Surprise for Band Practice, and the Surf Beat Goes On

As Glenn and I drove to Cool for band practice, the extra daylight made the trip the easier than those previous trips in twilight or darkness.  The ease was welcome after a day of work.  Fortunately, we also caught a break between storms which had been rolling into Northern California -- well sort of rolling after our unusually dry winter.  That break allowed us to observe that Spring in the foothills is pleasant.  The grasses and hillsides are a lush green.  Wild flowers are in bloom.

We arrived at Don’s garage to the sound of a singular guitar playing surf music.  Don was noodling on his Jaguar.  That reminded me that he is an excellent guitarist who took up bass so that we could record “Into the Flow.”  Yeah, that's right, he took one for the team.  It also made me think, “How can we work Don’s guitar playing skills into our line-up?”  Of course, that would require that I become somewhat proficient with rhythm -- either on guitar or bass.  Could Mr. Ape Head take that?



I pulled my guitar and some full-color posters out of the back of the Prius.  By the time I walked in, Don was putting his guitar away.  Glenn opened up a beer.  I had a thermos of coffee -- my fuel -- in hand.  I was ready for a “trio” practice.

Then, Don announced a surprise.  Paul was on his way to join us.  He had been on “Spring Break” from teaching.  After a week on the North Coast and a weekend of announcing and promoting shows, Paul managed to have an evening off.

Just as Don finished his announcement, Paul drove up.  He came in with a gig bag and a Subway sandwich.  He unpacked both.  A six inch sub and a pink Jazzmaster.  As he ate, we caught up on what lies ahead.  Over the upcoming two weeks, he was preparing for five shows by the Pyronauts including the Capitol Bowl.  HIs preparations included picking up “Play for Surf” at the replicator the next day and arranging to have new t-shirts air-expressed in from New York. 

Clearly, “Spring Break” was over for Paul.  His plate is full again.  Actually, it is overflowing.  Despite that, he was sharing some of his much-in-demand time with us.  So we had to make the most of the practice.

“Let’s run the set.”  We played.  Paul was simply amazing.  Maybe pink (as in the Jazzmaster) is his color.  Or maybe he is totally focused on the upcoming two weeks.  No time for distractions.  No time for side issues.  Just moving straight forward.

When we finished “Midnight Run,” I said, “That was the best version that we ever played.”  Paul’s embellishments were totally new.  He responded, “I finally understand that song.  Maybe I can remember what I did when we play it.”  I knew that, irrespective of whether he remembered exactly what he just did, what he would add at the Capitol Bowl would make that song better than ever before.

 At times, the practice felt like a jam session -- loose and creative.  We played an extended “Rumble.”  We worked through different arrangements of and endings for “Squad Car.”  We joked.  We experimented.  We nailed most of the songs.  Any doubts that we might not be ready disappeared.  That was good because Paul may not available again for a band practice.

The fun and productive band practice was exhilarating.  Now, I only had to fret about whether our promotional efforts would be equally as productive.  The sum of exhilaration plus thinking about our promotional efforts plus the possibility of drinking too much coffee after 7:00 p.m. was that sleep was impossible.  So I finished Surf Beat - Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Forgotten Revolution by Kent Crowley.

And our music kept playing in my mind.  Yes, the surf beat goes on.

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