There’s still a debate over whether we spelled it “TRAX,” or “TRAXX.” What’s not in doubt is that it was a high school rock band that five friends from the Texarkana area played in during the late 1970’s.
What’s also not debated is that after 40 years, those friends rejoined for one night to play some of the same tunes they had last played when Jimmy Carter was president.
“So, I’ll be back in Texarkana in about six months for my high school reunion. Think you’ll be around then?” the drummer asked me during a phone call.
Allen now lives in the Nashville area. He moved there in the 80s. He was the best drummer I ever played with, but I had not seen him since the band split up, and that was 40 years ago.
I had a thought.
“What about Darin, our bass player?” I asked. “Have you kept up with him?”
Allen said he really hadn’t, but he thought he could reach him. I told him to try.
“I’ve kept in touch with Steve, so I’ll call him,” I said.
Steve was our lead guitar player. I played rhythm guitar and sang backup vocals.
That left Philip, our lead singer. I said I was friends with him on Facebook and would send him a message.
Synchronizing the schedules of five people; two that now live in Arkansas, two in Tennessee and one in Texas, wasn’t going to be easy, but it looked as if the stars might be aligning.
Everyone could make it, except the singer. We decided to get together anyway.
I loaded my Prius with three guitars and an amp. I was immediately taken back to being 16 and loading gear for a gig. It was work then and its work now.
Allen worked the hardest. He drove from the Nashville area and immediately began borrowing a drum set and a PA. He also secured a local place made especially for bands so that we had a place to play.
On the drive up, I thought about how I was invited to join TRAX. Steve had an invitation to join and suggested me as a member. We drove over in my mom’s 1971 Buick Electra 225 Limited. The car was as long as its name.
We unloaded our gear at the Arkansas High Band Hall and rehearsed with the guys. They huddled after rehearsal and came back and invited both of us to join.
For the next couple of years, we played teen dances, the Texarkana Fair and anywhere else that paid.
Most of our money went to gasoline and replacing strings and broken gear.
As most bands do, TRAX ran its course and we each went our separate ways.
Steve started a business, Darrin still works at a manufacturing plant, Philip went into politics, Allen works in the music industry, and me? Well, I write a newspaper column.
We enjoyed our reunion. We played some, visited some, and since we had recording equipment, I recorded a podcast. I interviewed each of the band members, asking about their memories of the group, thoughts on the music industry today, and advice for aspiring musicians.
You can hear it at johnmoore.net/blog.
After the reunion was over, we loaded our gear and went our separate ways.
I loaded my gear and drove home tired. Just as I’d done many times before.
But this gig was different than the ones four decades ago. This gig was for us.
How many people get the chance to go back to a special part of youth and live it again? The answer is, not many. But we did.