from the Carolina Rock ‘n’ Roll Remembered group on facebook:
For a couple of years now this group has been one of the best regional music history networks going. Members are watching with interest, sharing with their old friends, contributing great photos and memories… so, should we step it up?
I started, and remain focused, on Asheville. Simple reason… I’m here and I know people. Every person making music here 50 years ago knows how to get ahold of half-a-dozen others… and so on.
BUT The response from across the state and SC too has been so electric in some cases that I want to pitch an idea out. In some cases one or a few people from a town get really excited about the possibility of capturing some of this history… and make no mistake it IS history. I remember my dad having his 50th anniversay WW2 Navy reunion. Of course, service to this country during a time of war when the whole nation pulled together IS well-recognized as of historic significance and should be. All the same, what took place on the homefront a generation later (not to mention the looming possibility, and reality for many, of Viet Nam) is just as valuable in many ways. Don’t sell yourself short just because you were a teenager in a rock ‘n’ roll band that might not have made a big splash.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed happen when the spark is lit for certain folks, some who hadn’t thought twice about their musical misadventures in decades.
MANY HAPPY REUNIONS with old bandmates, classmates, fans and fellow musicians… often this has been as much a thrill for the families, especially grandkids who never knew grandpa was a rockstar, ha ha.
These reunions lead to story swapping, being reminded of some hysterical and genuinely unique experiences.
Sometimes people can break out the scrapbooks and photo albums to illustrate a moment in time that is nearly lost in the pages of academic history books.
EVEN actual musical reunions have been known to happen. I know of at least half-a-dozen groups who have returned to the stage, often with some line-up changes from the original, and performed the music of yesteryear to the delight of all involved.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE? Basically someone “on the ground” in a given locale willing to reach out to their friends and fellow musicians. Like I said, everyone knows 6 more people, many of them who have never gotten with the computer age (and who can blame them really?), so a few phone calls have people swapping stories that are undocumented and have not been told for decades.
I suppose it would be a lot like an average high school reunion only with a city-wide musical emphasis.
One person starts making a list of all the local players they knew… start wondering about where they are now and, if they don’t know, who can find them. I guarantee that a weekend spent at this hobby will have you back in touch with people you haven’t spoken to in ages rehashing some good times.
HOW TO HANDLE THE RESULTS / WHAT IS THE END-GAME? I would say that the most important final acheivement of any such reunion is to preserve a piece of our musical heritage which will be GONE in another 25 years… no getting it back. But right now we have a lot of these folks on hand who are reaching retirement and deserve a shot of nostalgia and a chance to share with the grandkids… even the ones who haven’t been born yet.
So… taking pictures, making videos, recordings of “oral history” and telephone interviews. Where there are scrapbooks and photo albums, setting up time with a good scanner and someone who knows how to handle the digitization process (I guarantee every one of you have a friend who can make this happen and would probably be excited about what they stand to learn). You know who the biggest supporter of such a project should be locally? Your neighborhood library or historical society. They, of all people, should recognize this as a golden opportunity. Librarians and historians are usually blown away by such a windfall… their wide-eyed reaction when being faced with such a thriving local music scene is generally, “I had no idea!”
Then and finally… the music itself. Has it been preserved? The most obvious medium is the one-off 45rpm record the kids down the street cut in 1966 and tried to peddle at school for months afterwards. We need to get the audio from every little one of those songs digitized. Again, not too complicated and chances are you know someone who will do it for nothing. If you are willing to spend a little bit of money I can recommend a Carolina business which does this work affordably and can often make the final product sound BETTER than the day it was cut (assuming no one played catch with the family dog using your copy of the record over the years).
THEN there are the one-of-a-kind recordings on old reel tapes that have been in the closet growing mold for 45 years… Yes, they are out there. Yes, we have rescued many of them. In this case I would strongly advise the layman against attempting to handle/play/transfer these tapes. They may have become very delicate by now and I’ve seen the magnetic recording stripped right off the clear tape the first time they go back on a reel player after so long. These cases need professional attention. I’m not in the business of selling such a specialized service but, again, “I know a guy.” Roughly speaking, a couple of reels of audio professionally handled right here in North Carolina, can yield a CD after tedious restoration for a couple of hundred bucks. Worth it!
So, I’m not telling you folks anything that hasn’t crossed your mind before when thinking on all this old stuff. I WILL offer my support. I’ll make phone calls, I’ll track down long-lost drummers last seen hitch-hiking west in ’68, I’ll try to drum up local support from the history community, recommend venues/meeting places… whatever I can do voluntarily, simply because I love the music of that era and every time I hear another “lost” song it gives me a thrill to know that somehow it survived half-a-century… and in many cases so did the guys who played it.
So, what next? Make your list of potential contacts. If you know they are on FB, point them here. Get the phone numbers and ask them the big questions…
1. Do you have some good stories to share?
2. Do you have newsclippings, flyers, posters, photos, home movies (in other words, documentation).
3. Do you have recordings?
An answer of “YES” to any of the above calls for a next step… arrange a meeting and/or recorded phone interview. Set up to scan, transfer existing materials… This is about as grass roots as it gets and can be done by nearly any of us one on one. The BIG maybe depends on the sort of response you get after a few of these contacts… Do you wanna attend a reunion and/or Do you wanna get the band back together? That, my friends, is entirely within the realm of possibilities.
Don’t wait another 5 years. As we’ve seen in recent months, rock ‘n’ rollers don’t last forever… only their music does.
WHAT SAY YE?