stone road: 1998-2004

 

 

a brief note about my old buddy michael tolcher – he’s going to be playing in allentown on january 15th (for those of you who are local), and he’s going to be appearing on last call with carson daly on wednesday night (the 22nd).

also, if you haven’t been to david lindley‘s page lately, stop in and read the “latest news” entries from the road. funny, funny stuff.

so, with that out of the way…

stone road has now officially passed on. we had our last show on saturday night.

pepetual sweetheart pete errich from shame called me saturday afternoon to wish me a good gig…he also dropped off a copy of the new version of “sparkle” from their new record, this one with strings on it this afternoon.

ever the thoughtful bastard, that pete guy.

we passed the day on saturday by having some lunch with dylan and driving to philadelphia to guitar center, once i got back from my saturday morning meeting at keiths’.  lil’ ragu came in a little hung over, from having played santa claus the night before (and having gone to see another band with his santa suit still on…and got up and played “pride and joy” dressed as the jolly old elf himself), and jerry from black hills stopped in, too, with an old gretsch lap steel that i think he wants to sell me, although he didn’t say as much on saturday…

but, once dylan and wendy and i got back from philadelphia, dylan had to return to his moms’ and i had to get ready for the inevitable. i waited as long as i could for mitch to show up…called his house a few times…but ultimately, it was past time to go to darryl’s house to meet up for the gig, so i had to leave without him. he called me as i was on my way through leesport to tell me that he’d slept well past when he’d wanted to, and probably wouldn’t be coming to the show. we talked about some other rather distressing developments (of which i was sworn to secrecy) before he conceded that he probably wouldn’t be coming to the gig. i was disappointed – we’ve had no bigger fan than mitch during the entire duration of this band. he’s driven to reading from philadelphia more times than i could count to come see us play, and i felt it would be symbolic for him to have been at the last one. but it wasn’t to be.

there were a lot of old friends of the band at the show, though..brian, darryl’s brother – the person responsible for the initial introductions that got the band started. hank and jodi – friends of darryl’s who’ve been coming to see us for years…there were other faces there that i knew, but who’d never had names in my mind…but i recognized them as we came in to set up for the show.

so we arrived and i staked out my corner, in front of the christmas tree, and started setting up my stuff. i brought my old les paul, the epiphone with the correct gibsonesque headstock, to use that night. it’s a screamer, but i’ve been so enthralled by the dillions lately that it’s been neglected. so much so, in fact, that i had to change the strings on it before the show to avoid a case of tetanus.

the whole first set was plagued with problems…low-end feedback, whines and howls of every kind coming from the monitors and from the mains…barry was trying to troubleshoot it, and it took a while to nail it down, and it still returned every so often at the precise moment that we thought we’d gotten to the bottom of it…but by the middle of the second set, it was negligible.

we all played well – it felt like everyone put a little extra into the night, knowing it would be the last one…but in terms of what we played, it was still a pretty average gig. i went in determined to shake things up a little bit – to, at the very least, throw in some stuff that we’d never done before. in the first set, i just started playing “crossroads” during a lull after a song, and everyone jumped in and held on for dear life…and it worked out fine. in the last set, someone asked for a tom petty song, and i turned around and yelled out, “e minor, d and c….here we go!” and started playing i need to know…which we’d never, ever played before – it was fun to watch darryl’s expression go from one of panic and confusion to total enlightenment when i sang the first line of the song and the little light bulb over his head went off…

…now that’s what stone road was about, for me. that sense of adventure, and the courage to jump off into something without knowing what the outcome was gonna be. and for that one song, it was back.

for three minutes, we were the old stone road. but that was about it.

there were a couple of other tricks in the works, too…darryl had soaked a set of sticks in lantern fluid and had them lit up for his solo, which we dueted on…i walked around to the side of the kit and started playing the hi-hats to keep the groove going while he lighted his sticks, and we ended up playing through the whole thing, with me on one side playing cymbals and him behind the kit. i reverted to my old cabaret inn-era trick of playing the first solo in tush with a slide on my finger, then picking up a full rolling rock with my teeth and turning it up in the air and drinking the whole thing during the second verse and then playing the next solo with the empty bottle…and at the end of the night, during the lap steel solo on rocky mountain way, i had put the lap steel down on a speaker and picked up the bottle and finished the solo with it, and at the end of the song i was beating the neck of it with the bottle and with my open hand, practically bouncing it up and down while everyone else was thundering in the background….

….and then i picked it up, turned to the band, and (as has been the custom), held the lap steel up in the air and yanked the cord out of its jack as we crashed down onto the end of the song.

and, just that quickly, it was over.

we milled about, talking to people for a while, most of us doing so within the confines of our own acquaintances…then kathy, barry’s wife, bought a round of shots for the band and we all raised our hands and toasted the end of the band.

i slipped the shotglass into my pocket. souvenir.

i took a bunch of pictures with my cellphone – none of them very good quality, but good for nostalgia purposes nonetheless. karen was uncharacteristically hard to pin down, since she’s usually not anywhere near that quick when she’s in the state she was in on saturday night, but i got a couple of good “karen faces” anyway. kathy was uncommonly proud of her cleavage on saturday, too, for some reason…not that anyone was complaining or anything. anyway, we all talked (separately and together) about the band, about the end of the band – with the folks who were there…and then, one or two at a time, everyone spilled out into the parking lot and left.

after everyone was gone, i was sitting at the end of the bar closest to the dance floor, by myself. someone had turned on the jukebox, and the first song was bob seger‘s you’ll accompany me

“…a gypsy wind is blowing warm tonight
the sky is starlit and the time is right
and still you’re tellin’ me you have to go
before you leave there’s something you should know…”

i sat there for a minute or two and soaked in the end of the night…the crowd had dwindled down to roughly a dozen people, and everyone associated with the band – the rest of the guys, spouses, friends, fans – all had left. i sat there and looked over at the floor where we’d been set up a few hours ago, now empty save for the christmas tree – and wendy came back in and sat down next to me. she said something, but i can’t recall what.

…so i got up and walked to the exit…

and it was over.

we went to queen city diner for the customary post-gig breakfast/last call fashion show, for what will probably be the last time in a long time.

i’ve let everyone know that i’m taking the winter off…that i’m not going to entertain the thought of getting involved with another music project until at least april or may. i’m going to get somewhat caught up at work, i’m going to finish the studio, and i’m even entertaining the thought of taking some actual lessons as well. i feel like i’ve been in something of a rut lately as a guitarist, and i’ve blamed that on the rut that the bands’ been in. i’ve done some other things in this time, obviously – playing occasionally in nik‘s band, gearing up for the odd “fifth beatle” shame thing…i need that to get myself outside my box every now and then.

but before i decide to do something else, i want to get out of a few of my own personal ruts.

goodbye, stone road.

you’ll be missed.

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