Blue Diamonds II
April 21, 2018
Drunk Bob comes up to the bandstand just after we bring Solomon Burke’s Cry to Me down soft.
There’s maybe 12 people In the bar, light even for a Thursday.
But at the Honest Lawyer they booked you for 3 straight, Thurs through Sat, four sets a night.
Bob has spent most of the set dancing by himself. This after every female in the room has turned down his invitation for a twirl.
No matter, he is the king out on the parquet, all by himself, and now he comes right up to me and claps, applause as much for his own gyrations as the song.
His solitary clapping echoes in the now silent room, a wayward shutter on a haunted house.
We’ve been at it a couple years now, and our watermarked schedule notebook is packed.
After 2 weeks at The Lawyer we have a Saturday afternoon wedding reception, then there’s the Grand Opening of the new Wells Fargo branch on Firestone Blvd.
At the end of the month we are back at the Elks Lodge in Newport, where they have you play Auld Lang Syne at midnight as they circle the dance floor in mysterious configuration.
We got this.
Henree DeBaun on the drums now, he sings the classic blues numbers in a silky tenor, while laying down a swinging backbeat.
Eldred does the wild rockabilly stuff, sings the Buddy Holly and is reliably up on the bar for a guitar solo at the drop of a ten in the tip jar.
I get the Elvis stuff, though we’ve been known to throw The Cramps’ Human Fly in at the end of Heartbreak Hotel.
And then we have our secret weapon, Ron Davis, who holds down stage left Entwistlian solid.
We bring him up to the mic mid set, just after midnight, for a scorching When a Man Loves a Woman.
Slays them every time, slays.
We got matching tuxes for the formal affairs, white and black jackets. The set list is, oh, 150 songs by now?
You get your special requests though, so we each take turns going down to Licorice Pizza to buy maybe a Harold Melvin cd and getting down the chords to If You Don’t Know Me By Now. We leave the tabs on each other’s answering machines, have it down for that party Sat, will ya, ’cause it’s the birthday girl’s favorite.
Of course, the fellas come from a place where musicianship is the foundation, their pasts in hard rock and blues bands only help to spotlight my rudimentary guitar and vocals.
No matter though, we have a blast out there.
Third set of the night features a 15 minute version of Twist and Shout/La Bamba, the dance floor as beer-slippery and elbows flying as any slam pit at Cathay De Grande.
It’s a priceless education I’m getting here, learning to play so quiet the first set to slowly edge the day drinkers into the night.
We’ve learned to handle the drunks and hecklers, swerve at the last moment to avoid a sloppy kiss from a horny old lady who just sang along to the Patsy Cline set.
And when we later regrouped as CH3 a few years later, for the great Old School Reunion of 2000, I took those lessons with me. The power of live music, its pheromonic pull to the lonely and searching soul. Doesn’t matter if you’re playing Wetspots or yet another creaky version of Proud Mary, you are making a circuit complete on a Saturday night.
Bob waves me down close to his face. The air is sudden;y infused by Crown Royal and Kool Menthols.
Great stuff my boys, great. So do me a favor will ya, will ya play Danny Boy for ol Bobby?
We look at each other and shrug, anyone know how to play Danny Boy?
I start to tell him nah when Bob pulls out a wrinkled fifty and drops it into the tip jar.
Me and Mike look at each other-key of C?
Sure we know Danny Boy, we do now.