Wednesday, August 10, 2011

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A

In 1977 I befriended a guy called Frank in Tokyo (This is the same Frank in the blog article The Waiting Sentinel). He eventually became a multifaceted man of the world, but when I met him, the one thing that stood out about him, other than that we had resonated so well together, was that he was a wizard on the electric guitar.  He was a gentle guy, even when plastered on booze. He visited me in Palm Desert in '78.  

A buddy of mine at the time knew some guys who were musicians that lived out in a farm in Indio, so a bunch of us drove out there in a cloud of pot-smoke so Frank could jam with them.  The two guys at the farm (both teenagers) were on drums and electric guitar.  I think they might've been brothers, I don't know, but I had never met them before.  Their "studio" was wired for jamming at least. They played together a little at first to show what they could do. The drummer was actually quite serious, and quite good. The guitarist played simple hard rock riffs and looked more the part than sounded it. 

They hooked up Frank's guitar, Frank tuned it, and Frank said "Do you guys know 'Free'?" The two dudes looked at each other like, huh?  Frank was not from these neck of the woods, and his tastes of course were different.  Frank started playing, the volume was cranked high. The dudes played along, but they looked dismayed (they had the what the fug iz this glazed look).  Others in the room were getting nervous. Frank must've sensed it, so he suddenly switched to Robin Trower's "Day of the Eagle." 

The dudes' faces lit up. They couldn't believe what they were hearing. It was perfect. Frank went with it into the entire song. The drummer was grinning from ear to ear with delight as he drummed away. The other guitarist couldn't follow, he put down his guitar and listened with glassy bloodshot eyes. One song after the other, hard rock, blues-riffs, etc., Frank blew them away. The session lasted about 2 hours.  Everyone in the room cheered.  Calls were made.  The dudes invited all the locals, they came out of the woodwork. 

Suddenly there was a huge party in the middle of a barren desert. Everybody was getting wasted, one way or another.  Everyone was trying to get Frank's attention. "Hey Frank!" "Hey Frank!" He was a local hero. They crowded around poor Frank, stoned, dazed, and confused. Joints and bongs and pipes and bottles got passed his way. And there he was, a metropolitan city-boy from Tokyo, surrounded by all the local desert rats in the desolate desert, suddenly a hero and a celebrity; we partied on late into the night. As usual.