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When Jimi and I were so young

Vivian Herron
Vivian Herron, Columnist
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

With all that talk about doo-wop last week, I forgot to mention for the benefit of younger readers (How many could there be? Two? Five?) that those wonderful groups of singers put their songs on things called records.

Can we all say “records” together, dear ones? Wonderful!

A record is a flat, round, black object, made of vinyl and covered with grooves. It is placed into a machine called a phonograph. A widget holding a special needle is lowered onto the revolving record, music comes out, and good times usually follow.

I own a phonograph, along with many records, but the danged thing died, and my Christmas present this year is searching the Web to find parts to resurrect it. Imagine – I used it on a near-daily basis for 16 years with no maintenance whatsoever, and it broke down.

The doo-wop show brought back many old memories, but I really felt ancient during a recent trip to Bigtown. I was in a copy shop and while running papers through the machine, I also got to listen to some vintage rock ‘n roll coming from a CD player. At the counter, I inquired of the young man working there if the guitarist I heard was indeed Jimi Hendrix.

“Yeah,” he breathed reverently. “Isn’t he great?”

“Was, honey. I saw him a few times at little clubs around Los Angeles, when he was just beginning to get noticed; this was pre-Woodstock and maybe even pre-heroin. He was very good, and got better as he went along. Too bad he died of stupid.”

I was absolutely stunned by his reaction. “You actually saw . . . him?”

My apologies, but this guy could not have been more impressed if I had said, “Yes, I walked with Jesus in the Garden after all his disciples fell asleep.” In an instant, I had become living history for this kid. Weird.

Speaking of getting noticed, a couple of weeks ago I ran across a band on their way up. Crystal was home for Dead Bird Day and I took her to Bigtown to run some errands.

While waiting for her, I heard some interesting live music that seemed to be emanating from Record Connection across the street. When she was done we went over there, and I received my reward for a very long day.

A band was tucked into a recess beside the store, playing for all they were worth, and having a great time doing it. The band’s name is Sling. Bodhi is lead vocalist and plays electric guitar. Eddie’s on bass and Ben is the drummer. Bodhi told me they’ve played together for two years and recently did some work at U-Turn in Auburn. They have also just put out their first CD, “Smooth Stones.” They’re danged good, too.

“Why are they playing out here?” Crystal asked. I called Record Connection the next day to find out. For the last several months, the store has showcased strictly local artists, both on a small stage inside the store and in that little good-luck niche outside, depending on the weather and the group’s preference.

Every kind of music is welcome; for instance, a couple of weeks ago they had a swing band, and then Emerald Mist, a trio of harp players.

If you drop by, the staff can give you more information than I have space for, including some flyers on who is scheduled for the future.

They’re gearing down for the next few weeks because of the holidays, but RC has every intention of picking it right back up sometime in January.

Even Jimi had to start somewhere.

Vivian Herron is a longtime resident of the town of Washington whose column appears on Saturdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.

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