Archive for Randy California

SXSW Interview: Al Staehely (formerly of Spirit)

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by 30daysout

Al Staehely, right, and the Explosives - featuring John Staehely (left) on lead guitar.

AUSTIN – Walking down Lavaca St. last night, we stumbled upon The Ginger Man, a cool club that houses yuppies in the front and live music in the back. We checked out the list and saw that former Spirit bassist Al Staehely was playing the 8 p.m. slot. We had planned on seeing Al tonight at the Saxon Pub (although he plays at midnight and after sleeping on air mattress last night, we’ll see), but we figured since we weren’t doing anything else we would pop in since his set just started.

To be honest, we were not expecting much, but man were we pleasantly surprised. Along with his guitarist brother, John, Staehely delivered a rockin’ 45 minute set that featured a blistering version of the Spirit classic “Got A Line On You.”

Replacing Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes and as Randy California took a break, the Staehely brothers played on Spirit’s 1972 album, Feedback, and put out an album on Epic under the name the “Staehely Bros,” a couple of years later. Since the mid-80s Staehely has played infrequently spending his time as an entertainment attorney dealing with the music and film industry. We caught up with him after the show to ask him how he balances being a lawyer by day and a rocker by night.

30 Days Out: I understand you didn’t play out for a long time. What made you want to get back on stage?

Al Staehely: When my son was born in 1985, I figured I needed to be a full-time lawyer. I kept playing around the house and for friends and family, and I would occasionally sit in with some people. What really got me playing again was Freddie (Krc, owner of Steady Boy Records and leader of Freddie Steady 5). He told me to come and be a guest on the Freddie Steady 5 show and that they would back me up. So I said OK. Then he invited me to a writer’s in the round acoustic deal. He made it real easy. I didn’t have to think about getting a gig or getting a band.

30 Days Out: I understand Freddie was instrumental in bringing the out-of-print Staehely’s Comet back to life?

Al Staehely

Al Staehely: Yes, he started bugging me for a couple of years. He kept saying “it was released in Europe, but it’s never been released on CD in the states.” I owned it, and he said he wanted to release it on Steady Boy. He put it out under the name “Al Staehely and 10,000 Hours” last year. I have to credit Freddie with bringing my music career back to life. I’ve got some serious musicians behind me (brother John and drummer Mark Singer) and these are the same guys that played with me on the album.

30 Days Out: Many people know you from the band Spirit. Do you get a lot of request to play that stuff?

Al Staehely: We normally play longer sets than the 45 minute one we played tonight, so we do play those songs from time-to-time. We’ve been playing “Nature’s Way” lately. I like that one. It’s a Randy California song.

30 Days Out: Are you having fun doing this again?

Al Staehely: Yes. Playing with the band is great and I also do a lot of acoustic shows. When I play acoustic I do some other songs I wrote that are a little different. Now my son, Christian, is playing with me and opening some shows. He’s 26 now and graduated from Princeton in 2008. He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners as a pitcher where he played for a couple of years before he was let go. He played in Australia for a year then Italy. He’s been a musician since middle school, and a songwriter since high school, so he decided to hang up his spikes and get back to the music.

30 Days Out: How do you balance being a lawyer and a musician?

Al Staehely: Being a lawyer pays the bills.

Al Staehely official website

Steady Boy Records

 

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: More Psychedelic Relics!

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2010 by 30daysout

This has been a busy week – we apologize for the gap in posts but we plan to ride this thing into Record Store Day tomorrow and beyond.  I had some ideas for this week’s posts scribbled on a scrap somewhere and I’ve lost it … so let’s freestyle with a couple of personal faves from the psychedelic daze.

One of my all-time favorite bands from those fuzzy days of yore is Spirit, the California rockers led by guitarist Randy California and master singer/songwriter Jay Ferguson.  Formed in 1967, Spirit was the American answer to Brit rockers Traffic (Steve Winwood) – their music encompassed rock, pop, folk, blues, classical and jazz.  Best known for their hits “Animal Zoo” and “I Got A Line On You,” as well as the classic Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (1970), the band was certainly one of the best of their era.

In 1968, French film director Jacques Demy asked Spirit to write and record a soundtrack to his movie Model Shop.  Demy was seeking to make a film that captured the “vibe” of Los Angeles, and after seeing Spirit perform in a local club he decided they would be the perfect musical counterpoint for his movie.  In Ferguson and California, Spirit had two strong songwriters but they rarely collaborated – except on the Model Shop soundtrack.

The band’s jazz leanings come to the fore on “Eventide” and a few other songs.  In fact, most of the songs cut for the soundtrack were instrumentals, only “Green Gorilla” and “Now Or Anywhere” have vocals by Ferguson.  When the movie was finally released in 1969 it was a flop, so the soundtrack album release was scrapped.  Because Spirit cut the soundtrack between sessions for their second and third albums, there’s a bit of continuity – two outtakes from The Family That Plays Together (1968) – “Fog” and “Now or Anywhere” – turn up on the soundtrack.

And later in 1969, some material for Clear came from the unreleased soundtrack.  For example, “Model Shop II” became the title song and “Song for Lola” was used as part of “Ice”.  Nevertheless, a lot of the material here remained unheard until 2005, when Sundazed Records got their hands on a set of  long-lost master tapes and reassembled the soundtrack for a CD release.

MP3: “Now or Anywhere” by Spirit

MP3: “Eventide” by Spirit

MP3: “Song For Lola” by Spirit

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It’s Time To Enshrine Spirit!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 30, 2008 by 30daysout

spirit-1969

Spirit was one of the most entertaining American bands to come off the West Coast in the late 1960s.  Sorry, Dead and Airplane fans – Spirit, based out of Los Angeles, had the best players.  Led by singer Jay Ferguson and guitarist Randy California (who was apparently a protege of Hendrix), Spirit played progressive and psychedelic music but always anchored its albums with some crankin’ rock tunes.  They should certainly be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ferguson was the better songwriter in the group, but California penned Spirit’s biggest hit, “I Got A Line On You,” from 1968.  The group peaked with the psychedelic album 12 Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus (1970) with standout Ferguson tunes like “Animal Zoo” and California’s moody “Nature’s Way.”  Spirit’s drummer was bald-headed Ed Cassidy, California’s uncle, and the bassist was teenaged Mark Andes. 

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