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Two weeks leading up to Mauch Chunk

posted Oct 16, 2018, 12:31 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Oct 16, 2018, 12:34 PM ]
Two of the busiest weeks of my life have just happened. On Tuesday, Oct. 2 I showed up at Steve Ward's house thinking I was reporting for a recording session. I was wrong, but the good news is that Steve played me some new solo tunes he hasn't released yet. The recording session for Jessica Smucker turned out to be a day later, when I had the pleasure of meeting up with Chad Kinsey, John Flavin and Matt Underhill. Every one of us had worked on a project with J.c. Fetlock, and although I didn’t run into J.c. that day, I did the next day.

Between Friday and Saturday, AM Radio Tribute Band played three gigs: two public and one private. The Saturday morning gig was maybe the last outdoor show we can get away with doing this year. We played under a park pavilion with a car show and community vendors nearby. The weather was great that morning; it has since taken a turn toward words in the forecast like “frost” and “chill.” The Saturday evening gig was a 50-year class reunion. Who happened to be playing an acoustic solo set one floor below us but Brian Quinn of Candlebox. This was only the first of three times running into him in about one week.

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, I played keys with Danny Beissel’s band Featherborn at Ortlieb’s in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood, where parking is impossible to find. We were opening for Pete RG out of Los Angeles, whose drummer happens to be a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, original Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen. Dave also plays in Candlebox, and his Candlebox bandmate Brian attended the show and even jammed on the last song of Featherborn’s set.

Just before the weekend rolled around, I spent my Friday morning and afternoon fixed on the music of Christian singer-songwriter David Meece. We rehearsed for his Sunday night praise concert, with Brian Bortnick on guitar, Bobby Pirylis on drums, and Bill Sharrow on bass. After our rehearsal, I found myself in the vicinity of the Bridgeport Ribhouse with nowhere better to go. So I jammed with Scott France and Richie Angelucci during their second and third happy hour acoustic sets.

After this, I stuck around and caught an amazing first set by the Right Swipes. They played several songs from my own high school days that I’d never heard any cover band pull off, and they did so with a lot of precision. Their Weezer and Cracker covers made me sentimental for my own 20-year high school reunion I’d be missing the very next day, when I’d be playing with AM Radio Tribute Band at another high school’s 45-year high class reunion.

David Meece’s praise concert got me back in the area on Sunday night, and I went to the Bridgeport Ribhouse hoping to be in time to catch Hey Joe, a Jimi Hendrix tribute project featuring Joe Mass. I missed their final set but did get to talk to Joe. I stuck around town so I could drop off a keyboard for repairs and so I could have some alterations done to a cape I’m planning to wear onstage with AM Radio Tribute Band this Friday at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.

Since I was sticking around town on Monday, I could also go back to the Ribhouse to catch the debut of the Tin Roof Drifters in the monthly booking previously occupied by the Hoppin’ Boxcars. They had a few guests sitting in, including me. For the closing number of their first set I played keys on Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ “Learning to Fly.”

For the opening number of their second set I sang the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” which I remembered singing at Orlieb’s on Tuesday night when it came on immediately after Pete RG’s set. It turns out that all I really could sing was the chorus; I didn’t really know the verses or bridge. Edge in the Tin Roof Drifters assures me it doesn’t matter how much of the song I actually knew; I did it, and he doesn’t want to hear otherwise.

Thursday, Oct. 18 is going to be another night at the Ribhouse for me as I help Dave Dubroff of the Tin Roof Drifters celebrate his birthday with a jam session full of anticipated guests. It’s also the night before that long-awaited show at the Mauch Chunk Opera House featuring AM Radio Tribute Band. It’s really been an exciting two weeks leading up to that! I’m grateful for all of the musician friends I’ve made along my journey. Keep rockin’!