opie revisited

now playing: jimmie spheeris, “moon on the water”

so last night i got to talk to someone i haven’t spoken with in ages.


jerry opdycke, the lead guitar player from the band i was in during my teenage years back in savannah, tennessee – we’ve touched base a few times via email over the years, and he sent me a very thoughtful email when my mother passed away last spring, but we hadn’t really had any kind of dialogue until i put up a page on myspace, and he found me over there. last night, i actually picked up the phone and gave him a call after he sent me his number, and we got to reminisce about the old days for a while…he had seen the basement blog and mentioned that he actually remembered the time i spoke of when our keyboard player showed me a trick for cutting out the ring on my snare head for recording. apparently, reggie died a few years ago of lung cancer…i meant to ask about the rest of the folks from the band, but it didn’t occur to me while we were talking – we jumped around quite a bit.

i was the drummer in this particular band – and was perfectly content to be so…i was in the early stages of learning guitar at the time, and being able to watch opie when we were in the band together was invaluable to me. i learned a lot from him, in terms of how he got his tone, his phrasing, and the like – in fact, when i was amp shopping early in my stone road tenure, wendy and i walked into a pawn shop in reading and lo and behold – there sat a lab series L-7 amp (jerry used to use an L-5 back in the day). i had no choice but to buy it…and i still have it. i don’t get to use it as much as i’d like, but it’s right there, waitin’ for me.

this was a great band – i mean, i’m sure that there are plenty of people who insist that the band they were in when they were a teenager was the best thing since sliced bread, but this really was a good band. and when you’re sixteen, seventeen years old and you’re out in the clubs, playing with guys who’ve got ten years on you in experience…guys who are really pretty much the best that your town has to offer – well, it was a good couple of years. let’s put it that way.

i often wish i could go back to that point in time knowing what i know now…i mean, at the time, i was as guilty as every other seventeen year old musician is of overplaying…i was waaaay too heavy on the fills and we could’ve been that much better if i was as interested in playing for the song then as i am now. but – i wanted to be neil peart. at that point in my life, anyway. and this band was so not about that kind of music. but also, if i had the ability to do the whole “turn back time” thing, i think i would’ve liked to have gotten involved with the band before i did – but hey…everything happens for a reason, i’m sure.

jerry was the first guy to turn me on to little feat – there were a few times when i’d ride back from gigs with him and he’d have them on in the car, and they didn’t sound like anything else i’d ever heard. i also remember hearing karla bonoff‘s “restless nights” album for the first time at jerry’s house after a gig.

man…if our penchant for nostalgia increases with age, i imagine i’ll be insufferable if i add a couple more decades onto the time i’ve been here – my kids won’t be able to stand me.

speaking of the kids….

dylan, if i haven’t mentioned it already, nailed down the drumkit chair for the jazz ensemble a while back…he was so excited to tell me when he came home with his music and the CD of the songs he had to learn = “night train”, “you made me love you”, and the piece de resistance – “st. thomas” by sonny rollins. if you’ve ever heard the piece, you already know what he’s up against…it starts off with something of a samba beat, run through the bo diddley filter. it’s not, by any definition, an easy piece.

so the drumkit is set up in the basement, complete with baffles, and i ran a copy of the disc for him to practice with and set him on a pretty rigid practice schedule. tuesday night, he came over a little late and i set him up in the basement while i went to do something else…and i heard him start with the saint thomas beat a couple of times and muff it pretty hopelessly. i went downstairs and took a couple of minutes to show him the easiest way to go about it, and had him hang up the headphones for a bit and just practice the intro beat – dylan has a tendency towards frustration when he doesn’t learn everything in one pass, and i’m going to have to stay on him to keep him from beating himself up, but after i showed him an easier way to play it and had him work strictly on that, he caught on pretty quickly. he’s still not where he needs to be with it, but man – he progresses quickly when he gets a little guidance.

then there’s jayda.

jayda has a friend at school who introduced her to a kid named byron, whos’ an acid whiz and has a small production company called 2Much, and he’s put together a couple of tracks that he had her come over and sing on on tuesday night. they had a data mishap the first night she was there, and she was afraid that they lost all the work they did that night – but he managed to salvage the tracks and only had to resync everything. they were at his house in his upstairs studio from the time school let out until a little after 11 o’clock working on the song, and she’s stoked about it. in fact, i haven’t seen her this excited about anything musical for a number of years.

i’ve accepted some time ago that she’s not cut from the same cloth as i am, from a musical standpoint – she’s not seven years old anymore, and she doesn’t listen to patty griffin anymore, and that’s just the way it is. i’ve made peace with it. but i had also begun to think that with her change in taste, that whatever musical aspirations she may have had must’ve fallen by the wayside as well. and i still don’t see her as having any grand plan for Rich And Famous By Seventeen Or Bust, or anything like that – but she’s really enjoying what she’s doing, and that makes me feel good.

she’s also learning, though – as i did when faced with the same scenario – that her mother is probably not the first place to look to for support or encouragement. last night in the car, byron called her on her cellphone to play the finished track for her over the phone so she could hear it. after it had come and gone, jayda asked him to play it again so her mom could hear it, and she handed her mom the phone to listen. apparently, a few seconds went by and, according to jayda, her face kinda fell into a dismayed expression and she made a comment about the song being in spanish.

she didn’t tell me as much when she told me about this, but i know her feelings were hurt. i think she was expecting some kind of a positive reaction from her mother with regard to something she did that she was proud of…and justifiably so. this was her first (as far as she was concerned) recording session, and it was a song that she’d helped write and sing, and i’m sure that somewhere in her mind, she’d thought that perhaps her mom would have at least had some kind words about it.

as sad as it is to say, that’s a lesson i learned a long time ago. jill is a dry well where that sort of thing is concerned.

reggaeton isn’t my thing – that’s something of an understatement. but if that’s what jayda wants to do, then i’m all for it. tastes change over time, and it may or may not be a phase she’s going through – or it may not, and that’s fine, too. i want her to make whatever kind of music she wants to make, and i’m not here to pass judgement on that. we’ve already had the “agree to disagree” conversation about music, and frankly – as much as i fantasize about the prospect, i don’t think it’s terribly likely that both of my kids will ever really fully appreciate my taste in music. nor are they supposed to.

my buddy jon has passed a great deal of his musical appreciations on to his daughter, and she has a healthy respect for the music he listens to – she goes to poco shows, helps sell merchandise, the whole nine yards – but i’m pretty sure she has a healthy appetite for the music that her friends listen to at school, as well. i’d like for my own relationship with my kids’ musical taste to be a lot more like jons’, but the fact is, it sure as hell could be worse than it is now.

i think that, all in all, we’re ok.

jayda is actually accompanying byron to a local radio station for her first on-air appearance tomorrow night, between 8 and 10pm on 91.3 FM – if you’re in the reading area and can withstand two hours of reggaeton, feel free to tune in.




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