Last December 23 music fans at Howard’s Club H helped Corky Laing celebrate his 70th birthday. What they were also witnessing, the veteran rock drummer said, was something more. “Basically I was born again.’
Magic happened on that stage. Laing was playing the music made famous by his former band Mountain. He was playing with a couple new musical collaborators, Chris Shutters on guitar and flute, and Mark Mikel, a multi-instrumentalist playing bass, on a stage that evokes everything a rock club should be. Laing felt revitalized.
Corky Laing Plays Mountain returns to Howard’s Club H in downtown Bowling Green tonight (Saturday, June 9) at 9 p.m.
The show comes as Laing is pulling together touring for 2018 through 2019 for the trio, which he said doesn’t really have a name yet.
Corky Laing Plays Mountain is a place holder moniker. The trio has also kicked around the idea of calling itself Pompeii. That name is pulled from a little known release that Laing and singer Ian Hunter from Mott the Hoople recorded back in 1976-1978 with a rotating all-star cast.
The recording was little known, subtitled “The Secret Sessions,” but when it was released on vinyl by Rouge Records it sold out both pressings.
Even though harking back to the old days, Laing wanted it to reflect the present. So the vinyl included a computer card that allowed the purchaser to download four songs by Laing’s Toledo band, including the original “Knock Me Over.”.
The trio started when Corky Laing needed a guitar player for a tour. Fellow drummer Kofi Baker recommended Shutters. Laing who has played with “the best of the best” – Eric Clapton and Dickey Betts appear on “Pompeii” – heard a “first division” musician in Shutters. Last year Shutters invited Laing to come visit him in Toledo, and Laing loved what he discovered – a vibrant music scene that had clubs rocking with music.
Laing felt he needed a new bass player, so Shutters introduced him to the multitalented Mikel, formerly of the Pillbugs. The drummer was “blown away” by Mikel’s playing. Laing had his trio, and they made their debut in December at Howard’s.
But that’s not all that’s occupying the veteran. He’s working with his manager Toija Takala on a memoir,
He already has one book out, “Stick It” that chronicles the raucous and raunchy back stage stories fans love. He referred to it as “something of a joke.”
This one is different. “It’s the story of a young guy trying to keep in touch with his family.”
Laing grew up in Montreal, the youngest of six, including a set of triplets. The household included an aunt and uncle. He played drums to get attention.
Starting back when he was 11 and played with the Ink Spots, he wrote letters to his mother. His mother saved all those letters, and he and Takala discovered them in a box. That’s the basis for the book-in-progress, “Letters to Sara.”
“Parts in there are confessional,” he said. “It’s a real sincere look at being on the road.”
Laing traveled that road for more than 50 years.
He likes where it’s taken him. He’s not “dirt napping” like so many of his peers. He has a band that he loves playing with, and music he still loves playing.
And a venue he loves playing it at. “Howard’s to me is what rock music is – the stage, the sound, the look, and the people. The people listen and respond. You can’t ask for anything more from a career in this business.”