Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Looking Forward, Looking Back: Road Trip

Kevin Tomasic, Dory Adams and Kevin Scanlon
copyright 1978 by Kevin Scanlon

(click on image for larger view)

That’s me in the photo above, seated between two Kevins (Tomasic and Scanlon) who were at the end of a long journey. They’d just spent the first half of the summer of 1978 on the road after graduating from college, traveling from Pittsburgh into the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia, then down the Pacific coast to California.

I'd moved to Los Angeles after graduation, where I stayed with a good friend while finding a job. I was about to sign a lease on an apartment when the two Kevins rolled into town. That changed those LA plans and I ended up moving to San Francisco instead.

I love this photo for many reasons, one being that we were so very young then. But mostly I love this photograph because we were at a turning point, each of us about to set off on a new path. It turned out to be only the beginning, not the end, of a great trip.

More than 30 years down the road from when that photo was taken, the two Kevins and I are heading out on a new road trip – this time to Woodstock. We were too young back in ’69 for the original Woodstock festival, but this time we’re headed to a Midnight Ramble at Levon Helm’s studio. Levon was a member of The Band, the legendary group who backed Bob Dylan. They'd played together as The Hawks in the pre-Dylan days, then went out on their own again as The Band in 1969, opening their tour at San Francisco's Winterland, which would also be the site of their final show, The Last Waltz, in 1976. After recovering from throat cancer a decade ago, Levon put together a new band, which includes his daughter Amy, and they've had two very successful and critically acclaimed CDs, Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt.

I missed seeing The Band perform back in the 70s, but Kevin Scanlon and I have seen various Band members play over the years. When we lived in San Francisco, we saw Rick Danko play several times at small clubs in the Bay Area -- once when he played with Richard Manuel at the Old Waldorf, once with Paul Butterfield and Gary Busey at a small club in Berkley. Later we saw Danko play in Chicago with Levon Helm.

Last summer, the two Kevins and I caught Levon's show when he came through Pittsburgh. He was having throat problems and couldn’t sing that night, but it was nice to see him play on stage with his daughter, Amy, and surrounded by his new band -- all fantastic musicians.

As for that road we're on -- it ain't over yet. Kevin Scanlon and I have been married 30 years now. Kevin Tomasic, who raised two sons with his wife Sue (who he lost a little more than a year ago after a long battle with cancer), remains a lifelong friend. If I could choose one decade to live through again, it would be the 1970s -- for the clothes, the music, and free-spiritedness. We're hoping to catch a glimpse as we search for Big Pink and visit the site of the original Woodstock festival on this leg of our journey. We'll photograph, as always, and no doubt take a few sidetrips along the way. I’m looking forward, looking back – continuously fascinated by how things look in this light.

Around the Blogosphere:

“David Foster Wallace at the Ransom Center” by Lisa Peet (3/9/2010) at Like Fire.

“My First Electronic Book . . .” by Meredith Sue Willis (3/9/2010) at Literature and the Web: Meredith Sue Willis Thinks About the Intersection.

3QD Arts & Literature Prize 2010 Finalists (3/10/2010) at 3 Quarks Daily.
Congratulations to the finalists!

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deonne kahler said...

Dory, I don't comment as often as I'd like, but I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog. Your intelligence, thoughtfulness, and artistry always inspire.

I'm a huge fan of the road trip. I'm planning one, probably through the Four Corners region of the Southwest, later this year, and I look forward to hearing about your pilgrimage to Woodstock. Have fun!

Dory Adams said...

Deonne, thank you for the kind comments. It's always good to know when readers enjoy what they find here. Your Four Corners road trip sounds great. That's an area I haven't had a chance to visit yet.

cynthia newberry martin said...

Oh for the seventies...Lovely, Dory. And I love the black and white photo of the three of you.