As the 1960s turned into the '70s, cultural overload with the influence of political convictions often resulted in young people withdrawing from the predominant culture and trying to sustain a more "natural" way of life that eschewed commercial considerations. Good Dog Banned formed amid such circumstances around 1971. Guitarist Doug Mortenson was playing a gig in a bar called the Rite Spot in northern California one night in 1971, when Tim Cain (sax, guitar) walked in, took out his flute, and proceeded to bring down the house. The two played a set together before Cain left without a word. Mortensen later came to find that Cain was from San Francisco cult legends the Sons of Champlin, and, with the band's ex-manager Bamboo, he had come from Marin to form a commune. Mortensen had left Los Angeles in 1971 along with Chris Miller (guitar, sax) during the hippie exodus from the cities, looking for cheap rent and a good time. He had played in numerous garage bands while Miller had come out of the coffee house-folk circuit. Bassist Dwight Wolf joined up with the other guys after exiting his miniscule town in Colorado, where he was likely exposed mostly to country and rockabilly. Lee Marks came from Pasadena to round out the band . His roots arose, in part, from his experiences in high school attending black church services with his girlfriend and absorbing the rhythms and nuances of gospel. As with a lot of the bands that seemed to spontaneously arise on communes, Good Dog Banned played entirely for fun and the experience of musical interaction without even considering the commercial possibilities, and, as such, their performances tended to lean more in the direction of joyous dance party rather than bar or club gig. They typically improvised for long periods of time, sometimes for over 45 minutes. There was also a fair share of countercultural weirdness: after one gig, Cain was inducted into the Church of Universal Light by a fan, and the band routinely added marriage ceremonies to its repertoire. The band played throughout Humboldt County during a fruitful musical period in the early '70s. There were plenty of clubs, and, with local hippies and the influx of countercultural types from the cities, there was a hungry audience looking for non-commercial music, something more in the moment and without music business motives. And like many folks who experienced the communal life, the members of Good Dog Banned, while having moved on from their backwoods existences living (and playing) off the land, still consider themselves family. Their single eponymous album, privately pressed in 1973 (in a run of only 200), was reissued on CD by Gear Fab in 1999.
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