Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Rock Stars and How I Met My Wife

OK, the rock stars part is a little far fetched but the story of how I met my wife (of 27 years at the time of this writing) is kind of cool and too far fetched to have been made up.

Saints and Sinners practiced at Jeff's house in Skaggsville.  I was going to Howard Community College.  Gary was going to University of Maryland.  Gary met a girl who worked at the cafeteria at UMCP.  He started chatting her up and told her he was in a band and asked if she wanted to come to a band practice.  That's how Gary was and I've never been like that.  How he could just approach girls and ask them to go places was beyond me but I'm glad he did.  She accepted.

She came to the Roost for the practice and there was a small commotion.  She knew Jeff from grade school.  She knew his whole family!  She actually lived across the field behind the Roost and down a street and had been hearing us practice but didn't know where the music was coming from.

I don't remember how many practices she came to but at some point I asked Gary if he was dating her.  He said no.  She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.  She still is.  One evening we were all sitting around and she rubbed my shoulders.  I threw out a terrible line: "What are you doing for the rest of your life".  My kids still groan at that!  I don't blame them but I was totally smitten!

I remember that soon after that Gary and maybe Jeff were going to a party at UMCP.  I asked if she wanted to go, she said yes, and we spent the evening walking around UMCP talking about whatever.  I couldn't believe that she was hanging out with me.  The next week was her birthday and I bought her roses.  They were expensive for a guy delivering pizzas.  There's a long and beautiful story that follows those events but to sum it up, Mary B has been by my side through everything and has always supported my playing music.  I'm forever thankful and grateful for that.

Thanks Gary, without you putting it all in motion I might not have ever met her.

Saints and Sinners and the Roost

I remember going to the first practice with Saints and Sinners.  Gary Mauck may have already been in the group but I don't recall.  Jeff Gover and Matt German were there though.  It was an early summer evening as I recall (probably incorrectly).  They practiced in Skaggsville at Jeff's house in an old chicken coop.  Great place to practice.  We jammed out a few songs that we collectively knew to try to get a feel for things.  I remember Jeff used to love to play Elvis Presley's "Little Sister Don't You".  We played a bunch of blues and Southern Rock.  Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Creedence, Bad Co, Foghat... 

After we hit it off pretty well and practiced a few times we were talking about getting a singer.  None of us were really lead singers so we talked about putting an ad in the paper for one.  In the mean time we decided that we would all take turns on lead until the right guy came along.  I never considered myself a singer.  As it turned out we never found a singer and I ended up singing most of the songs.  Looking back I'm glad I did because I've always loved singing in in bands.  If a singer would have come along I might not have ever stepped up to the mic.

I recall we worked pretty had on the songs that we played.  I've always been a bit too much of a perfectionist but the guys were just as interested in putting on a good show so we put in the time to make it sound right.

Jeff was a pretty social guy so I think he found most of the gigs.  We played some parties and played the coveted Main Street Festival.  I remember playing at a Battle of the Bands... it might have been in a roller skating rink or a VFW hall or something.  I got my picture in the paper with the band from that gig.  I wore a white felt hat as my stage gear.... I thought it made me look cool.

A couple of memorable gigs.  We got an "exposure" gig playing at the grand opening of the Route 95/MD 216 rest area.  Yep, we set up next to the men's room on a bright day and jammed out songs while the travelers relieved themselves.  Ah the things you do to make it big.  The other story I remember was playing a Halloween party.  I dressed like Indiana Jones and my date... well she simply looked amazing.  Too good for words.  What made the gig memorable though was that we played a set, took a break, and when we went to play the next set we couldn't find Matt.  He snuck off to make out with his date in the back of his truck.  When we told him it was time to play he told us all to get lost.  We went back to play much later than we had planned.  No one seemed to care.  One thing I was floored with was that his date was a very high-class girl named Cory Beaulet (or something close).  You would have never put her and Matt together.  Of course you would have never put me and my date together either.

There are too many stories that I know I've forgotten but I do know that we had fun, played a lot of music, learned how to be in a band, drank beer, and had the time of our lives.  A couple of important things happened during this band.  I met my wife and I started to write songs.  I still remember one of the songs.  A simple blues song that I didn't want to sing.  Matt sang it and he did a great job with it.  I liked the song but didn't feel that my voice was right for it.  Blue Skies...

Yesterday my skies were blue, today my skies are gray, yeah.
Yesterday my skies were blue, today my skies are gray, yeah.
Don't know why you had to go and take my blue skies away.

Good stuff.

Angela Instruments

I don't remember how I found this place but there was a weird little driveway on Route 1 in Laurel that had a sign that said Aerolab.  Behind that place was a house and in the basement of that house was a music store called Angela Instruments.  There's an online shop called Angela.com which may be the same place.  I remember that the guy, Steve, that owned or ran it was this cool, slick, leather-clad guy who seemed to know everything about everything; especially to an 18 year old kid.  I bought my Sun head and Cerwin Vega cabinet from him and later my Schecter guitar.  He gave me a good deal and just seemed like a generally good guy.

I remember him talking about working with the Slickee Boys in DC a bunch.  He did a lot of mail-order stuff and said that he sent gear through UPS to major acts on the road.  Once when I came in he said he had just gotten off the phone with Billy Gibson and was going to send him some gear.  True or not?  I have no way of knowing but it left an impression on me.  Regardless, Steve was a very cool guy.  Without him I don't know when I would have gotten my first real guitar.