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Minnesota Rock: Gary Burger Album, Gypsy Film Available in Store

While you wait for news on the re-release of Podipto's second album, "Homemade," I have some exciting news to share. 

Gary Burger is well-known to Minnesotans, and by now, people around the world are familiar with the incredible resurgence of his 1960s band The Monks. I recently worked with Gary's wife, Cindy, and Mark Anderson in Bemidji to issue Gary Burger's "BurgerMONK 2010" album on CD via our Northwood Way Productions label. It's available now and is a must-own. You can check it out on the Music page of this site, but if you value our efforts to keep Minnesota music in print and available, please order a CD. We'd love to be able to help unearth more of the buried treasures in the Turtle Town Records archives!

Cover of the newly released album by Gary Burger of Turtle River, Minn.

We are also carrying DVDs of a documentary film about the band Gypsy, titled "Gypsy: Rock & Roll Nomads." Some of you may recall that in the 1960s, The Underbeats became one of the most popular bands in the Twin Cities. When the band relocated to Los Angeles and changed their name to Gypsy in the late 60s, they had the good fortune of landing a house gig at the Whisky-A-Go Go on The Sunset Strip—one of the most important music clubs of the time. Local filmmaker Aaron Goodyear takes us on a trip of discovery of this underrated band and their adventures from the LA club scene to full-on arena rock.

And now for those of you looking for an update on the reissue of Podipto's 1974 LP, "Homemade," we're are hoping to launch a Kickstarter campaign in the coming months to fund the last of the music restoration work we have to do. I've uncovered lots of live recordings from this era, and would love to make as much of it available as we can. Watch our Facebook page for the latest!

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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Documentary in the Works on Minnesota Bands: The Underbeats and Gypsy

Minnesota (and native Bemidjian) Aaron Goodyear is directing a documentary film about another legendary Minnesota band. Here is his summary:

In the 1960s, The Underbeats became one of the most popular bands in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Founder Jim Johnson left the band in 1966 after he was drafted to serve in Vietnam.  When he returned in 1968 the band left Minnesota and relocated to Los Angeles. 
In 1969 The Underbeats changed their name to Gypsy, landed the house gig at the Whisky-A-Go Go on The Sunset Strip and played with everyone who came through the club in 1969 and 1970.  Learn about the band's bizarre coincidental connection to the Manson Family and follow them as they graduate from the LA club scene to full on arena rock.
Follow Gypsy's endless tours with The Guess Who and their four musically ground-breaking records that went almost completely unnoticed.  This is the story of Gypsy and my quest to find out why they never gained the national attention and notoriety that their music deserved.  We drop in on some former members to see who they are today and how music has shaped their lives.  
Discover one of American Rock & Roll's missing links and find out how one member is still working hard to keep Gypsy's message alive.

The filmmaker still needs to travel to various locations across the country to finish shooting the interviews with former band members, and some famous fans of the band. Please consider visiting his Kickstarter page and chipping in a few bucks to ensure this important piece of Minnesota history isn't lost! And make sure to visit the project's Facebook Page.

In 1968 Twin Cities band The Underbeats headed west and changed their name to Gypsy. This is the story of an important piece of American rock history that has gone largely unnoticed. Follow the band from their Minnesota beginnings to Hollywood's Sunset Strip to international touring with The Guess Who and beyond.

New Podipto Website!

For those of you who have been waiting patiently for the past decade for me to finally reissue the Podipto catalogue, I offer you my sincere gratitude! The rest of my family—John's widow Margy; their eldest child Judah; and youngest child, Anna—are absolutely thrilled to be on the cusp of sharing this with you.

Having been born in 1977, Podipto was always something that my dad had been part of, but it wasn't something I had been around for (some of you may remember my brother at concerts, with his long hippy-child blond hair). More than anything, this project has been about discovering a remarkable part of my dad's story, a part that touched a great many people. For our family, this is something we are doing to preserve the legacy of what my dad and these other amazing musicians made together.

So hold on, we are just a short time away from putting it all out there. And the first step is launching this new website. The previous site was designed in an application that isn't even supported any longer, so I haven't been able to update it in several years. We're rocketing into the future folks, with a keen eye (and ear) to the past. Please enjoy the ride.

 Me with my dad, circa 1978.

Me with my dad, circa 1978.