Yes, friends and neighbors, ’tis true. After a lengthy hiatus, The Chet Helms Chronicles, is being ressurected, thanks in large part to my new friend, the preternaturally busy and talented Toni Brown. I am going to attempt to stick to a rigid schedule of posting a new piece every weekend. Yep, that’s what I’m going to attempt to do, alright.
So let’s begin, shall we?
Last March a friend whose name I won’t mention (OK, OK, it was Melissa Casey) invited me to sign up with Facespace, a social networking site and I did sign up. But I didn’t post a photo or create a profile and I promptly forgot about it. A few months later, Melissa asked me why I wasn’t active on the site and I told her I wasn’t a member. She insisted I was a member and, of course, she was, as always, right. Still, I did nothing.
Months later, I got an email from another friend whose name I can’t reveal (OK, OK, it was Malinda Anderson), adding me as a cyber friend and requesting me to add a photo and a profile. Yeah, yeah, I said but still did nothing, which is sort of what I tend to do best.
Then last Saturday, exactly one week ago, one of my Chet bio sources who had been a resident of the legendary Family Dog House on Pine Street back in the day, added me as a Spaceface friend. So I got to work. I constructed a profile, uploaded one of the few photos I have of myself, as well as a couple of pictures of my grandkids. I spent a bit of time navigating around the site and dispatched a half-dozen or so friend requests. Within a few days, I had been added as a friend by a number of friends of friends. Ah, so that’s what they mean by ‘social networking.’
Then, early on Wednesday morning I checked my email, as I am wont to do, and discovered that someone named Toni Brown had added me as a Spaceface friend. Problem was, I didn’t know a Toni Brown and never had. So I did what any right-thinking, prudent person does these days: I ‘googled’ her.
And that’s when my heart skipped a proverbial beat. Or, perhaps, several proverbial beats.
Here’s why: Besides fronting the touring Toni Brown Band, recording three CDs, having been the VP of Relix records, and having done publicity for numerous bands and musicians, including Hot Tuna, The New Riders, Commander Cody, and forner Quicksilver member John Cipollina who was with Zero. (Relix Records released Zero’s debut album.) Additionally, Ms Brown had, for 20 years, been the publisher of Relix magazine.
That’s all very impressive, you’e probably thinking, but what’s the big, heart beat- skipping deal?
For the answer to that, let’s flashback to early 2006. During my on-line Chet research, I somehow stumbled across a copy of the June 1979 issue of Relix, which included Part I of a lengthy two-part interview with Chet. Part II was published in the August 1979 issue. Since one of my goals with the Chet bio is to include as many of his own words as possible, I bought the June issue on eBay and began searching for the August issue, alas, to no avail. I put a lot of effort and hours into the search and was becoming increasingly frustrated by my complete lack of success. Finally, I found a copy for sale on a Swedish web site that specialized in old music magazines, most of them European. I fired off an email to the site, and then another, and then another, and then another. When I received no reponse to any of them, I concluded that the site was, uh, dormant. Nonetheless, I periodically looked for the August ’79 issue during the next three years and I always came up with exactly nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip.
So let’s flash forward to last Wednesday. I trepediciously sent an email to Toni Brown, introducing myself and asking her if she perhaps had a copy of what I began seeking three years ago.
Turns out she had just finished compiling Relix: The Book, which is scheduled for publication later this year. Two days after we connected, she scanned the interview and sent it to me. All I can say is that it’s fortunate that I’m not an instant gratification junkie. And that the wonderful Toni Brown has taken her rightful place amongst the list of folks to whom I shall be eternally grateful for their kindness and gracious cooperation in helping me tell the story of Chester Leo Helms, Jr.
Toni is currently gearing up to begin recording a new CD
I suggest you do yourself a favor and check out The Toni Brown Band web site: www.tonibrownband.com
And you can check out Toni on MySpace: www.myspace.com/tonibrownsong