Doc Garret...
"Closer to the Sun"
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                 I was 12 years old when my dad asked my younger sister, Denise, and myself if 
we wanted to take music lessons.  Upon the advice of my older sister, Kathy, who told me
that "guitar was for sissies", I decided to take drum lessons.  I remember wearing out
the padded dashboard of my dad's old Rambler practicing on the way to class, and
hours sitting in front of the TV twirling my drum sticks and striking the footstool.
    My first real band was called
"Grindstone"
.  We used to play the teen clubs and bars
in the Norfolk, Virginia area where my dad was stationed at the time.

    When I was 16 we moved to Okinawa.  I had stayed the summer in Norfolk to play,
so by the time I got to Okinawa my sister Denise had already met all the bands on the
island.  There was the Japanese band Sizen, the Okinawan bands Murisaki and
Psycho, and of course the American Army Band called TLA or Trans Love Airway.
    I hooked up with a great group of high-schoolers like myself and we formed
the
"BadAss Blues Band".  We used to play the bars in the city of Kosa and entertain
the troops at Monsa Beach about once a month along with all the aforementioned
island bands.
    After I graduated from Kubisaki High I went to live with my sweetheart in Baltimore,
Maryland. I did pretty well in college that year (made the Dean's list), but then my girlfriend
dumped me and I moved down to Florida and eventually made my way to Gainesville, where
I've stayed ever since (except for a summer when I moved up to Jacksonville to play, but
we'll get to that in a bit).

    My first Gainesville band was called "Treat", a five piece dueling guitar band.
After
"Treat" had run it's course I hooked up with a couple of cats and formed "Holy Trinity",
a 3-piece power trio.  This was the band that I moved to Jacksonville for a summer to play.
Yeah, holed up in a 3 bedroom house, no AC, Dorman (the guitar player) and his daughter,
Michael Bowlus and myself, this was the rock and roll life!  We were playing the local bars,
the same circuit as Molly Hatchet and .38 Special.
    One night Dorman came home from a late night of partying and told us he was gonna do
something different.  We could come along or not.  We choose not, and Michael and I
moved back to Gainesville.  Now, this was the year of Lynyrd Skynyrd's fateful plane crash
which left their label in a pinch to fill the Southern Rock void left at what seemed to be
the end of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
    Molly Hatchet, .38 Special, and Dorman Cogburn (as a member of Alias) were picked up by the "big boys" and Michael and I slipped into obscurity.

    I soon ran into someone who, in retrospect, was probably the most influential musical
influence of my life... a wildman named Jorge Corrochano.  The first time I saw Jorge play I
thought he was the best single act I had ever seen.  He wore metal finger picks and had such
a strong right hand technique.  And then when he opened his mouth, you would like, have to
look around to try to figure out where all the sound was coming from.
    We started a band called
"Condor" doing mostly covers and a few of Jorge's originals.
This was the last band that I was the drummer in.  Up to this point, I had always played a little
guitar and had always had all of the guitar players in the bands I was in show me something,
but was the drummer and only played drums on stage.
   
"Condor" died a slow painful death, but Jorge and I remained friends and started
jamming acoustically.  This was the birth of
"Steel Bamboo" and the first band in which I
played guitar and sang backup.  We started out as a 3 piece, Jorge, Pete Wankelli on
Moog bass, and myself.
   
"Steel Bamboo" eventually filled out into a 6 piece with Waldo Lee Snarnof on drums,
Kevin Wilson on bass, Pete Wankelli on piano, Rob Glaser on percussion, Jorge on
acoustic guitar, and me on a borrowed Gibson ES-295 guitar. We concentrated on Jorge's
originals and a "world music" kind of thing.
    Eventually our diverse lifestyles caused us to implode, but not before I was hooked on
guitar and singing, not to mention I was ready to stop having dreams about my arms all
flailing around at night doing an endless drum solo.

    Jorge left town and Pete, Rob and I fell in with bassist Charlie Thomas and
drummer Matt Latsko and formed
"Satori", the first band where I was the lead singer
and lead guitar player. We played around for a year or so, but it was about the time my son
was beginning school so I figured it was time to get a real job.  I became a warehouse worker
and truck driver for Orange Blossom Cooperative Warehouse for 9 years.
   
"Satori" slipped into oblivion but I always kept a rehearsal warehouse at the Mini Maxi.
This was the period that we started having jams on Monday nights.  Man those warehouses
were the coolest place to be with sometimes 6 or 8 bands playing all at once.
Yes, you had to play loud to be heard. But anyway, Pete and I would host a Jam every
Monday.  We would supply the beer and pizza and musicians from all over town would come.
You would never know who would show up. Usually 5 to as many as 20 people would be
there.  We'd have dueling bass players and drummers, piano and of course a guitar army.
Definitely some of the best times in my life.
     This was also when I met my friends Brad Burns, Kevin Leary and Charlie Hargrett,
and the period in which most of the songs on this CD were written. 

    For about 2 years, around this time, Pete and I had a Midi show.  Pete would play the piano along with midi files he had made of strings, horns, synth and such.  I would program
the drums and together we became
"The Department of Art and Music Control".
    I was playing out on the patio at Napolitanos and they kept asking me if I had a nickname.
Well, I think Pete was probably the first person to call me Doc, so I told them "Doc Garret".
    Freddie Pryor, Kevin Leary and John Glancy and myself formed probably the first version
of what would become the
"Doc Garret Band".  Brad would also come and sit in with us
from time to time.  Freddie got sick and was out of action for a while and Brad stepped in.
Brad always had his cover and original bands going at the same time but somehow it all
worked out.  We went from
"King Doc" to "Rocktafari", to the "Doc Garret Band".
   
I want to take a moment to mention one of my old friends and a man I learned a lot from,
Tom Hart.  Kevin, Tom and I would meet after work 2 or 3 times a week and play in Tom's
apartment with a drum machine.  We would always try to do something different or
learn something new each day.

    A couple of years ago I decided everyone in the world had a CD but me,
so I embarked on the creative journey that became
"Closer to the Sun"
    I had met Buzz Mayhew at one of my friend Burt Polansky's jams years before, so I guess it was kind of fateful that I ran into him again and found out he had put together a recording
studio behind his house in Cross Creek.
    South Moon Studio became the site of the weekly sessions that through Buzz's patience
and his lovely wife Beverly’s good graces has finally culminated into this recording.
    I can not thank Buzz and Beverly enough for their help in completing this project
and I am forever in their debt.
    All the players that participated gave their maximum effort and allowed this recording to
become something I'm very proud of and hope will fill every listener's heart
with the joy that music can bring.

                          Sincerely-

                             “Doc” Garret Alford

 


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