In the groove
Gumboots’ Sloan Tash is the hardest working musician in town
The robust and very genial Sloan Tash is sitting on my couch telling me great stories about his life and love for music.
Singer and guitarist for Gumboots, guitarist for Loose Booty and prolific local audio engineer (he’s the familiar face up in the sound booth at the Sierra Nevada Big Room), the popular Chico fixture credits his passion for music to several early influences: Hebrew school choir for 10 years from second grade on; his brother Bill’s love for Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson countered by his sister Lori’s listening to Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa ("it depended upon which part of the house I was in” and, very significantly, his push-button eight-track robot 2XL, which played tapes such as The History of Music accompanied by flashing lights.
Tash lights up at the telling of how he sneaked into his sister’s bedroom one day and stole her Abbey Road tape, put it in his robot and, “It worked! By the time the robot was singing ‘Mean Mister Mustard’ and ‘Octopus’ Garden,’ I was hooked. I must have been, uh, 6.” This early experience goes a long way to explain the eclectic music Tash plays with his band Gumboots, everything from the Beatles to Paul Simon to Lowell George and Little Feat ("a huge influence") to Prince and Sonia Dada ("an unbelievably cool band that nobody’s heard"). But, as Tash points out, “We’re a cover band, yeah, but we don’t play the stuff you heard on the radio on the way to the bar. … The main thing about the band is that we play what we like.”
It was Sonia Dada’s song “Las Vegas Virgin” that Tash kicked off the night with when I walked into Gumboots’ recent gig at Stormy’s, celebrating Tash’s birthday. His passionate, commanding voice and fine guitar playing, accompanied by Bruce MacMillan on lap slide and brilliant high harmonies, Rob Wysling on bass and the newly-acquired ex-Electric Circus drummer Mike Waltz (on his first Gumboots gig—fantastic job, I might add), started the night out just right, and it only got better. By the time they got to The Who’s “Squeeze Box,” several songs later, people were dancing and yelling joyously. And the party continued on into the night.
“My ideal goal is just to be involved in music all the time," Tash asserts.