It was 14 years ago this afternoon that I began my entry into being a musician. Or more specifically, out of the will to do so. I was summering during the days at my grandparent’s house (same as where I live now) that year. Earlier in the year, I got into listening to the local rock station, after some prodding from my older brother-like buddy Ross Shekelton. I got into listening to Def Leppard and Jethro Tull that year. Those are the two main reasons I began to play drums after about four or five years of not doing anything with the kit I had, that had just been stacked in a corner for that time. This time around, the difference was, I felt the music, and I wanted to play. My drum teacher back in the mid 80s was an older man, and he had me reading out of a book of popular rock and pop rhythms that I later discovered were Beatles tunes, and some other classic 2 & 4 backbeats we all know and love now. But he never did whatever it took to make music come to life. He never said I should listen to music, so to me it was always just a matter of reading some notes off a page. No feeling, no dynamics, nothing. He played a Rhodes piano to help give context to my drum playing, but I really didn’t get anything from it.
So, after about four or five years of not playing, and finally being a 15 year old discovering music in a visceral fashion, one Tuesday afternoon, I rode from my grandparent’s place back home to my dad’s and without actually announcing my plans, put together the drum kit and opened up the book I used years before and tried to read some of the stuff that had been so tediously worked over (but that never sank in). There was some shorthand numbering that we had written in over the notes, and I think that actually helped, but even more so was finally wanting to play, and wanting to play because music had spoken to me. Rick Allen of Def Leppard was my first musical hero, being the guy who let nothing get in his way, even losing his arm in a car accident wasn’t enough to make him stop playing the drums. And I, a little ashamed of my quitting long before, asked myself, ‘what is my excuse, if he can play with one arm?’ Realizing that I really had no excuse, I started spending some time with tapes of my extremely limited music “collection” started only a month before and featuring the four Def Leppard albums and various artists on tapes made from the radio!
My dad worked days, and I wasn’t really too good on drums, and really wanted no one to know that I was trying to get back into things, so I stopped shortly before he got home and made like nothing had happened. But after about two weeks of this clandestine work, I announced it at his birthday party, while my grandfolks were there. I thought they’d be happy to find that I was finally using the drums that they had paid for years before. (About as soon as I actually got them, I quit some short time later.)
That was 14 years ago. Among other August dates that sort of got lodged in memory include the 13th, specifically back in '94 when I got my green drums, and met a girl at a band party on a really humid summer night. The drums are still here, and the girl, well, after years of giving me an emotional rollercoaster ride both inside and outside of the relationship that started on that night, we are friends to a degree, but can’t really do much with that because our past is too troubling. That has certainly been an adventure. She is the only girl I got on account of being a rock star (ahem!). I can’t tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
August 13 did triple duty in the music gear buying department: in addition to the drumset in 1994, 1997 saw my getting the VS 880, which utterly changed my recording life, and started a real long creative streak that lasted for about 3 years. A couple years later, on the same date in 1999, I got my Mesa Dual Rectifier amp that was a game changer and led to the work that became Receiving.
August 26th, 1996 was the day I moved out of my dad’s place in two hours. Everything I had got moved in two hours. It was one of the worst days of my life. The matter isn't that I moved. I knew it was time to do so at the age of 22. But it was the father-induced circumstances that made it a horrible time.
August 10, 1993 saw the dissolution of my erstwhile drum-vocal duo Rhythmic Catharsis with my buddy Matt. He stiffed me when we were going to do a show together. Absolutely didn’t show up. I was pissed. Three days later, I told him I never wanted to see him again for that little antic. Eventually that passed and we got back in the saddle as friends, but still on an on-off basis for the time since.
August 10, 1997 saw me running into an old “friend” in the most unlikely of circumstances after over two and a half years of utter silence. At the time, I took it as a Godsend. But I have since considered it a grave misfortune.
August 10, 2001 is when I bought this computer I use. It was my first after years of avoiding computers for any number of reasons. On that same day, I went to my ten year high school class reunion.
And this year... There isn’t much going on of the musical kind. I have packed up my gear and left it out of sight for the most part. Only an acoustic guitar remains, with some things left out and ready, but not enough to carry on as I have for years. Somehow, it's just feeling wrong to me to have my musical activities curtailed like this. It's not something that came easily, but carrying on like I was was taking me nowhere. Time for some change. I have found some value in watching movies recently, and I have gathered a list of flicks to see after ignoring movies for many years. I also am interested in some more visual art, both as viewer and participant. I signed up for three classes at Mesa College, the ever popular junior college here in San Diego that I used to go to, but stopped—TEN YEARS AGO! I just needed time off then, from school, to sample the real world, to do different stuff, meet people, maybe do music more, etc. Well, that hiatus from school stretched on much longer than I thought it would, but now I feel that it's time I got back to some classes and back on the road to a degree. Life has been channeling me toward it, little by little for all that time. I really believe in the lessons of doors closing and opening. Maybe music needs to take a back seat to other things, the same as going to school did a decade ago. The time off from school did allow me to find things of interest and passion, something that was lacking back as a recent fresh face just out of high school. Matters of politics, religion, psychology, history, art, social fabrics are all congealing in some way within me, and maybe school will help some of that along, among other benefits, tangible and intangible. I just feel it's time to act on that, after a rather prolonged absence, but one that needed to happen, so as to deliver me to this point.
I just want to say hi to a few friends who make life better. When I listen to them, that is.
Doug Duhon: multiinstrumentalist, artist, home repairman, general renaissance man, and a buddy I have never talked to or met face to face, but feel I have known for ages, thanks to the web. So far Doug is the best success story from my countless hours on the web.
Jerry Lawritson: minister and friend of 16 years, and a man worth listening to.
Kelli Parrish: an angel.
And a certain feller who ran around with a bunch of freaks in the desert about 2000 years ago... We’re getting to be better buddies too.