To keep my mind off of what lies ahead I decided to take a look back, taking stock of where I've been, where I am and where I'm going. I sifted through boxes of photos and a lot of amazing memories, some truly incredible people helped me become who I am today. All I can say is, life is sweet. Love, Cathryn
I was born on May 26th in a hospital in Riverside, Ca. My parents had been married for 9 years. I had an older brother who teased me constantly and an older sister who I idolized. We lived in Norco at the time, in a cute house with a mini farm on a dead end street. All of the neighbors were friends and had kids and at least once a week they'd block off their street and have potluck parties. I was too young to remember the parties but I do recall the overall vibe at the beginning of my life.... safe, fun and full of love.
We moved to a fixer upper house in Mira Loma, CA when I started school. I went to Eastvale Elementary and my favorite things were animals, softball and my BFFs Jennifer, Jody and Sheila. When we weren't riding our horses or crank calling each other we would have slumber parties and lip-sync Pat Benetar until the wee hours.
My family, while not musical, always had music playing. Janis Joplin, Freddy Fender, Eddy Arnold, ABBA and The Eagles were the ones I remember hearing the most. I began taking guitar lessons around 9. I liked the way the guitar smelled and my guitar teacher was Andy Gibb cute. I still remember him singing "dust in the wind" and telling me someday I could sing and play it, too. Unfortunately, I never stuck with it and through the years my interest in guitar came and went.
Since my brother and sister were so much older than me, I got to be "an only child" once they moved out. My parents became my best friends and we traveled a lot, visiting my cousins in Lancaster, CA or my sister in other faraway places. We were also pretty serious horseshoe players and used to travel to tournaments around Southern California.
In 1981 we moved to Lancaster, CA, my folks finally realizing their longtime dream of building a home on 10 acres far from the city. It was a bit of a culture shock and not an easy transition since I was just about to enter high school, but my cousins were there to help and the first day of school I met Gina. We had horses, were both awkward but ready to blossom and we had the same stupid sense of humor. She became my BFF immediately and together we negotiated being 13.
Over the next four years we tried to find our place among the punk rockers, jocks and stoners. It was sometime during that confusion that I signed up for chorus and accidentally reignited my love for music. My choir mate Jennifer and I would sing Wind Beneath My Wings in perfect harmony, marveling at the acoustics in the school bathrooms. It was about this time that Doug, our neighbor in Kings Canyon, invited me to jam with their band. I sang Bobby McGee and I was hooked. I played with "The Bushwackers" as often as I could.
After high school I worked as a full time secretary for realtors and escrow officers. Thanks to a tip from Mario, I joined a class/band at the local community college called "Test Flight". We played at malls and local prisons and got a lifetime of experience in a few short years. I was asked to join an offshoot project with a few of the students and musicians. We were called "The Prairie Dudes" and did classic rock and country cover songs, playing all the local bars in Lancaster and Palmdale.
The Prairie Dudes had a nice run in Lancaster over the next few years. At the same time I was rocking out with the band I was excelling at my day job. Around 1991 I moved to Fullerton to take a high paying job in the big city. The job turned out to be a huge bummer and I hated being that far away from my band. In early 1992 it was proposed that the band move to Jackson Hole, Wy to take advantage of higher paying shows at the resorts. Our connection was our guitar player's brother, Kimber, who played bass and was building a big house on the Snake River. I quit my job, sold my car and packed for my new life.
A week before I was set to fly to Wyoming, we found out that our guitar player had been hired by a band in Florida and was leaving immediately. I ended up continuing on to Wyoming and helped find a substitute guitar player so we could play the shows we had booked. Afterwards, it was planned, I would join the guitar player and the new band in Florida. It was all pretty overwhelming for a 24 year old who had never left home.
Wyoming turned out to be a great growing experience. I met a lot of nice people, had some exciting adventures and learned a lot. Still, I was anxious to find out about the new band in Florida. When I got the call to join them a few months later, I was told I would need to have my own transportation if I were going to be traveling with them. I flew back home to mom and dad's and started to devise a plan.
After some finagling with a local bank and my perfect credit, I purchased a 1977 Dodge Motor home and despite my family's concerns, I left for Jacksonville, Florida. It was May of 1992. Because this was before cell phones and GPS I had to rely on maps, common sense, pay phones and good luck.
I arrived just in time to find the band was leaving for a few weeks on a small tour. Since I didn't have enough money for gas to follow them, I would have to stay parked in their driveway in a creepy neighborhood in Paxon, Florida. I freaked out and there was a scene... then the band left. I was alone in a strange place with little money, less gas and no plan.
I walked to the payphone to make the dreaded call to my parents. They were full of encouragement and fear and offered to fly me home but I had the motor home I was making payments on so that wasn't an option. They advised me to call my sister who had friends in the area. She gave me the name and number of a black jack dealer she knew from Vegas who lived nearby. He gave me the address of the LA Cruise Gambling Boat docked in Jacksonville Beach and told me to meet him there the next day and he and his wife would help me figure something out. On the way back to my motor home I came across a few kids and a box of puppies, all on the verge of parvo. I took the sickest looking one and named him Paxon. We headed back to the motor home and tried to lay low until the following day. It was the eve of my 25th birthday.
It was about a 25 minute drive to the beach and I had just enough gas to get there the next day. I found a safe place to park and hung out until it was time to board. I tucked Paxon in for the night and boarded the boat. My contacts had hoped I had some dealing experience or could at least cocktail so they could help me get work. Instead, they gave me some drink tokens and told me to go upstairs and enjoy the music and my birthday.
There was a small band playing and on their break singer Tori came over to say hello. Although I didn't want anyone to know how vulnerable I was, I told her my story and she told me not to worry, she would help. They let me sit in and sing a few then once the boat docked I followed her to The Sun Dog Diner for her usual after hours jam. The place was full of amazing musicians who all met after gigs for late night fun. Everyone was friendly and told me I was in good hands with Tori helping me. I called my parents from the payphone and told them not to worry, I was going to be alright.
It was late when I followed her back to her home in Ponte Vedra so I didn't notice that her front yard was the ocean and her back yard was the bay and her home was a mansion. I parked, plugged in and introduced Paxon to her dogs. She helped me find paying gigs that same week and introduced me to some pretty amazing people. One such hero was her boyfriend Ron, who let me park my motor home in the driveway of his apartment after Ponte Vedra residents starting complaining about my eyesore of a home. Paxon could stay but I had to go.
Ron's racquet ball champion roommate was out of town at the time but he told me she'd be fine with me staying there. I was a bit apprehensive but when Kersten arrived home a week later we hit it off and she took me to Pete's pool hall in Atlantic Beach and taught me the fine art of bar pool. She also rallied me emotionally, helped me with my resume and less than a month after my frightening abandonment in Florida, I had a full time job in Title, was singing in a band and making good money. I was also getting pretty good at pool.
I rented a small apartment a block from the beach. The motor home stayed in the driveway and my bike was my main transportation to work which was only a few miles down the beach. I began jamming with Tommy and his band Night Moves, as well as experiencing the recording process for the first time. Life was pretty great in Florida but in 1994 when The Prairie Dudes came calling again and asked me to come to Wyoming to play, I agreed. I quit my great job, said goodbye to the bands, packed up the motor home and headed west.
That winter I lived in the motor home in a trailer park near the river in Jackson Hole for a few weeks until I got a job and found an apartment I could afford. It was 2 stories underground and pretty depressing, but warm. I worked full time during the week and played the bars on the weekends. The band was good and the shows were fun. We were starting to make a name for ourselves when Kimber didn't show up to a gig one night. They said he swerved to miss an elk on the windy, icy road and his truck rolled. He left behind his nearly complete dream home, his wife and two beautiful children. His loss left me wondering about life and what was important and where mine was going.
The band reformed and was playing a weekend gig at a hunting lodge in Afton a few weeks later when it occurred to me that I needed to head back home. That afternoon I had met Jack the stray cat who was hanging around outside on a wood pile. After the gig was over that night I packed him in the motor home and we headed back to mom and dad's. It was winter, 1994.
I was glad to be back with my family but longed for Florida. After months of struggling to find my way I decided to go back to the life I had started in Jacksonville Beach. Jack and I flew there with little to nothing, my band mate Ken offered his garage until I got back on my feet. About a week later the band had a show in Gainesville, Fl and I met Bruno, a bass player from Cleveland. He was visiting some family in Florida and wanted to start a band while he was there.
We ended up getting a small apartment and I began writing original music for the first time. I got another full time job and was starting to get back on my feet when a motorcycle accident made it necessary for Bruno to head back to Cleveland. After a promise about starting an all original rock band with his cousins, I followed along.
1995 was Cleveland's worst winter in years, despite that I really loved the place. Even more than the city, I loved the people. Rina, Chris, Jen, Lisa, Lulu, Heather... I met amazing women who became an important part of the story of my life. I landed a great job in real estate, started an original band called JunkQueen, and recorded my first CD. Over the next few years I realized my dream of visiting Europe and discovered my love of planning musical events. On paper my Cleveland life seemed great but there was something missing... my family.
In an effort to keep my mind off of California, I explored another dream of mine... opening a thrift store. JunkQueen was not just the name of my band but a habit I had of collecting clothing from yard sales, thrift stores and the like. I had an extensive collection so when I found a small and inexpensive storefront in Lakewood, OH, I decided to reduce my real estate hours to part time and give it a try. I rented it month to month and called the store Uncommon Thredz. I also sold local music and the place became the hang out for a few local musicians. I met Heather there and we started writing songs. Really GOOD songs. Sadly the store only stayed open a short time; music and California were calling.
In August of 1999, after inspiration by The Troubadours of Divine Bliss, Heather and I took our act on the road. We both needed a break from our current situations plus we had wanderlust and the need to be "discovered" musically. We loaded up her car and said we'd be back in a few months. We met the Troubadours in Boulder, CO and they taught us to busk on Pearl Street. We met Astra Kelly the next day. She was from Chicago, traveling around busking solo. We were inspired by everyone we met.
Her little car tour took us all over the US, our favorite spots being San Diego and Flagstaff, Az. We played on the streets, mostly, making enough money for food and a place to stay in youth hostels or camp grounds. It was the most free and magical feeling, ever. It was like at any moment we could be plucked from obscurity and would be singing in front of the world.
Upon our return to Cleveland on Halloween '99 it was immediately apparent that I needed to go back home to California. Heather was coming too, but needed a few months to get her affairs in order. A few days later I borrowed money to purchase a van and packed my belongings, cats and my friend LuLu rode shotgun to keep me company.
I arrived in California on Thanksgiving day. My traveling nurse friend, Rina, was heading to a new assignment and leaving her apartment in Pacific Beach that had a month credit so San Diego became the destination. I moved in and a few weeks later I was working full time in Escrow. When Heather returned we played the acoustic circuit for a few months then formed a band called JOANS with Nancy, Vinnie and Blackie. We had a good run but then melancholy claimed Heather and she headed back to her family in Cleveland.
I was searching around MP3.com for a new musical partner when I came across Matt who lived in PB and sounded really good. I contacted him and asked if he'd be down for jamming. After meeting we became fast friends and started writing songs. Around this time I was starting to play with another band and I asked a few of the members, Drew and Clint, if they'd like to join Matt and I. We stumbled upon Dave and our band, 8ball RACK was born. We won a few battle of the bands and recorded an album and then, as all great bands do, we broke up.
Matt and I continued to write together, and thanks to Drew I started hosting an open mic at The Coaster Saloon to supplement my income. It was about this time I was starting to become comfortable with computers so I built a website with a calendar so people could sign up for their showcase spot ahead of time. I was up to 4 venues a week at one point, working a full time day job from my home office. After a few years and a 500 dollar donation from Hotrod Harris, I started ListenLocalsd.com and began hosting shows in San Diego as a full time job.
Over the next few years I worked with various venues around town. Some were positive experiences, some not so... but I always enjoyed meeting and hearing new bands. During this time I also played with The Gandhi Method, The Downtown Money Wasters, was a "reality show" star in an episode of "Second Chance" on TLC and I helped start the all girl band Not Your Mom. I had a great group of friends and was loving my life, however, it wasn't until Christopher Dale invited Marcia and I to a party that I found what I had been looking for all along. True love.
His name was Jon Edwards but everyone called him Jonny. He was everything I had ever dreamed of, literally. We hit it off, fell in love and never looked back. During that time The Cathryn Beeks Ordeal recorded our first CD at Berkley Sound. We got some good reviews and a SDMA nomination. Life was sweet. Over the next few years I worked to keep Listen Local afloat and keep my band going. At the end of 2007 Jonny proposed and we began planning our dream wedding.
The wedding was totally DIY. We rented a 5 bedroom house in Julian and had a garden party with some of our favorite people present. We considered ourselves lucky to have found each other and soon after we clung to each other as we dealt with the loss of two close friends and our beloved cat, Jack. Around this time the pain I had been having in my left leg and foot started getting really bad.
On new year's eve of 2009 I found out my association with one of my favorite venues ended in an unfortunate way. Not only did I lose a cool place to host shows but I became estranged from some of my closest friends over it. A few months later Jonny and I lost some time, money and energy on a coffee shop venture that didn't pan out. It wasn't until May that things started looking up. That's when Astra and KPRi asked me to take over The Homegrown Hour. Later that year I released MOOD SWING with the help of donations from friends. It was nominated for best local recording by the SDMAs.
Towards the end of 2010 The Cathryn Beeks Ordeal went on hiatus and I helped form a new all-girl band called The Groove Kitties. We had a banner and a website before we had all even met; our first gig was playing for 50,000 people running the Race for the Cure. Around this time Jonny and I got health Insurance and I began my exploration into the cause of my pain. That journey is journaled here.
And that, friends, brings us up to date. It's 3 years into my fourth decade, I realize that the past 6 years of my life I have been living in a pain induced fog... not totally able to enjoy my blessings to the fullest. I am afraid of this journey I'm about to embark on, but I look forward to being able to feel "in the moment" again. Ahead lies a major surgery, recovery and rehabilitation process that I pray will be quick and not too painful. I wouldn't have the strength to do any of this without the support of my friends and especially my family. Jonny, my rock...my best friend. I always feel so sad and guilty that we didn't find each other until I was "breaking". He's been dealing with my pain too, as much as I have all these years. I can't wait to be able to love him with 100% of me. I can't wait for our new life together and the next forty years.
More to come....