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Columns > John Zinkand - Improvise

Published: 2009/07/27
by John Zinkand

Hangin With (Ok, Near) Snoop Dog

I work a day job just like most of the good folks reading this article. I am not a full-time writer nor do I work in the biz in any capacity except for writing this monthly column. Ive never managed a band, never been a promoter, never ran lights or sound, etc. Im a fan of good music and in the process of being such an ardent fan have managed to make friends along the way, some of whom could be considered in the biz. There have been some free shows, back stage passes, and even post-show tour bus visits in the past, but always through friends and never through any sort of press credentials. Im a working man jam-fan and enjoy reporting from this perspective.

Back in the early 90s, I attended college at Clark University in Worcester, MA. The smaller jam scene was only just being built up and I spent most of my days at Phish and Dead shows. One smaller band that I often enjoyed at bars in clubs in the Worcester area was called Jiggle the Handle. Over the years I became pretty good friends with the guys and often hung out with them before and after shows. When I moved to Oregon in 1997, they stayed at my place when they were doing west coast summer tours and I even helped them load in and out on portions of their tour. I loved their music and it was fun to see the inner workings of a small jamband up close and personal. But time marches on and different things happen and Jiggle isnt really together any more. Each of the guys is still playing music, just in a different capacity. Even their old sound guy, Jack, is still doing sound for different bands in the scene these days.

While Jiggle went through a few keyboard players in their day, Paul Wolstencroft played with them the longest and brought the most to the table with his great songwriting, vocals, and impov skills. Paul and I always had fun hanging around with Jiggle and getting into trouble. Years later in 2007 or so I was pleasantly surprised when I went to check out a Melvin Sparks show at my local club in Portland and Paul was playing keys!! It was great to see him and reconnect about old times. He even made it out again later in the year with Melvin to play at the Black Sheep Family Reunion where we were able to hang out some more after their set. Since then we have been in fairly good contact through Facebook, etc.

A few weeks ago my curiosity was piqued when I saw an email from Paul in my Facebook inbox. Upon reading it, I couldnt help but smile. Paul has hooked up with the band Slightly Stoopid and would be touring with The Blazed and Confused Tour this summer that also includes Snoop Dogg. He offered up two all access passes to the show and time to hang out afterwards. Now Im no die-hard Snoop fan and I had barely even heard of Slightly Stoopid, but if Pauls in town playing with these guys, I definitely wanted to check it out. Hip-hop has never been one of my favorite genres, but the few tunes I am familiar with are mostly by Snoop Dogg. Plus, this is a show I would normally never go and pay to see, so I was psyched to check out something a little different.

We arrived at the venue late due to work conflicts. After picking up our passes, we submitted to a very hardy search of our person. They might have transported the lady doing the frisking in from a local penitentiary. She was serious, large, and thorough. But since we didnt have any guns or knives, we made in right through. Slightly Stoopid was on stage playing as we entered. They play a mix of rock, reggae, punk and hip hop. The music was loud and the crowd seemed pretty into it as we worked our way up the left side of the room towards the front of the stage. A security guard gave my girlfriend a small hassle saying her pass was not the right color, but I quickly advised him to take another look at the pass to see we were good to go with all access passes. He did and we were. So off we went.

We entered the side stage/back stage area without hitch and found ourselves on a little platform right next to the stage. Paul was up there only a few feet away playing the keyboards. It was cool to see him play on such a big stage in front of so many people, as Ive only seen him play with smaller bands. We immediately felt like VIPs as there was a free Oliphant Vodka Tent doling out as many free vodka drinks as you needed. While the sound was not great since we were behind the speaker stacks, the view was phenomenal! We drank vodka-n-juice, mingled, and bobbed our heads to the show.

When the set ended, Paul came down and we got to hang out for a bit in the VIP side stage area, before he took us back to their green room. One of the guys was getting a massage and a few more were just hanging out and talking back there. We grabbed a few spots on the couch, poured some beverages and whatnot, and did some catching up. Paul told us about playing to a sold-out Red Rocks crowd, playing for as many as 17,000 people, and being psyched about upcoming shows at the Gorge and the possibility of a Snoop sit-in down at Shoreline (which happened, by the way). It was great to see him and catch up and also very cool to be doing it back stage on the Blazed and Confused Tour.

After chatting and hanging, it was time to go back out front for Snoops set where we first watched a few songs from out in the crowd. Snoop was awesome!! The music was super funky and he worked the crowd like the old pro that he is. He even played my personal favorite Snoop song, "Gin and Juice." But the side bar and free vodka-n-juice were calling, so we headed back there for the rest of the set. After obtaining more beverages, we noticed our view was obstructed. There was now a small crowd of folks standing to the side but on the actual stage while the performance was happening. Paul said we could get up there, too, and away we went. Before I knew it I was on stage with Snoop Dogg hanging with his friends and family. The bass player, drummer, and keyboard player were only a few feet away from me. It was amazing! I have never been so star struck before. Not only was I seeing a Snoop Dogg perform live, I was ON the stage while he was performing. Ive been having fun telling people about this adventure ever since and Im sure I will for years to come.

When the set ended we were all glowing including Paul. It was impossible to remove the smile. Did that really just happen? Was I really just on stage with Snoop while he played a set in Portland??? Really???? We managed to walk down the ramp, off the stage, and back to the green room again. We grabbed a few drink supplies then headed outside. Back by the busses, a party was in full motion. There were people barbecuing, coolers were scattered here and there, and people were milling about with drinks in hand. After some socializing and hanging around with various people (we got to meet Snoops brother), we had to call it a night. I dialed up a cab and we were whisked back home in no time. The next morning we were still scratching our heads in disbelief. Unexpectedly, this was one of the most unusual and enjoyable shows Ive ever seen. Thanks again, Paul!

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