Jeff Ament: My ultimate summer concert ...

I graduated from high school, and as far as I was concerned, "it" was on. I had the sweet local job, spraying noxious weeds for the county with the toxic 2-4D. Nasty stuff, but I was making $5 an hour, a king's ransom at that time. My classmate Bart and I started at 5 a.m. and got it out of the way, so we could hang out at the city pool, drink beer and drive to Havre (Mont.) to meet out-of-town girls.

I got away with a lot that summer. Drinking, driving, fighting, racing and getting into as much trouble as possible in a small town in Northern Montana. I had nothing to lose. I was saving my money that summer for two things: (1) a monthlong trip to California to check out the ocean, the skate parks and the L.A. hardcore scene and (2) enough money to get me started in college in Missoula that fall.

The world was at my feet, and I finally had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. The first 10 weeks of summer took forever, but I was finally getting ready for my trip to Los Angeles.

My parents weren't too happy about my skipping out on harvest that summer. After all, it was a chance to really put in the hours and make extra money for college, but my friend Jon and I had been talking about this trip for months. I took out 500 bucks for the trip and spent it all on cheap beer, leaded gas and punk rock records. L.A. scared the hell out of me, and at the same time, I loved every minute of it.

Sleeping in the car, getting my ass kicked at a Suicidal Tendencies show by a bunch of the skaters I idolized, getting mugged in the alley after another show and witnessing a lot of boredom, testosterone, and best of all, tons of energy and creativity. After my four weeks in Southern California, I reluctantly headed back to Montana on the bus, eyes wide open.

Somehow, I lost that Fargo drawl I had grown up with. I came home with a new haircut and telling all the "dudes" how "rad" Black Flag and Jay Adams were. My friends didn't know who or what I was talking about.

The best summer ever. It rocked the hell out of my boat, and set me straight. That fall I came back to Montana with the confidence to create something new. I saved some money from my graphics job at the university and bought a bass.

The best summer ever.

Jeff Ament is the bass player for Pearl Jam. A Montana native, Ament was a member of seminal Seattle band Mother Love Bone. He also plays with the band Three Fish. Pearl Jam's new studio album, as yet untitled, will be released Nov. 12. The new single "I Am Mine" hits radio stations Sept. 17. More info on Pearl Jam is available online at