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Departing music

posted Oct 29, 2019, 3:15 AM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Oct 29, 2019, 3:17 AM ]
When guitarist Paul Barrere died on Saturday, The Flamin’ Caucasians responded the very next day by playing Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” in his memory. It was my first time playing Bill Payne’s piano part on any Little Feat song. To be clear, The Flamin’ Caucasians have definitely played “Dixie Chicken” before. One time when The Flamin’ Caucasians were the house band for WMMR’s Morning Zoo radio show, Bill and Paul sat in to play “Dixie Chicken” live on the air. Founding member Dave Consono still says it is “a very fond memory.” Ahead of our gig, Dave privately expressed some reservations about how the song would go over with our Sunday crowd, but as fan Craig Scott attested on Facebook, “Dixie Chicken got everyone going nuts!:-)”

When drummer Ginger Baker died earlier this month, AM Radio Tribute Band responded within hours by playing Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” in his memory. I chipped in to cover Eric Clapton’s share of the vocals. AMRTB’s drummer, Jim Cavanaugh turned, me on that day to the 1992 album Sunrise on the Sufferbus, by Masters of Reality, also featuring Ginger’s drums. AMRTB guitarist Danny Eyer said he was a fan of the too, making me wonder why I’d never heard of it before! In turn, I shared it with Lancaster artist/songwriter Dan Zdilla, because I could see him getting a kick out of “Jody Sings.” In turn, he shared with me John Lennon’s “Oh Yoko” because he wants me to play piano and harmonica when he performs it live.

When local philanthropist Barney McGrann died in Lancaster earlier this month, his family got a hold of me and had me play instrumental selections from a playlist they curated featuring some of his favorite music. It turns out he was a huge fan of Billy Joel’s The Stranger album, and so am I, so I wound up playing an instrumental run-through of the entire album while mourners greeted his family. It just so happened that I had my own turn at playing and singing that album’s deep cut “Vienna” with a live band for the first time later that same day. Per a bride’s request, we played it while she danced with her father at her wedding. It went over so well within AMRTB that we added "Vienna" to our remaining two shows that weekend.

A little over a month ago, my home town of Lancaster lost a theatrical and musical entertainer, Gary Miller. As his obituary put it, “He managed the Chameleon Night Club for over a decade, played percussion and loved performing with Inca Campers, DC and Company and The Willie Marble Experience.” I remember back in March 2015, Gary invited me to a jam session and gave me a list of songs, including “Bra” by Cymande, “Superfly” and “Pusherman” by Curtis Mayfield, and “Runaway Child, Running Wild” and “Psychedelic Shack” by The Temptations. If memory serves, I believe we also played “Cissy Strut” by the Meters. There was talk at Gary’s memorial that he, a double amputee on earth, is dancing in heaven. I’d like to think that he’s also getting in an afterlife jam with Art Neville of the Meters, who died in July.