OK...now back to Heart River.....
SANTA CRUZ METRO REVIEW
"A singer with a reedy tenor perfectly suited to his world weary lyrics, Gary Gates crafts songs according to the greatest traditions in american rock: expansive as the West, strong-willed and individual as a roadside town somewhere in New Mexico along Route 66, and colorful as a desert sunrise. Backed by an adventurous quartet, ready to strike out on extended improvisations, Gates also proves a moving guitar soloist, lyrical in approach, lanquid with a laid back feel and eloquent with a precise but unhurried delivery. At times his tone and approach evoke the gliterring lines of the late Jerry Garcia.
-Rob Pratt Santa Cruz Metro
The Gary Gates Band
By Ted Silverman
Pause Record 08/26/2000
Hailing from the Coastal Range between San Francisco and Santa Cruz, Gary Gates has been performing and producing
music with a uniquely California vibe for more than two decades. His latest effort with the Gary Gates Band,
Heart River is a fine collection of ear-candy in the vein of a better-known and now defunct jamband ( wink wink ).
www.garygatesband.com defines the band as purveyors of open ended jam-oriented original dance music.
Wether described as cowboy-reggae, rhythm rock or Grateful Dead meets the Allman Brothers in Jamica; the grooves
from this La Honda, Ca group always light a fire under the audience's feet.
With support from Kevin Johnson on keys, Will Mitchell on bass. rhythm guitarist Charlie Natzke, and a trio of drummers
each performing on different tracks, this quartet does a bang-up job on taking the listener on flowing melodic journeys.
Gate's songs are well honed from many years of plying his trade. The opening track from Heart River, "Cool And Free"
takes advantage of it's own ambience for a lengthy guitar-driven ride."Carry Your Dreams" falls into a neat and understated
reggae groove. Kevin Johnson's organ work plays nicely against the one-drop rhythms put forth by Mitchell and Natzke, with Gates'
buttery guitar tones flowing through the mix. This pulsing vibe is reminiscent of Gary's earlier musical incarnations
from about 15 years ago. The general feel is sort of like white man's psychedelic reggae for the masses.
" Back Home" mixes more of this oceanic lilt with harmonica reminiscent of the regions most renowned musician, Neil Young.
The title track, "Heart River" shows Gary's strength as an author of lyrical depth and feeling which is a nice compliment
to his mellifluous guitar playing. His single note lines caress and intertwine with these words like a river's current propels
a canoe downstream. "Skin To Skin" is a straightforward blues-rock tune with the requisite guitar workout with solid backing
from the rhythm section.
"Sail On Brother (dedicated to Jerry Garcia) " visualizes Garcia as an angle in heaven "Laying on the sweet green grass...
counting those clouds rolling along." Numerous subtle references to the iconography and lyrical content of many a dead tune
populate this chestnut and combined with the dynamic interplay of the musicians and Gates' own Garcia-esque guitar playing
make this the standout tune of the CD.
The albums final selection, "Pescadero Days", romanticizes long ago life in the coastal range with a south of the boarder feeling.
The cut is delivered in a similar style as Peter Rowan's "Free Mexican Air Force," or Marty Robbin's "El Paso." The mariachi style
is complimented with acoustic guitar and accordion.
Gary Gates' CD is well worth pursuing as is any chance to see the band perform live. With a steady groove, soaring guitar work,
well-crafted songs and enough good vibes to move bodies, Gary Gates' music comes highly recommended.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Cool & Free
2. Carry Your Dreams
3. Back Home
4. Heart River
5. Skin To Skin
6. Sail On Brother
7. Pescadero Days