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Columns > Lee Abraham

Published: 2002/04/22
by Lee Abraham

Farewell To Legends (Part 3 of 3)

Its a little after 10pm on Saturday, December 1st, 2001, and Im standing onstage at Legends Lounge. We set up our gear and did the sound check a couple of hours ago, so now were doing a final tune up and just sorta fooling around before we start playing. Theres a pretty good crowd in the house and to be perfectly honest, Im hardly even nervous.
So what if we hadnt played together in a few years, and who cares if we only had a couple of practices before tonights show? Unlike back when we used to gig on a regular basis, theres no pressure tonight. Were all here to have fun and everybodys loose as a goose. Had the pleasure of spending a little quality time with some good friends earlier in the afternoon, as well as here at the bar, and tonight feels like more a party than anything else.
One of the coolest things about playing music is that fleeting moment of transition from everything that happens before the show to the actual start of the performance. For a brief instant time stands still, and all that has lead up to this moment becomes the moment itself. And while the potential for what is to come remains unlimited, the process has begun and is already taking shape.
Right now Im feeling good about the whole thing. Pretty sure Ill remember most of the material and Im diggin the warm tones of my Ampeg Reverbrocket amplifier. Legends has changed a lot since the last time we played here. Back then there was no real stage, no lighting, and we even had to bring our own PA system. These days its a different story – the club is a state of the art music venue with a very cool stage thats completely surrounded by wall to wall and floor to ceiling tie dyed tapestries. OK, enough daydreaming, Rudys onstage and is about to introduce the band.
"These guys were the first band to play here, back before anybody knew there was anything such as the jamband scene or anything like that, and I think its good that they kick off our final shows… 5 OClock Shadow!!"
Our drummer Jeff clicks a four count and on cue, both guitars and bass join in. There it is… the show has begun! We decided to open with "Mystery Moods," a dreamy mid tempo number thats always been one of my favorite 5OS tunes. Everything sounds good but when I start singing my voice is tight. It takes a while, but midway into the song I start to loosen up and can control my vocal range a bit. Although were sloppy on the solo, we get through the song and are off to a halfway decent start.
The next song, "Point In Time" rips pretty good with no real blunders and were building momentum. I call up our longtime saxman, Larry Pro, to the stage, as well as our friend Dave on keyboards, and both will sit in for the rest of the night. We go into "Hemp Stance," a reggae tinged rocker and everything is jamming nicely. Suddenly, Im distracted by noise coming from Larrys amp which is positioned right behind me, and I forget the lyrics. No problem though, I make up a couple of lines that flow smoothly enough. I dont think anybody other than Scotty even notices.
Although the band is really smoking now, the noise from Larrys amp needs to be dealt with. So after we get through the song, Scotty steps up to the mic. telling the crowd that its his fiancTennilles birthday, and asks the crowd to sing "Happy Birthday" to her, and while thats going on, Im trying to help Larry troubleshoot the noise.
This is pretty ironic for me, because Im usually the one experiencing technical difficulties and needing help with my gear, but tonight Im feeling like Mr. Fixit. We actually succeed in eliminating the noise by switching Larrys amp chord and by the time Tennille has blown out the candles on her cake, which had been ceremoniously paraded out from behind the bar, we are once again ready to rock.
The next few songs, "Trippin Over Shadows," and "Because You Dream" jam pretty good. By now all butterflies and gremlins have been chased out of the system and theres a few beads of sweat forming on my forehead that remind me of the here and now. I start thinking about how nice it would be to have a drink, and much to my delight, I remember the glass of ice water at the base of the mic. stand.
Everything is the moment and when we go into a cover of the Toys "Smoke Two Joints," we lock into an extra deep groove. In fact, theres some folks dancin and a couple of friends taking photos. At one point I look up across the room and see the two best bartenders of all time, Jan and Tina, shakin their bones as they share the fine art of mixology with the Legends faithful.
Saxman Larry has a field day one this one and everybody is getting off big time on the edgy reggae rydms, and the island vibe has no choice but to carry over to the next tune, "Mushroom Man," which is usually more of a drunken slide guitar, country western number.
I invite another old friend, Poppa Brad Barton onstage, to play harmonica on "Youngest Old Timer," and we have a blast as Brads high energy blowing session sparks up the room. After the crowd gives Brad an enthusiastic round of applauds, Scotty says something about how the song is a tribute to Pigpen, but that it would also be fitting to have a moment of silence for George Harrison, who died just a couple of days earlier.
After a moment of collective reflection, we bounce through a snappy little dance tune called "Two Worlds," and then invite a few more friends, George Lyons on trumpet and percussionist Meggy, to join us for one of our trippiest songs, "Granite Rain." A radio DJ and globe trotting jamfan extraordinaire, George is quite a character. And tonight is no exception. Sporting a bright orange Page Boy wig, Lyons signal processed trumpet gives the already spacey tune an eerie, haunting feel, while his wacky wig scores big points with the local loon contingent. Oh yes, we are having fun tonight!
"Granite Rains" verses are essentially a melodic duet, where Scotty and myself alternate lines, and then the chorus comes in from left field with a punkish/new wave sort of dissonance that effectively contrasts the harmonics of the verse. Somewhere in the middle of the song we just jam out on the chords of the verse without any real plan as to where the music will go, and tonight things get into a very atmospheric, open jazz space… Im floating in the music as the colored lights swirl around the room and when I turn around to look across the stage I have no choice but to crack up when I look at George, so deep into the jam and smiling big under his bizarre orange wig!
After the extended transcendence of "Granite Rain," we do a decent cover of "Catfish John" and then invite our final guest of the evening, Heather, onstage. Its always very cool to hear someone sing one of our originals, not only because it frees me up to focus on playing guitar, but because I love hearing someone who can really sing take on our melodies. Heather does a sweet job with the lead vocals on the next two tunes, "Every Little Scene," (which I dedicated to my main man and Legends musical visionary, Rudy Jalio), as well as one of our biggest crowd pleasers, an uptempo good-lovin-gone-bad rocker called "Waited." The crowd loves Heather and so do we!
Its been a solid night for the shadow and by now were beyond thought, simply operating on group telepathy. The final song, "Test My Faith," is a smoldering thunderhead of passion that flows with an effortless ferocity, totally playing the band for all were worth. As a player, this is the payoff. And as the last notes drift into the night, the transition from what was to what is takes place yet again.
Time moves incredibly fast when youre playing music and before you know it, the much anticipated performance is over. That was certainly the case tonight. And I guess the same concept also applies to much longer time frames.
Unplugging my guitar as I start packing up for the ride home, my mind drifts back over the past several years, reflecting on all the great music that was made at Legends and that the club will be shutting down soon. Tired, elated and buzzing, I can only think of what a joy it was for me to have been a part of the action…


Authors Note: Big thanks Rudy and Linda Jalio for having 5 O’Clock Shadow play Legends one more time, as well as all the kind folks who sat in with us to make music together – Poppa Brad Barton, George ‘Mr. Atmospheric’ Lyons, Meggy, Heather, Dave on keys, Larry on sax, and especially Jeff Dugan on drums (there’s no way we could have pulled it off without Dr. Dugan’s intuitive timing!!! You rock JD!!) I also want to thank the best damn bartenders of all time, Tina and Jan (it’s always a pleasure hangin’ with you two!), as well as everyone who came down to the show, it was great seeing so many old friends and making some joyful noise together once again!
Most of all though, I want to express my deep gratitude to my bandmates and dear friends Gary Chodikov on bass and Scotty T. on guitar… creating and playing music with you guys has always been a highlight in my little corner of the universe and I’m ultra appreciative to have had the opportunity to make it happen one more time… who knows, maybe the sun will dance with the moon yet again somewhere down the line… ##

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