North Bay institution Greg Anton is best known as the drummer for eclectic jam-rock ensemble Zero, and more recently for supergroup the Rock Collection. In his day job, he’s also worked as an attorney championing medical-cannabis rights for decades, most recently with Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana.
Anton, who lives in Sebastopol after residing in Marin for 25 years, added author to his résumé in late 2014 with his fictional debut
Face the Music, a rock and roll novel. On Sunday, Jan. 17, Anton talks about the book with Barry ‘the fish’ Melton (of Country Joe and the Fish) at Book Passage in Corte Madera.
“I’m just so fascinated by musicians,” Anton says, talking about the inspiration for the book. “I’m fascinated by the focus they display toward their craft and their instrument.”
On the flip side of that coin, Anton says, sometimes the only thing artists can do well is their art. “I thought it would be fun to write about a guitar player trying to talk to his landlord or talk to his girlfriend,” he says.
The book’s protagonist is Woody, a gifted though struggling guitarist in 1970s San Francisco busking on the streets and playing small clubs. Early in the book, Woody writes a love song for his girlfriend, Stephanie, that he plays for a famous touring rock star. As Woody’s life continues to fall apart, Stephanie leaves him and the rock star steals his song, forcing the songwriter to embark on a journey of self-discovery.
The book has been a work-in-progress that goes almost as far back as Anton’s musical career, and though it’s not strictly autobiographical, Anton adds many real-world events and details that give readers insights into the music business and bring the story to life.
Soon after publishing the novel late in 2014, Anton showed it to Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead and Zero. “I gave him the book and he liked it, and I said, ‘How about a song?’ He gave me a beautiful love song called ‘Stephanie,'” Anton says.
Anton recently recorded “Stephanie” with friends Steve Kimock (guitar), Melvin Seals (organ), Tim Hockenberry (vocals) and Robin Sylvester (bass). Copies of the single will be available at the upcoming reading.
In addition to the new music, Anton is also looking forward to chatting with longtime friend Melton. As an added treat, warming up the stage will be some rockin’ acoustic music with Barry Melton, Banana, Greg Anton and Sam Page. All proceeds from book sales will go to Camp Winnarainbow.