Life Is Good

Life Is Good
Life Is Good

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Early Years Of Guitar Developement

Hello and welcome to The Sunday Blog 6-19-05. Happy Father’s Day. It’s been a couple of Sundays since I last blogged. Bless me father for I have blogged. I was busy sorting out life. If anyone is interested I will be playing a few gigs out in California. July 2nd at the Deer Lodge in Ojai, CA and July 4th at Freedom Park in Camarillo, CA and July 7th in downtown Ventura at some out door street scene. Say hello if you are there. Today I am in New England. It’s a nice day here. Summer is always beautiful in the North East. Winter they can keep. Some people like winter. I am not one of them. Thank you for all the downloads of my tunes and videos at ourmedia.org. It makes me feel wanted. Ourmedia finally posted my song Little TV Angel and the video For Little TV Angel under the URL, David Reo Live. They are good ones to have. David Reo live is 26MBs long. It's worth the wait. Presently I am attempting to be more melodic with my solos by incorporating the pentatonic scale within the major scale during solos. I learned that from watching a bunch of Eric Clapton DVDs. If it’s good for Eric, it’s good for me. Like if you are in the Key of C start your solo out within the Key of A minor. My goal now is to buy new clothes. I may be moving back to California. I will have to see how the next few weeks go with my trip out there. I’m going to hook up with my old friend Mike Parrot. Mike is like Sam Kinison Jr. Always a good time with Mike. I met Mike at Chatsworth Park in 1986.
I was unemployed and had just rented a room in a house in Northridge. So there I was. Between looking for work every day I would go up to Chatsworth South Park and bring my Dobro guitar.(The toilet seat model-which appears in the video clip Dobro Dave) I got the name Dobro Dave from my days at Chatsworth Park. Chatsworth Hills and Chatsworth park are the place where they filmed The Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers and a bunch of old westerns. Back then there was the Iverson Ranch and The Spaun Ranch made famous by the Manson gang in the 60's .I would go up there and sit by myself and play away. I noticed a large group of people way down at the other end of the park. There seemed to always be a great deal of activity going on. One day Mike came walking by to check my playing out. He played guitar also. He was into it and he invited me up to the group of people at the other end of the park. That is where I stayed for the next four years. It turned into a major chapter in the book.
There was at least fifty people hanging out. All kinds of characters. Hippies and bikers and street people living in the hills. People from other parks. Granada Hills. Sierra Madre. Box Canyon. So once they heard me playing the slide blues guitar, I became the entertainment there and that turned into a constant party. Consequently my guitar playing matured immensely during that period which lead up the to another period in my life where I began playing the club circuits in Los Angeles. Chatsworth had South Park, North Park and Oaks Park down the road about a mile. There was also The Top Of Canoga (where there was once a yearly Pumpkin Festival before they put in the 118 freeway) and Doggy Road which wrapped around Rocky Peak. Rocky Peak at one time was an Indian reservation. Each park was nestled in the hills and the hills are made up of a series of rocks with caves. You know how you see the cowboys all shooting at each other in the rocks? That’s The Chatsworth Hills. Those same rocks. North Park had at least 25 BBQ ‘s up under the oak trees. It was the perfect set up for the homeless to have a kitchen and shelter in the caves and a free shower by hooking up a shower head to a pipe and screwing that into the sprinkler system that went on in the mornings and evenings. I remember going to a few campsites there. People had furniture and little shaving mirrors, couches. Pictures of Elvis and John F. Kennedy in frames. It was just like home! They even had irrigation ditches dug around the bush. There was Lizard Hill, Hippie Hill and the Sacred Gardens. (Which are now condominiums)There is also an active Amtrak train line that runs through the parks. There is a train tunnel that goes under the mountain from Chatsworth to Simi valley and comes out on the Simi side right where the Biker bar was. The train had to go really slow up the grade into the tunnel so people would hop the trains and get a ride up to San Francisco. Or hop off from San Francisco or Lompoc and Bakersfield. For four years I went there and I got to know all the characters and what went on in their lives. I learned that even when you have no material possessions in life that there is still daily stress on some level. Be it for food or lack of food to police, health, weather or just general everyday being alive. There were people living in the hills, people living in campers and in cars, people who had normal lives and just wanted to be part of something, musicians, famous people, x-cons on the run from Mississippi prison camps, hippie girls dancing in the moonlight....And me! Playing my dobro......slide blues.....sitting on mountain tops over looking both the San Fernando Valley on one side and The Simi Valley on the other. There was a donkey ranch way up at the top of the mountain in Woolsey Canyon. You could go up there and it was like sitting on the edge of the world. Amazing views and beautiful lights below. 1986 to 1992. There were lots of Mikes at the park. Mike Parrot, Motorcycle Mike, Fat Mike, Mike Critter. Ico Mike. Hog dog Ed. Brad & Bennet were like something out of a cowboy movie. They looked like cowboys from the old west. Brad was about 6'3..tall..built..tan..handle bar mustache..blue jeans. He never wore a shirt or shoes..He was the Alpha male. Bennet looked kind of like what I imagine Jessie James would look like...kind of like Joe Walsh from the Eagles/James Gang with a rough edge...I always had this idea to make a movie with the same characters only put them back into the old west as outlaws. It wouldn’t be much different. The Cheese. He lived in a camper and smoked cigars. Glenny Good Buds. He was the house chef. He always had the BBQ going. He was like a park ranger who went bad. He had that whole outdoor half surfer half cowboy thing going on. The women were wild and nice..Janet, who had a daughter that they called Monster. J-9, Kristy, (Kristy Kessler).(after Kessler Whiskey) ..Whitney, Lisa, Patti, Cinnamon Girl, Tanah, Loraine, Heather, Gwen, just to name a few. The area where this happened is the exact place where The Manson gang lived.. At times it reminded me of Manson The Next Generation. Although the street element and hippie vibe was there, there was no Manson cult like thing going on. No cult figure that everyone worshiped. No killer Hippies. It was just a group of people who happened to find each other in the same place where the Manson thing happened twenty years previous to this period of time. There was a mystique about it. At times I wonder about the Chatsworth Hills. Like is there some demon in those hills? Some strange evil spirit? Maybe it is just Los Angeles. I went back about a year ago and it was deserted. Just ghosts. There was a great time there though. They say it was even better before I got there! The main thing was to keep the police at bay. There was a code. 6up. 6up meant the police have entered the park. They had scouts that would yell 6up! From the hilltops. 6up meant put anything illegal into the trash can and move away from it. "The road of excess leads to the path of wisdom". Keats. The police were known as The Budweiser Task Force. Club Dev. That was the Los Angeles Devonshire Division. Sherlock & Officer M. They were classic. Sherlock would come into the park and sit in his patrol car across the way and smoke a pipe and look at everyone with binoculars. It is surprising that they didn't have police on horse back and helicopters with infa-red. At that time it was kind of old school. I have seen police on bicycles and dirt bikes at times in the past. Not there. People had their own language going on. "Ground score" meant you found something good to eat on the lawn. "Flip A bitch" meant to make a U-turn. Squirrels were good eatin’.
This was a kind of incubation period for me musically. I just played guitar all day every day. Other people had guitars and one thing lead to another and before you know it there would be five or ten people playing guitars and jamming out for hours at end. Who had money for a beer run...who was off in the hills...meanwhile I was working and recording music and writing scripts....one minute I would be on a mountain top with bikers and crazy hippie chics saying hey, listen to my new tune! and the next minute I’d be on the set of Blossom....talk about extremes....I’m glad that I got to experience this period of time. As radical as it was at times it was fun.
There was a party all the time and on weekends the party was at people’s houses. Rich people with mansions up in the Hollywood Hills with swimming pools in their living rooms, local parties in the Valley. Parties at the beach or in Malibu Canyon. The Sierra Madre crowd had these big blow outs. I didn’t really care much for drugs and alcohol. I’m basically a sober person. I mean people were off the wall but I just wanted to play the guitar and have an audience and people to jam with. It was more a social thing for me. So that is a window into my Chatsworth Park period. There are lots of worlds and stories within that period that I hope to get to as time goes on. The Chatsworth period led to me getting a band together and I started opening up for the Purple Turtles and one thing lead to another and before you know it I was playing out steady every week for the next fifteen years.. I met my friend Jeff through Chatsworth Park although he lived in a house in Chatsworth lake Manor and shunned the park people. Jeff was the Mayor Of Lake. He was a musician and he had a gig on the other side of Chatsworth at a biker bar. The Knolls area of Simi Valley.. The Knolls is a cousin to Chatsworth but an entire other world on the other side of the mountain. The Biker Bar was there and I spent a year and a half at that biker bar playing every weekend. Paris Parent on Drums and the Late Great Al Seeley on Bass. Big Al. Al past away about four years ago. He was the best bass player that ever lived. Solid bottom. He was one of the greats. Between that I had my own band, The David Reo Band and I started playing with The Preachers featuring Smilin Brian. (Who is now my partner in music) Brian is a fantastic harp player and front man. We played together for ten years out of Ventura, CA and we have a solid sound as a team. I look forward to getting things back on track with The Preachers and Brian soon. http://www.thepreachersbluesband.com/We plan to put out a new CD in the near future.
Within this East coast period I played With Ken Lyon who is a great bluesman. If you are interested look up Ken Lyon on a search engine and buy his CD. http://www.kenlyon.com/ He’s great. A true classic blues Artist. Then I played with The Retro R&B band featuring Nouquina Washington. A black band. I was the only white person in the hood. That lead me to a whole Black family experience that I will write about in the future. There are pictures and video clips from each of these eras posted at ourmedia.org. It was a wonderful time and that was a great band! Great bands seem to only last for a moment. I think that is life. We're all here for the moment.
We’re only all here briefly really. Have fun and do the best you can. Enjoy your friends and enjoy your life!

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Anonymous said...

Hey Dobro Dave how are you doing ? My name is Bob I used to hang out at Chatswoth Park during the days you wrote about, and remember you well. I used to have the orange / primer grey Chevy Suberban that I live in at the Garden of thr Gods. I would love to talk to you some time. Are you touring anytime soon I would love to haer you jam again! My good buddy Jeff who you used to jam with, would love to come see you also. We have been talking about getting every one from those days together again. But can't figure out how to contact them. A few days later Jeff sent me this link. I'm blown away! You told it like it was and I appreciate that.Please contact me when you get a chance. Bob Phillips 661-245-3021 payphone@cwnet.com