Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Beginning

I have started several blog posts with the phrase, “When I first arrived at Dirty Jack’s Theater in May of 1976…”. That is because it was such a cool and memorable time. I was suddenly immersed in the most stimulating and interesting episode of my young life. So, many of the memories begin at the beginning.

Bob Adams was a bass player and stagehand in Los Angeles when he met John Dorish. Dorish had worked a previous season at Dirty Jack’s Theater in Jackson Hole, and wrangled jobs for both he and Bob in the 1976 show, Paint Your Wagon. Bob and another friend, Paul Fox, arrived in Jackson early to build the rather complex stage set for the show. It was still late winter when they got to town, with lots of snow and cold. It must have been freezing in that old theater; I don’t remember that it had any heat at all.

They scavenged weathered lumber from an old sawmill outside of town and constructed the set with all its movable, convertible elements; a set that was used not only in Paint Your Wagon but also in some form in many of the following seasons. It got modified from one year to the next, but Bob’s engineering persisted. When I came back to perform in the 1979 show the set felt like an old friend.

When I first arrived at Dirty Jack’s Theater in May of 1976 [there’s that phrase again], the set was nearly complete, and as we all got to know each other we found that the set carpenter, Bob Adams, would be returning to LA; his work finished. I remember we were sad about that because we had all become friends. Ultimately, Bob Adams didn’t take off; he stayed for the entire season playing bass in the band.

I got an email from him just the other day, and I was thrilled. He is doing well in New York City, a member of the stagehands union working on shows around Broadway. He still occasionally runs into John Dorish, a successful artist in the city. I have invited Bob to write a post for this blog (as I invite all ex-Dirty Jacksters) and really hope he does. He always had a sharp, witty point of view. I’d love to hear his descriptions of the memories that stuck in his head from Dirty Jacks.

And that’s what its all about, isn’t it? Hooking up with old friends and sharing memories. I don’t mean to sound like I have one foot in the retirement home, or that I spend my days rocking on the porch, screaming at the neighbor kids to stay off my lawn. In fact, with the music my band now plays I suspect some people think I am regressing to my adolescence. And 50 is the new 30, or something like that.

But when I meet old friends from Dirty Jack’s and we talk about the things we did way back then, it becomes vivid for me again. I remember so much more detail. I can remember how much fun it was; I can feel it again. And then I can go into my studio and work on my latest recordings, carrying with me 30 years of love for music, pouring it out in the thump and shuffle of the blues music that runs in my veins.