Monday, November 14, 2011

[ BtS ] Half Moon Bay

It wasn't the first time I fell in love but it was definitely the quickest.

It was the summer of '93 and I had just turned 17 a few months before. I was hundreds - which at that age seem like thousands if not MILLIONS - of miles away from home attending the Berklee in L.A. program. Surrounded by musicians - mostly guitarists - my age from all areas of the west coast, it was a week of parentally-free late-adolescent bliss.

I don't remember exactly how I met Michael. I do remember that when he mentioned he was from Fresno[1] we had an instant bond. Nor do I remember him terribly well physically. He was a year or two my senior, slightly shorter than me, stocky, shaggy haired, and adorned with a goatee.

What lingers in my heart more is his personality. He had this wonderfully relaxed-yet-engaging, somewhat hippy-ish openness to his spirituality. Life was something to be experienced. And all experiences were meaningful in the long-run - especially deep, profound experiences.

Well Diamond Rise was more-or-less finished and foremost in my mind. In my freshly-out-to-myself, not-quite-sure-how-this-attraction-thing-works, and not-quite-yet-congizant-of-my-motivations innocence I asked him if he'd help me flesh out the guitar solo section. I was years away from having any multi-track recording capabilities so to have someone else play guitar and accompany me in this manner was a first.

He kindly agreed and we scuttled off to the practice rooms and got to work. I showed him the basic chord progression - C#m A C#m A C#m B A. I had a rather specific rhythm guitar part in mind but, for the sake of expediency, I may have not bothered with that. What happened then is ... an artistic moment caught in the amber of my mind.

Michael's style was a complete contrast from mine. His background was much more jazz and bluesy rock. Mine - such a strictly classical thing it hurt. But when they came together? In my ear fireworks were exploding, worlds colliding, oceans and cities moving.

I was lost in it. This was me diving head first, carrying a one-ton weight into the celestial waters of musical love.

The week - which somehow seemed closer to a year - came to an end of course. As I rode back to the central valley with my parents, I realized how crushed I was to be leaving it and Michael behind. And the clues hit me in the head.

I don't remember if I'd gotten Michael's number from him[2]. There's a footnote in my brain that says I looked him up using 411 or whatever system existed in those days. I do remember regaining contact with him and even getting to go to one of his gigs.

I also remember one phone call with him. He of course was in love with someone else - a young lady he'd met at Berklee in L.A. But over the course of this conversation he told me that he was moving up to Half Moon Bay, CA.

Half Moon Bay. I was in a highly romantic space - a nerd who spent much of his time lost in space and dreaming. The name itself conjured up some magical and enchanting realm that turned my mythical Diamond Rise to rhinestone.

Roughly two years later I'd perform it for the first time with my first band - Fen - at Oberlin. And finally, another six or seven years after that, I'd finally sit down to construct another beast - my "signature tune". What was once a fairly simple song would stretch to a 7+ minute spectacle with layers and layers of orchestration - culminating in a sort of sonic tsunami.

I have yet to ever visit Half Moon Bay, CA.

  1. Fresno is a mere 40 minutes north from my hometown of Visalia and a completely different world than the coast of CA which is where a majority of the attendees were from.
  2. Hard as it may be to believe, this was essentially pre-internet. BBSes existed but e-mail was still a couple years away from being even close to a household thing.