• Memories of a rock and roller -- with a stroller.

A few nights ago, I drove from SF to Mountain View to see a bar band. But not just any bar band, this was Three Chord Monty, which counts among its members Tom Thiemann (left in photo) and Cory Verbin (right), two people I used to be in a bar band with long ago, around 1988, to be exact. Watching them rock out felt so... familiar. In fact, the whole night was deja vu all over again.

The band Tom, Cory and I were in was called The Distractions and during our reign I lived in SF, but we rehearsed in Mountain View, so last night, starting with the drive down, I was on an old, well-traveled road. The exit to Francesca’s, the bar TCM played at, was close to the exit for our old rehearsal space. Francesca’s itself was a bit a of a dive, but not too bad, a lot like Route 66, which was the Distractions’ preferred venue. And once TCM got rolling, there were a few too-drunk dancers getting a little too excited and generally being annoying but completely harmless to the other, more sober (slightly!) dancers. We had one at every gig, too.

What defines a solid bar band (which TCM most definitely is)? It’s the sound. A good bar band pumps out a loose, slightly sloppy groove that is, in all its imperfections, perfection in itself. If you’re too good as a bar band, it’s distracting. If you suck too hard, it’s distracting. You have to be Goldlilocks in your chops, which means you’re approachable to the crowd and not above them in any way, but not disrespectful either of their desire to have a good time.

TCM was just right indeed, with Tom’s swaggering vocals, chatter and mugging, all backed by Cory’s Stonesy guitar work and the other member’s utterly unpretentious stage presence. And though a younger person might look at TCM and see a bunch of well-over 40-something men trying desperately to relive their youth, well, young people don’t know shit. It was just some guys doing what they’ve probably done since they were teens and didn’t have kids and mortgages and jobs: just playing some rock and roll and loving it.

Rock on Cory and Tom. And let me join you onstage next time!