I was born in Western Washington, in Seattle; but I was raised in Eastern Washington, in Yakima. My folks “kidnapped” me (that’s what I call it) when I was less than two years old. Initially, they took me to that great haven for sun worshipers known as Anchorage, Alaska. That did not last. When our water pipes froze in the winter, and Mom had no water for two babies, she said, “That’s it”. — We eventually moved to Yakima; and that’s where I grew up. Or sort of grew up. I think I was culturally deprived. While we were not situated all that far from two fairly large Washington cities, Spokane and Seattle, we were literally and culturally located in a desert environment. Yakima was rich in the Native American, African American and Hispanic American cultures; but I was not able to partake in those cultures to any great extent.
I was 14 before I was able to once again set foot on Seattle soil, in 1963. — The year *after* the World’s Fair. This was not due to bad timing on my part; I had no say in the matter. But when I did return for those few days, I was completely overwhelmed. — By the enormity of the town, and by the variety of, literally, its people, places and things. Subsequently, I managed perhaps two more Seattle visits during the entirety of my high school years. I made a couple of trips with my West Valley High School Thespians group.
Around 1965, I made one of those extremely rare trips, to a festival of plays. Thespian festivals were great adventures, because I was able to get away from Yakima, away from the clods I went to school with. I was able to immerse myself in acting, watching others act, and discussing the same. And, we attendees were afforded the opportunity to explore Seattle during our free evenings. I especially treasure the (vague) memories I have, after all these years, of visiting The Door coffeehouse on one of those magical evenings. — I don’t remember where it was located. It could have been located in the downtown area, or on Capitol Hill. — In a building big, or small. I just climbed into someone’s car with a few other excited Yakima teens, and we were whisked away to The Door!
Upon entering the place, I felt as if I had entered another world. The main room was dimly lit; perhaps there were candles on the tables. I can’t really describe the décor. It was just the sounds, the smells, the feeling of the place…. This piece is not about remembering minute details; but about what I felt. And what I heard, which was amazing. A real Seattle folksinger was performing. He was probably about 20, with long, blondish hair covered by a cap; and he was slightly chubby. He really knew how to play the acoustic guitar; and he had a perfect voice for singing the great folk and folk-rock songs of the day. He sang songs made popular even in Yakima, by the young artist, Bob Dylan. He sang songs about the struggle for freedom, songs about the changes the world was going through. Songs about going to sea in ships. Songs I had never heard sung in Yakima. When he took a break I approached him to ask if he would play “Like A Rolling Stone”. He told me that if I would return in a week, he would do it. I hated to tell him that I would be in Yakima in a week.
I enjoyed a couple of delicious beverages while intently listening to this young man’s music for the entire evening. I was completely caught up in this new world. To this day, I can conjure up the feeling of being in that mysterious, dark space, enjoying an exotic drink, while giving my complete attention to the folksinger as he captivated me with his persona and songs which were so pregnant with meaning.
And now, to the reason I am writing this: I play concerts for mainly, young people, who totally missed the 60’s folk/folk-rock scene. I don’t care if I make money at it, or if I achieve fame. My aim is simply to create for them the feeling and atmosphere of a 60’s folk coffeehouse concert. I do this by simply imagining I am once again at The Door. Only now, I am the folksinger. I strum my guitar, and I open my mouth and sing. Thank you, The Door.
This piece is short on details. When I was young, I usually did the same things, repeatedly, in the same place (Yakima). So when I was able to go somewhere new and “exotic”, I would be overwhelmed by the experience; thus I would not really remember details; but I would remember feelings. I remember what it felt like to be at this wonderful coffeehouse. Do you know what I mean?
Here is a hard-to-search-for YouTube video where I sing Bob Dylan’s “The Times The Are A-Changin'”. The videographer was doing a project, and she failed to list my name. So a lot of you may not have seen this one: