My preparations to move on from a home that has been a family shelter since 1961 has turned up several surprises. The most recent one was in a shoe box of old cassette tapes, only one of which interested me. The tape contained a collection of music I made around 1979, and I was a musical participant. I was living in Missoula Montana at the time and I’d found a circle of supportive friends bound by the love of playing music.
I made the tape using a cheap boombox. The best of the recordings were full of imperfections and enthusiasm. In listening to them after all these years I was reminded how lucky I was to have found this place (Missoula) during this time. Missoula was rich and culturally diverse town, a small town, a town rather in contrast to others in the far north. The years I spent in Montana (1969 & 1978~1980) taught me to appreciate the culture of honest, hardworking folks. The term ‘redneck’ is not a fair characterization, as it denigrates without the benefit of knowing how good and down-to-earth these people are.
There used to be a bar called “Lukes” in the town where sawdust and pet dogs lay on the floor and the patronage might include these ‘rednecks’ sharing the company of hard-nosed bikers, construction workers, hippies, native Americans. I don’t recall if the gay community (and there was an active one) spent much time at Lukes, but they had their own community center a half a block away. I was impressed by the tolerance these factions had for each other. The University of Montana is a liberal arts institution, and I believe its existence there contributed to the cultural harmony I observed.
Missoula has grown since then. In 1979 the population was about 32,000. Today it is home to 74,428 (2018) and the surrounding communities have grown as well. The last time I visited (2015) I was dismayed by the traffic jams and the crush brought on by the expansion of humanity.
Here are a couple of those primitive recordings that triggered my memories of this time and place.
A tune by Davey Graham, inspired by Paul Simon’s rendition
A Steve Winwood song done by Blind Faith
A Tom Jans song
A tune by Mother Maybelle Carter with time signature experiments
I’d apologize for the crude recordings, but it is what it is!