My college town had just three total bars; the one I most cared for was called the Back Bacon. For one, they served draft beer out of glass Byrne Dairy milk jugs. Also, they had a jukebox. For the underfunded, there was a trick to getting the most out of your song choices: Locate the Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East. “Mountain Jam” lasted for 34 minutes, and it counted as a single play.
It’s a long song.
The Allman Brothers based it off an innocuous little hippie ditty called “There is a Mountain” by Donovan, (which my friend Paula referred to as the happy song.) Duane Allman turned it into something more edgy, intense and rife with electric blues licks.
Who has time for long songs these days? I do, in the right moment. Almost always while driving. That’s about the only time when there’s actual time to examine every note and remember certain ones or even associate certain others with a specific time, place and emotion in a personal history.
Recently, when I plug my iPod into the car jack–which sounds as antiquated as using eight tracks in the age of Spotify–“Mountain Jam” has inexplicably started popping up in shuffle mode. The first few times I skipped over it and then I didn’t and it reminded me why the reconstituted Allmans, with Warren Haynes in Duane Allman’s stead, were probably my favorite band to see live.
It’s easy to be dismissive of the jam band scene because at it’s worst there’s a layer of ritualism more complex than a cricket match, centered around baseless noodling. But people who dismiss the art of jamming at its best are missing the point.
In a live setting, it’s all about momentum. The Allman Brothers could build it as well as anyone and sometimes, in those long stretches on the Interstate, you need that to start moving downhill.
The Amish had the tops raised on their buggies as they trotted into town on the gravel shoulder along the road. I sped past them on the opposite side, wheels spitting dirty water off the rain-slicked asphalt. In front of me, a young man in britches and a straw hat ran across the road. He ducked into a small farmhouse and on the periphery I noticed a discretely placed satellite dish.
It reminded me of the time we bought chairs from a local furniture maker and, walking behind his barn, we passed a trash bin and spotted an empty bottle of blackberry schnapps. (As some astute person once opined: Whatever the conviction, everybody breathes the same way.)
The fields and front yards along the road were all flooded with water, and the river running alongside swollen over the banks, the last insult of the harsh winter. But passing by at 70 mph, it’s easy to neglect to appreciate how disconnected you are from everyone else’s resultant hardship. Because you are on your way to go fishing.
And you’re going to meet people and drink beer and eat all the food you are not supposed to–eggs and salt potatoes fried in bacon grease, brats and kielbasa and pepperoni, bricks of cheddar cheese and bags of garlic flavored curd, chocolate chip cookies from Wegmans and beer. Beer for lunch, for dinner and for the first second third fourth fifth sixth and seventh hands of Texas Hold Em.
I’m not sure why at every meal we always eat and drink the things that are bad for you. Even the vegetables are sprinkled with bacon and a layer of shredded cheddar. Maybe it’s just an act of defiance, a tiny mutiny against the notion, which is never mentioned but implicitly understood, that we are all born to die.
The water was cold and the fish were cold too. They had not yet crossed the fine line between preservation and predation. When their metabolism finally speeds up they will get hungrier and hungrier until they can’t resist anything that passes by, but in the moment they moved slowly, eating maybe out of spite, or just to keep going for another few weeks until the water temps rise and the reaffirmation of everything that is hardwired into their brains begins.
I traveled. I fished. I caught fish.
Hear the extended version at ORVIS NEW YORK this Thursday at 12:30 pm at 44th and 5th.
Meanwhile, here’s a 50-second GoPro synapsis from two years ago.
Rob and I have collaborated a few times and have plans in the works for a few more, so I enjoyed the read here on Stalking the Seam. Thanks, too, for the mention Rob.
Originally posted on Stalking The Seam:
As a father of four, passionate angler, and incredibly talented photographer, Rob Yaskovic is the kind of guy we admire. He gets big points for raising four children. But it’s Rob’s creative vision behind the lens that first captured our attention. Photography has been Rob’s passion since he was a teenager and he has honed his craft ever since. Based in New Jersey his resume is impressive, including shoots with celebrities and politicians, work in the New York Times, and images in pretty much any fishing rag you want to read. Rob was generous enough to answer a few questions and share his work with us. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do:
STS: It sounds like photography is your passion and your profession, can you give us some background on how that evolved. Where does fishing fit in? How did you make the leap from wedding and…
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The 10,000 Islands are fantastical without the help of literary flourish but their significance, for me, has been amplified tenfold by the words of Peter Matthiessen in Shadow Country, his great work that combined the trilogy of Killing Mr. Watson, Bone By Bone and Lost Man’s River.
Matthiessen would be a giant based on the Watson trilogy alone, but add in his collected works and life story, and you get something seriously heavy.
So I was thrilled that Chris E. passed along this profile from the New York Times: