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By Charlie Englar
First impressions are always a funny and fickle thing, but local musician Ray Tait knows how to knock one out of the park. Meeting at the Steakout Saloon in Fort Collins on a cold and snowy Friday night, Mr. Tait broke the ice by offering a certain journalist a shot of Jägermeister. The vibe of the interview was solidified right then and there.
Formed by Tait, the Touch Monkeys had their best success in the mid to late ’80s, when they were playing gigs all over the Western U.S. and enjoying multi-day residencies at the various mountain resorts of Colorado. A consistently revolving cast of members within the band was probably both a gift and a curse, but eventually, due to the various vigor of band life, the Touch Monkeys broke up and its members went on to other outlets.
Ray Tait loves to write. He loves the idea of connecting with people through his music and his writing. He also loves the Beatles. A few years back, perhaps to seek a kick-start for some lagging inspiration, Tait decided to move to Liverpool, England. Living in the same air as his musical idols once did, Tait spent the better part of a year putting together a remarkably insightful, funny and lyrically potent rock n’ roll album with one of his other bands, Babakuul. The end result, Liverpool Stories, is a great example of the artistic blend that is alive in Tait, and will no doubt be carried over to this: the second incarnation of the Touch Monkeys.
Although the Touch Monkeys have never formally put out an album, Tait says the possibility is always there for the group to put an album together. Tait did allow that he has a few songs he’s written sitting in his back pocket, along with the notion that the group has been working on some covers and other material. It is a “wait and see” mentality.
The group as it stands now consists of Ray Tait (keys), Timmy Zann (guitar), Jay Clear (guitar), Tim Gauthier (bass), and Steve Sutherland (drums).With a few shows sprinkled about over the next couple months, the group is hoping to ramp up gigs once the summer rolls around and the members are freer to devote more time to the project.
Starting over is never easy, but the Touch Monkeys are in it for the pure joy of making music, and that’s a great place to start.
Scene will be sponsoring a show featuring the Touch Monkeys at the East Coast Bar (238 Linden St.) on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Find out more at thetouchmonkeys.com, or by “liking” The Touch Monkeys on Facebook.