Mapping Happenings

A Sort-of Music Oriented Blog


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Of Life and Death

On Mapping Happenings

Everybody is writing or talking about Robin Williams, and his unexpected suicide. Yes, indeed, he will be missed by me and most of the world. He was one of the few actors where I enjoyed every movie and TV series he was involved with. As a comedian, he was peerless. I won't go into the mental hell we call clinical depression. No. This has given me pause to reflect. What I want to talk about here are all the other artists and others that have left this side of life and have made a huge impression on me.

Most recently was Patrick "the Lama" Lundborg, a man in Sweden who had become a good correspondent, as we discussed our common passion for music. Like me, he was a record collector. We traded some and I purchased some from his Renaissance Faire site. Unlike me he had acquired a vast knowledge not only of obscure and rare vanity pressings of psychedelic, lounge, exotica, and unusual artists of the 60s through the early 80s, but wrote/edited the authority on these recordings, "The Acid Archives". He followed this with a huge tome, "Psychedelia: An Ancient Culture, A Modern Way of Life" which I am still reading, and trying to absorb. The book is like a textbook for a course in psychedelic anthropology, yet his writing style keeps you reading. He also maintained a fun and multifaceted set of websites under the title "Lysergia". In the five years I knew him I learned more about interesting music than in the 50 years prior. I had emailed Patrick on May 31st. He usually would get back to me within 24 hours. No response this time. On June 12, while checking personal email before leaving for work, I received an email from another party saying Patrick had died the day before. I was stunned. At first I couldn't believe it. I searched for more information and it began to trickle in. It was true; at age 47 Patrick was gone. No cause was given. Like Robin Williams, Patrick left several projects ongoing. He was so full of life. Still there is no word on what happened.

Brother Love, of WAMO FM, Pittsburgh, was one of the first DJs in the country to try the new "underground music" format in the mid-60s. His cool, beatnik whispering style enhanced the psychedelic music format, which also included obscure composers such as Conlon Nancarrow and blues, jazz, and anti Vietnam War and anti establishment folk and rock music. As a teenager I was mesmerized by this new alternative to the "bubble gums" on top 40 AM radio. I never knew Brother Love's real name until moving to San Diego and learning that Ken Reeth was living in Carlsbad. I introduced myself and we had a great series of conversations about late 60s Pittsburgh. We emailed through his move to Las Vegas, and then the correspondence stopped. I learned later Ken had passed due to a long battle with leukemia.

Holding down the weekend afternoon "underground radio" shift on WAMO FM was none other than veteran doo wop DJ and Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer, Porky Chedwick. Porky passed away this past Spring at the young age of 96. I never realized until reading after his passing that Porky hated the underground format, yet he sounded so convincing as he spun pro-pot and acid songs. The ultimate professional.

Don "Stu" Archer, aka "Yogi", was a fellow classmate from fifth grade through high school graduation. We both began playing guitar about the same time, but he took lessons from another instructor. I have to admit that he progressed faster than me, but he was learning shortcuts to heavy guitar riffs where I was learning a more traditional method, reading music. A friend told me he considered Yogi to be the Captain Beefheart musically to my Frank Zappa characteristics. He made a profession of music performance and later taught music. We had not spoken to each other since the summer after my freshman year in college. I remember we talked that summer about philosophy and I noted the depth of his thinking although he had taken no college classes. 20 years later I finally was going to a high school class reunion, looking forward to catching up with Yogi. Then, two months before the reunion he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and was dead within weeks. I blame myself for not trying to get in touch sooner, since I knew where he was but he had no way to contact me.


On Where Pianos Roam

There is this place Where I go Where Pianos roam Across the land. They are the leaning Giraffes Whose ears tickle The tops of trees. They are the towering Banyan Trees Whose roots sprawl down From the heavens. They are the green, So green, fields of grass That simmer in the wind. They are the mighty lions Who roar across this vast expanse. There is this place Where I go. It is the greatest emptiness Where sound inhabits space. Where I play Where I wander Where I, too, Roam Free. Official BiographyThrough the music of Gordon Roque, a song written is a life lived, an emotion felt, and a feeling expressed. It is all these things made manifest and so much more.Roque's musical journey began as a child with a scant six months of piano lessons at the age of seven. Howsoever brief, this introduction to music was the start to his on-going love affair with the piano and the art of writing songs. He would spend many years drawn to his dad's keyboards and making up little melodies of his own.Of course, it didn't hurt that Roque, who was born in the Philippines, grew up on a lush and gorgeous tropical island in the South Pacific called American Samoa. Countless weekend barbeques on the beach, swaying coconut trees, the feel of rugged sand on bare feet, and the swelling crescendos of the thunderous and emotive Pacific Ocean provided many distractions for fifteen years of his life. At home, songs of Elvis and the Beatles were in constant rotation on his parents' record player, and, on the island, singing was an integral part of the local culture. According to Roque, "There wasn't a single person, child or adult, who couldn't sing or harmonize. Singing was a way of life back in Samoa, and this taught me so much." Such a richly textured upbringing deeply informs Roque's vivid and imaginative writing style.Today, Roque is fully engaged in a life lived on and through his songs. There is not a personal experience, uncomfortable or otherwise, that he is unwilling to share and explore in his compositions. Underneath his often intense lyrical content, one will hear a bold blend of classical music, jazz, pop, and ragtime stylings. As a result, Roque's music has its own potent and colorful sound and identity.Living and working in Nashville, Tennessee, Roque is currently promoting his brand new, debut album which was released in December of 2008.

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