Frederic of The Garland Pool
In a hot, dusty, mosquito-ridden border town at the end of the Colorado River, a boy named Fred Pool was born.
Though it was not immediately apparent, he came into this world with a strong affinity for music. He first noticed his almost superpower level sensitivity to music when he was riding a bus home in the 2nd grade and a song came on the radio that surprised him by bringing tears to his eyes that he quickly felt the need to hide. That would not be the last time music would bring him to his knees. It was just the beginning of a lifelong relationship in which music would serve to dredge up the pain of life yet that process would also help carry Fred into the realm of often desperately needed healing.
In the 7th grade, Fred started noodling around with his friend’s beat up old junker guitar, trying to play stuff like “Smoke On Water.” His grandma eventually caught wind that he was interested in guitar and she snuck it into his Christmas presents. It turned out to be the BEST present anyone would ever give him. It was more than a present. In it was the hope of life. If life was like a trip across a vast and perilous ocean, that guitar would provide just enough buoyancy to keep him alive when things got rough. It’s not everyday someone gives you a gift like that. Fred had no idea at the time that God was lurking somewhere in the body of that guitar. He had no idea that one day his song of love would pour through that soundhole and speak to the heart of his future wife, his soulmate, the little gem that would adorn the crown upon his head in the spiritual realm. It was as if his own children, some of the greatest gifts from God he would ever receive in this life, were waiting in the ether of the imagination, like secret chords he had yet to play on the strings of his guitar.
During his high school years, he spent his time copying his favorite guitarists, Randy Rhodes, Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Toni Iommi, Jimmy Page, Al Di Meola, etc. He reached a level that was good enough to impress his friends, but he knew, deep down, he was merely copying other people’s ideas. It wasn’t until his dad made the comment that burned his flesh, “I don’t hear YOU coming up with anything that interesting!” You see, Fred had fallen prey to the idea that, just because he could play riffs like Eddie Van Halen, that he too was as good as Eddie. That single comment incinerated his pride so deeply that Fred made a secret vow to himself that, from that point on, he would stop trying to copy others and find a way to start cultivating himself on his instrument. It proved to be a pivotal moment in his musical life.
During the next phase, he learned to express himself through the blues. He had met a foreign exchange student from Finland who was practically a blues master. This guy could wail with a practically inexhaustible source of imaginative lines. Over the course of about a semester, Fred would finally arrive at a place where he felt he finally had his own voice and it was the blues that led him there, teaching him enough originality, spontaneity to take him to the next level.
The next level would be the intersection of life and music itself. His walk through life, through the experiences of his childhood had gathered enough baggage, loaded him down with enough pain that a day of reckoning was looming on the horizon. He had a falling out with his dad who was, at the time, his idol. In a somewhat unconscious effort to fill this new void, he latched onto a relationship with a girlfriend who had a very different idea about love than Fred did. It ended with his heart being broken. No matter how much denial he tried to conjure, no matter how much he himself had tried to keep that relationship at arms length, he had clearly felt the sting of unrequited love. First his dad, now this...he turned to music to try to make sense of it all.
Soon after came the birth of The Garland Pool. It was Fred’s first real band, but it consisted of a very talented lead singer and songwriter named Keith Leamons and a very beginning bass player, but extremely smart and cool guy named Harold Garland, as well as an assortment of other talented friends in the wings at the time. The core of the band was Fred’s music, his songs, but so much power came from the crisscrossing of talents from his friends. The Garland Pool became more than a band, it became a kind of philosophy. It was the circle of friends at any given moment, usually sitting together, in a circle. The garland was the circle of friends, the living poetry, talent and totality of influence of those in the circle. The pool was the music between them, inside the circle. The sound waves were like water being set in motion by the imagination of those in the circle. It was a testing ground for creative interaction, a place where forgiveness for mistakes was regular practice. It was a place where Fred’s confidence grew by leaps and bounds. And as that happened, the power of the magnifying glass that he began to examine his own heart with also grew.
In the birthing of his first songs, he inevitably stirred the emotional stew that had quietly settled in his life. There was trouble brewing, a storm was collecting on the horizon. In the writing of songs, Fred began to come to grips with the reality of how he really felt about things. The recurring symbolism in songs began to speak to him on a deeper level and paint a bigger picture. It is the absolute truth of what transpired in that season where his deep dreams and intense reality began to collide in earnest. On a fateful night, while he battled his own demons during a fitful attempt to sleep, the answer finally came to him. He saw the bigger picture, he couldn’t turn away, he could deny it no longer and God spoke to him with words no ear can hear, in a voice louder than any earthquake, with a message so personal and astounding it left him changed forever. He rose up out of his bed as if he were a new person, with a new life, completely in harmony with the universe, leaving behind his ignorance like a dead exoskeleton after metamorphosis.
In the aftermath of seeing the discord of his life come into harmony, he found himself face-to-face with his future wife. On a fateful night in a study room at UofA, in Tucson AZ, he sang a song and the notes from his guitar and voice flitted gently into the ears of a beautiful stranger.
Somehow, all the work God had done in his life which was, at that moment still a secret to him, worked it’s magic on her heart. Without fully knowing, he had arrived on the map of her life and she on his. She shared later, that that song had moved her and brought a tear to her eye. She also explained that, while she enjoys music, that didn’t happen that often for her. This thrilled him, of course. You see, as a musician, he had always secretly hoped that somehow, poetically, almost mystically, his howling heart, the deep song of his soul, like a secretly coded invitation to love and be loved, would be heard by a special someone someday and that only the one who was truly worthy and right for him, that puzzle piece that cannot be faked into fitting would be able to hear and recognize it. Such a cute, artistic notion, the stuff of his dreams. He would never have risked admitting that hope to anyone and he even suppressed it down to a whisper within the cavern of his being. You can’t imagine the sense of presence and purpose that filled his soul the moment God convinced him it was all true. For Fred, it was like the honor, privilege and pleasure of being crowned a king in the heavenly, incorruptible realm.
Little did he know that in that moment, his daughters would be born, outside of time, in the realm of God. The cornerstone of that house had been set. Little did he know his youngest daughter’s voice could be heard singing across the fabric of time. Little did he know that in that moment, his eldest would already start moving her little fingers across her keyboard years later and that he would be sitting there, in awe, capturing the wonderful sound with the ears of his heart.
This is the story of the music of Fred’s life, the life of The Garland Pool. It is intertwined in his experiences, what he carries with him. The way he sees the world is very much through the lens of music, the inescapable truth and, ultimately, God. When there is trouble, there is dissonance and it is hard to hear the music, and though His presence has not diminished, it can be hard to see and hear God. When things are going right, there is harmony. When you come to a show, Fred and his friends hope you will experience The Garland Pool, the inescapable truth, with him, right alongside, as though you were a friend sitting in the circle. So drop any darkness, things like bitterness, anger, hate and un-forgiveness before you pass through the door, but do bring your love, your big open heart and mind and think of yourself as a real part of The Garland Pool if only for one night of your life.