Of Jethro Tull and My 25 Year Old T-shirt

My First Rock Concert

I went to my first rock concert 25 years ago today. I was a 15 year old in 10th grade at the time, and Jethro Tull was, and still is, my all-time favorite band. It was the first time in my life I had seen anyone (sort of) famous and couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing them in real life. My best friend, a few of my brothers, some cousins and other acquaintances all went to see them at the Delta Center (as it was called then) in Salt Lake City. Tull were on tour because to promote their new album that had come out earlier that year, Catfish Rising. I’ve been to many, many concerts since then that I have thoroughly enjoyed, I’ve even seen Tull on 3 other occasions, but none of them were as greatly anticipated as my very first concert with my absolute favorite band.

My Oldest T-Shirt

I bought a t-shirt at that Jethro Tull Concert on December 6, 1991. I don’t know how it has lasted as long as it has, or why I haven’t lost it yet. About 10 years ago I noticed that it was getting a lot of little holes so I began a tradition of wearing it once a year on December 6 – I call it Jethro Tull day. I’m not even very fond of the t-shirt design itself, but I like to keep little tokens of sentimentality. I’m wearing the shirt today and am having fun showing people at work the date on the back. Tonight it will go back in the closet to be worn again next year.
jethro-tull-concert-tshirt

About Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull formed in England in the 60’s and hit their peak of popularity when they released their 4th Album Aqualung in 1971. People often think the band’s singer, Ian Anderson, is actually Jethro Tull, though that name belongs to the band not the individual. The actual person Jethro Tull was an agriculturalist known for inventing the seed drill in 1701. Why did they named the band after him? For no other reason than they liked the sound of the name.

Lead man Ian Anderson is truly the heart and soul, the identity, of the band. He is the singer and writer for all their music, but is more likely known for playing a very serious hard rock… flute. You would have to hear it to believe it. Anderson has stated that he chose to play the flute simply because no one else was doing it. He could never be as good on the guitar as Eric Clapton, and he chose to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in a big ocean. Anderson is also extremely proficient at acoustic guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and a dozen other string and wind instruments (who’s heard of the claghorn?) He even played a lot of soprano saxophone in their 6th and 7th albums.

Hard core Tull fans are few and far in between. I know many casual fans who are acquainted with Tull, but I only know two other die-hards who have all 30 or so Jethro Tull albums – one of which is one of my younger brothers. I attribute this to their music not being readily user-friendly. Relative to most rock groups their music would be considered extremely complex, varying often in time signatures and frequent key changes – making it difficult to become acquainted with. Often their music is described as “Art Rock” along with other groups like YES. This is the appeal is has for me – very infrequently did I hear a new Tull song and say “That’s awesome, I love it!” But they all grew on me over time, and due to their complexity I never tire of listening to them – even after a couple decades!

How I Became a Jethro Tull Fan

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Happy 95th Birthday to Grandpa Blaine Poulsen

What better way to (re)kick-off my blog by writing a post about one of my personal heroes?

Grandpa Blaine turns 95 today! He’s kind of a big deal in my extended family. He’s a personal hero for myself and many of his 10 kids, 50+ grand kids, and who knows how many great-grand kids, I can only guess well over 100. At least a dozen or more of his offspring have been named him – including my own son Jared Blaine. My brother Luke broke protocol and actually gave his youngest son the 1st name of Blaine.

slingshotIn celebration of his birthday today I wanted to share one of my childhood memories of Grandpa. While growing up my extended family had a tradition of driving down to Mexico and camping on the beach during Christmas vacation. We would visit the same location every year – a very secluded beach in San Carlos Bay that could only be accessed by very rough dirt roads. Its on the mainland side of the Gulf of California, about 6 hours south of the Arizona border. When I was about 8 years old, we were on our 2nd annual visit to Mexico (my family would go nearly 20 times), and I was making a homemade slingshot to shoot at the cacti and all various soda bottles we had sitting around camp. I found a perfect Y-shaped branch, cut notches in the top, and I even had surgical hose as an elastic. I recall Grandpa Blaine watching me make it, and he offered to tie the hose onto the slingshot for me. He asked if I had any material to use as the pouch to hold the rock. I didn’t, and without the slightest hesitation he pulled out his pocket knife, took off the very grey leather sneakers he was wearing on his feet, and cut his shoes into strips for pouches. He tied one on my slingshot, and gave me a few more so some of my brothers and cousins could make slingshots as well.

I recall being shocked that he would do that. I thought in my mind “a slingshot is not worth cutting up your nice shoes”. I’ve remembered his selflessness frequently and fondly to this day. Only reason I can think that he did it, is that he was probably keenly aware of the great joy a simple slingshot can bring to a young boy out in the middle of nowhere, with the whole world to shoot at.

I’m so very proud to call him my Grandpa. I’m proud of the great example he’s been to so many of us – and I wish him the happiest of birthdays today.

Happy #95 Grandpa – you put the “amps” in Gramps!

-Nate

Here’s a very recent picture of Gramps with one of my nephews, posted on my brothers Instagram:

A photo posted by @aarongundy on