Monday, July 2, 2012

Gates of Eden Band Celebrated July 1

Co-host with the most Frank Goulart*
A fine time was had by all at the 20th Annual Gates of Eden Reunion Party on Sunday July 1 in Hayward, California. The five bands were excellent, the food was copious and delicious, there was plenty of Bud in the cooler. It was hard to believe that Gates of Eden was 44 years old.

I wasn't there in 1968 when the band was formed, but some of those attending--and playing--were. I would have liked to play with them back then, I was a high school sophomore in Concord, 25 miles away. The spirit of the 1960s--and the love of playing music together--lives on.

I've been so lucky to be part of this group of enthusiasts over the last few years and this annual private party is a summer highlight.

Herd of Cats (photo courtesy Chuck Yolland)
There were five bands, all different, all worth hearing. First up was Herd of Cats, which delivered a fine sound of "Straight ahead Jazz with a touch of funk" (per their business card). It was the only group to feature an upright bass and a saxophone. The same gleaming set of drums kept rhythm behind the Cats and everyone else all day. Some fine solo work on the sax, guitar and keyboard, and a great way to get the afternoon moving.

Next, came the first official appearance of the Sycamore 129 Blues Band, the largest ensemble of the day. I think I counted nine of us. I'm the guy in the red shirt playing the bass and loving it. The band jams monthly at the Sycamore 129 Odd Fellows Lodge, hence the name. With an upcoming public performance on August 12, everyone wanted an outing in front of a sympathetic, receptive audience, and we got it. We have male and female singers, guitars, bass, keyboard, drums, harmonica and lots of smiles. Sorry there are no photos of our beautiful female singer, Geri.

Another part of Sycamore 129 Blues Band*
One part of Sycamore 129 Blues Band*
In the middle of the show came Roctapus. The four-man band pumped out solid rock--all but one song an original. The musical quality made them seem like songs you would have heard somewhere... "Was that a Dead song?" I asked myself. I was shadowing Frank, who had a nice fat bass sound coming from his two big cabinets, which contained four 10's and one 15, from the looks of it. Some flawless rhythm from guitar and drums and guitar solos that evoked Garcia and Santana, to these ears.

The great sounds kept happening with the Blues Bottle Band. I've heard these guys several other times and they are a very tight unit, honed from working in clubs and getting folks up to dance. These guys delivered on the three-part harmonies along with rockin' and groovin' to some well known winners. They did Motown, Doo wop, and later rock classics. All of the musicianship was impeccable and moving, and Dave Chimpky's solos were even more astounding than usual. It was heaven.

But wait, there's more. Last, but not at all least, the local favorites the Diehards came up and knocked everyone's ears for a loop with their sensational versions of beloved favorites. They can do the Beatles' Nowhere Man and then turn around and do a credible job of Fleetwood Mac's Rhiannon. Much more than a living juke box, they put real spirit into the performance, playing most of the familiar riffs but making each piece their own. At the end, they led us all in a friendly and slightly ecstatic singalong of California Dreamin'.

What a fine day.

Blues Bottle Band*
 Big thanks to Frank and Julie for hosting this great event again! We got pretty good weather, too--nobody roasted this year. Thanks to everyone who came to hear the performers, too. It's always more fun when there's an audience.

*All photos, except for Herd of Cats, courtesy of Wendell Beaudrow.
The Diehards*


Chuck Yolland said...

Hey, Steve, great writing about a fine day of good food and music. FYI, Dave Berry, took a video of the band playing Hip Shake, that has the whole band.

Great Playing with you, Chuck

Anonymous said...

I Remember Frank Goulart from the Gates of Eden at Weekes Park In Hayward! I worked for HARD for years and always loved them. Also - Frank Delgado played with the band--from my high school Castro Valley High.

Dennis Derr Roseville cA