Monday, August 02, 2010

Stella, and how in the world did I end up in 7 bands?

The answer is "I can't help myself". I've had the rock and roll bug since hearing the Beatles (or The Chipmunks sing the Beatles) as a wee thing. My Uncle Dewey had a guitar in the mid-60's and also a band. I was fascinated by that thing. The only sounds I could make from it was bumble bee sounds by plunking on the bass E string and running my finger down the frets the way a surf guitarist would.

I didn't get serious about playing one till I was a senior in high school, the 2nd semester in 1980. My friend Tim O'Connell was about to throw the guitar into the trash one day when I was at his house and I begged him to give it to me. I wore that little guitar out.

To the side is a picture of the Stella he gave me. It's since been signed by several of my fellow North Carolina musicians when I co-led the NC Songwriters Alliance in the 90's. It still hangs in my home. The close-up at the top of the page is what Ryan Adams wrote on it when he played the Songwriters Alliance on one particularly bizarre night.

Anyway, back to the original question. For years and years, following the break-up of my first real band The Hanks, the only band I played with was my self-titled band Jeff Hart & The Ruins. Then later, the Panther Branch Boys and The Brown Mountain Lights. But after years of sort of vaguely trying to "make a go of it" while still holding down a day job, I slowly realized that simply playing live music in general was what it was all about for me. I briefly had a Kinks tribute band in the 90's and recently we revived it as The Kinksmen. But one thing has led to another and I'm in a Neil Young tribute band called "Young Neil and The Damage Done", and a very occasional Television tribute band (the NYC 70's rock heroes) called Amps Do Furnish A Room, and now a band called "Mockpile" which pays homage to Rockpile, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe and even some Elvis Costello and Big Star.

I just can't say no apparently. I'll soon get back to my own stuff (and even a sideways revival of my old band The Hanks, but with a few new members and a new name ie, Johnny Paul Jason), but this has been a nice detour and it's helped me get back in touch with what I really love about music anyway and why I got into it in the first place.

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