Clutch Cargo came along at a time when the Twin Cities music business was in a severe turndown for a number of reasons. The style aspect of going to country music bars was gone; the cops were waging war against DWI; on-sale drink taxes soared to help pay for the Metrodome; drink specials were outlawed so club owners couldn’t lure customers in with half price drinks from 7 until 9 or anything like that.
I was working with The Firehouse Band and despite the fact that we were still doing OK, and I still liked everyone in the band, I was looking for a change. To make a long story short, my former roommate and recording studio collaborator had a band and they were looking to change out keyboard players. So Firehouse and Clutch Cargo swapped keyboard players. Suddenly I found myself working with Grover Tait, bassist and singer for Steamboat Willie, a wildly successful house band in the most “Urban Cowboy”-like bar in the TC area. Also I got to play in a “real” band with Gino Sherseth, extraordinary guitarist, and Joe Sibinsky, who had played in my band Pony Express for a period of time. What a neat band!
Things started moving along for us, and then for some reason Joe decided to bow out. I think he was just too tired, working a full-time job as a machinist and then going to the bar to play for 4 hours. We replaced him with Charlie Meredith, who left a Del Solberg band (City Lights) to come work with us. Charlie was solid as a rock. BTW, he never had anything but the best to say about Del. Charlie was ready to go in a week and was playing like he had been doing this a year in two weeks. Well, you’ll hear it on the tunes.
So what we’ve got here is the last night of Clutch Cargo. This was mainly my doing, I’m afraid, but I could see our paychecks going down week after week, and when you’re in your mid-30s it’s time to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. So I quit the band, worked in a wedding band for a couple or three months, then moved to Texas to go back to school.
I wish this band could have lasted forever. I felt more like a band with these guys than I ever had with anyone before or since. Most of the time we had our energy focused on exactly the same concept of what the groove was and how we fit into it. Grover was a hoot to work with, to sing with, to depend on. Gino was like a brother who just loved to be playing his guitar whenever he could. Charlie knew (or quickly learned) exactly what the other 3 of us were doing with the groove and played his parts like a well-oiled machine with a heart of gold. I will add that when I joined the band, Joe covered the drums just as you would expect from a seasoned professional. His playing was always impeccable and his sense of humor added a great dimension to the group.
Back to Clutch Cargo….
Here are some songs… this is the first set of our last night. This was taped off of the PA system mixer (which I mostly mixed in mono because I works best for night clubs but not so much for recording), so imagine yourself sitting right in front of a PA speaker… this is Clutch Cargo.
All My Rowdy Friends Are Comin’ Over Tonight
If You’re Gonna Play In Texas (ya gotta have a fiddle in the band)
Let It Roll
Big Train From Memphis
Fooled Around and Fell In Love
I Never Felt More Like Singin’ the Blues
Long Cool Woman (in a black dress)
Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This