I have to admit it, when I arrived to set up for our show at the Spiral Cafe, my heart skipped a few beats.
I pulled up right in front of the venerable little Victoria cafe – “Costanza parking”, as Rollie and I like to call it – and there, in the front window setting up his gear, I saw Rollie…
And no one else.
Well, okay, this could be a quick evening. I started loading in my usual assortment of drum gear and keyboard and began to set up in the “stage” area next to the Spiral Cafe’s front window. With limited space to set up (and by the way, it is the perennial complaint of every drummer that there “isn’t enough space”) I paid little attention to the comings and goings of Spiral patrons. Within forty five minutes my little office was built, and I lifted my head to rejoin the world. As it turns out, there had been plenty of comings and not many goings and the Spiral was quickly filling up to capacity, with fifteen minutes to go. Rollie was off saying his hello’s to a few of the “regular” supporters and even more who hadn’t been to one of our shows in some time.
And then it was showtime...
Balancing an impossibly large Americano, I did my usual yoga/ballet routine crawling into position behind my gear, which must have looked like I was parachuting into a train derailment, as Rollie wrapped up his pre-show tuning.
Rollie and I had worked out a plan for shows such as these – the ones geared to showcasing his original material – two originals, followed by one cover song, repeat same. As has become our unofficial show tradition/superstition, we kicked things off with Neil Young’s “Old Man”. From there, the evening wound its way through most of Rollie’s original compositions, and from my vantage point behind the action, it was a genuine pleasure to see the warm, positive reception each of them received. I saw a few of the long-time supporters singing along, word for word, a fantastic feeling to see how these songs had reached people.
The two hours flew by in no time at all, and among the many highlights for me, our “Shaker Orchestra” was top of the list. It’s such a fun experience to hand out shakers and maracas to the crowd, and encourage them to join in the song. Rollie and I go to considerable lengths to make our shows interactive and fun – we intentionally tear down that invisible barrier that is far too often deeply entrenched in front of the stage. Rollie weaves incredible stories of where his songs come from and once the story is told and the song begins, its a great feeling to watch the audience, to see the emotional connections made.
The show ended with the Spiral Cafe as packed to capacity as when we had begun, and the audience graced us with applause and thanks. That little Cafe had worked its magic once again as new friendships were made, old ones reconnected, and my pre-show arrhythmia, unfounded.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.