Sail on, Frank Gutch, Jr.
I am sorry I never met Frank Gutch, Jr., or had a chance to chat with him virtually. Frank and I almost crossed paths at Folk Alliance a few years ago. I ran into Al Scorch, the Chicago-based roots musician one morning while he was waiting to meet with Frank. I waited around a few minutes, hoping to meet the long-time contributor to No Depression and thank him for a few of his recent reviews. We missed each other, and now we’ll never have the chance to sit down and to spend an afternoon talking about our latest musical obsessions or the inanity of the corporate music world.
Frank Gutch, Jr. died on Tuesday, and we at No Depression lost a prolific contributor whose down-to-the-bone honest reviews never pulled any punches. He was an advocate of the music he loved—and especially was a champion of artists whose records might not have been noticed by the mainstream—and he candidly told you what he didn’t like, and why. Gutch was well-loved by artists, and when his friends got word of his death, the remembrances and tributes started to pour in on his Facebook page.
We have collected a few of those here in his memory and in appreciation for Frank’s enduring contributions to No Depression. As assistant editor Stacy Schorr Chandler said, “I'm really sorry to hear that; we were just talking by email last week. I'm really sorry to hear that. He did write a lot, and was frequently the first to alert me to glitches on the site. He cared about ND a lot.”
Thank you, Frank; long may you run.
From artist Cindy Lee Berryhill: "Things can change in a heartbeat. Last summer Frank Gutch, Jr. wrote one of my favorite reviews of The Adventurist. Frank passed away in the past day, I’m sad to say. He'd been, many years back, fellow brethren of the southern Calif-music-cult of San Diego from which many of us labored and arose and some of us extricated ourselves from. Frank was one of those. I didn't know him then, but my dear friend Gary Heffern introduced us via electronic gadgetry. And prompted by his review of the album we embarked on several enjoyable electronic conversations. The last thing he wrote to me was this: "One thing that always connected Heffern and I was the truth in music. Whenever I hear it, I have to write about it. There is a lot of truth in The Adventuristwhether you choose to see it or not. And it means a lot to me that you appreciate my appreciation."
Sail on dear Frank, free spirit of words."
And here is Ken Stringfellow, of The Posies: "I just got word that Frank Gutch Jr. passed away this week. Frank was an avid music supporter, going back to the earliest days of the Posies, and continuing to the present with his enthusiastic reviews not only for my own work but for several albums I produced -- albums with a very small base audience that needed a champion - he was there. Music has a lost a great listener, right when we needed it most. Rest in peace."
Musician Byron Isaacs: “Shocked and deeply saddened by this morning's news of the passing of rock writer Frank Gutch, Jr. Frank was a tireless supporter of almost every band I had and man, if you had Frank for a fan, the world was gonna know about it. He was a master of the quirky meandering where-the-hell-is-he-going-with-this personal narrative that somehow beautifully carved a precise image of the music he was currently obsessing on. He had many musical loves, but he made every band he loved feel special. Thank you Frank, I'm really gonna miss you.”
From publicist Adam Dawson: “I never met Frank in person, but certainly felt a kinship to him. Us music nerds tend to find each other in the internet age and I think Frank would wear that badge with pride. As a publicist, sending Frank things to possibly review, the best thing may not have been the ones he loved and wrote about (although his articles and quotes were always great and well appreciated by both myself and the artists), instead it was the honesty he'd give you when he didn't like something. It's always refreshing when a writer doesn't pander or bullshit when he's not feeling a record. Frank never bullshitted, and that gave an extra amount of weight to his reviews and an authenticity to the passion that he showed when he did dig an album. My world and the world as a whole lost a good one this week. I think we should all have a drink, spin some vinyl and shout from whatever rooftop you are near about how great that record you can't stop listening to is and why everyone else should agree.”