I’ll admit it. I can be quite the curmudgeon. Happy people nearly always bug the beejezzus out of me…. but then there is Scott.
Scott Yoho is an outstanding musician, astounding gentleman, all around great guy. I had the pleasure of first witnessing his kajillion gigawatt smile (that’s it on the left in the photo above by Don Olson, and the punctually impaired Tom Larson on the right) and hearing his band, The Auto Body Experience, when they opened for Adrian Belew at Minneapolis’ First Avenue a quarter century ago or so. When you’re in the presence of someone who exudes 110% unrefined non-GMO pure joy when they’re doing their thing, it’s impossible not to feel it in every fiber of your being. That’s Scott when he’s playing a guitar. When he’s not grinning, he’s contorting his face to greater enhance whatever note he’s giving his all. It is, after all, possible to play guitar with your face.
When I received the latest installment of the band e-newsletter, The Auto Body Estimate (Vol. II, #120, March 2017, for those keeping score at home) and saw the line below, my reaction was the polar opposite than the norm:
“On Friday, June 23 the Auto Body Experience will play its final gig.”
My heart sank. The anti-swoon was huge.
Now I knew that changes would be coming when Scott announced he and his family were moving away from Minnesota to Colorado. Fewer Auto Body shows, to be certain. Life happens. But final? As in no more? Say it ain’t so! For the time being, I am choosing to bury my head in De Nile.
Thankfully the newness of Auto Body’s 2016 release, Infinite Potential hasn’t worn off yet. You really should buy it, along with the four other forever fresh sounding recording. Get them here.
What can I say about what you’ll hear on those Auto Body records? Their website describes them as a “horn-driven rock band that plays off-kilter songs.” Style varies from song to song – sometimes ska, ballad, pop – but they are always multi-faceted with precision playing. Band members have changed over the years since starting up in 1989, but Scott surrounds himself with amazing musicians and runs a tight ship. The latest roster is: Dean White (drums), Jason Weismann (saxophones), Tom Larson (bass and vocals), Kent Peterson (percussion and vocals), Tom Twiss (trumpet, flugelhorn and vocals), Scott Yoho (guitar and vocals), and Doug Rohde (keyboards). Auto Body lyrics are often punny, sometimes melancholy and touching, always insightful and intelligent (even if downright delightfully silly at times).
The opening track, “We’re So Glad,” is a true testament to how the entire band greets those who attend their shows. Everyone is welcome, greeted with smiles and open arms, and concerts feel more like family reunions that you actually want to go to.
“The Alligator Boy” speaks to the circus freak in all of us. We all have our oddities now don’t we? Some hide it better than others, while (insert political joke of your choice here).
“Toothpaste and Orange Juice” – eew. Some things just aren’t meant to be in the same place at the same time, no offense to either.
If Scott has a personal anthem, “Watch It Stay” just might be it. Adorn your face with a smile, even if it hurts at first, and watch it stay. Keeping an Auto Body song stuck in your ear will help as well. It’s all about attitude, people! I need to keep this one close and try to dispel my curmudeonosity. (Thank you, life coach Yoho!)
Auto Body has love songs, oh yes, they do. Objects of affection may appear larger with a telescope however, as is the case in “Beyond Neptune.”
Remember what I said about intelligent and insightful lyrics? Some can come across as a tad naughty…. “Mama’s Got a Secret” and I won’t tell.
One of my favorites on this release is “Captain, My Captain“, the touching song about life as a parent that brings happy tears to my eyes whenever I hear it.
Of course the Auto Body Experience has song about cars. It is pretty obvious they have a great appreciation of the unexpected. Put the two together, and you get “Sleeper.”
Just as Scott occasionally plays guitar with his face, his vocals are equally as expressive. You can hear a great example of this when in “Wound Too Tight.” Don’t go *SPROING!* people!
“There’s Got to Be a Name” makes me wonder… humble self-deprecating moment of doubt or (insert political joke of your choice here)? Personally I can relate to the idea of “who in the world thought I was ready to be an adult and how did I get here?!”
My other happy favorite on this record is the gorgeous instrumental “Piggyback.” I recall saying “WOW…” outloud when hearing it for the first time, then playing it again, and again. Phenomenal artistry in this song.
“Get Things Done” lightens the mood again with a story about Scott’s neighbor. True? You be the judge. Fun story telling either way.
I truly appreciate Scott’s observations on the banality of adulthood, as in “The Concrete Wall.” Thought-provoking and melancholy, and a prime example of why we all need to embrace the wonder, the freak, the beauty and the unexpected when we find it in our lives.
… and perhaps “3’44” ” is the time allotted here to do just that?
I see “Kids I’ve Learned a Secret” as a testament to all of us to occasionally question what we’re being fed, and to know that we all deserve better. Or it’s just a comment that kids get a raw deal on some really crappy songs. You be the judge.
And there you have it – my thoughts on the latest and hopefully not last Auto Body Experience release, Infinite Potential.
Scott, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU. The world needs more Scott Yohos, but since you are truly one of a kind it would be really confusing if there were actually more than one of you, yet the quality of the planet would be improved and Lordy do we need that now more than ever so maybe, quite possibly, it’s a paradox, or a pair of Scotts, that we could learn to get used to? Thank you for sharing the silly, for making us think, tap our toes, look at cucumbers quite differently, and for making us smile.
I shall always think of you near the cheese. You are a gouda man, Scott Yoho.
I leave you with some words from the Grand Pooh-bah himself:
The Knights of the Auto Order Proudly Present: The Auto Body Estimate: Vol. II, #120, March 2017
Before I go, here’s an experience you might convert into a parenting tip. Recently we took the boys out to Lucille’s, our favorite breakfast place, which was predictably busy. As we waited for a table, the kids were reasonably patient for a while, but soon began to fidget at a frequency that threatened to break glass. I noticed a stack of local arts flyers, found two pens, and encouraged each boy to put an “F” in front of every occurrence of “art” they found. They enjoyed seeing people appointed to the “farts board,” joining the “farts council,” and just generally “supporting the farts.”
I figure everyone has some kind of superpower, even if it’s plain silliness. The secret is to find the perfect situation for your powers to shine. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Again, plan to join us on Friday, June 23. And remember to support the, uh, arts.
Love, Scott Yoho, Grand Pooh-Bah, Knights of the Auto Order