“Pittsburgh has over 400 of these…” the moderator said and we all looked at each other with blank stares. “Hills?” someone across the table asked the group. “No, I think bridges” Chick said. We all discussed the possibilities between bites of dinner, and decided on hills. Once the answer was handed in and the guesses scrutinized, the questions in that round were recapped and the correct answers were revealed. “Question number 4, the answer is bridges.” “See, you should have listened to me! I lived in Pittsburgh for a few months years ago” Chick said. “You should have said so.” someone retorted. The scores were updated, “…and the Sock Monkeys in the lead with 240 points!” Everyone at our table erupted in applause, along with others at surrounding tables who were competing in the trivia game. Our usual trivia place was full up, so we traveled across town to give somewhere else a try. And we were rockin’ it!
On This Day is one of my most fun things about Facebook. For those who don’t know, it shows all the things posted in that newsfeed on that date in previous years. Included in today’s list on mine were entries from different years that all had one thing in common, an optimistic and enthusiastic post talking about NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) and how THAT year would be the year I would hit the coveted 50000 words. I started out strong, mathematically calculating how many words per day (1667) and then recalculating at the end of each week as I fell short of the intended goal. By mid-month, things would look bleak, and by the time Thanksgiving week arrived, my retail life had taken over and I would slink toward November 30, vowing to do better next year.
My mom excitedly introduced me to John, a guy that she and her grandtwins got to know this past summer at Great Camp Sagamore. “This is John! Ty really enjoyed him this summer”, she exclaimed with a huge grin. I smiled.”Nice to meet you. It sounds like you had a great time with my mom!” This happens all the time, whether it is church or the bookstore or at one of my band gigs. So many times someone has said to me, “Are you a Horan? Are you related to Carole?” And my answer is always yes. My mom collects people the way some people collect stamps or shells.
From a very young age, our family dinners always included others, whether it was one of our friends or someone living with us. An overfull table didn’t seem out of place. It wasn’t until years later that I found out that most people only ate with their nuclear families. And it wasn’t just food we shared, it was also our space. We moved to the Near West Side when I was 11, and the two family house provided all the space we needed for our family of 9, plus whoever. Here’s a pic of the seven of us with some guy named Tony we picked up along the way. My parents wanted to help out in the neighborhood and at St Lucy’s church, and that included giving shelter to those who needed it. The upstairs mirrored the downstairs, and it was really fun for the kids to have our bedrooms be in the kitchen or the living room. I paired with most of my siblings throughout my time there, and once Judy and I got the front room with the balcony! There were a lot of us but there was always room for one more at Our Father’s House.
Last February I was watching the world stroll by the porch where we were hanging out and sipping beer in the sunshine. I have been thinking about how I wanted to write about the places that the Band Wives (and husbands) visited in Key West last winter, then I crunched the numbers and realized we frequented 22 different restaurants and bars! How to get this down to a manageable number…to make it an even dozen, I’ve decided to leave the Hemingway bars Sloppy Joe’s and Capt Tony’s for a separate read. So here are 12 of the most fun places, all located in sunny Key West!
We started at the Grand Vin Wine Bar, the wives lured in by the chalkboard sign out front that said, “Free Wine Tasting!” The guys and I scrounged a couple of beers from a cooler in the back while the wives lined the bar. We got our drinks and headed out to the porch and the sunshine. A photo op led us to meet Liz and Dave (on the left), there on Key West for a long weekend from Indiana. She heard someone yell, “Troublemaker!” (it could have been meant for any one of us} and then offered to take a pic. They joined us for a drink and we became fast friends, joining in when the partiers on a balcony across the street started a yelling war, in which of course we participated. When it was time to get some dinner, Liz and Dave recommended The Salty Angler. We were charmed by the fish tacos and live music. It didn’t take long for the dancing to start when we heard Warren Zevon’s Lawyers, Guns, and Money, one of Bridgette’s faves.
Driving down Bridge Street with Nick, checking out all the changes that have occurred since I was enrolled at SUNY Oswego, all the dive bars now torn down or repurposed. I jumped at the chance to take him back to school, wanting quality time with him to see how it was going. He’s living on West Campus, where I spent four years engaging in shenanigans during the 80’s. As I approached, all the feels for the sounds that I love from that time came flooding back. Whether it was Taps played on a snare and trumpet by Michael and Nelson at sunset, or walks to the lake with my roommates where we could not even talk over the roar of the waves on Lake Ontario, or playing the stereo with the speakers out the windows having a music war with the opposite dorm, there are so many memories. And the music…so many songs…here are 10 of the songs that take me to Cayuga Hall every time I hear them!
20 degrees in Syracuse at 6 am. By 3 pm I make it to sunny Key West. Blue water, sandy beaches, and chickens roaming the streets. Warm air hits my face as I get off the plane. Inside, I spot the bar at the same time that I hear ” Yea, Debbie!” They are all anxiously waiting my arrival so we can head to our island getaway.
After checking in, the more responsible band wives decide that chores must be done. After the beds are made, suitcases unpacked, and clothes changed, we head out grocery shopping. We walk down the street, then the tide of wives turns. Those in the back understand the shift immediately when we see the sign, “Free Wine Tasting.” The wives head for the bar while the guys and I scrounge in the back cooler for beers, and then venture out on the porch.
Later, fortified, the band wives venture off to find essentials at CVS while the rest of us enjoy cocktails, sunshine, and vacation.
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.
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.
Starting 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!
We all have those friends…ones that thrive on jokes and pranks and can at times be pretty clever. My life is filled with people like that which makes for some pretty funny stories. How did Winnie The Pooh end up drunk on my bed? Once upon a time, a few of the band guys and wives gathered at my house for dinner. It was going to be an outdoor work party, but with the rainy weather it turned into dinner. I had plans to see a play later in the evening, so when it was time for me to go, I told the gang I would clean up later, and that they could stay as long as they wanted and lock up when they were done. I should’ve paid more attention when I heard the first few notes of Old Time Rock and Roll being played on the guitar. As I drove away I hoped there would be no hookers and booze like when Tom Cruise was left alone.
On my way home after the play I texted Tonia and asked her how long they had stayed. She said they had left about a half hour before. As we approached, the curtains were wide open and every light was on. I said to Linda, “Who do they think is playing the light bill, Vanderbilt?” We had a good laugh and as I got out of the car to go in, my housemate arrived home. I went into the house first and as she rushed upstairs to go to the bathroom as I yelled after her, “OMG, come back down! I have no idea what happened here!”
The hallway looked emptier than usual. And why was the coffee table so tiny? It was made out of solid wood, and I knew it didn’t fold, so how was it so low to the ground? There were books and knickknack on the surface, and when I lifted up the tablecloth underneath them, I finally realized it was actually the bookshelf from the hallway, laying flat on its side. The couches had been switched and the pillows moved back, so they were on the opposite couches. On to the dining room where all chairs were mysteriously missing, and the pictures on the wall had been switched and in some cases turned around backwards.
Everything on a surface of the dining room had switched shelves or furniture, and all the napkins were hanging from the curtains. As we moved into the kitchen, every cupboard door was open and things were clean, just very out of place. Upstairs in the bathroom, things had changed places and more pictures were askew and backwards. Michelle and I kept laughing and laughing as we moved from space to space noticing everything. We put a few things back into place, then I decided it was time for bed; I had to work very early the next morning.
They left me an empty wineglass and a half empty bottle of wine, next to my Winnie The Pooh. I posed him for a drunken teddy bear picture to text out. I saw that the duvet had been moved and thus found their last trick, short sheeting my bed. It took me a while to get to sleep that night. I would like to say it was because I was busy plotting revenge, but my mind just doesn’t work that way. It’s just not in the cards for me. I still keep one picture in my bedroom purposely turned around just to make me laugh about the people in my life who keep me smiling every single day! And last weekend when I had some friends over working at the house, you can bet it wasn’t one of those hooligans I left in charge!
It was John Hughes movie night with Nick a couple of months back. I couldn’t believe he was about to graduate high school and had never seen some of the beloved coming of age movies. We picked up National Lampoon’s Vacation with Rusty, Anthony Michael Hall, and then segued into The Breakfast Club where we saw him a bit grown. John Hughes really did tell some great high school stories. Who can forget the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal?
I was transported to my own high school experiences, about 5 years before this movie was released. I didn’t need a Zimbio quiz to find out which character I was, it was very evident. 1978. My friends and I were heading to Burnet Park for Senior Skip Day, but instead of the beer my friends procured at the corner store up near the park, or the pot (I never did know where it came from), I bought my 2 cans of root beer in a paper bag and walked into the woods for a day of goofing off. Nerd? Goody Two-shoes? You betcha.
January 20, 2017. The day that so many of my friends and family have been dreading. It is another grayish day in Syracuse. Mornings like this are nothing new to us here in the Salt City and we still rise every day and go try to find some joy. I have been feeling unsettled all week and everything I have been paying attention to in the media has not been helping. So this morning I sat in my warm house and had a hot breakfast, took a hot shower and got ready for a job that provides me with a living wage and health care and vacation time. I thought about how I am living the American Dream. But really, what is the American Dream? I am fairly sure that just about every writer around will be posting about this today. This is a day that will go down in history, no matter what comes tomorrow and the next day and the next…everyone I know has strong thoughts and opinions about what will happen during the next four years.