Saturday, December 27, 2014

LAUREN MURPHY - "Mystic" , My Guitar - Smashed & Christened 10-05-2006

My Brother,

I'm home from touring the South & Southern/Eastern Seaboard, and so happy
to share this story with you for your upcoming project. Judge was a rich
historian of not just California Rock History, but of History in
general....he was...."The Judge" ;)

Any how... My Story

"Mystic" , My Guitar....Smashed & Christened 10-05-2006

Mystic...She was not called by that , until near 10 years ago. James
McMurtry was billed headlining McNear's Mystic Theatre, in Petaluma, Ca.,
and Lansdale Station was on the bill opening. Our band was myself, the
late Judge Murphy on vocals, Jim Cucuzella on guitar, Chip Roland on keys,
Sammy Price from New Orleans on bass, and Brent Rampone on drums. Sound
was provided by Randy Teaford, who you could always depend upon in a large
venue, for top notch fidelity.

I remember meeting McMurty before the show, and Judge complimented him on
his award (Can't Make it here anymore-tour), "It's an honor to open for
you," to which McMurtry replied , "I feel sorry for you." He had just won
2 AMA's and a CMA.

Come to find out JM, McMurty that is, had peeved off the local press &
some hooligan got Riled! He decided to take out his political aggressions
upon any ax near by, thinking it belonged to the outspoken McMurtry. While
we all celebrated one of the best performances of our lives, my Taylor 314
CE Guitar was being mistakenly raped kicked in, totaled ...SMASHED.... by
a steel toed boot, hard case included.
But She was Still.......... in Perfect Tune

Frank Hayhurst of Zone Music heard of this travesty, and contacted Bob
Taylor of Taylor Guitars. They generously fixed "Mystic" and I became the
Taylor Guitar Road Show Girl for the next 4 years.

What takes a lickin' , keeps on tickin?

I owe Taylor Guitars a debt of gratitude and for my "Mystic", here's to
many more miles on the road together. I've also just been introduced to
"Flo". She's A Taylor waiting for me in Jackson, Ms.

Makes one wonder ;)

Peace & Love

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MY 1ST NATIONAL TOUR - "The Crystal Wind Ensamble"

There are a lot of different ways to travel around the country side. Planes, trains and automobiles come to mind, but there are few ways as much fun and exciting as climbing into a van with a small band of friends, hitching up your trailer full of gear and hitting the road for the promised land... or at least a good time! Looking back at my 1st National tour it's pretty nostalgic for me, wide eyed engineer playing on some great and not so great college circuit sound systems... that was school for me, problem solving 1a and a MASH course in making it work every day. I was fortunate to have my 1st tour Engineer offer come from a friend of mine, Bodhi (Keven Setchko), not only were we already good friends, but we share the same birth date and year... I refer to him as my doppelganger Brother and a personal synchronistic event that we've well noted.


Bodhi and his band "The Crystal Wind Ensemble" had signed with "Higher Octave" a record label that specialized in what was then called new age music and was planning a National tour insupport of their new album "Inner Traveler." The band had a decent following amongst electronic music and jazz fans and we played some beautiful college theaters and clubs across the country, but it wasn't until we arrived into the southern parts of the states that we really noticed something very odd... we had protesters outside our shows, marching, chanting and carrying signs that read "Down with the Devils Music" and "New Age Music is a Sin". The parallel was uncanny, 6 young nicer than the boy next door musicians playing lite jazz led by a flute player... mothers lock up your daughters!

On one evening after a Charlottesville South Carolina college show we checked into a dorm room / hotel room situation arranged by some well intentioned staff member I'm sure. We were handed our room keys by a rather demure young women at the front desk and directed which way to go, we were all dead tired and traveled all day and had played a long set for a good house... it was clearly the bed time of day. When we reached our 3 rooms and walked in we all noticed the same thing, there was only one king size bed in each room! What? was the general thought... I marched back down to the front desk with one of the members in the band to voice my objections and request the correct accommodations. I put on my best, I'm tired and cranky but a smile will work better face... and said, excuse there must be some mistake, our band was supposed to have 3 rooms with 2 double beds in each room not just one king size bed... I travel with these guys all day and work with them all night I'm certainly not about sleep next to them. The desk clerk smiled in the sweetest way and said without a blink of an eye "I'm sorry, we heard you were from San Fransisco so we didn't think you would mind." In retrospect my 1st tour taught me a lot about sound engineering, the music business and people in general.    

These stories consist of rough drafts that will be proof read and finalized
before being included in "Another Day Another Decibel"


Sunday, December 14, 2014


Shortly after graduating high school (1972-73) my 1st wife Annie and I rented a wonderful old 2 story rectory house house next to a church on a street that was known as "Christmas Tree Lane" in Long Beach Ca. It was a classic old wooden structure that had 2 bedrooms, a bath and a great little room right above the front door with a window that opened from floor to ceiling. It wasn't a very large room as a matter of fact it was only about 5' wide x  6' long and had a bench to sit on that faced the window, we were told it was the prayer room. We lived in the house for about a year and found it was a great place for entertaining especially during the holidays because the street was lit up with Chritmas trees and people would travel for miles to drive up and down our street. Now, It might of been the eggnog and I am a child of the 70's so we'll say no more but, I'm not really sure how this idea came to me.

One afternoon while I was sorting through some things in my garage I stumbled on a large 24' clear fiberglass bowl that was part of a water feature that was in the backyard. I noticed that if I turned the bowl upside down it looked a lot like a space ship! That's all it took to start me off on this space ship quest. I decided to paint the inside of the clear bowl with a green glow in the dark spray paint and add a black light bulb inside to make the ship really glow. In my teens I had been into slot cars and I even saved a few cars and a few motors, so I thought to myself, why not put a slot car motor into the bowl with the armature shaft sticking out the hole and attach something fun to the end of that! So, that's just what I did... I attached a bass guitar string to the shaft as best I could and then attached a painted florescent green 76 ball to the end of it. I hope you can see this image of a big glowing green space ship bowl with an antenna sticking out of it with a glowing orb on top of it, it was thing of beauty!

While I was building my space craft I was thinking about the possible locations around my house where I could put it to get the most effect, the back yard in a tree came to mind, on the porch in the dark, then I thought... the prayer room... of course! I took the completed ship up into the little room to see where I could set it up, it was so small there really wasn't much room at all. Then it occurred to me, if only that wall wasn't there or...

What if the space craft crashed into my house and landed in the attic!

Fortunately for me the wall had a fake panels that you can take down so you could store things away and that made my access really easy. I removed one of the panels and found a large cardboard box that I covered with a black piece of velvet and then placed the space ship as far back as I could. The attic was really dark and with the ship sitting on the black velvet box it really gave it the feeling of hovering, the effect was magnificent! I even made 2 switches so I could turn on the space ships black light bulb and the motor separately, that why I could surprise some one with an unexpected action. I was just about done when I realized that I need to add a little more back story to my tale. I drilled a small hole in the wall and burnt the edges of it to make it look like a laser had burnt right through it and then I put a burn mark on the far wall to show where the beam went. This house always inspired me.

My story was to anyone of our friends that came to visit, "I was sleeping last night when I heard a loud crash and thump upstairs in the attic. I ran up there and heard a weird whirring noise behind the wall. As I leaned in to get a closer look a huge sound like a crackling electric bolt flashed in the room and a beam of light burnt right through that wall, just missed me and hit the wall right over there!" One by one they fell into my trap, I'd lead them upstairs telling them my tale straight faced as possible and then turn on the space ships black light bulb when we all had arrived. "Go ahead" I'd say "take a peek through that hole and tell me there isn't something weird going on up here!" Some shook their heads at me in disbelief others were just plain confused by the possibilities of the situation.
Either way I had them, as soon they peeked through the hole to get a closer look and saw that glowing hovering object I turned on the motor inside the space ship. It whirred and bounced around like a crazy rabbit and with that glowing orb on top of the antenna spinning around, it gave the ship an almost unearthing noisy and colorful effect. Thats when I would yell...

"Look out... that's just what it did last time before it shot the laser at me!"

I only mentioned this story because it it sets up my personal creative path in life... make due with what you have at hand and always try to keep your friends laughing.

These stories consist of rough drafts that will be proof read and finalized
before being included in "Another Day Another Decibel"

Friday, December 5, 2014

THE CARDIFF REEFERS - "The Art of Touring"


When you travel with a band for a long time you find yourself looking for new and creative ways to amuse yourself, anything to break up that long stretch of road ahead. With the Cardiff Reefers it was always easy, a nicer and more talented group of individuals and musicians I have never met. We logged a lot of miles together over a 3 year period, largely regional touring like the Pacific North West, Colorado Rockies and Southern California. From time to time we would strike out through the desert areas like Moab in Utah on our way to The Rocky Mountains. Over that period of time we played numerous late night shows in relatively small venues with a lot of miles in between.
I recall one late night after a gig we were traveling in our band van and the equipment truck through some pretty desolate desert surroundings and it was hard to keep focus after a long gig... I was sitting next to Andrew Rosales, the bands drummer who was at the wheel. I suggested that we pull over at the next gas station to fuel up and get a late night snack and within minutes we were signaling the van to follow us in. Half of the band was stretched out in the make-shift bed in the back of the van so only a few got out to stretch and refresh. 
It was a quick stop but me a fun one, I had found a large bag of multicolored glow sticks, the kind you crack the glass inside and the colors light up! After we had purchased our fuel and snacks we headed back to our respective vehicles and resumed our late night drive. It was a beautiful clear, dark desert night drive, lots of stars and next to no moon present. No one else knew that I had purchased the bag of glow sticks and when we climbed back into the truck and I pulled them out to show Andrew my bright idea he smiled ear to ear. "Watch this", I told as I tore open the bag and grabbed a handful of the sticks, these are nontoxic and if you crack the glass and then cut them open we can spray the colored rainbow all over ourselves the trucks cab, we'll be glowing like the Blue Man Group! We laughed at ourselves for even considering the possibilities and the mess of the clean up the next day, but late night antics won out and we quickly broke open a dozen or so sticks and started spraying the liquid all over us and the cab... It was an amazing sight and quite a potent effect... red, green, blue and yellow colors everywhere, against the dark night sky we were so bright that we might of been visible from outer space.
We were still following the van as usual when we applied all of our glow stick colors, except for 2 that we retained to use in our mouths to achieve that glow stick smile! As we sped up and pulled along side the van and gave the guys a chance to take a look at us... all eyes were wide open and you could hear the laughter all the way from the other lane. Granted, it was a messy late night goof but those fun moments are the glue that sticks all the friendships and travels together into something more memorial than just a job.


As my kids would say... "not the deer story!" It was another one of those late night drives after a long drive earlier and then a long show afterwards... if you repeat that formula and repeat it frequently you will become aware of a few interesting things, your frame of reference and center changes daily, what you held in your hand today might not available tomorrow. Time passes either very quickly or very slowly... I kept a day planner, more of a coloring book journal to keep track of the important details of my day. Anything and everything could go in it as long as I could carry it. I used multicolored markers to make most of my entries and drew as much as wrote. My Tour Journal allowed me to sort out and keep track of some of the more interesting experiences and fortunately I have all of them still.
One of my more unusual tour experiences came in the form of a late night out of body experience. It seems more often than not most of these occurrences happen in the after hours, late night driving, semi wake state still in motion. The Deer Story is a perfect example of that out of body feeling that most of us have had at one time or another in our lives, in my case it was more of a projection in time. On the night of this occurrence, the truck was leading the crew van on a dark highway somewhere traveling through Colorado. I was sleeping in the loft bed that we had made at the very back of the bus which was still following the equipment truck. 
All of a sudden I woke up, sat up quickly! "The truck just hit a dear" I told everyone in the van, "they hit it one right front passenger side and broke the headlight and then the dear limped off into the woods." Everybody looked at me liken I was crazy, or dreaming but no sooner had I said that than the truck signed quickly and pulled over to the side of the road. Matt and Andrew got out of the truck to check the damage and a couple guys from the van ran up to check in with them. "We hit a deer" they said, "It just leaped out of the woods hit our front headlight and disappeared back into the woods."
I think dumbfounded is a good word for how I felt after we all got back underway and I had a chance to reflect on what had just happened to me.
I see it like this, when you spend most of your time as a heated ball of energy generating around the planet daily your body tends to adjust or shift it points of reference to the real world. I believe what happened to me that night was a case of me astral-projecting into the future, maybe only a shift in time by milliseconds and certainly not a physical form shift... but merely an overlap in time caused by my constant forward motion. "Are you done yet" my kids would say.


This story bares mentioning because it ranks as #1 in my longest mileage stretch for a tour in the shortest amount of time and what you can do to amuse your selves while traveling. The Reefers were hired to play a beautiful outdoor festival in Nanaimo on Victoria Island BC, an early morning slot as I recall. The weather was gorgeous and we had ferried over earlier that morning and enjoyed every bit of the journey. Little did we know it was just the start to our own Amazing Race. I don't know why we hadn't been concerned about it, but in the planning of this last leg of a July 4th Holiday weekend tour we had all realized that our next show was the very next night at New Georges in San Raphael Ca. easily a ----- mile trip! Our set finished around 12pm and we hustled are gear back in the truck and van and headed back to the ferry for the mad dash to Vancouver. and the border crossing. 

We were not new at the Canada USA boarder crossing game, a convoy of white Rasta boys from San Diego was fair game for any curious agent. When you travel like this and do busy in other countries you live by some general rules to get in and out safely and hopefully quickly, don't bring your stash or your favorite pipe and always leave your merch at a friends house near the border... the taxes are just to high. On one crossing while we where being detained an Agent asked me if any of the parts in our equipment were from Japan, I swear I don't know how I kept a straight face. Fortunately for us just as we were emptying out the truck and van for inspection one Agent calls to another and says "let them go, we've got something else coming in." as I turned around I saw everyone scrambling to repack the gear and pulling up to the crossing was Pato Banton bus... they knew they had bigger fish to fry!
Fortunately that wasn't the case for the border crossing this time and we breezed right through. I have to mention that this last time the band and I stayed in Vancouver BC we challenged our selves to a bout of Canadian 5 pin bowling. For those of you who aren't aware of the 5 pin method, it's played in a bowling alley pretty much just like the ones in the states, it's just that there are only 5 pins about the size of coke bottles and a bowling ball no larger than the size of a softball. It's a difficult game played this way and for a good reason there are signs posted. "NO LOFTING THE BALL" I know I certainly wanted to throw the ball at those damn pins! As luck and skill would have it... I lost and as my punishment I was subjected to the writings of William Shatner's "Tech Wars" for the entire drive south. Fortunately I wasn't the only loser that day, Andrew Rosales lost as well and since he was a huge fan of cream soda his punishment was to drink 1 cream soda every time we stopped the van no matter what... It was a self defeating challenge, the more we stopped the more he drank so the more we stopped, but it was great for a laugh and I kept a few cans next to my book just in case he ran out!
After crossing the boarder and a quick stop in Bellingham WA. to pick up our merchandise and stash... (thank god) we high tailed south the rest of the day and all night long... the goal, to make New Georges in San Rafael CA. in time for load in! 
Some how we did make the 5pm load in time too, our truck and van had had made there way from a small island off the coast of Canada through boarder crossing and now 3 states to make this gig happen... the unsung code that I have only broken once in my career, more on that later. The gig went great at New Georges and Patrick the club agent and host/DJ always took excellent care of us, even to the extent of a wasabi eating contest with open menu and bar at the local sushi restaurant on the bands last official gig. We ate, we played and recovered from the wasabi and open bar, kissed our loved ones good bye directly after the show climbed back into our van and truck and took off again because the holiday weekend wasn't over yet... we had a 4th of July afternoon outdoor festival gig in San Diego CA. with The Cadillac Tramps and our old friends the Beat Farmers. I cant tell you whether I drove that last leg from San Rafael to San Diego or someone else did but we did make that show and directly after it I checked into a hotel for a couple of days for some R&R... unfortunately the band didn't get that message of my where a bouts and after calling my wife and then putting out an all points bulletin thinking that I had disappeared or even worse... headed to Mexico, but that's another story.

Recorded live at "The Belly Up" in Solano Beach California

Robert Melendez - Bass & Vocals
Peter Todd - Rhythm Guitar & Vocals
Matt Hale - Lead Guitar & Vocals
Gary Otake - Pocket Trumpet & Vibe
Chris Ballard - Keyboards
Andrew Rosales - 1st Drummer
Andrew Diamond - 2nd Drummer
Jon Schimke - 1st Sound Engineer
Randy Teaford - 2nd Sound Engineer