Happiness Is…The Band

Sipping a Blue Moon (in a glass with an orange section because it’s Bridgette’s house and she says so), I am waiting for the next song, then John starts the familiar guitar riff. He’s only been singing Born On The Bayou for a few months, hoping to get up the nerve to do an open mike. I quickly find the page in the white binder that has the lyrics of all the songs Mobius Jones has covered in the last year or so. And we and I sing along. Then I take a peek at the other songs. When these guys are jamming, they really will take any request that we come up with.  There is an extensive set list, and they can jump into most anything. I envy this gift. They bought me a guitar a couple of years ago and it still sits in the corner of my living room. I can only really play three chords and am currently a one hit wonder with Traffic’s Dear Mr Fantasy, which they play every time just so I can practice. I try to convince myself that’s enough. A great song is just three chords and the truth.

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More Glory Days

So many songs came to mind after my blog post Glory Days was published a few weeks ago that I just had to do a part 2. The only group missing is the parody band Tone Deaf from SUNY Oswego. These guys made anything an instrument and the goal was to be bad on purpose. They deserve a whole post all their own. In the meantime, enjoy some of these classics!! And share some of your favorites!!

 

Play That Funky Music White Boy by Wild Cherry

One day Jenny’s roommate came home all excited about the new song she found out about while shopping downtown. None of us had the heart to tell her it had come out almost 10 years before. Maybe we should have. That may have kept her from torturing us with it over…and over…and over…and over again. 30 years later, whenever Mobius Jones plays this song, I see her face.

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Bands On The Run

Perfect afternoon, sunny and hot. Music blaring from the speakers on the deck overlooking the rolling hills. Banquet tables overloaded with the most delicious food and delectable desserts, and coolers full of ice and drinks underneath.

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And here is a pic of me, who was smiling this hard the whole day!! Bands On The Run, a concept that came to fruition on July 17 of last year, was the icing on a cake we had started to bake months before. One night while we were sitting around lamenting the lack of gigs for our bands, a thought surfaced.  What if we created a gig?  A venue where our favorite bands and then others connected to them could play and be heard and appreciated! We quickly searched for a facility that could contain all of this fabulousness and found Skyline Lodge at Highland Forest. The Band Wives jumped in planning food and fun, two of our favorite things.  The guys practiced and curated their playlists for their respective bands and then songs to be performed as a supergroup, including the iconic Wings tune Bands On The Run. And we promoted the hell out of it! If you build it, they will come. And come they did!  So many friends and family, people I didn’t know and friends I hadn’t met yet, all who showed for the same reason we did, to enjoy music, food, and fun.

13723963_10154372519992888_5305538572074492440_oStarting us off that day were two of the guys from the band Drink The Punch.  Recent college grads Brad Bargelski and Andrew Nicholson had some unique covers and gave us the edge that only the young and hip can bring. One of the great thing about budding musicians today is that there are thousands of songs from over the past 60 years that can be covered and reimagined and mashed up and these two performed them like a boss!

Day Ja Voo took the stage next.  Known for their great harmonies and the many America tunes they cover, they put together a perfect playlist for a sunny afternoon. We all know those yacht rock songs from the 70’s and these guys can evoke nostalgia just by playing the first few notes of each beloved tune. Whether CSN (and sometimes Y), The Eagles, or the Traveling Wilburys, the harmonies are spot on.  Audience members are constantly singing along and they always have an extra tambourine handy.

Mobius Jones Band also worked hard to bring their best to the crowd that afternoon at Highland Forest. From All Right Now by Free to Message In A Bottle by The Police to No Matter What by Badfinger, these guys rock it out. When they played Rock This Town by The Stray Cats, there was a full scale zumba inspired dance by several Band Wives and their zumba friends. led by their instructor Jesus. Several audience members joined in and it was bigger than Michael Jackson’s Thriller!

Then it was time for the Band Wives to shine. Joanne (wife of the drummer and MJB lead vocal singer Eric) and the other Band Wives performed the classic 80’s We’ve Got The Beat, accompanied by her husband’s band).  Getting the guys to back us up took a lot of cajoling, since the guys were leery when any of us are looking to perform with the band, anyone even suggesting it earns the nickname Y0ko. This performance was about as much of the spotlight as of the women could handle, singing back up and doing some basic choreography; we are better suited for sitting in the audience playing percussion instruments and yelling, “You guys rock!”

Open mic was the last act on the bill, with some blending of the three bands (more than just the blending that happens because Bryan is in both MJB and DJV), and then special guests, like yours truly! I made my guitar debut playing Traffic’s Dear Mr. Fantasy, thanks to my guitar teachers Jeff (from DJV) and John (MJB) and Brad, who also played with me on the song. Tonia got up there and sang some Creedence, and Beverly got up there with her ukelele.

As the day came to an end, there were songs not played and food not consumed (the Band Wives are notoriously famous for cooking too much!) We gathered enough money to pay for the venue and donate any extra to the local food bank (along with the food we had collected for that purpose.)

This year Bands On The Run 2 will be at the Onondaga Yacht Club on August 19. Mobius Jones and Day Ja Voo will be back, along with other musicians looking for a fun time. Admission is free, just bring whatever you want to drink and a dish to pass. This year we will be collecting funds as well as new and gently used items that can be used to set up new households for two local charities that help the chronically homeless A Tiny Home For Good http://www.atinyhomeforgood.org/  and In My Father’s Kitchen http://inmyfatherskitchen.org/.

If I have made this sound irresistible and you would like to join us for BOTR2, message me and I will get you the deets. Rock on!

 

By The Time We Got To Woodstock

“Road Trip!” she shouted. “Let’s go to Woodstock! You can’t write a rock and roll blog without ever going to Woodstock! Not when we’re so close!” How could I ignore that level of energy and enthusiasm? She was right, I needed to go.  I had actually been thinking about Woodstock earlier in the weekend when John tagged me in a Facebook post with this gorgeously haunting video by Good Harvest:

 

So we were off, leaving from Hobart, the Book Village of the Catskills (where I was attending the Hobart Festival of Women Writers) and heading towards Woodstock…

I should mention my very enthusiastic traveling companion is my friend Linda, who appeared in my life first as a local writing icon, then became a writing instructor, and now she is my friend, mentor, and cheerleader.  Linda was the one who encouraged me to blog about my band wife experience and even came up with the name of the website!! She keeps me focused and accountable, all the while singing my praises to anyone who will listen!

As we got closer to Woodstock, she took a slight detour down Mink Hollow Road, where Todd Rundgren used to live and record.  When she was younger, she drove down this road, hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of Todd, this talented guy she was crushing on. We started feeling a bit stalkerish, driving down this narrow country road, wondering if at some point we would be found out, but then we came to the end of the road and it was actually a trail head, so we didn’t have to worry about some sheriff stopping us and asking who we were there to bother.

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#overpassfest

Many say that Syracuse is just an average college town, but with much more snow. There is at least one person out to change that perception (besides my mom, champion of the Near West Side) and his name is Michael John Heagerty, voted Best Community Advocate in 2016’s Best of Syracuse, run by our local community publication the Syracuse New Times.

 

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Last week I was once again at #overpassfest. It’s an informal gathering of artists and musicians that has been happening every week since June. So far there have been #overpassfests at the Onondaga Creekwalk, the Inner Harbor, the Erie Canal Museum, and at the Great New York State Fair, and each one has been unique and amazing. Musicians with guitars, basses, tambourines, trombones, and even a couple of cajons (a percussion box that you can sit on and play at the same time) show up at the designated place at the appointed time and just start to perform. The groups constantly change as the evening goes on. Add in photographers (like my friend Lisa Kane), artists of all sorts of media, and for at least one week, a guy with a typewriter that wrote poems on demand. Every week people gather and create together in a community space that otherwise doesn’t see a lot of action.

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Tramps Like Us

I spent much of the day today rockin’ it out to Bruce and his new album, Chapter and Verse, released Friday. It’s a companion CD for his book due out today, Born To Run. The songs on it were fun and span his life in music, but some of my favorites weren’t included, so I thought I would put a few of my own out there for you all to enjoy. Today is my birthday (those of you on facebook have already been informed several times!) and it is so cool that at 9:27 a.m. on 9/27 I am blogging, doing something I really love.  #lovemylife

Tenth Avenue Freeze Out (1975) 

This song is my very first Springsteen song, introduced to me by my college roommate Joanie.  We even had a dance, which we are sure to resurrect when I visit her next winter in Key West.

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Big Sister Little Sister Fair Day, 20th Anniversary Edition

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“At least I don’t work in a lemon!”, I said to Jen as we walked by someone pouring lemonade in a giant lemon.  I  could have been a little more humble; I had three part time jobs and none of them seemed like they would pan out.  It was 1995 and I was distracting myself from the reality that I was 33 and had just moved back home to Syracuse and in with my mother (nothing personal, Mom.)

Last year Jen and I celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Big Sister Little Sister Day at the Great NYS Fair. We have a path we have worked into a groove, although we do try to put one new and different thing in every year. This year for the first time we didn’t go together, which may be OK since the landscape has changed significantly and our memories are just that, memories.

Curly fries with malt vinegar This is usually our first food item, within the first 2o minutes.  No matter how much malt vinegar we shake onto the overfull plate of fries, it never seems enough. Later in the day I always go to the Dinosaur BBQ booth for a sausage sandwich, then finish up the trip with a cinnamon candy apple. Continue reading “Big Sister Little Sister Fair Day, 20th Anniversary Edition”