December 5, 2004

SJP


Artist: Flying Mountain




Dan Rubin (vocals, fiddle, mandolin, bouzouki, guitar)
Satoru Suttles (vocals, guitar, keyboard, saxophone)
Rawn Mongovius (vocals, electric bass, pedal steel, harmonica, flute)
Ferguson Neville (vocals, congas, bells, gongs, dulcimer, trombone)
Drew Neville (piano, replaced Rubin 1979)

Flying Mountain was considered one of Vancouver's most eclectic folk fusion groups. Formed in 1976 when musician Dan Rubin returned to Vancouver from living on the Gulf Islands. With guitarist Satoru Suttles, bass player Rawn Mongovius and drummer Ferguson Neville, Rubin originally called group "Dan Rubin And The Flying Mountain."

Rubin's training as a classical composer was complemented by years of playing with Vancouver musicians who included Rick Scott, Joe Mock and Shari Ulrich (with whom he played in the group Amazing Grease, before they went on to become Pied Pumkin), as well as Jack Smith, Bruce Miller and Rick Van Krugel from whom he learned about traditional fiddle tunes; Suttles was a rock musician, who played with several bands in Canada and who had toured Europe in his teens; Mongovius was a die-hard bluegrass bass player, while Neville was a graduate of Vancouver's Beefeater Marching Band.

Early gigs in Vancouver clubs included appearances at the Classical Joint coffee house and a residency at Sophia's Folk Dance restaurant, which led to the group establishing its identity as The Flying Mountain known for its enthusiastic use of improvisation onstage, as well as for combining traditional instruments in unusual ways. Although characterized by Jim Brown in his book on West Coast Music as "the crown princes of granola music" Flying Mountain was actually an early example of world fusion music.

The musical styles which Flying Mountain explored during its five year career included traditional fiddle tunes, Celtic roots, Oriental and South Pacific traditions, First Nations drumming, bluegrass, ballads, blues and more.

The name Flying Mountain was derived from a drawing of a mountain with wings first scrawled on a napkin in a diner, by Ferguson. Flying Mountain toured the province of BC, making occassional forays into Alberta, and the Yukon, gathering audiences as it went.

The 1977 'Earth And Sky', featuring artwork by artist Andrew Pratt, was produced by Simon Garber in his basement between bursts of heater fan noise from his furnace. The band mailing list announced the release of "Earth and Sky" in the summer of 1977, and the original album was paid for by subscribers before it went to pressing. It was a local hit, and established Flying Mountain as one of BC's most adventurous musical groups, with a growing following. Along with Pied Pumkin and a number of other folk ensembles, Flying Mountain soon joined the folk festival circuit.

With the support of a new manager, Nora Specht, Flying Mountain appeared at festivals in Blackfalds Alberta, Calgary, Nelson, Kaslo, Courtenay, Whitehorse and Faro in the Yukon, Skagway Alaska and even smaller centres, before being invited to appear at the Winnipeg folk festival. Their appearance at the first Vancouver folk festival was a real highlight. In the last slot on the first night the four appeared in the rain, playing to hundreds of happy, mud-coated dancers in Stanley Park.

Also during 1977 and 1978 Flying Mountain teamed up with the Brass Tacks Choir to create two conceptual theatre pieces. The first was "Voices Of A Winter's Night" and was performed in Vancouver and toured to Saltspring Island and Victoria; The second, which was mounted with funding from the Touring Office of the Canada Council, was "Celebrations Of the Sun" which toured the BC interior and then returned to a final sold-out final performance at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

The release of the second album, 1979's 'Mountain's Dream', featuring a colour painting by guitarist Satoru Suttles, was once again recorded by Simon Garber (at Goldrush Studios in Kitsilano) on the heels of their first Canadian tour.

Due to disagreements over artistic and business business differences, Dan Rubin left the group in 1979 to record his solo album 'Solitudes'. Flying Mountain continued to perform, and even toured in Europe, with the addition of Drew Neville on piano, and then with occassional appearances by other musicians, but it never regained its original intensity. Flying Mountain disbanded following Suttles' departure in 1980. The band managed to record a third album that has never been released.

Toward the end of their joint career as a band, Flying Mountain was offered the possibility of representation and promotion by Graeme Waymark, who had been financial manager for the Irish Rovers. However, the requirement that the group reduce their spontaneous combustion onstage to a carefully staged act for the television cameras was unworkable, which made it difficult for Graeme to find the television coverage he had proposed. Flying Mountain eventually did some film work, in the pilot for a children's series produced by Leon Bibb, but this showed even more clearly that mixing magic with the technical demands of film was like mixing oil and water.

Rubin's later solo career included appearances with Leon Bibb and Ferron followed by a five year stint with the Victoria World Music group New Earth. His solo albums include 'Solitudes' (1980) and 'Magic Garden' (1986) and also the New Earth release 1992; Mongovius works in marketing of electronics; Ferguson Neville is a Bio-Medical Illustrator; Two members of the group still live in BC while Suttles is now based in Alberta and Rubin makes his home in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland.

In 2006 the band started to receive new requests for theor recorded music. After the producer for CBC Radio's 'Sounds Like Canada' said that 'Earth and Sky' was the only album that he had saved when he threw his cassette collection away, they realized it was time to re-issue their recordings.

In 2007, the group remastered and re-released its recorded material on a new CD "The Zest of Flying Mountain" which is available from Blue Island Records. To celebrate the CD, the group reformed for a reunion concert at Vancouver's Granville Island Theatre in April of 2008.

with additional notes from Ferguson Neville and Dan Rubin.

 


Singles


Albums
1977 Earth & Sky (Golden Age) GAS-102
1979 Mountain's Dream (Golden Age) GAS-104
2008 The Zest Of Flying Mountain (Blue Island)

Video


Compilation Tracks




Official Flying Mountain Website




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