Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A bit off-topic: My 1970's Seattle hang

Dunno, maybe y'all will find this interesting (hope so), a bit of BobbyG background.

More than 30 years ago (man! I'm gettin' old), while I was living in and gigging around the Seattle area, we too had a beloved local band that people enthusiastically flocked to see and rave about,
with many top Pacific Northwest players from other groups routinely among them (similar to what we witness now with respect to our Santa Fe). Now, this was a different time, and different genre. "Gabriel," as they were known, comprised a five piece group with no horn section (3 fine lead singers, though), and were only mildly, tangentially into the funk thang. It was, after all, the relatively sedate Seattle, where local black music was more straight-out blues focused. In fact, when I initially moved up there from San Francisco shortly after Sissy was born in June, 1968, my first gig was with a local blues band known as "The International Brick" (guess what that referred to. Hint: 2.2 lbs, compressed and wrapped in plastic, hopefully containing some good buds and minimal stems and seeds). The lead singer was this rotund, defensive tackle size, amiable, bearded, wild-'fro black dude, "Tiny Tony," who was a sometimes off-key -- but always exuberant -- Taj Mahal cat who could inhale a bomb the size of a cigar in one toke (the smoke would hang in his beard like Bay Area fog in the Presidio), and then just improvise and sing whatever soulful shit came into his head for a full 45 minute jam set. 'Man, what the hell was in those brownies? And, hey, don't Bogart the roach!'
"...Papa was lookin' for a hobby
So he went to see B.B. King.
He drank some apple juice in the lobby,
Now, Papa's doin' a whole new thing..."
- Sons of Champlin. "Papa Can Play" -

Well, OK, hmmm...(acid flashback?)..., back on topic. Gabriel morphed up outa the Tacoma area, and took the Pac NW by storm. They eventually signed with ABC Records (if I recall the label correctly; my LPs are in a box out in the garage, I'll have to dig 'em out and check) and cut 3 albums:

"This Star on Every Heel," 1974
"Sweet Release," 1976
"Gabriel," 1978
Asked to characterize their music, I'd have to say "imagine a cool mix of, well, lessee, Eagles, Beatles, Beach Boys, and Stevie Wonder." They cut a lot of their album material in Neil Rush's studio in Seattle, on a 2" 30 ips 16-track AMPEX deck running Dolby in a control room containing a 24 channel board and a bunch of Macintosh tube power amps in the outboard rack that made it feel like a sauna sometimes (I have an old 35mm slide in a box somewhere of Sissy sitting there at the board coloring while we were recording stuff, gotta find that and scan it). Neil was Merrillee Rush's husband and manager (the Grammy nominee "Angel of the Morning" chick, with whom I would tour in the mid '70's).

So, a few blast-from-the-past Gabriel mp3 cuts for ya (Mike Kinder on drums, Gary Ruhl on bass, Terry lauber, acoustic, lead & steel guitars, Frank Butorac, acoustic, lead guitars, vocals, and Stacy Christenson, keyboards and vocals):

Terry Lauber (guitar, vocals): "Fly Away"
Frank Butorac (guitar, vocals): "Li'l Darlin'"
Stacy Christenson, keyboards, vocals): "Santa Cruz"
Everybody singing: "Making Her Cry"

Like our Santa Fe, they sounded on stage just as they did on their recordings. And their stage presence was every bit as energetic and funny as Late Night With Letterman.

After the band broke up (they never could break through, despite writing, playing, singing, recording, and touring their butts off for years, scraping by), Terry went on to produce a solo CD, and had a long career in commercial music studio production.

I loved these cats. In fact, the bass player, Gary Ruhl, and I remain fast friends (we gigged together up there off and on prior to his Gabriel stint, some of my fondest memories). Dude is cosmic. One of the nicest people you'll ever meet. They all are.


Anonymous said...

Hey...YEARS before Frank, Terry, Mike, Gary...and others...were in Gabriel, I "dated" (we didn't call it that back then!) Frank Butorac. Frank, Terry, Eric Bauer, Larry Kirkland had a little band that began in Olympia in Larry's garage, and ended up as the house band at the High Hat in Tacoma for years. I always thought these guys would make it, together or separately. I have spoken with Larry a few times (now working for the State) and have seen Terry's website and know right where his studio/office is, as I used to live right down the street. I have thought alow about Frank over the years and wonder if you or anyone knows what's up with him. The last I heard, he had moved to Cal and was doing backgrounds, dubs, etc.... Got any clues? Thanks...

BobbyG said...

Lynda -

Mike told me via email a couple of months back that Frank was moving from the L.A. area to Kansas! That's all I know.