Right Angle Woman
I was born in the late 50’s and grew up listening to the music that my three older brothers had. Whatever records or 8-track tapes they were getting, I was hearing and digging. The first records I remember singing along with were Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ Li’l Red Riding Hood, Herman’s Hermits’ Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter and The Beatles’ Help. My father had a nice stereo and played mostly classical, big band and crooners like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Every winter holiday season he’d brush the dust off of his harmonica and play some old standards and Christmas carols. My mother used to keep the radio tuned to stations that played a lot of country & western or Irish music. I heard a lot of Charlie Pride and The Irish Rovers growing up.
In grade school I loved music lessons, which were really fun sing-alongs with the occasional opportunity to play a tambourine, drum, triangle, autoharp or other cool noise-maker. By Junior High I was playing the trombone in the school orchestra, but gave that up once I made it to high school. When I was a young teenager my cousin got serious about guitar playing and so he bought a new ax and gave me his old Harmony acoustic. I learned the basic first position chords but never really played a lot or progressed much beyond that. When my oldest brother joined the Navy he gave me his Marine Band harp and said “hey little brother, I expect you’ll know how to play this by the time I get back”. The first songs I learned were On Top of Old Smoky and She’ll Be Comin’ Around the Mountain. Around that time one of my brothers got J.Geils Band’s Full House on tape and I flipped out over the amazing sounds that Magic Dick could make on his “lickin’ stick”, so I set out to try and figure out how he did it. In the years that followed, playing the harp (the blues in particular) became a regular personal therapy and hugely important spiritual medicine for me.
After a couple years of college I joined up as vocalist and frontman in a cover band called Face with my best friend from high school and other close buds. We lasted less than a year playing high school dances and sketchy bars. Our swan song was a local concert at the Roseland Ballroom in Taunton when we warmed up for Duke and the Drivers, a real touring band with a real sound system and crew. It was an amazing luxury to have sound monitors and be able to hear myself in the stage mix for a change.
More than a decade passed before I got the band itch again. This time it was rhythm guitar and vocals with a parody band (a’ la Weird Al Yankovic) called The Talking Propellerheads. We all worked together in the sales organization of a computer manufacturer in Westborough MA and performed at sales meetings to entertain our colleagues while poking fun at ourselves, our profession, our customers and our industry in general. My time in that band lasted eight years and blessed me with wonderful and lasting memories driven by the great friendships it helped foster amongst my bandmates. In addition to the many videos we produced, we performed live at national sales meetings and industry events in places like Marco Island, Orlando, Denver, Atlanta, Kansas City, Boston, Nashville and Dallas. In San Francisco we were thrilled to play on the “big stage” of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in front of our largest audience warming up for The Beach Boys.
Another dozen or so years after the Propheads ended I was invited to jam with a group of guys in Holliston MA. They had been playing together for a few years and had a good r&b, blues and Americana groove. I sang and played harp at first, and gradually added some rhythm guitar to the mix. It was such a blast to be playing with a full band again. We called ourselves Vinyl Tap and built our ready-to-play list with an eye toward gigging but never really reached critical mass before we started getting pulled apart by the competing pressures of family and careers. We did a couple of “pay-to-play” gigs and backyard barbeque performances but eventually slowed to a halt.
Nearly a year before I tapped-out of Vinyl Tap I auditioned with Right Angle Woman who had lost its previous lead vocalist frontman. I remember how nervous I was showing up for my first audition and how blown away I was at how they sounded. I had never been in a band before that featured such awesome musicianship. They asked me back for a second audition and ultimately I was lucky enough to win the coin toss (“heads it’s Gus, tails it’s …”). Now I’ve been with RAW for over seven years and it continues to be the thrill of my life! Being in this band has been a challenging, humbling and incredibly rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. We enjoy ourselves at rehearsals and gigs and, while we’re dedicated to our craft, we try not to take ourselves too, too seriously. It’s fun to play and it should be that way because that’s what it’s all about.
email Gus at firstname.lastname@example.org
RIght Angle Woman 2019 Peace, Love, Local Music