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The Sam Crain Story

Part 2. Middle Daze (cont'd)

    The next 4 yrs were spent at Peabody Conservatory, in scenic Baltimore Maryland. Baltimore at that time (‘76-80) had about a million people to its name, and though not without the negative sides to really most cities (more crazies, more crime), was a fairly friendly place. As a matter of fact, the whole ‘friendly TV weatherman’ concept was supposed to have originated in Baltimore. Edgar Allan Poe lived there for a time, in the Fells Point area, and had a somewhat different slant on the place, however. "It’s always Thursday and it’s always raining", he said.

    As well as being a fairly friendly big city, Baltimore had what was described as a ‘special tolerance for eccentrics’. As part of a thing called the Friday Night Sleaze Series one summer, at Baltimore’s Center Stage, I saw John Waters’ "Pink Flamingoes" for the first time. (Waters, as you may know, is from Baltimore and does much of his filming right there).

    There was another act I liked, who performed in a cabaret-type club near the Peabody campus. Called himself, "Don the Human Blockhead" and would drive actual nails into his head (okay, not really, but therein lay his art I guess), and told the worst imaginable jokes. Example: yeah I useta like huggin’ blondes, but now I just like squeezin’ blackheads!

    Anyway, Peabody was a good school. I wrote a lot of music and learned a few things along the way. We had quite a crop of visiting artists--Aaron Copland, Gunther Schuller, Milton Babbitt, George Crumb were a few people I got to meet while a student there. As far as fellow students, Michael Hedges was a classmate-didn’t know him well, but being a fellow composition major, we had composers’ forum together, and both squeaked through French class, and on one occasion had a couple beers in a strip club. Also knew, and played jazz with Philip Bush, who was a fine pianist and I know has recorded some things since Peabody days.

    After school, I came back to Spfld to ‘re-group’. Fell back into the local music scene, playing mostly bass gigs (as that’s always the in-demand instrument) but a few things on guitar. ( Years later I would found a Support Group for people-mainly guitarists-who double on bass and then never get called for their ‘main’ instruments. More info in this elsewhere on this site.)

    ‘81-83 were nebulous years, but ‘84 was much more purposeful. In ‘84 I stopped smoking cigarettes (2/16-and haven’t had one since!), finally moved out of the parents’ house-at 29-to my own ‘swinging bachelor pad’, my paternal Grandmother passed away, and just after Christmas I went on the road-as in playing.

    The band was called Gina, Dean and Scoundrel, a 7-piece group where 5 of the members (at that time) played horns. As well as guitar, I played a few bass numbers and keyboard tunes, and even sang background stuff here and there. I got the job through a referral service offered by the Int’l Musicians Union.

    Met them in Boston, 1st gig is in Nashua, NH, 2nd in St Louis, 3rd in Dallas. After that it settled down as far as proximity. During my stint with the band we played in New Hampshire (Nashua), Missouri (St. Louis), Texas (Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Beaumont, Brownsville), New Mexico (Hobbs), Nevada (Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Elko, Wendover, Reno, Laughlin), California (Ventura), Utah (Ogden), Wyoming (Rock Springs), Louisiana (Shreveport) and Canada- province of Alberta (Calgary & Edmonton). Lotsa travelling.

    The band just kind of disintegrated in March of 1986. I took the train home (again, back to Springfield to re-group) from I think Fort Worth TX. The following July I met a nice gal, whom I married the March after that, and again in June. We had a civil ceremony and then a church wedding.

Part 3: '87 to the Present >