Remembering Timmy

Tim Goshorn has been gone just over a week. He died of cancer last Saturday. During that week, photos and memories from friends, fans, family, and other musicians have filled the internet. The few photos I have don’t begin to compare with the many great ones I’ve seen and my memories don’t go back as far or go nearly as deep as many. But I do have memories. Lots of them. All good. Most with tapping toes and a big grin.

I didn’t really know who Tim Goshorn was before that day in 1994 when I walked into Tommy’s on Main. Prior to that, I thought of the Goshorn Brothers as Larry and Dan who had teamed up in the Sacred Mushroom in the 1960s. I must have seen Tim play at least once before, though. I had attended one Pure Prairie League concert and I’m sure Tim was on stage that night but it didn’t really register. Although I liked Pure Prairie League’s music and very much appreciated the talents of its members, I was not a big PPL fan. I was a Larry Goshorn fan.

That first night at Tommy’s, Larry and Tim played alone. That continued for a few more nights then PPL drummer Billy Hinds came in with a snare and some brushes. Before long Billy was sitting behind his full kit and bassist Mike Baney and keyboardist Steve Schmidt had joined what always comes to my mind first when I think of the Goshorn Brothers Band. There were other lineups over the years and every one was impressive but the classic Larry-Tim-Billy-Steve-Mike lineup is the one that impressed me most.

It lasted less than two years but it taught me who Tim Goshorn was. A typical week had the GBB playing three nights at Tommy’s and I was often there for at least one of them. Sometimes more. I got to know Tim as an outstanding guitarist and as at least a casual friend. That GBB version ended in December of 1995 when Mike Baney was shot and killed in the parking lot during a robbery.

There were other reasons involved but that murder was sort of the beginning of the end for Tommy’s. The Goshorn Brothers Band continued with various members for many years and I saw them many times. Watching Larry and Tim trade off leads was one of my biggest pleasures. I also saw the duo a lot. A wonderful period for me was when they played Friday evenings at the Golden Lamb’s Black Horse Tavern in Lebanon. They started at 7:00 which meant an old man like me could have a couple beers and hear some great music and still get home before bedtime. It was there that Tim and I helped each other finish off what we think was the only bottle of Buffalo Trace in an Ohio bar at the time.

After brother Larry eased into retirement in 2012, I often saw Tim with the Tim Goshorn Band and the pretty much identical Friends of Lee. I also saw him with other groups and duos. I enjoyed them all. Tim was always entertaining, always seemed to be having a good time, and always made an effort to say hi.

In October of 2014, I saw Tim perform with the current Pure Prairie League. This time his presence registered very much. This time I was a Tim Goshorn fan. I wish I had a better picture. They’re out there. The last time I saw him play was at DeSha’s on US-22. It’s nearby and, as I have on other occasions, I stopped in for one set on the way to somewhere else. I spoke with Tim at the break and actually stayed for a few more songs. Damn, he was good.

My favorite Tim Goshorn song is Colors. The version from the 1994 True Stories (Live at Tommy’s) can be heard via YouTube here. A 2011 Chuck Land produced video of the brothers performing it can be seen here. All the Lonesome Cowboys might be my second favorite (It’s neck and neck with Sun Shone Lightly.) Tim Goshorn song. It opens a nearly hour long 1995 concert video of the original Tommy’s GBB line up (minus Steve) that can be seen here.

Music Review
The Goshorn Brothers

Goshorn Brothers AcousticI thought I might never get this posted but I did it and it’s not even a year late. It’s close, though. The official release of Acoustic, which coincided with Larry Goshorn’s “retirement” party, was 349 days ago. I knew the CD was coming and intended to get a copy at the party, then, figuring I’d pick it up in the near future, opted not to stand in line. To be honest, I could have bought the CD without a hassle but I wanted it signed and for that there was a line and I really believed I’d catch the boys performing together in a couple of weeks. If I had known that wouldn’t happen for six months, I’d have stood in line.

I got my copy just days before leaving on a month long road trip so that, even though I really liked the album and knew what I wanted to say about it, I had no time. Then, when the trip was over, I had no… Well, I had no excuses. Yes, the main reason this review did not get done during the last four month is because I just kept putting it off each week. When it comes to crastination, I’m a pro.

It seems a curious coincidence that the last music review I did, in March, was for an acoustic album and some of the thoughts I had then are applicable here. That album was Dirk Hamilton’s solo mono. and, though it was recorded in a studio, it represented my personal experience with Dirk quite well. Dirk is best known for his work with a full band but that’s something I’ve never seen. With solo mono, I could hear Dirk at home the way I’ve heard him live.

Larry and Tim Goshorn are also best known for their work with a full band though that’s something I’ve seen a lot. From Larry’s early days with Sacred Mushroom, and the time both brothers spent with Pure Prairie League, through various incarnations of the Goshorn Brothers Band. But I’ve also heard them a lot as an acoustic duo. In recent years, seeing the brothers front a band became something of a special event; Something more likely to be at a festival or a concert than a club gig.

There were club gigs but most were, quite literally, Goshorn Brothers gigs rather than Goshorn Brothers Band gigs. I and plenty of other Cincinnati area music lovers have spent many enjoyable evenings in a small bar or restaurant listening to the two brothers trade off guitar and vocal leads and blend their voices in brotherly harmonies. It’s an experience that Acoustic captures pretty darned well but with very little crowd noise and no interruptions from the waiter.

There’s nothing new on the CD and I think that’s the point; To remind you of an evening you’ve enjoyed or reproduce part of a pleasant evening for someone who hasn’t experienced the real thing. Like a typical Goshorn Brothers set, the CD is heavy on originals with a few covers thrown in. Some of the tunes, like Tim’s Just Fly and Larry’s Kentucky Moonshine from their Pure Prairie League days, might very well be familiar even to those who haven’t seen the brothers performing in a local bar. Others, such as Devil’s Due, are more recent and less widely known. Devil’s Due is, to me, the CD’s standout track. It’s a catchy Larry Goshorn tune with some great lyrics and Tim’s excellent slide guitar sets it off perfectly.

Recording for the album took place over a few years in a several locations but rumor has it that most if not all of the tracks that made it to the CD are from the recently demolished Twenty Mile House. They all sound good. There is, as mentioned, little crowd noise; Essentially just some applause and cheering between tracks. These guys have been doing this a long time. They know how to get things sounding right for their live performances and this recording captures both voices and both guitars cleanly. “Just like the record”, Tim sometimes quips at the end of some familiar song. Acoustic is “just like the club” — without clinking glasses and the noisy couple at the next table.

Acoustic available at Everybody’s Records or a Goshorn performance.

Video Review
Going My Way
Chuck Land

Going My Way coverI am even less qualified to review DVDs than I am to review CDs and books. That won’t stop me of course. I just thought you should know. Going My Way is Chuck Land’s take on the story of Larry and Tim Goshorn’s musical adventures. Chuck Land is the guy behind Landman Productions, The Chuck Land Show, and, as often as possible, a Hammond B3. Larry & Tim are the guitar playing siblings who have powered a few decades of music in Cincinnati and carried a lot of Cincinnati music a long long way from home. Those album covers on the DVD jacket represent music from the 1960’s Sacred Mushroom, through Pure Prairie League and the Goshorn Brothers Band, to their most recent duo recording Acoustic. In case you didn’t notice, those album covers are posed along the center line of a two lane highway.

This is a Cincinnati story. The brothers have been back in Cincinnati for many years now and so has Chuck. He and the Goshorns are close friends these days but much of the brothers’ story is outside of Chuck’s personal experience. Those bits he covers through period photos and interviews with people who were there. Recent parts of the story include Landman Production performance footage.

The documentary opens with Sacred Mushroom bassist Joe Stewart praising his former bandmate. Joe appears in the video several more times and talks about making music with Larry long before the Mushroom even existed as well as filling in some of the Sacred Mushroom story. Other persons interviewed include concert promoter and former Cincinnati Vice-Mayor Jim Tarbell and retired radio personality Gary Burbank. Tim and Larry are recorded talking about themselves, each other, and individuals they’ve performed with over the years. Other musicians and fans are also interviewed but, somewhat curiously, Rick “Bam” Powell is the only Goshorn Brothers Band member, other than the brothers, to talk to the camera. More understandable is the fact that no other members of Pure Prairie League are interviewed, either.

The DVD is packaged with a CD containing eight songs from throughout the Goshorns’ careers. The Pure Prairie League years are well represented with songs penned by Tim or Larry and first released by PPL but presented here in post-PPL versions. It’s a nice sampler.

No matter where you live, it’s all but certain that you have heard some Goshorn music. If you’ve lived around Cincinnati, there is also a darned good chance that you have seen one or both Goshorns perform at a club, concert, or festival. Going My Way offers a look on the other side of the speakers and serves up a lot of history on this pair of talented and significant Cincinnati music makers. Find it here.

Hats Off to Larry

Larry Goshorn Farewell ConcertGuitarist Larry Goshorn “retired” this week. Of course, musicians don’t retire the way some folks do. A guy who retires from Ford will probably never build another car and a retired assassin can be perfectly happy not killing anyone ever again. But no one believes that, just because a musician does his last concert and stops actively looking for gigs in clubs and bars, they quit being a musician. Following Wednesday’s “farewell” concert, Larry may not be as prevalent on the local music scene as he has been but neither will he vanish completely.

Sacred Mushroom album photoLarry, along with brothers Dan and Tim, has been a big part of Cincinnati’s music for pretty much as long as I’ve been here. I moved to the big city in the fall of 1965 and evolved from visitor to resident over the next couple years. I don’t know when I first became aware of the Sacred Mushroom or even when the Sacred Mushroom first came into existence but I do remember Sunday afternoons in Eden park with the Mushroom in the band shell and nights in a dump called the Mug Club with the Mushroom on stage. Dan Goshorn did most of the singing but Larry also sang a bit along with doing all the lead guitar work. I fondly recall a couple of break time conversations with Larry at the Mug Club. I don’t recall their content; Only that they happened. No reason for Larry to remember them at all.

The Sacred Mushroom was a different sort of band. There was, of course, the Mushroom House and a life style that said “we are musicians, dammit” but their music was different, too. There were other good bands in Cincinnati including several that, like the Sacred Mushroom, did a mix of covers and originals. But the Mushroom’s covers were from guys like Willie Dixon and Paul Butterfield and their bluesy originals (actually Larry Goshorn originals) were not exactly formula top 40.

The peak and the crash were not far apart. In October of 1968, they opened for Big Brother and the Holding Company. I was there in the last row of the last balcony with a ticket I’d bought at the last minute. Their one and only album was released the following summer but the band was already disintegrating. It was kind of like the Beatles and Let It Be minus the long string of million selling albums in front of it.

Larry didn’t stop playing, of course. I may have even seen him a time or two before he went off to help put Pure Prairie League on the charts but I really don’t remember. My memories of his days with PPL are pretty spotty, too. Even though I liked several of their tunes, I never became a big fan. I saw them perform just once.

Pure Prairie LeagueLarry didn’t write the song that put Pure Prairie League on the charts. That song, Amie, was written and recorded by Craig Fuller before he left to deal with draft obligations. What Larry did do, after replacing Craig, was sing play (see Tom Sheridan’s informative reply below) Amie in a couple of hundred concerts that got the song enough airplay to make it a hit. He then went on to write a number of the band’s songs including my favorite, Two Lane Highway. As much as I like the song, I don’t dare dwell on the lyrics. Just like Springsteen’s Born in the USA  is not (despite what some politicians apparently believe) exactly glorifying the country, Two Lane Highway is not an ode to back roads. I never thought to ask but was there when a friend did and learned that Larry wrote the song in the back of a GMC motor home as the band rolled through a Pennsylvania night and he really did want to “get off this two lane highway”. He’s got a front row spot in the picture at right.

The Pure Prairie League story is a convoluted one and quite a few web pages offer up pieces and variations of it. Today, a four piece group with a couple of original members keeps the name alive. The official Pure Prairie League website makes no mention of Larry at all. A careful scan turned up one tiny uncaptioned picture that has Larry in it but that’s all. The closest the site’s text comes to mentioning him is in an almost comical reference to the “departing Gorshorn [sic] brothers”. Along with ignoring his contributions, they’ve forgotten how to spell his name. Larry’s younger brother, Tim, had joined him in the group around 1977 and they did leave together around 1978. Tim later rejoined for a second stint.

Between PPL and the 1994 opening of a certain bar on Main Street, I have no personal knowledge of Larry’s activities. I heard ads for The Goshorn Brothers Band on radio and I may have even had a beer or two somewhere they were playing but I wasn’t paying attention. When I saw Larry and Tim at what I believe was the opening night for Tommy’s on Main, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed his playing and I’ve not lost sight of him since.

I probably irritated some folks when I said I was never a big fan of PPL. I liked them well enough and I certainly appreciated their talent but they weren’t one of my top tier groups. That tier was filled with the Moody Blues, the E Street Band, Yes, and others. I liked PPL the same way I liked the Eagles and there are more similarities between the two than my level of fandom. Of course, they sound somewhat alike but there was another connection that maybe only I cared about. PPL had sucked up Larry Goshorn; The Eagles had sucked up Joe Walsh. I was much more a fan of the James Gang and Sacred Mushroom than of the Eagles and Pure Prairie League. On one of those very first nights at Tommy’s, I mentioned to Larry that I had thought of his time with PPL as a “day job”. He smiled and said, “Me too.” I don’t know if he meant it the same way I did or if he even meant it at all.

The Tommy’s gig started as an “acoustic” duo then one night ex-PPL drummer Billy Hinds showed up with a snare drum. From there, it wasn’t long until a five piece Goshorn Brothers Band had taken up residency at Tommy’s. Billy was behind a full drum kit with Michael Baney and Steve Schmidt taking care of bass and keyboards. Other top notch musicians would sit in or perform their own shows. Wonderful music poured out of Tommy’s for the next couple of years with GBB typically playing three nights a week and me being there for at least one of those nights more often than not. Tommy’s eventually closed but the Goshorn Brothers rolled on. The lineup wasn’t particularity solid so you were never quite sure who would be backing up the brothers on a band date but you knew they would be good. The two Goshorns could probably make anybody sound good but it’s a plain fact that they attract the best. Many different combinations have appeared as the Goshorn Brothers Band over the years and every one that I’ve heard sounded great.

Larry Goshorn - Cincinnati Summer of Love Reunion 2007Larry Goshorn - Cincinnati Summer of Love Reunion 2008I have no pictures from Tommy’s. Those at left are from the 2007 and 2008 Summer of Love Reunions. A big part of celebrating the Cincinnati music scene of four decades ago was the current Goshorn Brothers Band playing the role and the songs of the Sacred Mushroom. Both years, Mushroom bassist Joe Stewart (in the first picture) was coaxed into performing a couple of those tunes with his old bandmate.

Goshorn Brothers Band - Larry Goshorn Farewell ConcertGoshorn Brothers - Larry Goshorn Farewell ConcertThe photo at the top of this post is from Wednesday’s concert as are the two at right. The evening began with a Larry and Tim acoustic set and ended with the brothers fronting a hard hitting five piece. The time between was filled by the same group minus Larry. Larry broke his ankle early in the year and Tim has been performing without him in a quartet sometimes called Whistle Pig and sometimes called Friends of Lee. Members are Lee Everitt on keys, Bam Powell on drums (yes, his head really does look like a cymbal), and Mike Fletcher on bass. This was the group that filled in the middle and by definition became the Goshorn Brothers Band when Larry joined them.

The music was great and the event well attended. The only surprises were things that didn’t happen. I had expected some comments or jokes about retirement and there was absolutely nothing of the sort from the stage. I had also expected something like an all star jam but, despite there being a number of well known and talented musicians in the house, nothing of that sort happened either. I really shouldn’t have been surprised though. The “we’ll never see Larry again” shock of the first announcement had become a more realistic “we’re going to see Larry less”. The shift was made official with an “or is it?” appearing on posters and tickets. It was a great show and it brought a lot of old (in every sense of the word) friends together. But I think we were all rather relieved to realize that Larry is only mostly retired.