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Gathering Field

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With the DVE Hit Single Lost in America Signed with Atlantic and Toured the U.S.A
The Gathering Field, one of Pittsburgh’s most popular bands during the 1990’s,  attracted national attention in 1996 with their regional hit song “Lost in America”.  The most requested song on WDVE for six months it was played in heavy rotation. Gathering Field’s strong local sales prompted Atlantic Records to sign the band in April of 1996 and to release a re-mastered version of “Lost in America” in August of 1996. Garnering airplay on 60 small and large market rock and alternative radio stations across the country “Lost in America” sold 17,000 copies nationally. The band toured the country  headlining small clubs in mid sized towns and larger cities such as Washington D.C., Philadelphia Cleveland, Columbus Ohio, Denver, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Atlanta.  Gathering Field toured with Rusted Root, Vertical Horizon, and Storyville.  They also opened shows for Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, K.D. Lang, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Blue Rodeo, and others. 

“Lost in America” received high praise from the Pittsburgh newspapers and the All Music Guide.

"There's a cinematic quality to `` Lost in America ,'' the major-label debut by Pittsburgh's Gathering Field , that makes it nearly impossible not to find yourself caught up in the aching mixture of hope and disillusionment fueling its central characters. .. It's a work of stunning emotional depth." – Ed Masely Pittsburgh Post Gazette

The All Music Guide also praises “Lost in America”. “The Gathering Field was musically similar to Train and vocally close to Ireland's The Devlins. The real strength of the band was especially evident on Lost in America; smart, soulful lyrics surrounded by a heartbreaking, Americana sound. The title track was equal parts Raymond Carver and Jack Kerouac. The Gathering Field had wonderful melodies and harmonies. It was, perhaps, the most profoundly emotional release of 1996. If you like jam bands, melodic rock and roll, and Americana, this album will not disappoint.” - by JT Griffith All Music Guide

Leaving Atlantic Records, Gathering Field released two independent CDs “Reliance”(1999) and “So Close to Home” (2001). The band broke up in 2002 but has reunited for several concerts and the release of a live album in 2010.

Gathering Up

Singer song writer Bill Deasy began performing in an acoustic duo while an undergraduate at Grove City College. In the late 1980s Deasy appeared as a solo act at opening stage nights in Pittsburgh. Drummer Jerry Goldenson saw Deasy perform in 1990 and recruited him as the lead singer and song writer for the new band Shiloh with Kevin Klip on bass and ex Affordable Floors member Eric Riebling on guitar. Shiloh won the Graffiti Rock Challenge in 1991 and played the Pittsburgh club scene for several years performing Bill Deasy’s songs. 

In the summer of 1994 Bill Deasy got together with Dave Brown ( who played guitar with the Dave Harger Group, Nathan Davis, and Dwayne Dolphin Quintet, and Eric Kloss  and who produced Rusted Root “Cruel Son” CD), drummer Ray DeFade (who had worked with Louise Mandrell ) and bassist Eric Riebling to form the Gathering Field. After DeFade left the band Joe Zelek became the drummer. John Burgh, a Hammond organist, also a former Dave Harger Group member, made occasional live and recording appearances. Gathering Field played its first job at JBs in Kent, Ohio in August of 1994. 

They release their debut album “Gathering Field” in September of 1994.  Produced and engineered by Dave Brown, the album featured twelve Deasy originals songs with special appearances by Jim DiSpirito and Liz Berlin of Rusted Root and Scott Blasey of The Clarks. The band began to build a following performing at Graffiti, Nick's Fat City and Rosebud.

"Lost in America" Smash Hit in Pittsburgh

After reading a Jack Kerouac book, Bill Deasy wrote the song “Lost in America”.  It was about a drifter, stoned on Kerouac's ``On the Road'', who rambles from place to place fueled by amphetamines and cheap wine. “He lost in America, hell-bent for no place.''  Dave Brown added a some county rock guitar hooks, John Burgh supplied Hammond Organ chords and they recorded the song. Excited about the recording they submitted it to WDVE in March of 1996. WDVE aired the song as a test and it immediately received strong phone response from listeners. It was among the top 5 requested songs. Greg Ramano, WDVE Operations Manager, told Billboard Magazine that the response was surprising because Gathering Field was a little known band. "(Front man) Bill Deasy had played around a lot, but the band didn't have that much equity in terms of name recognition," WDVE put the song in rotation. Gathering Field released the “Lost in America” album on their own Mudpuppy label and it sold quickly in Pittsburgh. 

Atlantic Records Release

Gathering Field attracted the attention of several record labels when the “Lost in America” CD reached the top five in Pittsburgh outselling superstar diva Mariah Carey. One of the record executives who pursued Gathering Field was Jay Faries an A&R Vice President of Atlantic Records and President of Mammoth Records.

Jay Faires, founder and president of Mammoth Records, along with his staff of 30 had discovered several successful alternative-rock acts, including Seven Mary Three, Juliana Hatfield and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Having earned a reputation for spotting acts with commercial appeal, Atlantic Records purchased a 25% share in Mammoth Records in 1992. Under the deal Jay Faries signed and developed acts on Mammoth and moved them to Atlantic when they 50,000 in unit sales. During 1995 Faires became a star A&R man when  Juliana Hatfield scored a gold record, Seven Mary Three earned a top 40 hit single, and Mammoth landed  two albums in the top 200.  Mammoth’s sales grew by 300%. With that success Atlantic promoted Faires to Vice President of A&R in November of 1995 giving him the power to sign acts to directly to the Atlantic label.

The first band that Jay Faires pursued for Atlantic was Gathering Field. At the end of March of 1996 he moved very quickly contacting Gathering Field on a Wednesday, listening to their CD on Thursday, sending his assistant to hear the band perform in Pittsburgh on Friday, and offering them a contract on Monday, April 1st. After talking with several other labels and mulling over another offer, Gathering field signed with Atlantic on April 27.

In an June 1996 interview with Billboard Magazine Jay Faires said he made Gathering Field his first signing directly to Atlantic because they had universal appeal. "This is a band that's not about gizmos or shtick: The songs speak for themselves. “They sold in the top five in Pittsburgh…..with the right resources behind them, there's no reason they can't duplicate that in 30 or 40 other markets." 

Faries planned a year long grass roots marketing effort to promote Gathering Field as he had done with Seven Mary Three.  His plan included heavy touring and acoustic sets at WEA branches.  The “Lost In America” single would be launched on rock, triple-A and modern rock stations three weeks before the album's release, With the single in play they would shoot a video for MTV. 

Sold on Faires's plan Dave Brown and Joe West remixed the single, "Lost in America" and re-mastered all but one of the songs. Atlantic came up with new cover art and published the CD.

The Atlantic Records version of “Lost in America” was launched at release party at Nick’s Fat City on August 10th, 1996. True to his word Faires promoted the “Lost in America” single in 30 to 40 radio markets. By the end of August the single was getting airplay on rock and alternative stations in about 60 small markets such as Scranton, Erie, Boise, Peoria, Albany, and Charlotte. It was also aired on stations in Chicago, Boston, and Minneapolis. 

Billboard gave the single a lukewarm review “While "Lost In America" hints at some quality storytelling, its low-key demeanor and average instrumentation make it a flat offering. However, it could be a find for AC stations looking to add a gentle, unassuming narrative to dayparts." 

Gathering Field went on tour in August headlining in clubs at the small market towns that were airing the CD including Erie, Bowling Green, State College, Morgantown, Charleston WV, Nags Head, Charlotte Raleigh, Wilmington, Boulder, and Aspen.  
They also they toured New England colleges opening for Rusted Root.  With the radio airplay and their club  appearances national album sales reached 17,000 units according to Soundscan. 

Atlantic released a second single "Rhapsody in Blue” in April of 1997. This time Billboard Magazine recommended the song to radio stations:  "The toe-tapping "Rhapsody in Blue" has all the elements of a multi-format smash- jangly guitars, thoughtfully romantic lyrics, an irresistible choris, and instantly appealing lead and harmony vocals. What more do you want? Just play it!”.

Touring in 97

Gathering Field continued to tour in 1997 to promote their album. They appeared in New Haven, Arlington, and Chicago They opened for Michael Stanley in the Flats in Cleveland. Their biggest show was in Pittsburgh at the Star Lake Amphitheater On May 24, 1997. They performed for 18,660 fans playing on the bill with their fellow Nick's Fat City brethren The Clarks, and Brownie Mary. The concert outdrew the H.O.R.D.E. Festival, the Furthur Festival, Lollapalooza, and concerts by Boston and Rush.  

Lost on Atlantic

In October of 1996 Atlantic Records downsized by laying off 60 employees and shutting down its boutique labels TAG, Mesa/Blue Moon, Code Blue, and Lava.  Jay Faires with his 75% ownership of Mammoth resisted the reorganization standing up for his staff.  In December of 1996, Billboard Magazine announced that Jay Faires had taken a paid leave of absence from his position as VP of A&R at Atlantic Records   Faires and Altantic were “examining their relationship." Billboard speculated that Faires wanted to buy back Atlantic's share of Mammoth. 

In March of 1997 Faires bought back Altantic’s 25% share in Mammoth. He told the the Daily Variety "Our visions no longer overlapped." Seven Mary Three left Mammoth to sign with Atlantic. Faires took the Squirrel Nuts Zippers with him to Mammoth and left the Gathering Field behind at Atlantic. A few months later in July of 1997 Faires sold Mammoth to Disney for $25 million and got a five year management deal.

At Disney the Squirrel Nut Zippers earned a platinum hit with the number one song "Hell". Jay became president of Music at Lionsgate where worked with Mary J. Blige and U2 and oversaw the music for the televsion hits Madmen and Weeds and the films Crash and Precious. 

Gathering Field was stranded on the Atlantic label without a supporter at the end of 1996.  Atlantic did not assign another A&R person to work with the band.  As they failed to reach 50,000 in unit sales they became a low priority act at Atlantic.  

Matchbox 20, with Pittsburgh drummer Paul Doucette, also signed with Atlantic in 1996 through the boutique label Lava.  Atlantic launched Matchbox 20 in September of 1996.  Their single "Looked Away" reached number 8 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart staying there for 22 weeks.. Atlantic released three Matchbox 20 singles in 1997.  Their debut album went Diamond with 14 million in sales. Whereas Gathering Fields' April 1997 single did not chart.

Couda Been a Contenda

Ed Masley of the The Pittsburgh Post Gazette and JT Griffith of the All Music Guide speculated that "Lost in America" could have been big hit with tour support and more promotion from Atlantic.  In an interview with Masley, Bill Deasy express his disappointment with Atlantic Records: "They never pushed it. They never pushed anything. Even ` Lost in America."  While on tour Gather Field visited a a music store where they saw Matchbox 20's posters in the front windows while their posters were relegated to the back.  Masley also contends Jay Faires's departure from Atlantic in December of 1996 left the band stranded on the label without an advocate of any power at Atlantic.  

JT Gritthin of All Music wrote "It is always a shame when a band releases one major label album and then is never heard from again. ...Their 1996 debut Lost in America came and went unnoticed. ...The band actually got lost in the wake of a more successful rock band also on Atlantic Records, matchbox20. ...It is the kind of find that will make you question who runs the record labels and radio stations."

During 1997 and 1998 Gathering Field worked with Atlantic trying to find a producer for a follow up album. They recorded three songs with engineer John Holbrooke, who had worked with The Band, Ian Hunter, and Natalie Merchant. But Atlantic did not believe the songs had commercial appeal. Unable to reach agreement on songs and a producer Gathering Field asked for and was granted a release from their Atlantic Records contract in 1999.

Gathering Field tried to contact Jay Faires at Disney but he would not return their calls.


Free from their Atlantic contract the Gathering Field y released their third CD "Reliance" on Onoma Records in April 1999.  Scott Blasey of the Clarks and Liz Berlin of Rusted Root made guest appearances. Tracy Collins of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote: "Deasy proves again he has nearly flawless instincts for writing musical hooks of a dizzying variety, from the funky break in "Alcatraz" to the infectious pacing of the disc's first single, "I'd Believe in God for You," to the jazzy feel of the album's opus, "Right Where You Want Me," to the piano ballad dramatics of "Beautiful Land."

So Close to Home

The Gathering Fields fourth studio CD was released at Nick's Fat City on June 15 in 1999.   On the band's Mudpuppy lable the CD was comprise of originals that the band had played live for years and material that they wrote for a followup album on Atlantic.

The Un-Gathering 

The Gathering Field broke up in 2002 calling it an "indefinite hiatus"  Bill Deasy went off to do solo recordings, write songs for other artists, and published three novels. Joe Zelek formed his own band and became a country music song writer. Eric Riebling became a music website designer and a software engineer. Dave Brown became a member of the WQED Live From Studio A band is now IT Manager at Earth Sun Moon Trading Co.

Reunion Shows

The Gathering Field has performed for their long time loyal fans at several reunion shows.  In 2007 they were invited to appear at the first of Homegrown Hoo-Ha in 2007 at the Post Gazette Pavilion. Over 18,000 fans turned out to see the Clarks, Rusted Root, and the Gathering Field. They performed again in 2008 appearing with The Clarks, Donnie Iris & the Cruisers, the Gathering Field, Anthony Rankin, Margot B, Gene the Werewolf, and Lohio

The Gathering Field returned to their home base (Nick's Fat City) appearing at Diesel on Nov 18, 2010 where they recorded a live CD. In 2011 their appeared at Mr. Smalls to celebrate the release of their live CD.

Bill Deasy

Bill released his first solo record Spring Lies Waiting in 1999.  His big break came when his song “Good Things are Happening” was used as the theme for ABC’s Good Morning America from 2001 through 2004.  Bill has released several solo CDs: Good Day No Rain (2003) and Chasing Down A Spark in 2005 on on Bound to Be Records, The Miles in 2007, A Different Kind of Wild in 2008, and Being Normal in 2009.  WYEP in Pittsburgh aired the single "Blue Sky Grey" in steady rotation in 2003.

Deasy's songs have been recorded by Martina McBride, Billy Ray Cyrus, Howard Jones, Kim Richey, the Clarks and Michael Stanley among many others. Bill Deasy wrote "Learning to Fall" with Odie Blackmon that was included on Martina McBride million selling album Martina.

The Joe Zelek Band

Zelek formed the Joe Zelek Band and became a country music song writer.  His band has had several regional country hits in Eastern Ohio and West Virginia including the single "Who You Gonna Run To".  The band appeared before thousands playing the main stage at the Jamboree in the Hills for several years since 2007.
Lost in America
Nick's Fat City
Post Gazette Pavilion