The Road That Led To “VEHICLE!”

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 10.36.17 PMFor those of you who are unfamiliar with the 80′s phenomena known as “Vehicle,” I will be more than happy to enlighten you… Vehicle was more than just a band.  It was more than just a group of hard-workin’, hard-playin’, hard-partyin’ insanomaniacs (I just made that word up…cool huh?).  No, Vehicle was much more than that! Vehicle became a local “movement.”  (At least thats the way I remember it.)  People would pack “Dr. Dons” on Thursday night to see us set up for a Friday and Saturday night gig, and we would usually do a two set sound check. Back then we played because we loved to play, and I think our audience could sense that.

But, to really understand how “Vehicle” came about, we will have to go back to  a few years…

In 1975 I was fifteen years old and still lived on my family’s farm. That is about the time I met this crazy, aggressive, nutty little guy named Brian Wilburn.  He and I became instant friends and music buddies. As the years went by, Brian and I played together in numerous musical groups that resulted in the two of us knowing a long list of songs together.

In the meantime, we were both trying to make a living any way we could. As for me, I worked in groceries for several years until I had my first real try at being a full time musician. I played with a group called “Knight Diamond” (never really understood that name) for about a year and a half.  This was a great experience because it taught me that you can live on popcorn and mac-n-cheese.

When my time with that band came to an end, I found myself with no band, no money, and no work! One day, I remarked to a cousin that I was going to have to find a real job, to which she replied, “Why don’t you go to work with my husband? His company needs a glazier.” I said “you mean, like with donuts?”… “No” she said, “glaziers work with glass!”

So I went to work with Charlie, and to this day, I am in the window and door business. However, God has a way of taking you where you need to be. Because I went to work with Charlie Ford that day some life events were set in motion.

Through this new occupation, I met Mike Moore, Steve Mooney and Wayne Welch. They would get together and jam on Friday and Saturday nights, and I was included! It took some time, but I finally persuaded them to learn some songs that weren’t 20 minutes long, and we were on our way.

We finally put together enough songs to play a labor day party at the bass player, Steve Mooney’s house. I invited my old friend Brian to the party, and the rest is history! Over the next  five years “Vehicle” would play constantly and develop a rather large and devoted following. We incorporated more and more original songs into our set list and the audiences came to know them as well as we did.  We Rock and Rolled with abandon, and I always wondered if people came to see us because we were really that good, or because they wanted to see what insane thing we were going to do next.

As with many great bands , we reached the end of our road. We all worked full time jobs and played two, three, sometime four nights a week (one time we played seven nights in a row), and it just got to be too much. I was the first one to go. Living on two hours sleep a night for months at a time will just wear you down and my personal life was a mess, so my time with Vehicle was over. However, Vehicle continued on for another year or two with Mark Harrison in my place, but that eventually came to an end also.

What I have found years later, is that the time I spent with these musical brothers of mine left an impression on my heart and soul that comes out in everything I write. Mike Moore has left this world and gone on to the next, so a real reunion is not possible. But maybe some day the rest of us can get back together to play some tunes to remember him by ….jeff ervin

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High School Daze

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 6.17.13 AM Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 10.38.33 PM I started high school in 1974 and was pretty much…well…clueless! (Some might say that I still  am.)  However, the coming four years would prove to be good, bad and (as you can see by the pictures) ugly!!!

By the ninth grade I had become a pretty decent guitar player and singer, but I was completely self-taught and had never learned to read music.  So John Lane (our high school band director) told me he needed a bass player for jazz band, and if I would take tuba (yes, I said tuba), I could learn to read bass clef and be ready to play bass in Jazz band the next year. So I thought to myself, “Hey I can do that!!!”

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And so over the next four years I played bass guitar, trombone, and baritone. But tuba became my number one instrument, and while I never really learned to love it…I was good at it.Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 7.45.54 PMScreen Shot 2013-01-21 at 10.35.07 PM

Now tuba is an instrument that most people don’t understand and usually laugh at. But it earned me a trip to All West Tennessee Band (second chair), a perfect score in solo-ensemble contest, an optimist award, a standing ovation (try doing that with a tuba), and a four year scholarship.  And so it seemed that my life course was set…but it wasn’t!

During these times when things seemed to be going so well for me, I was really floundering emotionally and spiritually. I became convinced that success was mine and all I had to do was show up.  What I eventually learned, is that external confidence and internal doubt are dream killers.

So to make a long story even longer… I did go to college, but it wasn’t long before my lack of organization and my lack of dedication forced me into a very difficult and unpopular decision…I DIDN’T WANT TO BE A BAND DIRECTOR!!!

So I dropped out of college with no clue what I was going to do or how I was going to do it!  But so began the next phase of my life and I will tell you all about it in next weeks blog!

Have a great week! See you next Saturday…jeff

Meager Beginnings

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I was born a poor white child…no really…I was! I was born in 1960 in a small farming community made up of Mom, Dad, grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and a colorful array of cousins.  I was the youngest of five kids, and in the late 60′s my parents adopted two girls from Korea. We didn’t have much money, but we always had what we needed.

T.V. was black and white, and we only had four channels but there was always something to do. Sometimes it was playing in the freshly plowed dirt or snappin’ beans while I watched Gilligans’ Island, and sometimes I would hang out under a tree late in the evening and listen to the drone of the locusts (I always thought that was so cool).

Along about 1966, my oldest brother Mike (who was 10 years my senior) started playing in a rock band, and sometimes my parents would let them practice in our living room. That is where I caught “music fever,” and I have never out grown it. Mike has recently passed on, and I miss him every day, but he left an influence on my life that will never fade away.

I also had chronic (seizure-like) asthma attacks and missed a lot of school. It wasn’t all bad because it left me plenty of practice time on the guitar and church three times a week helped me to become obsessed with singing. So by the eighth grade, I was a pretty fair guitar player and singer and played my first concert at my small country school.

And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my cousin Kevin Pilkington and my best childhood friend Mike West. I played constantly with these two guys. We spent countless hours playing, writing songs, and just having fun. And while I had many friends (I didn’t forget you Barry) that I played with during those days, these guys were and are a major part of my musical history.

So there ya have it folks…my early history in a few paragraphs. Have a blessed week!!!