Rivers, Roads, and Coffee

 

Rivers, Roads, and Coffee

The flickering ‘Coffee’ sign makes it hard to focus on the words flowing from my pen. While I am consumed by my notebook there are three business men talking about stocks and ways to finesse more money. A girl with black dreads and pale skin uses both of her hands to hold her coffee as she leans into conversation with a boy. He must be saying the most interesting thing that has ever left a person’s mouth by the way her eyebrows are knit close together and the way she is focusing hard. College students take over the patio studying for finals, and the workers wipe down the counter waiting for their next order to take. The warm lights, smell of coffee, and comfortable vibe of Heine Brothers off Bardstown road is the place in Louisville that I grew from a quiet 14-year-old to a confident 18-year-old about to take my own path. Change is inevitable and for the most part it is always needed, and even as I changed as a person Heine Brothers kept me in their shop daily all four years of high school. Coffee shops having a significant impact on a person’s growth is an odd topic, so I will explain it.

I.

Freshman year. All my friends living in the Highlands and it’s the common area for us to meet up. The five of us meet up and debate about random things, write music, talk about music history, and plan out what life is going to be like. “We will be playing and writing music for the rest of our lives probably.” Sam says shrugging casually. I sit back in my chair and genuinely believing in this moment that this will be the rest of my life. We notice them closing up and leave at closing time as usual, which is a blessing because I always have to get a decent amount of sleep before my cello lesson in the morning. We step outside into warm air and decide what time we would be back tomorrow.

II.

Sophomore year passed. Restricted license, dating, and school had our group of five fade. By junior year we went off on our own. I am in Catholic Social Justice class. My teacher, a jittery young woman, tells us our field trip is going to be to Heine Brothers headquarters to learn about fair trade. We pile on the bus and the windows fog from the heat inside meeting the raw cool temperature outside. We walk in to the building placed in the more urban part of Louisville. I later find out this location was purposefully made to encourage diversity. For now, I am focused on the man approaching. Mike Mays walks in and he is so attractive, not even in a physical sense. He’s humble, but very energetic and hopeful for the growth of his company. People seeming to just be attracted to him and want to hear what he has to say. He genuinely cares for the people he works with. He’s being cautious with his words, making sure to never say they worked ‘for him’. “I work with these people,” He says, “We are a team and that is how a company grows, we work together.” He lets us know specifically that he is proud of how Heine Brothers is a company you can work your way up in no matter where you start. There is something about him, and when he speaks it’s was obvious how much he wants everyone to succeed. He shows pictures of Gorillas that he got inches away from and his adventures around the world. He travels to talk to coffee farmers in person, making sure they were getting paid fairly and their needs are met. I walk out back into the bitter wind outside knowing that was the type of leader I want to be.

III.

Senior year I still meet up with my friends from freshman year and hang out at Heine Brothers. I drive by Heine Brothers and get a salty turtle mocha every morning before school at 7:20am. I didn’t end up obsessively making new lyrics or poems every weekend like we said we would, but I do have a music internship this summer for a musician who played at Bonnaroo.  I don’t shut myself in libraries on the weekends or keep my face in a journal, but I do still write and create art. Heine Brothers was where I kept my roots and passions, but I bettered them into something I can make a happy life out of.  I learned moderation and the importance of social interaction, leadership and the type of leader I wanted to be, and to visit with friends even when your life is moving fast because you will never regret it. I saw selflessness and caring for others, and I got my favorite cup of coffee while doing it.

 

 

 

 

Johnny Allen Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was born in 1942 and grew up in Seattle, his community being predominantly white. He was in the care of his full-blooded Cherokee grandmother most of his life. When he was born his original name was Johnny Allen Hendrix, which was changed by his father to James Marshall when Jimi’s mother left. His mother, Lucille, left and only saw Jimi a handful of times before he died from a drug overdose in London at age 27. His father bought him his first guitar at age 12, which was played upside down due to Hendrix being a left-handed player. He was self-taught not being able to afford lessons. His music was inspired by BB King, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, and Albert King.

He played in a band in high school called The Rocking Kings and eventually dropped out of school to pursue his music. He wasn’t always only playing music contrary to what he thought in high school. He eventually enlisted in the army. He was training as a paratrooper and was honorably discharged after hurting himself parachuting. When he got out of the army he began playing again under the name Jimmy James. He played back up for Little Richard, B.B. King, and Sam Cooke.

In 1966 while playing at a bar Hendrix met Chas Chandler, bass player for The Animals, a band known for their performance of “The House of the Rising Sun”. Chandler got Hendrix to come to London and create the Jimi Hendrix Experience.  Jimi, a very young black artist, created a whole new genre of psychedelic rock in his solo career. “People were used to very dressed up watered down soul music. He wasn’t and that’s why he became who he did.” – Eric Clapton. Eric was one of Jimi’s first supporters. He told Chas to invite him to a jam session and right when Jimi walked in they agreed he had a striking presence with the way he carried himself, spoke, and played. He was shy, but very self-aware. They noticed he was left handed and was a complex talented guitar player as well. His odd mix of profound yet not flashy appearance affected Eric. “My life, and music was never the same again.”  Mitch Mitchell was the drummer for Jimi Hendrix and the Experience and Noel Redding the keyboard player. Noel, unlike Mitchell, didn’t have a lot of faith in Hendrix. After the jam session he agreed only to come back if they paid him 30 dollars. After the second time playing together he knew they had something special when they didn’t even need written music to create something amazing. They played well together almost knowing what the other was thinking before they played it, and that was when the band really came together.

The first gig they had a producer had already approached their manager offering a 1,000-pound advance to promote the band. They agreed and from then on skyrocketed. The members were very young and shocked by the fame. “I was little, I was a boy. Here comes John Lennon walking into my dressing room. I almost fell out of my chair.” Said Noel. The Beatles and Rolling Stones were at their peak at this time and very early on were supporters of Jimi. During an interview with Mick Jagger he said “Why are you interviewing me? You should be interviewing Jimi Hendrix.” That was a spark to the fan base.

Jimi was building in the media, but at that time sex was selling. They made him mysterious and flashy to attract girls and attention. Mick Jagger being a supporter and a sex symbol himself also set a heart throb view of Jimi. He was very different than the media portrayed him, and it threw off many people who met him. “Here he was a raw sexual model in these magazines. It threw you when you met him. He was a shy, whispering, gentle character off stage. He was slyly hip and saw the world different. He would have a sly grin to him and you would know he saw something different than what you had seen.” His producer explained.

Jimi never let Mitch and Noel in on his music in the making because he couldn’t. Jimi would make up these songs in his head Mitch would ask what tempo it was in and Noel would ask what key it was and they would play it letting Jimi tweak it along the way, creating many songs that went to British top ten immediately within minutes. “I can’t express myself like this, in conversation like this. It doesn’t come out that way. That’s why I have to do it on stage.” – Jimi.

Jimi ended up preforming with The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Who. The store on Bardstown road, Electric Ladyland, is also inspired by Jimi. His final album was titled “Electric Ladyland” that included the song “All Along the Watchtower” written by Bob Dylan. You can see the painting of his eyes above the entrance.

Jimi Hendrix had he talent he had without being arrogant and extroverted. He was in it for the music and that was it. He created art and music in such a unique way. He was incredibly successful even when society was at it’s worst with racism and oppression. He inspired so many artist and taught people about freedom, individuality, and passion without ulterior motives. Jimi left a huge mark on music and the legacy he left on rock will always be significant and that is why I think he will forever be important in history. images (2)

 

 

Groupies

15-year-old Lori Maddix was locked in a closet by Robert Plant lead singer of Led Zeppelin because he treasured her so much that he didn’t want any other musician using her as a muse. At 15 I wasn’t even allowed to go to concerts by myself.

music in the 70s was creative risky and different from anything anyone had heard before. Of course, you needed Mick Jagger, Robert plant, and Jimi Hendrix, but who made them into rock stars causing mad hysteria? The fans.

I have listened to countless interviews, read articles, researched the music and analyzed the lyrics. I have heard from bystanders, the groupies themselves, and their love interests… the rock stars. I want to share the information of groupie’s stories and teach the overlooked history of rock n roll.

So, let’s set the scene for this time period of sex drugs and rock n roll.

It was a time of oppression, activism, and change. Women, African Americans, native Americans, gays lesbians, disabled fighting for equality. Antiwar movements, Watergate scandal.

This was a very different time. No car seats, rubbed whiskey on sore gums, and didn’t make kids wear helmets. It would probably make every modern-day parenting book author vomit. Kids were allowed a lot more freedom with no cell phones and curfew of “come home when its dark”. This freedom prepared them pretty well for being agents of change. The start of change? Music. Parents burning records because people on the television told them to, but kids hearing their idols to question authority. It was a constant battle between conservative tradition and progressive movements for change.

On the interview “life of a groupie” they asked Lori how her parents would have reacted to her stories. Her were so wide and her hands were all frantic “They would have died.” And here is why…

Groupies were just as known as the stars in the 70s. They had stories that if you pictured happening to you gives you chills. Tana was a heroine in her own show. He was on the beach after shooting she saw some guy walking towards her and said, “You shouldn’t be walking alone on the beach.” and she replied “I’m not alone anymore.” That was Elvis. She was 17 he was early 20s. One night they were sitting in Grant Park and he proposed. She said she’d think about it and took the ring he gave her. She explained she couldn’t accept because it would be hard on his career. She said with all the people that were around him he was the loneliest man shed ever met, but her loss was rock n roll’s gain.

Cassandra on the other hand was less settled down and usually unnoticed until one night she made her aunt take her to the hotel they found out Led Zeppelin was staying in. Her and a friend went to every floor and every door listening to see which one they’d hear music in. They found one and knocked Jimmy Page opened the door looking moody. She was on the music scene ever since.

Pamela des barres sitting between Robert and jimmy page watching Elvis is a story she talks about as “indescribable. being a part of something so big and knowing how huge it is”

Michelle Oterman was with Steven Tyler and Robert plant – Steven Tyler went to the same high school with Michelle. He was 18 and she was 16. She left him saying she was too young, too many people, too many drugs. Michelle was friends with Pamela Des Barres another groupie having had met through the band. Michelle was starting a relationship with a very married Robert Plant and Pamela was with jimmy at the time. Michelle met Robert the day after she turned 18 and that night began a long-time affair, but they never ended up together.

Catherine James had a child and Mick Jagger fell in love with them both. She met Mick Jagger at a party and they were instantly attracted. She said the music they were playing in the living room filled the old house making it full. She became his girlfriend and moved in with him, which is a line groupies usually didn’t cross. He went on tour and called less frequently. She saw he was with a new girl. Catherine called his house and Bianca answered. She hung up without saying a word. She said she wanted to leave it as an amazing memory, no hard feelings. He kissed her goodbye and she left.

These love stories, wild parties, and even creation of families all began with rock n roll. These groupies were reasons songs and art were created. The idea of freedom and living for music was their reality. Imagine living out any of this with your heart throb today. It is kind of crazy to think about. These women weren’t side chicks they were muses. For that reason and the incredible legacies of rock n roll they left behind I believe they will always have an important place in history.

 

Bonnaroo Tips

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Music festivals are amazing experiences to get if you can manage to get there! Thinking back on my Bonnaroo trip I thought I would make a list of tips to follow to make Roo as easy going as possible.

  1. Body glitter is cute but SO annoying

Music Festival? That does not mean to shower in glitter ( eco-friendly of course because glitter is bad for the environment!). I painted my chest and face with the body glue and poured it on the first day, and by the end I was trying to scrub and peel it off. In 98 degree weather in Tennessee with nowhere to escape inside, glitter can irritate your skin with the sweat and make you feel even more gross than you already did from not showering every night after a long sweaty day.

  1. Speaking of showers

Showers are 10 dollars and the lines are long, and I mean long. Bring body wash, shampoo, and baby wipes. You can pour water over your hair and wash it in the campsite. Body wash is great for the mushroom fountain. The mushroom fountain is like a water park and it is a God send after a day at Roo. Use it to wash off, no one will think anything of it because everyone else is doing the same thing. For the every five-minute sweating clean up with those baby wipes!

  1. Hair tips

Braids are amazing. I never once braided my hair, but I was jealous every time I saw girls with their super cute French braids without hair sticking to their chest and face. Also, let’s be real your hair will be greasy after an hour of sweating and braids will still be poppin’ after that. I did space buns all week and that also worked really well.

  1. Smell…

Please, for you and everyone else, use deodorant religiously. It won’t make you smell like a straight flower all day like the ad says but it truly is better than nothing. The smelly guy your stuck next to in the packed crowd where everyone is shoulder to shoulder… don’t be that guy.

  1. Wristbands

Your ticket into Roo is a wristband that also scans. Before you leave for Bonnaroo set up your wristband to connect with your debit card! It is so much easier than carrying around large amounts of money in your state farm fanny pack.

  1. STATE FARM

The state farm set up is a life saver. They have a whole wall of chargers for multiple kinds of phones, air conditioning, a tv of the current show preforming, bandannas for adoptable dogs, and fanny packs! I carried everything in my fanny pack and have a new deep appreciation for state farm.

  1. The Jesus Tent

The Jesus Tent gives out free coffee and donuts every morning. They do center the whole thing around Christianity obviously, but they don’t shove the bible down your throat. I went there grabbed some food and a goody bag with toiletries and got nothing but smiles.

  1. Chargers?

Bring a solar charger. If you can invest in anything invest in this. You won’t want to idle your car not only because it’s a lot of pollution, but it wastes gas and isn’t good for your car anyways.

  1. Baby wipes, baby wipes, baby wipes

Just bring them, a lot of them. Clean spills, your hands, body. The more sanitary we can make Roo the better.

  1. Who stage, This stage, That stage- Yes, those are really the names of the different stages

So there are stages and tents where the shows are held. You go into Centeroo and there is the Who, What, When, and Where stage. There is also the This, That, and The Other tents. Use the maps they give you! The tents are set up in a triangle on the farm. The map will become your best friend.

  1. Crowds

This whole festival is about being kind. I was holding onto my friend’s backpack as we traveled through the crowd at Flume. No elbows, no dirty looks, nothing. The crowds at Roo are much different from local shows. One girl even tried to give us half of her joint and push us further up! People are kind so give that in return, yet again don’t be that guy, try to make everyone’s experience their best and good karma will come!

  1. WATER

Drink water! That sounds obvious but when you are caught up in all that Bonnaroo has to offer its hard to remember, but with the heat and being outside all day you want to stay hydrated to you get to do everything you wanted to do while your there! You only get to be there a couple days out of the whole year. Don’t be down for the count by the second day, drink water!

  1. Shoes

Your converse will rub, flip flops will break. Wear comfortable supportive shoes. I’m not saying break out your white orthopedic shoes your grandmother wears at a fashion forward festival, but you won’t focus on the music or opportunities if your feet are bleeding. Chacos are a 10/10 I wore them everyday and they were amazing.

  1. Car check

Yes, there is a veryyy thorough car check before you go into Roo. Body/ waistband anything you don’t want found. Not saying I brought anything not wanted… just saying a girls gotta do what shes gotta do. They make rules for your safety keep that in mind while you are packing.

  1. Phone?

Your phone will get service every so often, but not much. I took a polaroid to reassure getting pictures. Coming from someone who will always have my phone on me, it genuinely was a nice break to not be accessible 24/7 by anyone. Live in Bonnaroo, leave your worries at home.

  1. Radiate positivity

This is the motto to Bonnaroo! High five people going into Centeroo and on high five Friday, smile at people, talk to everyone, be kind. You will meet some really cool people.

The Journey Begins

This is blog is about my experiences being Shiann Miller. Clouds rolling out of musicians dressing rooms, changing majors, waking up sweaty in the back of a van in the middle of Tennessee, and anything else I have researched. Things along the lines of skin care, how does antibiotics really affect birth control, and is it true Jimi Hendrix wore a headband because he put acid under it during shows- spoiler he did. Anything that pops up in my life will be documented and this is the first step.

“Documenting one’s life in the midst of living it is a strange pursuit” Rosanne Cash