Cole Mining

Five decades of Portland rock from Fred and Toody

July 23, 2009 Published in the August 2009 issue of Portland Monthly

The Weeds. The Lollipop Shoppe. Zipper. King Bee. The Rats. Dead Moon. Pierced Arrows. For 42 years Fred Cole has been singing and playing guitar in bands around these parts, and for the last 31 of them, his beloved wife Toody has been right by his side plucking the bass. And they aren’t playing rocking-chair rock, either. Their current band, the Pierced Arrows is loud, heavy, and raw as today’s sushi.

This web-exclsuive video retrospective reveals the rocking roots of the Coles, from Fred’s days as a frisky young garage-rocker who wanted to sound like Arthur Lee, to the salad days of Dead Moon, the venerable band that earned the couple the most acclaim, especially in Europe, where they are treated like American rock royalty. The music isn’t polished or pretty. But they mean every note, every phrase, every chorus. It’s the only way they know how to play. Enjoy.

The Weeds are one of the first recorded examples of Fred Cole. It has the edge of great garage rock from the era, using a crunchy guitar that made up of the most poobahs of power chords, with that incongruous snarl and suits combo that the Beatles pioneered.

The Lollipop Shoppe, whose name sounds much more psychedelic (sucrodelic?) than the band’s music, marks one of Fred’s pseudo hits with the propulsive "You Must Be A Witch."

The Rats marks the first collaboration between Fred and Toody as bandmates, and this clip shows Fred’s continuing evolution, mixing punk in with his garage rock style.

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Dead Moon was Fred’s longest running and most well-known act, lasting from the late ‘80s all the way to 2006. It served as a summation of all of Fred’s influences, taking pieces of garage rock, pop, country, punk, and even a bit of metal and mixing to taste. Dead Moon found much more appreciation in cities that have umlauts in their names than it did in the states.

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Pierced Arrows is the most current incarnation of Fred and Toody’s music, and it follows the sound set by Dead Moon very intently. Pierced Arrows still inspires local musicians by playing over half a dozen shows in Portland a year (when they’re not touring Europe).

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The fortitude, independent spirit, and perseverance displayed by these senior citizens serves as inspiration to musicians more than half their age, and even established stars such as Pearl Jam and Cat Power are among their admirers.

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