Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dec 21st gig at The Palms

When Jerry announced to the crowd tonight that next Monday may very well be our last night at The Palms, it was immediately obvious that a lot of peeps had not gotten word. A loud, sustained unhappily wailing chorus of "No-o-o-o-o-o..." ensued.

Yep. Greg pointed out to me tonight prior to the show that a substantial number of the lighting grid instruments had been removed this week. I'm just speculating, but it may be that those were rented specifically for the Matt Goss Show, and rumor has it that he may not continue on the weekends starting in January.

Cost-cutting. Of which we may become a casualty.

Nice set list tonight (IIRC).
  • Fat City Horns Christmas prelude
  • Esta Noche
  • Love Is Gonna Find You
  • Into The Light
  • When The Curtain Goes Up
  • My Land Of The Sun
  • You Need a Hero
  • Love Somebody
  • After The Love Is Gone
  • Indian Summer Day
  • Soul Trilogy
  • We Are Nothing
While it was a good show (great crowd, too), I think the jarring possibility of the possible (likely?) end of this hang took its emotional toll tonight. Tempos were just ever so uneven and pushed in places, vocals ever so imperceptibly tentative here and there. We've come to expect joyously roaring week-after-week superhuman perfection. Spoiled, we are.

But, that observation is one of just small relative degree. These cats on a bad night are still better than any band I ever heard anywhere. And, this was by no means a "bad" night.

There were also some of our customary jaw-dropping, head-shaking-in-disbelief moments. Phil Wigfall was a personal 10-alarm fire tonight. His screaming, impossible rides on "You Need a Hero" and "After The Love Is Gone" elicited wild howls from the audience along with ecstatic "WTF?" smiles and shoulder shrugs among his band mates.

Then there was Mr. Bass Clef Master Blaster from another galaxy, giving us another of his patented in-your-face, brain-bleed bass solos.

More scenes from a hang...

Below, Dr. Lenny cleans up good! Dude, I'd buy a subprime mortgage securitization tranche or AIG credit default swap contract from your swanky ass.

Props (above) to Eric Tewalt for hangin' on bari, and to Dave Phillipus (below) subbing for Nathan on trombone tonight.

Wasn't my best night ever behind the lense, hope you dig these OK. Thanks for coming out. Merry Christmas, and come hang again next Monday.


Last Thursday I drove over to Walnut Creek. On Friday I hopped the BART into the city, whereupon I hooked up with my old drummer from more than 40 years ago, Fred Abruzzo, and Gail Simon, the widow of the bassist in our late '60's SF band (below).

Jose Simon died last year (way too early, sadly, of lung cancer) after a wonderfully productive career during which he became a revered contributor to the San Francisco arts scene. I am now immeasurably regretful that we had lost touch. Joey founded San Francisco's "Comedy Day," basically an annual free "concert" for comics. He became a fast friend of esteemed comics such as Robin Williams (and the list goes amazingly on and on and on, to include most of the major comedians you ever heard of).

I principally knew him as a musician, though aware that he had this comedy schtick on the side (which subsequently became his priority). Gail has a huge archive of his life's work down in her warehouse. It is amazing.

Joey was a degenerate gambler. As I recall, he chronically stayed into a 2-week advance draw from our gigs to cover his bets. And, routinely, after we'd get paid from our weekly gig out in a club in the Mission District, he and Fred and the club manager Perry would play poker 'til daybreak. On the rare occasions when he walked away flush, he'd be straight away over to Bay Meadows, where he'd usually lose it all on the horses. But -- every now and then some long shot in the 9th race would become the object of what he had left of his wad, and he'd win big. LOL! Next bus to Reno, from where we'd shortly get a call asking that we wire him some cash for a bus ride home.

That ever-elusive Easy Street score...

He was a good man. I am now, however tardily, blessed to be hooked back up with Gail and Fred after four decades. I will henceforth take this reunion seriously.

And that includes RICK.

I was anxious that I was gonna be terribly creeped out. I could not have been more wrong. I got to Mule Creek State Prison in Ione CA about noon on Saturday, about 82 miles from Cheryl's apartment. The guard who took my ID and visitor form came back and smilingly said "oh, you're here to see Elvis."

"Is that what they call him?"

"No, that's what he calls himself."

Probably a resigned allusion that "Elvis has not yet left the building."

Donald Stevenson (a.k.a. "Rick Stevens," former lead vocalist for Tower of Power), CDC inmate B79550, B-8-130, has been in the California Corrections system for by now nearly 35 years. He's 70 years old, walks with the stiff, halting gimpiness of an arthritic hip and bad knee.

He and I had a glorious visit on Saturday. 40 years have passed since I last saw him. It was good.

He was utterly, explicitly frank and remorseful regarding the ghastly events that landed him where he remains today (I didn't inquire; he offered). He is not the same man who committed those terrible crimes. He has done all that he can in pursuit of redemption. And, he knows full well that he may die in prison.

Next time, Cheryl and Fred and Gail and I will go up together to see him.

1 comment:

mj said...

I, for one, totally appreciate your comments Bobby. You show yourself to be intellectually gifted (many times OVER my cabeza), an absolute riot with your humor, a sensitive and eye popping photo hound BUT mostly, a loyal and emotional human being. A quality that I have found elusive in men. Thank you for being you, for sharing yourself and just being there. Love, mj