Saturday, May 12, 2012

King Washington - The Gears


I was tired. The last twelve hours were spent pulling G’s on, and driving to and from, the racetrack.  All I wanted to do was take my shoes off, put on some music, kick back in the recliner and close my eyes.

I pulled into the driveway and crawled out of the car.  I carried my bags into the hallway and dropped them next to the front door.  My racing jacket, shoes, helmet, gloves, pants and socks were left in a trail from the door down the hall to the kitchen.  I opened the refrigerator door in my T-shirt and underpants. I stood in the cool light and draft of the open refrigerator door for a moment then I grabbed a beer.   I slowly closed the door and bee-lined it for the entertainment system.

Piled atop the cabinet were about thirty or forty CD submissions that I had yet to play.  I slipped the first off the pile, took it out of the sleeve, put the CD in the tray, grabbed the sleeve and remote, and dove for the recliner. As I melted into the cool overstuffed leather electric chair, I pushed recline and then I pushed play.

Less than a minute into the first track I started to dream.   The music sounded so hauntingly familiar, yet I was certain I had never heard it before.  I saw myself as a kid at Averill Park in San Pedro, CA.  I was back in high school.  I was sitting on the grass in a corner of the park close to where my high school girlfriend lived.  Chris appeared with a friend named Joe.  Later, these guys would become the first members of the orchestral rock band Ambrosia. I’d occasionally be allowed to jam with them when they weren’t rehearsing.  I hadn’t thought of her or Chris in more than thirty years.

It bolted me awake. I looked at the CD sleeve.  On the front of the sleeve is the name of the band, King Washington, and the name of the LP, The Gears.  In the center is a mandala.  I stared at it trying to find meaning in its symmetry to no avail. 

I turned the sleeve over.  As I did my attention was diverted by the music. It flowed through me like waves.  It was so familiar.  There was no doubt that it was the type of wall of sound orchestrated rock that typified bands such as the Beatles, Beach Boys, Byrds, Pink Floyd, Electric Light Orchestra, Guess Who, early Genesis, etc..  It offers great harmonies, soaring production values and excellent songwriting. Yet, there was something about this release by King Washington that disturbed me.  What made me dream of people and things that happened over thirty years ago?

I looked down at the reverse side of the sleeve and noticed that it consisted of twelve tracks - and after listening to each one of them I can honestly say they are beautiful, well-written and well produced. The Gears LP offers The Gears, Fourth of July, Right On, Bawl & Change, Animal, Fancy, IGBR, Anybody Home, Cotton, Gone Leavin’, Rosewood Angel and Selling Out.

Then, I saw it.  Below the track list it says, “Produced by Joe Louis Puerta with King Washington.”  Could it be?  Could that be the Joe I met and even jammed with so many years ago?  I gathered enough energy to get out of the recliner and obtain the notebook computer.  I typed the band’s name and LP title into the Google search box and the first link was a Facebook page for King Washington.  I clicked through to the band’s Facebook page, found out they were based in Los Angeles (although the album was recorded in Milwaukee, WI),  and left this post,

“Question? Is the Joe Puerta that helped produce The Gears the Joe Puerta of Ambrosia fame? If so, say hi to him for me. I met Joe back in the early Ambrosia San Pedro days. I was one of Chris North's friends.” 

I promptly received the following response from the band,

“King Washington Yes sir that is THE Joe Puerta! I will surely make sure to pass ur word on!”

It all made sense.  Joe had incorporated the production values of Ambrosia into The Gears LP for King Washington. So my dream did not mean I was holdin’ on to yesterday. 

The Gears LP is nice, nice, very nice.  It releases on June 5, 2012.  With this release the members of King Washington who made it - Tyson Kelly, George Krikes, Gene Russell, Dylan Cronin and Spencer Kelly - are almost certain to find life beyond L.A.

- Old School

Bawl & Change 


Rosewood Angel

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