Monday, March 30, 2015

The Story Behind the Story

Oh, I love to hear "writing stories," the stories behind the "Making of." Creativity. Now, I'll share my story behind the article for The Way It Was.
I found I've been interested in the beginnings of some rock and roll groups. The men, mostly, and what they rose against. I read the biography of Bruce Springsteen by Peter Ames Carlin a short time ago. I listen to interviews with Jon Bon Jovi, Steve VanZandt, and of course, Southside Johnny Lyon. I dig into the reason for music from particular areas. The Jersey shore sound has been classed as coming out of working class lifestyle, hard working lives.
Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio rock and roll roots are similar. At my age, I was on the cusp of awareness of the pure rock in our area. I vaguely remember names like the Bug Out in Transfer, and local groups that played at dances and the Casino. Until I was twelve, I only listened to what was on the parents' stations, WPIC or WFAR. I heard of Boots Bell and Johnny Kaye on WHOT, but rarely listened. Then I wanted to be cool, part of that growing up thing we do.
One night on Facebook, the Valley page, reminiscing about local history, the Green Man came up. He was a real person south of New Castle electrocuted as a young boy and had a greenish tinge to his skin, that the boys mostly visited. I waited to hear stories from my brother when he went out. The Green Man and the Haunted House speckled his stories of what he shared with us. I connected with Frank Secich, who wrote a song about the Green Man. I listened to songs on Reverbnation and admired the music with our local spots.
Eric Bombeck, the owner and editor of The Way It Was, called me about bumping my story. I was to write for May. He had another story he needed to run for May. I didn't want to wait till later in the year, but I was in the throws of that nasty sinus infection. I quickly asked if I could write about Blue Ash and early rock and roll in this area for the April edition. I had sixteen days. I knew I couldn't make time to go over to Mercer County Historical Society for research on another topic.
I messaged Frank and he cooperated wonderfully. We talked on the phone and then e mailed the interview. The boys in the sixties could have such adventures. When Frank was fourteen, he took the bus by himself from Sharon to Cleveland, Ohio, to see Bob Dylan. Then he met up with an older sister, who was going to college there.
I wanted to tap into that energy from the sixties. I still some day may write a story about that time. Frank sums it up in his interview. By the time he was twenty one, Blue Ash had signed a national record label. The group chose Blue Ash, seeing the name on a road sign pointing to a town in Ohio.
Thirteen years, though, Frank didn't even pick up a guitar. In 2006, he formed Deadbeat Poets, where the Green Man, Jennyburg Hill, Johnny Sincere and other great songs were birthed. The group is played often on Little Steven's Underground Garage- a syndicated radio show. Yeah, Little Stevie VanZandt of my Southside Johnny and Asbury Jukes history.
Frank told me how in Germany, four hundred people came out on a Monday night to hear them. Europe loves the band. When he picked up the guitar again and wrote songs, his recordings became a hit in Japan. The internet opens doors wider than ever before.
Also, as an older band, Frank states since 2006, they have never had an argument. They are more comfortable in performing and I guess the wild dreams of younger days grew into success and contentment. Still the power of song writing remains. I love the creativity.
Why rock and roll? I don't know why I wanted to write about it. The music, the creativity, the rawness are part of our history and still our lives. I know it's only rock and roll, but I like it.
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