It might have been 1990. I picked up a Gazette on Thursday and there was a half-page article about this guy that was playing at Liberty D's that night. His name was Walter Tore and his band was called Spontobeat. The article explained that he never sang the same song twice, making up every one, words and music, on the spot. I had nothing better to do and it sounded interesting so I went by after I got off work. A friend of mine was working the door. He told me he had been talking to this guy and he was really cool. It was time for the show to start and there were only about five customers including me.
He played cool blues-based rock and roll dance music. Every song was unique but it wasn't like a novelty thing. His band consisted of a bass player and a drummer who waited til he started each song and just picked up the groove. He put on a show even though there was hardy an audience. He even walked the bar. And he could really play guitar. He also played harmonica. He had a case full of them, in different keys. I got to talk to him at the break. He was a big strong healthy guy and he said he didn't do any drugs. He told us he was in some kind of mental institution for awhile and he just finally realized that there is nothing to be afraid of and that you can do whatever you want to, so he decided to be a rock and roll star. And he was. He was awesome. He played the following two nights at the Blue Note in OKC (and more people showed up). The first night (in Norman) he was wearing a gold lame suit. The next two nights he had a silver lame suit and a champagne lame suit. These had been made for him by a black preacher's wife in Austin. He had driven up from Austin in his 1964 Cadillac with his 1964 Fender guitar and his 1964 Fender amp. He had a ring on every finger.
Walter is one of the most special people I have met. His concept is heroic. Its not just that he can actually make up songs spontaneously, or that he demonstrates this lesson (someone has to), but he also has to sacrifice any chance of ever getting anywhere in the music business. His deal just doesn't fit the plan. You have to have hit songs and play them over and over. But he's quite serious about not playing the same song twice. He came back to the Blue Note for a couple of shows a few months later. I have not heard of him since. I think he said he was thinking of moving to San Francisco since he wasn't appreciated in Austin.
I wish I knew where he was and what he was up to.
Well, I got my wish. This page had been here with the above text for over 2 1/2 years when one night I got this email:
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002
Terry: Hi, I was sitting here with nothing to do, so I punched in Walter Tore on a search, and up came your article on him. I can tell you he is doing fine-I am him. It was very moving to read your article. I left full time music around 1990, I think, went to college, got a teaching degree, taught in Austin for a couple of years, and moved to Santa Rosa, Ca. 5 1/2 years ago. I teach a special education class for mildly retarded middle school students. Music is still in my soul, but I don't play for a living anymore. My job is a continuation of Spontobeat. It is just like music without the travel, unpredictability, pays steady, health benefits, and I get to be a part of some special kids lives. Music almost burnt me out. I finally realized that making it to me meant being able to relate to an audience with that special feel that I saw in people like Lightnin Hopkins, not making money, girls, etc.. Well, I hit that note and forgot that is what I wished for. It took a year or so of "playing past my prime" to realize this. That's when teaching hit me. I still play a lot(still Sontobeat) at home in my class, for school events, on the street, and for friends. I think I sound better than ever, but getting back into the paying scene would take too much energy-people don't know who I am, etc., plus I am at peace with the world. Life has never been better. My wife of 20 years is completing her teaching credential and school counseling degree. Your article is the reason why I play music. I never made it big enough to leave much of a documented legacy, so thanks. It was like another life sometimes and sometime it seems like I never left it at all. Enough on me. Thanks for writing your feelings about our encounter. These are the things I treasure most in life. Write back anytime, and if you are ever in Ca let me know. Walter "tore" Gloshinski
I include my response here, as there is a response to that. (perhaps more to come)
Date: January 23, 2002
Wow, what a surprise it was to get this message last night. Glad you are doing well. You know, I think you should maybe play out in clubs just a bit (if you feel like it) and just think of it as "your other life" or something. I don't think you have to be totally in the business or out of it. There are tons of bands around here and some play for a living locally, some travel, some hope to make it big, some are happy to stay here, some just play on the weekends and have day jobs. The coolest band ever around here was The Fortune Tellers and they all had day jobs and just played on weekends. Glad you are still playing though. And the whole club scene can be kind of weird anyway. But in the right places, you could be really appreciated. The music business can certainly take its toll, but I think it is possible to do it on your own terms. Like just playing a certain club that you like once a month or twice a year or whatever. You could also make your own CDs and sell them on your own website, but then the Spontobeat concept may not be about making CDs. But it sounds like you are happy and as long as you are playing music somewhere, that is cool. I felt very lucky to be able to see you when you came to play here. I was sad that more people didn't show up. The "scene" has its ups and downs around here. Those are some lucky kids that get to have you as a teacher.
I would love to attach your email to the bottom of the webpage, if you don't mind. And if there is anything you think I should add, remove or correct, let me know.
Thanks for writing.
See ya later,
Date: 23 Jan 2002
Terry: Thanks for writing back. Thanks for your continued support too. The size of an audience didn't/doesn't matter to me much. What does matter is that I am really wanting to be there. For the last 10 years or so, my heart doesn't go big, bam, boom, over the thought of playing in clubs. I started when I was a teenager, in Newark , N.J.. Wilbert Harrison, of Kansas City fame, literally followed me down a sidewalk in his Cadillac, screaming at me to get in his car as I walked and played my harmonica. He had girls, champagne glasses on the dash, and almost crushed me into a building. He wanted me to play in his "comeback" band. I didn't know who he was, and was worried for my life. He kept holding up empty album covers from the 50's, screaming "boy get your ass in this car. My name is Wilbert Harrison, and I want your ass in my band." I got in and my life changed forever. I spent time with him playing from the elite Tramps Blues Club in NYC, to pot bellied stove dives that had no restrooms. You peed on the sawdust floor and the local hardcore wino would sweep it up twice a day and spread new dust for a free drink. I learned that beat he had and tuned it my own way. I also learned the 1 man band concept from him in those places. From there I lived with Louisiana Red on Long Island. I played around with him a lot. He turned me on to many great bluesmen like Lightnin, Sonny Terry, Champion Jack Dupree, Bo Didley, and others. Red moved to Europe and I continued to play the NYC/NJ scene. I soon left too, for Arizona and then Ca. In Ca I got to play with lots of guys like Sonny Rhodes, Cool Papa, Mississippi Johnny Waters, Frankie Lee, Mark Naftlan, Charlie Musselwhite, Johnny B Good, Troyce Keys and JJ Malone, and began a long friendship with Albert Collins. Through these years I played with them and had my own band. I would do my own thing and often back these guys up. A big guitar player from Norway heard me and brought us over for a tour. We ended up living in Brussels for 2 years. I played a lot of places over there and a lot of festivals with Louisiana Red. He is a great bluesman, and a great man. He inspired me more than any other. He still lives in Germany. He and Champion jack Dupree lived together there. I then moved back to the NYC area and then on to Austin for 11 years. The Austin scene is the best in the USA. I met countless great musicians there and the ego trips were way low compared to the other 20 or so cities I had tried to break into. We all shared food, equipment, housing, and food. OKC is a close second. That is one place I would go to play again in a second. When you saw us was Jimmy Carl Black playing drums? He was the drummer for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. He played with me for about 3 years. Those days are blurry. I didn't remember the club you saw us in until I read your article. Steve Ellis (do you know him?) recorded us at the Blue Note. He is a special person who I have lost touch with him. The reason I don't play in clubs anymore is based on priority I guess. The amount of time to get into a open mike out here is hours, and a club gig near impossible. In entertainment if you fade away, and hardly anyone knew of you to start with, equals a big no sale on the old cash register. Musicians and people like you kept me in gigs. Promoters and record labels told me to quit Spontobeat and I would be moving right up there with my friends. Who knows if that would have ever happened, but to tell you the truth I am glad it didn't. I probably wouldn't have found teaching. I have a lot of stuff recorded from solo to band, probably about 300 -90 minute cassette tapes worth- all different songs. If you are interested in a tape let me know and I will make you one. It gives me a reason to step back and reminisce in all the memories of those days. Yes, I miss the nights like you saw, but the day to day grind almost killed me, and for me to play out, because of what I do, requires about 100 times the effort it takes for a traditional approach. Now when people come over to eat and visit I perform. It feels as good as it ever did and I don't have to travel, can stop whenever I want, and get to sleep in my own bed. Thanks again for acknowledging me. That is what it is all about. You can use any of this stuff you want. Feel free to edit it. I just finished my Masters in Special Education and I am burnt on revising, it goes against Spontobeat(all of this is one take and mail it). You are way into music. Maybe you know of some of these guys. They are good friends that I have lost touch with since I left music and would love to reconnect with them. Evan Johns( my best musical buddy ) Michael Been- Of the Call-from your neck of the woods. I miss him Rich Minus- a Texas treasure Mike Vernon- Austin surf jazz guitar legend who often played bass with me The Reverb Brothers - I met them in OKC say hi to them for me
Anyway, take care and keep up all that necessary work you are doing. People like me appreciate it big time! Walter
Check out Walter's Website (new as of July 2002):
Smiling With Hope Foundation