Written by: Matt Wardlaw
from my Myspace blog originally dated 7/4/07
The Gathering Field - Rhapsody in Blue / Lost it in the Sun (live 7/3/07)
Lasting love is over rated
Guess I circumnavigated all that once meant anything to me
Neath the blue sky we did run
Least until we lost it in the sun
"Lost It In The Sun" - The Gathering Field
Kelsey Friday of Brownie Mary termed it well when she mentioned that the evening of entertainment had been dubbed a "90s reunion."
I found myself in Pittsburgh last night for a dual reunion of two bands that spent a great amount of time in my CD player in the 90s. Brownie Mary and The Gathering Field were reunited for one night as part of a July 4th kick-off event in Pittsburgh. The two bands were part of the thriving Pittsburgh music scene that in the 90s included The Clarks, Rusted Root, Brownie Mary, and The Gathering Field. One of the things that I really dug about the scene at that point was the sense of community among the various bands in Pittsburgh - you could pick up an album from any one of the above 4 bands, and find members of the other three bands all over the recorded tracks. They were all genuinely fans of each other's music, which was pretty cool.
Brownie Mary - quite a flashback.....I can't recall exactly, but I think that we saw them for the first time opening for The Clarks at Peabody's - The live show was fiery, and the CDs never quite captured it. I got to Pittsburgh as Brownie Mary was about halfway through the set, and really getting down to business. I definitely heard a few tunes that I had forgotten about, and it was a nice way to start off the night.
Now on to the Gathering Field. I mentioned how the CDs never quite captured the spirit of Brownie Mary - for the Gathering Field, it was the opposite. I read something about the Gathering Field that made me curious about the band, and remembered seeing a CD from the band floating around the radio station. I went into the music director's office, and found not one, but two of the Gathering Field CDs including the band's self-titled album, and their newly released second CD "Lost in America." The band got signed to Atlantic Records shortly after "Lost in America" came out, and the album was re-released, and the rest should have been history, but for the Gathering Field, they were indeed "lost in America" and lost in the system at Atlantic Records.
Listening to those CDs for the first time, I was floored that they had been released by a local band. The production quality and recording was incredible, and allowed Atlantic Records to re-release the album with virtually no changes. I had this conversation a few days ago, and was explaining that at the time that these CDs were released, not everyone had a home studio, and major label recording quality was not an automatic thing. For every release that was in the same ballpark, you had many more CDs like the Brownie Mary disc, that had C-level production with drums that sounded like cardboard boxes. The Gathering Field CDs were a rarity that had me reaching for the jewel case to verify that I was actually listening to a "local band."
I was blown away by the Gathering Field discs, yet at the same time, not blown away on the the one and only time that I saw the band live a couple of years later at the old Peabody's Down Under. As charismatic and alive as the band was on album, it just didn't translate to the stage that night, and I left midway through the set.
The Gathering Field are favorite sons in Pittsburgh, and when the reunion show was announced, I decided to make the trek to see if I might finally see The Gathering Field that everyone else had apparently seen, that I missed on that night in Cleveland.
Boy, did I ever. The band delivered a set that was mind blowing and instantly notched in my memory banks of top concerts that I have been to. My two favorite albums of the four GF albums are "Lost in America" and the 1999 indie release "Reliance." Good thing, as those were the albums that figured heavily in the setlist. Add in a cover of "Divine Intervention" by Matthew Sweet, a longtime staple in the band's live set, and you've got musical nirvana on this night in Pittsburgh. The band delivered a nearly two hour set that was capped with a two song encore featuring "Midnight Ghost," which gave lead guitar player Dave Brown (also the producer of the Gathering Field's recorded output) one final chance to shine with a mystical guitar solo. The set wrapped up with the title track of "Lost in America," and the set was over at that point....or at least lead singer Bill Deasy thought it was - the band on the other hand, decided that Pittsburgh needed one more song to finish off the evening, and launched into "Reliance" highlight "I'd Believe in God For You," which was coincidentally the one track I had been bummed that they hadn't played.
The Gathering Field - Lost in America (live 7/3/07)
The Gathering Field - Divine Intervention (Matthew Sweet cover) (live 7/3/07)
The Gathering Field and Bill Deasy in particular are royalty in Pittsburgh, and it was great to finally get a chance to see them live again, all these years later. Bill just released his fourth solo CD yesterday, and while I enjoy what Bill does on the solo tip, I had almost forgotten what a great rock band The Gathering Field was. While Deasy continues to surround himself with some of the best players on the Pittsburgh scene (including guitar player Rob James from The Clarks), there is something special about seeing the members of The Gathering Field play together that is unmatched. A great evening, indeed with hopefully many more to come.
More info about The Gathering Field:
All four CDs are out of print, but can be readily obtained via the wonder of Itunes.
The Gathering Field Bio (circa-Reliance):
The Gathering Field began in a burned-out third floor in Grove City, Pennsylvania when Bill Deasy, Dave Brown and Jim DiSpirito (Rusted Root Percussionist) hunkered down for the weekend with guitars, tequila, microphones and recording gear. The resulting Glory Bound Sessions provided more than enough evidence as to the magical creative chemistry between Dave and Bill. This chemistry led to the formation of a band and the production of their self-titled debut disc in 1994. The band's popularity skyrocketed when one of the regions most powerful rock stations, WDVE, began playing a song called, "Lost in America." With the release of the record which bore the same name The Gathering Field garnered a deal with Atlantic Records in 1996 and continued to develop it's ever-widening base of supporters. The band remains one of the biggest draws in Pittsburgh and continues to tour extensively throughout this great nation.
Things to Know About the Gathering Field
* In addition to the three GF recordings, Dave Brown has produced Rusted Root ("Cruel Sun," and "Evil Ways" from the "Home For The Holidays" soundtrack), Push, Rachel McCartney, Stinging Rain and Carol Lee Espy.
* If you had to classify the band's style or genre you might say something like, "Literate Roots Rock." Or you might say something else.
* The band's first gig took place at JBs in Kent, Ohio in August of 1994. The self-titled debut disc came out one month later.
* Bill Deasy's first concert was Elvis Presley, Pitsburgh Civic Arena, New Year's Eve, 1976.
* Once upon a time, Gathering Field bassist Eric Riebling was a founding member of "The Affordable Floors."
* Ray DeFade, drummer and band comedian, played for two years on a Nashville Riverboat and at one time backed up Louise Mandrell.
* Bill Deasy has co-written songs which appear on records by Howard Jones, BiJou Phillips and Kim Richey. Cleveland legend, Michael Stanley, recently recorded a beautiful cover of "Blue Sky Song" from the Gathering Field's "Lost in America" CD.