I get a reasonably regular earful about how little there is to learn about the Adaptations on our web site. “Write something that will make people want to come to see you.” But I’ve never been much for self-promotion. I’ve always believed music finds us. We don’t find it. We’re every last one of us so busy with what it takes just to get by these days. A couple years back, I was talking with a woman about my age who runs a little business in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. She’s open three days a week and lives a mere stroll from her shop. I told her it must be fabulous to live so simply. She nearly lunged across the counter at me – “Our parents never had to deal with logins and passwords and identity theft and connectivity and missing children and Internet marketing! I never have a minute to get my wits.”
That’s where the time goes. And nobody wants to be hounded by anyone else clamoring for attention.
I’m from a small river town in West Virginia. My mother had me singing solo in front of the Baptist Church on Leap Street when I was a tiny little boy. Arranged for piano lessons and I wasn’t very interested. My grandmother gave me a guitar when I was 7. Started trying to write my own songs in fifth grade. First title I remember was “She Doesn’t Want Me Around Anymore,” which is a tough sentiment for an elementary-schooler. What happened there was I wanted to work it out. She was reluctant – wanted to spend recess with her friends.
Pretty much I willed a schoolboy rock band to life when I was 15. I was going to play football until I heard about lead guitar. I remember cooly walking into the Guitar Studio on Main Street and asking how much a lead guitar cost. The owner, Larry, laughed so hard I thought he was going to wet his pants. “Maybe you ought to learn rhythm first,” still doubled over in hysterics. Years later, that was a running joke between me and Danny at Picker’s Supply here in Fred Vega$. “You got any lead guitars?” “Nah, man, we only got rhythm guitars.”
Meanwhile, back to the 1970s. Rhythm guitar. Locking up the groove between the bass and drums. I’m your guy. That’s what I do. Bob and Scott and Denz and I bullied and manipulated and haggled and harangued and lied through our collective teeth just to keep a band together. We were never going to be edgy and cool and cut like the Stones, so we latched onto Southern Rock because we could get there – frizzy long hair, ratty old coats, ear-bending loud. We wanted to play in the worst way, and most nights, boy, we certainly accomplished that. Seven years of barnstorming high-school gyms, bars, clubs, fairs, parties, and every kind of dysfunction you can imagine. Divorces. Accidental death. A liver transplant. Rehab.
There have been three significant bands in my musical life. The other guitar player from that first band, Michael Ramiy, passed away last winter. The five of us sat together at his funeral back in our hometown, side by side, literally grown men holding each other’s hands because it hurt so bad. Those bonds have never broken. A couple summers before, Jeff Pyles, the other guitar player from my second band, died suddenly. The guitar player from my third endeavor, an acoustic duo with which I recorded two CDs and toured the country during 1997 and 1998, whose name was David Bailey, passed away in 2010.
So every night when I’m doing The Adaptations, there’s a moment where I’m staring off for a moment and wondering why they’re gone and I’m still here. It’s a witchy moment, I’ll tell you.
But there’s also a moment of profound gratitude. And that always comes when I’m laughing with Eve Kagan about something. 18 months we’re doing this now. I’m pretty grateful she showed up here in town.
We’d love to see you when time allows.