Time did not exactly stand still, and along came the 70's, with graduation, manual labor, an apartment in town and the oil crisis. When I got laid off the government paid me $50 a week to learn to play the guitar. Meanwhile, following the advice to "pick up bass guitar and you'll always find work in some band," I was playing in a newgrass band which filled gaps in my musical knowledge, my budget, and my social calendar.

Carter in a cable knit! The 70's started out out even worse than the 60's. The war was winding down in public, but in private the biggest crimes were happening, just to stroke the Eagle's ego. Can't lose. I entered the job market at the exact moment real wages began their long, ongoing decline. After getting fired as a landscaper twice, I made ends meet by mixing the plastic used for making styrofoam cups in the dead of night. I was not happy about that, but it beat building bomb fuses, another local source of employment. Why were these my options?

Luckily, dad chose that moment to get fed up with his business deal, so he taught me to freeze ice cream. He paid good wages, $7.50 an hour before taxes, but I was considered self-employed and it took me years to figure out how to put enough aside for my quarterly dues to Uncle Sam and his little offspring, State and Local. Still, I considered the whole thing a win/win. Dad got a steady worker and I got a subsidy for my music career, which was the only career I was interested in.

I was livin' in Paradise, heat included, about ten feet from a major surface highway, across from a truck stop. I never did figure out why the rent was so cheap. None of the neighbors complained when my band started practicing there. After sharing the place with some friends, I moved in a girl from Jacksonville who was convinced that I sounded like Tom Petty. Eventually we would marry, but meanwhile we started a little home there, young and dumb, working our way through our twenties.

My band then was named after a song by Little Feat, who we greatly respected, although not enough to prevent us from attempting to play their music. High Roller worked in dive bars, college bars, fire halls, VFW's, public events, parties and lounges. We played Knock on Wood and Watching the Detectives, On Your Way Down and When the Time Comes, and we gradually upped our game.

There were a lot of us locals writing songs by this time. It didn't seem odd to do so, as we grew up listening to bands that wrote their own songs, and there were dozens of singer/songwriters on the national scene. I put together a couple of tape machines and a mixing board, christened the house Cat Ranch Studio, and, with semi rigs jake-braking outside and the occasional breaker, one nine coming through the wiring, we began recording songs there.

At some point I found myself without a working band, so on a reference I tried out on keyboards with a club band. I was clueless when it came to operating a Hammond organ or playing dance tunes like Cut the Cake, and after a few attempts the singer/guitar player generously suggested we jam on a blues. On the ride back to my house the band manager let me down easy.

Not long after this, Glenn, the guy who gave me the advice about learning to play bass guitar and who had been working with me on song demos, was looking to start a new band playing this crazy-ass punk and New Wave that was coming out. We joined up with a French guitarist and an artist/drummer to form the Blame sometime around 1978.

It was a good move for us, and after raising the roof at the Pequea Inn a few times we began a regular stint at an indoor tent in the city, packing the dance floor with songs by The Clash, the Psychedelic Furs, Elvis Costello, and the B-52's. I began writing some of this strange music myself. The constant droning of the ice-cream freezers at work was the perfect background noise to assemble rhymes by.
the Thirties