As a young San Francisco musician, my band, Womb & I motored by private boat to Alcatraz, to bring & make music to & with the Native American occupiers.
Our thought was that music heals, brings peace & people together.
A foggy day with large swells made for a very scary load off onto the island. The boat would rise & fall, rhythmically & then lurch violently to one side or the other, but we were determined.
We saw we had to be nimble & quick to jump from the boat to the gangway.
We were hailed & cleared to land. We posed no threat. Eventually after near misses of “gear lost at sea,” We landed!
We all greeted each other as friends & brothers.
We were told that the electricity was down.
So much for bringing all the gear…
We moved sleeping bags & stuff to a white colored building to the right of the landing, on the 2nd floor. There was a fire circle in the center of a large room. We swapped stories. Made some rhythm grooves.
As we got to know each other, a young Native American, our age, offered a tour.
Boots (band mate) & I were all in!
So it began.
At first, an easy going tour, with bits & pieces of how it was living there.
Then, Boom! The fitness challenge began.
We ran, climbed, ducked in & out of rooms, buildings, stairs, all became part of an obstacle course, following the young man’s lead.
My most dramatic memory, was running through the dark, dank tunnels with pipes running parallel, ankle high, demanding for foot-eye coordination, or else.
One tunnel came out in the laundry building, there were more.
Another went down to the waters edge facing South with a spectacular, singular, unparalleled view of San Francisco.
As it got dark we went to the fire circle, logs burning in the middle of the room.
Don’t recall if I stayed one or a couple of nights.
But, going back to the City wasn’t anywhere near as dramatic as visiting Alcatraz.

Let’s Time Travel to about 15 years ago.
My wife, 2 sons, along with a family friend & myself take the Alcatraz Tour.
During the Tour, I ask the Ranger a few questions, regarding the tunnels, their locations, what happened to them? etc.
He said for safety, they were closed off.
The Ranger asks, “How do you know this?”
I mention, the band’s visit.
He says, “We need to talk after the tour.”
In his office, he conducts an informal interview & suggests we stay in touch…
After multiple emails & communications I receive, Former Resident Status of Alcatraz, due to my overnight stay.

Now let’s Time Travel to 2018.
I was allowed access, with my guitar, via the National Park Service, to visit and write some Alcatraz inspired songs.
April 4, 2018, thanks to Ranger Wendy, I found a spot under a cellblock facing the Golden Gate, sat on a bench & conjured the spirits & raised vibes of the history, breathtaking views, distant memories & present day changes.
The inspiration swirled, spun, around & through me. I became a conduit for a flow of music, channeled to me, my guitar & now to you, who listen.

That is how this album, Alcatraz, came to be.
I wrote these 7 songs & a partial 8th one.
Please enjoy my unique, personal, acoustic steel string impressions of Alcatraz.

Guitar Man of Alcatraz – Gregg Young