I’m gonna do my best to let people into my head here. I have a little fictional memoir started. I’l put some of the real stories here for your perusal. Like …
Christmas time, ’65.
My aunt (mom’s sis) finds out I have a band. She calls me and asks if I’d like to make some money playing at a private holiday party. Well, as you can imagine, I was thrilled and said yes. She gave me the address and promised me $100 minimum. Tells me to show around 6pm as I recall.
(A little background on my Aunt Sis. Vivacious, red-haired Irish woman. Nurse at Little Company of Mary Hosp. where I was born. Wonderful sense of humor, always having fun. When she died, she was starring in a community production of “Mame”, a role she was born to play.)
It was a clear, cold winters evening. Snow everywhere. We found the place, not far from where my aunt lived in the Beverly neighborhood of south Chicago. Parking was a bit of a problem as it is in the city but we managed to get the van into the driveway. I go up to the door of this mansion and ring. A slightly inebriated elderly gentleman answers with a not so subtle look of “What the…”. I’m panicking, thinking “Uh oh! Wrong place? Wrong night?” I tell him I was hired to play for the Christmas party by my Aunt Sis at this address. Suddenly my aunt appears and takes over. She whispers something to the man and the guy started laughing so hard I thought he was gonna have a coronary right there in front of me. Aunt Sis hugs me and calls for some of the guests to come and help us bring in the stuff.
We load in (with the help of about nine or ten people) and it’s bedlam. People are laughing and frantically moving furniture and clearing a place for us to set up. Turns out my aunt planned this to be a surprise on the host and guests and everyone is thoroughly enjoying the gag.
The band sets up amidst a swirl of well toasted doctors and nurses. Once we’ve tuned and check, check, checked, I count the band into our best number “Long Tall Sally” and I swear I felt the house move with the shear force of the merriment in the room. Well heeled people, dressed to the nines, danced with drinks in hand and smiles on their faces.
We played for about a half hour and would’ve played all freaking night if it were up to us but my Aunt Sis promised my mom to have us packed and on the road home before too late.
While we tore down and loaded out, women are hugging and kissing us and men are pressing ten and twenties into our hands and shirt pockets. I know I went home with about $200 and another indelible mark on my psyche. I want to make a living doing –that- to people.
“Good bands light up like ascending fireworks in the night sky. They climb as fast and brilliantly as they can, bang hard in search of the ultimate “ahhhhh” from their audience, and then fall in shimmering desperation, lingering as long and gloriously as possible until a new band streaks by them skyward to its own destiny. Very few explode with enough radiance to remain in people’s minds over the years.” ~ Carl Gustafson ~