Aircastle - A Brief History


Aircastle was formed in 1973, when co-founders Robert Gilmore and David Godet were assigned as roommates in the Sonoma State dorms. The name was inspired by the Maxfield Parrish painting entitled "Air Castles." They soon started playing around Sonoma County as a flute and acoustic guitar duo, in an English folk/classically influenced style. The late Kate Wolf took Aircastle under her wing when she interviewed them on her radio show "Singer's Circle" on KSRO, and gave them the opportunity to perform their music on the air. Aircastle also played in a number of her concerts. Later, with the addition of violin, cello and female vocalist, the band became known for its complex acoustic material as well as for the excellence of its string players. Aircastle gained popularity throughout the county, calling their music Renaissance Jazz. The late 1970s saw the addition of bass, drums and keyboards, transitioning to a more electric classical rock approach. By 1979, Aircastle had grown to include eight members, and this was the group that went into the studio to record the "Dead Giveaway" sessions. By the early 1980s, the band was writing and playing rock, pop and dance music. In 1980, Aircastle released "Dreamin'/Backstep" as a single. The group was active from 1973-1982 around the greater SF Bay Area.


Over the years, Aircastle shared the bill with artists such as Kate Wolf, Robin Williamson & His Merry Band (Incredible String Band), David LaFlamme (It's a Beautiful Day), and the late Merle Saunders (Jerry Garcia). When Aircastle was house band at the Comeback Inn in Venice, CA, they were joined onstage and jammed with Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin). Aircastle's last gig of that era was at a SoNoMore Atomics rally in Cotati, The Bohemian Blast, in June of 1982. Dr. Boogie wrote in Song Magazine: "Aircastle took the stage and cooked with one of their best sets to date. ... They said this was going to be one of their last gigs for awhile. It was an awfully strong set for a swan song. I'm sure we'll be hearing more." 


Fast forward to 2006. The group's old friend from SSU, Michael Fleshman, who worked for many years at the United Nations and for the anti-apartheid movement, was instrumental in reconnecting co-founders Gilmore and Godet, who had been out of touch for over 20 years. Picking up where they left off, the duo started playing and recording together again.


In 2007, the founding Aircastle duo reunited and played together onstage for the first time in 25 years, opening for the Poyntlyss Sistars at the Forestville Club on the Russian River. In April of 2008, Aircastle performed at the “Be There Now” festival at Sonoma State University, a 30 year re-union with past members Karen Stokes (vocals) and Jeremy Cohen (violin), founder of Grammy nominated Quartet San Francisco. The Aircastle duo also played the "Be There Now" festival the following day at the Cotati Plaza, the site of Aircastle’s original swan song gig back in 1982. Since then, Aircastle has performed throughout the SF Bay Area at various venues including nightclubs, churches and art galleries.


2013 marked the 40 year anniversary of Aircastle with the release of the digital single "Dead Giveaway." This song showcases Aircastle's unique blend of composed rock, three-part vocal harmonies, orchestrated strings, syncopated rhythms, jazz flute and wild guitar solos. "Dead Giveaway" features David Godet on electric guitar. The follow up digital single "Magic Night" was released in 2014, and features Don Detrich on lead vocals, Teri Lee on violin and Robert Gilmore on flute. "Dead Giveaway" and "Magic Night" were recorded and mixed in 1979 at Prairie Sun Recording Studios in Cotati, CA, at its original location on East Cotati Avenue. Mark "Mooka" Rennick, the owner of Prairie Sun, engineered the sessions through the Beach Boys' legendary 'Clover' mixing board onto a 1-inch 8-track tape machine. The original stereo master tapes were later "baked" and transferred from analog to digital by Tardon Feathered at Mr. Toad's in San Francisco, CA, and "Dead Giveaway" and "Magic Night" were mastered by Abbey Road Online Mastering Services.


Aircastle plans to continue the release of both vintage and new material.