To conclude our full day of God Street Wine posts in honor of today’s announcement that GSW will reunite for two shows at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City on July 9 and 10 benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, we spoke with drummer Tom “Tomo” Osander about how these shows came together, the group’s plans for the future and just how much the members of the band have kept in touch over the past ten years.
[Photo Courtesy of Tom “Tomo” Osander]
Scott Bernstein: Can you describe the events that led to this reunion?
Tomo: That would go back to the memorial we played for Paul Ducharme in May of 2009. Paul was an early fan, friend and taper who passed away last year. The band got together, without any rehearsal, and played four sets of music that day. It was a pretty amazing day in honor of very special man and everyone there, especially those who stuck around till wee small hours, found themselves in a pretty agreeable place.
I wouldn’t want to pour over any recordings of that day but it was one of those situations where the power and energy of the day took over when our musical memories may have lapsed. For the five band members, I think it rekindled a bit of that spark from our early days and we went away from the experience with the mindset that we’d keep the door open to the possibility of getting together again to make some music.
When Mike sent around an email at the beginning of last October inquiring as to whether we’d be into the idea of doing something in 2010 for the anniversary of Paul’s passing, and perhaps having it coincide with the annual Multiple Sclerosis Walk, I don’t think there was a moment of hesitation for any of us. In my mind it very quickly became, “Where do we do it, under the best possible circumstances, to bring maximum enjoyment for ourselves and everyone involved?”. After that it was just about logistics. Very much like playing Paulie’s memorial, it was a no brainer.
READ ON for more of our chat with GSW drummer Tom Osander…
Today is the day God Street Wine fans have been waiting for since the band played their “final shows” as a touring unit at The Wetlands in December ’99. The original members of GSW have announced that they will reform for a two-night stand at the Gramercy Theatre in their hometown of New York City on July 9 & 10. Tickets for the shows go on sale to the general public this Friday with a special pre-sale for Winos starting at 10AM on Wednesday and running until 10PM on Thursday if tickets remain.
We started God Street Wednesdays, our weekly look at the band’s music, back in January of 2009 and the reception these columns have received made it clear that no one has forgotten about God Street Wine. Over the past 14 months, we’ve heard from many Winos, members of the band and members of the group’s crew. The first friendship we struck up was with former GSW stage manager, lighting director and close friend Michael Weiss, who had a major role in putting these shows together.
Michael, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system, in 2004, asked the band to come together to raise awareness and funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. As such, both shows will be benefits for NMSS, part of GSW’s incredibly generous plan to no longer be a profit-making entity. We’ll hear more from Michael later, as we’ll be dedicating all of our posts to God Street Wine today in celebration of this momentous occasion for Winos. Does GSW have plans to play more shows? Stay tuned for our interview with drummer Tom “Tomo” Osander this afternoon for his answer to that question. READ ON for a timeline of the events leading up to today’s announcement…
The new God Street Wednesday feature on Hidden Track seems to take me down memory lane more than any other column on the site. I guess that’s because for me, God Street Wine’s peak came at a time when I had
nothing to do but blow off classes in college and listen to music.
[Photo by Charlie Watts]
Back in the early ’90s, God Street Wine was just as much a part of the emerging “jamband scene” as anyone including the eventually more popular Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic or Phish. Granted GSW wasn’t selling out arenas the way Phish began to in 1994, but on the “small room” circuit, GSW brought just as much to the table as anyone other than Phish at that time.
GSW had a nice mix of quirkiness – with Aaron Maxwell’s booming vocals adding a little theatrics to the mix – and straight up rock and roll. They may not have been Phish with the extended jamming and 30-minute Tweezers. And they may not have been John Popper when it came to arranging music or wailing out solos. But one thing GSW always did was write a fun song and play the hell out of it live.
READ ON for more of Luke’s essay and some live God Street Wine…
From the success of last week’s debut of God Street Wednesday, it’s clear we’re not the only ones who want to see a God Street Wine reunion. We’ve heard from a number of Winos with tales from the road, posters, flyers, photos as well as videos and audio from the band’s heyday. Look for all of that and much more over the next few months each Wednesday on HT.
[Photo of GSW and Al Schnier from Wetlands on 1/3/98 by Joe Madonna]
Up first this week, we’ve got a quartet of high-quality videos from a GSW show at the Wetlands Preserve on February 16, 1999 filmed and uploaded by our friend Joe Madonna. At this point in the band’s career Tomo and Bevo had left. The band held auditions and replaced the longtime members with Pete Levin on keys and Aubrey Dayle on drums. As you can see in this clip of Wendy, Pete and Aubrey held shit down…
It’s also been a big week for the Live Music Archive’s God Street Wine collection. Seven (!?!?!) magnificent soundboard recordings from Michael Weiss of the band’s mid-’90s glory days have been lovingly transferred and uploaded to Archive.org. So far I’ve listened to two of the shows and the quality of both the playing and the recording are top-fucking-shelf.
I’m particularly partial to what appears to be an acoustic show at Peasant’s Cafe in Greenville, NC on November 17, 1994. This crystal clear tape starts off with Tomo laying down station IDs for Deerfield Academy’s radio station before the boys pick up their acoustics and start the show with a cover of All Blues. Next, they launch into a bluegrass-tinged Wendy that’s completely different from the 1999 electric version above.
READ ON to watch the rest of Joe Madonna’s videos from 1999 and to stream seven of Michael Weiss’ tapes from 1994 and 1995…