September 1, 2013

The Little Dutch Story

Little Dutch Story


By Lance Barresi

In mid-2013, my pal and fellow garage sale die-hard, John Miner, came by Permanent LA and told me about a couple of records he picked up on a whim at a random garage sale one of the many long and windy mountain roads in Eagle Rock. The records both included lyric sheets and well airbrushed black and white picture sleeves with a man dressed up in a Little Dutch Boy costume, one with his finger in the hole of a record like it was a dyke and the other with him floating a record raft with no land in sight.

The artist’s costume was explained by his moniker, Little Dutch. The first EP was entitled Water On The Brain and the other More Water, so I assumed these were comedy records, but had to hear them anyhow. I was stunned when I dropped the needle on More Water to find some Powerpop/AOR sounds that weren’t comedic at all. In fact, I found the songwriting quite endearing and, like the best privately pressed records, full of passion and a complete lack of pretension.

Immediately, I went to the Internet for more information, which it usually provides in these sorts of situations, but there was nothing to be found on Little Dutch or his little EPs, so I went back to the source. I asked Mr. Miner to take me to the house where he’d purchased these records and he agreed to try, even though he didn’t have the address and he only had a vague recollection of the facade  and general idea of the neighborhood where he’d picked up the Little Dutch EPs.

So one weekday morning, John and I went on a wild goose chase to find the garage where these records were being sold. We wandered around the hills of Glassell Park and Eagle Rock in Northeast Los Angeles for about a half hour, driving up and down dead end streets and back to the main drag for another jaunt or ten before we stumbled across the house that John was sure was it. Out front, there was a gigantic robot mailbox, but otherwise the house seemed fairly unassuming for the neighborhood, no reason to believe an unknown pop savant to be living inside. We parked, rang the doorbell, and waited for Little Dutch to present himself. Instead, a woman greeted us. When we asked for Little Dutch, she didn’t seem to know whom we were talking about. My heart sunk.

Just as I was about to apologize and walk away, I went into the story about John having been up there the previous weekend for a garage sale and buying records by an artist named Little Dutch. Luckily, this is exactly what it took to trigger the memory in the woman’s mind about whom we were talking about… her husband, real name John Nathan. She said that John was out, but she’d call him to see when he’d be back. She disappeared back into the house and we waited on the curb. She returned about ten minutes later saying that John would be back shortly and that we were welcome to wait, outside (can’t say that I blame her), if we wanted to. We waited, of course, and shortly thereafter John pulled up in front of the garage.
He hopped out and seemed excited that we were there to find out more about Little Dutch. I explained to him how John had played the records for me and I’d been blown away and wanted to know more about how these records came to be and the whole story behind Little Dutch. John happily sat with us and shared his story (which can be read in it’s entirety on the Permanent blog) and we worked out a deal (one that would be mutually beneficial) for the remainder (just a handful) of the Little Dutch records.

That week, while working at the shop, a serious record collector pal of ours, Geoffrey Weiss, came by and I played the Little Dutch records for him. Geoffrey is a man of impeccable taste and also a man who doesn’t shy away from paying top dollar for a record he wants, that he doesn’t already have (as far as I can tell, there aren’t too many of ‘em) or know of (again, he seemingly knows everything). Geoffrey is like the Johan Kugelberg of the west coast, if you know what I mean, and he hadn’t previously heard of Little Dutch. Anyhow, Mr. Weiss was really into the EPs and offered me $75 for the pair. Geoffrey is a fair dude so I gladly accepted his offer (without having any eBay sales or previous history to base this price on).

Hindsight may prove this price far off base, but I hate selling records on eBay and I figure if I’d put these up online for sale, that’s what a collector like Geoffrey would’ve paid for ‘em anyway. Like I said, I could be naive, but whatever. I’m here to share finds my friends and colleagues and if $75 is what one of the heaviest collectors in the world offers, I figure that’s what their worth. I’ve since had a few other collector’s offer the same rate.

“Real People” is what private press guru Paul Majors would’ve called this amazing find. Geoffrey also had this to say about the Little Dutch records after full digestion:

“Like the best private press LPs, these songs conjure an entire world. Here, it’s one that includes ‘70’s soft rock, AOR and sci-fi moves, but also a truly lonely and lost perspective. “Oh Lonely Man” is a low-self-esteem “Space Oddity,” “Two Minded Woman” is a homeless Tom Petty, “What You Find” is a desperate Dan Fogelberg. A whole album that sounded like Smile would be an Acid Archives monster. Even the bar-rockin’ “Mean, Mean Margie” has a great twilight zone aura to it. All of it works because it’s using familiar approaches to get to a much realer place than pop music usually goes; this is not all hot tubs and reaching for the stars, there’s a lot of real life around these corners.”


Some samples of the audio from thes Little Durch EPs are available for streaming on the Permanent Records Soundcloud.


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