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Ghost Canyon

Title - Yesterdays Tomorrow: The Winston-Salem Sound
Artist - Various

For those unaware, in a fun, Nuggets-like trip back to the era of the Summer of Love, Yesterdays Tomorrow: Celebrating the Winston-Salem Sound shines a strobe light on the vibrant 60s and 70s Combo Corner rock scene of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Original members of bands such as Arrogance, Little Diesel, Sacred Irony, and Rittenhouse Square - including Mitch Easter (Lets Active); Peter Holsapple, Will Rigby, and Chris Stamey (The dBs); and Don Dixon - convened on May 12th, 2018, at the Ramkat Club to revisit those fuzzbox years, and this remarkable live concert recording shines brightly with their camaraderie and precise enthusiasm for those days of yore.

In the mind-blowing songs of now-vanished local legends Captain Speed And The Fungi Electric Mothers and amidst the amusing scene portrayals of collectors favorite Rittenhouse Square, the electric guitars soar, feed back, and sizzle.

With the added oomph of the Occasional Orchestra (live strings, percussion, and brass) and stops along the way for affectionate renditions of then-faves by Bubble Puppy, The Easybeats, The Music Machine, The Electric Prunes, The Beatles, and even Kool And The Gang, there is a lot to love here.

1. HOT SMOKE & SASSAFRAS - Rittenhouse Square
3. ROOM WITH A VIEW (feat. Lyn Blakey & Mitch Easter) - The Royal Opposition
4. TALK TALK - The Imperturable Teutonic Griffin
7. I SEE LOVE - Sacred Irony
8. BLACK DEATH - The Love Valets
9. SIL VOUS PLAIT - Sneakers
10. GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE (feat. Don Dixon) - The Royal Opposition
11. CONDITION RED - Sneakers
12. EVERY WORD MEANS NO (feat. Mitch Easter) - The Royal Opposition
13. THINK (feat. Don Dixon) - The Royal Opposition
14. LIKE WOW - Rittenhouse Square
15. KING BATTLE OF THE BANDS - Rittenhouse Square
16. KISSY BOYS - Little Diesel
17. THE TRAIN STOPS HERE (feat. Mitch Easter) - The Royal Opposition
18. I AM YOUR DOCTOR - Sacred Irony
19. RUBY - Sneakers
20. MAYBE IM AMAZED (feat. Don Dixon) - The Royal Opposition
21. GOOD TIMES - Sacred Irony
22. GALAXIES OF LOVE (feat. Bob Northcott) - The Royal Opposition
23. I HAD TOO MUCH TO DREAM (LAST NIGHT) - The Imperturable Teutonic Griffin

This mesmerizingly magnificent musical endeavor opens on the rocking Hot Smoke & Sassafras by Rittenhouse Square and the AOR of Reptilian Disaster by The Love Valets and backs those up seamlessly with the melodic Room With A View (The Royal Opposition featuring Lyn Blakey and Mitch Easter), the deeply seated, Southern rock guitar attack of Talk Talk (The Imperturable Teutonic Griffin), and then we get the free flowing title track (The Love Valets) and an equally funky track from Little Diesel in Hollywood Swinging.

Next up is the foot-tapping I See Love by Sacred Irony and the Springsteen-esque Black Death from The Love Valets, which are themselves followed by the early 80s rock of Sil Vous Plait (Sneakers), the renowned Got To Get You Into My Life (from The Royal Opposition, here featuring Don Dixon), another one from Sneakers in the form of the mid-tempo Condition Red, and then we get The Royal Opposition pairing of Every Word Means No (with Mitch Easter), and the hand-clapper Think featuring Don Dixon.

We then get treated to two from Rittenhouse Square, the first being the playful rocker Like Wow the second being the harder guitars of King Battle of the Bands, which is backed by the sing-along Kissy Boys from Little Diesel, the Zeppelin-esque approach to The Trains Stops Here (The Royal Opposition featuring Mitch Easter), and (for my money) two of the best on the album, the all-out blues rocker within Sacred Ironys I Am Your Doctor and the brilliant Ruby (Sneakers).

A quite delicious, throaty cover of Paul McCartneys Baby Im Amazed by The Royal Opposition featuring Don Dixon is up next and is followed by the robust rocker from Sacred Irony on Good Times, the free-flowing rocker Galaxies of Love (The Royal Opposition with Bob Northcott), with the entire live show rounding out in some right rocking style with The Imperturable Teutonic Griffins late 70s rocker vibe on I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night).

The impetus for this extraordinary concert was that songwriter Chris Stamey had a book fresh off the press, a song-based memoir called A Spy In The House Of Loud.

A portion of the book referenced his time in New York, but the first part remembered, song by key song, the late 1960s and early 70s creative rock music scene in Winston.

This was sometimes called the Combo Corner scene, after the title of a short-lived column in Guitar Player magazine was repurposed to ironically christen their hangout spot at RJ Reynolds High School.

A surprising number of the Combo Corner crew went on to play and produce music professionally in the decades that followed - often with each other, in different configurations (e.g., The dBs, Lets Active, or with R.E.M., Steve Earle, Matthew Sweet, Hootie & The Blowfish, Big Stars Third) and different locales.

They were still in regular contact the day Stamey suggested they try to play the soundtrack to the book. This live performance was captured to multitrack tape, lovingly mixed by Stamey and Easter, and is now available as Yesterdays Tomorrow: Celebrating the Winston-Salem Sound.

A multi-decade tour-de-force, and an important document in itself, Yesterdays Tomorrow is more than just a celebration. It is a history lesson, with the present happily dressed up in the past, looking toward the future.

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