Press Release: 1970s Minnesota Band PODIPTO Releases Unearthed Recordings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 14, 2015
CONTACT:
Josh Collins, josh@northwoodway.com

Secret of “The Wrecking Crew” replacement players finally out in the open; Original demos available for first time

Bemidji, Minn. – Today Minnesota rock and blues fans are privy to an untold story of small-town musicians making it big on a national stage, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by record executives. The story has been a secret for the past 45 years, known only to the band members and a few close friends.

Podipto formed in Northern Minnesota in 1969. Until disbanding in 1975, the band was considered one of the brightest acts to emerge from the Midwest, blending blues, rock, folk and country into a unique sound characterized by a three-singer, two-guitar front line. Podipto refused to let any one genre define their sound, shifting on a dime from dreamy folk to growling blues.

In 1970, the band landed a record deal with GRT Records of Canada that nationally released the band’s first LP—simply called, Podipto. The album’s success led to tours throughout the country and the band performed with Elton John, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, The Carpenters, Kenny Rogers, The Guess Who, Poco, John Sebastian and many others.

However, Podipto’s enthusiasm waned when they became aware of GRT’s plans for their debut record. The band’s managers informed them that session players—members of the now-famous cadre of hired musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew”—would record the album’s instrument parts in an L.A. studio. These would then be mixed with the vocals from Podipto’s recorded demos. 

The band strongly objected to the idea of replacement players, but the label was adamant. The band was told to focus on live performances while session players would re-create their sound “note for note.” When the album was pressed, however, many of the parts bore only a passing resemblance to the band’s vision, leaving them distraught even as they hit the road to promote the album.*

Lead guitarist Dan Lund was allowed to add his unique-sounding guitar parts to the L.A. tracks and made it onto the album with the notable exception of two songs: “Mississippi Woman” and “Can’t Stand To Beg.” The session guitarist’s parts had been captured on the piano and drum tracks, and so they remained despite sounding nothing like Lund’s signature guitar work. The band was asked to keep quiet about the replacement players; record buyers would not take well to the idea of stand-ins replacing the players fans knew and loved. 

Podipto eventually introduced some of the studio’s changes into their shows, such as the piano intro to “(Lola) You Ease My Achin’ Heart.” Meanwhile, the original studio demos recorded in Chicago were boxed and forgotten. After a period on the road, Podipto returned to Chicago to record demos for a second album with GRT that would never come to be. After the departure of a key label executive, the band’s projects were shelved and they were eventually dropped. 

The Woodcut Sessions / Live at Chateau Paulette is now available on CD and digital download in the Podipto.com store.

All of these songs appear on The Woodcut Sessions, the first CD in a two-disc set released today that collects the band’s 19 demos recorded between 1969 and 1973. The set also includes a live concert recorded at Chateau Paulette in Park Rapids, Minn., in June 1973.

In the early 2000s, family members of the late John Collins began gathering dozens of reels of tape, hoping to eventually make them available to fans. Last year they formed Northwood Way Productions LLC in order to restore, re-master and publish these lost recordings. A 45th anniversary deluxe edition of Podipto was released in March 2015. Podipto’s second album, Homemade, was released independently in 1974 and will be reissued later this year along with live concerts from Bemidji State University’s M-100 Hall (late 1973) and the Kahler Motel in Fargo, North Dakota (1974).

Learn more about Podipto and purchase their recordings at http://www.podipto.com.

* Footnote: The musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew” anonymously performed the instrument parts on countless albums, including many of the major hits of the 1960s and 1970s. They are the subject of several books and a documentary film currently playing in theaters nationwide.

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