Every artist owes a debt to what began their personal creative
process. To having that first thought of "I want to do that." They hear
something or see something that strikes a chord within their mind.
Call it an artistic "ribbon" that flows from creator to creator. In
the case of music, it can be a few notes or a tone, a technique or a
phrase in a song that inspires, that turns "I wanna hear more" into "I
can do that, TOO!" As music has changed and developed throughout
history, part of the wonder of it is the evolving sounds that every
new performance brings.
Leigh Stephens didn't wake up one day and KNOW how to play
guitar. He heard a note or a sound on a radio (in those days, yes, a
radio) and then heard it again, and thinking "I want to do that, too"
unknowingly connected himself to that artistic "ribbon" by deciding
to learn how to play a guitar. And like musicians down through time,
you practice. And rehearse, And try a better instrument when you
realize the limitations of the beginners model. But, again, everyone
is striving to hear that "sound" that started them down the path. In
Leigh's case, in the early 1960's, it was the new, electrifying sound
of Duane Eddy, Link Wray, Dick Dale and others like them providing a
style and sound that fit the car and surfing culture of that time.
After learning and practicing and striving to create his own
version of that sound he had heard, he, of course, realized that you
cannot perform it on your own. You need a band. And there WERE bands
like the Ventures and others that played that music. No vocals. The
guitar was the voice and the songs were unique because of the tone and
technique of that voice. Yes---- "the times they were a changin'
"---and those high school guitar bands evolved into another style and
followed that ribbon on into another version of the original sound.
And, OK, let's acknowledge the facts. Yes, that sound, in Leigh's
case, evolved into bands like Blue Cheer---and then Silver Metre and
most recently Chronic with a K. And recordings like "Red Weather" and
"Ride the Thunder." All part of the evolution of the art of the same
man but all, at this point, long past. Different music and different
times. The listening and learning that came from all of that continued
on to this day. And for Leigh, it was always about playing his guitar.
It was never about "the scene", the volume or the names involved. That
was just media talk. It has always been about following that same
"ribbon" that flows down through all music. And it plays forward. If
you simply love to play and create music, it doesn't stop just because
the light is focused elsewhere.
On this, Leigh's latest recording, that creative connection
expands in a varied and surprising way (with a number of perfect
examples of the flow of musical ideas from one artist to another)
People will immediately know songs like "Sleepwalk" or "The End of the
World," though never before in the same way as Leigh's
interpretation. Originals like "Heceta Winter" or "Fat City Dirge" set
a mood that allows you to close your eyes and listen to "slow dance on
the beach" songs that sound so very familiar though never heard before.
And, oh yes, how about the sheer power and "nod" to what Leigh was
part of in a previous era with the title track "A Rocket Down Falcon
And those "perfect examples" of the connections in music? From
long times past, here are bandmates Pete Sears and Melissa Olsen
adding their expertise to Leigh's latest work. And also here to contribute
and add there special talents are "jam" mates Eric Chun and "Baldhead"
Fred Rautman. Even more of a "chance meeting" that connects that
"ribbon" is involved with another performance contained on this recording.
Back in the 60's when Leigh was playing in his local band a brother of a friend
happened to witness a rehearsal. From that, this kid developed his OWN wide
eyed ideas of "I can do that TOO." Yeah. And another musician practiced
and pursued a sound they had heard. That young man's name was Johnny Colla.
That would be the same Johnny Colla whose saxophone provides HIS own
unique addition to the band he has played with for all these
years--- Huey Lewis and the News. That's him airing it out on
"Wild Blue Mavericks."
Just an example of how it IS all connected and how each of the
performers on this new recording followed their own path that led
them, in this case, to "A Rocket Down Falcon Street. Listen----you
never know where the notes will lead you!