Driving Rock & Roll’s Car

If you told me any time in the last 40 years that you heard a band play the Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown,” I’d have figured you were drunk when you thought you heard it.

But I heard it live in the beer garden of Newburyport Brewery last weekend, and I was still sipping my first pint of Overboard IPA.

Oh, the nostalgia in that so unusual song! Something of a litmus test for those of us who were teenagers when it shocked the airwaves. Who dared dance to drug abuse?

Nor did it help that the song remained number two on the charts while at the top each of those weeks was “The Ballad of the Green Beret.” How’s that for polarization?

But all of that happened when the five members of Pathological Outliars were still cluck-clucking and moo-mooing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”

Perhaps their relative youth combined with their multi-generational tastes makes them the ideal outdoor hot-weather band. Their repertoire spans decades from “Slow Down,” a 1957 R&R classic later popularized by the Beatles, to “Molly’s Chambers,” a Kings of Leon hit in 2003–and genres from Booker T & the MGs’ suave “Green Onions” to the Ramones’ punk-raucous “I Want to Be Sedated.”

Sunny Douglas and Ed Cameron alternate vocal leads, both pitch perfect for their individual selections. Cameron may not be able to find matching socks, but he harmonizes well with Douglas whether they are belting out Bowie’s defiant “Suffragette” or lifting the weight of the Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting.”

Craig Douglas’ drumming accelerates and decelerates the Outliars like a fine-tuned transmission through songs that demand both. Peter Larsen’s bass is distinct, exact, and bold, keeping the group on the roads the songs chart.

The steadiness of those two allow lead guitarist Eric Gootkind to pick and fret magic. From the flaming intro of Loretta Lynne’s “Portland Oregon” to the iconic drive of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” all the way to the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride,” Gootkind can drive rock-and-roll’s car.

Back when I danced to “19th Nervous Breakdown”–and not quite that far back when I danced at all–my favorite rock songs were always the ones where the steadiest rhythms make possible the wildest leads, and where confident vocals launch energetic instrumentals that return to the lyrics seamlessly.

Much of the Pathological Outliars’ set list fits that description. And it goes quite well with Overboard IPA.

Look for them again at Newburyport Brewery and, in mid-September, at Plumfest over here on The Island.


The Pathological Outliars, L to R: Drummer Craig Douglas, Vocalist and Rhythm Guitarist Ed Cameron, Bass Guitarist Peter Larsen, Vocalist and occasional guitarist and tambourine-shaker Sunny Douglas, and, looking directly at you over the top of his shades, Lead Guitarist Eric Gootkind.
Photo by Richard K. Lodge.
Off to the left is now their beer garden. There’s a tent in front of the vat for the band, and tables and chairs extend further to the left, all with a decent view of the western horizon.

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