Gary Shane’s 'Alan Laddd' makes an unlikely return in Gloucester
In the long, winding music career of Gary Shane, there have been lots of sudden, unexpected jags and, um, detours, from the Detour to the Silvertones to the Felonious Monks. But Alan Laddd and the Abashed is probably one of the strangest chapters in this musical history.
First off, it was a country band. Well, kind of. It was never especially hip, but in the Northeast, in the ’80s — a time of skinny ties and power pop — it was virtually untenable.
Then there was the name, which defies explanation.
The Alan Laddd part, that makes sense. Alan Ladd, after all, is the name of the actor who played the title role in “Shane,” the 1953 Western from which our Shane, whose given surname is Lavenson, grabbed his nom de guerre. The third “d” was an attempt to keep the lawyers at bay. The pseudonym was also necessary because Shane didn’t want anyone to think that the Detour had broken up.
But “the Abashed?”
“No idea where that came from at all,” says Shane, who scored several big hits in the ’80s with his band the Detour — including “Shadow World,” “Johnny’s Coaltrain” and “Man and Machine.”
The band came together accidentally in 1985, when Shane, a real estate agent by day, came across a working country band called Bittercreek rehearsing in the basement of one of his clients. He took care of real estate business, then asked if he could sit in with them. He had a notebook of songs that were never going to make it into a Detour album or show. They weren’t exactly country tunes, not in a traditional sense — more like country rock in a Neil Young-Dylan/The Band kind of vein, with some gospel overtones.
“They followed me right in,” says Shane. “They fell right into it. We clicked.”
They played six gigs at venues ranging from the infamous Rat in Boston to the old Blue Star in Saugus to the Tam in Brookline — even opening twice for the Detour. They recorded an album, which was never released.
And, nine months after getting started, they were history.
They never actually broke up — and no one, even Shane, can explain what happened, but the musicians drifted apart. More than two decades passed.
And next week, just as unexpectedly, Alan Laddd and the Abashed — bassist Juan de Fuco (Dave Spataro), keyboardist Brian Hallisey, drummer Gary Herald and, of course, lead guitarist Zippy (Dave Zitzow) — are getting back together, playing a one-shot deal at the West End Theater in Gloucester. The date will be recorded for a live album.
The reunion was just as unlikely as the non-breakup.
It happened after John Grady, the drummer in one of the later versions of the Detour, called up Shane and asked him if he wanted a copy of an old Alan Laddd and the Abashed show — one that Shane had no idea existed.
It was a Halloween 1985 show at the Rat — one of those shows where Shane pulled double duty, playing in both sets of a double bill. Grady had videotaped the show, complete with the opening act. The tape ended up packed away in the closet, lost until about two months ago, when Grady, in the process of finally transferring videotape to DVD, stumbled across it.