Day Six: Emerging

Thunder and rain at night.
Growth comes with a shock.
Expression and duration
Appear in the first moment.

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“Things cannot remain in stillness forever. Winter storms may destroy things, but they also prepare the way for life. If things are swept away, it is appropriate . There must be an opportunity for new living things to emerge and begin their own cycle.”
-Deng Ming-Dao, Chapter 6, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations

“Nature doesn’t create storms that never end.”
-Dr. Carl Totton, Psy.D.,

What’s This Tao All About podcast

On Wednesday night, I visited the home of Kevin “Hotwheels” McGregor, frontman of my former cowpunk band, The Earps. He lives in a Phoenix neighborhood off 26th Street & Indian School Road, in a small WWII-era ranch house.

Formerly the “band house”, with all the ramen noodles, cheap canned beer, and party girls coming in and out as you can probably imagine, I hadn’t been back to the place since sometime in 2009 or 2010. The home has been completely redecorated since Kevin, somewhat of a philandering bad boy, took a wife and started a family. His 7 month old infant daughter was sleeping in a crib in the family room.

As Hunter S. Thompson said, “It was weird, Bubba. I was there.”

It was almost hard to believe there had once been great tensions between Kevin and me, usually over band business. He would cancel shows last minute, pissing off promoters, who screamed at me, and I would have meltdowns about it. Not to mention, my own habits, being either drunk or hungover at all times, depressed and lazy, and getting in trouble with his neighbors for being shitfaced in the backyard, shooting beer cans with a BB guns at inappropriate times: 2AM on a weeknight, for example.

My observation of the internal personality dynamics between the members of the “classic” lineup of The Earps (the version of the band that released albums, toured, and got press) went something like this:

  • Kevin and I were pretty good friends, but subject to arguments over band business and very different ideas about ethics. Luckily, neither of us are really fighters.
  • Kevin and Aaron “Ump” McCollum could usually be civil but seemed to butt heads over which one of them was in the leadership role. In hindsight, it wasn’t bad to have two Type As in the band, as long as they stayed in the roles that best suited their talents and abilities. For the most part, this worked well, but things ended badly when Ump left the band. I always sensed a competitive relationship between the two of them.
  • Drummer Marvelous Matt Maverick and I did not get along at all. Never understand why, exactly. Probably the only musician in my music career that I never got along with. It seemed as if he was envious of my strengths and exploited my many weaknesses and tried to bully me, which I didn’t respond to in a “water off a duck’s back” kind of way. Hard to say. (I was surprised, studying the enneagram years later, Matt and I are actually a very similar personality type. Both of us have freedom as a core motivation. While I lean toward “loyalty” to friends and my own beliefs and ideas, Matt leans toward power seeking, but isn’t really a power type all the way. ) Whatever may be said, and we have been estranged for many years, Matt and I were probably one of the best rhythm sections of any band I’ve ever been in.
  • Kevin and Matt were the founding members. Being a bit younger than the rest of us, Matt seemed to be Kevin’s bratty little brother in a way. This relationship was important for diplomacy and Kevin’s referee role between Matt and me.
  • Ump and I were very close friends, with hardly a disagreement between us. Without that bond, either one or both of us would have probably quit the band much earlier and we wouldn’t have been able to do all the cool things we did.
  • Matt didn’t seem to like Ump, who seemed completely indifferent to Matt.

The Earps were a delicate balance of power and the unity was very fragile. What we had were a group of mediocre players who were almost completely useless as individual musicians, but together could blow bands of more talented individuals off the stage. Honestly, every single member of the band was egotistical and selfish in some way, so there was never a shortage of drama.

At this time, Kevin is the only remaining member of The Earps but the band, at least in name, is still actively preserving the legacy, makes me happy in some weird way.

Odd twist to the story:

The Earps had begun as a ripoff band, as many bands do begin, and if anyone tells you any different, they are probably either lying or their band sucks. The band copied from, and even blatantly ripped off at times: Redneck Girlfriend from Seattle, and Nine Pound Hammer from Kentucky. We covered at least five Nine Pound Hammer songs in the early days, also covering their versions of cover songs too.

In 2015, I was asked to join Nine Pound Hammer.

Nine Pound Hammer knew about me from The Earps video “I Love Las Vegas” and my work with Jeff Dahl. I was asked to join on the spot. I remembered how to play half the Nine Pound Hammer setlist from doing those songs with The Earps.

I played with Nine Pound Hammer at the Star Bar in Atlanta and again at PKs in Carbondale, Illinois. The planned summer 2016 Europe tour never happened, which was disappointing. I was dismissed from the band in the fall of 2016 when the old bass player, Mark Hendricks wanted back in. That was fine by me. I may be asked to perform with them again in future. Who knows.

I will be making a guest appearance with the current version of The Earps tonight at Chopper John’s in Phoenix.

“Have you taken the time to get clarity about who you are and what you stand for? Or are you too busy chasing unimportant things, mimicking the wrong influences, and following disappointing or unfulfilling or nonexistent paths?”
-Ryan Holiday, Where, Who, What, and Why, Daily Stoic

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll answer that in tomorrow’s post.

Peace.

B.G.


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