Sometimes, certain events seem to set you back, providing an unintended pause as you stop to reassess things before proceeding forward with your original plans
A death of a friend can certainly throw a monkey wrench into the grand scheme of things.
Such is the case over at this website home of the LOUIE documentary project, as it took me a few days to meditate on the loss of a friend before returning to the task of editing video and writing for this blog.
My friend Shasta Bates died of a heart attack at the age of 63 years old in Nashville, Tennessee.
Shasta never had a real connection to the song LOUIE LOUIE, but he was a supporter of the LOUIE project, and made a real difference in helping me with my goal of producing this ambitious film of mine.
I don’t remember exactly how long I’ve known Shasta, but it had to be at least 25 years. Shasta was a singer-songwriter that was the biggest Bob Dylan fan I’ve ever known. It seemed like Shasta owned every single recording of Dylan – legitimate or otherwise. Whenever there was a Dylan tour, it was a sure bet that Shasta would buy tickets for every local Dylan show, and probably a few outside of the area as well.
Shasta was the first person to tell me about Bob Dylan’s unofficial recording of LOUIE LOUIE, sharing a multi-generation VHS dub of Bob performing the song with Tom Petty at the Farm Aid rehearsal shows over fifteen years ago. Shasta was also quick to alert me to the 1990 “Under Red Sky” album that he believed had some specific musical references to the iconic Richard Berry song.
I had a lot of great times with my friend Shasta, including a big party at his itty-bitty little cabin in Mountain View to celebrate the special pay-per-view broadcast of the Dylan- 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration in New York. I never saw so many people crammed in that little house of his, and a wonderful time was enjoyed by all!
One of the proudest moments I ever had with Shasta was the time I saw him perform on the main stage at the San Jose Tapestry ‘n’ Talent Festival. Shasta had just released his new album entitled “Modern Fixations,” and it was such a thrill to see him surrounded by new fans eager and anxious to buy his music immediately after the show!
Shasta had a lot of good friends in his social circle, including Paul Williams, founder of Crawdaddy magazine, who wrote an exhaustive three volume series of books analyzing the music and performances of Bob Dylan.
One of the things Shasta did for Paul was introduce him to the music of singer-songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill, who later became Paul’s wife.
By some unlikely synchronicity, I actually met both Paul and Cindy Lee at a book convention in Anaheim the very same week they met each other. Shasta wasn’t even at this event, but I’m pretty sure his name was mentioned in passing.
In 2003, Shasta lost his day job in California, and he decided he would move back to Connecticut to tend to his ailing parents. After both of his parents died, he did a little traveling around the country before settling in Nashville in 2007, where he would pursue his dreams of becoming a professional singer-songwriter.
Before he made the big move to Nashville, he made a little visit to back to the Bay Area, and we had a chance to catch up on stuff. He’d been playing at a place called Widow Brown’s Cafe in Danbury, CT, which inspired a whole bunch of new songs. One of those songs was something called “No More Smoking,” which was a catchy little number that expressed his feelings about the new anti-smoking laws that were popping up all over the country.
Anyone that knows me understands that I really hate smoking. My father was a heavy smoker that died of emphysema, and I was overjoyed when the anti-smoking regulations became law, as I no longer had to inhale toxic, putrid air whenever I wanted to go nightclubbing.
That being said, I really loved Shasta’s new song. I disagreed with him on the smoking laws, but I thought it was catchy little number. I knew he had no decent music videos, and no budget to produce any videos, but I figured I’d shoot a video for my old friend.
I shot some video of Shasta on the streets of San Jose, California, right in front of the Cinebar, the oldest divebar in town. I sat on the raw video footage for some time, as other things in my life took precedence over this project. Months turned into years, and there was a real possibility this could easily become an unfinished project if I didn’t take any type of action.
Last December, I finally finished the music video for Shasta. I edited my video footage with some old public domain film clips and was able to give Shasta a special Christmas present he could share with others.
And he loved it! That felt really wonderful!
A few weeks ago, I got an email from Shasta celebrating Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday. Shasta had just recorded some Dylan songs and he was anxious to share them with his friends.
I didn’t get around to downloading the songs until a few days later. After I finally downloaded all the tracks, I decided I’d drop by and visit Shasta’s Facebook page, and share the love, so to speak.
It was at Shasta’s Facebook page where I discovered that Shasta has passed away on May 27th, which ironically happens to be the birthday of some very close friends of mine.
I have to admit, it’s been a challenging couple of months for me.
Kent Morrill of the Wailers passed away in April. He was a major part of the LOUIE universe, and one of key people that’ll be featured in the final documentary that I hope to release in near future.
A week later, one of my friends, T.A.. Garsva, a fellow freelance video camera operator died in Petaluma, CA. Unlike Kent or Shasta, I don’t have any photographs of T.A.
Other friends lost friends and loved ones in the past few months
And life goes on somehow or another… as we live with dying every single day, with people all over the world ceasing to exist. We forge forward, one step at a time.
Me, I’m just trying to finish a film without more key people dying on me.
As I’d heard it said before – celebrate every day as it may be your last, because someday you will be correct!
Today, It’s a celebration of my friend Shasta Bates!
Visit his webpage and maybe buy some of his music at
View some photos of Shasta by visiting a special Flickr collection I’ve assembled over at
You can hear Shasta’s recordings of Bob Dylan songs by clicking on these links:
Too Much of Nothin 3:12
Sooner or Later 4:31
Tell Me Mama 3:56
Tombstone Blues 6:30
Queen Jane 6:34
Idiot Wind 10:19
She’s Your Lover Now 8:28
Need A Woman 6:29
Where Are You Tonight? 4:34
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue 4:01
If you happen to be in Brookfield, CT on July 10th, you can visit Widow Browns Cafe for a special memorial for Shasta.
I’m gonna miss you my friend.