An Albatross-and-Berries Sandwich

The Berries got out for the first time in a while last night, playing our local bar, along with another band from Mondoville County. This was a small landmark for us, as it was our first two-set night. Our friends in Albatross took sets one and four, and we played the two middle sets, giving us the title for this post.

We were supplying the PA and drums last night, so we got an early start. Load-in began around 6:30, and since I’m now the only Berry with a large-capacity vehicle, I hauled the PA, some of the drums, and various odds and ends. One of the nice things about the venue is that there’s a garage door (rather like the top of a roll-top desk) that acts as the back wall of the stage. This lets us get stuff into the building with almost no difficulty, and had the added advantage of a small draft that kept me reasonably cool as I played. After we set up, we got to relax for a bit before the Albatross lads took the stage.

Albatross are a classic power trio with a very strong early 70s vibe. Their sets were a rollicking combination of classic rock deep cuts (like this one), revved up versions of early rock and roll (opening with a nice version of Eddie Cochrane’s “C’mon Everybody”) and some open-ended takes on classic blues numbers. Some of the more extended tunes had a serious Black Crowes vibe, which is pretty much ideal for smoke-filled bars. My favorite number from their first set was a version of “Folsom Prison Blues” that reminded me  great deal of the version by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. A couple of original numbers meshed very well with the rest of the set — they definitely have found their metier.

They wrapped their opener, and then it was our turn. We did 23 songs over our two sets, working in four covers (including a version of the William Penn Fyve’s “Swami”, into which I interpolated a chunk of “Tomorrow Never Knows”) and breaking out several originals we hadn’t done before. These included a couple of songs I brought in from a band I played in back during my first trip through grad school, but even those were well received, so I guess they haven’t dated too badly. The crowd was good sized and enthusiastic, with friends of ours coming from Greenville, Columbia, and even Savannah, and a number of Mondoville students (past and present), faculty and staff. The fact that we took the middle sets worked well for our out-of-town crowd, who were able to head home a bit earlier than might otherwise have been the case.

Albatross closed the night with another strong set, including a version of Chuck Berry’s “Carol” that they dedicated to us and a closing medley from the Stones. Even a technical problem with their bass was remedied fairly quickly, as our bassist Justin provided his as a substitute. All told, it was a lot of fun, and a payday as solid as all but one other show we’ve played.

It had started to rain sometime during the evening, and it was misting lightly as we loaded out and headed back to our on-campus rehearsal space a few blocks away. We said our goodnights, and I swung by the local 24-hour fast food joint for a diet Dr. Pepper before I came home and called it a night at about 2:30 this morning. Ah, the glamour of rock and roll. No wonder I keep doing it.

Maybe it’s a little silly, doing this kind of music at my age in a bar full of people who don’t remember it any more than I remember the music from thirty years before I was born. Still, there’s the pleasure of seeing students of mine suddenly recognizing that I can actually play, and the even greater pleasure of the moments when everything sounds just like I want it to sound. That must be why I’m still at it, and why I can’t wait to do it again.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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