What tha? Deepwell and Ian Dunlop
Don’t ever say what tomorrow will bring. When you think that you know, you’ll find you don’t know a thing.
This lyric from a Deepwell song called “Don’t Ever Say” has proven to be even more true than we could have ever imagined.
It was a little more than a year ago that Deepwell was scheduled to play the 12th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Music Festival in Waycross, Georgia. We had been trying for several years to get a slot at the event but for whatever reason we could never seem to make it happen. So, when Dave Griffin finally invited us down for the 2008 GPGP, we were thrilled. We quickly began discussing which Parsons’ songs we’d attempt. As much as we love and respect GP’s staples, we really wanted to shine a light on some of his lesser known material. Among others, we started looking at the International Submarine Band’s classic Safe at Home . However, it was a strange little song called Sum Up Broke from the pre-Safe At Home ISB that really jumped out at us. We absolutely loved it. Unlike anything on Safe At Home , Sum Up Broke is a 2 minute 14 second slice of 60’s pure garage rock. For those who have not heard it, imagine a cross somewhere between The Who and The Kinks. It was recorded in 1966.
Well, we did our best to learn the song. It was very fun to play. The clock-like guitar figure that John Nuese played on the original recording sounded more simple than it turned out to actually be. We actually did finally lasso the song in. We couldn’t wait to blow everyone’s mind in Waycross.
We were so glad just to have a time slot, we never really thought too much about our actual performance time of 12 noon. When we got to the venue in Waycross, it didn’t take long to realize that this was going be a tough gig. First, although it was October, the temp was hovering in the low 90’s. Secondly, everyone there was still pretty hungover from the festivities that had gone down the night before. In other words, hardly anyone was at the venue yet and of the few that were, nobody seemed ready to hear loud music. There were perhaps 30 people there counting the sound people, a couple of video guys, and members of the bands after us, Lastly, the stage manager, bless his heart. He was a nice guy, but just a bit overzealous with the headphones and clipboard. He hurried us onstage sayin “We gotta go NOW”. We barely had enough time to plug in..much less double check our tuning.
We started our set with “Do Right Woman” then we played a Deepwell original called Hiway Home. After that, it was time to unveil “Sum Up Broke”. We knew there wasn’t anyone paying attention but it didn’t matter. We attacked the song as if there were 100,000 screaming people in front of us. Before the first verse was even over we started to notice something. There suddenly seemed to be a flurry of activity around the stage. A guy with a video camera moved to the front of the stage, Several photographers began snapping photos of us. Most odd to us however, was an older gentleman that had come to the very front of the stage. He really seemed to be getting into the song. As the last chord of the song faded into the empty field behind him, he began clapping and shouting “I can’t believe it!…I can’t believe it!” The four of us onstage looked at one another thinking “who is this guy?”. We just assumed that he was just a Parsons fanatic whose mind we had just blown with an obscure Parsons nugget. So , in our minds, it was mission accomplished.
We didn’t have long to think about it because it was a that time that Mr. Clipboard gave us the “one more song” motion from sidestage. Yes, our set was getting chopped after four songs. We were getting pulled from The Pull…apparently because the schedule was running a few minutes behind. So we played “She” and left the stage with no chance to play an encore for massive crowd of none. Of course we were dissapointed.
This is where this story takes a very happy turn.
When we walked off stage and down the ramp, the gentleman that had been at the front of the stage during “Sum Up Broke” was there to greet us. It was only then that we found out that he was none other than Ian Dunlop…Gram’s former bandmate and founding member of The International Submarine Band. He had played bass and sang backup on ISB’s 1966 recording of Sum Up Broke! We were in disbelief. It was actually pretty surreal. Suddenly, nothing negative that day mattered….not the unbearable heat…not the low turnout…not even Mr. Clipboard. In our wildest dreams, we couldn’t have imagined a cooler thing happening.
It doesn’t end there. After Waycross, via the internet, we remained in touch with Ian. We developed a real friendship and it wasn’t long before we started talking about the possibility of a collaboration of some sort.
About a month after Waycross, Ian came to Deepwell’s little studio(basically a room with a recorder). We recorded our version of “Sum Up Broke”. Ian sang background vocals just like he did 43 years earlier with the ISB. Words cannot express how cool that experience was. Coolest of all though was Deepwell’s opportunity to record one of Ian’s original songs called “Only Just Guessin'”. This song eventually appeared as the leadoff track on his excellent album “Cocktales of the Absurd”.
We’ve continued to work with Ian. In fact, Deepwell has recently been supporting him for live performances including a return to Waycross for the 12th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Music Festival. Dave Griffin kindly gave us(and Ian) a prime slot on the festivals opening night at Cypress Creek Grill. The house was full of music lovers and both the Deepwell and the Dunlop/Deepwell sets turned out to be real barn burners. It was a blast. Since then, we’ve had several more playdates including another Parsons Festival in Gainesville..which we headlined. Plus, we’ve already done some new recording with Ian and we hope to continue working with him. Besides being a really nice person, he’s an artist in the truest sense of the word. He’s a songwriter and a painter. His works are brilliant (with color and with creativity) He never stops creating. If he’s not doing it, he’s thinking about it. He’s been an inspiration to every member of this little band.
Just goes to show…you never know. We certainly didn’t.