Friday, August 15, 2014

Forest Arturo Dunn, a great Musician

Forest Arturo Dunn of Amarillo, Texas, Glendale, Arizona, and Tucson, Arizona was my boy. Forest was the musician I always wanted to be. (He died in 2008.)  He learned instruments quickly. He performed in large venues such as Club Congress in Tucson. He was in bands. He could record albums in which he played all the instruments. He was sociable and could fit in with any group of people whether or not he was totally comfortable.
For two years I could not control my pain and anger very well. I learned that keening is something that naturally occurs when one cries long and hard enough and that sometimes the only thing that can make a person stop crying is the pain in one’s face.
After those two years of misery it took another couple of years before I could even look at his pictures without breaking up. Only this year did I begin to remember moments spent with him without misery. Now I can have a pleasant memory, but they all end with a tug at my heart. That’s okay.
This is the start of perhaps a number of blogs in which I wish to keep his music alive. So my main goal is to celebrate his talent and the fine music he left behind.
Here is a picture of him in his last year of life.

Do you see pain in his eyes? I do. You know it reminds me of the look in Robin William’s eyes in so many pictures. Here are some pictures of Forest taken a few months before he died. We were at my parent’s house for Thanksgiving and he asked his sister Sarah Rene Sharon Dunn to take some shots. It is my belief that, as he posed, he knew he was making memories for us because he knew he was going to die. 

I am going to take his widow’s advice and “just do it,” that is put his music out as I have been doing with my own. Right now what I have that is internet-ready is music he made with me, some of which is available on my albums “Texas Dance Songs” and “Texas Socialist Infiltration Dance Songs.”  Please give a listen to Bar Talk. 

We recorded Bar Talk on an early model Roland digital recorder. I took it with me to the Woodshed Studios in San Marcos, Texas and had Big John Mills add a rocking telecaster lead. You can hear Forest on bass and Hammond organ. The drummer was his great friend Rick Moe. This story is incredible to me – Forest played the song on guitar to Rick to give him the idea. Then he somehow communicated silently with Rick as Rick played that drum part FIRST with no other music playing! Yes, Rick Moe laid down the drum track with nothing to listen to! What kind of talent is that! After laying down bass and organ Forest had me play acoustic guitar and sing my song.
Once when I was at my job Forest laid down bass, percussion, piano, and back up vocals on a song he hadn’t even heard since he was a little boy! I came home and played and sang my part to a perfect arrangement. I won’t be sharing that song and a lot of others because the recording quality was not up to snuff. Why? Well, this digital recorder used a zip drive and, at the highest quality level only held a few minutes of music if you overdubbed. And, man, Forest overdubbed the hell out of songs! And all the hype about digital quality turned out to be bullshit – as tracks were bounced around sound quality went down with each bounce. We had to bounce because the machine only had eight tracks and Forest used many tracks for background vocals, so those songs are for family.
Here is a song I wrote in Nashville when I was a teenager. The album cover was Forest’s creation. Forest is on organ, bass, and piano. Big John Mills added the tele part in San Marcos. This song is also on “Texas Socialist Dance Songs” so obviously the album is not all politics. I just couldn’t resist the title when it occurred to me. (Burl is my middle name. "Larry" is too common a name so I dropped it.)

Well, there is an intro to my son. Remember him, please.  Forest Arturo Dunn.

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