Dog Latin is an entity that has been present in the local music world for more years than its creator, local resident Chris McGorey, would care to admit. “Let’s just say that my early lyrics were influenced by the wackiness of society during the Reagan years.”
The 1980s version of Dog Latin, featuring McGorey, bassist Ken Hottmann and drummer Tom Riss, was an electric, eclectic combo that wrote and played songs with lyrics heavy on social commentary, with sneering critiques of popular culture that sometimes risked insulting audiences. At one show at a trendy nightclub, facing an indifferent audience, McGorey introduced a song called “Just This Side of Pretentious.” Bass player Hottmann stepped up to the mic and helpfully added “does anybody here know what ‘pretentious’ means?”
After several years playing the metro Detroit club circuit, releasing a 12” single and performing on an early public access cable TV show, various factors caused the band to pull the plug on their modest music machine. Day jobs and families took over, and Dog Latin appeared to go the way of the VCR.
Music continued to occupy the mind of Dog Latin’s founder and in the early 2000s the time seemed right for a comeback. New songs began to flow out, and Chris McGorey put together a new line-up featuring bassist Hottmann and his wife Xiao Dong Wei, a classically trained erhu (2-stringed Chinese violin) player. With a new drumless, acoustic sound, Dog Latin began playing shows in local coffeehouses, getting many favourable comments along the way and building a following. But this incarnation was short-lived – the trio dissolved when the Hottmanns opted to leave to pursue a different musical direction.
Using money made from shows, McGorey decided to go into a recording studio and begin work on a full-length CD. Recording at the studio of avant garde musician Frank Pahl, McGorey played most of the instruments on the 11 songs that ended up on the Dog Latin full-length debut, “Asunder.”
The CD has received airplay both locally and internationally in markets as distant as England, Germany and Scotland, and McGorey has received correspondence by email from far and wide.
Since then McGorey has been soldiering on, playing solo, or with numerous backing musicians, including Frank Pahl, and local folk circuit stalwarts such as guitarists Jere Stormer, and John Finan, percussionist/harmonica player Clint Lavens and accordionist Mark Iannace. But no matter who happens to be in the band on any given night, it’s still Dog Latin, as far as McGorey is concerned.