Back to Normal

I wanted to post some news to let my readers know that I am back to normal, if such a thing is possible. Actually, folks that knew I was seriously ill a year ago have been asking about my health. I am pleased to report that I am nearly “normal” in that regard, my strength and stamina have returned, I’ve gained weight (too much!), I feel great, and presently I am not even on any medications. To quote Larry the Cable Guy, “That’s funny right there!” I joked about that at the International Fly Tying Symposium, saying that perhaps some people might think I need to be on medication. Hey, I made it this far without it.

I have not written anything here for a few weeks, but it has been due to my busy schedule, and also the result of being away from home for two weeks for the Pennsylvania deer season. The Bastian family cabin is only twenty-miles from my home, and I came here a few times to get mail, look things over, and check my e-mail. I had a few neighbors watching the place as well. Deer season was a bust as far as getting venison in the freezer, but we had a great time.

Being away from home for two weeks starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the main reason that blog activity has been absent. Being home again after deer season and two weekend shows in November, and then traveling to Connecticut to visit my daughter and her family, and see my new granddaughter over Thanksgiving is the second part of being back to normal.

I have news on several topics that I would like to share. First, my camera has been replaced, the original Canon G9 Powershot was toast in September after hitting my hardwood floor, having fallen just a couple feet from a TV tray. The “new” camera is a “used” and reconditioned Canon G9 Powershot. I figured that was the best way to go at the present time, mainly for cost: about $200, compared to $600 when I bought it new in 2008. Secondly and importantly, there is no learning curve. I have a number of flies and fly tying / pattern projects that I will be working on. I also have some articles in the works and will be using the camera for that as well. Another bonus with the new camera is that it came with a charger and new battery, so I now have spares on those items. And this “used” camera is actually in better condition than my old one.

The other thing that I am really excited about – and readers who have been with me for a while are aware of this, but I play the drums, or at least I used to. And after a long absence, I am playing again. From ninth grade in 1967 until 1979 I played in rock and roll bands that played various styles of music. The very first song I recall learning was Little Bit O’ Soul by The Music Explosion. My brother Larry played lead guitar in the first three or four bands. During the following years most of the music we played was Top Forty, but in the late 1960’s and early ’70’s, we also explored music from bands that only received FM radio play in the days before classic rock stations existed. Songs in our playlist included: Louie Louie, Green Tambourine by the Lemon Pipers; I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, As Tears Go By, and Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones; Hold On I’m Comin’ by Sam and Dave; Knock on Wood – Eddie Floyd; Sock It To Me Baby – Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels; Happy Together – Turtles;  All Day and All Night and You Really Got Me – The Kinks; Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley; and Live For Today – The Grassroots. My sister bought me two LP’s for Christmas when I was in ninth grade – The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed, and Procol Harum Shine on Brightly. Those two records started me on the path of becoming a convicted audiophile. MY LP vinyl collection now is nearly three-hundred records, and I have as many CD’s as well. I have a vintagemid-70’s Marantz four-channel stereo system that can rattle the windows in this place.

Not long after our first band formed we were introduced to the harder-edged music of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, and even the great old Super Session album with Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Stephen Stills. We used to play, You Don’t Love Me Baby. Great song! Other tunes in our late 1960’s repertoire were And The Address and Hush – Deep Purple, Fire, Foxy Lady, Purple Haze, and Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix; Born to Be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf; Sunshine of Your Love and Tales of Brave Ulysses by Cream; and of course In A Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly. And I just now learned when checking the spelling of that tune, that the translation is: In the Garden of Eden. I can’t forget that our early 1970’s band also played some Black Sabbath. Yes it’s true, this fly tier is an old hard-rocker. War Pigs, Ironman, The Wizard, and a few other songs were on the playlist. We used to hate playing “old” songs back then, but in contrast, it is interesting to note that any of these songs could be on the playlist of a working band today and still be popular.

Before digressing too much more, it should be noted that subsequent bands included multiple personnel changes, horn sections, a female lead singer, then finally in 1977 taking the form of a five-piece, two guitar band, one of whom doubled on piano and synthesizer, plus a bass player, with a big PA system and sound man. We broke up in 1979, but in the years prior, our song list read like a playlist of today’s classic rock radio stations. Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Deep Purple, The Cars, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foghat, The Eagles, Little River Band, Doobie Brothers, Bad Company, Boston, Foreigner, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Emerson Lake and Palmer; our cover music of these bands, powered by double lead guitars, a big PA system and lighting rocked out many bars and clubs in the Williamsport, Pennsylvania, region in the late 1970’s. There were other good bands in the area as well, but we had a good following. It was a great time.

Last August, on a Sunday evening at the outdoor venue of The Crippled Bear bar with a live band in nearby Williamsport, Bert Smeal, the bass player from my old band and I met accidentally. I had not seen him for years. We caught up on things, and he put me in touch with one of the guitarists, and said there had been some talk about the old band getting back together. Most of us were married, raised children, and are now grandfathers. One guitarist never married, and our former lead singer passed away in the late 1990’s. The discussion of a reunion has been going on for a few months – but this Thursday, the two guitarists and me are meeting for dinner and a few beers at The Stable Bar and Grille in Cogan Station, Pennsylvania. This newly renovated bar just opened in November, it is just two miles over the hill from my house. They have the largest dance floor and stage in the area. I have not seen guitarist Don Cunningham for thirty-five years, since the band broke up. The other guitarist friend, Rob Foust, and I went to The Beach Boys in concert this past September. I have seen him a few times over the past decades. Both Bert and Rob attended my wife’s funeral service in March of 2007. And I have not seen either of them until recently. We are talking of learning a half-dozen songs to participate in Open Mic Night at The Stable, and possibly sit in when another area band is on break at a local gig.

Since I am a baritone, I cannot sing the high stuff; Zeppelin, Foreigner, Aerosmith, Boston, Deep Purple, AC / DC; that’s out of my league ( I wish it wasn’t but you can’t have everything you want), but I have been singing for years since the band broke up. My late wife and I sang for twenty-seven years in a gospel quartet, we did a few theater musicals, and I’ve been singing along to my stereo at home and in my car since forever. I sang The Scotsman at the Saturday evening banquet at the recent International Fly Tying Symposium in New Jersey, and it went perfectly except for one little goof I made in the lyrics near the end of the song. Dang! Should have had the lyrics. I also have been singing at Karaoke bars lately, and have worked up a list of more than thirty songs, including the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dire Straits, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Brooks and Dunn, Muddy Waters, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and The News, Confederate Railroad – Trashy Women, oh yeah! Roy Orbison, Georgia Satellites, and I’m working on Keith Anderson’s XXL. I’ve also got George Thorogood’s I Drink Alone and Bad to the Bone under my belt. That’s a blast, and I’ve met some nice people that have become new friends. The reason I included this information is that, since our lead singer has passed on, I could fill that spot if need be. I’ve developed a potential playlist of almost sixty songs so far, all having lead vocals in my range.

Another factor feeding my interest in playing again was the opportunity to sit in numerous times with the Flipside Band at local venues. So far with them I’ve played Mustang Sally, Green River, and Born on the Bayou.

The exciting news is that I am getting back into playing formally on New Year’s Eve. I have been asked to fill in for the drummer of a good local classic rock band who can’t make that gig, and my friend Bert, their usual fill-in drummer also cannot do it because of a prior commitment. So I was asked, and I’m very excited about it. I cleaned my drum set up some time ago and have added new hardware and some new-to-me, used Zildjian cymbals – eBay is a great source for good prices on that stuff. It’s been great fun playing my expanded vintage 1975 natural Wood Finish Premier Powerhouse set, which now has a hi-hat, a twenty-inch ride cymbal, and six splash / thin crash / medium thin crash cymbals ranging in size from ten inches to seventeen inches, all Zildjian brand. The oldest and best! The band I am playing with is Pepper Street. We’ve had two practice sessions, and they play a great collection of oldies and classic rock dance-music of the ’60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, with a handful of newer tunes thrown in. The musicians are really talented, they all play multiple instruments; guitar, bass, and keyboards, and they are all good vocalists as well. Me, I play drums and sing, that’s it. I would sit in with Pepper Street, but their drummer is left-handed and everything is backwards for me.

I was a little unprepared for the practice session a week ago because of short notice about it, being away at the cabin for deer camp, and then I had just a half day to review a playlist of nearly sixty songs, some that I did not know at all. Practice went well anyway, and the nice thing was that the band practices in a home studio of sorts and there is a drum set already there, so all I had to do was show up with a pair of sticks. Another plus is that their song list is a great mix of tunes including many that will be fun to play, Bang the Drum All Day – Todd Rundgren; Money For Nothin’ – Dire Straits; Just What I Needed – The Cars; White Wedding – Billy Idol; Rock and Roll All Night – Kiss, China Grove – Doobie Brothers, Born on the Bayou – CCR, and American Band – Grand Funk. Plus I sing the lead vocals on 867-5309 – Jenny, Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, and the Jimmy Buffet classic, Margaritaville. Here is a link to the band website and their playlist:

Between now and New Year’s Eve, I’ll be tying flies and listening to that playlist, because I need to familiarize myself more in depth with those songs. I also have orders for some framed flies that I am still working on. Now that things are back to normal, I’ll be working diligently to finish my loose ends on my open orders. I have generally played music more often than not while tying flies; been that way for years. Music is good for you. Playing or singing music is even better!

24 comments on “Back to Normal

  1. Jon Andrew says:

    Donald you are truly a renaissance man.

  2. larry pauley says:

    Don, this is Larry Pauley. I have been a big follower of yours for years. Hope you get better soon.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Larry;
      Thank you for being one of my supporters, I appreciate it very much! As noted in that post,I am just about back to normal, health-wise. Hope it stays that way. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Dan Glover says:

    That was a very interesting post.

  4. Terry Chapman says:

    Don, glad you’re feeling so good! And that you are getting back into music. Music for me enhances my total existence whether in good or difficult times. Thank God for music.
    Enjoy your Christmas season and I’ll try to get to the Marlboro show in January. Maybe we should be saying “blessed lines” instead of “tight lines?

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Terry;
      I totally agree with you about the music and its significance and importance in our lives. Great observation! I for one, have a strong emotional connection to music, especially when it’s good. 😉 I once heard a speaker at a church music clinic in Ohio say that “excellence is inspiring.” I always remembered that. That’s the same place I saw Lloyd Ogilvie speak; he was the man who was once Chaplain of the US Senate. Besides his booming, deep-bass voice, I’ve never forgotten this quote: “The man who refuses to forgive digs a grave for himself.”
      Musically, check out the Tedeschi Trucks Band song, “Sweet Forgiveness.” It’s great!
      And “Blessed Lines” sound perfect for the holidays! I look forward to seeing you at Marlborough. Have a great Christmas!

  5. Jack Tokach says:

    Hey, DB, glad you’re back. Hope you and the boys had a good time at Deer Camp. I checked out the Pepper Street band from the link on an earlier email. You’ll fit right in. We could have used your vocal talent in TX last month at my son, Mark’s outdoor concert/jam. There was some good talent present but they were encumbered by some not so good who had a little too much to drink and insisted on singing. Had a good time anyway. Got to see one Charlie Robison gig. On my last night there we went slumming among the local pubs and Mark was called up to play a few songs. The crowd was surprised. See you at Somerset next month. Frank and his friend, Joe is coming also.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Jack! Thanks for reading the post and for your comments!
      As I type this I’m listening – repeatedly – to Roll With the Changes by REO Speedwagon. That’s a number the band sprung on me at practice Tuesday night; it’s not on their song list. I had a basic familiarity with it from hearing it over the years, and I got through it. But listening to it closely, what a great drum part it has! I’m gonna love playing that one! I had not heard the band do that song before, the keyboard player knocked out the organ solo just like the record, followed by an identical copy of the lead guitar solo. Wow! It was a rip! And the three of them have the vocals nailed pretty tight. Now that I’ve been listening to it I’ll really be able to dish out the right drum part, even though after the song at rehearsal, the keyboard player complimented me by saying, “You played it like you knew it.” It’ll be even better! :mrgreen:
      It’s a small world – the keyboard player was the Drum Major at the Williamsport High School Band when my sister was in it. He graduated back in ’67. Thanks again for your comment!

  6. Kelly L says:

    Donnie, this was a fantastic blog today. Welcome back. I was wondering about you. I am glad to hear you are feeling better, and off meds. Happy that you got a camera replacement. Sorry about the deer, better luck next year. Your story on the music was very interesting. I am happy for you in that department too. I knew most of the music you spoke of. You named some great artists, and songs. I have been a Rock N Roller for almost my whole life. The stuff you talked about brought back memories of younger days for sure. Take care of yourself, and keep having a blast. 🙂

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Kelly!
      Thanks for your input! I’m laughing because I’m thinking of the BB King song, “Makin’ Love is Good For you” but with the twist: “Playin’ Music is Good For You!”
      I like lots of different music – but I HATE rap and obscene foul-language-laced metal / grunge / punk / gangsta “noise” – it’s real CRAP – audio garbage! Annoying to the ears and destructive to your mind! 😦 But otherwise, bring it on! :mrgreen: Real music, real instruments and NO AUTO TUNE! Let pure talent prevail!

  7. Alec Stansell says:

    Glad to hear that you’re recovered Don. Every day is a blessing! Keep rocking the skins and the vise… I’ve been listening to a bunch old old Bob Seger tunes while tying this winter. Great stuff. Have a Merry Christmas! All Gods blessings to you and your family; looking forward to seeing you in Marlborough. Alec

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Alec;
      Nice to hear from you! “Recovered” is a state I hope to stay in. 😉 Thank you for your encouragement and good wishes! Merry Christmas to you and you family as well! See you in Marlborough!

  8. Hi Don
    “Putting the Band Back together” – just like the Blues Brothers – my fav film of ALL TIME!
    Have a great xmas, enjoy bangin’ on them drums and tight threads ’til next year:)


    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Darrell;
      Putting the band back together… That’s funny! I watched the Blues Brothers movie last summer, I had forgotten how many good artists did cameos in it, my favorite is of course, John Lee Hooker. A-how, how, how, how! Happy Christmas to you as well!

  9. Bob Stanton says:

    No meds, Don…that’s great news. Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year! Oh, and if I can make a request, how ’bout throwin’ some Neil Young in the setlist, “Down by the River” or “Cinnamon Girl” are always fun. Rock on!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Bob;
      Nice to hear from you on the musical topic! Cinnamon Girl is actually on their playlist. That is a good song! Thank you for your comment and for your encouragement! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  10. Bill says:

    Nice to have you back, DB. The “no meds” program sounds excellent, and your return to the local music scene should help keep you feeling young at heart. Also good news about the replacement camera. See you in Somerset.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Bill!
      I am likin’ the “no meds” as well. I just am keeping my fingers crossed for a full recovery and remission — for ever! Playing the drums and singing karaoke has so far, been a blast. You and Jack come visit some time, we’ll fish, and go hang out some place with a band or karaoke, or both. The newly opened Stable Bar and Grille is right on Lycoming Creek, just above the Delayed Harvest Section. Fishing, music, beer, and good food! Good positive fun and entertainment! Thanks Bill, and Merry Christmas!

  11. Rich says:

    Looks like when I say hi in Marlborough, instead of Carrie Stevens, we can talk about Mitch Mitchell and Ian Paice!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Rich;
      Thanks for your comment! You must be a drummer…we can also talk about Ginger Baker, Danny Seraphine, Carl Palmer, Ringo, John Bonham, Chris Layton…hope to see you then!

  12. wildbill99 says:

    Happy to hear you’re feeling better.
    Did you ever play this one back in the day?
    Comes with eye candy…
    And to think, today she’s someone’s granny !!!!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Bill!
      Thanks for your comment! I never played Hang On Sloopy in a band, but I’m likin’ that song better after seeing this classic video. 😉 Merry Christmas Cowboy!

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