C Scott Fry looks like the kind of guy that has a lot of fun. He looks like a rabble-rouser, a downtown-cruising-guitar-pounding lover of the night, lover of hollering, lover of women. And maybe he is. But there does seem to be a little discrepancy between his physical appearance and his temperament.
He’s not small and he has a gravelly voice. He wears bits of leather and has silver hair that rolls back from the edge of his face, (“My hair has its own thing,” he said); a face that has elements of childishness, like it wouldn’t be surprising if you saw him waxing poetic with a one of those large rainbow spiraled lollipops.
Fry, a Coast Guard dependent, first came to Alaska in 1972. He lived in Juneau while he was in grades three through six.
“That’s when girls started to become interesting,” he said.
His high school years were split between New Jersey and California.
“I got into an awful lot of trouble, but I had fun,” Fry said. “More than most other people. I still do.
What kind of trouble?
“Kid stuff,” he said. “Stealing my parents’ car, stealing change out of their drawers to buy cigarettes, sneaking out, coming home at 6 a.m. before my parents went to work. Chasing girls tended to get me into a lot of trouble.”
Fry is a musician. It’s his identity. He hosts the Thursday night open mic nights at the Alaskan in downtown Juneau and has been a professional musician for a large part of his life. He said that when he was in 10th grade he asked his parents for a bass guitar.
“My mom said I needed a bass guitar like I needed a hole in my head,” Fry said.
That year, his sister got a flute, his brother a guitar, and Fry was given sports equipment. So he used his brother’s instrument.
“I learned all my favorite Bowie and Rolling Stones songs on his guitar,” Fry said. “By the time I graduated my parents knew it was something I was into, so they gave me a guitar for graduating. They were ecstatic. It had either been joining the military or graduating. I chose the latter.”
Fry hung out in California after he graduated and his parents retired in Juneau.
“I realized that there were a lot healthier environments than where I was living,” he said. “My friends were all wayward. They were on their way to creating a checkered past, getting in trouble for all the wrong reasons, a lot more serious than stealing a parents’ car.”
So, in his early 20s, he returned to Juneau. He got a job delivering flowers. The position gave him some romantic leverage. He knew what women were in fights with their boyfriends and what women never received flowers. Sometimes, he said, he’d make a point to bring those women flowers.
Fry was hanging around the Alaskan bar and hotel. They needed a doorman. He got the job. He estimates he was around 23 or 24. He worked at the establishment in various capacities for several years.
Eventually he left for Madison, in 2007. An old musician friend of his was living and playing there and getting quite a few gigs.
“I went there to play music and follow the dream,” Fry said. “I loved the way (my friend) wrote songs.”
He was in a band called Boo Bradley.
“The style of music we played was from (the book), ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird;’ string jug band music,” he said.
The main guitarist eventually fell in love with a woman and was unable to travel as much for performances.
“By this time last year we didn’t have anything on the books like we had before,” Fry said. “I said ‘Look, I can’t really survive on not playing.’ I said I was going to Alaska for the summer and I can play on the weekend and host open mic.”
He returned in May 2012 and has been a fixture at the Alaskan every Thursday night since then. Fry loves it. He loves hearing different people’s styles, and that people get up on stage from all over the world.
“We get Bob Dylan wannabes, Dead Heads that know every song, girl song writers, people that can’t play. They’re just trying to impress their girlfriends. It used to work for me, so it’s gotta work for someone once in a while.”
It did work for him. He was married once, in 1993, to a woman he continues to work with at the bar and hotel. He didn’t elaborate much about the marriage, just said:
“No children, just guitars.”
He’s currently playing in a band called Devils Club, a blues-based rock band. He said he has also been playing with the Shawn McCole Trio, a local folk music band.
When asked if he had any words of wisdom Fry didn’t hesitate.
“If you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re doing the wrong thing. That’s for sure.”
He said he’s an eternal optimist and a hopeless romantic.
“It takes an awful a lot to get under my skin,” Fry said. “When you do, watch out. I snap. I don’t like to hold grudges. I have enough gray hair. Why hang on to yesterday when you have today, and most likely tomorrow? I have bigger fish to fry than to worry about the crap that pissed me off yesterday.”
• Amanda Compton is the staff writer for Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.