I’ve been fortunate to have had education and training in many fields in my life, but there are only two in which I have ever excelled because I passionately love what I do: Music and Journalism. I formed my first band at age 11, after seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show; I wrote my first newspaper article for my school paper at age 12, to complain about our principal’s use of corporal punishment (which would land him in prison today).
The gift of music came from my father, who was my greatest supporter; and the gift of words from my mother, who was my harshest critic. But without the guidance of both, the proverbial ying and the yang – I would not be the person I am today – and I shall always be thankful to them both.
Real world experience began with a cavalcade of occupational experimentation, including (but not limited to) construction laborer, auto parts counter guy, door-to-door salesman for photography coupons, commercial house painter, form carpenter for concrete construction sites, country club golf caddyshack manager, a brief stint in the import/export business, and finally stumbling into answering a local ad for a “press operator assistant” – where, lacking any actual knowledge or experience in operating a Goss Community offset newspaper press, I was instead given the grad school equivalent of a Masters in Everything in Printing; learning how to sort mail, post copy for editors and send rewrites back to reporters, then learning how to operate the machine that creates the personalized address plates for subscribers that were stamped on to individual copies of The Georgetown Times and then mailed off to local folks, worldwide; moving up to learning how to do the simple layout for commercial jobs, how to shoot layouts (flats) and turn those negatives into printing plates, and how to develop and mount those plates onto offset presses.
This magical, all-in-one instructional odyssey also taught me how a commercial horizontal or vertical camera operates; how to turn regular color or black & white photographs into halftones that would then be hand-stripped onto the clear, open “knock out” boxes that were on the page negatives, before burning those images onto the printing plates by vacuum-mounting them together and exposing the chemically treated metal plate to an electrically charged arc of intensely bright light. Also, learned the nature of the chemicals needed for the darkroom as well as the photomechanical typesetters – behemoth mutants which forged typesetting keyboards and electronic computer coding together and then spit out reams of thin ribbons of paper; aligned with small arrays of holes punched out, each representing a letter of the alphabet or an encrypted instructional code for the computerized system.
The computer then turned it all into flashes of light thru a lens set to produce a single letter at a time, onto a photographic-light sensitive film that continuously composed the lines and paragraphs of type. The light-tight container of film transporting the type would then be run thru processors that were essentially mini-darkrooms and developed just like photographs. From there, they were then hung in big closet-like dryer racks with big, noisy doors – and, when dried, trimmed with scissors to fit whatever project was in the production department’s charge, run thru a motor-driven waxer that applied a thin coat of special tack wax to the back of the galley of type, and finally affixed to the paper layout sheet that defined everything from simple business cards to a 2-page spread of a full-sized newspaper layout. For all practical purposes, I was home.
Then there was a brief stint in Savannah Memorial Medical for a near-death experience, followed by a 2-month, non-paying, 40 hour per week education in MIG welding via Trident Technical College, The S.C. Technical College Board, The U.S. Coast Guard, The American Bureau of Shipping, and General Dynamics – which, upon completion, allowed me to work for the latter, welding together aluminum plates that created 120-foot-diameter aluminum balls which were then shipped to Wooster, Massachusetts for installation into seagoing tankers that would bring liquified natural gas from such ports as Liberia to those here such as Charleston.
While enjoying an August weekend excursion to Myrtle Beach to see the lovely and talented Linda Rondstadt (performing an incredible concert at the old Grand Strand Music Fair with a band consisting of (get this) Andrew Gold, Kenny Edwards, Waddy Wachtel, Dan Dugmore, Brock Walsh and Mike Botts), I ran into an old co-worker from The Georgetown Times who persuaded me to come back the following week and apply for an opening position at The Sun News … and the rest, as they say, is history. I met my future ex-wife there, and her guitar-playing brother, and once again I was thrust back into the world of music. As we threw together band after band, each a little better than its predecessor; bands came and went and eventually lost the wife along the way (but getting the best song I will ever write out of the experience), saying goodbye to the brother in law and pursuing new bands, and finally reaching the highest musical level that I was ever going to attain with an amazing, eclectic, talented group of misfits known as The Trend. When that particular 4-year incarnation – which won the 1990 Wilmington Battle of the Bands and featured extensive original music written by us – self-destructed from internal strife, I turned back to focusing on my graphics career, and in the process, it occurred to me …
“Hey, I should probably write about this shit!”
So, after 50 years of experiences in music and bands and 40 years of experience in graphics and writing, my love for both has combined to allow me to share those from the past and those I explore every day, week and month. It is my intention to give honest and straightforward opinions of recordings and live performances, to promote and further the careers and genres of those artists which I cover.
Interspersed along the way, I invite you to share in the stories of my life – growing up in a small, rural town in South Carolina; with the best friends and most wonderful experiences that life had to offer. The really best part is, it really is the never ending story … so there will be new chapters logged onto this site periodically.
Oh, and I also invite you to share in those observations and rants that topical events of everyday life in the U.S.A. will invariably bring out in me. I only ask that when you join the show, you must bring your sense of humor along … or you will find life to be extremely unforgiving.
© 2016 Brian M. Howle. All rights reserved.