“Okay,” said my beloved Viennese bride, “I can drive you to the Chesterfield for the silly jam session, but I’m gonna come home and sleep. I’m tired. Can you find someone to give you a ride home?”
“I’m sure I can,” I said. I hate bumming rides all the time, but I really don’t wanna get pulled over for drunk driving. I’m happy my wife is willing to drive me to drink every now and then. “Russ and Denelle are going to be there. He’ll give me a ride, I’m sure.” Russ and I were in two bands together, Hippie Go Lucky and the Smokin’ Clams. I like Russ. He’s a nice guy.
“Oh,” said my wife. “Well, if Denelle is going to be there, maybe I’ll stay and watch for a little bit. But I have to be home by 10:30…” I danced a little jig of joy. I like hanging out in bars watching bands play, but it’s not my wife’s cup of tea, so I always enjoy it when she comes along with me. I like her. She’s nice.
We got to the club at about 8:30 or so. My wife opened the trunk (or “boot” as the English would say) of the car. “What are you doing?” I asked. “What’s in there?”
“I bought Russ and Denelle’s boys some little Christmas presents,” she said. “But we haven’t seen them since Christmas last year…” She rummaged about in the trunk (or “boot” as the British would say) and found the packages, and off we went to enter the club.
Five minutes later, beer in hand, I sat at our favorite table. A few musicians (Wavelength) were wandering about aimlessly on stage, as is their wont. Within a few minutes they started playing… With the happy addition of some guy playing keyboards. I don’t know who he was, but he was pretty good. Whilst my wife and I were gawking at the band, friends Ritchie and Sarah joined us. Ritchie is a fellow bass player. I like Ritchie. He’s a nice guy.
After a few songs, the band on stage decided it was time to drink beer instead of play. “Hey, we need people up here,” hollered bass player Ed into the microphone. “Radloff, get up here.” I looked around. My buddy Russ still wasn’t there, and he was the guy I really kinda wanted to jam with. “Hey Ritch,” I said, “you wanna play now?”
“No,” he said. “Not really. I’m waiting for Russ.” It should be noted at this point that Ritchie and Russell are brothers. Not seeing any other bass players in the room, I allowed myself to be persuaded to get on stage. I was sad. I wanted to jam with buddy Russ. Oh well… He and Ritchie like to play together too.
Once ensconced on stage, I immediately noticed something. The keyboard was right in my way. I was kinda stuck back there by the drums (which is okay, just limits the mobility a bit). The next thing I noticed is that the song was going pretty well, considering none of us on stage had ever played together before, other than the odd song at a previous jam. In fact, I kinda liked it. The next two songs went really well, too. I was happy! Giddy with glee! Joyful!
The next band wandered up towards the stage, so I relinquished the bass, grabbed my beer and headed back for the table. Just as I sat down, Russ and wife Denelle showed up. “Hey,” he said, “wanna jam?” You have to realize, jam session etiquette forbids me to take two turns so close together when there are other bass players in the room. “I just got done,” I said.”Oh,” said he. “Oh.”
We all sat and watched the musicians play for a while. Rock, funk, punk, classic rock… Good stuff! After a bit, Ritchie and Russell came up with a few songs they wanted to play and put their names in for a time slot on stage. Very shortly thereafter, Ritchie was dragging his shiny new-looking upright bass onto the stage and Russ was tuning up. They play well together! I was surprised at the good tone Ritch got out of the upright – usually they sound a little clunky or thin for rock ‘n roll in my opinion (but perfect for jazz, which they weren’t playing). I applauded. My friends play well. I was happy and drank more beer. They finished to a flurry of applause and came back to the table. We were happy. We drank more beer.
“I’m getting a bit tired,” my wife said eventually. “It’s past my bedtime.”
“Yeah, me too,” I replied. “I’m a little sad I didn’t get to play with Russ, but it’s time to go home.”
Just then a guy walked past, pointed at me and Russ and said, “You guys are next.”
Hmmm… That changes things. Dagmar and I sat back down and patiently waited until the band on stage finished up, which they eventually did. To my dismay, however, a few other people hopped up on stage right away. Russ and I looked at each other and shrugged. Our wives looked at each other and shrugged. I waited to see how the little drama was going to play out… What was the consensus going to be? Were we going to stay for a few more songs so we could jam, or was everyone going to decide to go home? The tension was palpable. (Not really.) We decided to stay.
A few fidgety songs later, Russ and I were finally on stage. I was happy! Then I saw that former Clammate Rick was fiddling around with the drums and congas and stuff, and that made me happier! Ken was on stage, too, so we had two great drummers playing with us. Wheee! (Ed took the picture, by the way. I stole it from his website.)
We started off with an instrumental surf medley we did in both Hippie Go Lucky and the Smokin’ Clams. It was fun! I was tickled several shades of pink!
Then we played a blues song. Oh joy! Rapturous joy!
Then we did a punk version of “Ring of Fire” that I’ve always liked. My life is complete. I have officially gone over my happiness quota. It felt SO good to play with familiar players and jam on songs I actually knew. Jam sessions are fun, but it’s so much better when you know what you’re doing, and are confident with the people around you!
To top it off, my beloved bride supplied me with a Boulevard Wheat at the end of the night. A treat indeed!
Here are a bunch of pictures Dagmar and I took…