By Jay Kerner
When I heard that my friend Rod Powell passed away, I couldn’t help thinking of when we met.
I was still in high school, driving a ‘58 Chevy pickup with a busted gas gauge. Ran out on 28th Street, a couple blocks from Mitchell. Didn’t know what was going on up ahead, but I could hear it!
I had my old POS acoustic in the truck without a case, and didn’t want to leave it. So I grabbed it by the neck and headed toward the noise to find a phone.
It was the TKE House at 28th and Mitchell, every light burning on all three floors, people all over the porch and maybe a half dozen on the roof.
Guy on the porch was playing guitar and singing Long Tail Cat by Loggins and Messina as I walked up the stairs. He was pretty good. It was Rod Powell.
He saw my guitar as I walked up and invited me to sit in on the next song. Then he started in on something beyond the three chords I knew and was gone. I couldn’t hang. But then again, not many could.
But it was cool on the porch. College kids. Hanging out. Drinking cheap beer and digging some tunes. Singing along. Maybe some harmony in there now and then.
It was a scene that repeated itself many times through the rest of high school and all during the years I pretended to go to college. Somebody on the TKE House porch with a guitar. Several more times with Rod. (I remember working on the intro to Stairway to Heaven with him on that stairway, when that was still a relatively new song.)
I saw the picture somebody posted of him with his Crossroads guys and The Doobie Brothers. Always loved that! As somebody who plays just a little, that’s just about as cool an experience as I can imagine.
But you know? I’ve got some pretty awesome musical memories myself.
I haven’t shared the stage with any giant rock stars, but I’ve played guitar on the front porch of the TKE House with Rod Powell.
And The Ghost, Brent Hendrix . And my pledge-son Doug Hoskins. And the late Phil Lindensmith. And “the Glide”, Tom Glidewell. And my buddy Steve Snider. And no doubt, some more that don’t leap to mind. It was a pretty regular thing.
So, I’d like to thank all my brothers that let me play along, those still here and the dearly departed.
I still play a bit myself, these days. Know 6 or 7 chords now, and can play 5 of them pretty consistently. (OK, 4).
I’ll play out, now and again. A last minute fill in for one of the watering holes we frequent, (always assuming they pursued every other possible option first). I’m always a little nervous, but I just tell myself…”It’s just the Front Porch of the TKE House”. And everything is cooool!