Sunday, February 17, 2008

For Jon

A note from Kathy Stainbrook:

Hey Rick. I wonder if you could do me a favor. Could you put a place on the blog where people can send in their fondest memory of Dirty Jack's or a favorite memory of Jon? Jon is not much here in the present, but if I mention something about those times, he sparkles a bit. If I could tell him a story of someone else's memories and how much Jon meant to them, it would be wonderful for my brother. It would just be nice to relate them to my big Bro, to help him remember the good ol' days. Anymore, the only thing he says to me is "Hey, Kath, will you scratch my back?". So, while I'm scratching his back, I can tell him how much he meant to so many people.

This is a wonderful idea. Please, please post your best Jon stories to the comments or send them to me at I'll forward everything to Kathy.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dirty Jack's is Singin' Again!

Cast of "Gorgeous George at George's Gorge" (Top: Kathy, David, Nancy, Scotty Seifert, Audry Berger, Darrin, Mark Nowlin. Bottom: Linda Gregg, Jill Calloway, Tommy and Rocky) Image courtesy of Kathy Stainbrook Myers.

[Post from David Turner]

Well my friends, it’s done!!!!!

As I’m writing this, it’s late on Friday night, but I am so hyped I can hardly stand it. The Original Cast Recording of “Gorgeous George at George’s Gorge” has been preserved digitally. It’s been a long journey, but at last, it’s done. Before I go any further, I have to say this first:

RICK ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The transfer from the DAT to WAV is flawless, and we have Rick to thank for it. He tracked down a local studio that could do the transfer (DAT services are almost impossible to find these days), and after I gave him the tapes Wednesday at lunch, I had the CD in my hands on Friday afternoon. Wow. And I want everyone to know that Rick paid for this. I can’t thank him enough, and I mean that from the depths of my soul.

RICK ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So all of you Dirty Jacksters send him a nice e-mail to say thank you. Please. He didn’t have to do this. Thank you.


Wow. That’s really about all I can say at this moment. I’ve been listening to the files all night, and it has been a revelation. I can’t remember when I heard this recording last – I haven’t seen my cassette since Chuck and I moved into this house (1998). I suspect that most of you are in the same boat. I’ll be burning CDs here in the next week, so if you’d like one send me your address at and I’ll fire one off to you as soon as I can. (Jess, I still have your address buddy.) Also if any of you have any good pictures from the show, would you please scan them at a pretty high resolution and send them to me? Please oh please oh please.

Rick is going to post these snippets from the recording, but I’d like to add a few comments to them as well:

1) Starting Tonight: This little trio at the end was always a favorite of mine. I’m not sure we ever sang it this well on stage, but the recording sure sounds great!

2) The Wedding of Song and Dance: Tommy rocks. What else needs to be said? (Except that I had completely forgotten that I wrote this song. How bad is that????) Still, Tommy rocks.

3) Brightest Star: What an absolutely freakin’ spectacular voice Audrey has. Hearing her sing again has been a wonderful thing for me. The other thing I remember about this song is that it was the first and only time that Kathy let me put a ballad into the first act.

4) Backstage Babble: The most fun I’ve ever had as a writer. I wish I had the chance to write these types of songs every day.

5) The Romantic Winnemuckan: I don’t know what I think about it now, but I wanted to include something from it for the blog.

6) I’ve Seen It All: It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear Nancy singing again. At the same time, it was wonderful. Here with Linda Gregg and Kathy.

7) Brightest Star Reprise: I love the quality in Rocky’s voice in this.

8) In My Life: “I would say, trust in your friends, and always believe in yourself.” Not a great song by any means, but I still like the lyric. Maybe I’ll do a rewrite on this one.

9) Measure of a Life: Tommy sings it here as he did at Nancy’s memorial service. This one has taken on new meaning for me since my dad died in April ‘06. I miss him every day.

10) Song and Dance: Scotty and Jill having a grand old time!

I’ll wind this post up by again saying many, many thanks to Rick. It’s been quite the emotional rollercoaster for me tonight. What great times, what great friends. These were truly the best years of my life.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

How to send story links

I know some of you may want to send links to friends via email, but the stories you want to send get pushed down the front page and eventually slide off into the archives as new posts are added. But there is a really cool and easy way to do this.

At the bottom of each post there is the authors name (usually "Rick") and right next to that is a time stamp that is underlined as a link. Click on the link to display that post only. You can then copy the URL from the top of your browser and paste it into emails to send to friends.

Pictures from Kathy Stainbrook

Kathy Stainbrook Myers sent me some fantastic pictures from Dirty Jack's, and she promises to send more. Don't tell anybody, but she MAY have a video tape of the 1995 show, 'Gorgeous George at George's Gorge.' We may soon have video clips here at the DJs blog. How cool is that?

Nancy as Calamity Jane

Tommy and Nancy singing "If I Knew Then What I Know Now" (one of Gretchen's songs) from "Calamity at the Flat Beaver Fault Line"

Kathy and Nancy goofing around during rehearsals for Calamity Jane

Kathy and Rocky from "Buffalo Bill's Bluff at Bill's Bog"

Jon Stainbrook & Butch - 1976

[Image courtesy of Kathy Stainbrook Myers]

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Letter from Gretchen

[Published with permission]

My name is Gretchen (Stainbrook) Givens.... sister of Jon, Kathy, and Nancy. I was blown away recently to discover your incredible Dirty Jack's website. It is so wonderful! I just lost myself in reading all of your stories, reliving you memories, seeing the photos. You really captured the whole aura and spirit of Dirty Jack's in your writing. In fact, Rick, I wanted to compliment you on your writing ability. You are really fantastic... and should think about compiling a book about your summers there. You write so colorfully. Anyway, I wanted to thank you, as a member of the Stainbrook family, for keeping the memory of Jon, and all the Dirty Jack's crew alive.

Living in California, I wasn't in the Dirty Jack's plays, although I too was an actor. But I saw every one of the plays, as I visited every summer. I remember so well the Dirty Jack's Band that you were a part of... Doc Holt and his band of renegades. You guys were just terrific. Do you have any recordings from that time?

I don't know if you realize it or not, but I wrote all of the music for Cat Ballou, Hallelujah Trail, and about 7 of the other shows that were put on at Dirty Jack's after that. I majored in music composition and acting. Jon contacted me when he was writing Cat Ballou. I was in Mills College in Oakland at the time. He told me so specifically what he wanted.... how many songs I needed to write; what each song's content was to be; for instance, he would tell me that he wanted a 'romantic ballad' that was 2 minutes and 45 seconds long and it had to say exactly what he wanted me to say. Yes, he was that specific. The ballads weren't so bad... but the group numbers were really challenging. It nearly drove me crazy, but I had a great time doing it. (Somewhere I do have some of the cassette tapes of some of those shows.)

I wrote all of the music and lyrics. I remember writing it all out technically on manuscript paper each year. I would start in January, and finish by May. I would make cassette tapes of the music with scratch vocals here and then send it all to Jon.

It is funny, Rick... I worked so hard on all of the many nuances of the melody, etc.... but came to find out that Doc Holt didn't read a lick of music. So, he would just listen to my recordings... and improvise. It wasn't always exactly what I had written, but I have to say it was full of vitality, great musicality, and high energy. It was always so much fun to come to the shows and hear my music performed by the band and the singers. That was a real trip. And My Mom and Dad would be out selling popcorn and sarsaparilla in the lobby.

I wanted to tell you that I am still writing music, and plays... and actually have just finished a movie screenplay with Linda Gregg...(She worked for many years at Dirty Jack's, too. You may remember her. She was the original Cheyenne Rose with Jon's Kid Shaleen). She now is married and lives in England. Anyway, she and I have written a screenplay centered around Jon. It involves the original days of Dirty Jack's, and much of it takes place in Jackson. We are putting together a presentation to show an agent.... and I needed some old photos of the town and theater and Jon. That is when I got the idea to do a google search of Dirty Jack's on the internet, just for the heck of it. And WOW... was I lucky to find your website!

I was able to download some of the photos, and capture the essence of some of your memories, captured in your great writing. I wanted to let you know that... hope it was ok. It won't be used for publication or anything like that. It will be just to show this agent the flavor of what it was like back then. I know having the movie made is a long shot... but we are very happy with the screenplay. I'll keep you posted if anything comes of it.

I still get back to Jackson every summer to visit Jon in the Living Center rest home... and Kathy, who is happily married and lives in a home by the beautiful Snake River. I saw David Turner, Tommy, Rocky, and some of the other cast members a few years ago at Nancy's memorial service. I was always so impressed with the music David wrote. As a composer and lyricist, I know how difficult it is. I am so happy that you will be sharing the music from Gorgeous George. He wrote a song in that show called "The Measure of a Life" that is one of the most beautiful I have ever heard... and you can tell him I said so. I was one of his biggest fans.... plus, he relieved me of being the resident composer for Dirty Jack's after 7 years or so. I always enjoyed watching David,Tommy, Rocky, Nancy and Kathy onstage together. They were brilliant.... They were a big extended family.

Well, Rick.... this has been pretty long... but I wanted to add a few comments since finding your website.... and personally thank you for being such a great and caring historian for all of us. We all feel the same way you do about Dirty Jack's. There was something so special about the place... that will be in our heart of hearts forever.

Take care,

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Lunch with David Turner

Today I had a great lunch with an old friend. David Turner and I met for the first time in nearly 30 years. It was a lot like my dinner awhile back with Tim O’Reilly, whom I had not seen in 32 years. The years fell away almost immediately, and I saw the familiar mannerisms and heard the voice of a friend I’ve thought about a lot (but had no contact with) for three decades.

David and I met to swap a set of DAT tapes that have recordings from the 1995 show at Dirty Jack’s Theater, “Gorgeous George at George's Gorge.” The short version of the story is that I will soon have clips of the music here on the blog. David wrote the music for the show, and he is enormously generous to allow me to publish clips.

Stay tuned…