For every web site dedicated to Notary Sojac (the band) there are 50 dedicated to notary sojac (the term). I know because in my search for whatever was available from the days of Sojacdom, I googled and webcrawled and yahooed until my fingers were hoarse. I began to doubt that the band had even existed, though it became obvious that Smokey Stover lived. With all of the information at the fingertips, why was not the smallest percentage dedicated to this legend of Northwest music?
I remember the first time I saw Notary Sojac perform. It was at a Rainier Sunbust at Eugene's Skinner's Butte Park (Rainier Beer did music lovers a great favor in the early 70s, sponsoring free concerts at various outdoor venues) and one could not have asked for a better day. The sun was shining, the gathering was mellow and the opening band, Sand (another Pac NW music phenomenon) had just laid down a great set of originals. The response was lukewarm and I wondered why, because Sand had played their asses off. Of course, the crowd was young and of the (shall we say) vegetarian bent. My injured hands (Swollen from clapping. I thought Sand rocked!) recovered whilst equipment moved on and off the stage and Sand morphed from the tactile to the memorial, replaced by a band of longhaired gnomes dressed in clean but worn castoffs, much like their equipment. Amps were stacked and drums and keyboards slid into place, mikes plugged in and guitars placed here and there amongst the mess slowly beginning to take shape. Loud zaps zonked the eardrums as instruments and mikes took their first breaths after being in suspended animation.
A ragtag bunch they were, seemingly deposited on the stage by some jester ridding himself of finger puppets of a hippy variety. The Brothers Koski tested mikes during tuning and warmups, acting more like Top 40 disk jockeys than rockers, saying anything and everything to and toward each other until each mike proved itself worthy. Then, a short intro and, voila!, the Sojac Miracle! Music to rival the Gods they might have said at the turn of the century, but that day it was to rival the Dead and the Allmans and any other band you would care to mention. From that moment on, I was a fan!
To the left was a tall afro'd Tom McMeekan, strangling the neck of his guitar in hand-to-music combat, right hand flailing his only weapon (the pick), sometimes so wildly that one wondered how he could hit the right strings (mostly, he did) and later coaxing that same guitar into floating melody or ethereal harmony. Next to him was Steve Koski, head keeping time like a bobblehead doll whose spring had broken, face twisting and contorting as it helped squeeze just the right sounds from the string-to-pickup-to-amp circuit. Doug Ness, hidden behind a rack of drums, paradiddled and syncopated between solid thwacks of the bass (drum), making up for his imprisoned stature with the power of the beat which Jim Lowry, to the right, helped enforce. Lowry, hair hanging limp way past shoulders, thrumbed his bass with an intelligence beyond the music itself and stayed content in the circle made of his own sound. Will Herold, tied to the Hammond B3 which hid him from a portion of the crowd, made up for lack of body motion with hands which turned chords to gold and took you from high to higher and, as in the case of the bridge in "Carolina", ripped heads off and made us laugh. And Bob? Bob Koski was voice and humor and heart all in one. What he lacked in voice he made up for in obvious love of music and it soon became evident that his and his voice only could fit that music. And if that wasn't enough, he danced and laughed and flauted his way through one great original after another. Yes, the songs were all originals and all I could think was, man, these guys could play with anyone anywhere!
That was only one man's opinion, mind you, but the only one I really trusted. Over thirty years later, I feel the same. Notary Sojac had something, you see... something you can't measure by any scale outside of the human heart and soul. The experience was not religious by any means, but it was real and it stayed with me all of this time.
Well, not being one to dawdle (actually, I am, but that's a whole 'nother story), I have decided to take matters into mine own hands. This site will be a clearinghouse of everything Sojac: history, memories, pictures, whatever turns up. A basic look, if you will, at what made Notary Sojac and their time unique. A look back and, I hope, a look forward, because the guys are out there somewhere, hiding in the Zoid. With luck and if we yell loud enough and search long enough, maybe we can get members of the band to submit memories and anecdotes. Maybe a few fans, as well. And maybe... just maybe... we can form a front to resurrect the music. It exists, I know, and if there is any justice in the world of music, it will come to light. Let us scheme, Sojacarites, for a CD of Sojac is something worth scheming for.
SAD NEWS--- I am sorry to tell you all that Bob Koski, lead human and backup garden hose man for Notary Sojac, passed away recently. His passing leaves an unmendable hole in the hearts and memories of all of us who knew him and loved Sojac's music. He is finally home. May he rest in peace.
NOW AVAILABLE: Two CDs from Sojac Cohorts, SAND! Check it out!
As long as you're at it, ANDY GUZIE (Providence) just released an album as well!
And let us not forget offerings from Sojac's own TOM McMEEKAN, both solo and with his group
And this just in! Tom's LP Hold Fast now available
Read the review here
Bart Bishop, ex of Providence, also has a new album out which you can check out HERE
More sad news... Bart Bishop recently passed away and we send our condolences to his family.
More indies and rock history here.
Other musical musings of interest:
Scott Boyer/Talks About the Capricorn Rhythm Section
Cargoe/Tulsa to Memphis and Back
Christian Rock/The Early Years
Ardent's John Fry/A 1975 Interview
Gabrielle Gewirtz/NY City's Hidden Musical Treasure
Audrey Martell/Monumental Top 40 Pop... Trust Me!
Bill Pillmore/The Cowboy Returns To the Saddle
Jess Pillmore/One of 2005's Top CDs!!!
WFMU's Terry Manning/Cargoe Interview
Steve Young/Rock Salt & Nails