Tuesday, April 22, 2008 • Last Acoustic Café’s performers no strangers to music

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, April 22, 2008 edition of the Lassen County Times.

Friday, April 25 will be the last Acoustic Café of the year, giving way to Summer Nights on the green in May.

Janesville resident and Susanville Indian Rancheria Environmental Manager Tim Keesey will be performing first, followed by musician Stu Speer.

Both men briefly wrote about how they got into playing music, as well as how they were influenced.

Tim Keesey.

Tim Keesey
Keesey said in a brief bio about himself that “if it were not for music, he would not be on the planet. His parents met in their college choir.  His mom sings in a vocal quintet called Qualche Voce, which specializes in 16th century Italian madrigals.”

According to his bio, Keesey is a flatlander from Southern California “who came to the area with his beautiful wife Crystal in 1998 on a temporary work assignment.”

When the work was over, his company wanted to move them to Sacramento.

“Like Amy Winehouse, we said, ‘No, No, No’” said Keesey.  The couple bought property in Janesville, built a house, and now already need a larger house because of the arrival of their four children.

Even though Keesey played in the junior high and high school bands and orchestras, he still has not written a symphony or even a fugue. While attending UC Santa Cruz, he majored in Wildlife Conservation and decided to take up the guitar, teaching himself by studying Teach Yourself Bluegrass and Country Blues Fingerpicking songbooks instead of attending his labs.

After graduation, Keesey returned to L.A. and started a band with his brother Pat and their drummer friend John Labine. The L.A. Weekly described Loviband as “…hillbilly deathrock.”  The band specialized in rockabilly versions of standard Appalachian murder ballads such as “Pretty Polly,” “Little Sadie,” and “Long Black Veil.”

“I knew it was getting serious when Sheryl Crow showed up to one of our shows in a Pink Pleather Jumpsuit!”

About this time, Keesey was offered a job with the Sequoia National Park, studying the effects of prescribed fires on mammal populations and was forced to decide whether he wanted to become a rock star or a wildlife biologist. “I did what any young lad would do. I grabbed the opportunity to live in a tent in the middle of nowhere and trap rodents!”

Keesey’s bio also mentioned how he has recently been writing and recording his own songs and sending them to Nashville in hopes that George Jones or Willie Nelson will cover one of them and help him retire.

Stu Speer.

Stu Speer
Speer also wrote a brief biography describing how he got into music, as well as some of influences and experiences. An excerpt is provided:

“When I was 6 1/2 years old my dad put me on his knee and said, ‘Son, one day you will make a girl very happy for a short period of time. Then she’ll leave you and be with men who are 10 times better than you could ever hope to be. These men are called musicians.’

“I began playing guitar at age 7… My education consisted of four years of classical training followed by several more years of rock rhythm and lead guitar. My instructor had me transcribing Jimi Hendrix guitar solos by ear and writing them down as music. This has helped me immensely throughout my career as a performing musician.

“At age 13 I landed my first job as lead guitarist for a regular working band in Spokane Washington. I have worked in bands ever since in Arizona, Seattle, Idaho and currently here in Susanville.

In 1996 I released an album of original songs that I had written throughout my career. The album was well-received in the Northwest and three of the tracks were played on several radio stations.

“I developed my one-man show in 1990 while in between bands. I learned how to program background music using a sequencer. Sequencing is a technique of programming an entire song note by note for each instrument desired (drums, bass, keyboards etc…) It is a tedious process taking up to 4-8 hours worth of work for one song, but allows one man to sound like a full band.

“Currently, I am performing regularly at Diamond Mountain Casino and have a rock and roll band called Why Not. I will be performing songs from some of my influences such as Joe Satriani, Dire Straits, Alman Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, as well as some of my original songs.”