in the eighties, I stood outside The Fabulous Rainbow Tavern in
Seattle (and it was fabulous, in many ways) to watch Red
Dress perform in front of an almost-sold out crowd of fans
who appeared to be almost as maniacal as the band, which was
putting on a powerhouse of a show judging by the crowd
reaction. It was raining and I was miserable (the rain can get
cold in Seattle, I was finding out) but I was mesmerized.
Dancing gnome and head Dress Gary Minkler was giving
Seattle a lesson in music-over-the-line as I am wont to call
it--- a set of originals so unique that the ones who got it
were ecstatic and the ones who didn't felt left out. I remember
very distinctly one song during which Minkler strutted across
the stage (his version of a dance) with rubber mouse in hand,
holding it above open mouth wailing “I like to eat my
mouses raw” while the band funked it up behind him. The
moment impressed me so much that I can virtually close my eyes
and watch that performance screened on my eyelids today, some
almost thirty years later.
That, my friends, is impact, and when I heard that Minkler was
heading back into the studio to record a new album a number of
months ago, I was intrigued to say the least. You always wonder
if the old-timers can do it again--- recreate that or some
other kind of excitement on record and, especially, live.
Voices change, hands stiffen, the music jumbles. The vision
blurs sometimes. The excitement can die with age. Trust me.
I've heard a lot of mediocre pap lately coming out of musicians
who once had direction.
So when Minkler's new album Little Trailer Ruby came
in the door, I put it on with more than a little trepidation.
See, I liked Red
Ship album enough that
I bought two copies, just in case. And I bought two copies of
the Red Dress single Money Dreams b/w
I Like To Eat My Mouses Raw,
too. I have seldom done that, but I had to with those.
Something told me I would need them. I didn't. Not really.
Though I did end up giving one of the singles to a good friend
who was distraught when his girlfriend trashed his copy during
a, shall we say, dispute (I am truly shocked how many times
that has happened to my friends over the years). The big
question was, could Minkler even approach what he was a number
of years ago? I mean, Money Dreams was
a monster of a song and I Like To Eat My Mouses Raw a
funky novelty that really rocked. Hard to top those.
Turns out Minkler didn't have
to. What he did was pile a few years of maturity onto his
creativity and let his soul shine through. Simple as that. His
voice is better than ever, unique in the same way that is Jeff
imperfect. (Kelly is and has been the core of one of my
favorite all-time bands, The
Green Pajamas, for
decades) Minkler's voice wavers on Ruby as
does Kelly's on everything he has recorded, but the tone is
unique and so soulful that you can't help getting wrapped up in
it. The voice is so married to the songs, in fact, that I can't
imagine any of the songs with another.
The songs themselves create a
world of their own. While they do not collectively tell a
story, they are tied together by a musical thread, of sorts---
a feel. The band is somewhat laid back, as is Minkler himself,
but so tight and on the same page it gives me goosebumps at
times. I mean, I love these
guys! They take art rock to a different level.
Minkler signed to Green
Monkey Records for
this album, an indication that head monkey Tom
Dyer has not lost
his touch when it comes to the truly good music in and around
Seattle. Dyer scored big on this one. He already has a stable
of artists worthy of way more attention than they are being
afforded (including Jim
of Seattle, The
to name a few) and in adding Little Trailer Ruby,
stands to give the other artists on the label some much needed
and deserved attention.
Because that's how good this
album is, folks. Like oil in water, it will float to the top.
And help Green Monkey do the same. The album is available for
streaming at the Green Monkey website as are all of the artists
on the label (there are links to any songs streamed elsewhere).
Stop by and take a listen. Start with Little
Trailer Ruby. It's a