Carol Ford and Jody Welch play at the Steakout Restaurant every 2nd and 4th Wednesday. Photo by Bob Brandt

When Carol Ford and Jody Welch invited me to their Hog Canyon home and ushered me into their studio, I surveyed the assemblage of mics, speakers and instruments surrounding me and I knew that I was in the company of some pretty serious musicians.

Before meeting in the mid-1990s, Ford and Welch both had very successful musical careers as rock artists associated with some of the big names of the rock world.

As a kid growing up in a musical family in Manhattan, no doubt influenced by her jazz drummer father, by age five Ford was given her first drum set and was already set on becoming a drummer. Throughout her childhood and teen years, she received intense
professional instruction at music studios on West 58th Street, after which she began playing for rock bands. Then, on her father’s advice to have a back-up instrument, she took up the bass guitar.

Ford credits her participation, at age 20, in Bonnie Raitt’s “Women in Strings” program for her becoming an accomplished bassist. Equipped with both percussion and string skills
and the Raitt Program’s gift of a white Fender guitar, she landed gigs with rock bands that played up and down the east coast, while working as Manager of Government Relations for
Union Carbide for 23 years. “I really had two careers,” she notes, “and I gave up a lot to do it.”

Meanwhile, Welch was pursuing his own demanding career as organizer and lead for a number of rock bands. Knowing that he wanted to make a living as a musician, he started his first band while still in high school in Nogales, Arizona. Unlike Ford, he mostly taught himself the full range of skills he needed to succeed as a guitarist, singer, songwriter and band leader.

After high school, he left Arizona, first to perform in Hawaii for five years then to California where he spent much of his career fronting rock bands at clubs and backing up nationally renowned groups like the Coasters, the Platters and the Drifters. He remembers playing the Cow Palace in San Francisco to audiences numbering in the thousands. “Music is pretty much my story,” he says.

Welch stuck with rock and roll until the acid rock craze killed his enthusiasm for the genre in the mid-1970s. He then turned his attention and talents to traditional country music.

The couple met in 1995 at the Crystal Palace in Tombstone, where Ford was playing with a band called Sunset Rider. Welch asked his friend, who was the bass player for the band, “Who’s the guy on drums?” Well, of course, the “guy” on drums was Ford. Welch joined the
band, and over time an attraction developed.

Ever the consummate professional, however, Ford kept her feelings to herself until one day Welch delivered what she describes as “this big Hollywood kiss.”

Ford and Welch appear regularly as part of Jody and Friends from 6-8 every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at the Steakout, and with the Hog Canyon Band which plays at special events like the recent KPUP luau. Welch also plays and sings every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at the Steakout performing what he calls Backing Tracks.

As they contemplate the end of their performing careers, “Somewhere in 3012,” Carol says, they want to give back by helping other artists develop their careers. Their well-equipped
studio will be the home of Hound Dog Rock, LLC, through which the couple will record, teach and mentor new artists. The artists that Ford and Welch take under their wings will be the lucky recipients of guidance gained through decades of experience and delivered with passion.

Musicians of Note recognizes individuals and groups who have crafted the rich and vibrant musical tapestry of Eastern Santa Cruz County.