Monday, July 20, 2009

The Wayback Machine #4 Eberle & John’s Musical History, part one

One thing that has always bound Eberle & me together is a shared love of music. It’s true that how that love manifests itself is a bit different for each of us: Eberle is much more of a composer, despite her proficiency on any number of instruments, & I’m more of a performer. Eberle tends to be happiest with music in the midst of a modal improvisation with intricate rhythms & a melody line riding atop an unusual harmonic structure; I tend to be happiest playing traditional music. Still, tho I’ve had the chance to play with some fine musicians, there’s no one I’d rather play music with than her. Yesterday we had a lot of fun playing various modal improvisations with our friends Sister Mary Ellen & Sister Rebecca Mary—an enjoyable morning of switching instruments & experimenting & listening—the key to improvising in a group. This, along with the enthusiastic response y’all have given to posts containing our music, put me in mind that folks might like to take some trips on the Wayback Machine to see a bit of Eberle & my musical journey together. Here are some pix from our first couple of years together:

Top Pic: I believe the first two instruments Eberle & I played together were the lap steel guitar & the electric bass (we also played guitar/flute & guitar/dulcimer early on). Fact is, I really had no idea how to play the lap steel, but I bumbled along & Eberle was very patient. The lap steel we had at that time was an old Regal; a pretty nice instrument, but it kept developing electronic problems. We’ve since replaced it with a Gretsch, which is a nice instrument. Eberle’s bass is an Ibanez 5-string. Check out that great old Bassman tube amp! & the amazing (for lack of a better word) fake wood panelling.

Eberle with the 5-string bass in what was a sort of office in our old house. The room later became our bedroom—reasonably cozy except when the full moon would come streaming in the large south facing windows. The lap steel & bass pic also was taken in that room.

Yours truly in the Idanha Hotel in Boise (fall 1997)—a wonderful old establishment, since turned into condos (no comment). I’d just bought this Takamine guitar at Old Boise Guitar Shop & couldn’t wait to play it. Our friend Joshua Housh has said this is a sort of archetypal “guy with guitar” pic.

Eberle on our old front porch with our beloved Windsor 5-string banjo, sometime in the early spring of 98. I was living in Indian Valley by then, & the banjo is the first instrument we bought together—sight-unseen from a shop in Salt Lake City. We were lucky! It’s a wonderful instrument. The tiger cat off to the left is one of my many favorite cats, Romeo by name, since sadly gone where the good cats go. He was a big & rather fierce tomcat, but liked humans a lot. Romeo used to visit me quite frequently in my dreams after his disappearance.

Yours truly with same banjo in our old living room.

The original Alice in Wonder Band—Lois Fry, violin; Eberle, bass; me, keyboard(!?!) We did the background music for the McCall-Donnelly Drama Troupe’s Spring 98 production of Alice in Wonderland. Although I’m very far from being the piano player Eberle is, I can fake it ok, & playing with musicians like Lois & Eberle makes things pretty easy on a guy. We can see, tho, in this pic which musicians are relaxed & which one isn't so much so.

For fun: a pic from the dress rehearsal for that production of Alice in Wonderland.

On the porch of a cabin at Burgdorf Hot Springs, where Eberle & I spent my 42nd birthday in September 98; my present? An Epiphone soprano uke, which I’m modeling here (looks like an F chord). Tho I’m not uking much these days, & when I do I prefer the concert & tenor sizes (they’re bigger), I still am very fond of this uke, which has a sweet sound.

If you like this, check back for more pix in chronological order in future Wayback Machine posts.


  1. As always, a fascinating post. I can't decide whether my initial ignorance about the items you discuss adds to the fascination or whether they would be even more enthralling if I were a little more enlightened to begin with. I guess it doesn't matter really - just keep 'em rolling!

  2. I enjoyed browsing some of your musical family album!

  3. Hi Dave & Willow:

    Dave: That's a fun question, but glad you like them & yes, we'll keep them rolling along.

    Willow: Thanks!

  4. That's really interesting. I feel I know you and Eberle more with every post.

  5. Talk of improvisation reminds me of teenage "avant garde" sessions, as we used to call them. Me (upright bass), Paul (clarinet) and Ben (flute and sax) making wild, anything goes sort of music. We were all studying classical music and our meetings were almost clandestine! It was fantastic, and we all learnt a lot from it. For example, we'd be swirling along for minutes on end, getting totally lost in what we were doing and then suddenly end together, intuitively. I'm not sure what it would have been like for anyone listening, but we lived for it for a while. (I do think there are kinds of music where the audience, quite rightly, are the players themselves and the best way to enjoy it is to join in somehow).

    Interesting instruments - and interesting locations.

  6. Tuning Up A Storm! I hope All is well with You&Yours John

  7. Hi Alan, Dominic, Tony & Randy:

    Alan: Glad you enjoyed it!

    Dominic: That sounds like fun; we recorded some of ours with Sister Rebecca Mary (not the ones this Sunday, but in the past) & some of them sound good. We've found that you can get the kernel of a song idea from these sessions, too.

    Tony: Thanks! Hope you're doing well--am guessing you're either travling or about to--happy trails!

    Randy: Thanks! There'll be more to come.


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.