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1987 - Mr. Bojangles

Welcome back!! So, I am personally a 1981 model, meaning I was born in 1981. I was born into a ‘family’ with a hippie lifestyle in the state of Washington right outside of Seattle. Why is this of relevance you ask? Well 1. Being born just outside of Seattle should tell you a lot about who I am musically, and 2. because I listened to hippie music when I was a kid. My musical butterfly transformation didn’t happen until much later in life. So for me, looking back over the years, it’s super interesting to see where I was from a “taste” perspective in the 80s to where I am now in 2020.

1987 was filled with so many solid artists, and bands, but again, don’t forget the hippie thing I had mentioned earlier. Regardless of what was on the radio at the time, in 1987 we lived a very simple life, in the middle of no-where, meaning I didn’t have much of anything, or exposure to what was going on real time, and I didn’t have my own radio or Walkman (until this year), yeah, I said Walkman. You young bucks don’t realize that your parents used to carry cassette tapes and batteries in our backpacks, and tape players that were clipped to our pockets or belts, with horrible headphones etc. that was our iPhone version 198X. What I did have however was the music that my mom listened to, or that one of her significant others would be playing on her old Fender 12 string acoustic guitar from the 70's (still have it to this day), or when we were in a truck with a radio, the stuff that would play, but only during the time from point A to point B. Getting water from a local church so my mom could cook over fire outside, do dishes, and take bathes, etc. (Real photos coming - my friends don't even know this about me). My mom cooking outside (this was a bit earlier in life, but you get the point)

I didn’t know it at the time, but I would be influenced by bands and artist like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Elton John, Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, U2, White Snake and their “is this love?” song. Belinda Carlisle with her Heaven is a place on earth jam, Bob Seger, Sting, Prince, INXS (I need you tonight), the Cure, Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, Chicago, Michael Bolton, who can forget about Dire Straits and their “money for nothing” song? And fun fact, they were actually the band that played the first video when MTV Europe was launched, the one I mentioned a second ago, “money for nothing”. ZZ Top and hundreds more.




In 1987 I would have been six years old; I really had no idea that these amazing musical things were happening all around me, and had zero clue that when I grew up, I would have a band and a recording studio. There are a few bands from the list I just mentioned that I was aware of at six years old but believe it or not, I would not have heard of most of these groups until the early 90s, three to four years after their amazing albums/songs were released.

My mom was more into groups like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and their song “Mr. Bojangles”, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Simon and Garfunkel, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd, Cat Stevens, Woody Guthrie, the Doors, Deep Purple, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cream (Eric Clapton), the Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Etc. So that meant that I was “into” the same music because I didn’t know any better. I am sure that most of you when you were younger are not listening to the same thing you do today (unless you are from Montana) literally laughing out loud.

My mom used to shop at yard sales and pick up old tapes, records, 8-tracks, etc (this was before CDs and laser disks were the thing). The two tapes that I remember the most from 1987 (shut up and don’t laugh) would be Johnny Horton (The Battle of new Orleans) and some Disney mixed tape that my mom got me with Marry Poppins and her “a spoon full of sugar” jam on it. Guys, I listened to those two tapes, and one from Roy Orbison so many times, I really can’t remember anything else. We were living in the country at the time, in almost something we could call a plantation but in the Washington mountains. We are talking miles away from civilization, closest neighbor would have been an older Indian guy that literally rode a horse and probably smoked more grass than Snoop Dog, the boonies for a lack of better terms.

Back in the day, we really didn’t have much to do, especially when you lived in the woods like we did and pooped in a hole in the ground (not even kidding). One day, as I said previously, my mom had gone to a yard sale, picked up a couple of tapes, and believe it or not, my first little tape player. I was the big man on campus, yes, I could listen to my own music. I popped in the first tape, and holy cow I am not even kidding, the music spoke to me. If you all have ever seen the movie called Rock Dog, you will understand what I mean. I was singing, beating on things, and I had to listen to more, now now and right now. I had to listen to music when I was awake, sneak in a listen at night when mom wasn’t paying close attention etc. I was literally addicted.



In the following months my mom got me a 4-string ukulele, this is when I started plunking around on an instrument that at the time, I didn’t know would be my favorite instrument for the rest of my life, 32 years later, still playing (guitar to clarify). I have always been surrounded by music, live music, music at home, my mother playing at churches or hay country style events etc. At Barter faire drum circles to a live events etc., always around music. If you do not know what a Barter Faire is, check out the following link, they were different back in the day, but at least you can get an idea of the culture and the “feeling” and the environment that I was raised in (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWkWsTmcW0U) .

My mom used to make earrings, necklaces, and just about anything you can think of with beads. She would do this all year, take the fruits of her labor and trade them for other things at these events that we normally couldn’t afford. Usually things made from animal skins like sandals, moccasins, jerky, etc. These events would last for days, and I would personally walk around and look at the knives, bows and arrows, drawings, hand blown glass art, wooden Indian flutes, go to the music stage and just be mesmerized at how the artists looked on stage, hair standing up on end when specific notes or musical transitions would hit. But still didn’t realize what I wanted to do further on in life related to music. I would be one of the last kids awake in the evening, just banging on a drum surrounded by 10 or 15 people around a bon fire, sand and dirt under our un-shoed feet. Sweating from dancing Indian style all evening, just beating the drum, in the “zone” if you want to call it that. This was the first experience that I had had playing around/in front of others, even though I sucked, the people that were around me were so motivational, encouraging me to further my knowledge and enhance my skills with the deer skin covered wooden drum.

After the events would end, a feeling of sadness would come over me.Why you ask? Well, this meant that I had to hop in the vehicle, spend x number of hours on the way home, and back to what? Back to the forest, climbing trees, putting bells on my shoes when we would go berry picking to scare the bears and wildlife away. Some could say, back to loneliness, or solitude. This happened many times, many “cycles” we could call it until we moved into the “city”/town of Colville Washington and I started 1st grade with an unforgettable teacher named Mrs. Grigsby. Now, the story does get better, you just have to wait for more blog posts. See you next week!



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