This was to be one paragraph shorter, a missive on men I've known who made me ME along the path of music. This is not a paragraph I enjoy writing but the longer you hang around on this rock the more you get to write. For any of my clients, associates or friends who have worked with HDCustom Guitar Supply out of Wisconsin, our authorized online dealer (and a rather big source for parts and accessories for other folks), Josh Munter has passed away and their operations have ceased for now. This does not effect us very much; there was a chance we'd be building more basses for them to sell but really 95% (so now 100% for the time being) of what we do is directly with you. I have no connection to the instruments that were in stock, as they were built to order for and belonged to HDC, not me. I have no more information that I can share, but it is a huge tragedy for his family, friends, and those running his various enterprises with him. Our condolences are with them. He did a lot for his community and helped the music to happen as best he could. May the connections he helped put together over the years continue in their own ways to help each other, and may their successes carry ripples of the man’s life and work - and best - with them. Thank you and rest in peace, Josh.
Where life and music combine;
Come to and go from
To the Guitar Kid a cool older dude down the street with a big record collection is as good as any guru. Billy was the first person to call me a musicologist – I had never heard the term. But Stevie Ray Vaughan wasn’t Stevie Ray Vaughan to me, he was a result… as was who influenced him… as was who influenced them. Yngwie wasn’t just “Yngwie” but a gateway into another time, culture & music. Billy liked this, even though I was just starting these trails and this journey at that time. I spent the last year of high school on Cape Cod, on the beach at sunset in my van or off in a conservation area playing Neil Young songs on my acoustic guitar, undoing the effects of the previous years in suburbia and very grateful to not still be unraveling within them. It’s in one of these I met ye olde Scotsman walking his sheepdog. 30 years later when I take the time to sit by a window and look out into the woods with an album on, that’s a part of Billy’s life now mine. Aside from our long past conversations seeded and soundtracked by Van Morrison, John Prine, Mississippi John Hurt and all the other amazing music - and their contexts & meanings, this guy and his albums brought to my world concepts and textures that became the framework of much of my life.
Long ago I was told to find “…the man who works with the wood” – it would ultimately be a much older me, but along the way it was Kent Finlay too. Just out of high school when you’re pumping gas into other people’s cars in Massachusetts and the phone rings and it’s a guitar player you’ve been jamming with who also played drums telling you HE got a call to go back out on the road playing drums again backing up a known touring rockabilly legend, and oh by the way “…they needs a bass player too,” there is only one correct answer. Much of the first half of life I – or circumstances which I’m now very grateful for in hindsight – kept me free enough to be able to say “Yes” when the ticket out of town called. Loose enough to move when the muse said "Now." So off I go in the back of a step van. I knew this wasn’t exactly my dream but I also knew the music was carrying me, those wheels were rolling and that road went somewhere. Something was going to happen. In Austin, TX I met Kent, the one name in the little black book I called after that tour ended back where it started, and I put a few duffel bags and my gear into a ’77 Dodge Van named The Midnight Special and moved to San Marcos, TX. Who Kent Finlay was can be looked up in any search engine; who he was to me was the guy that took a young, green, raw, aimless, incomplete and clueless young guy from another world and honed him into a songwriter. Which saved me in more ways than I can tell you here. Texas music, the art of the verse, creation in sixteen simmered-down lines, a path, a purpose, a plan, and a whole lot of people & opportunities I’d have never even known where to look for, were all part of my path now. More than any of this he was my friend and counsel, a wise elder, as my life found its way and I found myself making the transition between these chapters.
Wyly was a silver haired sage when he came to me to simplify his vast mapping of music theory and upper partials and how it related to God and the universe into simple songs and chord progressions he could just enjoy strumming. Reverse lessons, I guess they were. Not the usual plan in the cluttered lesson room of my music shop, but if it would help make music part of someone’s daily life as some kind of a practice more than just practicing, that was my calling and it still is. That’s my north star – help the music happen in another’s life - it’ll take over from there doing what good vibrations do, what good medicine does. But all the while with him I’d have to stop and quickly tab out in my own book of staff paper what he’d be doing on the fretboard because I’d never seen anything like it. Not in execution but in composition and chord structure. His chord sandwiches were all inside out and shuffled, cheese and sauce outside of bread, grilled on one side… some of the most wonderful assemblies of notes I had ever heard, right there in front of me - ME, the music man! A beautiful and profound mess in which as I unraveled for him I started seeing more advanced patterns and relationships and how it all related to God and the universe and I’ve never played the same since.
In three different ways they came into my life through walking the path of music, colored three different chapters, and in three different ways they’re gone yet still here with me, alive in every note, with me in every step. I’m nobody in the grand scheme of things, just a soul on a journey and when I need a verse I pick up the pen and make it happen; sometimes that pen is a spokeshave; sometimes that pen is a hammer. But in all of this is me and in all of me are others – I share them with you so you think about YOUR influences. Keep them alive. Make a way or two of theirs yours as they depart. Keep them with you. Toss in a pinch of them daily to carry on their work as their ripples live in yours.
Listening to: Rev. Gary Davis; live Mississippi Fred McDowell; Aerosmith Rocks; Keith Richards Cross Eyed Heart; all kinds of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson and mixes of old-school Country.