Bob Seger once sang it and it’s true for Tom Gutierrez: “Rock and roll never forgets.”
This Rio Rancho High School U.S. History teacher and boys tennis coach still regrets missing Van Halen’s 1980s era concert in the Duke City, when he was a teenager and his mother wouldn’t let him go.
“They broke up the next year,” Gutierrez, now 50, recalled, “and I’ve never gotten over it.”
His band, “Hit Parade,” might have broken up, but it’s back together for a “one and done” concert.
Gutierrez, a guitarist and lead vocalist for the band from 2004-07 and again this coming Sept. 10 in a livestream performance, earlier this month performed live for the first time since the pandemic hit.
After ducking out of Hit Parade to join the Daddios, Gutierrez found his voice was taking a beating, so he got into the duo Lenin and McCarthy, trading off vocals to preserve his voice. His partner in that tandem opted to quit, leaving Gutierrez a one-man band following their May 2019 finale at the Corrales Bistro Brewery.
Gutierrez had the opportunity in September 2019 to open for comedian Jay Leno at Isleta Casino. He realized in June 2020 that the pandemic was stifling live shows, so his performances at local breweries and resorts had to end —for how long, he didn’t know.
It turned out to be 13 or so months. He found the July 10 and 17 turnouts on the patio at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa “phenomenal — both shows,” which is about all a solo acoustic musician can ask for.
“Music has to be fun for me,” says Gutierrez.
That’s what it’s become since he was growing up in the North Valley, where his mother favored the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and the Eagles, and his dad, who served in Vietnam, preferred the Fifth Dimension, the Carpenters and Dionne Warwick.
Their son, meanwhile, a 1989 Cibola High graduate and later an Air Force veteran, was rocking his own way: Van Halen, Warrant, Poison, AC-DC, Def Leppard, Tesla.
That hearing stays intact now because his solo acts feature a lot of “softer” music: “Sweet Caroline,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Hey Jude,” etc. Perhaps his favorite tune to perform is the Elvin Bishop Group’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” which you can check out on his Facebook page.
Something else recently posted on his Facebook page was his latest idea for a new “record”; yes, he still calls them records.
“Ideas come from the strangest places,” he posted. “I was getting ready this morning and an idea for a concept album just formed in my head in about 15 minutes. It dawned on me that power pop music just isn’t made for middle-aged people even though we still love it and enjoy it. We still like to have fun, but our lives are different than they were 25-30 years ago, and those things just aren’t covered in the music of our youth.
“So, that’s what the concept is: a set of songs for those of us with a lot of life left that still want to have fun even though we face the challenges, changes and the awakenings of middle-age years. Fresh, fun music for the coolest of the cool! More to come, but I’m very excited to get started on this!”
Suffice it for him to say, “Most of my demographic is my age, 40s to 60s, so it just dawned on me that they like coming and hearing the old songs … they’re listening to songs that are decades old, and I thought, ‘Why not make an album, a set of songs, that sound like an ‘80s power-pop thing?’; lyrics that apply to people my age — there’s a lot to like about being middle aged.”
For now, his outings at Tamaya and the live performance with Hit Parade bandmates Mike Pierce (lead guitar), John Fernandez (bass guitar) and Gary Gabaldon (drums), who called him about getting together again, will have to do.
Hit Parade will rehearse twice, then convene at Red Gorilla Studios in northwest Albuquerque for the hour-long performance. Expect tunes from Ratt, Poison, Scorpions and Van Halen, among other music from 40 or so years ago.
But don’t expect Gutierrez back in a group. Life’s too much fun, teaching, coaching and strumming.
“I have a solo act that is thriving,” a thankful Gutierrez says. “I have a home studio where I can create music anytime that I want to, so I think about all the things I wanted when I was young. A lot of those things, I have now — and it’s great.”