Saturday, July 27, 2013

Last Rodeo

(1930hrs) Sorry that I haven't written anything for a while – nothing much to say. Been busy taking of Joy, and not doing much else. I've had gigs here and there with Steppen Stonz, but it's been the same-old same-old. But as of this moment I'm sitting inside the Sequim VFW Hall, getting ready for a show with Ron DeFrang and John Eddy. But it isn't our band per se. You see, when I'm out of town, Ron and John play with their old friend Pete Mainzer and a few friends of his under the name Thin Ice. Their drummer wasn't able to make this gig, so they called me to fill in. And while there were some fits and starts in arranging a rehearsal, I wouldn't have passed this up for anything.

As you probably know, it's because of Ron. His health has been in decline, and from every thing I've been hearing he doesn't appear to have much time left. That, and Pete has been promising that this show will actually be a paying gig. So here I am, typing away to pass the time. And the first wild card of the night has already been drawn, as the drummer who supposedly wasn't going to be here just walked in the door a few minutes ago. And Pete is already inviting him to play a song or two, without actually saying anything to me about it. And nobody's heard from Ron. We supposedly have Andy Maupin in the proverbial bullpen, but nobody's heard from him either.

(1945hrs) Well, we do have someone in the bullpen, but it wasn't who was I was expecting. Eddie Perez is here – he signed into the VFW guest list as Carlos Santana.

(2027hrs) Ron just walked in the door, three minutes before we're supposed to go on. And he brought Andy with him. Now we have three guitarists, all looking to play, and only one guitar amp. And there may be a fourth player on his way. The show hasn't even started and it's already a circus.

(2037hrs) And we're not starting on time. And there really aren't any people here to notice. John told me not to worry about it, because the last time they played here had started off the same way, but they made money in the end. And Eddie has told me that I'd be more than welcome to rejoin his band with Tom Davis. He even told me that they'd been using my old nemesis Daryl Taplin on the drums recently. Let's just say that Daryl – 'The Funkmaster', he likes to call himself – doesn't even know how to play ZZ Top's 'La Grange' or 'Tush'.

I have a small secret to confess. Joy and I may finally be moving into an apartment of our own, thanks to a long wait for Section Eight housing through the Peninsula Housing Authority. My worry is that with my schedule with Steppen Stonz being as hit-and-miss as it is, getting our own place may force me to leave them and get a (gulp) normal job. Not that I'd get much, unless I can find a gig as a courier. Besides that, I'm probably bound for something in the fast-food sector of the economy. But being able to play with Eddie and Tom could soften that blow – if they can actually get some gigs.

Oh, and my plan to wear the suit I with Steppen Stonz tonight hit a bit of a snag – no shirt. Now I remember that I took the damn thing out and washed it. I think it's hanging in my closet. Oh well. I'll do the show in blue track pants and a Reno Envy t-shirt – I'll still look better than Pete and John. Ron gets a pass – when you have terminal cancer, you get a pass on a lot of things.

(2107hrs) Thin Ice's regular drummer Darrell did ask to play a song or two before leaving early, so I'm taking a break. Unfortunately, Darrell doesn't have the best meter – counting in UFO's 'Doctor Doctor' probably a good ten to fifteen BPM slower than he's actually playing it. Darrell actually reminds me of myself when I was younger, and I rushed through every song, earning the nickname 'Turbo Joe'. Playing to click-tracks and sequences for most of the last fifteen years really ironed out my meter. Darrell will probably never have that opportunity, simply because there aren't that many bands left, let alone venues for them to play. What was once six nights a week all year long is maybe three or four nights at best, with the majority being weekends-only.

(2114hrs) Now Andy is playing guitar, and Darrell is on the drums. It's turning into a jam night. That said, Darrell is playing the T. Rex classic 'Get It On (Bang A Gong)' the way Chic drummer Tony Thompson played the song with The Power Station. Darrell is no Tony Thompson, but he's playing a tasty groove. Looks like I might be taking the rest of the set off. Not that it matters to me – this is turning into a real wreck of a show. But that doesn't surprise me. It looks like communication hasn't been all that good. Depending on who you talk to, this show was supposed to have taken place last weekend, or maybe not until next weekend. Cue the circus music.

(0008hrs, July 27) And the big train-wreck finish. Ron didn't finish the show, Eddie and Andy finished out for him, and of course we finished the show with 'Free Bird'. We even had some friend of Pete's come up and play harmonica for a couple of songs.

(0208hrs, July 27) Okay, enough of the doom and gloom. Here's an after-action report for you. The reason there weren't any update for damn near three hours is because I was busy, either playing or checking in on Ron. And I did get paid. Pete actually showed me the check he got from the VFW for the gig - $162. He gave me forty bucks in cash right there and then. We also got a fair bit of money in tips, but I don't know what happened to it. To be honest, it doesn't really concern me at the moment. John told me that he'd ask Pete about it, but it isn't going to bother me if I didn't get a chunk of it. Ron needs the money more than any of us do, because it sounds like he's having girl problems, which is the last thing he needs in the last few days/weeks/months of his life.

In all honesty, the money is nice but irrelevant. I'm leaving for Reno in a few days, and I won't be back for a month. And from what I've been hearing, I doubt very much if I'll ever see him again after tonight. It's been fun, if not exactly profitable, playing with Ron. But it's never really been about the money. I make money with Steppen Stonz. Not a lot, nowhere near enough, but I do make money with them. Playing with Ron, John, Pete, Eddie, Tom, Swinny, Grant, Phifer, Andy, the MCFD guys a few weeks back.... even assclowns like RJ and Jay, it's fun. It's about rocking out, pure and simple. And the world will be a lot less fun when Ron leaves us.

I hope people feel that way about me someday.