Old School Music

dealing with punk rock, speed/thrash and other music styles of the 80ies and beyond, a webpage connected to Red, Black & Green

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chalk Circle part 2

On continue, pour ceux qui n'ont pas le #9 de TRZ... Did Chalk Circle only play in Washington DC, or you toured or performed elsewhere? We only played in D.C. Most of us were under 21 and couldn't play in bars. D.C. was unusual because kids worked it out with the local clubs so that they could enter as long as they agreed not to drink alcohol. It was very difficult for U.S. bands to tour back then. The whole network that we think of now that grew out of punk was still in its infancy when Chalk Circle started. It was hard for U.S. bands to tour because most didn't have managers or much record label tour support. I'll never forget hearing stories from the Teen Idles about their experiences playing in California in 1980, after taking a Greyhound bus out there, and thinking wow they're like Wild West pioneers! It was a huge deal when the NY and California bands started touring regularly, because they showed it could be done. Some of my favorite DC shows by NY and LA bands from that time period were ones with the Stimulators, Bush Tetras, Black Flag, Minutemen, and Flipper. How and why did you decide to be a musician (and also fanzine editor)? Why did you choose the guitar and not bass, drums, or keyboards? I've always loved the sound of the electric guitar. It was never a conscious decision like, "Oh, I'm going to be a musician!" In fact, I've always shied away from being a professional musician, even though I come from a musical family and started playing guitar when I was 10. It was more a situation where I simply loved music so much and my parents encouraged that passion because they both loved music too. They were folkies and raised me to appreciate people like Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. I can't remember whether I chose guitar or whether they chose it for me. My mother told me that I loved listening to my grandfather play the ukulele and harmonica. He kept the ukulele at our house and she said I started strumming it when I was around 2 years old. She said I called it my "tootar" because I thought it was a guitar. How in the world I even knew what a guitar was at that young of an age, I'll never know! Maybe my parents taught me what a guitar was when I was 2, which is entirely possible because my father taught me to listen to Dylan lyrics when I was 6. I must have been a precocious nightmare! Anyway I gravitated to the guitar. After my grandfather died when I was 5, my parents bought me rock records. I think they did it to console me or to keep me company. I fell in love with the Beatles, especially George Harrison's guitar playing. But my parents wanted me to be a folk singer/songwriter, so they wanted me to play acoustic guitar. They started me out with a classical guitar that had nylon strings in 5th grade, even though they didn't expect me to play classical style guitar. I think maybe it was cheaper than a steel string guitar. Or maybe it was the only 3/4-size guitar they could find, because I remember they had to get me a small guitar since I was so tiny. I had some music lessons for a few months and started picking things up by ear by listening to my records. I had bought the Beatles "Abbey Road" and listened to it non-stop. I ended up performing for the entire 5th grade. I did some Beatles songs I'd figured out myself along with help from my guitar teacher and some Beatles and Joni Mitchell songs my teacher taught me. I didn't want to be a guitarist like Joni Mitchell, though, but it made my parents happy. I quit the music lessons and taught myself to play chords using Mel Bay guitar books (I don't know if they have something similar in Europe, but they're the standard instructional books for beginners) and also Beatles songbooks. When I was 13 I finally got an electric guitar and amplifier, and right around the same time my mother took me to see a concert with George Harrison. After that I started writing songs with lyrics. The lyrics were really bad and I couldn't play lead guitar very well, so I decided to focus on being a rhythm guitarist. I asked my parents if I could have private electric guitar lessons and luckily they said yes. I learned how to play barre chords using all sorts of cool rhythms and learned the art of the riff from endless jams of "Smoke on the Water", "Brown Sugar", and "Sunshine of Your Love". My guitar teacher thought I should learn finger picking since that was his specialty, even though I told him I had no intention of playing that style of guitar. I wish I hadn't been such a brat because now I would love to be able to do finger picking. I remember the patterns were really intricate and tricky but fun. It's just that I didn't want to be stereotyped as a folk guitarist. So I quickly forgot most of the things he taught me. Chalk Circle was my first band, and I definitely did not feel like a real musician even after playing electric guitar for 6 years beforehand. There's only so much you can learn playing by yourself in your bedroom! The sad thing I realize now is that I had an amplifier all those years and couldn't even make good use of it. I couldn't get a band together until Chalk Circle, because none of the guys in my school wanted to play with a girl guitarist. And I didn't know any girls who played bass or drums. But punk made it possible for girls to play instruments even if they couldn't play well. Anne didn't know how to play drums when we first started playing music together. She loved the spirit of punk and decided to learn.

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