When Pat was pushin’ dirt with his dozer, he befriended a man named Beau V.
Beau had a backhoe business and he and Pat worked together on many building projects during the housing boom of the 70’s. They became good friends (I’d like to think he was his second best friend). It turned out that Beau was a musician, too. He had an old --old ‘Martin’ guitar and a dobro, and played them both very well.
I was a little jealous of Beau until the day Pat dragged me along to a backyard outing at Beau’s place. It was a nice place nestled in the woods on the other side of Philomath from us.
The guy that I eventually went to work for, framing houses, had built Beau’s house. It was big and beautiful with massive decks. In fact, I think my future boss was there that day. It was a new clique that I soon became a part of.
On their deck was a huge stainless steel vat chocked full of boiled shrimp, all the food and side dishes you could imagine. We ate, then ate some more, talked, joked, laughed, and then we finally brought out our instruments.
Being the young’un of the bunch, I felt a bit uncomfortable to say the least. It wasn’t until we started playing when I felt a little more at home.
There must have been twelve of us strummin’ along to Pat’s singing. There was a banjo player, fiddle player, mandolin picker, and Beau playing his dobro. It was Bluegrass! It was all new to me.
I learned what bluegrass music was all about. I loved it! It was based on fun, family, and tradition. What a day that was!
“Chicken in the Bread Pan Kickin’ out Dough…” –How cool is that!!!!
Beau dragged out his old Martin; and I swear –that small old-fashion-looking guitar put out more sound and prettier music than all of the rest of our guitars put together. I wish I knew the history of that ole box. It rang like a bell.
I was still very intimidated with all of these older folks, but I hung in there the best I could. Pat sensed my immature feelings, as well. He knew when it was time to go.
The party faded out and we ‘headed for the barn.’ For tthose in Miami Beach (Rush), that means we went home.
On the way home from the party, we got to giggling and laughing about this or that, and the day turned out to be great. As Pat would say, “it was one for the books.”
After that day I started to understand that all music had a ‘feel’ and a purpose to it. I broadened my horizons, so to speak, and opened my ears to other artists and the feeling of their music.
I really hate to admit it, but I was a hippie wannabe back then.
There was a man by name of Mike G. (not to be confused with Mike our lead player) who was the first man I'd ever seen with hair over his collar. As a matter of fact, he looked like girl from behind. Damndest thing I ever saw!
Mike was a hard worker that worked for the V&S railroad, on the section crew (tamping ties and driving spikes with a sledge hammer). It was said that he could drive a spike with just one big WHACK! He was as skinny and boney as me, but nothing could put him down.
Mike G. loved his pot. He was a hippie! He used to ride the train up to his ‘garden’ during his harvest season. He would wait by the tracks, with a bag full of dope, for the return trip of the train and catch the caboose back to Hoskins where he lived. The old engineer Sam would slow the train to a stop so Mike could load his stash and get onboard. Nobody ever said a thing.
Mike played the guitar also and as with most hippies, he was into obscure music. He wasn’t so sick as to be into sitar and pan flute music, but he liked a lot of stuff that were never hits.
He had old albums by Graham Parsons and Willie Nelson before they became household names. He was also talented with the writing of his own music and lyrics.
Pat and Mike G. played a sit down job together at ‘The Coffee Shop’ in Corvallis one night, and when Mike started playing his song called ‘Shit out of Luck,’ the owner literally pulled the plug on them.
Mike G. and I would smoke a little weed and listen to various types of music on his high-end Marantz stereo system (back in the seventies that was a big deal). I really liked the lyrics of Willie Nelson’s work. I never cared much for his vocal styling, but some of his songs are immortal. Ray Price made famous a song written by Willie called ‘Night Life.’ I came to characterize that title with the particular sound that can also be found in a lot of Motown music, like Etta James’ ‘At Last.’ I loved the mood of that particular flavor of music. I call it ‘Night Life’ music.
I continued to explore this new world of emotion that touched me through the strings, the beat, and the vocals. I liked some of this, and some of that, and not so much of the others.
Bubble gum music was cheesy and disco was one step above that, in my opinion. Metal, well, let’s just not go there. These three styles are hardly worth mention, but music was music. I took it all in and listened.
There are classical instrumentals that can put a tear in your eye for no reason other then the love of God and the effort and love of the musicians playing it. Opera holds extreme emotion, too, and can make you cry no matter what language it’s sung in. I say that with the exception of the female vocalists. They grated my nerves more than to hear the voice of my second ex-wife ~shudders~.
Personally, I LOVE the heart-felt, love-based, feeling of yearning in the old country songs.
My interest in all the types of music was one thing, but the music Pat, Mike, Rick, and I were playing on stage together was another.
We read each others minds. I knew what they were going to do before they did it and they knew the same. I swear we each played to what we knew the others were going to do and we complimented every note. We were playing out of our hearts and not from a sheet. We played to and for the folks, and of course, ourselves. It was a high!
One night, we were playing a song. It could have been ‘Silver Wings’ or one of my other favorites; I don’t remember which. The dance floor was crowded and we were clicking right on time with each other with the music, the mind, and the soul.
As the song ended, a chill went through us. When the sustained notes from our guitars and Rick’s symbols faded to silence, Mike turned and said, “Whoa, did you feel that?”
Yeah, we all did!
It was as if the Holy Spirit himself passed through us, stood before us, and applauded, as if to say, “beautiful music my friends, you did well.”
Welcome to Skippin' Rocks
I originally Started a blog to run off at the mind on politics, hopefully witty and humorous ramblings, and just random thoughts. But, I'll make a new one for that and stick to short stories here. I hope you liked what you've read so far.