Groggily, I boarded a plane destined to LA early the next morning for my twenty-third consecutive Winter NAMM show. It is the largest music products tradeshow in North America, although it is dwarfed by the one in Frankfurt, Germany that I attended eight times. For nearly thirty years, I was in the business of promoting the joy of music making. I actually had a life outside of Greg, Solid Heart and In Harmony. On the tradeshow floor and after hours, there were plenty of music options and even ones that matched my tastes. I either met or saw perform artists like John Gorka, Rory Block, Cephas and Williams, Elton John, the Beach Boys, Roy Book Binder, Alicia Keyes, Doug MacLeod, an Iowa City resident named Catfish Keith to mention a few. Catfish told me a story about visiting Greg at his home once in Iowa City. It was winter, so Greg had a fire going inside. As they sat and talked or whatever musicians do when they get together, he said Greg grabbed a pile of his writings off the table and fed the fire. I have always wondered what might have been on those pages.
Okay, so I don’t really have a life outside of my references to Greg. Some say he mumbles when he sings, I admit I have struggled reading his penmanship at times. More than once, I have had the opportunity to sit at a bar or restaurant with him amongst others. One night, somebody pulled out a notebook and started a game. A sentence was written and handed to the next person to write the second one. You were allowed to read the previous sentence, write one and pass it along. This night, I was sitting next to Greg and he handed it off to me. I confess that muskrat and possum are seldom used in my vocabulary, but for the life of me I was unable decipher the word. Sheepishly, I had to ask him. It was, after all, an integral part of the sentence and I am sure the story that I never saw in its final state.
So many things would have been different if I had faded off the list as I seriously contemplated in 1997. Red House Records used to send those on the list new releases before their “official” release date. Slant Six Mind was one of those units. Everybody, but one guy got their copy in a timely manner. I empathized with him for awhile because the postal service can mess up, but I do applaud their efficiency most of the time. Daily, this guy moaned and complained and ultimately got absolutely obnoxious. The President of Red House offered to do everything, but hand deliver a copy to this guy. Whatever was said in condolences by others and what Red House offered to do was never good enough for him. Fed up with this guy, I wrote a rhyme based on the song Enough from that album. Needless to say, his fury grew exponentially and his flames were now directed at me. Confrontation is far from my preferred form of interaction. Feeling bad, I apologized, but what amazed me was the tremendous support I received from others on the discussion group at the time. It is nice to be loved. Many wonderful contributors to the list in the past have fallen silent for various reasons. I miss them, but there’s one guy who I’m glad has moved on.
I continued to do extended road trips in Oregon, Washington and even British Columbia. Everywhere I went, I sold Solid Heart CDs and recorded shows if they’d allow it. It was exhausting to follow Greg from town to town. How did he find the energy to perform each night? My mailbox continued to be a surprise gold mine of live recordings from across the country from others to the point of ridiculous. I loved my community of Greg friends and it continued to grow. Every concert I went to I seemed to bump into people I knew. That streak almost ended one night in Olympia. Me and the wife were window shopping to pass the time near the concert hall. As we walked by a music instrument store, she said that is Greg playing in there. She didn’t see him, she just heard the guitar playing. We turned around and went in. Sure enough, Greg was test driving some of their instruments. He knew our names by now and we had a nice conversation. That night, he was the only person we knew at the show. A completely different night in Olympia, he and Bo Ramsey performed. It may have been Greg’s first performance after his dad passed away. He and Bo were on fire and I got that show recorded. We ran into them after the show at a nearby watering hole. Actually, they ran into a group of us. After I extended my condolences, I thanked them for allowing me to record the show and politely asked if they’d like me to send them a copy. Why was I so tickled to have Greg’s mailing address in my pocket? Geez Glenn, get over it, remember? I was able to read his penmanship this time.