What’s This Thing Sitting In The Corner?

This is like wiping layers of dust off old record album covers.

The inevitable happened and someone put “Cheese Food Prostitute” and “Altitude” on YouTube. These are the 2 “major releases” by The Rake’s Progress, which is the band that I co-founded and was part of from 1988 till things fizzled out in 1995 or so.

I have all of the recordings in my house, of course, but for whatever reason I hadn’t given those particular tracks a listen in years. For whatever reason, I decided to go ahead and thus simultaneously delighted and tortured myself by listening to the whole shebang at one go on a flight back to SF from Florida on Wednesday. Memory lane syndrome got me. It got me thinking about everything. Everything that happened, a thousand triumphs and a thousand humiliations. Playing to millions of people on a TV show one day, then driving 16 hours in a van to play to 3 people the next. Near-arrests in Dallas. Blocking out the sounds of your bandmate geting it on in the next bed with his girl while you were getting it on in your bed with yours. Tours interrupted by births and deaths. Alot went on.

There were 5 core members of the group, and there were a few others that came and went at the very beginning (including myself — the other guys chucked me out briefly at one point because I was being a dick and was also butting heads with this engineer/producer we’d hired — more on that another time…).

Those of you that read this who know the band, know of myself, Tim Cloherty, Gregg Lapkin, Pete Klinger, and Stu Klinger. There was also our first drummer Tim Curry, who we did our first ever public performance with (a memorable-for-all-the-wrong-reasons “audition night” set at CBGB). It was also our last performance with him as while he was a very friendly guy and certainly loved to party as much as we all did, he was not such a great drummer and was also clearly troubled. We recently learned he died in his early 30’s from liver failure.

There was Arthur Bacon, a thin, fey black-turtleneck-wearing blonde keyboardist with an asymetrical haircut. I think he did maybe 3 gigs with us, including the one at Lismar Lounge that introduced us to Roger Davis, who became one of the central figures in the history of the band, and without whom we never would have “made it”.

There were others that came and went, both on stage and in the studio, all of which had an impact in one way or another (or not,. I’m just being kind in lieu of a 100% clear memory at this time of the evening).

I think a good place to start this story where it stands today. Tim and Stu still soldier on as professional musicians in NYC, and I have a deep respect for them for that. I wish I had the balls to have stuck to it as a profession as these guys have. Tim leads his band Booga Sugar (which Pete and Gregg were also in at the beginning) that specializes in disco/soul/R&B dance music, and he also writes and performs his original stuff in various incarnations. Stu does a wide variety of performance, recording, teaching, and also runs the Bandwriting Collective summer music camp for kids, which he founded. He put out 2 albums with his band Barnacle Bill  and also performs with his irish music band Streams of Whiskey. Getting back to the topic of people who were in the band briefly, the lineup of Barnacle Bill includes bassist Yianni Naslas who played in the “Bedspins” incarnation of the Rakes for a couple shows towards the end when I took a powder and went on a tour with another band.

Pete lives in a very hip college town in New England with his family and works as a Park Ranger. He has a band called Small Parade that just put out their first album.

Gregg lives in Panama. He founded and runs a backpacker’s hostel called Bambu, in Panama’s 2nd largest city David. He recently wrote and recorded material with Nate “Baby Bam” of the Jungle Brothers, whom he met when he was a guest at the hostel.

I live in San Francisco with my wife and kids, and run the West Coast ops of a small creative agency. I get to be involved in alot of cool stuff and work with great people. Occasionally I kick out the odd music or film/video thingy.

Stu and I also are in a band together at the moment, a project that involves 2 of my friends from high school that is progressing very slowly, since we collectively live in 3 different cites and have our grown-up lives of families and careers to tend to. I think we’ll have something out a year from now. We’ve written and recorded something like 8 or 9 songs I think.

Life is good for all of us today, we’re all happy with our lives. Most of us are parents (Gregg is the lone holdout). I think we’ll get together and play a show at some point in the next few years. We’re all still friends which is the best part.

I’ll try and go back to the beginning next.

NEXT->> A lyrical reference to how some of the band members first met

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