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Eclectric

 

Psychedelic Steward with Woodstock Ticket

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I appreciate your interest. Have a question or a comment? You're an avid audiophile; you were in the audience; maybe we jammed. Cool. So shoot me an email. Or, if you prefer, use the form at page bottom. (A confirmation will appear after you click "Submit.")

Q & A

Q. “I would like to see you guys play in person. Do you have a schedule of dates? (The ‘Crossing…’ piece is excellent.) Thanks. Joi2world”  A. Sorry, Joi, we’re not currently doing gigs. Performing live can commandeer your life, plus it would take our concentration away from creating new music ~ and that’s what currently floats this Eclectric boat. Been there, done that, you know, and moved on ~ but I’ll never say never! Thank you for listening, for the appreciative verbage, and be assured any live gigs would be announced here and in the newsletter.

Q. Steve. "Picked up your garage band album at a recent car show where the orange [cover art] truck was on display. A sign said “1979 Dodge Lil Red Express truck heard on track 2”. There was a Lil Red next to it, but that was a ’78 – NOT a ’79! They were for 2 years only, and the front ends are different! So which was used in "Do Ya Wanna Drive?" (Thanks for the CD!) Motorhead Girl"    A. Neither of those – but I commend you, Girl, on your hot rod knowledge. (Loved you in My Cousin Vinney!) "Sunrise" is my own resto-build wearing its original '78-only color 'Sunrise Orange'; the LRE you saw next to it at that Car Pride Show is an original 20K-mile survivor owned by Mopar Mike Jackson. However, the album audio was done with my ’79 Red Express, (still awaiting resto, and not at the show). Recordings of it ‘leaving’ were done on a country road with one microphone at ‘the line’ and another one positioned for the second-gear chirp. Exhaust was straight out headers with nothing aft, NOT from Red Express stacks. It took numerous attempts to get it right and, with the posi rear, I burned the tires off that li'l pooch. (And that is what is meant by "Have some fun") Also: it had no brakes. None. Thanks fer the cool question.

Q. Akiko writes: "Very fond of cd yours. Wakan is my favorite. I listen over and over. Artwork shows many flying saucers. Are subscribed you to ancient alien theory?" A. Yes. I’d describe it as ‘directed panspermia – with fringe benefits. A subscriber? Yes. I was a charter member, seeing The Day the Earth Stood Still at 10, and reading my first Ivan T. Sanderson book at age 14. These days, many (if not most) UFOs seen are likely from one of the secret space programs, not ET's ride. Anyway, I thank you for your words, and I am greatly honored. [The tweaked-up re-release of 'Wakan' came out June 2018. I hope you liked it, Akiko ! ]

Q. "You have a unique website. I could not find you on Facecrack, don't know why - Angela" A. Thanks for finding to my site. No, you will not currently find me on 'Facecrack' (as you call it)  - although the career experts advise otherwise. I set up this Q&A column for personal contact in lieu of. I stay out of the Silicon Valley-generated Grippin Mire whenever possible. It works for some folks. Thanks for your comments, Angela, and please come again.

Q. Riding the wave of the Woodstock 50th, (Aug. 2019), Hollywood voice-over artist Aaron Meza wrote: "Hi Steve, Thanks for sharing about Woodstock. You can reminisce anytime! For myself, like Joni [Mitchell], I must be content with honoring that time in a different way – and I did recently with a wee jam with my buddy Gary. (He was 20 years old and in the army overseas in '69.) We played songs by the performers; it was fun, and we included Joni’s song." A. Hey, thanks Aaron. Alright, cool on yer jamming. Yeah, got some memories even though I was only there Sat. to Sunday morning, so here are a few: * * * * * Right after finding a place to park(!) and beginning our 10-mile pilgrimage to the stage came the ticket scalper. He obviously had us pegged as newcomers, and immediately went into a sales pitch, offering each of us Sat. $6 tickets for only $2. What a deal! Not yet knowing that they weren’t needed, I bought one. Strange Brew drummer Mike Pleviak refused, and busted me for being a chump, but I still have mine, now framed with some surrounding artwork [see PHOTO/ART GALLERY]. So who’s the chump now, Mike? But major kudos to George Broody and his beautiful bug-eyed '60s Dodge van, the Magic Bus that got us there and back. You and that van made it happen, George! * * * * * Here’s another: It was Sat. afternoon. Strange Brew organist Mark Leach and I had hung close to stage front for awhile, partook and passed a few things, and then went walk about, heading up the hill. Went to a funky makeshift food stand, and even the worker there passed me something. Bought a burger, dressed it with ketchup. Then I heard him tell the next guy, “Sorry, man, we’re outa burgers. Still got a few hotdogs.” “Are ya gonna get more?” that guy asked - while several other interested people were listening. “I dunno, man” he said, looking around, “I think it’s gonna be awhile.” Took a bite of the burger when this amazing drum rhythm started. What the eff is that?” I said to Leach. Took another bite, then this incredible mesmerizing lead guitar stuff filled the air. I handed the rest of the burger to the guy who didn’t get one. “Cool, thanks, man!” He took a munch and passed it to somebody else. (That was Woodstock.) Everybody stopped what they were doing, looked at the stage and wondered WHO THE EFF IS THAT? It was some band named Santana and I had just bought the last hamburger at Woodstock. * * * * * And onward: To me, Woodstock in ’69 was NOT about partying, drugs or even music. It was all about people. Hundreds of thousands of people thrown together into a situation they could not have imagined or predicted, a situation that conventional wisdom would mark for disaster, a potential do or die scenario. There were NO fights, rapes, thefts, or examples of violence of any kind. This occurred without a police force. People worked together to make that happen. Everyone there, the attendees, townspeople and local folks, caregivers, grossly outnumbered (!) law enforcement personnel, anyone whose eyes met yours was your friend and part of your family.

THIS is what human beings can do when they want to.

   


Diana B. from Alaska comments and asks Q. Hey! I saw you with Chuck in Pittsburgh in '73. Chuck was late getting onstage and the crowd was getting antsy. But after he walked onstage the crowd went crazy!!! Chuck looked like he was having a great time. I remember you guys playing great backup and some pretty heavy bass. What brand of bass guitar was that? I've seen pictures and can't quite make it out. Any other memories of that awesome concert would be much appreciated!! That concert is an excellent memory of mine. Thanks for your time answering.

A. The ‘Richard Nader’s Rock & Roll Revival’ concert you recall at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena was probably my 3rd time playing with Mr. Berry; the revitalized four-piece Comstock Band (that added me as the young pup on bass) was only a few months old. [See BANDOGRAPHY on the ABOUT page.] We opened the show with a new version of Bobby’s R&R medley – new packaging for same oldies – but except for playing with CB, I don’t recall any of the other supporting acts, (although I know I was onstage as bassist for most of them). Thanks for the kind words; I was using the ’66 sunburst Fender Precision I’d special-ordered (lefty) through Collins Music in Bloomsburg PA when still a school kid. Spent every cent I could save or find to buy it including my older brother’s Indian head coin collection at face value. Thanks, Gale. [Photo on WHAT'S NEW page] I think the reason Mr. Berry was late to the stage that night was because he added a new stipulation: he insisted on getting paid in greenbacks before going on. With the paid attendance clamoring in their seats and the producer over a barrel, Chuck held his ground until Nader’s people coughed up the cash. Mostly I remember how great that Pittsburgh audience was, and how friendly and music-knowledgeable the people were in general. Thanks for writing!

Q. What the real story with this Hall of Fame stuff? Who are you kidding?" - sent by 'N. Credulous'   A. Everybody, N., everybody, - and, while accurate in some respects, it has all the authenticity of your name! [See the article in What's New. This satirical piece was contributed by a veteran pro in 'the biz'.]  

Q. "Wow. Can't believe your site. I searched Headwind. I remember you guys at Cornell, doing CSNY, Dead, Traffic and even Chicago. What happened to that band?" - CLA. The short answer is that it passed away in its adolescence. The longer blurb is: When I shuffle off this mortal coil, I'll go still wondering what would have happened if Headwind had stayed together. It was the band we, (Jeff, Aaron and I), had all hoped for as individuals. In '70, seemingly as providence, Jeff Plissner and I were assigned freshman roommates in the old University Hall #4 dorm, and we met and started singing CSN harmony with Aaron Meza at a freshman mixer our first week there. This trio nucleus of Headwind (which had been Ezra) all left CU at the same time a few years later, presumably to make the band fly bigtime, but the effort was soon derailed by someone's bossy new bride commandeering all to the west coast. ["Hmm... Let's see now: the band - or a hot-to-trot 18-year old?"] Little pussy won - Headwind lost. Jeff and I stayed east, tried to regroup, but the magic was gone. Eventually he went back to school; I floundered for a year through Orion, ABB and King Henry's band until I hooked up with the Ithaca-based Comstock Band in 1973. [See BANDOGRAPHY] Thanks for writing, C.  

"The old album song I think you should redo next is Time Is Now. - Misty." OK, thanks. That's a good choice. Like all those album cuts, there were technical issues (with both recording and distribution) that held it back. And I've always wanted a chance to remake that lead guitar work with the plastic Mickey Mousegetar. We'll consider it, and I appreciate your suggestion.

Q. My boyfriend wants to know what’s up with the hand sign on Postwar Jump and also on your Spotify page, etc. - Sandi A. While some have assumed that it's simply my own modified version of the Vulcan 'Live Long and Prosper' thing, that hand sign has multiple historic derivatives. In more modern times, it is The Sign of The Big W, and generally signifies buried treasure. Originally thought to mimic the star constellation Cassiopeia in ancient times, it was first used regularly as a secret code by the mysterious Daze Permlar and their followers. This once-powerful sect came under dire persecution, so the survivors were forced to flee Europe with all their secrets, sailing in a lighter-than-air craft built from alien materials they discovered under King Soulmann’s Temple. Upon arriving in North America, they realized that taking the native people’s homeland away from them by force would be unfair and unjust, so they left. This time, they landed on an obscure island, taking up residence on what is now Pines Peninsula. There, in an elaborate system, they buried their treasures and secrets, including their lead balloon and (presumably) the long-sought-for Spark of the Government. By invitation, they mated with the local population and intended to live out their days permanently until forced underground by some unknown cataclysm. Various versions of this hand sign are depicted in numerous famous paintings by Geothermo con Vinci as well as other artists, apparently to tell the viewer in a coded message that The Spark of the Government and the royal bloodline of King Soulmann had survived. I display it as it relates to the fact that there are still many buried treasures and undiscovered secrets – some even hidden in plain sight – and that it’s still a mad, mad world. But we’re doing better; we’re down to only two mads. And feel free to contact me again, Sandi, if there's anything else your boyfriend wants to know, like 'how about when turned on side?' - the answer being, of course, that then it's The Sign of The Big E ! Enjoy.

Q. Hi Steve. Recently found your site and read bandography [ABOUT page]. I worked with [a certain drummer - name withheld] years ago. Once we were coming home from a gig in your area. On a back road, we put the VW microbus on it's [sic] side in a big ditch. He called some bass player guy at 4 in the morning to come out with his Power Wagon pickup truck. The vw was yan[k]ed back on its wheels, and up out on to the road, and we drove it home - cops never came. Was that you? [name withheld] A. Yep.

Thanks, Gman, for the review you put on CDBaby. [NOTE: Come to find out, 'Gman' is actually character actor George Georgiadis. His review went: "Every time I play the album my favorite song changes... road trip or cruise, ROCK ON..."] Yeah, there was definitely some drivin' going on in that recording, George! Ol' Chuck Berry told me once, onstage, in the middle of a song: "You drive me, man. You DRIVE me!" - after which he did the sidestep slide up to the mic, and hit the fourth verse of Johnny B. Goode el perfecto. (And that's where my song title "Drivin' Johnny B." comes from.) Sorry to hear you got thrown out of that Beacon Theatre concert for dancing onstage; I have only a very vague memory of it. Probably when the Coasters were on, right? I knew Carl and Speedo best; we partied some. Chuck was always doing that, too: he'd invite people up, and it would get out of hand. (DUH, Mr. Berry!!!) He did that at Madison Square Garden one night - and ended up punching some guy in the head, onstage, while under a perfect white pin spot! The Big Apple audience didn't like that, and closed in on the stage and orchestra pit. I barely got out of there alive, and with equipment intact - thanks mostly to my personal roadie of the evening, friend and drummer Mitch Doll. Sideman pal and saxophonist Lou Marini Jr. was on that show, too, about a year before he became "Blue Lou" with The Blues Brothers ala Sat. Night Live. Grapevine said our Comstock group was also scrutinized to be the backup band in that movie; obviously we didn't get the offer.

tarzanNjane asks: Q. "Could you please tell us more about Ernest Silverback, and what he is doing now?" A. No, vineswingers, I cannot. I have never even met the man face to face. Producing that song ["Frackin' Fool"] was a unique challenge. First, SE Consortium members powwowed to create the instrumentation backing, (the accompaniment). Then, Silverback essentially phoned in his performance. Afterward, I put on the finishing touches and shoved it out of the nest. So, to answer your question: I can't say where froggy-voiced Ernest is or what he is doing. Truth is I'm not exactly sure who he is.

This, from Deereman66: Q. "Heard your Frackin Fool on a country list, and I’m incensed. I’m a 4th generation farmer, and we support the gas drilling venture here. Not just for the money, but for those who need this energy. Where do you think it’s going to come from for this great country of ours? From space? I think you are the fool. Who do you think you are?" A. I think I’m a musician and a farmer whose ag lineage also goes back 4 generations. The story those songs tell was culled from real life. Yes, that frackin' natural gas IS needed: by the energy corporations - to sell. The process to get it is foolish, shortsighted, irresponsible and, plainly, idiotic. (Nikola Tesla knew about free energy for everybody, but citizens have yet to get that info. And: it IS from space , guy.) I think you are not stupid, just ignorant, since you believe what you’ve been told. The real news is not on 'The News'. Instead, think on this: "I think, therefore I am. I think not, therefore I am not." However, I agree with you, my Deereman: you should be incensed! I suggest Celestial Sandalwood.


Q. Effie Afton of Rock Island writes with memories of a 'Rock Revival' concert in Chicago in the '70s, and wonders if I was playing bass. A. Sorry Effie, but no. Much as I love the windy city, I got the nod for gigs in the eastern US and Canada only, so it would've been someone else. Chuck Berry was a shrewd dude, not willing to spend anything out of his pocket unnecessarily. He knew that, wherever he went, he could pick up local musicians to play his well known 3-chord songs for little or no pay, just to say that they played with the living legend. [Can you say Bruce Springsteen?] Hence, the somewhat derisive term "Chuck Berry pickup band" came into use in pro music circles back then. Some nights it sounded good, sometimes not, but CB got paid the same either way. I got paid, too, but not by CB. A lot of my gigs backing him and others (with the Comstock band) were in the Big Apple, and he ALWAYS sounded good with us... Rock Island, huh? I was marooned there for awhile! Thanks for writing, Effie.

To the Reverend Darryl G. Thanks... for your appreciation re: 'the frackin' songs'. Nice coming from a fiddler & banjo picker. Referring to the bass on "...Hoedown": that's my '67 sunburst Precision, original and unmodified except for a replica neck with stainless steel frets. (Once you go stainless, you'll never go back.) I'm using roundwound ultra-light gauge strings on those semi-jumbo stainless frets - which explains that 'growl' around the low G. Good ears!

I really enjoyed this letter sent to my P.O.box: J.L. writes: Q. "Who the hell are you? Why have'nt [sic] I heard of you? Thought you played country. Then I heard the Taking you Along live song. That's a good song sounds like you were at Woodstock."  A. (by return letter, I wrote): "Thanks for writing, J.L. To answer your questions: 1. I'm still learning who the hell I am; there are many voices. 2. I don't know why, but you've heard of me now. 3. l WAS at Woodstock in 1969, but I was a school kid slip-sliding in the mud! P. S. I lost my new class ring there, and I guess it's out in Max's field until somebody finds it: 'Berwick High School', initials 'SHS', with a blue stone. My ride home in George's Dodge van left early Sunday morning. So I never saw Jimi Hendrix and missed the chance to salute the colors with my left hand. I'd still say that SLY STONE was the hottest thing there."

Q. F. E. Boone of Lexington KY asks, "Just what is a 'musical' saw? Is it really a saw?" A. Yes. That is, it looks like one, and is made of the same materials: steel saw blade with teeth (unsharpened) and a wooden handle. The one heard on both Frackin' songs was a 'Bahco Stradivarius', made in Sweden. Additional comment by Mr. E. S. Carpenter of our Musicians' Consortium: "It is played held vertically while sitting down, with the handle trapped between the knees, and the saw teeth toward the body. The musical sound is made by vibrations of the blade, set into motion using a violin bow, or by hitting it with a mallet. The Bahco Stradivarius saw is embossed with the image of someone playing one naked. I would advise great care should you try this. A slip could cause serious injury, regardless of gender."

To Rich B.  Always loved your Guild acoustic, played metal-fingerpick style, and recall the times you sat in with Headwind during your Cornell days. Good to hear from you!

Q. Gary R. writes: “…Can you tell me a bit about Larry Crowder? I used to know him many years ago.. curious. Thanks.” A. The time I spent with him was during those first few years that I was in the Comstock band. Larry was a real good lead (and rhythm) guitar player, and helped show me the ropes when I started playing oldies stuff and doing the Rock Revival shows. He usually played a Gibson SG. He and I shared a love for Hendrix, and used to jam on Jimi stuff at rehearsals. Crowder's sense of humor was sometimes trying but omnipresent. He told the story of his one-day-long career as a car salesman. The prospective customer liked the car, but told Larry that his wife would never agree to the asking price. Without hesitating, Larry responded, "You don't think she'll like it? Well, bring 'er down and we'll dicker!" Larry took a shot in the mouth, the insulted customer left, no sale, and so ended Larry Crowder's car selling days.

A. To "Dixie": I created the Comstock 'raccoon' character and logo. The 'Discovery of the Comstock Lode' etching was something I ripped off from an old library book and then reworked. The musician caricatures are (L to R): Al Vanderberg, Donnie Harding, Bobby Comstock, and yours truly. Larry Crowder quit the band just after I did the artwork, (due to Comstock deciding to 'go country' - for about a month), so I had to change it to Harding. The raccoon, the logo, and the etching were all contained on that one B/W poster, used around 1977. [View these in PHOTO/ART GALLERY] It was experimental, and very few were printed, maybe a couple dozen, so the one you have has gotta be rare! Hey, now that I think of it, I remember a 'Dixie'! This girl was an energetic dancer with a hot bod, and always used to shake it bigtime, right up near the stage - so we could all see. And she made requests. (We could've easily made a few of her.) Yeah, it's coming back to me... The band even had a song we used to sing about her, (offstage). Let's see - how'd it go? Oh, yeah: "Well, I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray - Hooray..." We had some more lyrics for it - REAL good ones - the kind that you'd probably be very interested in hearing, (especially if you're that one!), but, damn, I'm all outa room...


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Hello test - test one two... Is this effing thing on ??? (oh, i guess it was.) Sorry...

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