Victor Valorani guitar & vocals
Andy Goessling: guitars, mandolin, clarinet
Alison (Boardman) Goessling: Bass, backing vocals
Bobby Marks: electric guitar, violin
Keith Goellner/Jonathan Edwards; drums, percussion
Band active 1989-1992
It’s an intensely hot July late-afternoon as I make my way into a tiny club on St. Mark’s Place in Greenwich Village, NYC. Outside the venue, there is a buzz of activity, people roller-blading, others hawking tee shirts, and the ubiquitous man who walks into stores, clubs, and literally into people on the street with a tree branch duct-taped to his head.
Inside Sin-e, the Irish cafe that gave many new and emerging bands and singer-songwriters a shot, the air-conditioner was a no-go. It was steamy and a bit, no, really a lot, uncomfortable until Beat Planet took the stage. (And by “stage” I mean a 10 x 12 foot square area in front of a brick wall. No riser. None needed.)
Out comes Victor Valorani, a truly gifted songwriter and center of the band’s quirky charisma, next, Alison Goessling (a righteous bass player), and then Andy Goessling, the guy who plays everything except the bag pipes (he just hadn’t gotten around to it, yet). 15 minutes into their first set, he’s changed instruments four times and I’ve never seen a man six-feet tall maneuver so adeptly on a tiny stage without knocking someone’s teeth out with one head-stock or another. Andy was good like that. He knew dentistry was expensive.
The band took Victor’s songs and fulfilled their destiny by a coloring outside the lines, finding parts that accented rather than hid the simple complexity of the lyrics. Andy respected Victor’s songwriting and performance, and he had the ability to lean back and let Victor shine like the diamond he was, although, in my opinion, it was Andy’s brilliant additions that lent the secret sparkle which captivated the audience. Alison’s spot-on harmonies blending with Victor’s voice were also outstanding–even without air-conditioning, Beat Planet knew how to chill.
In retrospect, Beat Planet was ahead of, and behind, its time. The band would have seduced the Haight-Ashbury crowd and totally garnered their devotion; but today, it would gob-smack the new and up-coming generation with the honesty, the poignancy, and the quality of their music.
In one of our last conversations, Andy reminisced about Beat Planet. He said, “We had no idea we were good–we just kept trying to get it right. And now, looking back, I realize we DID get it right.” And how right he was.
I will see you on the other side, my brother.
I love you.