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the Hot 17 feature on Happy Chichester


Some local musicians become so familiar that we almost forget what an extraordinary talent they are for a minute; that they are forever evolving during our own distracted pursuit to get everything done.

Happy Chichester played in the punk/funk group the R.C. Mob for ten years, was a founding member of The Twilight Singers with Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs, fronted Howlin’ Maggie before going solo and thankfully shows no signs of stopping.

Happy played 155 shows last year, enjoying the pleasure and honor of touring with inspiring artists like RJD2, Foley, and Brad.  He has 16 songs that he would like to finish for his new record this year but the rush to do a new CD is not necessarily his thing.  For one; people don’t buy them anymore.  In a recent long and lucid conversation with Happy, I noted the following (you might call them Happy affirmations):

One does not become a musician without writing songs.

The wealthiest man is the one who can pack up his stuff within fifteen minutes and get the hell out.

Work is a blessing.

A life rife with self-destruction is performance art.

When approached with high reverence the use of Robitussin can significantly change the course of your life in handfuls of beneficial experiences.  If you establish some variables and create a secure environment, the synthetic codeine can bring you closer to primal reassuring divinity.  Warning: drink the cough syrup first and then the ONE beer. You can’t ever drink the beer first. You’ll puke.

Learning to play drums in school can also change your life.

If you learn a D chord at age twelve, the next step is obvious and you are off to the races.  Form, structure and complexity are soon rightfully abandoned for emotional expression.

Attempting to become a songwriter while living with your folks can be like trying to swim through molasses.  At every turn is a potential stop sign.  You can end up playing a lot of guitar in your closet or turn into a trumpet player with a rock and roll alter ego.

It is brave and loving to give a fourteen year old a red sparkle Rogers drum set for Christmas.  You are going to feel pain.  You are going to hear Surf Beat #1.

Lou Reed was probably right when he said you can’t always trust your mother.

The catalog of your songs available to the listener is just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a paper trail of an artist formerly known as you that you are constantly outrunning yet you sing the Song of You your entire life.

You can step onstage and trust that you can create something believable or you have no business picking up that guitar.

There are more precarious career choices than music but there’s really no such thing as “making it” in music.  Making it is being able to tour and still pay your rent.

It’s a bitch to be your own roadie but it has its advantages.

The Middle of Nowhere starts from Detroit, goes through Columbus and Dayton, onto Nashville and Memphis and all the way down to New Orleans. It is one of the richest musical veins on the planet, giving birth to a mother lode of songs from the darkest, loamiest, fertile soil.

It is crucially important to get out of town and play for strangers.

Sometimes writing just feels like something easy and natural to do but the determination to do it can actually rescue you.

Once upon a time radio was actually a cool place to tune in.

“Wichita Lineman” is one of the Great American Songs.

The Grammys are depressing.

People who think that war is great or noble and makes us stronger are dangerously diluted.

It’s refreshing when people are candid because it’s the exception.

There are countless people whom we thank God for lending their voice to us; for speaking the words for us that we are thinking but are too bottled up to articulate.  These giants in the maelstrom of words include George Carlin, Charles Bukowski Howlin’ Wolf…and remind us that somebody out there understands us.  Kurt Vonnegut has a big heart and lends a comforting voice that we can relate to and that can also blow our mind.  Happy Chichester offers his voice, too.  Thank God.

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