Two Harbors group reforms againFor a band that recorded only one 45 record, the music of the Accidentals sure has staying power.
By: Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
For a band that recorded only one 45 record, the music of the Accidentals sure has staying power.
The Two Harbors group, whose 1967 single “Loser’s Advice” was featured on the first of the celebrated “Duluth Rocked” compilations, will come together for a rare gig downtown Saturday.
“It’s hard for us to practice,” said lead singer Tom Anderson, who wrote the single that was the B-side on their 45. The flipside, “These Days,” was written by keyboardist Bob Hagen. “Bill (Tranah) and I are the only two in town. He lives just outside of town, so we’ve been practicing at his house. And ‘Skeeter’ (drummer Steve Anderson) lives up on Birch Lake, so he can get down, but he still does some consulting work.”
Hagen lives in Providence, R.I., these days, but makes sure to visit his mom back in the area twice a year. He coordinates one visit with the Mayor’s Block Party in Two Harbors, which begins Friday.
“At the block party last summer, we played ‘Walk, Don’t Run,’ which I believe was the first song the group ever played in public,” said Anderson, who wasn’t in the group when it first formed.
It helps that Anderson is Mayor Randy Bolen’s father-in-law. “He’s been talking about it for many years,” Bolen said of the idea last year to feature the band. People are still talking about last year’s show, Bolen said. “The response was overwhelming.”
Anderson said the Accidentals would use this year’s gig to pay tribute to one of the group’s former members, the late Keith Naslund.
“This year we’re going to do ‘Desperado’ by the Eagles and dedicate that to Keith, because that was his favorite song,” he said. “... He was a real handy kid, and a good friend.”
Anderson said that all of the group members were out of high school when they recorded their lone 45 back in 1967. At the time, they were mainly playing around Two Harbors.
“Up here the VFW club was a pretty hopping place back then,” Anderson said.
He was quick to point out that “there wasn’t a whole lot of places to go.”
Nonetheless, they were taken care of there. The club even held a “Put the Accidentals on Record” fund-raiser so the group could record down in Minneapolis.
Financing in place, the group settled on Keybank Studios after Jerry from the Chmielewski Funtime Band recommended it.
“It sounded great in the sound control room,” Anderson recalled, mentioning that the group recorded three tracks during that session. “They had a bank of speakers — I mean, it was like, ‘Holy cow, is that really us?’”
From those tapes 700 records were cut, 500 of which the group got to take back home.
The Accidentals excitedly unveiled their treasures during Tranah’s wedding reception out past West Duluth, but something was amiss.
“We got the records and they were pressed off-center, so all you could hear was [makes uneven whirring sound],” Anderson said. “Plus, all you could hear was the bass. The way they mixed it, you could hardly hear any of the vocals, so we had to go back down to the studio.”
After a quick $90 re-mastering investment, the Accidentals, and their single, were back on track.
“We did alright,” Anderson said, recalling the song hitting the regional charts.
Though the group received offers to play across the region, grown-up duties (jobs, mainly) kept the Accidentals from spreading their gospel.
“We did get calls from places, but we couldn’t go to Iowa to play or anything,” Anderson said. “We did go down to Clear Lake, Wis., to play the homecoming, which was a long haul for us.”
The group kept it going for a couple more years.
“We kept a repertoire of 200 songs that we could pretty much play without going to the books,” Anderson said. “We played what people wanted to hear.”
The singer said the scene back in the late 1960s was pretty much just a bunch of bars for venues.
“We always played the songs we wrote – we had a couple other original songs that have been lost to posterity, I guess – but, when you play in bars, you pretty much have to play what people want.
“If you just play what you want, they’re not going to stick around.”
Following the Accidentals’ breakup around 1970, Anderson followed “lead player” Curt Johnson up to his native Iron Range. Johnson, an Eveleth native, had a group called Country Roads, but together they modified it to Gravel. (“A little rock mixed in,” Anderson joked.)
Still, the Range was no Duluth or Two Harbors.
“The kids up there, because of their culture, they asked for polka,” said Anderson, who mentioned seeing groups like the Hollies and Herman’s Hermits (as well as Elvis) in Duluth. “So up there we did ’40s music all the way up to fairly contemporary stuff.”
Hear them out
The Accidentals will perform at 7 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday in downtown Two Harbors.
The line up includes:
1 p.m.: The TH Old Timers Band
2 p.m.: Guilty Pleasures
3 p.m.: Venture
4 p.m.: Touchy Feeley
5 p.m.: Silencing the Desperate
6 p.m.: Fish Sandwich
7-8 p.m.: The Accidentals
8:15-9:15 p.m.: Don’t Panic
9:30-10:30 p.m.: Release
10:30 p.m.: The Accidentals (encore performance)