Things I've Done
Not Necessarily In the Order They Were Done : )
I was born. Yes, I'm as old as the Rolling Stones (the band, not the individual members).
That makes me a Cancer (water, cardinal): Nurturing, Sensitive, Self-Protective, Emotional, Home-oriented.
Moved to Ann Arbor Michigan when I was 1. Home of early internet pioneers and lots of hippies and musicians including Bob Seger and Iggy Pop.
1964 or so
Hit my brother over the head with a roller skate. I forget the brand. Sometimes I think he might need another one to set him straight.
1965 or so
Walked back home immediately after my Mom walked me to kindergarten. We also used to walk to school in blizzards. I thought that was great fun. We also lived in a rolled up newspaper by the side of the road. No, we didn't, that last statement was a joke - "that's the way it was AND WE LIKED IT!"
Lusted after chopper motorcycles. Sang along with Beatles records. I particularly remember my older sister's record player with dozens of singles stacked up including the Cyrkle, the Beatles, the Monkees, the Turtles and other 60's artists.
Moved to Little Rock Arkansas (with my family, not by myself, ). Very conservative town, but a good place for kids to grow up. At least they had seasons (not like Austin where it is summer 9 months out of the year).
Had a terrible bicycle accident wherein 6 nails were embedded in my waist. No scars or lingering effects, that I know of anyway. I rode my bike daily all over town from the time I was 6 to 16 when I got my drivers license.
Fell in love for the first time. I started young. The girls used to giggle and titter when I walked into class. Is that good or bad?
Went to a Seventh Day Adventist church school (1972-1977). I still don't think I've recovered. The principal used to go off on 2 hour rants on health food. All we had to do was say 'tell us more about kelp Mr. Ballenger!' Rody my bike everywhere, spent lots of time playing with Radio Shack 65-In-One kits. Bought my first record in 1975 - Wings Venus and Mars. The next 20 years or so were spent buying more. Then I got into Macs (see below).
Went to Catholic High School for Boys . I still don't think I've recovered. One of the most famous high schools in America (a very large percentage of graduates get scholarships to Yale, Harvard, etc...) The Rector (Father Tribou) used to walk the halls looking for 'victims' who's hair reached their ears and give them haircuts right then and there in the hall. He also used to suspend students for smoking, even if they were off campus during school hours. He did this while proudly smoking a cigar. Drove an MGB and MG Midget to high school.
Joined/started several rock bands while I was still learning to play the guitar. My friend Walt helped teach me how to learn popular songs of the day by ear (Pink Floyd, Zep, Stones, Rush, AC/DC etc). Walt was a killer guitarist who could cop ALL the Eddie Van Halen licks NOTE FOR NOTE. I opted for rhythm and a little lead (on the easy songs). Our band Black Molly played so many VH songs that we were a virtual VH cover band. We also had a female singer in a later incarnation of BM who had a voice that was a dead ringer for Pat Benatar, so we played a lot of her tunes as well. We rented out an old National Guard Armory and set up own own gigs, rented the PA, sold tickets for $3 a piece. It was a BYOB affair. We packed the place every time we played.
Got my first job - Burger King.
Attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Got a Bachelor's in Communications with a minor in music. I started teaching guitar in 1980. I've taught over 200 students over the years. Played in several bands during this time. I also learned how to be a sound technician for other bands which explains my tinnitus. On second thought, that was probably due to the high volume rehearsals in a small room in my house for all those years. I started recording my 60 90 min cassette tapes of my music. See my music page for details on my hobby. Went to Freeport Bahamas with my family and my best friend Walt.
Started working at a one hour photo lab. Eventually moved up to manager of the Hot Springs Arkansas store. Worked at KSSN radio part time while finishing up my degree.
Started volunteering at KABF, a local non profit radio station. This station is a part of the ACORN organization which lobbied for rights for low income people. The station was in a ramshackle house in the worst part of town. It was literally held together with glue. If it was remodeled it would easily be a half million dollar home today. We had an ancient audio board, two turntables, 2 ancient cart machines whose heads were always misaligned and which sounded like the ads were recorded underwater. The AC went out the first year and was replaced by a donated window unit that had no filter for the entire 2 years I had my late night show. The first show I had was 1 am to 3 am. Keep in mind this was when I was working 8-5. I took a nap as soon as I got home on Tuesdays and got up at 12:30 and drove downtown to do my show. I came in at 11 the next day. After doing this for a few months I felt like I was leading a double life. Some of the 'down home' ads were hilarious, I used to parody them on the air as they were playing. Don't worry, there were probably only 20 people listening at that time of night anyway.
Moved to Hot Springs Arkansas to manage the Camera America one hour photo lab. Hot Springs isn't exactly a fun place for young people to hang out - most inhabitants are retirees.
After the store was sold, I moved back to Little Rock and started selling advertising at a local alternative news weekly named Spectrum. I slowly worked my way up to the top salesman then I moved on to the marketing and circulation director. I also opened my first recording studio - Rocky Studios. It was a simple 8 track tape deck and some outboard gear. I paid off the $3000 loan in about a year by renting out time at the studio. I recorded rap, bluegrass, rock, jazz, you name it. I have since gone to a 100% digital studio on my $30 Mac 7500.
Wrote and recorded music for a 2 act play called Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights by Gurtrude Stein. We rehearsed for 2 months before the first performance. It was a grueling rehearsal as the director was a perfectionist who kept changing the play over and over, but it was a great experience. We got interviewed on 2 TV stations as well as three newspapers.
Bought my first motorcycle, a 1988 Kawasaki KZ 400. Before the hippie paint job. It was purchased from a friend who owned a local record shop for $400. My girlfriend and her daughter and I painted it in psychedelic colors. It finally died in 1998.
Finally got out of sales at Spectrum newspaper and moved over to the marketing and circulation director. Unfortunately, the management didn't really let me do either. My band Homicidal Briefcase played their last show that summer.
I'm still trying to remember anything special that happened that year.
My house was burglarized, they got a video camera and a camera, but couldn't get my huge Peavey SP-3 speakers out of the windows because I had nailed them shut just a couple of weeks before. A neighbor saw them and pointed them out to me but I could do nothing as there were no witnesses. I waited at home for them to come back and get my studio, but they gave up. Meanwhile, I moved the studio to my friend's house. I recorded some cool tunes with Robert Palmer (not the "Addicted To Love R.P., the Rolling Stone critic R.P.") in my studio after I moved it. Turns out he played the tape of the Glands stuff to U2 when they were looking for inspiration for their Zooropa LP. Fought right wing fundamentalists whne Spectrum was attacked for running gay classified ads. I took their "Speak Up For Decency" bumper sticker and copied the layout but changed it to read "Speak Up For Liberty" in an effort to thumb my nose and fight their audacity. You can still see my stickers on cars around town and in offices. See the letter below for the whole story.
After moving to Austin Texas, I wrote a letter to my former employer chastising them for caving in to right wing fundamentalists. Started working at Third Wave Computing, a multi million dollar Mac mail order company. I was in charge of purchasing and receiving. I got a lot of old TW stuff at Goodwill Computerworks when I worked there from '98-2001.
Worked at another Mac mail-order company but this one was run out of the owner's apartment. He used to make me answer the phone in a disguised voice and transfer calls back to myself to take tech calls to give the impression that it was a big company. Uncle Karma was born. Got my tattoo.
Took a trip to New Mexico, the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest - very cool. Moved into a run down house and rented the back bedroom for a pittance. This allowed me to finally upgrade my musical gear and my Macs. Started surfing the web on AOL on my IIsi. I bought $20 worth of old Mac parts, learned to fix them up and bought used drives, etc to beef up my Macs. Started writing for the Austin Arena music magazine. Met Fleetwood Mac backstage, wrote lots of reviews, sold lots of crappy CD's and went to New Orleans for a music festival similar to South By Southwest. Drove all the way back with 5 people in a 4 seater car with a leech names 'Cracker' constantly begging for booze money. Got caught in the great Texas flood of '94 and took 24 hours to drive back when it should have taken 8!
Booger 9000 was born. Praise Bob. Too bad he only lived to be 18 months old. Also started IgoPogo, a 'wall of guitar' band in the vein of Band of Susans. Didn't last long tho. Sweated my butt off working at a roofing company, then got a job as a manager at a market research company (read Mac books most of the time). Got my first color Mac, a IIsi. Had 88 blood draws in two weekends when I did a medical study and bagged $1k. Surfed AOL on my Mac Plus while I was there. Booger 9k played in Little Rock for my old bassist's wedding. Had a reunion with old Homicidal Briefcase band members and drank a lot of beer.
A few Booger 9000 gigs including a Church of the Subgenius Devival. Bought $20 worth of used Mac parts that would have been $10,000 10 years before and started fixing them up. Read more Mac books, got all my Mac friends to give me free programs : ) Put Jag's House online after deciding that there were no old Mac web sites to be found. It was the very first Mac web site devoted entirely to older Macs (it still is, I have virtually no info on PPC Macs!)
Went to work at Apple tech support just after Steve Jobs came back. He was downsizing like mad, my manager was let go the day I started taking calls (after three weeks of training). Free bagels and juice on Fridays, lots of meetings and lots of stupid calls. I left after five months to go work at Goodwill Computerworks, a Goodwill that sold only computers and related items. I was the 'Mac Guy' and I loved it. I also started a consulting business which is still in operation today.
Got a job at Goodwill ComputerWorks, fought with the less than sharp CEO and his cronies in a vain attempt to make the store the best used computer store on the planet. Given the fact that we got hundreds of thousands of dollars of free computers and parts, we could have done it. It took us almost 2 years to get permission to sell on eBay!! Sadly, the inept CEO and his even more inept staff kept this from happening. Very sad considering they were at about 20% of their capacity and wasting 80% of the donations that the community donated. We could have easily quadrupled our sales and offered more services to people with barriers to employment than any other store on the planet. I truly believed we could have done this. Sadly, GWCW is yet another badly run non-profit and the store is a sad shell of it's former self when I was there. Too bad, so sad.
I think it's probably fair to say that I have seen and worked on more 68k Macs and accessories than just about any other living being. We're talking 20-50 coming in EVERY DAY for a while there! I routinely refurbbed and installed software etc to 20-30 Macs A DAY and put them on the sales floor. That's 5 days a week, 8 hours a day for THREE SOLID years! At an average of 20 a day that's 15,000 Macs! And I was the ONLY Mac person there. I also handled all software, peripherals, cables, monitors, eBay sales and shipping and 90% of Mac sales and support. It wasn't uncommon to put in 10 or 11 hours a day for months just to keep up.
At one point I had IIsi's and Pluses coming in from schools so fast that they were piled 15 deep. I stacked them up and made about 5 scsi boot drives so that I could drag over the appropriate system folder to the macs. I lined them up, and started copying system folders. When one mac was done, i'd attach the scsi cable of the external drive to the next mac in the stack and start dragging IT's sytem folder. Well, it took about TWO WEEKS of doing this NONSTOP for 8 hours a DAY to finish them. By that time of course I had accumulated many dozens of OTHER Macs (Quadras, PowerMacs, Mac II's of EVERY variety, etc)!!
Started playing guitar more regularly and got hooked on country blues. I am now in the process of recording three cd's: an acoustic blues CD, and electric blues CD and an electronic CD. I also play local clubs and coffee houses regularly, just me and my guitar.
Got engaged, moved in with my fiance, quit my job at Goodwill, broke up, moved out and have been MUCH happier ever since : )
Bought my first new vehicle, a 2001 Honda Shadow ACE 750 Deluxe.
Started cataloging and transferring all my recorded music from the past 20 years to CD format. This will take another year or so to finish as I have many hundreds of hours of audio output dating back to 1979. I am doing the same with all my pictures, band and life memerobilia and other artifacts that can be digitized.
Got a job at my brother's company, PowerLogix where we make Macintosh upgrade cards. We have consistently been the first to offer virtually every upgrade card on the market, often beating competitors that are easily 10 times our size. Bought a mountain bike with 18 gears, I ride mostly at night.
Bought a new Ford Mustang. Recorded 3 acoustic blues cd's at my home studio.
Austin had a very rare ice storm in February. Went to Little Rock for a visit with some old friends at a wedding and had a fantastic time. Recorded 1 more acoustic cd and working on a blues piano cd (recorded with my guitar synth), an ambient electronic cd and an uptempo electronic cd in my home studio.
Took many pics with my new Canon S200 digital camera.
I went to Chicago with a friend to see Peter Gabriel and had a great time. I also visted the Apple store while there as well as many cool blues dives. Recorded 2 'electric blues' CD's as well as 3 more acoustic blues CD's, re-released long lost material from 1995.
I played the first of several solo acoustic blues shows at Central Market South in Austin. I also played at Wheatsville CO-OP Joe's Generic Bar and the Green Festival in Austin.
I also started a project which included re-recording several SPAZMOTICS songs that I originally recorded on my 4 track cassette in the mid to late 80's. This was an internet collaboration whereby my friend (and original SPAZMOTICS vocalist/lyricist) Spaci Traci recorded her vocals in Las Vegas as we traded the backing tracks over the net.
In late 2003 I signed with magnatune.com and CDBABY.com to sell and promote my blues CD's - sales has been brisk so far.
I made a decision to move back to Arkansas in mid February. The reasons are many: cost of living is much lower, I can make more money playing my music in a smaller market (big fish in a small pond syndrome) and my folks are getting up there so I will be closer to them for quick visits. I've already enjoyed several gigs where I pocketed more loot from just tips and CD sales than I ever made in Austin.
I was able to purchase a house for less than my car payment by taking advantage of an opportunity created by Argenta Community Development Corp in North Little Rock, just across the river from Little Rock where I grew up. They have been puchasing and refurbing houses for twelve years in downtown North Litle Rock (formerly Argenta) and reselling them to qualified buyers.
The end result is that the entire Argenta Historical District has blossomed into a beautiful area of classic older homes and the rough element has skedaddled. There are many folks who have purchased homes in this area for a song and are paying their mortgage by simply renting out the garage apartment. This is what happened in Austin in the early to late 70's before the influx of high tech and a drastically more expensive cost of living. While I don't think Little Rock will ever grow as fast as Austin, I believe that now is the time to puchase a house in this area and watch the property value skyrocket. This has been proven over time.
In addition, Little Rock has experienced drastic expansion and improved in many ways since I left including the virtual elimination of the gangs that haunted the area in the late 80's and early 90's, massive reconstruction and development in the downtown area including the soon to open Bill Clinton Presidential Library, the Heifer Project, the new Acxiom tower, Alltel Arena, a brand new downtown library, River Market district, loft apartments, a downtown trolly line, District Courthouse expansion, Winrock International Headquarters, First Security Center tower and the revitalization of downtown North Little Rock retail.
Started playing at a local grill called Phil Good's. Great food and great location but sadly, no advertising. I play for tips Wednesday and somestimes Thursday nights. I'm starting to sing as I play acoustic blues, my repretoir has expanded to about 2 hours of music.
I played at Vino's with local metalheads TC and the Eddies. Two basses, two guitars, two drummers, two keyboards and TC, the singer.
Started busking on the Rivermarket in Little Rock.
We had a wonderful white Christmas this year.
I bought a Mac mini - 6 years after purchasing my last new Mac. I'm using it as my home business Mac as well as recording my songs in Garageband. I added a 120 gig FireWire external drive to run the Mac as well as backup for my massive audio files, the built in drive on the Mini is a little sluggish for Garageband.
Started experiementing with making cigar box guitars. Electric guitars made out of cigar boxes and cookie tins. I enjoy experimenting with different designs and selling them for a little extra income. I've made over 100 so far. I also play them at local shows, the crowd always comes up and asks me questions about them. I'm planning to offer classes on how to make at local grade schools.
March - May 2005
Played at Funky Java, a local upscale coffee house with CeDell Davis, reknown for playing slide guitar with a butterknife due to his severe polio. Started a 6th month residency at Cafe Mocha, another local coffee house. I played every Thursday evening. Played at the Eureka Springs Blues Festival on the streets for 5 hours. I sold 2 cigar box guitars and pocketed ebough loot to purchase a battery powered guitar amp.
Continued to knock out 3 cigar box guitars a week and sell them on the internet and via local music shops. Had a wonderful time at the Arkansas Blues andHeritage Festivasl (formerly King Biscuit Blues Fest) in Helena Arkansas. The buskers (street musicians) were much more enjoyable than the stage acts. Got tosee Robert Jr. Lockwood who was taught how to play by Robert Johnson. He still plays regularly at 90 years old. I hope to play at the Festival in 2006.
Released 3 more CD's of acoustic and electric blues as well as my 2nd Elektronik cd.
Completed a 6 week residency at Reno's Argenta Cafe in downtown Argenta Arkansas. Nice little venue that features sandwiches and a full bar. I brought a slew of guitars to play each Friday night including several of my cigar box guitars, my Simon and Patrick acoustic and a banjo. I ended up selling several CD's each night as well as doing pretty good tip wise. On many evenings I walked across the street and played an impromptu set at the Arts Scene, a cool venue where people come in and paint and watch old movies and listen to music.
150 cigar box guitars made so far.
Summer /Fall 2006
I played several times at a new local restaurant called the Starving Artist Cafe that promotes local musicians and artists and has VERY good food.
Formed a new band with my old pal Sterno from the Homicidal Briefcase days. This band is called Bloody Hammer, taking the name from a Roky Erickson and the Aliens song. The band plays all Roky and 13th Floor Elevators songs. Roky has some amazing songs, including "You're Gonna Miss Me" which was a big hit for the 13th Floor Elevators and is now being used in a Dell Computer TV commercial. Roky has given us his blessing even allowing us to sell his cd's and t-shirts at his gigs. We've played a couple of parties so far with several verbal commitments for local gigs. We hope to tour on weekends to Dallas and Austin, etc...
Got a write-up about my Cigar Box Guitars in the North Little Rock Times and Maumelle Monitor.
Played several solo one man band shows at the the legendary White Water Tavern. The new owners have really tuned the place around and it's now packed several nights a week.
I also played several shows in Mississippi where I sold my cigar box guitars. Rolling Fork Mississippi (the birthplace of Muddy Waters) as well as Clarksdale Mississippi. Both were successes and fun to participate in.
I was invited to play at the third annual Cigar Box Guitar Extravaganza which is an outdoor cigar box guitar festival in Huntsville Alabama. There were several CBG vendors and performers. The even was documented on video by Max Shores, an independent documentarian for future broadcast on Alabama public TV.
Met Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators) in Dallas and got his autograph.
Competed at the Internaitonal Blues Challenge as part of the Ozark Blues Society. I played at George's Majestic Lounge with my suitcase bass drum.
Played a tribute performance to Frank Zappa in the band Zappa's Residue. We rehearsed for several months and played a 4 hour show. Unfortunately our leader Krel broke his arm just before show time adnw e had to go on without him. We subsequently tried again 6 months later after his arm had healed. Poster of the show.
Bloody Hammer played more shows.
Started working at Computerworks in Little Rock fixing Macs. They've been around for 26 years. Played several out of town gigs in my one man band wiht foot drums, ciga rbox guitar and harmonica. Played Oklahoma City, Fayetteville Arkansas several times.
Competed in the International Blues Challenge (IBC) again as a representative for the Arkansas River Blues Society and won the solo/duo portion of the competition. I'll be competing in February 2009 in Memphis agais several hundred other musicians.
Made a 13 hour trek to Minneapolis to play the Deep Blues Festival. Had a blast and met some cool folks. I also checked out Cedric Burnside (RL's grandson) and Lightnin Malcolm at Palmer's Bar in downtown Minneapolis.
Gave a presentation on the blues and cigar box guitars at the Bentonville Arkansas library. Played more shows in north Arkansas and the White Water Tavern.
Competed at the 25th annual International Blues Challenge (IBC) and had a blast. Didn't win but I sold out of CD's!
Got another article written about my cigar box guitars in the local Sync magazine.
I'm featured in a cigar box guitar documentary called "Songs Inside the Box". It was broadcast on Alabama public TV and soon on other public TV stations across America. YouTube video of Songs Inside the Box.
I was selected to play at the Deep Blues Festival for the second time. I took my week vacation there adn helped promote the festival by playing solo gigs around the city all week. I started on the Sunday prior to the festival and played 5 shows in one day! I was lucky enough to get my picture on the front page of the entertainment section f the local paper on the day of the festival. This has helped me secure many out of state gigs and sell more cigar box guitars. In the fall I played many new local and out fo town veunues, honing my solo 'old school' blues sound with cigar box guitars, harmonica and foot drums. This is the traditional 'one man band' altho i didn't have a bass drum strapped to my back as I walked around!
More gigs and more cbg making. I'm getting a lot of orders form Europe, they tend to know the history of the cbg better than Americans and they have traditionally been huge blues fans, which is the style of coice for cbg's since that's what they were originally designed to play back in the early 20th centruy. Busy as can be fixing Macs at Complete Computing but getting antsy to move on, the management is really really horrible. Started playing weekends at Whole Foods Market, it's a great palce to hone my craft and experiment with new songs.
Band of Susans links