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Thread: Roots of Consciousness 1993 CD

  1. #26
    Hi...I'm back. Had to step away for a couple of days. I mentioned at the beginning of my post that I would address some things mentioned in previous posts, then I got emotional and went off the rails a bit. So, I will go back up top, and fill in what blanks I can, and respond to some posts added after mine. If y'all don't mind I am gonna do them all in one message so I don't create a ton of posts to wade through individually. So....

    JKL2000 (and I would like to sincerely thank you for starting this thread): Sterling Whitaker was Brian's best friend. When I came into the Roots picture he was driver, equipment hauler, good-mood maintainer, newsletter writer, live background vocalist (offstage, which I never understood), and general band dogsbody.
    Later on he did indeed privately publish the "Unsung Heroes" book. It immediately showed his skill as a writer and interviewer, although I found some of his "unsung heroes" to be somewhat questionable--Craig Chaquico? Randy Bachman? And perhaps Gary Richrath of whom Sterling was a fan, but can't remember if he is in the book or not.
    Regardless, it is a good read and first effort....Sterling's writing and interview skills came into much greater relief a few years later with his excellent Styx book "The Grand Delusion". I am only a casual Styx fan and I daresay I found it hard to put down. An excellent book, and a must-read for real Styx fans. Sterling did everyone proud with that one!

    I just reread Peter's post where he calls the album "quirky and a tad uneven". Quirky is a fair surface description of the music (maybe more on lyrics later), but I can't agree with "uneven", with a caveat, however. I think the whole album is great up until the last track "For Radio Airplay", which I hated at the time, and still hate now. Taking into account how great the album is up to that point, I always thought it to be a waste of time, and a stupid way to end an otherwise stellar album. I *might* have listened to that track twice.
    I also agree with Peter that there isn't a handy group of bands to compare them to, other than the odd "thing" that you might pick out that I mentioned before.

    I just remembered Ken Golden's assessment in one of the *fabulous* catalogs he used to print back in the pre-internet days (invaluable resources in themselves),
    paraphrasing, he capped his review by saying something like 'I can't figure out what this band is up to; I need to listen to it a few more times."

    And Peter--if you found a cassette of that somewhere I'd love to know the origin of that, since Syn-Phonic certainly didn't release it on cassette. Is the traycard brown, or blue?
    There were a handful of promo cassettes that Brian made ('someone' borrowed mine, and loaned it to someone, and I never saw it again). You may have one of those.
    If so, the mixes on it are quite different from the disc.

    Tom - I hope by your "thank you", that you were happy to receive some extra info about Roots/Brian, or moved in some way. Either way, I thank YOU.

    I completely forgot about that 'Reocities" site. That guy contacted me (and Wade, apparently), in the late '90s and put that up. The best thing about it at this point is the "photos" section. There's a couple of pieces of memorabilia that he put up, but I sent him a shitload of copied, and some original stuff...and he only put up two of them. I wonder how much a Roots Of Consciousness matchbook would go for on eBay?

    Calyx...that is a shame that you don't have a Brian interview. I will have to check to see if I have one somewhere. It is my nature to be a compulsive archivist...I have three copy paper boxes full of Roots ephemera, and three boxes of Echolyn stuff.
    I would love to get a website together as some sort of Roots repository, but I'm afraid I have neither the time or tech savvy to do so. I'd be happy to assist anyone who wanted to do so, however.

    BTW, Jack, if you look at the Reocities site and check out the image on the Roxy flyer (from an old woodcut, I think), that is what the poster looks like, with black on silver. The "good ones" are 18" x 24", I think. I only have one, which I was inexplicably smart enough to get everyone to autograph.

    Sean...not odd that you missed them back then. You would have had to have seen a listing in Creative Loafing for The Cavern, The Point, or The International Ballroom (where, in my litany of 'theatrical' injuries, I fractured my heel). Or The Masquerade, we played there many times.

    RE: Wade Summerlin. He was not a long participant in the Roots story but a very important one, in the time he was there. The original bassist, Matt Miller, didn't even really know why he was in the band in the first place. He stuck it out, God knows why, but finally quit because he "just wanted to get drunk and jam in his basement", as I recall. Wade coming into the picture instantly elevated the musicality of the band, for the short time he was there. Maybe 5 or 6 shows.

    Kurt! That is so weird that you were in contact with Brian way back then...he never mentioned you to me or Jay. If you haven't connected the dots Jay and I were (are?) the stage managers for Progday. I burned you the Atlas disc and a couple other things.
    But yeah, Brian was a huge VDGG fan (I think mostly because of Hammill; if I had to pick out an 'affectation' in Brian's vocals, it would be him). Memories are hazy but he was also a big Tull, Zappa, Barrett-Floyd, Head-Monkees, and Who fan. Jay and I had also become good friends and mutual alcohol disposal units with the Echolyn guys by this point, and he dug Suffocating The Bloom, which was current at the time.

    FrippWire...that would have to be Lisa Rose, I would imagine. If that is her, she was actually the Roots manager, and as an amateur, did a mighty fine fuckin' job of it. She bulldogged promoters for gigs, got us a slot opening for James Young (I have a whole other story about that!), and somehow scored the opener slot for us for Yes at Lakewood Ampitheatre. The highlight of that was they wanted to encore with "Purple Haze", and Jon didn't know the words, so I guess he said "go get that band", and the next thing we knew we were in front of the stage teaching Jon the lyrics (I can still see Brian's "can you fucking believe this" smile). Then what do you know...a lanky curmudgeon wanders out with his Grumpy Cat face and had us thrown out....! RIP, Chris.
    Also, when Brian passed, Lisa got Brian's obituary published on the inside page of Creative Loafing (the equivalent to LA Weekly, Baltimore's City Paper, etc). She did one hell of a job! She loved the band, and was certainly motivated by her love for Brian.

  2. #27
    Ah....forgot the lyrics. Quite a few of the songs deal with mortality and death, which we didn't pay too much attention to at the time (except for drummer Stallings, who said "I knew he was going to die...he was screaming it at me in my monitor every night").

    The toughest one is "Still Around". I don't know how I missed the message there...I wish I had the presence of mind to ask, at the time.

    It was obviously directed at all of us, his small circle of friends...and it still disturbs me.

    And all your friends, they do pass judgment
    While you're six feet underground
    And all your friends they do pass judgment
    Lost regrets, so profound
    But you're still around


    I'm sorry, I'm over and out on this one.
    Geoff

  3. #28
    On second thought, it would be cooler to wrap this up on a happy, chaotic note. At the same International Ballroom show where I fractured my heel (never jump off a 10 foot stage in a clown mask, in your socks), there was a section in one song where Jay was using a traffic cone as a bullhorn, and when he was finished he threw it into the audience, seated at tables. It happened to land squarely in the middle of a table of 3 girls, smashing their beer mugs, and getting shattered glass and beer all over them.
    I remember after the show Brian was doubled over in hysterics, while poor Lisa somehow smoothed it over with the girls, and the club. She was a wizard that night!

    I have all of this on VHS. Too bad it sounds SO bad.

    Ok, over and out! JKL, hope you like the disc! See if you can find the "Lethe Wharf' joke.

  4. #29
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this, vet. This kind of recollection should be in cyberspace for every band. Great that you could do it for RoC.

  5. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    Thanks for posting this, vet. This kind of recollection should be in cyberspace for every band. Great that you could do it for RoC.
    Thank you so much. I actually thought I got to the point where I was over-sharing....but, then I thought, so what? There are hundreds of bands I would like to have this kind of important/irrelevant/stupid/anecdotal/moving information about....and in this particular instance the person that can share that stuff is me.

    And since I am an emotional toothpick I am tearing up right now, remembering how much Brian wanted to be remembered, and us around him were too thick and carefree to notice that it was a matter of MORTALITY for him, while we were all just goofing around. The valiance and bravery he exhibited during that time was lost on me, to my shame. He was such a unique, brilliant, funny young man.
    I have been to numerous funerals for relatives and friends but Brian's was a horrible, horrible, yet inspirational experience. We learned things we never knew about him before, like his heart ailment...and I thought, 'oh God, that's why he needed us'....he couldn't do it. And "oh...that's why he sat on a stool half the show'.

    I never experienced this particular custom at a funeral but many of us were allowed to pick up a handful of dirt from the burial mound, have a moment of reflection, and toss the dirt onto the coffin. it sounds too sad and poignant to be true, but after this horrific display of grief and everyone else had gone, just all of us Roots guys were the only ones left, about 20 feet apart, staring at the tent over Brian's grave. We just stood there. And on cue, a light rain started.

    We all walked away without a word, and never spoke again. Except for Jay and I, of course....the man I consider my eternal associate.

  6. #31
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veteranof1000psychicwars View Post
    I never experienced this particular custom at a funeral but many of us were allowed to pick up a handful of dirt from the burial mound, have a moment of reflection, and toss the dirt onto the coffin.
    That's a custom at Jewish burials, maybe others as well - I don't know. But it gives anyone who wants a chance to take place in the act of burying the dead. Yeah, it's a pretty grim experience but is good to have everyone from the family and friends have a hand in the act as probably the last physical thing you can do for the deceased. After that it's all about honoring the memories, as you're doing here.

    I don't think I've been to a burial where it wasn't raining or covered with snow.

  7. #32
    Member FrippWire's Avatar
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    FrippWire...that would have to be Lisa Rose, I would imagine. If that is her, she was actually the Roots manager, and as an amateur, did a mighty fine fuckin' job of it. She bulldogged promoters for gigs, got us a slot opening for James Young (I have a whole other story about that!), and somehow scored the opener slot for us for Yes at Lakewood Ampitheatre. The highlight of that was they wanted to encore with "Purple Haze", and Jon didn't know the words, so I guess he said "go get that band", and the next thing we knew we were in front of the stage teaching Jon the lyrics (I can still see Brian's "can you fucking believe this" smile). Then what do you know...a lanky curmudgeon wanders out with his Grumpy Cat face and had us thrown out....! RIP, Chris.
    Also, when Brian passed, Lisa got Brian's obituary published on the inside page of Creative Loafing (the equivalent to LA Weekly, Baltimore's City Paper, etc). She did one hell of a job! She loved the band, and was certainly motivated by her love for


    Yes, that's her. I didn't want to use her last name but that's her. I'm not surprised by anything you said. Lisa's just like that. She worked as tirelessly for Universal Music. One of the few women I knew who liked prog too.

  8. #33
    Brian did NOT want to be treated different than anyone else and therefore hid from us the extent of his health problems. He was so successful at this that at one gig where we all showed up at the club just to learn that he couldn't make it due to "hot tea spilled on his hands" - we believed it! Of course it wasn't true, he was suffering the effects of chemotherapy, but he didn't want us to know it. So, not knowing that his death loomed just over the near horizon, two things come to mind about my time in Roots:

    The Cotton Club show) While the band played ( ) also known as "parentheses" by us, I came out dressed as the Grim Reaper. A video exists of me as "Death" walking up behind Brian as he sang and I reach out for him, to touch him, but change my mind and instead light a piece of flash paper in my hand and vanish in a burst of flame. To see it now gives me chills.

    Brian's Funeral ) Brian was a master at mythologizing his own condition and coming death, and he orchestrated the whole band to this tune - part of how he dealt with its reality I am guessing, what artists DO. The extent of it all hit me at his funeral, where we learned he had lived his short life under a time limit that didn't even allow for his teen-age years (which of course he BEAT by many years, something I attribute to his sense of purpose and will power to create) According to a Jewish tradition we were invited by the family to throw dirt with our bare hands upon his casket after it was lowered into his grave. As I did so with tears in my eyes it occurred to me we had been playing at this the whole time we were in the band; we had been playing at death and death imagery, and here we were throwing dirt on Brian's grave, just like something we might have done at a Roots show! It still boggles my mind when I think of it.

    I feel So fortunate to have been a part of this man's life, and everything that we did. I love that the CD is still listened to and enjoyed by people

  9. #34
    After the funeral some of us did spend a little time together. Geoff may not remember but Bill the keyboardist played all of "Awaken" by Yes as his funeral song to Brian. We all lay in the dark in a room in his basement while the song played from beginning to end. That was the last time I ever saw anyone from Roots of Consciousness, besides Geoff of course.

  10. #35
    I believe I found the cassette tape at a thrift store; maybe a year or two ago.
    I have a silver foil RoC poster that either Geoff or Jay gave me; I'll upload that to my Facebook page (for some reason it wouldn't upload to ProgEars).

    10181701.jpg
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  11. #36
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    ^ Old-school cool!

  12. #37
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    That needs to be added to the Discogs database.

  13. #38
    ^ Whoa....I totally forgot about that tape...and those songs!! That's a rarity you have there, Peter. That was released way before the Roots disc, and even before Jay and I were in the picture. "Magic Kingdom" and "Candleabra" are not on the CD. They were in the live set for a short time after Jay and I showed up, but were dropped not too long after. I haven't heard either of those songs in 25 years.
    I have one of those cardboard-silver posters too...one night I had the presence of mind to get everyone to autograph it, along with a copy of the CD. For some reason my ex-stepbrother stole that CD (along with about 2 dozen of my concert T-shirts). He did some other wonderful things too. His face has an appointment with my Carlos May Louisville Slugger.

    And Jay is right...I have absolutely no memory of being in a basement playing of "Awaken", and am pretty sure I was not there. Post-service, I went back to work. But (adding an edit), we rode to the service together. So, I suppose I must have been there.
    Knowing me, I was physically there, but somewhere else.

    But, I do remember that evening, to relieve some of the horror of the day, we went to see Jim Carroll do a spoken word/Q&A thing at UGA (I remember it distinctly as the same day...I recall listening to Carroll while looking at the GA red clay on my fingernails). I asked him if he could give me "Guitar Voodoo" lessons, a reference to a piece of his that apparently he didn't even remember (it's on a disc called "Sound Bites From The Counterculture"). He just stared at me like he had no idea what I was talking about.
    Jay as usual saved the day by asking something like "What influence does the supernatural have on your work?", and broke the 'awkward' spell. Thanks Jay!
    We chatted with Jim afterward and he signed my copy of 'The Basketball Diaries'...I didn't bother trying to explain my question.

    Some day that was.
    Last edited by veteranof1000psychicwars; 10-20-2017 at 09:22 PM.

  14. #39
    D'oh. 'Candleabra' is on the CD. I'm getting old. I don't recall 'Magic Kingdom' being that memorable...no one need kick themselves for its disappearance.

  15. #40
    Ok...my last unsolicited post on this thread. I just HAD to make sure I still had my Roots poster so did a quick archeological dig into my packrat closet. I did find it, and in front of it is a large white cardboard 'thought balloon' that says "WOW! I'm Really Expressing Myself!". I snuck up behind Brian onstage once (once!), and held it up behind his head during a guitar solo.

    Fans of the deeply obscure will recognize this as a gag stolen from the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band...a band sadly about as obscure as Roots these days.

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