Thursday, November 20, 2014

Those were the days, my friends

One of the nicest things about cancer (what'd he say?) is the wonderful visits I get from old and new friends. They drop off the nicest, most interesting things, including handmade goodies, shared books and magazines and--believe it or not--some of the coolest items from our own mutual music archives you can imagine. The results leaves me feeling warm and grateful, despite the fact that I do continue to be a bit knackered* from the aforementioned cancer-bug and its treatments.
The first visit came from one of my original bandmates, a bass player named Dale Seifert, an early drummer, named Mark Schueneman, and David Bisshop, who has shared my musical tastes and interest for years.
Mark and Dave knocked on my front door.
"Glad to see you're home. I've got a surprise for you."
I stepped back, thinking Schueneman had a new/old guitar to show me or a piece of the interesting memorabilia he likes to collect.
But no.
Instead of a Flying V or a Grateful Dead poster, it was my old friend Seifert, who I had not laid eyes on for many year.
"We're kidnapping you," said Mark." "Hop in."
So I did.
Our journey took us to Schueneman's home, where he houses his favorite guitars and instruments, plus a music collection that would be most treasured by the guys who played it.
For the next several hours, I was regaled with a series of recordings featuring many of the guys we both played with over a period of a couple of decades. Thanks to the care Mark took in laying those vintage tracks down, the music was remarkably clear and downright perfect.
Even if the musicians weren't.
It was a true slice of a pie that tasted quite sweet.
Lucky me.
My second piece of the Liverpudian** Invasion came just a few weeks later, when I received a
visit from old music buddy and Star Courier page editor Rocky Stuffelbeam and his wife, Diane, who has been a firm, fast friend since the summer of 1965.  Rocky was one of the guys I met on that strange, fateful day when I joined my first Kewanee garage band. He, plus a tall, good looking lead singer named Dave Canienne, a drummer named Dave Crabtree, and bass player Seifert were the first bandmates in our thrilling adventures up and down Tenney and Main Streets as we worked to become the hottest act on the Kewanee music scene. I had played in public before, most notably with a Galva-based quartet featuring vocalist Rebecca (Johnson) Duytschaver, John White on drums, and LaFayette's own John McKirgan on lead guitar.  But the Kewanee guys seemed more ready to rock, and I was--most definitely--ready to roll.
And so we did.
Along with being a great friend and a talented musician, no matter what he claims, Rocky was a highly organized guy, which was high praise for any high-school kid, anytime. Ergo, he was, apparently put in charge of the most important thing a pick-up band could own.
The set list.  The list of songs the band knew and was ready to play.
Rocky was rambling through a safe deposit box he's had for over forty years not long ago when he found it.
It's even marked as to when and where it was used.
Galva Middle School.
It contains a comprehensive list of the fifty-nine songs we were prepared to churn out, and even includes a list of the band members, just in case we forgot, I guess.
Some of those hits of the summer of '67 include "Louie, Louie," "Gloria," "Slow Down," "Boys," "Satisfaction," "Twist and Shout," and a song that was a hit anytime we played it, "Little Bit of Soul."
"I probably put it together in study hall, when I was supposed to be studying," noted Rocky.
Rocky gave me that old list on the day he visited, leaving me just to wonder where I'm going to hang it. And Mark shared the old tunes, all neat and downloaded on modern-day discs.
The visits and gifts were great.
The friends are still perfect.

*British slang for tired or exhausted.

**from Liverpool, England and the British music invasion of the 1960s.


  1. Brilliant! And to think that Galva still has a lively live music scene thanks to the Arts Council and guys like you!

  2. I'm so glad I was at the Galva Middle School in 19th to hear that playlist!

  3. John, I have been reading your articles (a fan) through Jolene Z. Just had to tell you that you are really good at your craft. Writers don't get to hear that enough, so I'm telling you. Please keep it up. I imagined the list of songs I would have written on a piece of paper in 1967; the same, plus many others. Ahh, nothing can top 60's R&B. Well, the Beatles could. Yes, those were the days. Thanks for writing. Jennie Fitzkee

  4. Makes me wish I was raised in Galva. You reality made me feel like I could see you guys in a garage playing. Old friends ...nothing like them in the world

  5. love that you're reaping all that you have given, John