Patrick Ford Talks

Patrick Ford Talks – Chapter 4: Preaching the truth

Redwood Valley

[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.