Friday, November 01, 2013

“A Digital Escape”

Geauga County and the Golden State closer than you think.

Regular readers of this column will be very familiar with my long-distance connection to legendary California guitarist Davie Allan. We have corresponded for many years and I have written dozens of features, letters and e-mail notes about his amazing career.
I have personally lobbied music mogul Mike Curb, producer Harley Hatcher, movie director Quentin Tarantino, Fender Musical Instruments and Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, on his behalf.
In bygone days, Davie sent an autographed, vinyl copy of his ‘An Arrow Escape’ LP as an example of career-broadening ideas that had sometimes taken hold. It was a gem worthy of praise. In a sense, the record heralded a Rock infusion that would later be manifested in the modern Country Music genre. Today’s listener might not flinch at such guitar wizardry amid images of rural culture. But in 1983, it was a different world.
The man known as ‘King Fuzz’ for his use of audio distortion offered in this release a detour into high-energy Americana. While little-known to many fans, it remains an artistic statement unique and unexpected for someone associated with fretboard mayhem, two-wheeled choppers and cult films.
Recently, Davie contacted me over the Internet, to report that he had revised and re-released this decades-old artifact. In the message, he offered pertinent information about the downloadable document:

“Here are the 2013 album notes: This marks the 30th anniversary and first official release of my 10 track country album plus a new bonus track. It has been remixed and remastered. In 1983 I decided to take a break from my instrumental career and focus on my love of ‘old’ country music. I collaborated with several friends (most notably, Rick Korenthal, my co-producer on this album). I only do download albums now (aaarrgghh!!). I didn’t tell Rick that I was remixing the album. After he heard it he called and actually thought I had done some new vocals and guitar parts. He was floored when I told him that I just repaired and remixed the album (plus I added one new recording … the old album was 10 tracks). By the way, Janine came up with the title that was a takeoff on the term ‘a narrow escape’.”

I was shy to admit not having purchased a music file, before. Especially because I owned an iPhone. Reluctantly, I confessed my Luddite status:

“Davie – I have never (heretofore) downloaded music for money. Paying $9.99 for something I can’t hold physically and use at my own discretion seems completely foreign. Is this a viewpoint rooted in my generation? Probably. Kids have no problem with this… I struggle onward.”

King Fuzz did not criticize my slowness to adopt the technology. Instead, he encouraged all the members of his fan forum on Yahoo! to check out the new edition of ‘Escape.’
Weeks passed and I still had not acquired a copy of the recording. Finally, Davie posted a personal plea to close members of his devoted community:

“As you know I’ve sent every CD to you for free and I wondered (since “Retrophonic 4″ was my final physical album) if you would help out by downloading the new (“new” meaning re-mixed, etc) album? Thanks!!!”

I was embarrassed. Indeed, he had sent every new release to my mailbox since the 90′s. It was an absolute privilege to listen and write reviews, in return. During the summer of 2009, before going south to be with my father during cancer surgery, our last stop in Geauga County was at the Chardon Post Office where I received his newest CD in the mail. It was a good omen which helped carry me through the experience.
I wrote a heartfelt message to my guitar hero:

“Davie, This will sound like an excuse, but… I upgraded my iPhone to iOS7. To do so, I needed space, so I temporarily deleted messages and my music. I had no idea how frustrating that would be. My version of iTunes was not updated (on my computer) so it would not recognize my phone. Then I could not reload my music. Had to consult iPhone tipsters on the Internet. (I listen to music via my phone.) This required several days of fiddling after work. I believe it is fixed. Phone and computer. Okay… An Arrow Escape on iTunes? I loved that LP, very different. Eager to hear the update. The link says CD Baby… I will check it out.”

But instead of downloading the album through the site he provided, I clicked on iTunes through my phone. It seemed like the easiest way to get a copy. After a bit more work, I was able to receive the download and start listening. I cheered the arrival of this first digital file in my next message:

“Davie – Bottom line is, after much fiddling with iTunes, my iPhone, my computer, and my customer account (a process of several days) I downloaded the revised ‘An Arrow Escape.’ Smiles all around as I listen. Relief.”

Postscript: Amusingly, while researching this column I learned that ‘An Arrow Escape’ was the title of a 1936 Terrytoons animated short, which was based on the story of Robin Hood.

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