I spent two years as a music composition major at North Texas State University in Denton. The music school is known as one of the best in the world, and I can tell you that it was like the "Music Marines". The program was very thorough. While there, I learned the fundamental building blocks of music. The songs that Ken and I were writing got longer and more complex. In addition, I was being exposed to 20th century composers via the composition department. I was beginning to incorporate items not traditionally used as instruments, like cookie cans, car doors and foreign students. I was also studying classical guitar and piano.

One of the first people I met at NTSU was Scott Loehr.

Scott was a piano player who shared my interest in progressive rock. This photo was taken much later (May 1984) at the house on Smith Street.

Scott Loehr
May 1984

Mike "I'm from Chicago" Itishiki
Mar 1981

After two years in the music school, I switched back to broadcasting. During this period, our recordings began to get more sophisticated. We spent quite a bit of time at the local recording studio. At that time, in Denton, there was only one. It was run by Mike "I'm from Chicago" Itishiki. He called it the Average Joe Studio. It was really just a store front with some mattresses on the walls and an Otari half inch eight track machine. We thought it was incredible.

Most of the music that I still claim was written during the four years that I was at NTSU (1978-1982). Many of the original recordings were made during this period. You can listen to streaming audio files of many of these songs (as well as songs that came later) by visiting the Color recordings page.

One of these early recordings that still exists (at least the basic tracks) is "Alexander Hamilton."

Mike "I'm from Chicago" Itishiki
Mar 1981

With John "Hootis McGrootis" Oldaker
Mar 1981

"Alexander Hamilton" features a guy that I met one summer working on a grounds crew. John "Hootis McGrootis" Oldaker turned out to be a banjo player, so I wrote this song for us to record.

The basic tracks for this song were recorded at the ranch house, as you see here. The cassette was bumped up to eight track at Average Joe. I added the other instruments, and Mike Itishiki added the fiddle duet at the end. Itishiki was touring intermittently with Ray Price at the time. (You can tell he's country, can't you?)

With John "Hootis McGrootis" Oldaker
Mar 1981
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