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Two Deaths, A Fire, A Social Media Plea, A News Report, and A Chaotic Desk Drawer

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My dad was a recording artist back in the 80s. He traveled around the country and sang at conferences, churches, radio stations, old folks homes, and the occasional dive bar.

One of his singles that got radio play was recorded and produced by Chuck Surack (founder of Sweetwater Sound) before the company got big. The recording studio used (as I’ve been told) was in a Fort Wayne, IN, area pole barn studio in the early days of Sweetwater Sound.

Once recorded, the record was pressed a single time (I think there were maybe 200-300 copies made) and sold/sent to radio stations/given to friends and family. It was under the label Geneva Records Co., named after my mom.

I remember a few of his songs from back when I was a kid. We moved a lot though and things got lost. Over time those records were lost to time and I’d not seen any in nearly two decades as of last year when my dad died.

The closest I got to finding a copy of it before my dad died was several years ago when I found a listing for a lot of records on eBay. I found the listing after it had sold. The original poster was kind enough to respond to my inquiry about the lot, but the purchaser didn’t respond so I have no idea what happened to that copy.

Shortly after my dad died, before the funeral, I got a phone call out of the blue from one of his fiends from back then. We shared stories about my dad and he expressed his regret that they lost touch over time.

The conversation moved towards the fact that my dad had done that record forever ago and that he had a copy of it. I had posted about it online and was hoping an old friend or record collector would make such an offer. The below image was posted by the friend on the phone with me tagged basically saying “Look what I found, Joel!”

I was in tears because it sounded like he was offering to send it to me as a parting gift in remembrance of my dad. I mentioned how important it was to me to hear those songs again and his exact words were: “Well, I don’t know if I’m ready to let go of it just yet because it holds a lot of memories for me.”

I was, honestly, in shock. Why would he he even bring it up if he was only going to dangle it in front of me and say no? I was able to convince him to promise me that he would at least record it and send me a digital copy of it. He reluctantly promised to do so, but said he wouldn’t be able to get around to it before my dad’s funeral (that had been announced as happening nearly a month later.)

The funeral came and went. I had not hear back from the friend and was beginning to wonder if he’d get around to sending the copy at all. A few more weeks passed and I got a phone call from my mom. “Did you hear So & So died?” It was the friend. He had gotten covid and passed away earlier that week.

I didn’t want to be rude so I waited a couple more weeks before contacting his daughters about the record. They said they’d check with his widow and get back to me. More time went by and they contact me again to say she had donated all his things to a local Goodwill in CO days earlier.

That’s when I posted a call to some of my friends in the area in a plea to have them visit it in search of the record. The Goodwill she noted it to said they would check about it and call me back, but never did.

I have the best friends in the CO area thanks to my involvement with Five Iron Frenzy’s Kickstarter campaigns. They offered to check that Goodwill the morning when it opened. The place caught on fire that night:

I was obviously devastated. So close, yet so far from getting a copy of the record. It was a distribution center for other local Goodwills so a few of them spent hours visiting local Colorado Springs and Denver, CO area locations in search of it the following weeks. No luck. The record must have been lost in the fire.

You can see a local news report from the location of the fire the next morning here.

Months later my mom was cleaning out her things. She was moving so she wanted to downsize. Lo and behold she found the the copy of the record she swore up and down she no longer had filed away in a pile of papers in the desk she hadn’t used in forever.

I’ve never owned a record player so after some searching I found out my local library has one that you can schedule for use. It also has a recording setup that allows members to take vinyl records and convert them into audio files. So, that’s what I did!

These are unrepaired and unedited copies I got of the record from that recording session. I do hope to re-release them once I can get an audio engineer to clean them up a bit for me.

If you are so inclined I’ve embedded my dad’s Trevor Project Fundraiser below so you can give. It was his last request that the remembrance of his life have a positive impact on those who are unable to safely be themselves in our current society.

I miss you, Dad.

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