ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD
A serial memoir by Jean Fogelberg
The Boys in the Band
We returned from our honeymoon and, a few weeks later, the band arrived at the ranch to rehearse for the 2002 Summer Tour. This would be a six-week tour, and we’d be traveling by bus this time, instead of flying. If I’d been happy about going on the road, I was ecstatic about the idea of traveling by bus.
In all my years performing in bands, the dream of going on the road had included driving from gig to gig in a van, eating at roadside diners, and staying at Motel 6. Flying first class, as I did with Dan, was grand, as was staying at the best hotels, but the old dream was still tantalizing. Now, unexpectedly, the dream was coming true, but at a level of comfort more befitting a woman in her mid-forties.
Dan and I sang together at home, browsing my Beatles Complete Song Book until one of us said, “Oh, let’s do that one.” Our voices blended well, and we’d play around with the harmonies, sometimes swapping high and low parts mid-song. I don’t know if he felt guilty about leading me away from my own musical path, or if it was something I said, but one night, Dan asked if I would like to sing backup on the 2002 tour.
My immediate reaction was equal parts excitement and terror. Singing harmonies in a band is one of the best feelings in the world, but the thought of performing in front of thousands of people was terrifying. It had taken me a few years just to get over my vicarious stage fright while standing in the wings watching Dan perform, how could I go out there myself?
When I confided my fear to him, he said, “You’re a pro. After a few nights you won’t even think about it.” Warrior Jean said, “Do it! It will be SO MUCH FUN!” Little Girl Jean whispered, “All those people! Just stay backstage and work on your computer.” But, as she usually does, Wise Crone Jean won, saying, “If you don’t do it, you’ll always wonder.”
“I’d be standing off to the side, and toward the back, right?” I asked.
Dan shrugged and said, “Sure.”
“Okay!” I said, sounding like I’d just agreed to jump into a snowbank, naked.
I made a copy of the set list and started listening to the songs while working in the art studio. Once the band had the music down, I’d join them and find out which parts Dan wanted me to take.
The band that year included Dan’s old friends Joe Vitale (Barnstorm, Joe Walsh, CSNY) on drums; Mark Andes (Heart, Firefall, Spirit, JoJo Gunne) on bass; Robert McEntee (Carole King) on guitar; and Michael “Zoot” Hanna (Donna Summer) on keyboards. Most of the guys stayed in the guest house just down the hill from the main house but, if they wanted, they could stay in town and take advantage of the Pagosa hot springs, spas, and bars.
They would walk up to the house late in the morning and enter the music studio through the outside basement door, for rehearsals. I usually worked in the art studio until it was time to prepare lunch, which was usually something simple, like sandwiches or chili. If it was sandwiches, I would set cold cuts out with condiments and breads. Dan asked me to make sushi rolls once, one of my specialties. I usually made enough for the two of us, using brown rice, avocado, smoked salmon, and cucumber wrapped in nori, or dried seaweed. Making rolls for six or seven, some of whom were vegetarians, was a challenge, but fun too. They all praised the food and took seconds, but they would have, even if they didn’t like nori, and not just because I was the boss’s wife. Without exception, they were good and kind men who would have gone to great lengths to avoid hurting my feelings.
After eating lunch together in the dining room, the band went back down to the basement. To keep them going in between meals, there was a small bar just off the studio that had a coffee machine and a mini-refrigerator with ice and drinks. When it was time for dinner, the band relaxed in the pool room, drinking beer, watching tv and playing pool, while Dan went upstairs to the kitchen.
I was sous chef, table-setter and chief dishwasher. If Dan had something simmering during the day it was my job to stir occasionally and make sure it didn’t burn. When he was cooking, Dan was Head Chef, and he took food preparation very seriously.
People just naturally congregate in kitchens, and Dan would allow it to an extent. One of the guys would wander in and hang at the island, then one or two more, talking and laughing and watching Dan cook. But the Chef didn’t like loiterers. They were distracting, and they got in the way as he whizzed around the room from stove to oven to fridge to sink. When I saw the first signs of frustration on his face, it was my job to herd everyone out. If Dan shooed them out himself, or if he gave me “the look,” I knew I’d left it too long.
Dan would go down to the “wine cellar,” a stone closet under the stairs, and select a couple of bottles that would go well with the meal. After opening them, he’d set the bottles on the table to breathe, sometimes pouring them into decanters. There was nothing stuffy or pretentious about these preparations, he just wanted everything to taste as good as it possibly could.
When dinner was minutes away, I filled the big porcelain pitcher with water and ice and walked around the table, filling the water glasses. The cassette tape of classical music, selected by Dan earlier, was already loaded. I just had to press PLAY on the stereo, then call everyone into the dining room.
Only when everyone was seated would Dan begin dishing up the food. Every plate was garnished, and every drip wiped before being handed to me to carry to the dining table. We worked quickly, so the first plates had little time to cool before Dan and I sat down.
If pasta was the meal, Dan walked around the table with a block of parmesan cheese in a shredder. Stopping by each band member, he offered, in a nasal, accented voice, “Parmesan cheese, signore?” It was so silly; everyone would laugh every time. You couldn’t help it. He turned the handle, and thin curls of cheese drifted onto the steaming pasta, melting on contact, until a hand was raised to say “when.” When he got to me he would fawn, “Oh, beautiful signora! You like some Parmesan cheese?” I would giggle and say when.
Once all the food was on the table and everyone had their wine or beverage, Dan took off his apron (he had three favorites: a green one I’d made him for Christmas, a blue one we bought in Italy, and an old, stained white one from New Orleans.) Laying the apron over the back of his chair, he’d sit down and make a toast, and everyone would carefully clink the fine Riedel glasses together before taking that first sip. “Mmm!” “Oh, that’s good!” and other words of appreciation followed. Then we’d all tuck in to the food, making universal sounds of dining pleasure. The chef would either smile and nod, or critique the dish, musing aloud upon what would have made it better, to our hearty objections.
During these meals, I got to know the band a bit better. I loved hearing the stories of their early days with Dan, and the well-worn tales of lore that every musician, road manager, technician and roadie in the music business knew and laughed about. These were top studio and touring musicians, and they all had hilarious tales to tell. I felt a bit like Maid Marian at Robin Hood’s table of merry men, and I loved the laughter and camaraderie. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed it from my own band days.
Two days into rehearsals, it was apparent Dan was unhappy. He complained that a couple of the guys had arrived not knowing their parts, and he worried that the band might not be ready when we left for the tour. He asked if I would be very disappointed if he decided not to have me sing backup for the tour. If things went sideways on the road, he would want me to be separate from the turmoil. I was his haven at the end of the day, he said, and he would need that more than ever.
Warrior Jean said, “Oh, damn!” Little Girl Jean cried, “Thank goodness!” and Wise Crone Jean said, “Emotional backup is much more important than singing backup.” Mostly, I was relieved, and I told him so.
Toward the end of rehearsals, Dan was feeling more confident about the band. George Harrison had died the previous November and, to honor him, Dan wanted to perform “If I Needed Someone,” from Rubber Soul, for the encore number. He asked if I wanted to come out and sing Paul McCartney’s high harmonies on it. I said I needed to think about it for a few hours.
Standing in the background during the whole concert, I would have been part of the band, the set, the stage. Coming out for the last number, the only new thing on the entire stage, I would be completely conspicuous. It was a nice gesture on Dan’s part, to make up for the earlier disappointment, but just thinking about it terrified me. What would the audience think? What would I wear??!
I told Dan I didn’t think I could do it. He said the harmony was high, even for Mark, and he could use me doubling the part with him. In the end, we agreed that I’d rehearse with the band, then I could decide whether or not to come out on stage when the time came.
Day One of the tour arrived and I couldn’t wait to get on the bus. It probably could have survived the ten miles of winding, rutted, dirt road, but it never would have made it over the tiny bridge, or up the narrow dirt drive between the trees to the house. So, the ranch managers ferried luggage and musicians out to meet the bus on Highway 84. It was large but sleek, and nondescript. I’d seen many buses like it before, on various highways, never realizing they might hold sleeping musicians on their way to a gig.
The steep steps led up and past the driver, then between a dining nook on the right and a long couch on the left. A kitchenette, small desk, and lavatory were in the next section, followed by six curtained sleeping bunks, three on each side. In the very back of the bus was the master bedroom, where Dan and I would sleep. As Dan and I found places for our things and the band chose bunks and stowed their personal gear, the outside luggage doors closed with a thud. The driver climbed aboard and introduced himself, then he explained where a few things were, like the TV remote and movies. Then he buckled himself in and the big bus roared to life.
Sharing “the head” with six guys (Dan, band, tour manager) was the only part of the bus tour that took some getting used to. Everything else felt like old home week. Twenty years of performing in bands had left me very comfortable being the only girl in a tight group of guys. I had many happy memories of those years, but, as any woman who has performed in bars will tell you, there are always some dues to pay.
* * * * *
While attending college in Santa Maria, California, and waitressing at Denny’s, I became friends with the two night-shift cooks, Gilbert and Ronnie. (Gilbert played guitar and Ronnie played drums.) On weekends we would stop in at a local restaurant to sit in with “Salt & Pepper,” the duo performing in the bar. After playing a couple of songs, we’d get to Denny’s in time to change our clothes and punch in for our 11pm to 7am graveyard shift.
One night, two musicians came into the bar while I was singing. They were in a band called “Rainwater” and they had a steady gig playing five nights a week in a bar on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo. They planned to go on the road eventually, and they were looking for a female vocalist. Two days later, I drove north for forty minutes to audition. The bar was in an old strip mall that had seen better days. I parked in the empty parking lot and entered the front door.
It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the dark lounge as I stood there, surrounded by tables and chairs. At the other end of the room was a long wooden bar and, to the left of that, the “stage,” if you could call it that. It was actually an old piano bar: a platform just big enough for a baby grand, surrounded by a narrow bar on three sides.
A small drum set took up most of the back of the stage; the lead singer’s microphone was up front on the left, and the bass player’s amp was on the right. The only place left for me would be the small area in front of the drums, between the guitar and bass.
I’d already met the drummer and bass player, now I met the lead singer and guitarist. He was pale and skinny, with scraggly brown hair and aviator prescription glasses that enlarged his small eyes. He could sing, though, and he sounded just like Gordon Lightfoot, Elvis, and Johnny Cash. Honestly, he looked like a junkie, but the drummer and the bass player were both good looking guys, which gave the women something to look at.
I sensed some resentment from the lead singer, and it was obvious that he’d been against bringing a chick into the band. He was used to having all the attention, and probably thought his voice should have been enough for any audience. The drummer sang a little bit, but the bass player didn’t sing at all, so they really needed someone to cover harmonies.
They gave me a list of the songs they played and I picked out a few I knew, then we played them and I sang the harmonies. I focused on blending with, and staying just a few decibels below, the lead vocals, and it went well. After the audition, we sat at a small table and the drummer laid it out for me. I would get four songs of my own to sing lead on, and while they couldn’t pay me out of their own salaries, I would get 100% of any extra gigs (weddings, parties, etc.) that the band played. When we went on the road, I’d get a full cut. What did I think? Did I want the gig?
Hmm. Did I want the gig? I would have to quit college, and Denny’s, and commute an hour and a half each day, driving home late at night. The bar was dingy and dark, and the carpet smelled like stale beer. Singing and dancing in a smoky space the size of a welcome mat, I would be a glorified go-go dancer five nights a week, and wouldn’t even get paid for it. Hell yes, I wanted the gig!
I was only eighteen, so I hadn’t been in many bars, but the positioning of the stage seemed odd to me. Instead of facing the tables and chairs, it was positioned at the end of the bar. There were nights when it looked like a weird carnival shooting gallery - men down the bar leaned forward and looked at me, then straightened up to drink. Faces popped forward, then pulled back in intervals, all the way down the bar. The worst thing for me was the cigarette smoke hovering under the low ceiling. I’d drive home with my window down and put my head out the window to get the smell out of my hair.
One night, the band met after work at the drummer’s apartment. There were other people from the bar there as well, including the red-haired, pot-bellied, fifty-something bartender. When the party was over, he gave me a ride back to my car, still in the parking lot at the bar. He talked non-stop all the way there, giving me advice about everything from the music business to men.
As we pulled up behind my car, he took my left hand and pressed it to his crotch, saying, “Feel that? That’s a man.” I was stunned. No one had ever taken this kind of liberty with me before. When he saw the shock and disgust on my face, he let go and covered his embarrassment with a lame excuse. His reaction calmed my fears, and I pulled my hand back and thanked him for the ride. Yes, I did. My mother was raised by her grandmother, and those same antiquated etiquette lessons were drilled into me so deeply that politeness was my default response to any questionable situation. I always said “Please,” and “Thank you.” I always wore a slip under a dress, and never went out in public with curlers in my hair. Of course, Great Grandmother Marie had never been in a parking lot with a horny old bartender before, so lessons on how to respond when one’s hand was pressed to his credentials were lacking.
I had moved in with my boyfriend, Mike, recently, and as I drove home to Avila Beach with the windows down, I shook my head, marveling at how weird life could be sometimes.
One of the bouncers at the bar was a photographer in his late thirties. He asked if I would model for him, in exchange for free headshots. He showed me a portfolio of photos he’d taken of models, and they were beautiful, so I said “Yes.” I asked if I could get a print for my parents, and he agreed. He told me to bring a selection of dresses and we would shoot in the garden behind the downtown fraternity house he was living in. We set a day and time and he gave me his address.
The fraternity was in an old Victorian house on a tree-lined street in San Luis Obispo. It all looked so quaint and bucolic as I walked to the door with a bunch of dresses draped over my arm. The photographer picked out a long burgundy dress I’d made and we went into the garden. He photographed me next to trees and flowers, and sitting on the grass. Then he picked out a different dress and we shot some more. It was fun, and I tried to emulate the beautiful models in his portfolio. When he suggested we do some indoor shots, we went inside.
We had the house to ourselves, and he shot me in different poses, on a couch and next to lace curtained windows. After changing into another dress upstairs, he asked me to drop one sleeve off my shoulder. From there, things quickly began going in a direction I wasn’t comfortable with, but I had no idea how to stop it. This was a grown-up, professional shoot, and I didn’t want to appear untrusting or unprofessional. I can’t recall what he said, or how he said it, but man, was he was smooth. This wasn’t his first time talking a young girl out of her clothes.
It was a warm day, and as I stood there, naked and frightened, he touched my breasts, to make my nipples hard for the photos, he said. He asked if I liked what he was doing. Fighting tears, I said “I only like it when my boyfriend does it.” Unlike the horny bartender, he was neither embarrassed nor deterred. I wanted desperately to run away, but I was literally frozen with fear.
There was the sound of a door opening downstairs and people talking. Instinctively, I turned my head toward the sounds, hoping to hear someone come up the stairs. He must have thought I was going to yell, because he suddenly released me and, backed off. He said it was okay, we had enough shots, I could get dressed.
My legs were trembling so badly, it was difficult to walk as I carried my pretty dresses all in a jumble, to my car. I felt defiled, and humiliated. I cried all the way home, whispering “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” to myself.
For the next few hours, I replayed the morning over and over. At what point had things shifted from business to dirty business, and what should I have said and done at that point? I was still a virgin because I’d had the wherewithal to discourage boys before things went too far; why had those instincts failed me this time? The worst part was wondering what would have happened if the fraternity house had stayed empty a while longer. I wanted to think I could have stopped things from progressing further, but when I remembered how the fear had immobilized me, I wasn’t sure.
When Mike got home I told him what had happened, and he was furious. He hadn’t had any qualms about the photographer either, but now it was very clear to us both what this guy was all about. We went to the Victorian house and, while I waited in the car, Mike confronted the guy and got the slides back. The next day, on my nineteenth birthday, we burned them in the big barbecue grill, even the ones of me in the garden, wearing my pretty dresses.
Eight years later, Vanessa Williams would have to relinquish her Miss America crown because a photographer she’d worked with came forward with nude photos he’d taken of her when she was nineteen. Reading the headlines, I felt so sorry for her; I understood all too well how it might have happened, and the devastating impact it can have on a young woman’s belief in herself.
The extra gigs and money that the guys in Rainwater had promised never materialized, so I began looking in the classifieds and asking around about bands that might be in need of a singer. Right away, I heard that “Stevie’s Goodtime Band” was losing their female vocalist. I called and arranged for an afternoon audition at the club they were performing in, six nights a week.
“The Outrigger” in Shell Beach was a wonderful beach town bar, right on Shell Beach Road, which runs parallel to Hwy. 101. Although it appeared small from the front, the length of the room was actually six times its width. The property sloped down to a parking lot in the rear, so the back door of the club was accessed by high wooden stairs on stilts.
When you walked in the front door, the smell of smoke-grilled steaks and baked potatoes greeted you. A long bar ran along the left wall and on the right was a small buffet area with salsa, salads, sides, and grills where you could select, and cook, your own steak. Tables and chairs ran down the middle of the room, all the way to the dance floor, and the stage on the back wall. A large picture window behind the stage looked out on half a block of rooftops and the ocean beyond. The restrooms were on the right, next to the dance floor, the doors hidden by a small partition wall.
I passed the audition and said goodbye to the sleazy characters and the dingy bar on the dark side of town.
The acknowledged leader, and namesake, of Stevie’s Goodtime Band, was tall and lanky, with very long, wavy brown hair. At once laid back, and hyper, Stevie had a habit of twisting his sideburns in his fingers while in conversation. His girlfriend came in most nights, and his parents very frequently, but the four of them kept to their own tight little clique. Stevie could play the Hammond B3 organ like no one else, and when he really got going, his hands flew across the keys and he would throw his head around, sending his long hair flying. There were rows of burn marks in the varnished wood, from where he set his cigarettes in between drags. The Leslie speaker cabinet was right behind me on the stage, and when Stevie flipped the switch, the rotors began whirling. That iconic B3 sound warbled and fluttered from the cabinet, faster and faster, until it surged through me, and into the room. I wasn’t the least bit attracted to Stevie, but I fell in love with the B3.
The rest of the band were in their late twenties and early thirties. On electric guitar and vocals was Alan, a handsome dude with big brown eyes and a short afro. He could jam on rock leads, or sing along with his guitar on jazzy George Benson riffs. Frankie played bass guitar and sang harmonies, and he was a sweetheart. A Filipino with dark eyes, thick eyebrows, and shoulder length black hair, he was a constant and unflappable presence on stage. He lived in Santa Maria with his pretty blonde wife, Stephanie, and their baby. Victor played drums. He was a handsome Hispanic dude with thick wavy hair and smily eyes. A really sweet guy, he was always laughing and smiling. He lived in Santa Maria as well, with his pretty wife and, in season, he made extra money picking strawberries for his uncle in the Santa Maria fields. He would bring a big box of the giant juicy berries to rehearsals for us to divvy up and take home. “Veektor,” as we called him, could sing harmony, but he was very shy in front of an audience, and was happiest when hiding in the back corner behind his drums.
I wasn’t a great singer, but I sang my parts consistently and well. I was never late, and I always showed up to rehearsals knowing my parts. All those months singing harmonies behind Lyle had strengthened my voice, which was good, because with Stevie’s I would be singing lead on most of the songs. Even so, I would be paid less than the band, who were paid less than Stevie.
After rehearsing we would head to the buffet. The band got half off the normal three-dollar price, so for a dollar and a half we ate very well indeed. Then we’d go home until eight thirty, when we’d wade through the early bar customers to the stage. Because no one else played there, we could leave our gear set up. Guitars and microphones were the only equipment we took home with us.
ABC ( California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) regulations stated that there had to be a barrier between any minor and the drinking public, so brass posts were erected every five feet around the stage and a heavy metal chain was draped from post to post. One of those ridiculous governmental regulations that accomplished absolutely nothing; I could have reached over the chain and taken a glass of booze from anyone on the dance floor.
Ed, the owner of the bar, owned an electroplating company that manufactured the posts and chain, so it cost him very little, but he took a portion out of my paycheck each week until their retail value had been paid off. Another ABC regulation said that I had to leave the bar during our fifteen-minute breaks, which actually made perfect sense. I would go sit in the kitchen, and the band (Alan, mostly) smuggled shots of strawberry tequila to me.
On stage, with the brass poles and chains.
A good portion of the audience was stoned, and fights were rare. In all my years of performing, I never saw two stoners get into it; it was always the guys who were high on alcohol who got ugly. I loved playing to stoners: as they watched the band with their glassy, intense stares, I knew they were absorbing every note.
Playing five to six nights a week, the bar employees began to feel like a little family. Dodie, the bartender, was a tough and funny brunette, and the other bartender, Ron, had a girlfriend named Carol who would later become my roommate. Dodie’s brother, John, was a burly biker who worked as a bouncer on busy nights. He, and his biker friend Dale, took me under their wing.
I was talking to John and Dale at the bar one night when some drunk college boys started pushing each other. Dale stepped between me and the ruckus, his big body creating a wall of muscle and black leather. The ruffians were sternly asked to leave, and they meekly did so. Later, John quietly told me that if anyone ever messed with me, I was to let him or Dale know and they would take care of them. He drew his finger across his neck as he said this last part. While it freaked me out a little bit, it was nice to know they had my back, especially after the sleazy characters I’d encountered in the previous bar.
Business was booming at the bar, and Ed was very happy with us. After a year, the brass rail had been paid off. One night a female singer Stevie had worked with in the past came in. She was pretty, and lived in one of the big cities in northern California. Toward the end of the night, Stevie invited her to come up and sing a song. It wasn’t unusual to have friends sit in, and I went to stand behind the partition in front of the restrooms so I could listen and watch.
She was maybe twenty-nine, and I could see right away that she was a pro. They started a song, and she had a very good voice; much stronger than mine. When the song ended, the crowd, my crowd, applauded wildly and called for another song. Hidden from them behind the partition, I felt like a jilted lover.
The next song seemed to go on and on, and I was dreading having to go back up and follow such an accomplished vocalist. No wonder Stevie and his little clique were so cool to me, I thought, they considered me unworthy of his talent. As the crowd applauded again, I steeled myself to go up and perform the last song of the night. I was six feet from the stage, and in view of half of the band, but no one even looked my way as they started one more song.
Mike had come to pick me up, and when I got in the car I burst into hurt, humiliated tears. The next night, no mention was made of the vocalist, but she haunted me for weeks as I pushed my vocal cords to their limits, trying to erase the specter of her from the stage.
The following month, Mike left for medical school and before long, Stevie announced that he was leaving the band. I could only surmise that he would be joining the female singer’s band in the city. The band broke up and I moved to Pomona, to live with my high school friend Royann and look for a band in Los Angeles. The BIG big time.
Royann was studying Interior Design and working at The Broadway department store. She had a little red motorcycle, and we’d ride around L.A. on it. I checked the classified ads for bands needing singers, not realizing there were trade magazines that would have served me better. I called a couple of agencies, but they weren’t interested in working with a minor. There was a big mirror in our living room and I used it to work on my stage presence, moves, and that limp left hand.
We had very little money left after rent, but avocados and liver were both cheap so we lived on avocado sandwiches and broiled liver, which we cooked in the little stainless steel electric oven on the counter. I owned no furniture so I had the smaller room, and slept on a pile of blankets on the floor.
It didn’t take long to realize that Los Angeles was too big for me to tackle. I longed for the little beach towns of the central coast, and I had run out of money, so I talked it over with Royann, and then I bailed. She moved to a studio apartment in Pomona, then up to San Jose State, where she would get her BS in Interior Design.
I contacted a bartender friend and asked him to check around for any bands needing singers. He called two days later to say that Ed, the owner of the Outrigger, would love to have me come back. He had a band there called “Mainstream,” and he wanted me to sing with them. That was all I needed to hear. I headed north, back to beautiful Avila Beach.
Once again, I was joining a band that had been together for a while. But the guys were very nice to me, especially considering I was being forced on them by a club owner.
Doug was bass guitar and vocals; a big teddy bear of a guy, with light brown hair, a beard, and smiley eyes. Grant was lead guitar and vocals; he was short and pale, with dark hair, pretty, light green eyes, and remnants of acne on his cheeks. He had a good voice with a fast vibrato. Vic was keyboards and vocals, a handsome Asian guy with glasses. Jim was drums and vocals. A short wiry guy with black eyes and longish dark hair, Jimmy’s prominent nose made him look like a cross between Dustin Hoffman and Keith Moon. He was a great drummer, despite missing two fingers on his left hand.
The Outrigger had undergone some remodeling since I played there with Stevie’s Goodtime Band. Sadly, the buffet was gone. A pool table had taken its place, and the bar was on the right side of the room now, against the kitchen wall.
I learned the harmonies for the songs the band already did, and they learned new songs for me to sing lead on. We sounded good together and before long we were packing them in five nights a week. Ed decided to move the stage to the left side of the room, away from the restrooms, and we worked around the construction for a couple of weeks.
The new stage, still under construction, on the left side of the dance floor now.
Making friends when you’re rehearsing during the day, playing at night, and sleeping until noon isn’t easy, and I was lonely. I didn’t know anyone in town, and the band and their wives all lived in Lompoc and Santa Maria. Doug’s girlfriend, Angie, was a bubbly, friendly girl, and she was nice to me, especially when the other wives weren’t around. Grant’s wife was a pretty brunette and Victor’s wife was a beautiful blonde, and they both took every opportunity to shun me. One summer we were playing a gig in the park in Lompoc and I needed to ask Doug a question while he was standing talking with them. I walked up and said “Hi,” and without a word, they turned on their heels and walked away.
It hurt when women snubbed me, because girlfriends had always been so important to me. When I was performing, people saw blonde hair, a pretty face, and a self-confident stage persona. They didn’t realize they were looking at a mouse in a tiger costume. Still, I loved my life, singing in a band, in a beach town bar, and I frequently thanked God, wondering what in the world I’d done to deserve such bounty.
At long last, my twenty-first birthday arrived. For most young people, turning twenty-one means being able to buy booze and get into bars. I’d been performing in bars since I was seventeen, and having shots of tequila smuggled back to me since I was nineteen.
Twenty-one had much bigger implications for me: I would no longer be a stage ornament that disappeared at the end of each set, I’d be a full-fledged member of the band, mingling with the patrons and bar employees on our breaks.
Someone ordered a sheet cake that read, Happy 21st Birthday Jean. A little rubber bendy doll with long blonde hair stood on top, up to her shins in icing, holding an electric guitar. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and after making a wish and blowing out the candles, I released the doll from the sweet mire and rolled her in a napkin for safekeeping.
On the next break, Grant and Vic’s wives invited me to sit with them so they could buy me a shot of tequila. I’d already had a couple of shots, but I didn’t want to ruin this chance of becoming friends with them, so I sat. One of them went to the bar and brought back three shots. We all raised our glasses, and they toasted, “Happy Birthday!” We clinked our shot glasses and tossed the clear liquid back. I blanched and coughed as the drink burned its way down my throat like jet fuel, and they laughed at their joke: they’d ordered me a shot of Bacardi 151, which was 75 percent alcohol. I was hurt, and embarrassed. They knew I would grovel to be friends with them, and I’d allowed them to manipulate and humiliate me. The remainder of my big night is a blank. A gnarly hangover greeted me the next morning, and as I tiptoed through my first day of twenty-one, I told myself I was done trying to befriend them.
Before long, that silly brass rail was removed, and now there would be no more barriers separating me from the crowd, and the boys in the band. We were doing very well at the Outrigger, so I was surprised when Ed approached me one day after rehearsal to tell me that Stevie was returning to the area, and the two of them had talked about putting the old band back together. Would I be willing to rejoin Stevie’s Goodtime Band? Working with my old compadres again was very tempting, but I would feel bad leaving the guys in Mainstream. What tipped it for me was the idea that I’d never have to deal with the Mainstream wives again. I said yes.
The backlash was immediate, and intense. The guys in Mainstream were hurt and angry and, seen from their point of view, their anger was understandable. Steady, good-paying gigs were hard to come by. They had rent and bills to pay, and now I was jumping ship for another band, and that band was taking the gig. Our last weeks together were very tense. I felt like a traitor, especially around Doug and Jim, who, despite their anger, were still at least civil to me.
We’d finished performing one night, and the customers were gone and the door locked. A couple of the guys were playing pool and I was at the end of the bar talking to an employee and the bartender, unaware that the pool players had begun a game of catch behind me with the cue ball. Standing around twenty feet apart, they were throwing the ball overhand and inching progressively closer to me. Suddenly, I heard a loud knock and felt dizzy. Then the pain came, and I put my right hand up to the back of my head, confused about what had just happened.
The bartender had seen the whole thing, and he immediately grabbed a towel from under the bar and threw some ice in it, which was pressed against my head while he and the employee sat me down. He put my hand on the ice pack and told me to hold it there. From behind me, a voice muttered, “I wish it had been a brick,” just loud enough for me to hear.
When I took the towel away, I almost fainted. It was red with blood. Someone ran for their car and drove me to the emergency room, and it was determined that I’d sustained only a mild concussion. Turns out, the blood on the towel hadn’t been mine: another bartender had cut his hand on a broken glass earlier in the night and, after using the towel to clean the wound, he’d thrown it under the bar top, which is where the late shift bartender had found it.
The next morning I awoke with another throbbing headache and thought about how happy Grant and Vic’s wives must have been to hear the cue ball story. I could just imagine their delight, and that, combined with the brick comment, eased my conscience and my departure from the band.
In the years to come, there would be other bands, and more delights and dramas. But I would be an integral part of the forming of those bands, with an equal say, and equal pay.
Thanks to Brett Martin Smith for the use of the tour images from his EverOn website.
The first concert on the Summer 2002 Tour was in Fort Worth, Texas, a twelve-hour drive by bus from Pagosa Springs. When everyone got hungry, the driver took an exit and we chose a restaurant by chorus and consensus. Some days we’d park in a gas station near three fast-food restaurants, and everyone would head in different directions. It would go like that every day, for the rest of the tour. In his early days, playing in Nashville and touring the south, Cracker Barrel had been a favorite of Dan’s. It had been a travel game then, kind of like “I spy with my eye…” and he would still call out “Cracker Barrel!” every time we passed one, whether he wanted to stop there or not. Sometimes, one of us would see it coming before he did, and we’d call out, “Cracker Barrel!!” just to mess with him.
At night, I slept like a baby, the hum and vibration of the engine lulling me to sleep in the Queen-sized bed at the back of the bus. Until sleep came, Dan and I would talk quietly, like kids at a sleepover. Each band member slept in his own curtained cubbyhole, and the bunks were equipped with reading lights and storage compartments. Waking at night, needing to pee, I’d listen for a while, until I was sure the head was free. Then, I’d walk quickly and quietly between the bunks, being careful not to jostle curtains. The bunks were fairly narrow, and I didn’t want to wake someone by bumping an arm or a foot. Nothing could muffle the flush, but it became one of those sounds you didn’t notice after a while.
On May 28th, we got to Fort Worth and checked into our hotel (much nicer than Motel 6) with time to eat and shower before the show. Dan was looking forward to performing with the band again, and the concert went off with a few minor glitches. The audience was loving the full band sound, and hearing some of their old favorites from Dan’s career:
Magic Every Moment
Hard to Say
To the Morning
Run For the Roses
Make Love Stay
Believe in Me
Same Old Lang Syne
Leader of the Band
Blow Wind Blow
Mark sang “Strange Way” from his Firefall days, Joe Bob played flute on an instrumental jam, and Robert played lead on “Walking Blues.” The crowd loved it all. By the end of the concert, when the band played “Part of the Plan,” everyone was on their feet. They clapped and called and stamped until the band came back out for “There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler.” Dan thanked the audience and they came offstage, but still the crowd called for more. When it came time for the second encore, he looked at me and said, “So, what do you think? You coming out with us?” I peeked out at the sea of faces, clapping and calling for Dan, and the band, and my stomach flipped. “No,” I said, “not tonight.”
“Come on, Jean!” the guys said. “No,” I said, smiling apologetically, “I can’t, I can’t do it.”
“Okay…” Dan said. Then, as he walked back onto the stage, and the band started to follow, someone handed me a tambourine just as Mark Andes put his hand on my back and gently propelled me forward.
In my worst imaginings, the faces in the front rows looked at me like, “Who the heck is this, and what is she doing there??” But actually, after a brief glance, they seemed to forget I was standing there, sharing a mic with Mark on the high harmonies. My mouth was really dry, but I was hitting the notes and playing the tambourine in time with the music, and just as I started enjoying myself, the song was over. As we walked off the stage, Dan put his arm around me. “See?” he said, “You did great!” I was so happy, and so grateful for the little scheme that got me out on stage and singing harmonies again.
After that, no one had to push me onstage, although it did take a week before I wasn’t overcome with fright before going out in front of those big crowds.
On May 31st, my parents met us in Biloxi, Mississippi and Dan pointed them out in the audience, telling everyone it was their 50th wedding anniversary, to big applause. It was a thrill for them, and they loved seeing me on stage again. Afterward, I was walking with Mom and Dad through the Beau Rivage Casino, taking them to see the bus. People who had attended the concert kept coming up and congratulating them, and they felt like rock stars.
Three weeks later, we were in Ohio, and Joe Vitale tells this story in his book, Backstage Pass: “Dan was always very quick-witted and ready to joke around. In Cleveland, we were on the stage during soundcheck and someone tried to get into the tour bus…and set off the alarm. It was making a rhythmic beeping and Dan immediately started in playing and singing ‘Day Tripper’ to it.”
Ten days later, we played Red Rocks, and Dan had a surprise for Mark Andes: his original bandmates from Firefall came out on stage to join him for “Strange Way.” Together for the first time in twenty years, they sounded fantastic, and the audience went nuts. Afterward, there was a lot of hugging, and Mark reserved a big one for Dan.
Like all good things, the tour went by much too quickly. The last concert was on July 3rd, at Humphries by the Bay in San Diego. As we left the stage that night, I was full of gratitude for Dan and his merry men, those kind and funny boys in the band.
Posted December 12th. 2020 Copyright ©Jean Fogelberg 2020