"I started playing drums in the elementary school band in grade four. We played a politically incorrect little number called 'Big Chief Pow Wow' which made my grandmother cry with it's grandeur and beauty.
At 13 I tagged along with the neighborhood hippies and started going to the free concerts in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. There was also a family up the street that had actual teenagers with there own real, live psychedelic garage band called "The Forgotten Society". I sat for hours on the curb listening to them practice, then going home and prancing in front of the mirror with a hair brush microphone.
At 16, in the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school, I married the boy across the street. He was the first of a string of guitar slingin' mates I hooked up with until I realized, "Hey, I want to sling my OWN guitar," which freed me from a dangerous but never boring romantic fixation.
Later I met and subsequently lived with my fellow Curio Lee Parvin who taught me about being a studio musician at Parvin Studios in Pacifica, CA, thereby ensuring I could always make a living as a musician. Even though we broke up, we insisted we be in a band together forever and we've been playing, performing, writing and recording together ever since.
I got to sing and play with a lot of amazing musicians over time, the undisputed highlight being a year long tour with Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The experience is chronicled in Road Dog Girl, the on-line diary I kept while we toured twice through the U.S. - first in giant arenas and then small theaters - followed by trips to Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.
I have lived in Pacifica near the ocean my whole life. Started playin that damn accordion at age 7. My grand parents gave us a piano when I was 10 years old and that's when all hell broke lose. My accordion teacher, Albert Tassi, played Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" and some cool-ass boogie-woogie on the new piano and that was that.
Somewhere down the line music started gaining steam in the Parvin family. My mom, dad and sister got behind little brother Leroy. I took lessons, tried to learn, tried to get good. Had an original psychedelic garage band in high school called Pink Ivory - I played organ and kicked pedal bass and sang. We had a great guitar player named Dirke Lyman and a awesome drummer named Doug Peng, the original power trio! We played the Fillmore twice ( after my Dad threatened Bill Graham!!) and did hundreds of gigs all over California. My Dad, Henry Parvin, was the driving force behind us and he drove us all right... nuts. He was the Bill Graham of South Rosita Court. He was always gonna make a million dollars one way or another on his boy Leroy and the band. Well, as everybody in rock and roll knows, bands are uncontrollable and " Pops" couldn't control us. We all went slightly crazy with the times. Our drummer died in a car crash and my guitar player got married - to my sister Kathleen! Through it all the band reformed and we kept at it. My father would book the band and we played show after show until our fingers fell off. The money from giging gave us a cash flow and helped us add on to the family house and buy that never ending new gear...Around this time I started recording music with a 2 track Roberts tape recorder with the cables run down the hallway to the bedroom.
One Sunday morning after the Sat. nite gig we were at one of the famous Parvin band breakfasts that my mom would cook. My Dad was holdin court as usual and talking shit about bustin a hole in the band room wall to create a doorway to the bedroom for a recording studio control room.
All of a sudden we heard this loud crash and we ran into the band room and there was Rex Starr, our road manager, holding a huge sledge hammer next to a big-ass hole in the wall. My old man started laughing and we decided then and there to start building a real studio to record in.
A year later, with much sweat and tears and hard-earned money, my father, Rex Starr and myself built the first version of Parvin Studios. God bless those guys. This was 1974 or 1975. My beautiful mom, Martha Parvin, helped bankroll the whole affair with her job at San Francisco State College as Secretary to the Dean of the School of Creative Arts. My Dad also had a great payin job at Central Fire alarm in SF.
My parent's were always helpin other artist and people down on there luck. Making art was foremost in our house. My dad was an oil painter and my mom was into theatre and dance. Mom and Dad had a blast most of their lives until my father's wheels completely fell off in his seventies...but that is another story...
I started writing and recording myself and then other artists... I just got way into it !
Recording with the 2 track gave way to the 4 track Teac and then to the woodburning Ampex 1 inch to the mighty Goldstar Ampex 16 track 2 inch and finally the Sunset Sound Ampex 24 track 2 Inch. We are talking tape here, all you pro-tools punks! Hundreds of songs and projects and people and wild rides.
Having decent equipment attracted all kinds of musicians to the studio. Some world-renown greats passed through, making some amazing recordings. It became such a deep learning experience for all of us, way more than we bargained for. Sent my family into wild times... brought out the best and the worst in us. Some of it I'm still livin down, the never-ending workin and partyin - the eighties almost killed me.
Eventually 19 year old Nancy Hall showed up in the flurry of the far flung Parvin empire. I had played music with her husband at the time ( local bass player Lee Kirby, another one who is no longer with us ) and heard she could sing harmonies real good. Well, we got her in the studio and she was way more advanced than us with her vocal and musical ear, those harmonies...! She had no idea about chords and theory - she just heard it!
One thing led to the next... the two of us started living together and working on the music. Went thru many bands together and countless recording sessions. We didn't stay together as a couple, but we flourished together musically. I've learned more than I can ever tell you from Nancy Hall. I've worked with some great talents, but Nancy's always been my constant artistic companion in life, the one to tell me the truth. I'm blessed to have her in my life.
I'm still livin the musical life here in San Pedro's Valley...with my ever supportive loving wife Denise Parvin and my awesome sons Justin Meyer and Brooks Parvin. They have carried me thru these years and weathered the storm of growing up in a house with a studio and a crazy keyboard player in it. I'm nothing without them...
Jim was born to a non-musical family. As a teen he taught himself to play the electric bass in rock bands. Early on Jim developed an affinity to playing in a band and loved to play the functional role of the bass player.
At twenty he moved on to acoustic/string bass and jazz music, but the string bass is a difficult instrument to learn without the proper technical training and there were few jazz bass teachers to be found. So, Jim enrolled at San Francisco State University and was fortunate to study with the renowned classical bassist, Charles Siani. There he gained a great love for classical music and the double bass traditions.
After earning a degree in music performance in classical music Jim turned his focus back to jazz and improvisational music. He joined a touring jazz trio with vibist Larry Blackshere and toured Europe (1980- 1985). This trio allowed Jim to apply his classical bass techniques as well as play free improvisation all the time filling the role of foundation of the "groove."
It was Jim's attention to the groove that attracted the mandolinist/band-leader David Grisman who asked him to join his quintet in 1985. The David Grisman Quintet is an acoustic string band that plays in many different traditions including bluegrass, swing, and latin. As a full time member of the DGQ for twenty-four years, Jim has had the opportunity to play and record with many great musicians including: Stephane Grappelli, Sven Assmussen, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Del McCoury and Jerry Garcia. It was Jim's work with Jerry Garcia in the Garcia-Grisman Band that produced many popular albums and a documentary movie (Grateful Dawg). To date Jim has played bass on six Grammy-nominated recordings.
I was born in Hollywood and lived in L.A. until age 10, I moved to Chile and learned to play the guitar and smoke cigarettes for two years before moving to The San Francisco Bay Area (I quit the cigs by age 11 ). A few years later I lied about my age and worked at an animal park cleaning up after whale, dolphin and lion shows for a summer. I saved up all my money and bought my first Marshall half stack, picked up the guitar again and started to play with all kinds of different musicians. I play electric & acoustic guitar, banjo, and compose instrumental pieces when not working with other songwriters.
Labels: Fresh From Reference Recordings, Jim Kerwin, Lee Parvin, Marc Games, Mike Tyler, Nancy Hall, Pillow Book, Reference Recordings, The Curios