What up in The Gertrude’s Basement?


Hey all. So here’s the idea for this little section of our website.

In a fantasy rock and rold world, I imagine The Gertrudes sharing a big mansion like the Dead’s 710 Ashburry with a jam room all set up in the basement that also has room for a killer stereo, comfy chairs, a beer fridge and walls and walls of music to explore. At any point one could find a Gertrude and/or guest hanging out sharing a tune the other just has to check out. It would be a disaster in real life, but man it sounds fun!

So instead of the messy rock and roll fantasy, I figure why not create a less messy virtual Gertrude’s basement? Fewer bottle caps to step on, and the location provides instant access to a pretty big record collection!

One of the many reasons I love playing in the Gertrudes is the exposure I get to so much great music. Like any band we are all  music junkies. But our ridiculous  size and wide age range  means our tastes are all over the map.  Our formative music years are of such radically different generations. My favouite story illustrating this point happened over beers after a Gerts show one night.  For some reason I was recounting the story of the first time I heard Nirvana.  It was my  first year as a teacher when I was living in Ecuador. We’d be out in the bars and when this tune  came on everyone went crazy. I had no idea who it was or the name of the song. I just knew it rocked. Of course it was Smells like Teen Spirit. I howled when my friend Lucas, (my  Gerts co-drummer) piped up that he was probably two years old at the time!

But that’s the thing about hanging with this crew. Our musical tastes overlap a great deal on many bands (Wilco or Radiohead or something), but then I get these emails from Gertrudes pointing to amazing music that I didn’t know.  Amanda turned me on to the Tropicalia stuff that I’d always known a bit about but hadn’t explored (to connect the dots, here‘s Kobain talking about Os Mutantes!). There’s a whole Animal Collective contingent in the band. Chris knew he could grab my attention with “What would I want? Sky” by telling me that it apparently samples a fairly obscure, well loved Dead song, “Unbroken Chain”. I foist things on the everyone like this awesome NRBQ performance of “Rocket in my Pocket” or Ginger Baker with Fela Kuti. Usually, it’s about trying to find some cool piece of music that we love, but that the other person may not have ever encountered.

You get the point.

My hope is that various Gertrudes will be inclined to visit the basement and toss out tunes that grab their interest and maybe say a word or two about why it grabs them. But, hey, this is a community basement, so hopefully any of our friends, and random passers-by will feel free to comment on our finds and to add their own favourites to the discussion.

Because this is our basement, from time to time, I hope to post little obscure Gertrude and related recordings too. I have one in mind that I have to track down that happens to be from the very first time Amanda sang with us. If I can find it, you’ll see why it didn’t take us long to realize that she wasn’t allowed to leave!

The other thing we get to point to are some of the many side projects that various Gerts get involved in. Currently, I’m just blown away by the new project Try Harder.  Their tape release show at the Mansion the other day was just aweseome. Just try to resist the opening riff of Second Wave. This band is led by Mark Streeter (False Face) on guitar/vox/songs with the killer rhythm section of the aforementioned Lucas Huang rippin’ on the drums and Paul Saunlnier (PS I Love You, Madam Raz) on bass and Neven Lochead (Slueth Bears) on 80s guitars. Their new tape was recorded by the Gerts own guitarist/recording engeneer extradordinair, Matt Rogalsky. (Check out his amazing work at www.memory-device.com).

Normally, I won’t plunk down so many links in one post, but I thought I’d show the kind of scope coming this way.

Next on my agenda is a proper celebration of recent heavy losses to music – Levon Helm and MCA.

Levon is pretty much central to my own muiscal roots. I know extremely little about the Beastie Boy’s music. When, years after it’s release, I saw this video of Sabotoge on a Spike Jonze video compilation, I realized there was something very cool there that I had missed. Maybe some of you can guide my late investigation of this music…

Nuff said.

My Man Levon


Here is the man himself…

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