Making another life changing decision to pick up everything and move north to Indiana, was really a solution to a spiraling out of control downward situation. Even though I was working a lot of overtime hours, and Peg was working; the crash of the housing market, with the addition of a house guest was more than we could financially bear. Peg was ready to retire, and I was ready to change my situation and surroundings. The financial crisis caused us to lose the house to a foreclosure, and declare bankruptcy. With nothing holding us back, we made the journey to Markle, Indiana. In the winter of 2010 we packed the largest U-Haul truck & trailer we could rent, loaded all of our belongings, the cat and dog, and moved from the tropical sands of Florida to the snowy winter of the American heartland of corn and soy beans; Markle, Indiana.
I found work within the first week and started making the “paycheck”. Our landlords were friends of ours. Bill played guitar and had his Christian band. I sat in with him from time to time because he was a very close friend. The bass player (Terry) thought I was trying to move in and take over the band, which couldn’t have been farther from the truth. He didn’t like me much at that time. Funny thing is, later down the road when he realized I was just helping Bill out, things began to change. We would play at a Mission in Ft. Wayne, Indiana once a week for some homeless folks to give them a little inspiration. My friend Bill has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know!
I was looking for more of a commercial situation for my music (as this is what I had been doing for most of my life) and did not really think much about getting into the scene of playing with a church band. I’m not saying I’m an atheist or anything like that, it’s just I had always played secular music and that was what I knew best. I found that with two different groups there. One group consisted of a bass player and female drummer neither of which could/would sing. This left all of the vocal duties to me. I had no problem with that until they wanted to do songs that were way out of my range. Sometimes you can change the key of a song to a degree, but the more you do the more you lose the feeling of the song (as well as being able to re-create the riffs). The second group consisted of a drummer and a guitar player that wanted to swap bass duties. Now I can play a little bass, but by no means am I a bass player. That eventually became a bit of a problem when our audiences started telling the band leader that he needed to keep me on the guitar, because it was obvious that I was a better guitarist than the other guy. Of course this didn’t sit well with the other guy so he quit. Without a bass player, that band fizzled out as well.
I connected with a bass player (Dave Hilt) from Fort Wayne that seemed to be totally professional. He told me how he had played with this person, and that person, and was looking to get something going. He knew a drummer (Kenny Wylie) and the two of them had been jamming for quite a while. So I checked it out. We started the band pretty much as most cover bands do with writing down song lists, and going through some of the songs to see which one would work and what not. Time went on and all he wanted to do was talk about what we were going to do. This got frustrating quickly not only to me, but I could tell the Kenny was losing patience as well. But like all good rock bands, we forged on. I let Dave know that I had received my certification as a television producer in Clearwater, Florida and that when we, as a band were ready, that I could do all of the video promo work. I had the lights, cameras, green screens, software, teleprompter, and most of all, the know how to use it. Now you’ll need to know that Dave had his hands in a lot of things including managing another band. He asked me if I would do a promo for this other band. I told him that I would but in a professional capacity. He agreed and we signed a contract. I guess he thought that if he played in a band with me, he didn’t have to honor the contract. After hours of filming and editing the promo it was done. He and the band didn’t like it because I had put a watermark on it. I told him, when I’m paid in full the watermark would come off. I learned from that experience to get a non-refundable fee up front before doing any filming. Needless to say that the band I was in with Dave didn’t go any further. But wait…there is a twist to the story.
The drummer (Kenny) decided to continue playing music with me if I was interested (which I was). Now we needed a bass player…the twist…remember Terry (the bass player that thought I was going to take over my friend Bill’s band). Bill knew we needed a bass player and talked Terry into checking it out. Terry checked it out and became the bass player for the newly reformed band called, “The High Court”.
The High Court was back in session in Indiana! We rehearsed our asses off, and got really good. We all partied, so the name was once again appropriate! We got our first gig at the American Legion in Huntington, Indiana and the band went over great. I remember telling the guys that since we went over so good that night, that we had it in us to really be a great band and now is the time to really up the game. But tragedy struck one week later to the hour of our performance. Our drummer Kenny Wylie (Stycks) passed away from a heart attack. Terry and I decided to keep the band going because we knew that is what Kenny would have wanted. At this Terry and decided to keep the band going (as this is what Kenny would have wanted) and we auditioned some more drummers.
We decided on a drummer named Chuck McCoy. He was a great drummer. When I told him of how we lost our last drummer, it might have seemed to him like a bad omen. My wife must have really topped it off when she made some brownies and said, “here’s your brownies Chuck” (in a Hansel & Greta kind of witch voice). Three weeks later tragedy would strike again when Terry passed away from a heart attack as well. I was totally shaken at the passing of two very good friends and band mates so close together. The High Court was again stopped in its tracks. May my musical brothers rest in peace.
I didn’t play for a long time after that, and when I did, my heart and mind really was not in to it.
I stopped partying, and playing music, went back to college and earned my degree in Visual Communications. I did this going to school full time and working sometimes 14/hrs per day in manufacturing/production jobs. I graduated with honors (Magna Cum Laude) and was accepted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Soon after graduation, I got a position with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Asheville, NC! A veteran helping veterans!!! One of my most enjoyable classes in college was photography!
I’ll share just a few examples of my photography to this installment of the blog for you to like and share.
These are a few examples of my photography. I hope you enjoy them enough to share them with your friends.
Next blog: The musical journey continues in western North Carolina…