OK, actually the rock and roll shows were yesterday, but I’m writing today, so that counts for something, right?
Yesterday started in a most un-rock-and-roll manner, as I visited the eye doctor. I got a note telling the DMV that I don’t need glasses in order to drive, so that was good, but there are a couple of things that came up that will require further observation (get it?). On top of that, the doctor dilated my pupils, and my head is too large for those little plasticine shades, so I had to make it through the first half of the day as Squintar-Zed, Emperor of the Mole Men. On the upside, even though I couldn’t stand to be in direct sunlight for much of the day, I did have the appropriate look for the band’s psychedelic numbers — or for a career as an anime character.
We actually played two shows yesterday, the first one for the Mondoville Rotary Club for their monthly lunch meeting (Berries’ guitarist/utility infielder Larry Ellis is a member). We played five songs at the meeting, which meant that we spent considerably more time loading in and out than we did performing — thank heavens for the elevator. The crowd seemed a bit uncertain about the whole thing, but they were polite, friendly, and willing to feed us, so we’ll call it a win. There was a part of me that felt very mid-1960s as I did this — “Yeah, the straights don’t know how to relate to rock and roll, man!” — but then I remembered that I’m a middle-aged English professor, and I was just hoping my back would hold out until the end of the day. Still, Walter Mitty is never that far away, is he?
After the meeting ended (at which point I realized my eyes had finally returned to normal), we broke down the gear and moved it to the Opera House, which was sponsoring our evening show, number two of this summer’s Concerts in the Park Series. We’ve played most of the summers since the band formed, missing 2009 and 2012, but it was nice to be back. The equipment safely stored in the Opera House’s lobby, I went home and stretched out for a little bit, returning for our 6 p.m. call time.
Moving the gear to the park was much easier than the earlier hauls, thanks to the presence of several Opera House stagehands and tech folks. That was especially nice, as the temperature and humidity were both in the 90s, which meant that we were sweating like a road production of Cool Hand Luke by our soundcheck — an impromptu version of “Louie, Louie”, the garage national anthem.
The set took about 70 minutes, in which time we did 20 songs (in our traditional “Hey don’t bore us — get to the chorus” manner) and had a bit of time to make nice with the few dozen folks who braved the heat, including Mrs. Mondo, the Spawn, and relatives/significant others of the other band members, along with the typical hardy souls willing to sit around in weather much more suited for orchids than rock and rollers. As we broke down one more time at the end of the night, a few folks came by to thank us for playing, and we moved a copy or two of our new CD.
That’s right — some copies of the pre-release pressing of the Berries’ self-titled album had come into our possession, so we flogged those a bit during the show as well. In the next few days, copies will be available via mail order, and I’ll pass the word along as soon as the arrangements are in place.
Finally, we got the gear back to our rehearsal space (the college’s TV studio) and went our separate ways for the weekend. Still, I was thrashed. Friend and occasional commenter Mike Dearing has told me about years doing a half-dozen or so sets a night in some of the pay toilets of Nashville; he called them “the Bataan Death March of gigs.” I’m not sure how he did it, but at least it was indoors. The Beatles, of course, honed their skills playing set after set in Hamburg dives. But at least they were young, and they had Prellies. Me, I have a weekend to recover — and I need it.
So I started the day half-blind, and ended it half-dead. But I got to play music in between, so it was a good day.
And just because I used it in the post title: