MONDAY, 3/17/03 9:00 PM ST. PATRICK'S DAY
My cellphone is ringing. "Yello", I answered. "Hey, COROCKANROLL". (Only two people in the world call me that ridiculous nickname; Jim Janota and Jack Hickie). "What up, Hickie" I asked. "C'mon down to ZUZU tonight, I doing an acoustic thing" said Jack. "Huh?" I said, "It's Lily's new club. Right next to The Middle East." "Jeez Jack, I'm still in my stupid work clothes." I whined. "So what, there's gonna be lots of girls there and that might be just the thing to get ya hooked up, I mean, you never know." He argued. Well what the hell, I guess I'll go for a couple of beers.
Because of my 'business casual' attire, I got a lot strange looks when I walked in. My friend Artie Friedman gaffawed out loud. "Jeezuz Artie, you act like you never saw a pair of brown oxfords before." I thought I looked pretty spiffy, green shirt, green tie, green slacks. I opened every conversation with, "I just got out of work.", in case they thought that I always dress like a geek.
Scanning the room, I can see that Jack has been busy calling people. Two ex-girlfriends; the wonderfully flirtatious and attractive, Miss Robin Vaughn, and the talkative cutie pie, Miss Julie Ray, were in attendance. As well as Jack's present girlfriend, Dashi, who sat next to Jack's Mom all night.
A group of happy St.Pattie's day revelers, who had pushed three tables together, livened up the place. Rock historian Bret Milano lumbered in and stayed for a total of 1...2...3...4...5 seconds, and left.
The band consisted of 6 musicians: A mandolin player, who also played the SAW with a violin bow, a woman who played what looked like a tin whistle, a tambourine player, Eric Martin on acoustic guitar, Jack Hickey on his green Gretch, and a male vocalist. They played a short but spirited set of Irish tunes.
As promised, Jack made his singing debut. Not a bad voice at all. The highlight of the whole night, was when Eric Martin sang the lead on the old Van Morrison song "Tupelo Honey". Eric's soulful timbre is, in my humble opinion, among the world's finest. I am quite sure I heard a few sniffles, this is how moving his performance was. Will somebody please tell me why this guy isn't making a million dollars with his voice? RC
WEDNESDAY NIGHT, 3/19/03 DODGE ST. BAR AND GRILL, SALEM, MA
It was very strange how we all arrived at the same time, Criss Horne, a.k.a. Lady Kensington, and her Beat Lordes, were extracting themselves out of a small, black Saab. My Last Ones guitarist, Danny McCormack, had once again beat me out of the primo parking spot, right in front, this time by a mere couple of seconds. My rhythm section, Richie Johnson and Bruce Hammil pulled up in separate vehicles, and we all gabbed away like we hadn't seen each other for years.
I moved my gear into the club, and noticing Bruce wrestling with his enormous Ampeg bass rig, I found an excellent hiding place, right next to my old friend from Portland, ME, Richard Julio. I haven't quite figured out if Richard is dating, or living with, or married to Criss Horne. They are always in the same place, but they don't, like, hug and kiss or anything. Why do I care, you ask? Well basically, because I have had a crush on her, ever since I was a young 'twenty-something' year old, (note to myself; Jeez Rick, you sap! Do you have to get a crush on every pretty girl you see?) Criss was fronting the legendary girl band, The Brood, at the famous New York City rock club CBGB's. These guys went on just before my band The Lyres. It was the early eighties. It was quite exciting, they played barefoot!
After the bass amp was positioned onstage, it was time for a cigar break. Dodge St. is one of the few bars around that doesn't allow smoking inside, so me and my fellow Last Ones stepped outside. Richie mentioned that he had invited his friend, DMZ/CARS drummer, Dave Robinson. Having heard this a dozen times or more, with no results, we were all shocked and pleased when the guy actually showed up! I must say that I was a little disappointed in his choice of transportation, I mean, this guy is a genuine rock star, as big a rock star as they come, and I know that he has a collection of great sports cars, and a large house on the ocean in Gloucester. I guess the late model, Ford Taurus wagon, totally threw me off. He brought his buddy, Mark Sutton, who played guitar for The Rings.
It was good to see Dave again, and he was as friendly and affable as I remember him. We had a lot to talk about. I think the last time I saw him was at DMZ rehearsal in Allston, in the basement of the old Reddy Teddy house. Except for a little 'snow on the roof', he looks and acts the same as he did when I met him in 1971, when he played drums for The Modern Lovers.
I actually rented his old room, at his family house in Woburn, when I played with The Boize. This is how I know his whole family. I paid 25 dollars a week, room and board. I had a dirty machine shop job and I remember that his Mom was impressed that I refused to sit down at the dinner table until I had showered.
Rock and Roll bands must always expect the unexpected. This was
definitely true this night.
Danny McCormack and myself, went through great pains to make sure that the P.A. was going to be all set up and taken care of. I'm talkin' several conversations directly about the subject. It was getting late and no P.A.
I decided to take action; "Who's in charge here?" I asked. Several people pointed to the ditzy, but cute, female bartender. No good. Danny suggested we take it right to the top; The COOK .
OK, now were getting somewhere, we said to each other, as the cook led us to an unlit back room, he turned on a tiny, toy flashlight, as we rummaged through a bunch of broken down ten inch speaker cabs. No mic stands, one shitty microphone, all garbage. We're screwed! For ten minutes we were screwed. Until the cook said "There is this other room with stuff, but it belongs to another band and your not supposed to use it." "Can we just SEE it?" I asked. "Ya, but your not supposed to use it." The cook repeated. Man, this stuff was great!, Mackie powered board, Yamaha 12 inch, 3 way cabs, all the cables. Shure SM 58s, there was NO WAY we were not going to use this stuff. Danny had a little private talk with the guy and we were wheeling the stuff out in no time.
The Last Ones played first. The club had a TV set up in the corner, adjacent to my face, and I remember thinking how surreal it seemed, to be playing rock music, to the images of war being flashed across the screen. I thought we played a good, tight set.
assembled her Beat Lordes and went into action. I was transfixed, as I
listened to one of the best sets of Rock and Roll music I have ever heard!!!
Backed by three unassuming, new guys from Keene, NH; Matt, Scott, and Frank, who were genuinely surprised to hear the whistles and applause, Criss confidently led the band like the seasoned pro she is. Pointy toed boots with Cuban heels, straight leg jeans, mock turtle neck, and of course the most impressive rock guitar in the world; the Baldwin 'split sound' six string. The guitar that has a switch that says "WILD DOG". Her dark hair and sunglasses frame her face just right. She definitely has the LOOK. Her guitar playing is somewhat "FELICIAN" and the Vox Continental organ aligns the band to old style punk. I was blown away. All this and money too. The club never has a cover and they always pay a guarantee. RC