I’ve always been interested in playing music, even though I was never all that good at it. In my grade school days, I played trombone in the concert band,
and then other ensembles with friends. A ragtime band was the closest to being something, although I think we only had all four at the same time once or twice.
During high school, braces made it tough to play trombone, and frankly, it just wasn’t cool. Staying within my bass-clef sensibilities, I picked up a bass guitar,
an amp, and a few instruction books.
On and off through high school, and for a while after I got out of the Navy, I would play my bass with guitarist friends. The person I jammed with most often was
friend originally from high school. We were really into Judas Priest, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, anything guitar-hero (not the game) heavy. Neither of us sang and
while the bass parts were often relatively easy, the guitar parts were very difficult. We would play mostly instrumental song fragments.
This photo shows up often with Pat because I don't have any others from back then.
Pat moved away, and I lost contact with the others. Eventually, I just stopped playing altogether, sold my big bass amp (das amp, das heavy, as Pat and I referred
to it as), but I kept the bass itself around for some reason. This was roughly 1985 when I stopped.
Towards the end of 2008, I had for lack of a better term, a strong renewal of my Christian faith. I say this, not as the last sentence of the world’s longest sermon
introduction, but because it is woven into the circumstances of my return to playing music.
Late in 2009, a guitarist friend, Dave Gerhke, had a “house” bass in his jam area. We played somewhat briefly. I had my hands on a bass less than 10 times since the mid-80s.
Even though I couldn’t even tell what note I was playing at first, it was fun, and I had some songs to learn for the next time.
Still no photos of anyone actually playing an instrument
Eventually, we ended up playing a few times during our small group, and some services for his brother-in-law’s church. This lead to me also playing with Rick Ryan at a
small church he was trying to get going.
The first time I played "in public" in 2010. It was an open stage thing my friend organized for his birthday, which also happened to be my birthday.
My First Rock Band
Early in 2010, I thought I needed to play with a full rock group to go to the next level with my skills. I had never even played with a drummer. I answered a few
ads in Craigslist, and after having quite a few auditions where I was in way over my head, I ended up finding Matt Youngblood and Rob Hecker.
Matt and Rob had been playing music, guitar and drums respectively, much longer than I had been, and were quite good. They were new to playing in a band which is why
they were willing to put up with someone as green I was. This started a pattern where all the other band members were better musicians than I was. I saw this as being
very positive, learning from them, and forcing me to improve, just to keep up.
Jesus Palomino (an express by Slim Pickens), or J-Pal for short, had regular rehearsals weekly, and we built up a pretty large collection of songs, but the only gig
we had during my stay was a house party in Rob’s basement. That went well other than my life and death struggle with my guitar strap, trying to get it untwisted,
the whole sad effort captured on video. I stayed in J-Pal until 2012, when my wife and I moved out of the state. Matt and his family moved west also a few years later,
and he’s still very active in music.
We had no band photos either. This is a much more recent photo of Matt.
The Band That Never Was and Health Centers
Once in Arizona, I wanted to stay connected and play music with others. After a few try-outs that didn’t go too well, I was contacted by someone in a start-up band
that already had a name, but was very early in its life. No Denyal (not pronounced No- Den-Yall as it may appear) was the idea of John Dyer. He had a few originals
started, very good guitar and gear set up, a mixer and expensive recording equipment, and a drum kit that was not top-end, but very nice, especially considering
John didn’t play.
My first band that had band photos, even though we didn't have a vocalist yet.
There were issues from the start. The drummer and guitarist / vocalist left the band, and it was just John and I. After a few try-outs, we somehow ended up with Jacob
Chamess. Despite being much younger than either us, he was really good, kick-ass I dare say. The three of us had a few songs through, but we struggled to find a vocalist.
The elusive combination we tried to find was being a competent vocalist, and not having a personal life that was a complete mess. I think at least one actually had
open bench warrants. One of them was quite good and knew more than any of us about using the recording equipment. Unfortunately, he was scared off by John, who
was having a tough time with things by that point.
We never did find a vocalist, and eventually, due to problems outside of the band, the whole effort collapsed. I did stay in contact with Jacob, and thoroughly enjoyed
watching his new band, Nova Minus, play for a few years.
Towards the end of No Denyal, I could kind of see where it was going, and started reaching out to others again. For a while, I played with Mike Dolle, who plays
a 12-string quite beautifully. We would play during church services that his pastor brought to a nursing home. This went on for a while until my commitment to
the next band became a bit too much to do both.