I’ve seen a lot of shows. For a long time, that was a prime directive, a mission in my life. See the players, hear the music, feel what’s going on. It didn’t matter if it was jazz, classical, polka, or folk. Or, if it was big-time or the smallest particle of the stuff that makes up the rhythmic universe, I wanted to hear it. Fortunately, this was at a time when great musicians were everywhere, though that’s still and always will be true, but tickets were cheap, and everything seemed geared to waking from a silence or a stricture or a trance that needed shaking up.
Such a Night
I was young, like many, was doing my best to sort things out, like many, and tried to swallow it all. I had just moved across the country and was unsettled. Looking through the paper, I found that Dr. John was playing some place, south of the city. It turned out to be a bar on the side of a road, in the middle of nowhere. It was 1978 and Dr. John had a band. A big band. Buzzy Feiten was in it, a big guitar hero to me. Not only that, but Gene Dinwiddie on horns, a trio of funky back-up singers, maybe ten pieces total.
As I was walking into the place from the parking lot, snow began to fall for the first time that year. After looking around wondering what I was doing and what kind of place this was and, of course, in the back of my mind, forever wondering what about the future, the lights went down and the Doctor strolled out, sat down at the piano, and played a medley of Christmas carols so funky and sweet and seemingly endless that if I was someone else, and everyone else there were someone else, we would all have had tears on our cheeks and goodwill in our hearts towards men (and women).
They played forever and all thoughts of leaving early, because of work, were gone for good. Dr. John and his band kept turning up the energy and volume and, by the end, I swear, we were all on our chairs and tables screaming for more and making every kind of noise in appreciation of the miracle we had all just been a part of. No one wanted to leave and let those feelings go. At last, in the dark on the way home, the snow kept falling, but it was lighter, brighter than before, and, now, my senses heightened, full of meaning.