When I came home this evening, I had two surprises waiting for me. First in my mail box was a nice bundle of pictures from my Dad’s ex-girlfriend Linda, Eden’s mother, with pictures spanning a huge range of years, and many that I needed to help complete my collection. For one thing, I had not a single photo of Dad’s buddy and long time bassist, Marc West, even though Kenny & Marc played together for about 20 years or more. Even worse, I had barely mentioned Marc, not out of disrespect or dislike, but more simple ommission, mostly due to the fact that I wrote a chronology of bands dad played in, but kind of left out a description of the many occasions he just played alone or with Marc. So now I will fix that, but not tonight. It’s quite a few scans and other work to go along with it, I’m going to have to put off a little while. But the photo set includes the band Dad played with at the Inner Circle, some nice shots of Dad with Eden and Linda, at the arch in Washington Square Park, and even playing a backyard party in Tucson.
My second surprise, was I received my first email in response to the flyer I sent to Kenny’s Castaways, asking for anyone to send me photos or recordings of my Dad. (I also sent one to the Red Lion) The writer has a friend who was the house sound man at Kenny’s Castaways. He first told me his friend had several Audio VHS tapes (I’m not quite sure what this means). Then…
“In addition to being the house sound man at the bar, he was also the drummer in one of Kenny’s bands. Perhaps, one of the long lost drummers your website mentioned, who’s names you didn’t know. Well, you’re in for a big surprise. He not only has the tapes. He has about 30 hours worth of live material.”
Wow! It actually has me pretty stunned. This process of collecting Dad’s photos and music has evolved over time, but two things were big motivators. First, several years before Dad died, I had what I thought was a large collection of his tapes, many of which he gave me. He asked me to borrow them at some point (because he lost his – RED FLAG!). I never saw them again. Then years passed, Daddy died, and at that time I only had about 4 tapes of him. I was sad to think that after all his years of making music, it was all gone. And I began searching for more.
Secondly, a few years after Dad died, my best friend Stephanie was present at a performance of Singers and Songwriters, where a guitarist named Kevin Hinninger mentioned my father, telling crowd about how Kenny Gwyn personally inspired him to make music. Stephanie had forgotten Kevin’s name, but I tracked him down, and when we met, he told me about my father’s “Golden Years” at the Inner Circle, how he believed my father inspired the Jam Band scene, having inspired groups like the Spin Doctors & Blues Traveler whose members used to come see him at the Inner Circle. Over the years, I’ve learned so much more about my father’s life and music through the photos, stories and recordings of people who loved him and still talk about him. And now I am moved to share all of it, because his life was so remarkable! His growing up, his friendships, his life through the transformative years of the 60′s, his addiction, his talent, and his sensitivity. Daddy knew I loved him, and although he was not a good father, I know he loved me. I think all of this work in collecting the traces of his life is my way of honoring him and his dreams. And all of these things are finding their way to me, because so many people who knew him love him that same way.