The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The glories of writing & rock ‘n’ roll

Musician, freelance writer, motorcylce mechanic and City College student, Mike Blanchard, practices some tunes on one of the many guitars at the The Fifth String guitar shop on 32nd and N streets. Photo by Evan E. Duran | [email protected]

When Mike Blanchard was a child, his brother accidentally hit him in the face with a bullwhip. It was then, while he was bedridden that he was introduced to rock ‘n’ roll when his mother bought him his first record, “Please Please Me” by the Beatles.

“I was blind for most of the month and had to lie still the entire time,” says Blanchard, now 50. “I listened to that over and over again”

Blanchard, who has played in local bands for more than 25 years and recently returned to City College for his journalism degree, was raised around creative people, he says.

His parents were both teachers, and his dad taught both wood and machine shop classes.

“We’ve always had a lot of creative people around the house,” Blanchard says, “musicians, film makers and instrument makers.”

Blanchard also recalls that he spent a lot of time with his grandfather, who listened to Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.

Although Blanchard wanted to be an archaeologist growing up, he says he discovered the glories of rock ‘n’ roll in high school.

“I figured the guitar is a really good way to meet girls,” says Blanchard. “So I decided that I was going to learn to play guitar.”

Blanchard never took any music classes except for music business-related ones but instead attended Sacramento State to obtain his journalism degree in the ’80s, he says.

“I actually went to Sac State with Dianne Heimer [City College journalism and English professor],” Blanchard says. “We were in the same classes at Sac State, and I was one of the editors at the newspaper at Sac State.”

Blanchard also worked at a skateboarding shop, he says where he worked with pro-skaters Ricky Winsor and Sam Cunningham. He started taking photos of the skaters and gave them to Thrasher magazine.

“If you want to get in a magazine, you really can do it,” says Blanchard. “Just be persistent.”
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Eventually Kevin Thatcher, editor of Thrasher at the time, asked Blanchard to write a story on downhill skating, and from there, he earned a staff position as a photojournalist, Blanchard says.

“I was a little weirded out by it, but I decided I would just write it like how I would tell a story verbally,” says Blanchard.

In the late ’80s, Blanchard says he also started the band Slant 6, which eventually turned into the Tattooed Love Dogs, who played together for approximately 25 years. His grandpa’s taste in old country music and Blanchard’s love of the Rolling Stones influenced that band’s Americana sound.

The Tattooed Love Dogs almost signed with Mercury Records at one point, but the deal never went through, Blanchard says.

“They were very confused about whether we should be a country band or whether we should be a rock ’n’ roll band,” says Blanchard. “Now Americana is a huge genre, but that’s what we did 25 years ago.”

About five years ago, Blanchard started a newband, stepping away from his electric sound with Mike Blanchard and the Californios, he says.

“Out of just laziness and a desire to simplify things, it turned into an acoustic band,” says Blanchard.

Blanchard, who is also a co-owner of Barber’s Shop Automotive, says he decided that there was still one more goal he wanted to accomplish—getting his degree.

“I really wanted to prove that I could do it and finish my degree,” says Blanchard.

Vincent Montoya, who played with Blanchard in the “Tattooed Love Dogs,” admires his friend’s talents—and his educational goals.

“He is an amazing songwriter, artist and friend, a hell of a tinkerer and quite the sportsman,” Montoya says. “I’m glad Mike’s on
his way to his Ph.D.”

Mike Blanchard and the Californios will be playing at Barber’s Shop Automotive at 1116 18th St. on April 14. Blanchard also has a music variety show “Rabbit’s Foot Ramble” on YouTube.

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