Musical History Tour
|Born to an untroubled middle-class childhood and a dozen years of public schools, I exhibited no special skills for anything except, perhaps, art. In the musical Kula household, I failed to distinguish myself, in turn, on piano, accordion, or clarinet; at age 13, though, a few weeks before a school talent show, I decided to learn to play guitar. My father taught me the three or four chords I needed to pass the audition, and I was hooked.|
|A year in a college art program convinced me I was no artist; I dropped out, and, with a childhood friend and musical partner, I went to work on getting a record contract.|
A novelty song called "Hey Etta" got us in the door at Mercury Records. Their Artist and Repertoire man wanted the song definitely, wanted me provisionally (if I could liven up my vocals), and wanted my friend not at all. I turned the deal down.
My friend went on to found the group Anthem and make one LP; my solo musical career peaked in 1973 when I opened for Kenny Rankin (who wrote "Peaceful" for Helen Reddy) in Laramie, Wyoming.
|The onset of disco had reduced the number of places live music was played; at the same time, my stage fright was growing. In my first year of being a computer programmer I made more money than I had made in ten years of playing music for people. Eventually I came to accept what was obvious to everybody else: for someone of my abilities and assiduousness, music was a hobby, not a career.|
|In the spring of 2000, a friend of mine named Roger McGuinn told me I ought to put some of my old recordings on MP3.com, where he was already selling CDs as an offshoot of his Folk Den project. He promised me I'd have fun. I took several old recordings, made a few new ones, and in about four weeks I had a CD for sale and my own page on MP3.com. |
In the summer of 2000, Roger honored me by letting me join him onstage in Chicago and Milwaukee for a couple of tunes, introducing me as his "fellow MP3.com recording artist." For several days afterward I couldn't stop grinning. I'd never have to explain who Kenny Rankin was again.
[Roger and I playing my song "Sailed so Well"]
|Late in 2006, troubled that I wasn't making much use of my guitars, I sought a musical partner who would get my calluses back to work. The one person who answered my Craigslist ad just happened to be an experienced sailor with a notebook full of nautical songs and— better still— had a unique and immediately identifiable blues guitar style and a fondness for the Cream catalog. |
What we called the Blue Island Beer Club played "subtropical blues". Over five or six years we made three CDs and played more than a few gigs, of which I enjoyed every one. Yes, even the night at Bikers and Babes.
[Colin and I playing my song "Birthright to the Blues"]
Colin has since moved on to bigger things (something to do with finishing Stephen Hawking's job, I think); I've been playing when I can with Professor of Beatles Studies Arthur Mattiello, Ph.B., yet another guitar player way better than I am. He calls us the I.R. Beach Boys.
Copyright 2019 Bruce Kula