Patrick Ford Talks

Patrick Ford Talks – Chapter 4: Preaching the truth

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From DAVE SMITH
Redwood Valley
TheAVA

[For the first time in over 7 years, the Ford brothers — Mark, Patrick, and Robben — will share the same stage... and it will be in their home town Ukiah at Sundays in the Park, August 17th.

Here is the fourth and final interview in the series with Pat Ford that I started back in 2009, but lost the last tape and didn't follow up until recently.  ~DS]

Chapter 1 – The first longhair in town
Chapter 2 – Playing the blues
Chapter 3 – Fighting fire with fire
Chapter 4 – Preaching the truth

——

Growing up in this small community of the Church of Christ here in Ukiah, I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the great old fire-and brimstone preachers. To me they were entertaining, and luckily for us, in our particular denomination, they weren’t usually over-the-top. I would get excited by it all, and as I was a good talker myself I thought “I can do this!” By my late teens, I started giving “lessons” or “sermons”. In our church you didn’t go to school to be a minister. If the people wanted to hear you talk, you talked. We didn’t have paid pastors, but if you got into the preaching circuit of churches in your area (which for me included most of California) you could get your expenses paid and a bit more.

There were a lot of versions of the Church of Christ. They would have their battles back then like, for instance, whether you should use only one cup, or many cups, for communion. So there was the “Cups” Churches of Christ and the “Single Cup” Churches of Christ… and never the twain shall meet.

Patrick Ford Talks – Chapter 3: Fighting fire with fire


From Dave Smith

5/11/09 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

If you’re an old timer around these parts, you know the Ford family, and the four Ford boys, Steve, Patrick, Robben, and Mark. The brothers are locals and have played music around here and elsewhere since high school under the names of The Charles Ford Band, and The Ford Blues Band, among others, and travel the world playing music together and separately. They most recently played here in Ukiah at Sundays In The Park this past summer, 2008.

When he’s not on the road, touring America and Europe with his band, Patrick runs his record company Blue Rock’It Records in Redwood Valley where you can buy their own albums on-line along with his other recording artists. Robben’s website is here; and, hopefully, Mark will be the subject of a future feature.

(See links to rest of the story below)
~

That last tour with Charlie Musslewhite was pretty brutal. Sharon and I wanted to have kids, and this is where we wanted to have them, so we moved back home to Ukiah in 1974.

I kicked around for awhile trying to figure out what to do. I liked gardening and was knowledgeable in the area, so I went to one of the nurseries and the owner picked me up as a landscape maintenance guy. In about a year, Gabriel was born, and I was getting a little bored with my job. I liked the gig, but I had been playing music for a lot of years at that point and I was getting anxious… I needed something more exciting than maintaining PG&E’s landscaping.

At one point, because we were really in trouble for money, I had to sell my drum set to a friend down in the Bay Area who had always wanted it. To this day, it makes Sharon so sad when she remembers watching from the window at my folk’s house, loading up my drum kit on a friend’s truck and the look on my face as the truck rolled off down the street. She had told me not to do it, but I said we were out of money. That carried us for a couple of months between jobs.

Bartlett Flats crew, Pat on left

Anyway, I was getting antsy and I saw an ad in the back of the Journal (UDJ) that the US Forest Service needed fire fighters. It was Fall and their seasonal employees were going back to college. I went over to Upper Lake and signed up. I got stuck out in Bartlett Flats in Lake County, about an hour on this dirt road from Nice. It was hot and miserable and pretty funky there in a quonset hut. Chester, my foreman, was this American Indian who was just the sweetest, most wonderful guy… the greatest to get for my first boss. He put me to work learning to drive one of these little pumper units, fire techniques, and how to operate a chainsaw. He took me under his wing and was very patient when I would screw up.

Patrick Ford Talks – Chapter 2: Playing the blues



From Dave Smith

3/6/09 Ukiah, North California

If you’re an old timer around these parts, you know the Ford family, and the four Ford boys, Steve, Patrick, Robben, and Mark. The brothers are locals and have played music around here and elsewhere since high school under the names of The Charles Ford Band, and The Ford Blues Band, among others, and travel the world playing music together and separately. They most recently played here in Ukiah at Sundays In The Park this past summer, 2008.

When he’s not on the road, touring America and Europe with his band, Patrick runs his record company Blue Rock’It Records in Redwood Valley where you can buy their own albums on-line along with his other recording artists. Robben’s website is here; and, hopefully, Mark will be the subject of a future feature.

(See links to rest of the story below)
~
When I was four, my parents gave me a toy drum kit, and then later in second grade I took piano lessons for awhile, then along about 6th grade I started really getting interested in drums. I played in the school band in Junior High School, but I didn’t dig it.

Then the surfing thing hit, big time, and I loved that. My friends and I decided we had to start a band, and my parents bought me a real Ludwig 4-piece drum starter kit, and in 8th grade we had a band called The High Fives, and we just started going from there. Our parents were always supportive, but never forced music on us.

When we were freshmen in High School, my brother Robben, who was in 6th grade, came to see us play at the fair grounds, and thought that was just the coolest thing, and he wanted to start a band with his friends. So Robben started his own band in 7th grade. By the time I was a senior and Robben was a freshman, he had developed into a really good guitar player… and he was possessed by music… listening, playing and practicing all the time. He has said that he can’t keep music out of his head. He was great really quick, so I told the guys that we needed Robben in our band.

My band in high school was always able to play most weekends, sometimes both nights, around Mendocino and Lake counties. Sock Hops had been the norm up until then, so to be able to have a live band for dances was a big deal. As we were one of the few bands around, we got lots of work. We did so well I was able to quit picking pears in the summer. I had done it for three summers and that was hard work. I needed the money to get “cool” school clothes. You know kids don’t do that kind of work anymore. It’s too bad. It was not only a good physical work out, but also it gave you real respect for the Mexican workers who did that kind of work for a living. They were so good at it, fast, they were real pros at their gig.

We came into music when it was blossoming on a major level. Everyone was experimenting, trying different things. Robben and I would comb through the record bins and listen to the radio, always trying to find music that nobody else was doing, always trying to make music be something special that would work in our band, which was great fun.

It was a great time to be into music. We had moved from surfing music, to being a Top 40 band, then followed the music into being a bluesy Rhythm and Blues band, then the English thing hit… you could be listening to the Beach Boys, who I loved, and the Beatles, and the Kinks’ hard-edged rock, and The Who… taking the music to all these different levels… to something pretty, like Maryanne Faithful, and the Trio acts came on big… Hendrix, Cream… so we became a hard rock trio with guitar, bass and drums. At the same time we would also have these jazz trios or quartets playing standards… the jazz thing started with me getting Dave Brubeck’s album, Take Five, which to this day is one of the greatest albums ever made. I got it from a friend of mine.

We would go to shows at The Fillmore in San Francisco, and you would see Richie Havens doing his solo act, which was always great, then you would see Ravi Shankar doing a totally off the wall thing, then followed by the Byrds. It was this unbelievable mixture of people: James Cotton, Cream, and Blood, Sweat and Tears… what an incredible bill!… and a free apple and poster, for 3 bucks! And they all were just great! When we saw Hendrix do his first show at Winterland… I will never forget.. .at one point he walked up to the mic, started tuning his guitar, and said “I’m a little out of tune, but I’m coming to get you anyway.” Then the stage exploded! To this day, those of us who were there, talk about it with reverence, like seeing some spiritual guru guy. It was all good. It was all fun.

Then, one day Robben and I were looking through the records at Hayes Music, which was at the corner of State Street and Church, and came across this blues record by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band that changed everything. We had been doing some Stones stuff, and Animals stuff, not because we wanted to do blues, but because we liked the tunes. But here was a band that was doing blues music because they liked it. They were called a “blues band” because they loved that genre. We took that record home and overnight our whole musical world turned upside down.

In 1969, Robben and I were sleeping on a friends floor in San Francisco trying to find gigs. Rolling Stone magazine was new, and there was an ad: “Help. Stuck in Sunnyvale. Harp player who digs Little Walter, Applejack, Charlie Musslewhite. Get me out of here.” We called, not having any luck in the city, drummer and guitar player looking for a band, and went down there to a jam they were having. Gary Smith was the real deal Chicago kind of harp player, and the bass player was adequate, and we brought another Ukiah boy, Mike Osborn down to play rhythm guitar, and we started a band we named The Charles Ford Band after my dad.

We started playing around the South Bay for a few months, then we opened for Charlie Musslewhite at the Lion’s Share in San Rafael. Charlie’s drummer sucked and he asked me to join his band. I didn’t want to leave my brother, but this was the real deal. Charlie had albums out and was one of our idols, and he was getting ready to do a tour. So I spent the next couple of months playing with Charlie in a four-piece band – drums, piano, bass, and harp – and bugging him saying he really needed Robben, who could play sax and lead guitar, but Charlie said he “played way too much.” Finally he said Robben could play sax half the night, and guitar half the night on one of our gigs, he passed the audition, and then came into the band. We spent the next year on the road with Charlie. It was a great experience, but hellacious. Charlie was drinking, we weren’t getting paid much, sleeping in funky hotel rooms in Chicago, just awful. We met some great guys, like Luther Tucker, Mississippi Fred McDowell, John Lee Hooker, James Cotton, but we decided we needed to start our own band. By that time Mark was almost 16 in high school but not liking it at all.

Mark was getting into a bit of trouble, cutting school and stuff, so I convinced Mom and Dad he would be better off with Robben and I, and he was rapidly becoming a great harp player. So they let him move down to the Bay Area, and along with Stan Poplin on bass, also from Ukiah, we reformed The Charles Ford Band. That was one great little band, and though it only lasted about a year, it still has a cult following and the recording we did for Arhoolie a few months after breaking up is still a classic piece of modern blues and still sells. Then Mark quit, and Robben decided to go to L.A. and play with Jimmie Whitherspoon. I didn’t want to go to L.A., so I joined back up with Charlie.

And through all my adventures, I’ve had Sharon with me. She’s put up with an incredible amount. She did two long tours with us, three months each, back and forth across the U.S. and Canada. Pretty brutal.

All in all, it’s been a pretty good run for us. When Sharon and I decided to have kids, we moved back here to Ukiah. We were lucky to have such a supportive unit. Lots of family. We could always find work around when we needed it, but it was a different time.
~

Chapter 1 – The first longhair in town
Chapter 2 – Playing the blues
Chapter 3 – Fighting fire with fire
Chapter 4 – Preaching the truth
~~

Patrick Ford Talks – Chapter 1: The first longhair in town



From Dave Smith

2/18/09 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

If you’re an old timer around these parts, you know the Ford family, and the four Ford boys, Steve, Patrick, Robben, and Mark. The brothers are locals and have played music around here and elsewhere since high school under the names of The Charles Ford Band, and The Ford Blues Band, among others, and travel the world playing music together and separately. They most recently played here in Ukiah at Sundays In The Park this past summer, 2008.

When he’s not on the road, touring America and Europe with his band, Patrick runs his record company Blue Rock’It Records in Redwood Valley where you can buy their own albums on-line along with his other recording artists. Robben’s website is here ; and, hopefully, Mark will be the subject of a future feature.

(See links to rest of the story below)
~

During World War II, Mom was working at the phone company, in the evenings when she got out of school, one of those girls plugging in the cords just to help with the cause… and there was this move to “write letters to the soldiers overseas.” … and they were given names of soldiers to write. She wrote a letter to my Dad who was stationed in Alaska, and he wrote her back, and they started writing back and forth until he wrote that he was going to get some leave and was going to come down to see her… and they were soon married.

My dad came from a really tough childhood growing up in Indiana during the depression. His mom and dad split up when he was 7 or 8. He had an older brother and younger sister, and they were dropped off by his mom at an orphanage. It was supposed to be only temporary until she got settled and back on her feet, and she did, in fact, come back and see them on a couple of occasions. She came once, picked Dad up, bought him a new suit, went to a movie, brought him back, told him she would be back, and he never saw her again. He was taken to live on an uncle’s farm where he was physically (not sexually) abused, kind of a work slave. A tough life.

My mom came from a strong, tight, religious family in the San Joaquin Valley, Church of Christ attendance three times a week… my dad just loved her family. I, too, idolized my mom’s parents growing up. They were the best of people. Eventually our family moved up here to Ukiah when my dad found work in the lumber mills. I was three years old at the time.

We grew up in a house in Empire Gardens on Elm street just as that neighborhood was being built. The only homes built when we moved in were on one side of Arlington and Elm streets. All the other blocks were just empty fields. We would gradually lose the fields we could walk across and fly our kites in as houses were built and more families arrived. I remember gathering wild flowers in those fields for my “May Basket” and hanging it on the front door, knocking on it, running to hide, and my mom opening the door and exclaiming “Oh, who brought me these beautiful flowers?” The butterflies were just thick back in those days. Millions of them. Dragonflies, frogs, praying mantis’, salamanders… all those critters you just don’t see anymore.

We were always referred to as “those four Ford boys”… I heard that all my life. My oldest brother, Steve, was always proper, held himself very erect. He got a job at Roscoe’s Five and Ten here in town. He always had a job. There was a show on TV then called Bat Masterson. Bat wore a three-piece suit, round hat and cane, and my brother Steve saved and saved and bought this jacket and pants and this white vest with all this golden stuff all over it, and the round hat and cane with a silver knob on it. He was a freshman in high school and everyone was looking at him and saying “what in the world?” and he was stylin’! He was always like that.

I was actually the first long-hair in town… first it was combed to the side like the surfers. Then in the early sixties when the Beatles got popular I went into the barber shop and said “I want a Beatle cut” and the barber said “What the heck is a Beatle cut?” I said it was kind of like that guy in the Three Stooges and I went to school the next day and was just ridiculed, and the track coach kicked me in my rear end and said “Get your hair cut.” I took all kinds of abuse for that.

Since I was a little kid, my visual hero was Wild Bill Hickok. I had a picture of him hanging on my bedroom wall. He had the big long curls, and the buckskin coat, and this mustache and little goatee… that was the coolest looking guy there ever was. I always wanted to look like that. Even in elementary school they said my hair was getting too long and I would whine “I want to look like….” and they’d say no, no, no… and my Dad would just clip it, but even then I wanted it longer. Then in high school this whole hippie movement started and I just let my hair grow and started getting in trouble all the time… this ongoing saga. My mom would visit the Superintendent who would say “He’s a good boy, but…” and I really was a good boy, got good grades, didn’t cause my teachers much trouble. When I had a surfer look, they’d just say “get your hair cut” but when the hippie movement got going, people had a name they could call me. I just kept letting it grow, and the school kept giving me a fight about it, and the football coach would grab it coming out of my helmet and pull me down… it was just awful, the abuse I got from those people. And that was when drugs started coming noticeably into town, and many adults were sure it was I who was bringing it into town… because I was the first long-hair.

I would give my band mate Mike Osborn a ride home, and I would have to drop him off a block away so his parents wouldn’t see him riding with me. No matter how many times he told them “Pat doesn’t do drugs!” they would not believe him. I was, after all, “that long haired boy.” The funny thing is, I never did do any drugs, and I’ve never been a drinker either.  When I was young, I had several friends whose parents would get into verbal fights and there was always drinking involved. I saw the fathers slap their kids and cuss like it was the only language. I knew then I never wanted to be like that. I never wanted to be out of control. But then I was also lucky to have two wonderful parents who were always in our corner.

I met my wife Sharon in Junior High, and when she came into high school as a Freshman, and I was a Sophomore, we started dating and have been together ever since. We went together 6 years and have been married 38. I don’t know how she’s managed to put up with me this long, but I’m sure glad she has: she’s my partner.

I thought growing up in this valley was pretty spectacular. We could get to the ocean, get to the city, go to the mountains, and we took advantage of it on many different levels.
~~

Chapter 1 – The first longhair in town
Chapter 2 – Playing the blues
Chapter 3 – Fighting fire with fire
Chapter 4 – Preaching the truth


Coming Soon In Ukiah Blog – Patrick Ford (Updated)


:: PATRICK FORD TALKS ::

Fighting Fires, Preaching Truth,
and Playing the Blues

Now Available Here



Update: UKIAH HOUSE CONCERTS

From Annie Esposito
Ukiah

The little network of house concerts is one of many things that makes Ukiah wonderful. Acoustic singer-songwriters passing along the 101 corridor find Ukiah a good place to stop over. A half dozen local people host them.

The musician gets a meal, a place to stay, a chance to sell some CD’s and pick up some gas money. In return, they perform in the garden or parlor of their host. Appreciative friends and neighbors have a pot luck and an evening of intimate live music. These house concerts are sporadic, of course. People can check the website ukiahhouseconcerts.com to find out when they’ll be happening.

At the Clay Street House Wednesday evening about 30 people enjoyed original music from K.C. Connor. K.C. was passing through on his way to Bellingham, Washington. There was even an opener with local singer-songwriter Alicia Littletree.


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