and how that made us feel. That’s what dies when a beloved artist passes … the feeling of being known and understood, and the belief that anything is possible.

old age not for sissiesIf those we grew up admiring are dying, can we be far behind? Does this mean we’re … old? No man, we’re not old, we’re vintage. Classic. Retro. Seasoned.

“Old.” There’s your last taboo, the last epithet used to put you in the corner with the other discarded toys. After a lifetime of experience, the shaming of the circumstance of age is meant to strip you of dignity.

We did it ourselves, back in the day. “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” “Hope I die before I get old!” “Better to burn out than to fade away!” oh yeah. That kid stuff felt good to roar. The oldies had the money and power, but we had what really mattered – sex, drugs, frenetic energy and amps that went to eleven.

is there life after youthOur disdain for those we saw as stodgy was justified. Politicians were rigid and pedantic. Businesses were run by old, white, men in suits. Boomers’ parents had lived through a depression that depleted them physically, and often emotionally. Many had been in service in WWII or Korea – they’d lost a lot of youth’s gloss by the time they procreated. And for so many of our parental units, the prevailing mores of the time, the sharp division between what males and females were allowed to do, prohibited them from just plain having fun, once they had kids. Grownups weren’t supposed to be silly, after all.

Sadly, many of those parents also didn’t make it to their golden years. A lot of really good dads (and moms) got that gold watch at 65 from the job they’d had since they were kids, and didn’t make it to 66. Their worlds, long circumscribed by the 9 to 5 workday, and how decent people supposedly lived, left them worn out and unable to handle retirement.

Still others, now in their 80’s, 90’s and older, are hanging in, but with failing physical and mental health. Many of us belong to the ‘sandwich generation,’ with kids still trying to find themselves, while we try to help our elderly parents. That’s a tough gig.

mature woman judi denchI had a few rollicking debates this week with people just as committed to their opinions as I am to mine, and – predictably – those who couldn’t actually back up their opinions with facts were quick to anger. The insults flew fast and thick … I was a libtard, a fascist, ignorant, naïve. And then, that insult that they thought would be the killing blow … I was just too old to understand.

The trouble with having that ‘weapon’ in your arsenal is that I don’t consider my age to be an impediment. In fact, it’s an enormous asset in understanding the world. When I was in grade school, we actually had to learn, memorize, and study to get to the next grade. There was no pushing along of those who failed to achieve – I knew one guy who stayed in grade 9 for the entire length of my stay in high school! For four long years, he ruled grade 9. He just couldn’t graduate from it.

And spitting “old” at me as though it were a curse doesn’t work for the same reason that I’m not frightened of being told that I’m going to hell when I die. I don’t believe in hell or religion, and haven’t since I was 21. I see age rather like I see religion: some bow down to it and obey its rules. Me, I ignore and abhor the concept of living my life by rules put into place by those who are interpreting the stories that they heard from a friend of a friend who knew this guy… You can keep it. I live by one rule; Do unto others as you would have them do to you. That about covers it.

when I was your ageThe idea of aging, as we know it now, is so far out of whack with reality that I find it laughable. I know 80 year olds that could run intellectual rings around much younger, eminent scholars. I also know 35 year olds so enmeshed in living by society’s strictures, that they look and act like crones, bent down with the weight of the world. Baby – life’s what you make it.

I wish to hell that the white and grey peppering my black hair looked as distinguished as those men in the media who’ve aged so very gracefully that they’ve blossomed into sex symbols in their 60’s, but apparently that is not to be. I refuse to let nature take over, so I’ll keep colouring it and wearing it long as long as I can get away with it. I will never, ever, EVER succumb to the current septuagenarian style of severely short back and sides for both men and women, not for fear of looking ‘old,’ but for fear of appearing like just another clone in an asexual crowd.

aging sophia lorenSo, spit your invectives, call me “old,” as though that will shut me up or close me down. You’ll find you’re wasting your time. Aging is now, more than ever, perspective. It’s a gift, denied to many. It’s only a curse to those who feel they’ve put in their time and would like to go, now, please. For those who’ve cultivated a good attitude, solid friendships, a sense of wonder, and a trust in today’s youth, it’s a world where we finally have time to slow down and see without blinders, a world full of endless possibilities, a world we can watch unfold without being expected to take responsibility for what happens next.

Albert_Einstein_age-quoteOlder people know that how you look doesn’t matter as much as how much you make others laugh. We see through shallow people, and gravitate to those who enrich our lives through kindred spirits. We dress for comfort, not fashion. We know there’ll always be another Saturday night, so missing a party is no big deal. We don’t have to be up on every musical or artistic flash in the pan … if they’re that good, and we’re both still around, we’ll hear about them eventually. We can say “no,” without worrying if it bothers others, and without explanation.

Aging a curse? Au contraire, mon frère … without all of society’s rules bogging me down and harshing my mellow, getting older looks far more like a blessing. Something tells me I’m gonna love my second childhood even more than my first.

12 steps to self care

 

(first published Jan 31/16 – bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/roxanne-tellier-the-last-taboo/)

Learning Social Media Etiquette – Friends


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A few years ago I met and befriended a fellow woman musician who was in her mid-50’s. We both went to jams around town, and seemed like-minded. She was divorced, with a teenaged daughter, and was only able to carve out small, usually daytime, opportunities to play and sing her own material or cover songs.

She was really friendly, in a new-agey way, smelled of patchouli oil, and yearned to be part of the inner circle that were regularly called on to perform at or attend gigs of a more professional calibre. She also painted, made lovely crafty items, and had self-published a romance novel. I felt I had found a kindred soul.

One late afternoon, under the influence of a few beers, she and I chatted with a fellow we’d never seen at the jams before. He was very tall, had a British accent and a lovely sense of humour. We three shared a drink, and then went our separate ways.

That night I was on Facebook, and thought I’d see if he was part of any of the musical circles I knew. I could only remember that his first name was David, so I combed through the likeliest suspects, and sent a friend request to one of the umpteen Davids. He accepted my friendship, at which time I discovered that he was not the fellow I had been looking for. But – a friend is a friend, and he did seem to be a good-hearted sort; comfortably married, retired, with a history of pleasant status updates.

A few days later, my girlfriend confronted me, clearly agitated. She asked why I’d befriended this David. I was puzzled, but explained, as above, that I thought he’d been the fellow at the jam, and that I’d made a mistake, but he seemed alright.

As it turned out, the David I’d chosen was a long time personal friend of her family. She accused me of cruising through her friend list, in an attempt to ‘steal’ her friends. I was surprised, but being new to Facebook, apologized. After all, she had more experience in social media, and I was fairly new to the scene.

Over the next year, as I got to know her better, I realized that she had a few issues that I couldn’t deal with, including a tendency to be very jealous of anyone I spoke to whom she’d known first. Still, we stayed friendly, until we had a serious misunderstanding which she responded to with a string of accusations and scathing contempt. I didn’t speak to her for several years after that.

Recently, a very dear old friend, who’d moved back to the States 40 years ago, joined Facebook. I was delighted to chat with her again, and we often spend hours messaging back and forth about our good old days on the road. As time went by, I’d see her name pop up in a friend’s Facebook postings, and think what a small world we lived in, that we had so many friends in common.

It wasn’t until I noticed that she’d gone from less than 100 friends four months earlier to almost 400 friends – 132 of them mutual – that I realized that she’d befriended a lot of my own friends while reading responses I’d posted on a status.

But here’s the thing – I’m glad she’s in the same loop as I am. We all have similar slightly off-kilter interests, we all spend a lot of time on social media, and life is easier when you don’t have to tell a story to multiple ears. I can reference people she might never have met, and introduce her to talented and fascinating people I’ve encountered in my journey through life. She’s encouraged me to befriend some of her own friends, and to join groups where we can discuss music amongst other professionals. To me, it’s a win-win situation, and the idealized reason I joined Facebook in the first place.

The ironic thing is that the first woman, who didn’t want to share her friends, is a highly vocal proponent of the Law of Attraction, where one is meant to put forward what one wants from the universe in order to receive its bounties. It would seem that the simple joy of like-minded acquaintances doesn’t rate high on her list of acceptable gifts.

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