The lasting gig

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

Just
The Facts

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‘People were really good to us…I think that we amused them.’

- Tyrone Shaw

 

 

BAKERSFIELD — Tyrone Shaw sat on the porch he built from the remains of an old farm on a hill in Bakersfield, eager to clear something up.

“There’s an assumption here that is kind of offensive,” Shaw said. “And the assumption is, ‘Oh, these crazy, wild hippies came in here, to backward, savage, ignorant Vermont, and changed things for the better.’”

The true story, he said, is the opposite.

Shaw, now a professor in Johnson State College’s writing and literature department, made a local name for himself as a guitarist in bands such as the Throbulators, which made an appearance in the 1989 Don Johnson-Susan Sarandon romantic comedy Sweet Hearts Dance, for which Shaw regularly receives royalty checks to the tune of dozens and dozens of cents — and as a reporter, both for what became The County Courier and at St. Albans news station WWSR.

“I came here for the same reason a lot of people did,” Shaw said. “The music.”

The hills of early 1970s Franklin County were alive with the sound of music — and paying for it. Able musicians could make a living off their ability. Hamilton Davis, in his book Mocking Justice: America’s Biggest Drug Scandal, the tale of a crooked cop in St. Albans, wrote “Franklin County was alive with musicians doing their own thing… In fact, the tiny village of East Fairfield was virtually a musicians’ colony.”

“There were five working bands just out of Bakersfield,” Shaw said.

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