My Favorite Trop Rock "Good Guy"
Is Really a Trop Rock "Gal"
While I will be looking at various "good guys of Trop Rock" in upcoming posts- today I will start with my favorite Trop Rocker, my wife Linda Harris. Linda plays steel pan (sometimes known as "steel drum") for the Parrot Island Band (from Atlanta, Georgia). While my love of Jimmy Buffett music goes all the way back to my youth, Linda's appreciation for Jimmy has come more through osmosis than direct choice.
When I began playing again (after a nearly 20 year break from playing music publicly), Linda was supportive of my desire to dust off my Jimmy Buffett songs and hit the Trop Rock trail. A good friend and fellow parrothead (Harlan Dunk) began playing drums and a new friend (Cheryl Washburn) joined with me to play a few parties and outings. The next thing we knew, the Parrot Island Band was born (and being asked to play more and more events). Linda was willing to come along and listen, encourage, support and eventually I even talked her into joining us with the "shaker".
As timing would have it, Cheryl (steel pan player) was in the middle of her degree work for her next level teaching certificate. I found myself late one night sitting at the computer and just looking around on eBay. I had always loved the steel pan sound and as I browsed the steel pan auction I somehow convinced myself that maybe it was time for me to learn this beautiful instrument. I began bidding on one steel pan in particular and before I knew it I had bid much higher than I had planned (yikes!). I got off the computer and went to bed with the confidence that someone would let me off the hook and out bid me….
When I woke up the next morning I received an email from the good folks at eBay stating that I had won the auction and that my steel pan would arrive in a few days. I did what any stunned eBay winner would do in this situation… I panicked! I was hoping that somehow my package would get lost or I would receive an email stating that there had been some mistake. Nope! When the UPS driver delivered my package and Linda noted the arrival… I finally confessed. Asking who was going to play it… I said, "Well, me… of course".
There was one little problem, I can't read music (I play by ear) and apparently all those dents on the inside of the steel pan… notes! Linda helped me set up the pan and she began to tinker with it. We found a steel pan instructor in Rome, Georgia and she began to play with the Parrot Island Band (definitely outside of her comfort zone). We found a steel pan/percussion camp at the University of Southern Mississippi (led by John Wooton) and sent Linda off to camp for a week (she was the oldest…ummm… most mature person there by several decades!)
What a good sport Linda has been. It has been great having something we can enjoy doing together. She is willing to listen to all of my new song ideas (good ones and bad alike). She has been willing to play some pretty big events, even as she was still learning the instrument (even though I know she was not comfortable doing so at the time). She even helped in playing on our first CD when she had been playing for just a short period of time.
While Beachfront Radio may have its "bad guy" of Trop Rock favorites, I will enjoy my time with my nominee (and since it is my award… she wins!) for Good Guy of Trop Rock, Linda Harris. Together we have been nominated (2 years in a row) as the Trop Rock duo/trio of the year… we have come a long way indeed! More importantly, you couldn't meet a nicer person and she is a beauty as well. I guess that makes me the luckiest Trop Rocker on the beach!