The FREE CD giveaway is going on. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address if you want free copies of "As If!" and "Red Giant".
Next up... instrumental pieces for a friend back in Buffalo, NY for an upcoming dance recital. These pieces may become the second half of Night Light.
New song posted, "Crown Vic", a power pop/bubblegum special about big cars and stalking girlfriends. Peace... TH
He really is. Listen to his music now.
Trying to set a land speed record for a new tune, "Church Key". Kind of an itch I just have to scratch before I move onto the other stuff.
I'm a huge supporter of other musicians and I love to listen to all sorts of genres. I leave comments on ReverbNation and I like to share song links on Facebook.
If it seems like it takes a while for me to get to the music, understand that I have to go on "listening binges" on the weekends (and if I'm lucky, perhaps one night during the week). That's what my schedule allows, so I do the best I can. But trust me, I recognize the responsibility of musicians to have each other's back. More importantly, there's just a lot of good stuff out there to discover and I think it's fun to share the music you enjoy.
Peace, everyone. TH
I am four songs into full length album number 7 and the eighth release overall. While the collection was going to be titled "Kinda Sorta", solicited opinions now seem to favor "Night Light".
I thought I was going to throw up; calling this older guy that I hadn't spoken with in ages. He was way too cool for me. In any event, I walked to the small, round table that was home to our rotary dial telephone. I looked up Gray’s number in the white pages, temporarily denying Dale one of his "drums". I found what I presumed to be the correct listing under his father's name on a nearby street, about six blocks away from my home, and dialed the number..."szzzz....szzzz....szzzz..."
The ringing sound resonated in the receiver. One ring, two, three...and... "Hello". It was him. I recognized the voice, though now deeper than the one I knew from little league. No sibling or parent to screen the call – I had reached the man himself.
"Gray?" I queried. "Tom", he replied, in a very calm and unsurprised manner. My God, how did he know it was me? I didn't think to ask. I got right to business. "Dale said I should call you. We're starting a band and wondered if you'd like to jam with us." "When do you want to do that?”, he asked. He seemed genuinely intrigued by the idea. "Whenever you want", I answered back. "We're here now in my living room." "Where is that? I can come right over." I proceeded to provide the address, thanked him for agreeing to come over and hung up. "He's coming over NOW", I practically shouted to Dale. "What now?", was the obvious rhetorical question, although I'm not sure Dale answered the question. Time betrays my memory.
I similarly don't remember anything about Gray's arrival on my doorstep, or how we demonstrated our, um "skills", but one thing was clear: Dale's drumming on telephone books was of great distaste to Mr. Howes. At some juncture, perhaps as early as that evening or the next day, Gray telephoned and got straight to the point, "You sound OK for a beginner, and I think I can help you. And you and I should jam together here at my house. But we're not going to start a band with a telephone book drummer. We can find a drummer with a kit."
I was faced with a hard choice. Dale had been supportive, loyal and helpful, but his dreamt-of drum set was nowhere near happening, and we were going to be depending on the Bell Telephone System for our percussion needs for an indefinite period. It was either that, or go "drum-less" for a while and try to learn rock guitar from an older boy who was willing to bring me along for a new adventure. I chose the latter.
I don't remember how Dale and I parted ways. What I clearly remember is the first time I showed up on Brendel Avenue - Village of Hamburg, NY - on a cold winter evening early in 1979 and situated myself on a sofa in the enclosed porch of the Howes residence. Gray had a small Gibson amp. We plugged both of our guitars into it. He dropped the needle on the record player. "I'm going to teach you an easy one".
The distorted vocals came through the speakers..."I AM IRONMAN!"
We were on our way.
My brother Bill had made mention of Gray about a year earlier when he was in the Hamburg Presbyterian Church Youth production of "Godspell". Many of Bill's high school friends and their families were members of that church, although we were not. The auditions for the production were open to all youth, and Bill ended up joining in with the encouragement of his friends. He landed a part in the show, and so coincidentally had Gray.
One day, in the living room of our apartment, I overheard Bill comment to one of his friends, "Hey, do you know Gray Howes? He's in the show and I heard him playing piano during a break at practice. He can play parts of Karn Evil 9 by Emerson, Lake and Palmer". Bill's friend was impressed by this revelation, and I remember thinking "Wow...that's the guy I played baseball with on Deck Decor. That's amazing." I filed the information away in my mind, and nothing more came of it until Dale mentioned Gray as a potential guitarist.
"Well", I turned to Dale, "I know him, but he may not remember me." "I see him a lot", responded Dale, "We both deliver papers and his route is next to mine. I'll ask if he's interested in jamming with us."
A couple of days passed and I don't think the prospect of jamming with Gray Howes was looming large in my mind. I think I figured he'd say "no way" and that would be it. At the very least, I knew he was already in the Sr. High School in tenth grade and probably wouldn't want to associate with kids still in the Junior High.
Dale showed up at my house one afternoon. "I saw Gray. He said you should call him." Gulp! "Now?” I asked, "Does he want me to call him now?" "That's all he said", Dale responded with a tone of uncertainty, "He wants you to call him. You may as well."
I fast-forward now from the trials of a socially outcast nine year old little leaguer and his one moment of glory all the way to the winter of 1978-79. This is where value of that brief acquaintance with Gray Howes in 1973 became apparent.
With the un-amplified electric axe and olive-green folk guitar in my possession - and the better part of a year of guitar lessons under my belt - I was a ninth-grader resolving to play with other musicians and start a band. Lack of proficiency on either instrument was not a barrier to entry in my mind. The key was to get on with it.
Some months earlier, I'd met a kid from a few blocks away named Dale who claimed to play drums. He had some practice pads and pair of sticks, and so it was agreed that he would be "my drummer" and we'd build a combo from there. The difficulty of the arrangement became apparent when Dale's percussion via practice pads could not be heard above the olive-green acoustic guitar.
As experienced sound engineers will tell you, the main role of that discipline is to solve problems. We didn't need experience to tell us we had problems, namely lack of ability and lack of equipment compounded by lack of volume. How did we solve the lack of discernible percussion when a drum kit was out of financial reach? Simple: telephone books. I grabbed the collection of current and expired Bell Telephone yellow and white page directories from under the living room end table and assembled an ad-hoc "drum set" for Dale to pound.
Our acoustic guitar and telephone book duo rehearsed admirably for about two weeks in my mother's living room. We went by the name, "Mitochondria" because it sounded suitably "prog rock" in the fashion of the day. We had no agenda beyond trying to make any kind of sound and see what would happen.
As those couple of weeks drew to a close, a grim realization came upon us; we really needed a more capable player to help us find our way. It was Dale who said, "There's a guy with a guitar who lives a couple of blocks away from me named Gray Howes. Do you know him?" "Gray Howes!” I answered, "Yeah, I played baseball with him years ago. I've seen him around here and there. I heard he played piano. I didn't know he played guitar, too."
Now, I believe I'd seen glimpses of Gray around the village, probably at Fourth of July parades or at the Erie County Fair in the midst of a crowd of people. We hadn't had direct contact since our little league season because he attended a different elementary school (he of Pleasant Avenue School, me of Charlotte Avenue School). The schools were far enough apart that we had no contact with those kids unless extra-curricular activities intervened.