We were just kids, repeating numbingly simple musical phrases, over and over again. We try it one more time, in spite of the persistent pleas of family and friends to please take a break. Eventually we start playing together in our parents’ garage or basement, playing cheap guitars through even cheaper amps over the cacophony of the fledgling drummer, over and over again. Then even finding the nerve to sing: high young embarrassed voices struggling to stay in time and in tune while strumming, scarcely discernible above the din.

We play Paul Revere and the Raiders Just Like Me; Otis Redding’s Sitting by the Dock of the Bay; Keith’s 98.6; the Venture’s Pipeline and Wipeout. Then we split into two different camps: the blues and blues rock of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, BB King, Buddy Guy, Paul Butterfield, Cream, Led Zeppelin and Johnny Winter versus pop and singer/songwriters like the Drifters, Chubby Checker, the Beatles, James Taylor and Leonard Cohen.

Not surprisingly we gravitate towards Bob Dylan. Immersed in the otherworldly, crazy, wordy lyrics with tunes and chords we can sing, play and adapt to play in our own folky or rocking way: All Along the Watchtower, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Like a Rolling Stone and on and on.

It’s an easy, natural journey from Dylan to the Band, John Prine, Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, Steve Forbert, Steve Earle, Bruce Springsteen and Murray McLauchlan, with side trips to the likes of Van Morrison, Blue Rodeo, Paul Simon, Gerry Rafferty and Willie Nelson.

We listen to all of these artists and play their songs whenever we get together, then begin writing and co-writing our own stuff. Years later a friend calls us seasoned amateurs, not chasing a music career, still playing and singing for the camaraderie and pure fun of it, and to see if we can't get just a little bit better.