In Snyder Hall, on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado, Javier was the guy with the bootlegs. Lots of bootlegs. The first time I met him, he threw those tapes down and away we went.
The son of a classical composer, music was more than a passing fancy in the Gonzalez household. But Jav wasn't pulled by the classical route. After thousands of hours of banging away at an old Hagstrom, he found his voice. First psychedelic rock, later blues, funk, and jazz; he forged his inimitable sound. Our sophomore year at UNC, we started a band, The Green Horns. A working blues band with a horn section, Jav's tastes became the backbone: Wilson Pickett, T-bone Walker, Lightning Hopkins, Buddy Guy, Sam and Dave, James Brown, Average White Band, Albert King, The Meters. I threw in some Robert Palmer and a few originals. The horn players always had deliciously eclectic contributions (They Might Be Giants, anyone?). Safe to say, we were rarely boring.
A compulsively passionate player, Jav has gone on to play in well received Colorado bands such as United Dope Front and the Boogaloo Communicators. He also had the good fortune to play with the legendary organists Big John Patton and Reuben Wilson. Most recently he's focused on his psychedelic folk solo project, Myndflower. Jav is also a gifted poster artist, having worked for such giants as the Black Crowes and Snoop Dogg. Check out the posters below.
Here are his musical beginnings, in his own words. Enjoy.
My journey to music was more complicated than it needed to be. I grew up around music since my dad is a classical composer whose life completely revolves around being creative in that realm. I went to classical concerts from age two and throughout my childhood and adolescence whether I wanted to or not. I hated my piano lessons and saxophone didn't treat me any better. I didn't hear American pop music until 1981 and loved it. A couple of years later, I realized that music from the 80's pretty much sucked ass and was immediately drawn to classic rock, which immediately captured my attention. I wanted to learn music on my own, so around 1986 I decided to learn rock but didn't get too far because my fingers were so sore from my first playing experience. Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and Alvin Lee of Ten Years After were my favorites and the ones I wanted to sound like at first and they all were outstanding blues guitarists. One stony night in the summer of 1987, a friend put on a mixed and unmarked blues tape that completely entranced me. To this day, I am not sure who it was and I have listened to thousands upon thousands of hours of music and never run across it again. It was a slow blues instrumental which took me on a ride like I'd never been on, it spoke to my emotions like no other music up to that point. I spent the next 5 years chasing the sound of that solo for myself: the stops and starts, the singing quality of the guitar, the flurries of notes, the going from the lowest to the highest notes and tying it all together. At that point, I felt like that was at last my calling in music and, as you well know, it became my obsession. It was my calling because it was my own route: I would teach myself and if I did things "wrong" it didn't matter as long as it sounded good. I still feel that way now as I attempt to become a solid acoustic guitar player for the first time ever. I relied on my ear exclusively and that was the way I wanted it. Sure, it's made it so I've never actually been able to read music very well at all. That said, it hasn't stopped me from learning a pretty varied array of guitar styles (funk, soul, jazz, bossa nova, middle eastern modes, indian ragas, folk, etc.) well and know music theory. After that, being around people like yourself who were enthusiastic about learning and actually doing it was a big inspiration. The people more on my own level or slightly better (again, you were pivotal here) were far more inspiring than the really great players because it wasn't about showing off and being a prick about how good you were (like other people we unfortunately had to deal with back then). Instead, it was about learning the songs and jamming out on "Cowgirl In The Sand" for 25 minutes and feeling the energy of the rock and roll--a connection with another musician that said "we can do this, too". Your impetus to get the band together was also a big inspiration because here was the chance to experience our own little chunk of the dream. After those first shaky gigs, I knew we could do better and as soon as we did not long after, I knew for sure that was the route I wanted to go and everything that I've done since then has revolved around being able to make music.
Though I am now still in school trying to get a Ph. D. to get a decent job in academia in another field, the idea of academia is appealing because of, you guessed it, plenty of time in the summers and the holidays to dedicate to that which I love the most to do. These days, I enjoy recording more than I enjoy gigging. Lots of years of little to no success has a way of curbing the desire to keep going, but I still enjoy it more than just about anything when I hit the stage--it's the other part, booking, promoting, sometimes dealing with flakey, eccentric, difficult musician types (I know I can be, too), that isn't as inspiring. The recording is different because when you're done--there it is, a little piece of you, a moment of inspiration that is there for you to share and revisit. If no-one digs it, so be it--the important thing is that it speaks to you and you know that it reveals something about you that words cannot and should not.
Jav's poster for Snoop Dogg