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Our Voice Is Heard… Truth Is Truth

September 29th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

From Apprenticeship Of The Mule
Charlie Mehrhoff

‘They hand you a pen and perhaps some small corner to make
your home. And if you discover the strength which carries one
past exhaustion, if you are blessed, perhaps someone will arrive
to look over your shoulder and read what you are doing,
what you have done.

And if you are of the word, and if you have the duende,
they’ll be standing there, reading, long after you have gone.’

(Duende or tener duende (“having duende”) loosely means having soul, a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity…)

I was moving some of my books around so I could free up two shelves in our library so Izze, our daughter, would have accessible room for her school materials and I came across a book… The Apprenticeship Of The Mule by Charlie Mehrhoff. A sliver of a book with no more than twenty poems in it… hand bound… fragile but compelling. I opened it without thinking and the poem above fell into my hands and pulled me in.

‘…And if you are of the word, and if you have the duende,
they’ll be standing there, reading, long after you have gone.’

As an older artist, I think of these things. The things of this world are not designed to last long without some sort of providential intercession. And so with these thoughts circulating in my mind, I drove up to Columbus with my friend Jerry Sullivan to pick up Wes Wilson as well as Jerry Miller, Terry Haggerty, Fuzzy Oxendine and Keith Graves. Wes Wilson, of course, is probably most remembered for his psychedelic band posters from the 60’s. Needless to say, in his late 70’s, Wes has continued to be an artist of significance, and if indeed our legacy has been engendered by something that brought us notice in youth… well then so be it. Not much grass has grown under Wes’ feet. Anyway, the same could be said of Jerry Miller. I remember when I first heard Jerry play with Moby Grape. He was such a sophisticated player at that time that I found his prowess to be both exciting and intimidating. The same could be said of Terry Haggerty who was playing with the Sons of Champlin at the time. I was just breaking out of being a finger picking follkie at the time, and these guys could really play the electric guitar. Yow!

Anyway, when we put together yesterday’s Psylodelic Gallery Event at the Fur Peace Ranch with all these characters, frankly I had no idea how compelling I would find the day.

Now, our little gallery celebrates not only the art, music and spoken word of what we gratuitously call the 60’s, but also the intellectual and spiritual veritas of those moments.

Now time is time and I’m not sitting here writing and ruminating about the lost voyages of the ‘good old days,’ but you know, there was a special magic in the air in San Francisco in that time.

As I was talking to Wes Wilson, he pointed out after sound check with the guys, that artists, (in this case, graphic artists,) create artifacts, whereas the true art of music is constantly evolving even within arrangements played often. When a painting is done, it lives in that state until it is vanquished by time. For live music in any given moment, you have to be there. It comes, it surrounds our spirit and it leaves for the next town.

With this thought in mind, I looked forward to hearing what my old musical friends from the 60’s would bring to life here in the present, in Southeast Ohio of all places. I would not be disappointed. We have had so many great players grace our stage here at the Fur Peace Station and for many of them their art seems to be etched in crystal… sharp edges surrounded with prismatic clarity. It has been a long time since I lived in the San Francisco Bay area and a longer time since those halcyon days in the mid 60’s to early 70’s. The magical creative mindset that accompanied the creative community in those moments was one of those once in a lifetime comings and to have been present then was, in retrospect, an honor and a blessing.

What am I talking about? It’s really simple. Terry and Jerry didn’t just replicate their musical identity of almost fifty years ago… they gifted us with a vision of their ongoing musical journey. There was a mindset of exploration prevalent in the musicians of that time. The use of mind altering substances were indeed sacred doors to perception and the time had not yet come when the opening of the third eye would be accompanied by the blurry party epithet, ‘I’m fu……..d up.’ The search for a parallel universe was a sincere vision quest.

That spirit of being the ‘Intrepid Explorer, ‘ to borrow one of the names from Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, was a badge of honor.

Fast forward to today where we all live the different lives that are bestowed upon us by the reality of age. Where to go and how to get there? Well… Jerry and Terry and Fuzzy and Keith play together on a regular basis, obviously but like a GPS with a penchant for back roads I can tell that they seek their destination with no regard for the ‘quickest way.’

How would I fit into all this? When artists come to the Fur Peace Ranch to play at the Station, I do not presume that I will sit in with them. Sometimes bands need to do their show and their show has no room for outsiders. I related these feelings to the guys and they graciously asked me to join them, which I did. Two songs at the end of the first set and about a third of the second set. As always, at moments like this, I said, ‘Be gentle with me guys. I’m a simple man.’ Of they threw a bunch of tunes at me some of which I knew intuitively and others where I just tried to follow the roadmap they were handing me. Of course as a third guitarist in a band with two great guitarists, it is easy to lay out and just join in when the moment is right. There’s more frosting on the cake though. When I do my shows with either Jack Casady and Hot Tuna or my sundry incarnations with Barry Mitterhoff, (all of which I love) there is always room for improv, but for me it’s more clearly architected. Playing with these guys last night threw me into a heightened state of excitement where the journey was fresh in a way that that I haven’t experienced in many years. It was like discovering the fountain of youth for a few moments. Now this is something that doesn’t happen to often in any universe.

The musical evening rolled into closing time and they got ready to come in for a landing. I played the last song with them and then left the stage as they played their well earned encore. This was a long day but what a rainbow of experiences.

The San Francisco Sound as nomenclature, was certainly a bit of 60’s hyperbole but it was grounded in reality… a mindset rather than a technique… a place in the heart and the spirit rather than a number on a Billboard chart.

It was alive and well in a small town in Southeast Ohio last night, and you know, perhaps somewhere in the universe, someone will look over our then distant shoulder and read and listen to what we have done!

  1. Barbara Jacobs
    September 29th, 2013 at 16:41 | #1

    That’s a deliciously frosted cake that you enjoyed last night!
    A nice slice of life: the there and then, meets the here and now.

    Of course, you know I love books.
    You happened upon a great one, seemingly led to it by a need to organize your bookshelf space.
    Ah: great books, writing, songs and music: a perfectly frosted cake.

  2. cyndy consentino
    September 29th, 2013 at 16:44 | #2

    Dear Jorma,

    Sounds like a beautiful time you guys had!! I saw Don Ater’s pictures of all of you, you all look great!!


  3. phil Zisook
    September 29th, 2013 at 17:14 | #3

    would love to hear parts of that set…maybe as a Jorma download on itunes some day? Jerry Miller always has had a distinctive sound. Like its based in jazz. And the Moby Grape story is quite amazing in and of itself. Terry Haggerty and the Sons, too, had a totally unique sound. Sounds like a magical day and night.

  4. Robert
    September 29th, 2013 at 18:03 | #4

    “The San Francisco Sound as nomenclature, was certainly a bit of 60’s hyperbole but it was grounded in reality… a mindset rather than a technique… a place in the heart and the spirit rather than a number on a Billboard chart.”

    A pleasure to hear your thoughts on this done so eloquently. You are of the word as well as the music. Hoping some day you write it all down.

  5. Cat
    September 29th, 2013 at 20:05 | #5

    wes wilson is an inspiring presence. i loved seeing his exhibit and hearing about farmscaping and futuristic glasspainting. it was such a nice afternoon. what a beautiful spot. many thanks.
    the joint was rockin last night. love the energy created by the back and forth between gifted musicians with such significant interconnections. (((fpr)))

  6. neil
    September 30th, 2013 at 09:50 | #6

    Thank you for these thoughts and insights on art, life, music, the contributions of the 60s era to them and the long-lasting effects left on each by virtue of what transpired. Thanks too to all those artists, in whatever medium, who recognized the significance of the time, knowingly or not, and cared enough to nourish what had been created and continue to curate and protect its legacy.

  7. anthoony tedesco
    September 30th, 2013 at 11:04 | #7

    A wonderful place for my thoughts to dwell. Thank you.

  8. Joey hudoklin
    September 30th, 2013 at 11:09 | #8

    Jorma, your graitious welcome of your esteemed peers from another era, as well as your humility and willingness to allow them their space to create as a unit is a testament to your humanity.
    What you wrote about the creative process (and mind-altering substances that may have had an influence) was somewhat of a validation of my own attempts at meaningful, heartfelt creation that might have value to someone down the river of time.
    Thank you, Jorma. For what you have given so generously for so long, will be cherished and imitated for generations to come.
    I love it.

  9. John Glotzer
    September 30th, 2013 at 14:44 | #9

    Kind of uncanny as I’ve been looking at some of the youtube pieces dedicated to those years in SF and also listening to all those old JA tunes. I love that you treat that period with respect – as I think it richly deserves that. I think the music has aged well and that’s not always the case with certain music – but it is here. Like you said in one of your youtube interviews that period gave you a canvas to paint on that would have been otherwise unavailable to you and we’re all richer for that as I know you feel that you are.

  10. Cat
    September 30th, 2013 at 18:39 | #10

    You said, “The use of mind altering substances were indeed sacred doors to perception and the time had not yet come when the opening of the third eye would be accompanied by the blurry party epithet, ‘I’m fu……..d up.’ The search for a parallel universe was a sincere vision quest.” You really hit on something here that distinguishes that time-that-seemed-to-anticipate-a-great-awakening and the time(s) that came after. Where did all the voyagers go?

  11. chuck newman
    October 1st, 2013 at 01:27 | #11

    Such a beautiful vibe from Jorma. The times never ended. The good and beautiful things we had are still inside each of us. The music still rings through the years and will always have a place for sincere performers because it was created with soul. It is a beautiful thing to have a great musical performance carry you away. When musicians and singers are deeply into the performance it is a unique and inspiring experience.

  12. John B
    October 1st, 2013 at 10:29 | #12

    Amen Chuck. @chuck newman

  13. johno
    October 1st, 2013 at 10:35 | #13

    Wow! I was so glad to hear you putting into words what we went through in our lives – if we were lucky enough to be alive during that period of time and to truly experience these extraordinary times. Most of the population didn’t get it – I feel blessed to not only be alive but to experience all the artistic movements that happened. It was an amazing spiritual renaissance that comes along once in a lifetime – or century – and will never happen again. When I look back I thank God I was a part of that generation. It was way too cool.

  14. eaglesteve
    October 4th, 2013 at 10:49 | #14

    As we all know Captain “The past is never forgotten, it’s not even past.”
    Faulkner I think, maybe Styron, but I could be wrong.

  15. Hamneggs
    October 4th, 2013 at 18:41 | #15

    Well as Patti Smith said the last night at CBGBs “Its time for the next generation to find their own shit hole” or something close to that.

    I think people can have their own Spiritual Renaissance often.
    I remember being with people who wished they could have been “there” and miss being here now. While pining for Airplane with the Grape they couldn’t see The Clash with Sam and Dave.
    Friends complaining about Niel Young singing about Johnny Rotten when they came to hear Sugar Mountain and 10-20 years later complaining about not singing about Johnny Rotten and singing against the wsr.
    Waiting on line for Da Ramones to sign a cd for my son and hearing people wish they had seen them back” then” Telling them to check out whats happening at Rocky’s which is part of that beautiful flow.If you want a taste of the night Jorma so nicely wrote about Dn NY head to Rocky’s October 26 and see Black 47 play with The Lost Tribe of Donegal
    So thanks Jorma for keeping the Spirit Alive, embracing its new shape and beauty while savoring what was.

    PS I’m still pushing for Chauffeur Blues at the Beacon.
    Love All Ways

  16. Kathy
    October 4th, 2013 at 19:32 | #16


    Thanks for helping to define the nomenclature of sixties music and the sixties.
    Or on a broader level the human race as a whole. Sixties music was an attempt to establish peace and freedom. Times are changing as Bob Dillan wrote. And they are. The essences and nuances of the past are part of our foundation. The nature of things is to move away from suffering. And one day we will all be like birds that chirp the same way every day all day and are all in accordance with the universe.

  17. mutt
    October 5th, 2013 at 10:06 | #17




  18. susan ansanelli
    October 7th, 2013 at 09:36 | #18

    As eloquent in words as you are on the guitar, I am hoping a heightened sense will be present at the NY shows. A sense of wonder and curiosity is the beauty of childhood.

  19. John B
    October 7th, 2013 at 18:33 | #19

    Jorma is Marty going to play at the ranch next March ?

  20. Cat
    October 8th, 2013 at 09:48 | #20

    wow. fpr brings me another source of pure joy, chris smither, wow.

  21. Matt
    October 17th, 2013 at 17:46 | #21

    wow, great post Jorma, really

    guess ya had to be there but in keeping with the spirit of the 60s..

    ..is there a bootleg recording of this set? 🙂

  22. carol G
    October 22nd, 2013 at 16:11 | #22

    Loved your blog on the show, and what a privledge it was to hear your show live. I remember turning to a friend and showing her the goose bumps on my arms as the three of you took the guitar to the outer limits of perfection. The energy and wonder of your talents blew me away!! Thank you Jorma, John, Venessa for this opportunity to hear the best in Southeast Ohio, what a treasure it is.

  23. dustin
    November 10th, 2013 at 02:57 | #23

    what a night, so very special for so many reasons, as you nailed most of them, great to see familiar faces as well as to have such an show of such epic proportions, i can not understand why there was more people there, those who missed the event certainly did miss some magic, primal jams, brilliant show, also it was so great to have Wes there as well, he is a kind man and decorated artist also.

  24. dustin
    November 10th, 2013 at 03:00 | #24

    no bootleg recording of the show though it may be featured on woub’s fur peace station and/or the youtube channel, once it’s updated, it’s a busy time of year for everyone.

  25. dustin
    November 10th, 2013 at 03:03 | #25

    “It was alive and well in a small town in Southeast Ohio last night, and you know, perhaps somewhere in the universe, someone will look over our then distant shoulder and read and listen to what we have done!-Jorma”

    perhaps, we can only hope 🙂