I was stationed at Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota when I met Rodell Ottum playing at a church in town. Drinking coffee in the church basement, we immediately hit it off as musical kindred spirits. He was the one who introduced me to country music. Not the country music that requires people to name check beers, trucks, and jacked up tail gates to feel legitimate. I mean the country music that makes you want to drink, smoke, and stare into the nothingness of the night. I am talking about the glorious music of George Jones, Buck Owens, and Gram Parsons.
He let me sit in with his country band, Sleepless Nights, for which I played every weekend for about 6 months. I learned so much from Stephan Johnson and him. It was the best internship a musician could ask for.
In 1996, I met this guy named Doug James. He had just got back from Nashville with a demo of his songs in hand. Rodell and I built a band around him and gigged for about a year with the pictured lineup: Doug James, Rodell Ottum, Roy Finley, Jim Beiswenger, and Bill Martinez. We were billed as “Doug James and the Stampede.” Due to “creative differences,” the band split into two bands: Rodell and me vs. Doug James, Beiswenger, and Martinez. It was a somewhat friendly split, but Rodell and I retained the Stampede name.
Stampede reformed with Terry Tibiatowski on drums and Jenny Z on bass. We asked Jenny to leave after a few months due to performance issues. Dave Scocchera soon took over on bass duties. I can’t tell you the details of how much fun I had, but everything does come to an end. I left Stampede in 1998 to join Kid Hollywood.
I still have audio from the “post-Doug James” lineup and some audio from me sitting in with Stampede on a Sunday night in Grand Forks. At the time of the recordings in 1999, Paul Coates was on guitar/synth guitar and Scott Stenerson on drums.