These posts are going to be pretty random so no guarantee that I have the time line absolutely accurate or the stories in order, but all that I recollect I will share and invite other’s who knew me then to fill in the bits. I recollect a number of funny, weird and exciting experiences during the time period BEFORE I signed the recording contract with Polydor.
Around 1966, I began signing up at Folk Coffeehouses every week for the privilege of performing for 15 minutes… about enough time for 3 tunes including a little ‘pater’ between songs. Folk Coffeehouses provided all of my peer the opportunity to develop our musical styles, composition and personae. I met many other fellow musicians of the time and we all supported, critiqued and encouraged one another. Years later Jackson Browne (we met at the Paradox in 1966 or 67) and I would agree that the time between 1965-1975 was one of the most prolific and magical for folk musicians.
I was 19 when I met Mary McCaslin at the Ice House in Pasadena. We were both ‘backstage’ with Dick Rosmini and his 12-string guitar. I was forever grateful I never took up an interest in the 12-string guitar…had I, I would have suffered paralyzing tuning nightmares! (Sadly Dick passed away in 1995)
Mary and I became good friends. It was Mary who taught me to finger pick and later showed me how to create different tunings on the guitar and she took me to The Paradox in Tustin CA where we spent about EVERY Thursday ‘hoot night’ evening for about maybe two years or more. Steve Noonan was the Master of Ceremonies. There were only so many ‘slots’ to sign up for performing on ‘hoot night’ and after everyone got on the list, Steve would ‘organize’ acts so that you didn’t have two of the same ‘act’ in succession, instead he would mix the performers so that a group would be followed by a comedian followed by a girl or guy singer followed by a group or comedian…well, you get the picture. The idea was to create a good balance for the evening. The Paradox performers were really a ‘family’ of artists who supported one another and helped each other grow as performers. I do not recall any jealousy among artists only love, respect and encouragement.
The list of The Paradox performers is pretty large, many of whom perform today, some better known than others and all artists of remarkable talent. Were I to make a list I would by accident leave someone out and that would break a heart, so instead let me just invite ‘Paradoxers’ reading this post to self introduce. I’ll keep a look out and add names as they are made known to me, I’ll just start with: Me
McCaslin also introduced me to The Troubadour on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. We would ride together every Monday after work–she worked at the telephone company and I was a dental assistant–driving like maniacs to arrive in time to get in line with all the other musicians to ‘sign up’ for the ‘hoot’. I remember there was guy who bombed down from Santa Barbara nearly every week–I don’t recall his name, but if he ever reads this blog, he can remind me so that I can give him proper credit.
During one of these Troubadour evenings after signing up and just hanging out, I began chatting with a fellow musician–sorry, I do not recall his name either. He had just returned from living in Greenwich Village. He wanted to know what kind of a guitar I played. I told him that I had a 1964 Martin D-18 (named ‘Chester’) which I’d recently purchased from Maury Manseau. “Well,” he told me, “you know you don’t deserve this guitar.” “Oh, and why’s that?” I responded warily. “You’ve never lived in Greenwich, eaten beans and been poor.” I looked at him for a moment and said, “No, I work to support myself to avoid the diet and the poverty, therefore I have earned my guitar!” There was one time when a woman claiming to be a Numerologist told me I’d lived 11 other times and each time I was a singer, but that I must get something wrong, so I keep coming back to get it right. Ah yes, there were those kinds of folks too, but mostly, I met fellow musicians. There is something idyllic about musician friendships where men and women share artistic and musical intimacy, a symbiotic exchange based on mutual respect of artistic talents and that is completely platonic. After gigs I spent many happy hours in the company of male and female musicians drinking coffee…some of whom became friends and all of whom openly shared guitar chords, licks, finger picking styles, and songs. It was a treasure trove of satisfaction.
In 1967 Mary McCaslin and I went to the Monterey Pop Festival…you know…the one where Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Ravi Shankar to only mention a few! Mary managed to get two PRESS PASSES which gave us some real access to people. We even attended some meeting and we sat next to and met Lou Adler. I still have the purple dress I bought from one of the craftswomen.
One night while hanging outside the Troubadour a guy introduced himself as Karl Bornstein. He wanted to know if he’d heard me sing…how was I to know???…but I said, “Yes.” He went on to tell me he wanted to ‘manage’ me. A year or so later, from out of the blue I received a phone call from Karl. He wanted to know if I was the same girl he’d talked to in front of the Troubadour…this time I answer “yes” truthfully. Eventually I did agree to him managing me. Karl was responsible for getting me the contract with Polydor, but he had some help from my dear friend, Barb.
It was through Maury that I met Barb because both had grown up in San Pedro. I think it was around 1966 or ’67 when I met Maury Manseau–I don’t quite recall how we met, but Barb tells me she will ask him. It could have been at a ‘Dirt House’ party (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s house), The Paradox when Steve Gillette was performing or The Prison of Socrates where I think the Sunshine Company was headlining and McCaslin and I went to see them.
Things happen to me, not often, but often enough that my friend Jana sometimes refers to it as ‘Channeling Lucy’ and my friend Barb thinks of me more like the Marlo Thomas character, “That Girl!” but not matter which is used for how to describe what happens to me, most situations are pretty funny.
I do recall one incident at The Prison of Socrates that you might find amusing. I decided to visit the ‘powder room’. I asked directions and was told they had built a new one. I went into the one I thought was new and locked the door. When I turned around, there was no commode! I remember thinking, “Well, this IS new” and when I went to unlock the door, the door knob fell off into my hand! Now you have to realize live music is playing on just the other side of the wall and my yells for “help” were NOT heard until the set ended!!
At some point in 1968 or so, Barb took a job with the telephone company (you may recall there was only one then AT&T!) and she was a close friend of mine. She knew that I had some demo sessions at Elektra. One night Barb was connecting a call for Polydor East to Polydor West and she over heard a conversation in which my name was mentioned. Upon closer eaves dropping, she realized she just had to say something, so she said, “I’m a friend of hers and I happen to know she is planning to sign with Elektra.” The next day Karl called me to tell me Polydor wanted to sign me. XOXO Barb!
Until Next Time,