I wonder whatever became of Jorge Quintana. About 30 years ago I was living in a rented room in San Marcos, TX, having arrived to do three things – become a singer-songwriter, use my bass playing to support myself, and start my life as if it were the kind of great journey that only truly begins thousands of miles away from where one starts. One day in a side street yard I saw a painted up ‘70s school bus with a for sale sign in the window. Of course I had to knock on the door; any kind of nomadic living has fascinated me since I was a kid hiding out in the library reading Blue Highways and Rolling Homes and accounts of the Woodstock era. A young long haired guy opened the door, guitars on the couch, and I was like “This dude could be my brother!” He was up from somewhere way south of south-central Texas, visiting his sister – who had evidently gotten on the bus when the driver came through years back, and now they were back and living in this house. So Jorge came to visit.
Right away two things were apparent – he was a cool cat, and he knew about as much English as I did Espanol. Which was about a five words. But when there is music involved, that doesn’t matter – he showed me the bus, unable to get the hood open (“Sheet? Is say sheet?” “Ahhh, shit, yes – shit!” “Si, OK – shit! And… son o, son o…” “Son of a bitch?” “HAHA si, son… ama… beetch!”) They weren’t around, so we went in – now knowing maybe a dozen words in common - to write my number down and I pointed to the guitars. I did what anybody like me in that moment would do – whipped out the universal phrase “Carlos Santana?”
We jammed for an hour.
Through gesturing wildly and many diagrams (and hilariously ineffective phone calls), over a few weeks I helped him record a demo tape and took him to see an Austin music street fair, and to an open mic or two; I remember one of his songs was called “Arriesgado” about taking a chance. He went over big! I remember thinking of finding a drummer who could speak Spanish and backing this guy up on bass. One of the many fascinating characters who drifted in and drifted out of my script – and/or I, of theirs.
Some of his art, and his sister if I remember, were involved with the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, and the only trace I could find is a photo of him there with his sister. He is the one with the guitar. This would be around 1990.
Jorge, if you’re out there – “¡Amigo! De formas extrañas todos mis sueños se hicieron realidad. Espero que también hayas vivido tus sueños.”
Speaking of living out a dream, word came through the bass community that luthier Mike Pedulla is retiring after 45 years. A Pedulla was the first really high end hand made bass guitar I saw in person, sometime in the ‘80s. It was like seeing my first Paul Reed Smith guitar – “Well, this is definitely another level from the every day thing, isn’t it!” I came of age in Massachusetts, where M.V. Pedulla was based, so his legend was known. And over the years it has been amazing to see where he took his craft and the things he innovated into the bass world. I love the old Pedulla-Orsini builds from the mid-1970s, and to see where it went from there is amazing. It takes vision and discipline and a hell of a lot of work to create something iconic as he has done, let alone sustain it as an independent name for so many years. On behalf of the hands at Birdsong and SD Curlee, we send Mr. Pedulla our gratitude for his work as one of the ‘70s independent luthier/designers who blazed that trail we all walk down now, and our wishes to him for a fantastic retirement.
And to YOU, we thank you for being with us! Have an awesome weekend.
Listening to: mostly rocker interviews this week, and a Joey Ramone documentary.