Saturday, November 13, 2010

One month down...

I hit the one month mark this past week. I've set some high standards trying to write six new blogs a week, so I know that some are better than others. It's definitely a work in progress. Hopefully I've got some good ones coming up next week.

Well, tonight Classic Waxx and I will play for four hours at a local bar. (Mother Duncan's if you're interested.) We quit at 1am, then pack up our stuff and then head to the Luther F. Carson Center to perform for the Easter Seals telethon at 4am. It's early (or late), but it's a good cause and we will get to play on the big stage. That's something that I've been itching to do since I started playing with the band. Sure, we're not headlining, and likely, there won't be that big of a crowd there, but we get to play on the stage and we'll be on television. Exciting and nervewracking to say the least. Wish us luck.

Thanks again to any and everyone who reads my drivel. I appreciate it greatly. Leave some comments and tell your friends!

Classic Waxx

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day

          Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. It’s a day that as a nation, we are supposed to recognize and honor those individuals throughout our short history who have fought and still fight to keep our freedoms safe. As the son of a weekend warrior for most of my life I understand a fraction of the sacrifice a soldier, seaman, airman, or marine makes. I also understand what most people forget: the sacrifice that the family makes so that their husband/wife/father/son/daughter/mother can continue to fight to preserve our way of life.
          For a long time my mother had a hard time understanding why my father rejoined the Kentucky National Guard when Desert Storm was going on. I was never privy to all of his reasons, but I do remember, and I will for the rest of my days, a letter he wrote to us when his unit was being prepped to go to Iraq in 2003. In that letter he recognized that we might not understand his reasoning for going. He stated “I have to do this, because I have the heart of a lion.” My father was doing this to keep his children and wife safe. He was doing this because he had a bond with American history and wanted to continue to have a great country.
          All of our veterans have hearts like lions. They do what the rest of us can’t. They put their lives on the line for us and for our ideals. The men and women of our armed forces are fierce, loyal, and noble. I appreciate what they do and what they have done for us in the last 234 years. I’ve always tried to make it a point to shake hands with anyone who serves us. I have, on a number of occasions, seen the tears welling up in their eyes when I tell them I appreciate what they do for us. I urge you to do the same. I don’t thank them because of the way it makes me feel, I do it because it is the least that I can do to show my pride and appreciation. Thanks them because they deserve it.

To all of you reading who have served our country or who are serving currently and to those family members of those who have served, thank you for everything that you do to ensure that my way of life remains untainted. I appreciate you and this retail manager and blogger is proud of you.

Special thanks to these men for instilling the values in me which I have today.
Michael Ragsdale
Bernard Ragsdale
Thomas Farley
Gene McGuins

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Classic Waxx - The Training Ground

          Never have I bragged on myself for my guitar playing abilities. Sure, I can keep time pretty well, but that’s about all I have going for me. I know what 0is supposed to sound good, but I just can’t make my fingers do what my brain requires. I’ve never really even exaggerated my abilities, which is a surprise because there was a time in my life I’d say just about anything to get a pretty girl. (I stopped because I got the prettiest girl without having to exaggerate.) I’ve never felt skilled or talented on a guitar. I was worse in 2005. Much worse.
          I remember being told I was going to step up to play rhythm guitar around Christmas of 2005 and I was super excited, but then terror hit me. These are by far the best musicians I’ve ever been around and they’ve been playing these songs for years. (Dad and Billy had actually played some of these songs back in the sixties, so I guess the word ‘decades’ applies here.) There was no way I could keep up. Truthfully, the first few gigs we played in 2006, I didn’t keep up. I stumbled and fumbled a lot. I started songs in the wrong key. I hit wrong chords when there was supposed to be silence. I was pretty awful. To their credit, no one in the band said anything negative. I’ve always been way harder on myself than anyone else is, so I really appreciated the learning curve they allowed me.
          Today, I’m still playing with the band, and my guitar playing, while still nothing to brag about has gotten exponentially better. I don’t feel like I hold these guys back anymore and that’s a truly freeing feeling. (And it only took 4 years!) Playing with these guys has been a huge blessing in my life. It’s given me a chance to spend some real quality time with my father and I’ve been able to get a better grasp on who he is as a person. I had the privilege to play with some of the best musicians in Western Kentucky.
Billy, Mike, Damon, and Dad have all taught me a lot about not only rock n roll, but also about being a man. When I started running sound for the band, I was very single and I was in and out of a bunch of different wasteful relationships. Since then, I have grown to realize what I can truly be as a person, I was married in August of 2006, we had our first son in November of 2007 and our second son in March of 2010. My band has been there the whole time.
These guys are very important to me and in my goofy way; I view them all as a sort of surrogate family. Or a man-in-training development program.
It has been a real honor to me to find myself on the stage with these men. Mike Watford’s precision on the keys and sax has shown me that practice really can make perfect. Damon Martin’s rock solid drums behind me have spoiled me for life. The walking bass lines from Billy Jaques have shown me what it’s like to have “soul”. And on the lead guitar my dad, Michael Ragsdale, has shown me what it’s like to have passion that may get put on the back burner for years, but will always come back.
Even though it may sound like I’m bragging now, I’m not. Classic Waxx is, and will always be, my favorite band.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Classic Waxx - A Brief History

          I could tell that Dad was interested, but he didn’t have an electric guitar anymore; all he had left was an old 70s Yamaha acoustic - which is my favorite guitar ever. I had rarely heard the man play. He had taught me a few things when I started playing, but I had never heard him play an entire song. I recognized that there were going to be some obstacles if this was going to happen, but I was up to the challenge.
          For Father’s Day that year, I purchased and Lotus Strat copy off of my buddy and gave it to Dad. That, combined with my constant harassing and my mother’s encouragement, finally got him to call Billy.
          It was a while before I was really involved. I went to a few practice sessions here and there, but they had a lot of trouble in the early days getting a drummer and a keyboard player. I even helped run sound at practice for a while, but with girls and work, and friends and a rotating door of people in and out of the band, I pretty quickly lost interest in hanging out in either a too cold or too hot garage.
          Not too long after I stopped showing up, Dad, Billy, and former rhythm guitar player Ken, convinced a former Scoutmaster of mine, Mike, to join. Mike plays keyboard, organ, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, and typically anything else that is requested of him - he brought a lot to the table. Around this same time, they hired on a steady drummer, Pappy. I have no idea what his actual name was. The band was together! It was really great to see them play. I was, and still am, in constant awe of Dad’s ability.
          Pappy left eventually and in walked Damon. Fantastic drummer. No slight against the former, but Damon just seemed to fit. It was around this time that I took on duties running the soundboard for the band when they played out. Towards the end of 2005 there was a lineup change and I was taken off of the board and put onto rhythm guitar since Ken’s spot was vacant. Sure, I could keep a beat and sing harmony, but I really had no idea at that point what I was getting into.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Classic Waxx - The Formation

          It was probably 1997 or 1998 and my dad decided to take my brother and me out for haircuts. Our normal barber, Avondale, was closed or super busy or something, so Dad took us to a barber shop downtown called Arcade. Neither of us had been there before, but obviously, Dad had. So we went in and sat down to await our turn and started flipping through magazines desperately trying to entertain ourselves and ignore the usual sporting event or news show that was playing on the television or radio.
          I looked up from my magazine, that I assume was either a Field and Stream or a Car and Driver, and Dad was having a conversation with another gentleman. Dad can small talk, but he’s not ever really been known by us to be the chatty type so Matthew and I both thought this was strange. As it turns out, this man was the bass guitar player from the band my dad was a member of in the mid-sixties. It had been a long time since they had talked, but naturally, the conversation turned to music and Dad introduced me to the man. I had been playing guitar for a few years so I think there was a bit of parental pride going on: even though I was terrible. That was the day I met Billy.
I, honestly, will never for the rest of my life forget that day. The details of the conversation and the barbershop are fuzzy at best, but I do remember meeting Billy. I remember seeing a twinkle in Dad’s eyes as Matthew and I recalled to story to Mom when we got home that Saturday afternoon.
“Mom! Dad got asked to be in a band!”
Kind of.
Billy had continued to play music after their original band broke up and was just starting to try to get a new band together. Dad played when he and Mom first got together, but having a full time job and three kids certainly didn’t leave him much time so there were only a handful of times in my youth that I can remember him playing guitar. Billy had asked Dad if he was still playing and expressed interest in playing music with him again. Matthew and I were delighted. Dad was going to play rock n roll! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

After Party

          Yesterday, Grayson’s party went off fantastically. Stacey and my mother-in-law, Kathy, did pretty much all of the work with me and Stacey’s step dad, Lowell, filling in here and there. It was really a great party and I know Grayson had a blast. It’s hard to believe that he’s three years old now. Thanks to all our family who came and made it such a special day in his life. He now has enough toy tractors, truck, and bulldozers to open a construction site. Thanks to our neighbor, Jeff, for bringing his horse over for the kids to check out. It was truly a great party.
          We would be lost without our family and friends. In my early 20s, I was all about my friends. I would actually dread going to family functions sometimes because I couldn’t be out having a good time, or sitting in Michael’s kitchen playing board games. The older I get, the more I realize how important family is. My family has always been there for me, especially may parents and siblings, and Stacey’s has been there for her. It’s nice to have that dedication from people who truly understand what colossal screw ups we can be. My best friends have become like family so much that I consider them brothers. It weird to think that I don’t have many close friends left (most of which is my early 20s self’s fault) but the ones I do have are way more important to me than friendship. Michael, for instance, has been my closest friend since probably 5th grade. Geez. That’s eighteen years. Even now that he lives in Nashville and I don’t see him that often, when I do see him, it’s like no time has passed. We have that bond that, as far as I’m concerned, no matter what happens in life, we’ll always be here for the other. It’s really refreshing to have that sort of relationship come to the surface again. It was really great to see Michael and Cassie yesterday (and Holden too) and now you guys have me counting down till next October. =)