Atascadero News photo courtesy of Patrick Jeter • Patrick Jeter poses for a photo with a random chick who liked his car, a 1931 Ford pickup and all around chick-magnet.
Two of Patrick Jeter’s interests go by the name “Tres Gatos.” The other one has had “Tres Gatos” painted on its side.
The first of Jeter’s gatos is music. He’s a self-taught guitar player in a band called — get this — Tres Gatos. He never learned to read music or even tablature. Instead, he learns parts by ear. He thinks of himself as a blues rock player.
And the band, he said, plays American roots rock ‘n’ roll.
“Soul, funk, anything with that ‘chills down the spine vibe,’” he said.
The band is a trio consisting of himself on guitar, his beautiful wife, Julie, also known as Jewels Vern, on bass, and longtime drummer Greg Cash Money Barnes.
The band plays mostly original material, but throws in an obscure cover, as “Tres Gatos-ized” by Jeter. A good example is “Purple Rain” by Prince. When they play it live, it almost sounds like Prince’s version is the cover, because the band plays it with such conviction and verve.
“I come up with material, I have to arrange it and show [the band],” Jeter said. “It’s a huge time killer.”
Not that he’s complaining. Rock ‘n’ roll is a major part of what makes Jeter Jeter.
“My descent into [rock ‘n’ roll] began with Elvis, who was on his way out when I was a kid, but I didn’t know that,” Jeter said. “Now I have a pompadour. I came out of the womb with one.”
He started watching the bands on the Ed Sullivan show. Then he found out about the Beatles. Then he got a $19 guitar from Sears. His parents did not approve.
Listening to him talk about music and playing gigs is a lot like hearing a car guy talk about his car. And he’s quite the car guy, too. It’s the second gato, if you will.
Jeter’s current project is a 1931 Model A Ford pickup. He said he bought the cab in 2001.
“I started with a rusty, bullet-hole ridden cab and a picture in my head,” he said, grinning.
Everything from there, he fabricated himself or got friends and family to help with. His brother, for instance, had a machine shop for many years and helped Jeter out by making parts in the shop. He also said he designed the frame by making it of wood in his “cramped, tiny two-car garage with a crack down the middle of the floor,” that he said swallows tools occasionally.
“I’d go in bursts where I’d crank on it a while,” he said. “I wanted something completely different from a rust rod. … It’s a lot of fun; it’s no trailer queen.”
It’s not his first fabrication project, either. He said he’s owned two 1955 Harley Davidson motorcycles, a 1955 Triumph, and his first major car, a 1949 Ford.
“I used to set car alarms off in the parking garage in San Luis Obispo,” he said with a grin.
And he said he still believes that one of the motorcycles is at least partially responsible for ending his first marriage.
“I think firing [the Triumph] up in the house, that was the last straw,” he said with a laugh and a smile.
During that time, he said had long hair and a beard and a leather vest and lived the biker lifestyle. But the biker lifestyle is not all fun and games.
“When you have to ride on a cold winter’s day, it’s not fun, let me tell you,” Jeter said.
Besides, he said, looking like a biker held him back from opportunity. So he allowed himself to be talked into going to beauty school by his brother. He sold his then-current motorcycle to be able to finance life during that time, and away he went.
He said it was a pretty natural choice, once he allowed himself to be convinced. Always artistic, Jeter had worked as an illustrator for a toy inventor previously, has an eye for fashion and had been a landscape contractor. Doing hair would allow him to work indoors, being creative and cutting edge, while keeping his hands busy.
Jeter said that if he has a specialty, it’s doing gorgeous highlights and the actual act of cutting hair.
“Cutting, to me, is sculpture,” he said. “You’re getting rid of everything you don’t need.”
He added that he does a lot of what he called “scene cuts,” or the trendy haircuts of the day.
A few years ago, he got a job at Sarandipity Salon in the Kennedy shopping center. He started late in the week, and on Friday, the owner, Sara, let it be known she was selling the salon.
Jeter said he was pretty bummed out by that, but his wife, business partner and bass player suggested buying the shop, which they did, making hair Jeter’s third gato. In fact, it got rechristened to “Tres Gatos.”
Jeter said the name of the salon “made [his] skin crawl,” and that answering the phone, “Sarandipity, Patrick speaking,” was one of the worst things ever. He kept the name till he “just couldn’t do it any more.”
And it’s been a lot of fun. He said he’s got the best clients in all of North County, and what he can’t do, his coworker Melissa can.
The worst part about doing hair for Jeter is that the salon itself is painted a deep and rich red — and it plays havoc with his eyes when working with color. To that end, he said he often walks his clients outside to get proper, untinted sunlight on it.
And the best part?
“When someone says, ‘I trust you, do something crazy, something rock ‘n’ roll that’s fun,’” he said. “Usually, that’s young, sassy people.”
When Jeter isn’t doing hair in Atascadero, he can often be found cruising around town in his purple Ford, which had its debut in 2009 but which has also been evolving ever since. And when he’s not in his purple Ford, he’s usually in his red minivan with “Tres Gatos the band” stickers on one side and “Tres Gatos the salon” on the other. He uses the van to truck gear to gigs.
He’ll play at the Pismo Beach car show this weekend, at the Broken Earth Winery next weekend, and at the Brett Oswald Memorial Barbecue in Templeton the following weekend. Go there and say “hi.” He’ll be the one playing guitar on stage with a white pompadour.