—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

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A Lamb to the Slaughter

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Like a lamb to the slaughter, that was my first thought when I decided to post this. I’ve only told a couple people about it, frankly, because most people I know just aren’t interested and the ones who used to be, are not anymore.

I got a cold call six months ago from Sam Jones. He identified himself as a photographer and a director. He told me he got a call from Bob (he just assumed I’d know who Bob was) and that Bob had recently discovered some songs he’d written back when he was living in New York that he’d never recorded and that he’d given them to T-Bone (apparently he assumed I’d know who T-Bone was too) to record. And he (Sam) was going to to a documentary of the recording and that he wanted to talk to me about bootlegs, because he wanted some background, as these newly discovered songs were written during the Basement Tapes period.

He asked would I mind talking to him and I told him sure, I’d talk to him. After all, I’ve done a couple interviews about it since I’ve been back in America and I’ve written that blog. So, what the heck.

He said he’d fly up to Reno in a week or so and would that be okay and I told him it would be. He thanked me and we ended the conversation.

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I googled him while we were talking and checked out the poster he’d shot for the new George Clooney movie and some others and determined before we finished talking, that he was the real deal.

Three days later his producer, a nice woman named Carole, called me and told me how busy Sam was and would I mind flying down to L.A. on their dime. They’d put me up for a night, feed me, talk to me and then let me go.

I told her no, I didn’t wanna fly, because if I was going to L.A., where Vesta and I grew up, I wanted her along. So what we’d do is, we’d drive, pay for our own gas and feed ourselves. The only thing they had to do, was to pay for our lodging for two days. To me that seemed like a pretty fair deal and she thought it was too, because they were saving a gang of money over what she first offered. She did wanna know why we wanted to drive instead of flying and I told her we like road trips and we stop a lot and take a lot of pictures.

She told me where to meet them and when I googled the spot, I began to think this was going to be a little more than just me giving a little background info, because it was a record store. Still, we were up for a road trip and besides, it was just another adventure. How bad could it be?

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They put us up in the motel Janis Joplin died in, but I don’t think we got her room, cuz there weren’t signs in it pointing to the spot where they’d found her.

And as soon as we checked in, Carole called. She said she wanted to pick us up in the morning, because there would be traffic and she knew how to avoid it. I told her I grew up in Hollywood and could avoid it myself and she said that she’d really like to drive us, so I told her okay.

I think she thought I might back out of whatever they had planned for me.

After she hung up, Vesta and I walked to the record store and it wasn’t much different than the ones Vesta and I used to own back in the Seventies. A strange place for me go give background info, indeed.

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The next morning, she picked us up and she Starbucks coffee and that was way cool. In five minutes we were there. We got out of the car and she said I should wait outside for a couple minutes after she and Vesta went in, so that the film crew could get set up.

I’d already figured this was gonna happen, cuz I went to college and I’m not stupid. But I didn’t care, because it was so long ago and if there were still some people out there who wanted to know what I’d done when I was a kid, well, I didn’t mind telling ‘em.

I went in, met Sam while a camera was rolling. He asked did mind talking to him and I said no and I was glad I figured out what was gonna happen beforehand, because I used the motel’s iron and ironed my shirt so that I wouldn’t look like a complete hick from the sticks.

The interview lasted a little more than an hour and I gotta hand it to Sam Jones, he is good. In about thirty seconds, I forgot the camera was even there. I had a lot of fun and don’t remember a thing I said, except for the last question.

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“Bob Dylan is going to see this interview,” he said. “So do you have anything you’d like to say to him?”

I looked into the camera and, “Sorry, Bob,” is what I said. I couldn’t think of anything else.

After it was over the record store clerk went into their back room and came out with a copy of “John Birch Society Blues,” and asked me, would I sign it. I did and they filmed me doing it.

After the camera stopped recording, I asked Sam was he gonna make me look like a bad guy in his documentary and he said, “No.”

He asked me not to say anything about what happened for a couple weeks, because they hadn’t announced the record yet or the film. After the announcement I could say whatever I wanted. Well, the record’s coming out November 11th and it's called "Lost on the River" and the film is gonna be on Showtime on November 24th (I think that’s the date anyway), so I guess it’s okay for me to talk about it now.

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After we left, Vesta and I went to have coffee with our friend Lee Farber, who is also a director. I told him I was a little worried about what I’d just done and he said that I shouldn’t be, because if rock bootlegs hadn’t been invented, Bob Dylan wouldn’t be able to keep putting out his Bootleg Series. He said it was probably gonna be just fine and if you’re reading this, Lee, I hope you’re right.

Anyway, I’ll know in a few weeks. And now that I think about it, Sam’s gotta include the band recording all those songs in his documentary, which is probably only gonna be an hour and a half long, so how much of that stuff I said, that stuff I don’t remember, could he put in there anyway?
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