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 shoebox 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) and 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 there.
Missoula has grown since then. In 1979 the population was about 32,000. Today it is home to about 74,000 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 these 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!