San Diego Symphony's second night of the Masterworks season showcased the power of place and personality
Garrett Harris noon, Oct. 13
Sound description: Swinging mod sounds of the sixties.
RIYL: Fairport Convention, the Bangles, Heart, '60s girl groups
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Influences: Bette Midler, Janis Joplin, Sandy Denny, Diana Ross, Suzy Quatro, Marianne Faithful, the Bangles, Bananarama, Frank Zappa, Savoy Brown, Phoebe Snow
Rachael Gordon’s sound, style, and her very life play like something out of the late ’70s.
Musically, she says, “I’m into all sorts of things. There’s some garage rock, some power pop, and some folk. I grew up in the ’70s, so there’s all those influences from AM radio.”
Since having had a moderate hit record in Germany and coverage in the German Rolling Stone mag, Rachael has been mining that groovy decade for girl-group gold. “I started doing shows with a group called the Sleazybeats,” she says. “We played covers and originals, and we did a birthday song to Phil Spector on a tribute album.” She also recently recorded tracks with classic-rock survivors Foreigner.
Rachael is currently a solo act backed by a rotating roster of notable locals, including Bart Mendoza (the Shambles), Hector Penalosa (the Zeros), Joel Kmak (the Beat Farmers), Mike Kamoo (Static Halo), Ray Brandes (the Tell-Tale Hearts), and Ron Silva (the Hitmakers).
Despite the all-star accompaniment, she says gender can still be a problem with promoters. “It’s very hard to get someone to stop looking at your ass and listen to what you’re saying…believe it or not, it’s still considered pretty wild to be a girl fronting a rock band. Occasionally you’ll see a girl fronting a punk band, but that doesn’t count.”
Asked about her worst gig, Rachael says, “It wasn’t great being called a ‘Nancy Sinatra wannabe’ in a San Diego Union-Tribune review — I think the worst was when I was forced to sing the Mary Tyler Moore theme at a coffeehouse.” Alas, when you’re living out an episode of That ’70s Show, that’s the kind of kneesock nostalgia people are going to expect.
In 2013, it was reported that Gordon was living in north San Diego with former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, for whom she wrote lyrics for his 2014 solo album Space Invaders.