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Memories of a childhood dream

July 26, 2018

Mostly self taught, I did take a few guitar lessons at Lombardy Music store around the 4th grade I seem to recall.  My teacher was Donny Leitzke who happened to be a next door neighbor in Milan, Ohio. Man, the guy could play.  I watched the Monkey’s on TV, then later Don Kirshner Rock Concerts and Midnight Specials. (I also vaguely recall the Beatles on Ed Sullivan but was a little young to have had any profound impact.) Those were magical times.

Basement band started with friend Les who played drums. No PA, I had a guitar/ amp. We needed a bass player. No one old enough to drive. We would play Jumping Jack Flash for hours. Moms would drive us and our gear to Les’ basement in winter or our barn in summer. I recall plugging in a cheap pair of radio shack headphones to the output of a 200 watt Kustom guitar amp so I could better hear over Les’ drums. It worked nice for about a 45 seconds after which a hole literally melted through the hard plastic case, it then smelled funny, gave off a little smoke, and quit. (go figure)

First “PA” was a Radio Shack hi impedance microphone into a 2-channel paging amplifier connected to a bell speaker that we salvaged out of an old trailer park. It didn’t work that well and we really didn’t sing very well, but it was something instead of nothing.

We taught ourselves to build a “light show”. (every cool band had to have a light-show). Built our own lights, flash pots, strobes etc. We also tried to build dry ice “machines”. At one point we had one of those red police flashers that we wired up to a switchable duplex outlet connected to a 12v battery charger mounted inside this wooden desk. It worked pretty great until one day one of our “roadies” plugged it into one of the regular 120Vac outlets and flipped the switch. It spun faster than heck – for about 8 seconds, put off a little smoke, smelled funny then quit. (go figure)

Flash Powder, Salamander kerosene space heaters, and one extension cord between the garage and the barn to power the whole show.

Around our senior year, we booked our own concert at the local National Guard Armory. We teamed up with another local band so we could increase attendance and cover the room rental and required security cop costs. We even had high-school friends help promote and sell tickets that we had printed. Many tickets got “lost” and not nearly enough cash came in. (go figure)

Great memories. We learned a lot. We lived, we laughed, we didn’t die from electrocution or burn the barn down. Gradually got better at playing music, general management, and basic accounting. All together I’d say it was a win. 🙂


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