THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, National Music, From Issue 640 By: Robert E Martin
28th June, 2007 0
As part of White's Bar's 70th Anniversary Summer Showcase, former Beau Brummels lead singer Sal Valentino will be appearing at the venerable musical showcase on Saturday, July 21s.
When the Brummels exploded into the national consciousness hot on the heels of The Beatles and the British Invasion of the early to mid-sixties, they were the first rock oriented pop group to break out of San Francisco, years before Bay Area bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, light shows, and Ken Kesey's acid tests claimed the national consciousness.
With a string of early sixties hits like Laugh, Laugh, Cry Just a Little, and Tell Me Why, the Beau Brummels patented an early West Coast sound informed by four-part harmonies and catchy melodies (much like The Beatles) but distinguished by warm hazy musical textures reminiscent of big sunsets and cool breezes, worlds apart from the cloudy harbor towns of Liverpool or the harsh concrete surfaces of London.
Indeed, even after the 'Summer of Love' and the psychedelic spotlight came into vogue in 1967, The Beau Brummels continued to create compelling music, releasing a pair of masterworks, Magic Hollow and Bradley's Barn that still stand sturdy today as under-appreciated and definitive musical gems of the era.
Recently The Review sat down for an interview with Sal Vanentino in advance of his July 21st performance at White's. Admission to the show is $15.00 and the excitement begins at 7:00 PM, with an Afterglow scheduled at 10:00 PM from reggae/ska demigods Stamp'd.
Review: How did you first become interested in music and what is the progression of events that led you to help form The Beau Brummels?
Sal: I liked music when I heard it; I liked singing to it on the radio. Country and Western music I liked the most when I was in my early teens, and then the Everly Brothers, whom I still enjoy listening to.
I've always felt they were the best to hear and learn from, and certainly the most influential recording artists where I was concerned. Their pure sounding ability as singers of music I always appreciated and their work informed my singing more than any other artist that I liked hearing.
I was fascinated with Ray Charles but never felt like I could sing with him. I tried to, I used to when the opportunity presented itself.
I did not help to form the Beau Brummels. At the time they came together I knew Ron Elliott and he called to ask if I would be interested in joining. At the time I had recorded a record of my own and was working around San Francisco. As a result of that, Declan Mulligan had more to do with the forming of the Beau Brummels than I did.
Review: What are some of your key musical goals & objectives as an artist?
Sal: As an artist I have always done the best that I could and kept my mouth shut when not singing. Being the best was and is never an option or an objective. Doing what I can the best that I can is what I am still trying to do.
Review: How do you feel your music has evolved as you've progressed throughout your career?
Sal: I don't think about the evolution of my music. Someone else will and that will be what they think and someone else will think that they know what they're talking about who ever thinks they know enough to talk about what someone else has done. I listen and I sing to music and I don't think about or talk about music. It's all that I really want to do and I have never found anything that I like doing more than singing and making records with moving lyrics.
Review: What do you feel is the most challenging thing about the music business?
Sal: These days, getting someone to put up the money to go on making records. It seems everyone and anyone can go in to a recording studio or stay at home and make one for themselves and friends for whatever they can get for the attempt. Making a living was always a problem as a Recording Artist.
Review: To what do you attribute the success of The Beau Brummels?
Sal: Tom "Big Daddy" Donahue, Bob Mitchell, Sly and all of those folks that worked their butts off at Autumn Records, Ron Elliott and good fortune. Ron was as good a writer as there existed anywhere. He studied music, he learned his craft well and spoke of wanting a career in light opera, Musicals - he could write for a cast of performers and bring out the best in them.
Review: That period of time when the band reigned on the charts was an exceptional and iconoclastic time. What are some of your key memories and career highlights from that period?
Sal: Hearing "Laugh Laugh" on KYA top 40 radio for the 1st time, the Beau Brummels on the Flintstones and my father being so proud of me. We stood apart from so many others coming out of the West as we did and from San Francisco. We were the first band to break out of the Bay Area and not a part of the Summer of Love and all of that that people still pretend to be a part of, though they could not have been. If you remember the 60s you weren't there is the truth. Then again I guess some people had to have a way out of their own way.
Review: What are some of your current musical goals and objectives? Are you still writing much and working on developing new projects?
Sal: Currently, I'm working with all my might to finish this new record, hoping there will be another and another and as many as possible. Trying to find a way of making a living over the next 20 years or so and avoiding making a record unlike those that I'm proud of. I'd like to do some duets before I start to sound like I'm over the hill as a recording artist.
I don't think anyone has to be heard not hitting the notes, weakened by abuse and sickness, disabled and worn out. It's a shame to have that presented as what was left of a great individual.
I have never written much and as far as I can see I'm still the next best project. I wanted to do A&R when I took Rikki Lee Jones to Warner Brothers. I got $5000.00 dollars and they acted as if they were doing me a favor. Someone's kid got the job I thought I wanted.
I've got a friend in Jackie Greene whom I admire and respect very much but there is nothing I can do for him while some game show contestant enjoys the success of a big record. Music is always something I love being and having around and I make more money now from what I've done than I ever have.
Recordings with me singing are getting re-issued and selling as I squeak. Over the last 5 years I've made more money from my song writing adventures than could be imagined 10 years ago and I have a friend, the Brummels have a friend, in Rhino Records.
Since Rhino started taking on the licensing of masters from labels that don't know what to do with what they've got, the recordings I've been a part of have proven to be quite accessible, I'm told. Now even the price for StoneGround records that couldn't be sold when released almost 40 years ago has risen.
I rarely run into anyone these days getting royalties from recordings, as the Brummels have now for the past 35 years. We're not getting rich but we're not sleeping in the park either.
Review: What do you feel distinguishes your sound and approach from other artists in the genre?
Sal: We did good and we are worth the price of admission. We were in good company, in spite of being from a small label, we survived and are not to be forgotten.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)