• Live on stage it’s... me?

On Friday, June 4, 2011, I drove down to Mountain View from SF to sit in for one song with Three Chord Monty, a bar band that one of my very best friends, Cory Verbin, has started. I was to accompany them on Ain’t Got You, based on the Aerosmith Live Bootled version and so far as knew I was ready. I had the arrangement down, my solo down, my fills prepped. I was gonna rock!

Rain was falling as I departed the city, and the 101 freeway was glossy black under a mist of pulverized rain. There were blurry tailights ahead of me, bright headlights behind, and a glow overhead as the lights of civilization were turned away from any sort of higher calling by a thick later of watery clouds. To get in the mood to play some music, I listened to some freshly mixed tracks from my upcoming album but the flakey Bluetooth connection was driving me to distraction, so I tried a hard wire, which I foolishly rigged up while driving, but it was worse, thanks to a bum jack in my Blackberry. I switched on the radio, instead, found nothing good music-wise and so dialed over to NPR. As I listened to a woman being interviewed about Teach for America I realized one thing very clearly: I was a lot older than I had been the last time I played a bar gig, which was roughly 20 years ago.

As the Teach for America woman droned on vaguely about her accomplishments, I thought to myself: This can’t be, I cannot be driving to a rock gig and using NPR to get pumped up. Back to the radio, nothing, back to NPR, boring, switched everything off and went with silence. I let my mind wander a bit, back home to where Avalon and Amelia and Catherine were camped out with one of Catherine’s good friends, back to the office where I have been freelancing and how our most recent project did not go so well, back to my accident and life before it and before I knew it I was pulling up at Francesca’s, the clean, little dive bar where I would soon be playing my one song.

From the parking lot I could not hear the telltale thump of live music, so I knew the band hadn’t started, which was good, because I wanted to talk with Cory ever so briefly about how we would approach the song (Who would start it? Who would play which solo when? How many hits at the end, etc?). Inside, I ordered a club soda, chatted with Cory quickly and took at a seat, snapping a few photos as I waited while I waited for my cue.

When my Big Moment came, the Spirit of the Tap was with me as a jack promptly failed turning my borrowed Telecaster into just a Tele, incapable of casting much of anything. As the band started, Cory fiddled with the pedal chord and suddenly my riffs roared to life. Or at least I think they did. I’d forgotten how hard it is to hear yourself on stage, so I plucked away madly hoping I was hitting more right notes than wrong. Then I noticed the arrangement was a little different from what I had learned. Then the singer, Tom, turned to me a signaled for me to solo when I thought he was going to solo on the harp. Then he started soloing after all in the middle of my solo, so I dropped into a more rhythmic thing. And then it was all over. I stumbled off stage, looking to the crowd, I am sure, as a drunk, but it was just my brain acting up in all the excitement.

So, there you have it: my big return to the live stage was anything but perfect, but a hell of a lotta fun and I hope to do it again soon. A huge thank you to Cory and all the other guys in Three Chord Monty for letting me get up there and let my hair down, figuratively speaking, of course.