Patrick Regan Band
Patrick Regan: guitar, piano, concertina, flutes, vocals
Andy Goessling: Guitars, woodwinds, bouzouki, mandolin, zither
Alison (Boardman) Goessling: Bass, backing vocals
Akire Bubar/Shannon Anderson: Vocals
Band active 1991 – 1998
“Songs may end, music stays”
A personal tribute to Andy Goessling
Andy Goessling and I had a friendship, based first and foremost on music, that broadened and deepened over a stretch of thirty years. For my sons Wyatt and Miles, musical men to the core, Andy was a godfather. He and I played music more than we talked, and when we talked it was usually about instruments and songs and bands, or distant times and places, or sometimes arcane special topics like zithers and Volvo 240 wagons. Anyone who’s raided music stores and repair shops for fun should have a sense of how much it means when I say Andy became my gear guru, especially when it came to guitars, fiddles, mandolins, banjos, saxophones and flutes.
The strength of our friendship, I mean to say, is that it was never about being friends but rather about creating something that’s a lot like life itself: a fabric of fleeting moments with hints of timeless wonder woven into it.
Andy was one of the most versatile and creative collaborators I’ve ever made music with. He was both gifted and accomplished: I suspect that few music lovers fully appreciate how rarely the two converge. Not only could he get good sounds out of any instrument he chose to try, but he also devoted hours (cumulatively, decades) to practicing and had the self-critical drive needed to play each instrument as if it were his only one. On top of that, he could quickly intuit the structure and movement of a song and jump right in, providing whatever it needed. Now, I play just as many different instruments and have a pretty reliable intuition about what to play, but Andy took these gifts and refined them to an incredibly high level. What I was able to offer Andy in turn was original songs he found interesting enough to improve.
Andy’s technical virtuosity was tightly bound to his unerring ability to grasp other people’s musical ideas and help to realize them. With me alone – and all our sessions and performances would add up to just a tiny share of his output – Andy did this for several dozen songs covering a wide range of styles and moods. He brought everything he had and placed it in service of the song. Not me, not him, the song. This meant playing, at one time or another, oboe, various saxes and clarinets, flutes and whistles, zither, mandolin, bouzouki, dobro, acoustic and electric 6- and 12-strings, banjo, even a talking drum and a gadget that looked like a toy piano and sounded like a mandolin.
There often was a look on his face that could make you think he was totally out of it, if you didn’t know him. I’d say it was more like being in the flow, focused and unflappable. One windy night we were working on some songs in a little cabin I rented on the Delaware River when a tree-sized branch of a sky-high tulip tree broke loose and crushed part of the roof, blocking the only doorway. As I recall, we took stock – no injury to life or (human) limb, Volvos, or instruments – called the owner of the cabin, and played a while longer. Similarly, I believe we went right back to work on the two occasions when we interrupted recording sessions so that Andy’s wife Alison Boardman, who was both our bass player and our engineer, could go to the stable next-door and help a thoroughbred mare give birth to a foal.
We recorded the equivalent of three albums, together with Alison, singers Shannon Anderson and Akire Bubar, drummer Joe D’Andrea, and other talented people. I think we might have developed a bit further if Railroad Earth hadn’t blasted off the way it did, or if I hadn’t moved across the ocean. In any case, very few people have ever heard the fine work Andy and the others did on my recordings.
Andy had written a beautiful tune and recorded it on zither with Sara Milonovich playing her five-stringed fiddle, engineered by Greg Anderson. I had no idea this song existed but was lucky enough to hear the recording while Andy was in hospice care at home. I asked him if he’d like me to write words for it, and he said yeah. I asked if he had an idea what it was about, but all he had was a cryptic, playful title, “Goodbye Old Plank Road.” I took that as a starting place, thinking about a relic plank road in the Imperial Sand Dunes that recalls a time, a hundred years ago, when San Diego promoters hoped to beat L.A. in the race to attract automobile traffic. From there, my lyrics turned to the present situation, that my friend and musical co-pilot was about to die. Two days after first hearing the tune, I was able to play the completed song for him, while he could still listen and approve.
– Patrick Regan