‘Duluth Rocked’ band reuniting for Two Harbors gigThe Accidentals will perform at 7 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, in Two Harbors as part of the Mayor’s Block Party. Free.
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 “Duluth Rocked” compilation, will come together for two rare gigs next weekend.
“It’s hard for us to practice,” said lead singer Tom Anderson, who wrote the aforementioned single (its 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.”
And Hagen? Well, he lives out in Providence, R.I., these days, but he makes sure to visit his mom back in the area twice a year. He coordinates his visits with the Mayor’s Block Party in Two Harbors, which is turning into an annual gig for the hometown group.
“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 formed.
The frontman went on to say that 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 RPM single back in 1967. At the time, they were mainly playing around Two Harbors. The group found eager audiences at one place in particular.
“Up here the VFW club was a pretty hopping place back then,” Anderson said, though 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” fundraiser 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 babies 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.
“I think it got up to No. 17 on the Hit Parade; we did alright,” Anderson said.
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) at what is now the DECC. “So up there we did ’40s music all the way up to fairly contemporary stuff.”
NEWS TO USE
The Accidentals will perform at 7 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, in Two Harbors as part of the Mayor’s Block Party. Free.
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