“My checkered past includes skippering a tugboat on the San Francisco Bay and sinking boats as a brown-water river sailor with the Vietnamese Navy,” says blues singer/guitarist Jeffrey Joe Morin.
“As soon as I left Mar Vista High School [Imperial Beach] in ’65, I got drafted and followed my old man into the Navy. After flunking out of electronics school in San Francisco, I was a deckhand and later craft master on tugboats, working out of Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard. By January of 1969 I was an advisor to the Vietnamese Navy Junk Force’s Coastal Group 14 on the Cua Dai River, 40 miles south of Da Nang. We stopped and searched river traffic all day. We patrolled and we got shot at all night.”
When he returned to civilian life, Morin earned a B.F.A. in design from CalArts and began playing in a series of local bands. “I never really quit music,” he says. “I’ve played the guitar for nearly 50 years and the harmonica for 40, and now people actually pay to see and hear me do this.”
He currently performs in a trio, Johnson, Bosley, and Morin (“sometimes shortened to JoBozMo”), alongside Jack Johnson and John Bosley.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1. Ry Cooder, Jazz. “Thirty years of daily playing since I got this record, and I’m still not nearly as good now as Ry Cooder was then.”
2. Steve White, After the Holidays: “Steve is finally, deservedly and determinedly, living the troubadour’s dream. Iconoclastic icons inspire me.”
3. Dani Carroll, Unbreakable: “I fell in love with Ms. Danielle when she worked the counter at Mikey’s Gourmet Music and Live Coffee in Poway. She gives her whole heart to everything she sings. Categories, genre, and classifications dissolve into her sweet songs and gorgeous voice.”
4. David Wilcox, Big Horizon: “This album touches me in a very spiritual sense. I use it like scripture.”
5. Marcus Roberts, Portraits in Blue: “I just laugh for joy all through his respectfully rebellious barrelhouse rendering of Rhapsody in Blue.”
1. The Princess Bride: “I’ve never clicked past this movie. Fun and funny — it gets me every time.”
2. His Girl Friday: “Nonstop snotty and smart dialogue.”
3. The Godfather trilogy: “Just the best moviemaking ever.”
DREAM LUNCH DATE?
“My old man. For people who thought they knew each other so well, we never really got to know one another.”
SEXIEST LOCAL PERFORMER?
“Anna Troy makes me swoon. I know, my shoes are her age. I got the chance to back her up on harmonica at the Roots Fest, and I’m sure that everyone in attendance could see the little hearts shooting out of my eyes.”
MAC OR PC?
“I think I'd like a Mac better, but PCs have been the tool of choice in my engineering world.”
“Street Rodding covers my automotive fetish, and I get Shambhala Sun for the Buddhist garden ornament catalogues. I stopped subscribing to the Smithsonian.”
EVER BREAK A BONE?
“Despite some pretty radical skateboard body slams and several shipyard tugboat incidents, I’ve never broken a bone. You know you’re old when all your best stories are about your surgeries.”
FAVORITE SPINAL TAP QUOTE?
David St. Hubbins: “Well, I’m sure I’d feel much worse if I weren’t under such heavy sedation.”
YOUR TAKE ON GLOBAL WARMING?
“We’re poisoning ourselves. Don’t shit where you eat. The Automatic Earth will rebound again, as soon as we kill ourselves off.”
LENNON OR McCARTNEY?
“Lennon. Like me, John Lennon was steeped in American R&B, blues, country, rockabilly, and standards. Sir Paul seems more rooted in traditional British-music-hall sensibilities.”
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?
“Babies think I hung the moon. My picture must be hanging in the baby green room. Even as we read, infants — from newborns to toddlers — are out there on the streets, looking all over for me. I am Babyman.”
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER GOT?
“My old man told me, ‘Never square off to fight. Jump on him, gouge, kick, bite, and bang his head on the deck. Like life.’”