THE LIFE AND TIMES OF
(left to right- Tom Dempsey, trumpet, vocals; Joe Botti, drums, vocals; Gary Rutstein, keyboards, guitar, vocals; Tony Bartolini, saxophone, clarinet, vocals; Matt Maverick, vocals, cowbell; Art Johnson, bass, vocals; and Johnny Press, guitar, vocals)
GNP is what you got when you combined four musical hippies from Massart with three musical hippies from Salem State College who loved 50’s rock and roll, country and western, Dixieland, big bands, vaudeville, and had a taste for irreverent comedy. It all started in 1969 in “The Room”, a private clubhouse for a handful of like-minded classmates with a big sound system deep in the bowels of MassArt. This cast of characters smoked pot, drank beer, laughed, listened to records, and sang and jammed all their favorite songs of the day. This exercise lead to them writing some of their own fun, original songs of every flavor, each with rich vocal harmonies. When the boys from Salem State joined in on the fun, those creative juices continued to flow in apartments on the north Shore solidifying a solid musical bond.
The group featured Douglas Stevens (aka Matt Maverick) lead/bkgd vocals; Gary Rutstein, keys/guitars; Tony Bartolini, sax/vocals; Tom Dempsey, trumpet/vocals; Joe Botti, drums/vocals; Art Johnson, bass/vocals; Johnny Press, lead guitar.
GNP's 1st manager had them rehearse in his offices at Fenway Park! They were a diamond in the rough, but after a couple of rave concerts on the stages of MassArt and Salem State, the group was ready to graduate to a raucous 3- month residence at the famed, Unicorn Coffeehouse on Boylston Street in Boston and performed almost every night to SRO audiences. Nathan Cobb of The Boston Globe called them, “One of the most innovative, creative and beautifully outrageous pieces to hit Boston… lying somewhere between the Mothers of Invention and Firesign Theatre.” And David Steinberg thought they were, "...more sophisticated than Frank Zappa."
GNP’s popularity grew as the band played a variety of scattered club dates and concerts. They opened for Sha Na Na, Tommy James and The Shondells, Spirit, Mahavishnu Orchestra, John Lee Hooker, Spirit, Boz Scaggs, and Muddy Waters. One memorable concert was with Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention at the Fenway Theater (now The Berklee Performance Center) where the crowd wouldn’t stop screaming for more.
The group eventually signed a record deal with Metromedia Records in NYC in 1971 and recorded at Ultra Sonic Recording Studios in Hempstead, LI with John Linde, and legendary producer, Shadow Morton. (Leader of the Pack, Shangra-Las, Vanilla Fudge). The company released their album, “P-Flaps and Low Blows” in 1972.
Although the album was well received, management contract woes and conflict ensued almost immediately and the group was eventually left high and dry with no equipment. After several attempts to revive the group in the early-mid 70’s, the members disbanded.
GNP WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ANYTHING WITHOUT...
Joe Upham, Charlie Lew, Bob Graham, Paul Graham, Jeff Daniels, Susan Clark, Val Dangora, Brian Reilly, Dave Phoenix, John Reilly, Mary Donovan, Jack Butterfield, Norma Bell Ferrier, Dave VanOrden, Harry Dunne, Pat Flynn, Donny Berkowitz, George Paige, Bill Eberline, Shelly Finkle, John Linde, Jeff Kracke, Dick Salter, Shadow Morton, John Savignano, Jack Weiderman, John Dempsey, Nathan Cobb, Larry Gersh, Charles Guiliano, Ron Rudy, Billy Pimentel, and George Popodopulo.
1. Football Song into Goodbye
2. Second Part Of Me
3. She Must Be Crying Now
4. Don't Romance Me
5. Can't We All
6. Uncle Bisconi Theme into It's Like Magic
7. Fourth I've Had
8. It's You
10. Bees into The End
Album cover to the LP, "P-FLAPS AND LOW BLOWS"
released on Metromedia Records, NYC 1972
(left to right) Tom Dempsey, Johnny Press, Art Johnson, Gary Rutstein, Joe Botti, Tony Bartolini, and Red (aka Matt Maverick)
location- Newark Airport
Back cover to the LP, "P-FLAPS AND LOW BLOWS" released on Metromedia Records, NYC 1972
(left to right) Tom Dempsey, Tony Bartolini, Joe Botti, Gary Rutstein, Matt Maverick, Johnny Press, and Art Johnson,
location- Newark Airport