Reads: 35

Road Warriors

Leaving the Saddledome with his family and returning to his sometimes home when in Calgary, the Sheraton Suites Eau Claire, brought some respite from the tragedy of the precious evening.  He was able to spend a little tension-free time with Lulu and her children as well as Bobby and other members of the band.  He made a final more supportive connection with each and every one of them before going to bed.

The next morning he went to the Peter Lougheed Centre where Alf and the rhythm guitarist were taken to treat their injuries.  Alf was in a great deal of pain as he tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee trying to avoid the displaced drum kit.  Zach, the fill-in rhythm guitar player, was also in bad shape requiring surgery to mitigate the future scaring of the huge gash on his face that took place when struck by Alf’s errant bass guitar headstock.The Rockstar spent as much time with them as he could due to his appointments with both his lawyers and the police detectives later that afternoon.  He assured them they would all be taken care of and their focus should be on getting well and being with their families and friends.  He told them they would be questioned by the police and they must not do so without one of the band’s lawyers present.  He asked them to be totally honest and candid with the authorities in order for this tragedy to be resolved.

As the Rockstar had a long history with Alf, their conversation lasted quite a while.  After grieving the loss of their good friend, the conversation turned to the events of the last concert.  Alf revealed he did not understand why anyone would want to kill Mark.  He described him as one of the nicest, most gentle guys he had ever known.  Alf did mention that Mark seemed to have a rather persistent concern about the band’s finances but as everyone was making a lot of money, it seemed a bit strange.  The Rockstar told Alf that he should share that observation with the police.  Alf was very concerned about Mark’s family and the Rockstar indicated that he would do all he could to care for their needs.  Their warm and deep conversation ended on a note of sadness in the loss of their dear friend and the music’s loss of a world-class guitarist.

The Rockstar met with Don and the band’s legal team in the early afternoon.  At that time he was brought up to speed on Sandie’s and Marley’s interrogations by the police.  The legal team assured the Rockstar that they had been present during the initial series of short questioning periods and both Sandie and Marley were likely now suspects.

Sandie’s interrogation revealed her acute dislike of Mark that went back to the days of the band’s beginning.  Her struggles with mental illness had been a part of her life since her preadolescence.  She was currently undergoing treatment.  Tears began to stream down the Rockstar’s face as he was coming to realizations he’d never known any of this up until now.  He called a moratorium on the revelation of further information as he could not bear to hear more.

The report on Marley’s interrogation was slightly different.  Marley had revealed to the police his story of being kicked out of the band and that the band owed him a lot of money that he could have made as a star.  At the very least, the band owed him the $1000.00 his father had given the band.  Prorated and impacted by potential earnings, the amount owed him was now closer to a million dollars.  He told the police a lawsuit was pending.  Marley offered that Mark had gotten what he deserved for screwing him out of what he deserved.  Marley had shared this information even though he was warned by counsel that he should not offer opinions.  The Rockstar just shook his head in dismay.

The conversation then turned to the issue of the Rockstar’s talk with the detectives in the next couple of hours.  The Rockstar informed Don and the lawyers that he would be perfectly candid with the authorities and expected all of his colleagues in the band to be so also.  He was adamant in his position that what happened needed to be understood and resolved.  Secrets and unsubstantiated allegations would not serve this quest well.  The Rockstar vowed to take this position and needed wise legal counsel when it was called for.  With that stated stance, he awaited what his legal team advised.

 

The Young Ones began preparation for their first road trip, a gig that would be another pivotal experience in their young musical lives.  Black Diamond Community Association held dances in an old converted movie theatre.  The Mount View Theatre was moved in 1952 from an adjacent small Royalite Oil Company settlement.  It was purchased by the association for use as a community hall.

Don’s scouting of the venue revealed the “Mt. View” was a small cluttered building with a stage at its south end.  It featured an upright piano and an older PA system.  There was limited seating around the periphery of the hall floor.  He reported that none was really needed as the audience was there to dance and “hook up”.  The adult audience was primarily composed of oil field workers and ranch hands.  There was no real love lost between these groups but they did share the common goal – fun. 

The Mt. View presented 2 major challenges to the Young Ones.  The existence of an unreliable single mic PA system impacted their set list.  In addition, Don noted there was no information about instrumental music tastes of the audience.  The crowds usually packed the Mt. View on Saturday nights thus demonstrating the potential of this venue.  Don concluded his report that many Calgary bands including the Shades and Esquires had played there previously.  Armed now with a better understanding, the Young Ones started to prepare.

The foundation of preparation for the band was always the set list.  The Young Ones again started here.  The adult orientation of the audience caused the quick elimination of teen lyric-based songs.  The foundation of the list became guitar instrumentals due to the potential of the mic challenges.  Casualties also were the harmonies performed by members of the band which had quickly become a signature strength.  It was also decided to insert a few songs of a country rock flavour out of respect for that demographic of the audience.  The end result was a very different set list for the Young Ones with many new songs driving the balance of the practice.

The Rockstar and Don assumed the responsibility of addressing the amplification of vocals challenges which seemed to be correlated with this change to and the increasing success of the band.  The Young Ones were developing way beyond the one-dimensional limitation of being just an instrumental band.  Visits with Walter and Sharky were in order.

The 2 young band mates dropped in to talk with their guru Walter at Perry’s Music.  Walt was more than happy to share of his knowledge and expertise in amplification using guitar amps for vocals.  The Young Ones gave him a synopsis of their current problem.  Walt summed it up when he stated: “You need a microphone you can plug into one channel of your amps for the vocalist!  Here is what you need.  You need a mic that will connect to your amp.  You will need to re-position your amp to reduce feedback potential.  You might be disappointed in the quality of sound produced by an amp that is designed for amplifying an instrument.”  Noticing the look of being overwhelmed, Walt offered to demonstrate.  He got out a Shure SM57, a TRS ¼-inch adaptor and plugged into a Fender amp.  The sound was not bad but was not what was either expected or desired.

Noting the disappointment, Walt interjected, “At some point you will have to consider a PA system.  It will cost you some money depending on the quality of sound you want but you will not be at the mercy of ill-equipped venues.  But then you add to your transportation challenges as you will have to carry an amplifier, speakers and their stands, microphones and their stands and finally a mixing board.  If I were you, I would go to Sharky’s and see what he has in mics and PA systems.  He might have something inexpensive that will get you through your current problem.  If he can’t help you, I can sell you a decent mic, stand and adaptors for about $200.00.”  The 2 dejected band members went to talk to Sharky.

Sharky greeted his young friends warmly.  The Rockstar told Sharky that the band needed a mic, stand and an adaptor to see how this equipment would work for vocals at a venue in a few days.  Sharky stroked his chin as if in deep thought.  “I have an SM57 that seems to be in pretty good shape.  I could rent you the mic, stand, 20-foot cord and a TRS adaptor for $20.00 for a week.  That would give you a chance to try it.  If it works for you, I’ll sell you the package for an additional $80.00.  What do you think?”  Knowing the importance of the issue of amplifying vocals, the need for back-up and the time to shape their future properly, the Young Ones rented the mic.

The Young Ones held one final practice before the gig in Black Diamond on August 12th.  A few details needed to be finalized and a familiarity trial of the rented microphone became the starting points.  Travel arrangements were finalized with Don, Alf and the Rockstar riding together in Alf’s aging Monarch.  Because this gig was largely an unknown, girlfriends were not included.  Jody was not happy with this plan but understood the rationale.  Bobby would travel with his father and Mark planned to borrow his Mom’s car.  The band planned to meet in front of the Mt. View theatre a full 1½ hours prior to the 8:00 pm start time.  The anxiety resulting from facing unknowns slowly escalated.

The amp/mic challenge turned out to be somewhat as expected.  The resultant sound of miking a vocal through an amp was as anticipated.  The challenges faced in reality had to do with feedback and the loss of an amp for an instrument.  The Rockstar knew feedback would result from the mic being positioned in front of its amp.  What was not known was how the repositioning of 3 amps would impact the band and the music.  Experimentation in the basement studio revealed that the Rockstar’s amp for his guitar had to be well forward of the other amps and he had to be at the end of the line of players to mitigate the potential of feedback.  It was also learned that the value of the Rockstar being able to add rhythm guitar depth to the music of the Young Ones was impacted by positioning and the capability of his Silvertone amp to amplify both his vocals and guitar chording.The final set up would be determined by the Black Diamond community hall.

The rock band car poolers pulled up in front of the Mt. View theatre just as the facility coordinator was opening the door.  Don jumped out of Alf’s car and talked with her.  The band began to unload their equipment.  Entering the hall came as a bit of a surprise.  The historic old theatre maintained the charm of an old heritage building.  It was dark due to the stained wood walls and very dim updated lighting.  The floor was polished planking likely good for dancing.  There were several banks of old theatre seats strategically bolted to the floor around the walls of the hall.  An elevated stage fronted by theatre seats dominated the far end of the hall.  This smallish stage area was like a room open to the dance floor  Entry and exit to the stage was through a door.  It’s cave-like set up drove the sound of any performers out onto the dance floor, 3-feet below the front of the stage.

The Young Ones began setting up their equipment.  As was characteristic of garage bands of the time, the amps were elevated through their placement  on chairs beside the drum kit and behind the players of the band.  The Rockstar’s amp was positioned on a chair at the front-right of the band to mitigate feedback and yet give him access to the one stand-up mic plugged into the hall’s aging PA system.  This meant that one amp was a good 4-feet forward of the other amps with this set-up.  The band explored portions of several numbers before concluding this was the best they could do.  They used their rented mic in the hall’s PA system which gave a little better sound than the Silvertone amp.  The harmonies would likely be lost to the crowd as no one had amplification.  It was the best that could be done in this circumstance.

The crowd started to arrive a good 30 minutes before the appointed start time.  This afforded Don and the Young Ones a bit of a chance to get a reading on what they were facing.  The crowd that filed in slowly was exactly as scouted by Don.  The agricultural demographic assembled on one side of the community hall while the oil fields crowd populated the other.  There was no tension evident other than a logical separation by common professional backgrounds.  What was notable at the time was that women were as yet in a minority.  The early tone was convivial which gave promise to an anticipated fun time.  There was a distinct smell of liquor, likely beer as some had prepared for the fact that according to the liquor laws of the time, none would be available at the dance.  Interactions with the early arrivers revealed the focus of attention would be on dancing.  By extension, the Young Ones were expected to facilitate this expectation.  It didn’t take an intellectual giant to recognize the goal was hooking up with someone and more partying later.  It was also noted that this was a buyer’s market.  The gender demographic was likely to be a ratio of two-to-one favoring the women.  This translated into every second guy leaving the dance without female company.  The women at the dance would surely rule.  These 2 determinants meant that the Young One’s set list had to focus on good dance tunes with attention to some romantic chick music.  Armed with this information and a well-conceived set list, the Rockstar and his bandmates took the stage.

On the dot of 8:00 pm, the Rockstar stepped up to the mic and announced, “Good evening everyone!  We are the Young Ones.  Enjoy your evening.”  With that, the band broke into their new cover of ‘Riders in the Sky’.  This opening took the audience by surprise.  The Rockstar’s brief introduction and the fast-paced tempo in the Young One’s arrangement seemed to differ from what was expected.  Very quickly, the floor filled as couples began to dance.  Within moments of the fade of the chorus guitar run, the Young Ones began the next song.

The instrumental Intro of ‘Mustang Sally’ rang through the hall immediately.  The Rockstar assumed his Wilson Pickett persona and growled the verses while the band filled in the chorus.  The slower tempo of this song resonated with the dancers and even more joined the now-packed dance floor.  The tone of the room became more positive which prompted the Young Ones to get over their apprehension and into their music.  Again, Bobby quickly tapped in the count for the next song.  As the Intro to ‘Pretty Woman’ was drum, then guitar and finally bass-driven, The Rockstar noted, “And now for your ladies …” and began to sing the band’s cover of this Roy Orbison hit tune.  The effect was electric.  The minority of young women who not as yet had partners grabbed one and began to gyrate to the moderate tempo of this pop rock tune.  At the end of the brief instrumental Extro of this great song, the crowd erupted with cheers and raised arms prompted by the ladies.  At that moment, the Young Ones all realized the powerful effect of knowing your audience and crafting a set list that matched their expectations.  In a somewhat convoluted effort to salute the oilfield workers in the audience, the band immediately transitioned into ‘Pipeline’.  Even the Rockstar’s single word introduction, “Pipeline” went over the heads of most but the pace of this instrumental surf song got the dance back to a tempo which all seemed to enjoy.  The balance of the set was the mix of instrumentals and vocals from the Young One’s repertoire and continued to catch the fancy of the crowd at the old Mt. View theatre.  The first set ended on an energy high.

The Young One’s break was both positive and informative.  The Black Diamond community dance suddenly lost most of their customers who exited during this pause.  It was just a few steps to the Black Diamond Hotel with a history longer than the Mt. View Theatre and a bar!  Many guys left to quaff a few beers prior to the resumption of the dance.  Many of the women and a few guys who were with women remained and mingled with the band.  The Young Ones received many compliments and a few suggestions.  The dancers were most appreciative of some country rock songs and songs to which women liked to dance.  The names of a few tunes were passed on to the band.  It was strongly hinted that the dancers really liked vocal numbers as many of the bands from Calgary played too many guitar tunes.  A small group of women asked if the band could play any slow numbers.  They even went as far to suggest it would be a good way to end the dance as most couples had been formed by then and it would be a good start to the next stage of those connections.  Many noted the band was really young!  Feeling even a little more confident, the band took the stage for the second half of the dance.

The Young Ones opened the second set with a fast-paced country hit “Ring of Fire’.  It was soon evident by numbers on the dance floor that Johnny Cash was well-played in this town.  In addition, many sang the Chorus along with the Rockstar as it is repeated 4 times.  Mark did a masterful job in playing the guitar run after each line in the 2 verses and the Bridge between them.  It was difficult to replace horns in this cover.  The Extro lyric fade ended with applause from the dancers.

Noting the audience singing, the Rockstar called for and Bobby tap/counted in ‘Louie, Louie’.  The Rockstar had to forgo his interesting introduction to this particular song about the error inherent in a one-take recording that had a studio cost of $50.00.  Instead he burst in on cue after the band’s Intro with the Chorus lyrics.  Immediately, the audience began to sing along with the Rockstar.  The Rockstar sang the broken English Verse lyrics.  The Young Ones did not make the same error as did The Kingsmen in 1963.  The fade Extro ended a reasonably paced number that offered a bit of respite from the frenetic pace of the previous song.

Heeding the plea for a slow number, the Young Ones played their version of the Link Wray classic, ‘Rumble’.  Those who wanted to slow dance did so.  Other’s danced it as a slow jive.  Mark cranked up the reverb and the vibrato on his amp.  His distinguished picking during this instrumental flowed over the sea of dancers.  The fade was so subtle, that many in the audience kept on dancing.

The balance of the dance went pretty much as was the pattern from the first set.  The adjusted music selection as per suggestions added to the success.  Learning from the audience was a good thing but also pointed out the need for an extensive repertoire to be able to address requests.  The Young Ones ended the dance with their cover of the ‘House of the Rising Sun’.  Using this as a closing song in Black Diamond did not elicit audience singing.  With an adult demographic, the focus was on the next event between dance partners.  The soiree came to a rather quiet end with the quick exit of couples to their next adventure and the unattached guys to the bar.  The tired but happy Young Ones packed up their equipment and agreed to meet at the Black Diamond Hotel coffee shop for something to eat before driving back to Calgary.  Mr. Evers agreed to take the drums home so Bobby could join his bandmates.

The coffee shop turned out to be a good move as many of the dance patrons were there.  There were some good exchanges with the members of the band and affirmations abounded.  Don noted that the representative from the community association was very impressed with the band and wanted to book several more gigs.  Don agreed to the proposal but indicated that due to the travel, the cost to obtain the services of the Young Ones would need to be $150.00.  That was acceptable to the rep.  The Rockstar noted that several slower dance numbers should be added to the band’s repertoire particularly when playing for more adult audiences.  He also noted that the need to add more original songs to their music portfolio was becoming acute or the Young Ones would only be known as a cover or party band.  He expressed a plan to also work on the arrangements of songs in their master playlist in order to diversify their reputation.  On a similar note, Mark offered the suggestion of a band uniform was needed that would reflect a desired image and greater professionalism.  Don indicated he would look into this.  Alf was in a state of awe now that his second gig was behind him.  All members of the band affirmed his amazing growth in bass-playing proficiency over such a short period of time.  The short trip back to Calgary later was very quiet as the bandmates pondered the reflections that would become the focus of their work in the upcoming weeks.

The Rockstar phoned Jody first thing the next morning to tell her of the Black Diamond adventure.  She was glad to hear from him and they made arrangements for a date that evening.  They decided to take advantage of Jody’s offer to cook dinner and have a quiet evening at her home.  This initial foray into a new dimension in their budding relationship felt good to both of them.

Dinner at Jody’s place was fabulous.  The Rockstar was amazed with her culinary skills in crafting a sumptuous meal.  He helped her prepare as best he could and learned that doing this together resulted in an enhancement of their connection.  It was akin to establishing a new basis for the culture of their relationship.  There were many laughs and a banter that had nothing to do with music.  Both enjoyed the meal and the partnership that carried through the post dinner clean-up.

The quiet evening turned out to be just that.  Jody’s small TV was turned on but the conversation caused little attention to be paid to Gunsmoke, The Smother’s Brothers and Star Trek.  Instead the fledgling couple just sat on the couch, held hands and talked about their lives and their dreams.  The warmth of their discussion naturally led to some passionate kissing.  The bond was definitely growing.  The Rockstar began to feel things he had never experienced before.  He began to notice how beautiful Jody was and how that pleased him.  He was enthralled by her gentle nature and how it calmed him.  Her maturity brought a peacefulness and feeling of stability to the budding relationship that resulted in genuinely felt joy. 

He felt her physical presence.  Her chic clothing enhanced her gracefully slender body from the swell of her ample breasts to her narrow hips and perfectly formed legs.  It was not surprising that his hand found her breast during one of her warm kisses.  She did not stop him but rather, kissed him even more deeply.  Buoyed by new confidence given to him by comments of the Black Diamond chick, the Rockstar felt the need to further explore his rising sexuality.  His hands wandered now in the exploration of both her shapely breasts.  He felt her nipples stiffen through her silk bra and small moans emanated deeply from within.  The Rockstar suddenly stopped and looked deeply into her eyes and said, “Jody, I am really getting turned on and soon it will be hard to stop.  I don’t want to scare you or do something that will damage the feelings we are beginning to share!  I really don’t know what to do next and I don’t want to ruin it.”

“You are doing well,” she gasped.  “Unhook my bra.  I want to feel your soft hand on my breasts.  Please be very gentle and go slowly.  I will tell you if what you are doing scares me or makes me feel uncomfortable.  We will learn to do this together.”  With that, she kissed him deeply. 

The petting went on for a while.  They soon had explored each other’s torso under their t-shirts.  For some reason, the passion of the moment abated.  It was if both sensed this was a good start and time needed to be taken to get to know each other at a deeper level before this path could be further taken.  Jody stood up, snapped her bra up deftly by reaching behind her back but doing so while facing the Rockstar.  After straightening their t-shirts, Jody went into the kitchen to make some tea.  When she returned, the Rockstar thanked her for handling their first intimacy the way she did.  It was wise and beautiful.  He was truly grateful his first genuine sexual encounter went well.  The thought of Sandie in his bedroom flashed through his mind as a reminder what had happened tonight was a better way to go.  He had his first real taste of the difference between lust and love.

Later in the evening, a tired Rockstar told Jody he had to go home and get a little sleep.  The brief road trip and gig in Black Diamond had worn him out.  He asked Jody if they could go for a walk tomorrow and get some ice cream.  He felt there was a need to talk about the upcoming West Hillhurst gig on Friday and the role Jody wished to play in that event.  Jody quickly agreed and left the Rockstar with a kiss that heralded the potential of the future of their personal relationship.

The Monday practice prior to West Hillhurst was eventful.  Jody was excited about performing both her songs in her home community.  She had friends and neighbours who were anticipating the results of her songwriting ability.  She hoped that they would like her work.  The importance of Jody’s hopes were not lost on the Young Ones.  They practiced both her songs until she gave them the word she was happy and very comfortable with the arrangements.  The Rockstar knew in the core of his soul, these were great songs and the band would play them very well.  Knowing this community well, the Young Ones crafted a special set list that would highlight Jody’s songs but would also include new material in celebration of this summer dance.  In order to be totally prepared, they scheduled one additional practice later in the week.

West Hillhurst community hall was also becoming like home to the Young Ones.  They were developing a strong fan base there and they loved the positive energy of that venue.  It felt like playing there was more like a privilege than a job.  They entered the hall that night with great anticipation and were greeted by a cadre of fans.  So enthusiastic were these teens, they assisted carrying the band’s equipment.  In addition, unbenounced to the Rockstar and Jody, was Don’s arrival with Lulu and his Mom.  Arriving at the same time was Jody’s parents whom Don had arranged for them to come and see their daughter perform her songs.  Suddenly, the occasion became doubly special.  Right after the equipment was set up and the soundchecks completed, Jody took the Rockstar over to meet her parents.  At the Rockstar’s encouraging beckon, his Mom and Lulu also came over and met Jody’s parents.  Arrangement were made for them to sit in full view of the stage.  Arriving at that time were several of Jody’s friends from both school and work.  Jody was thrilled to see so much support and love from her biggest fans.

On cue by Bobby’s innovation of count/tapping in the song, the ‘new look’ Young Ones, now including Jody, began their theme song.  Suddenly this intro  had a great look and sound.  Jody and the Rockstar shared a mic for this number.  When it drew to a close, the Rockstar welcomed everyone and introduced the band:  “We are thrilled to be here tonight.  We love to play West Hillhurst because of you.  Thank you for coming and welcome.  The Young Ones look a bit different tonight.  In addition to Mark, Bobby and me, we have 2 new members.  Please welcome your own Jody Martin.  Jody works with us as a songwriter.  We are honoured to play her music as she allows us and to have her join us on special occasions to perform her creations.  Also put your hands together for Alf Conroy, our new bass player.  Alf is amazing in that he has only been playing bass for a few short weeks.  Tonight he will be playing his first bass solo.  This evening is also special as Jody and I have our families here tonight to be with us on this night of many firsts.  They are sitting right there to make sure we behave.  Now let’s do what we all want to do – have fun.”  Bobby tapped in the Intro of ‘Rave On’ a solid Buddy Holly tune that was selected because of its good pace for dancing.  The song had the desired effect.  Soon the floor was covered with keen, gyrating dancers.  The band sang echo harmony at rehearsed points.  On the first chorus while the Rockstar was singing, Jody stepped up beside him and sang the same echo harmonies as the band.  Everyone’s reaction was electric.  Her voice changed the sound of the harmony, making it more pronounced and real.  Nonplussed, the Rockstar continued to the end of the song and was thrilled to share the mic with Jody and the creativity of his bandmates for setting this up.  Jody stepped back with an impish smile gracing her radiantly beautiful face.

On a night of newness, Bobby tapped in a new song for the Young Ones.  The band all began the instrumental Intro.  A wicked guitar riff supported by the lead chords kept the dancing going from the previous song.  The beat structure provided by Bobby provided impetus to the Young One’s cover of ‘Willie and the Hand Jive’.  Many single dancers poured on to the floor due to the pronounced drum beat.  Both choruses were sung by the band and Mark played but another gifted guitar lick as the Bridge.  Clapping by the audience brought the song to an end on the fade on the final Chorus.

“Thank you, thank you very much,” announced the Rockstar in his best Elvis drawl.  “Time to slow the pace down for you just a bit.  Last time we played West Hillhurst, Jody debuted the first song she wrote.  Sadly, 2 very important people missed that amazing performance of an incredible song.  Fortunately, Jody’s parents are here tonight.  It is the Young One’s honour to back Jody tonight when she performs ‘First Dance’ for Mr. and Mrs. Martin and you.”  A deafening roar of applause rose from the now very large crowd.  Jody stepped up to the mic, smiled and when the din abated, nodded to Bobby.  The Intro of the song further hushed the crowd almost to silence.  On the rehearsed cue, Jody’s mellow, higher-pitched voice washed over the crowd as she sang the story.  The lyrics were hypnotic.  No one moved as they were transfixed by what they were experiencing.  As planned, the Rockstar joined Jody at her mic and sang harmony on the chorus.  It added a bit of depth to the song yet maintained the focus on Jody.  She smiled at him in a way that belied more than a professional connection. 

Stepping back while Jody sang the next verse, the Rockstar looked over at Jody’s parents.  Her Mom had her hands clasped over her chest and tears of pride streamed down her cheeks.  Mr. Martin’s eyes were locked on his beautiful daughter.  His pride was evident.  A small tear tricked down his cheek but his big smile grew as the song progressed.  So engaged with how this was playing out, the Rockstar almost missed his cue to sing one more harmony with Jody on the last chorus.  As he moved close to her, her hand grasped his arm.At the song’s end, this partisan crowd saluted their own Jody with a deafening cheer and sustained applause.  She hugged the Rockstar, smiled and acknowledged her audience and exited the stage with grace and genuine humility to join her parents.

The Young Ones continued their first half of the set buoyed with Jody’s success.  They played a variety of instrumentals along with vocals that had appeal to a younger audience.  The last couple of songs before the break was a new package designed to contrast the old and the new.  The first number was ‘Red River Rock’ originally charted as their second hit by Johnny and the Hurricanes in 1959.  As it was time for a break, the Young Ones performed ‘Tequila’ using it to showcase each of the band members.  Each member was introduced by the Rockstar as the song was being played and then each performed their individual solo.  The crowd ate it up as they were getting to know each of the band members resulting from the many dances at West Hillhurst.  It was a daunting task for Alf as he had not played much bass as yet.  He totally surprised his bandmates by boosting the treble on his amp and even exploring the song sequence as bass chords.  His buddies applauded him upon the completion of his solo as did an amazed and appreciative audience.  The first set ended on a very positive note.

The band mingled during the break while the Rockstar went over to see his Mom and sister, connect with Jody and chat briefly with her parents for the first time.  He spoke to his Mom privately as Lulu had become attached to a very gentle Jody.  Mom told him how well the band was doing and what a beautiful job Jody had done on her song.She said she had connected with Jody’s parents and they were very nice.  Sensing that the Rockstar had to go, she added hastily that Jody is wonderful and she is a winner as a person.  The Rockstar smiled and told Mom he was really sensing that.  With that he went over to Jody, took Lulu gently by her shoulders and directed her back to their Mom.  Lulu, not missing any opportunity, said loudly, “You want to talk about boy/girl stuff don’t you?”  All in the group laughed as Lulu scooted off.

The Rockstar hugged Jody and told her what a magnificent job she had done singing her masterpiece of a song.  Jody hugged him back and whispered thank you in his ear.  She then pulled back and said I want you to get to know my Mom, Iris and Dad, Michael.  The Rockstar greeted both parents warmly and told them what an honour it was to have them here tonight.  He then offered how proud they must be to have raised such and beautiful and talented daughter.  The Rockstar added that he must run and connect with the fans and hoped they could talk later and get to know each other.  Both parents smiled and offered they looked forward to that.  The Rockstar then took Jody by the hand and said,  “Let’s go greet your adoring fans!”

The fan appreciation session offered little that needed adjustment in the planned set list.  The teens from West Hillhurst had adopted the Young Ones as “their” Jody had become connected with the band.  It hadn’t gone unnoticed that Jody had some kind of a connection with the Rockstar.  Armed with many positive and fun interactions with various members of the audience, the Young Ones were ready to launch the second half of the dance.  The first tune up was the Young One’s cover of the Temptations rendition of ‘Get Ready’.  After the tap in,  the full instrumental Intro blasted through the hall!  The song became special when Jody joined the band in the strategic band harmonies.  It gave an extra lift to a catchy dance tune.  The dance floor became a sea of torrid boogying.  The pace was maintained by a few instrumentals and vocals from the Young Ones.

Before the next number, the Rockstar took a deep breath and focused his mind.  It was inundated with painful and happy memories that surfaced from the unfolding rush of a memorable gig and the history that got him to that point.  He knew he had to perform this song without Jody singing harmony as a statement of finality and the first step in independence.  Calming his mind, the Rockstar announced, “We would like to try an original song that emerged from a teen experience that I am sure many of you have experienced.  It is about the confusion generated by young love.  I am pleased to share my experience with you now.  I have entitled this song “Castles in the Mist’.”  The Rockstar began to strum the Intro on his acoustic guitar.  The band joined in instrumentally on the chorus, which further emphasized the message of the song.  His heart opened and the story poured out.  The introduction had piqued the interest of the dancers who had suddenly become a stationary audience as the lyrics flowed over them.  It was a simple song with a message that had great truth for all.  It was as if a reality had resonated with each and every listener.  The range of reactions was diverse.  For the Rockstar a kaleidoscope of images of Sandie progressed through his mind.  For Jody who, as arranged, was down on the floor seated with her parents, it was the pain she knew her new love was experiencing.  For his Mom it was the sadness of her son experiencing a significant life lesson that everyone had to have.  The long pause at the song’s end was the true symbol of the impact on everyone.  In recognition of the solemnity of the moment for many, the band began to play ‘Rumble’ as the pace and the sound of the mournful guitar licks seemed just right.  The Rockstar looked over at Jody who was now openly crying.  His Mom had a look of sadness that spoke of one of her life stories.  Even Lulu just wanted to hold Jody’s hand.

After a series of good dance tunes that shifted the energy back to raucous fun, it was time for Jody to introduce her next song to the world.  She joined the Young Ones on stage.  She smiled at the Rockstar, squeezed his hand and told him she would like to introduce her song.  Adjusting the mic just slightly to accommodate her willowy 5’ 8” frame, she offered, “I am truly happy to be here tonight with my families – my parents, my friend here beside me and his family and the Young Ones.  They have played a significant role in the song I wrote and I want to share with you now, ‘Dare I Dream’.  She nodded to Bobby who tapped in the song.  Mark’s lead guitar run echoed through the community hall.  On the second time through the Intro run, the band offered a lyric less “aaahhh” in perfect harmony.  Jody began to sing in her soft, plaintiff voice the powerful message captured in the title and the song.  Out of respect for “their Jody”, the dancers again became a rapt audience.  Her beautiful song echoed through the silent community hall and resonated in the hearts of each individual there.  As the Extro finished, there was a momentary silence followed by a roar of affirmation.  The audience applause was thunderous.  The epitome of the praise was that all members of Jody’s many families were standing and applauding joyously.

The gig at West Hillhurst ended with one final slow dance number to put a reasoned end to the evening.  The stage was swamped with keen fans.  It was as if they had to tell Jody, the Rockstar and the Young Ones how they felt about them and their work.  It was a befitting way to end a gig at the band’s second “home”.  The proud parents of the young newly adored stars waited patiently for the acknowledgement of the new heroes.  As encouraged by Don, the band connected with each and every fan personally.  Hugs were the order of the evening.

Finally, the band had a chance to begin the task of packing up their equipment.  Included was their ‘new-to-them” microphone purchased from Sharky.  The task was made somewhat easier when parents and some of the strong young teens from the community association helped assembling the growing inventory of equipment at the exit door nearest the parking lot.  Jody and the Rockstar were able to connect with their parents and reframe the post-gig transportation plan.  Mr. Martin surprised everyone when, after getting attention of the group, invited all to join he and his wife for refreshments at the Kensington Legion a few short blocks south of community hall.  The answer was an immediate and grateful “yes” as everyone wanted to talk about the incredible evening in which they all had a role.  After, figuring out transportation arrangements, a fairly lengthy caravan left for the new adventure.

The Legion was a new experience for most everyone.  As a private club of sorts, access could really only be gained through someone being a member.  As a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, Mr. Martin was able to get everyone, including Lulu, into the club.  Because of liquor laws, and since most of this celebratory party could not consume liquor, a special area was set up and all types of other beverages were ordered.  The Rockstar seated himself with Jody and her father.  He was intrigued by Michael’s being a participant in World War II.  It was somehow connected with his own father being in the services.  Out of the blue, he asked his Mom what service his Dad served.  With her usual class, Mom said he was in the navy.  The brevity of her answer and the slightly different tone gave cause to the Rockstar why not much was ever said about his father and why he was not in their life.  Jody picked up on it instantly and refocused the attention on her father’s exploits as a flyer.  The Rockstar’s Mom was relieved to see the attention diverted from a very tender past time in her life.  Michael told some fabulous stories of his adventures as a Spitfire pilot.  He suddenly seemed sad as he remembered that these adventures had cost him the lives of friends and fellow warriors.  The Rockstar’s Mom noticed this and told of her brother who was in the medical corps during the war and that he had come back deeply impacted by the horrors he had witnessed.  Suddenly the Rockstar’s Dad was not important and his Mom had formed a bond of commonality with Michael.  The conversation was not lost on the Rockstar who now had some questions about his Dad that caused him wonderment.  Fortunately the conversation turned to what had happened that evening and the parents having some things to say.

Michael Martin took the floor as the host of this part of the evening.  He wanted to tell his daughter Jody how intensely proud he was of her.  He knew of her passions for music and songwriting but never knew how talented she really was at both.  Looking at his daughter, he exclaimed, “I love you and am very proud of all your accomplishments in life.  Based on what I saw and heard tonight, I have now added admiration to my feelings about you.  I have always known you are very good at anything you choose to do.  You have now gone way beyond very good and are now amazing to both your mother and me.  Thank you for adding but another value to our life as a family.”  He held up his glass of beer in a toast to his daughter.  After the applause died, Jody went over and hugged her tearful Dad and Mom.

Not to be outdone, Lulu stood up holding her glass of cream soda.  The Rockstar cringed as he knew what was coming.  “I am very proud of my brother.He hasn’t accomplished much but he has done a few things right.  He dumped his yard maintenance job on me.  Little does he know how much money I now make thanks to him.  He plays in a band with really talented musicians that make him look way better than he is as a musician.  These guys come over to our house a lot and fill it with great music.  It is way better than what it sounds like when my brother practices by himself.  My friends, which I have lots of now, want to come to sit on the basement steps with me during band practices.  Strangely, no one wants to come over when just he is practicing.  Finally, my brother brings beautiful girls to our house like Jody.  I like her way better than him.”  She held up her glass in mock fashion and closed with, “To my brother!  May he continue to add to my life in good ways!”  At this point everyone had Lulu figured out and the snickers had turned into gales of laughter.  The Rockstar was radiantly red.

The evening ended on a high note.  The Rockstar and Jody said a quick good bye and agreed to talk further on their date tomorrow night at the Foggy Manor Jazz Society.  The parents all said fond goodbyes knowing that the possibility of new and deeper friendships might be in their future.  The tired musicians just wanted to go home and sleep before savouring a significant night in their young lives and possibly their future careers.

The warm hangover from the successes of the Friday night gig at West Hillhurst spilled over into the next day.  The Rockstar had a double date planned with Alf and his girlfriend Lindy.  The plan was to hook up and the 4 of them to experience the Foggy Manor.  The bandmates had discovered its somewhat secretive existence on their first visit to Perry’s Music Sales.  Finally, the time was propitious and the exploration of this venue was planned.  Circumstance had caused the Rockstar and Jody to not have really talked about Friday night and both felt a strong need for them to do so privately.  As the Foggy Manor did not open until midnight, the result was creating a plan that would comfortably include that eventuality.  A late morning call to Jody resulted in a blueprint to be alone, talk and go out with Alf and Lindy.

The Rockstar picked Jody up mid-afternoon.  A walk and canoe ride in Bowness Park started their time together.  It was nice walking in the park on a warm summer afternoon.  The park was busy with families spending quality time together.  The sound of children splashing in the pools, the merry-go-round and music emanating from the big orthophonic device and fountain on the island in the centre of the main lagoon added further positive energy to the background of the young couple’s conversation.

Walking hand in hand in a quiet and serene part of the park, the Rockstar opened an appropriate review of the gig at West Hillhurst with the question, “How did you feel about performing ‘Dare I Dream’ last night?”

“I was very pleased.  The reception from the crowd was great.  My parents were thrilled.  They really had no idea about my songwriting.  They hear me working on songs but never connected it to an arrangement with a band in front of a large audience.  It was a great experience for them.  I am deeply grateful to you for the opportunity to showcase my work.  I can’t thank you and the Young Ones enough for the support and opportunities you have afforded me.”  Jody stopped, looked deeply into his eyes and kissed the Rockstar with a genuiness that was noticeably real.

“We are really pleased for you too Jody.  Your talent needs to be recognized and your music needs to be heard.  We all love working with you and want to grow with you.”

“How did you feel about your performance of ‘Castles in the Mist?” Jody queried.

“It was very hard but I had to do it to break away from Sandie.  It’s over and I must grow my independence.  It was symbolic for me in a way.”

“How did you feel about the silence at the end of your song?”

“It was very appropriate from my perspective.  I appreciated it because of the way I was feeling.  It is a message song and I was hoping the audience was reflecting on the message.  I saw the impact it had on you, my Mom and Lulu.  I am pretty sure the song has potential but needs your harmony in the arrangement.”

Jody added, “My parents really liked your song but more importantly, they really liked you.  Oh, of course they liked your family.  They think Lulu is a delight.  I do too.  She’s got a great sense of humour but deep down, she really admires you!”

“I really enjoyed your parents too Jody.  It was a very kind and generous gesture of them to take everyone to the Legion for a really nice ending to  the evening. Your Dad is a very interesting man and a fabulous story teller.  He awakened in me a curiosity about my father and the war.  I don’t know very much about my Dad but I saw in yours what he adds to a family.  He is so proud of you as is your Mom.I know my Mom is proud of me but it is not the same as with a Dad.  You’re lucky to have both parents.”

The walk and talk took the couple around the Bow River’s edge portion of the park and back to the concession where they could get food and dine outside at picnic tables.  They decided to have dinner there realizing they were not meeting Alf and Lindy for coffee until 10:00 pm and later going to the Foggy Manor.  Dinner and a canoe ride seemed like a great way to continue the conversation both were enjoying.

The topic of upcoming gigs came up as Jody knew more trips outside of Calgary were scheduled for the next weekend.  She was disappointed to miss Black Diamond and sought to understand what this future held for her.  After the Rockstar gave her a synopsis of the Black Diamond gig, Jody understood the correctness of that decision.  It was obvious to the Rockstar that they needed to come to a better understanding of their professional relationship as impacted by their growing personal relationship.  The first step would be developing a shared understanding of the rationale for decisions made that centered on Jody’s involvement with the band.  Talking about the upcoming gigs tonight would be a good start even though they had not been discussed by the band.  After reviewing the upcoming out-of-town gigs, the Rockstar asked Jody her thoughts about her involvement in them.  Jody paused to reflect for a moment and responded very much like she was thinking out loud.

“Henderson Lake in Lethbridge next weekend sounds like fun.  It’s only a day trip so that would work easily.  I could ask Dad if I can borrow his car and we could travel together.  I would like to try my songs with a new audience.  What is the audience likely to be?” asked Jody.

“Don has told me very little as the band will discuss it at our practice on Monday.  He did say it was likely to be a younger crowd as the dance hall was located in a recreational park.”

Immediately Jody responded with, “That sounds good.  I would like to do that gig with the band if you’ll have me!”

Thinking that all the gigs should be decided upon as a package, the Rockstar noted, “The next gig will be likely be similar but with a potentially bigger challenge.”  “It’s a resort area dance, day trip but it is in the heart of Edmonton garage band territory.  Many great bands have played there and we will be compared to them!We are going to have to be at our best to just survive this one with our egos intact.”

“I think I could be an asset at that gig.  I have a new song ready to debut with the band.  I would be pleased to do a few more harmonies to help out if there’s a PA system that will accommodate it,” offered Jody.

“The last gig offers even more challenges.  We go directly to the heart of Edmonton to the Highlands Community Hall where most of local bands were stars.  There’s a good chance some of the local band members will be there watching us.  That’s followed by a stop the next night at Varsity Hall in Red Deer.  That means an overnight stay in a motel.”  “Any thoughts?” posed the Rockstar.

Jody paused, deep in reflection for action mode and responded with:  “I now am beginning to see the big picture you face regularly in your life and with the band.  The Young Ones are fortunate to have you.  I want to have you in my life also but as we want it to be.  I’d like to go to Alberta Beach with you and the band but would like to think more about the overnight weekend.  Our  families factor into this now and our personal life needs to play out for a couple of weeks before Edmonton.”  The Rockstar knew then that Jody was a wise young woman and one that could win his heart.

The canoe ride after the fast food dinner and the picnic table conversation took on a totally different tone.  Leaving the weight of thinking about big life issues, its replacement was laughter, paddle splashes and old music blaring from the orthophonic device on the floating island of the Bowness Park lagoon.  This playful interplay set the stage for coffee and the Foggy Manor adventure.

The coffee shop in the Wales Hotel in downtown Calgary was pretty empty.  Entering through the main doors on Centre Street under the 7-story sign of the cowboy roping the top letter of the hotel’s name, the Rockstar and Jody spotted Alf and Lindy sitting at a table near the window.  Joining them, Alf introduced his new girlfriend.  The Rockstar had met Lindy about the time Alf had joined the Young Ones.  Lindy seemed honoured to meet the Rockstar and Jody indicating she might have been at one of the band’s gigs.  If not, Alf had told her about the music songwriting duo.  The conversation focused on getting to know each other rather than music.  It was a nice way to start a new adventure in music at the Foggy Manor.  Shortly after 11:00 pm, the foursome decided to work their way over to the dark alley a couple of blocks away.

Entering the alley behind Perry’s Music Sales was a little scary.  The 4 young people stayed pretty close together until they found the small dimly illuminated sign heralding the location of the Foggy Manor.  Alf pushed the buzzer and instantly a sliding door on the peephole exposed the eyes and nose of a guy inside guarding the door.  After declaring what they were seeking, the bolt on the door was slid back and admittance was gained by the foursome.  The foursome bought their memberships, were issued their cards and paid the admittance fee from a cashier in a caged alcove.  After the no alcohol rule was forcefully stated, they were “buzzed” through the electronically-locked door to gain access to the inner sanctum of the basement.  The intrigue heightened as the foursome peered down the dimly lit staircase that descended to the performance area.

A musty smell got stronger as the group inched cautiously into the unknown.  There was barely enough light to see the bottom of the stairs.  Feeling they might be descending into an earthen pit, their feet finally touched the rough concrete floor of the basement.  To their right, the dimly lit performance area could be identified.  The smallish stage backed the long wall of the musty smelling basement in this very old building.  The stage lighting provided barely enough light for the foursome to find seats on the battered sofas and overstuffed chairs positioned immediately in front of the low stage.  Further darkened by the black painted rough cement walls, finding the cloakroom by a few lighted masks was enough of a challenge for audience members decided to keep their coats with them.  One wall bedecked with chalk sketches and abstract paintings detracted little from the overall bleakness of the audience seating area.  The four friends looked at each other with a look of “what are we doing here?”  Jody had a tight grasp on the Rockstar’s arm.

As the young foursome was among the early arrivals, they were able to all sit cuddled together on a large stuffy-smelling sofa right in front of the stage.  A curtain, customized with images of brass instruments backed the low bandstand.The stage was barely lit by a limited number of blue and red spotlights which provided just enough light for the musicians to see.  There was little conversation as the newness and strangeness of their surroundings stifled any thoughts beyond trepidation.  Fortunately, it was not too long before musicians started to arrive and set up on the stage that already had a dedicated upright piano and drum kit for the performing artists.  Hearing the tune up and sound check calmed the foursome a bit.

Looking around, the Rockstar spotted a concession area in the back corner of the performance area.  He offered to get something for his friends as a ruse to get further information about the society and what to expect during the next few hours.  Jody stayed with Alf and Lindy to hold the seats as more people were arriving and filling up the seating area.  The Rockstar went over and purchased a couple of coffees which gave him a chance to talk with the lady behind the small counter.  He found out that tonight’s performance would be primarily a local jazz quartet.  The Society knew Wilson Pickett was performing in Calgary that night but it was not known if he would show up to jam with any locals.  Thanking her for the coffee, the Rockstar returned to his group of friends seconds before the emcee introduced the quartet.

The group, comprised of a pianist, drummer, stand-up bass and sax player was introduced to the audience.  Thus began a fantastic hour of smooth jazz performed by extremely talented artists.Jody snuggled in closely with the Rockstar while some great jazz flowed over the young lovers.  They were transported into a different world of music and loved every moment of it.  The surroundings no longer mattered.  Sharing an enchanting experience became the focus.  The same was true with Alf and Lindy.  So engrossed were the 2 couples in the music, they failed to notice the noisy arrival of the Rhythm and Blues recording artist, Wilson Pickett.

The quartet finished their set to the loud applause of the appreciative audience.  Mesmerized by what had just unfolded for them musically, very few noticed the iconic rock guitar and his entourage standing on the periphery of the audience surrounding the stage.  As the jazz quartet almost completed their tear down, the emcee took the stage and announced that the audience was in store for a special treat.  He informed them that Wilson Pickett was in the house and agreed to jam a couple numbers with any local musicians who wished to join him.  With that, one of the Society members placed an acoustic guitar, a Stratocaster and a Fender Twin Reverb amp on the stage.  The emcee asked if any members of the audience would like to accompany Pickett as he sang a few of his songs.  He had no guitarist with him tonight and needed some music support.  At the urging of Alf and Jody, the Rockstar hesitantly stood up and was welcomed on the stage.  A drummer stepped forward as did a player with his standup bass.  At least something would happen.  Pickett picked up the acoustic guitar to add a little bit of depth to the sound.  The Rockstar positioned the beat-up Strat over his shoulder and checked its state of tune. 

Before stepping up to the mic, Pickett called the song.  The backing musicians started the Intro and Pickett began his most popular song.  The Rockstar sang the response Chorus “Ride, Sally Ride.  Somewhat quietly he sang the rest of the song right along with Wilson but with no amplification.  He inserted the repetitive single string guitar riff appropriately after the Intro and chorded the best he had ever played in his life.  Periodically, Wilson looked over at the Rockstar and smiled.  After the fade Extro, Pickett looked at the Rockstar while the audience showed their appreciation of the great impromptu version of ‘Mustang Sally’.  When the din died, Wilson asked, “Do you play this song son?”

“I do!” replied the Rockstar.  “It is my favourite R & B tune.”

“How about you and I trade guitars and you sing your version for the audience?”  The audience immediately started cheers of encouragement.  Jody, Alf and Lindy were standing clapping.  After a slight retune of the acoustic, the Rockstar signaled the drummer he was ready.  So with Wilson Picket playing lead guitar, the Rockstar sang his best imitation of ‘Mustang Sally’.  Wilson even joined in with some harmonies and of course, the Chorus as did the audience.  At song’s end, the crowd went wild.  Wilson, on the mic, asked the Rockstar, “How long have you been playing and singing son?”

“Not quite 2 years yet,” was his answer.  “Our band plays this song every gig.  It is always a big hit with our audiences!” shrugged the Rockstar. 

“You are good kid!” observed Pickett.  “How old are you?”

“I will be 18 in a few weeks,” was the reply.

“Do you know ‘Land of 100 Dances?”  The Rockstar nodded “yes” and they exchanged guitars.  Again the exuberant crowd celebrated loudly upon the completion of this sit-in version of this song.  Pickett grabbed the Rockstar’s hand at the song’s send and said, “That was fun.  Thanks for doing this.  I bet I am going to be seeing you on a bigger stage in the future!”  With that, Wilson Pickett left the Foggy Manor and an awestruck crowd.

The Rockstar stepped off the stage in a state of shock.  He had performed with his hero.  Jody rushed over and hugged him as did Alf and Lindy.  All the Rockstar could muster was a muted, “Thank you, thank you very much.”  As the now very spent foursome walked toward the stairway to leave, a Society member grabbed the Rockstar and told him he and his band are welcome to play here late some Friday or Saturday night anytime.  After giving him his card, he told him to call when the band was ready to do so.

The ride to Jody’s house was a mix of wonderment, joy and celebration even though it was 2:45 in the morning.  After walking Jody to her door and exchanging a very passionate good night kiss, the Rockstar held her tightly and said, “ Thank you being there during one of my life’s highlights.  You and this evening mean the world to me.  I think I am falling in love with you!”  Jody returned his kiss with one that rocked him to the core of his being.  They agreed to work on some songs together later this afternoon in the basement studio and parted.

Jody arrived at the Rockstar’s home as planned.  Upon entering, Jody wondered where his Mom and Lulu were.  The Rockstar indicated he wasn’t really sure as he was practicing in the studio when they left and he must have missed their parting communication.  Jody noted with a wry grin that this was the first time they have been alone in his home.  A little puzzled, the Rockstar led her downstairs to the studio deemed as the place they planned to work on some new songs.  Before settling in to write, Jody thanked the Rockstar again for a mindboggling day yesterday.  Both laughed particularly about the experiences at the Foggy Manor.  The Rockstar was still in the awe of playing with one of his heroes.  He commented on never anticipating that to be part of the day.  Jody, however, looked at the day not quite like that.  She was thrilled for the Rockstar having had that opportunity but wanted to talk about what he meant when he told her he thought he was falling in love with her.  The Rockstar suddenly got a bit uncomfortable as he thought they were going to work on some new material.  He paused for a moment and then responded.  “Jody, I am starting to have some very deep feelings for you.  I really enjoy being with you.  Your wisdom, your steady composure and your unconditional support add so much to my life.  I am beginning to understand how important these things are to my happiness and what I want in life.  I am beginning to realize how much I need you in my life.”  Before he could say any more, Jody leaned across the short distance between them on the old studio couch and kissed him passionately.  Then she began to remove his t-shirt.  Once it was off, she asked him to remove hers.  The Rockstar complied.  Jody then stood up and asked him to show her his bedroom.  He led her from the studio to his small bedroom at the other end of the basement.  He wondered what was in store for him based on the last experience he had there with Sandie.

The young lovers entered his spartan bedroom.The Rockstar quickly closed the curtains on the windows on the 2 adjacent walls.  Jody seated herself on the edge of his single bed and held out her hand for him to join her.  When he did so she began to kiss him very deeply.  The Rockstar gently reached behind her with one hand deftly, unclasped her bra.  Jody calmly removed the loose garment and deposited it on the floor at their feet by the bed.  She began to moan when his hands began to fondle her perfectly shaped breasts.  She pulled his head down so the Rockstar’s lips could kiss them.  When he did so, her moaning became louder and her body began to quiver.  Suddenly she stood up and straddled him as he sat on the bed.  She urged him kiss her nipples which instantly became hard.  Jody wriggled closer to the Rockstar until their groins were touching.  This precipitated both pubic areas to undulate.  Suddenly, they could heard the back door open and Lulu’s loud voice resonate down the stairs, “We’re home!”  Jody leapt up, gathered her bra and put it on.  The Rockstar bolted out of his room to retrieve their t-shirts.  Pulling his on quickly, he scooted back to his bedroom to give Jody hers.  He then ran back to and up the stairs to buy Jody a little time to compose herself.  After the Rockstar told his Mom that he and Jody were in the studio making music, he and Lulu came down to the studio so his sister could greet her new very best friend.

Armed with 1 new song to launch, the Rockstar and Jody drove together in her father’s car to the Henderson Lake gig in Lethbridge.  It was the first time they really had alone since the encounter in his bedroom.  They had been lucky on a number of counts.  They were not caught in a difficult spot by Lulu bolting down the stairs as was her pattern.They had put the finishing touches on a couple of good new songs Jody had written.  The band had 2 solid practices and a good set list had been crafted.  What happened in the bedroom had deepened their relationship in many ways as the spectre of that first time was now diminishing for both of them.  Most importantly, they were both really enjoying being together.  The talk during the trip had a nice balance of personal and professional.  The new duo seemed to be figuring out how to best manage both.  Pulling up to the pavilion at Henderson Lake was the first time there was a tinge of apprehension for the unknown.

The Henderson Pavilion, located in an extensive recreation park on the outskirts of Lethbridge,  was a tired older building built in 1913.  It had served as a dance studio in the mid-twenties and hosted dances with orchestra’s providing the music.  The Forties and Fifties saw many big bands including western bands playing there.  Many rock bands including the Checkers from Lethbridge and the Cavaliers from Medicine Hat in the latter Fifties were regulars.  Of course, the popular bands from Calgary and Edmonton played the pavilion as many teens knew of them from their songs played on the radio.  The Young Ones were thrilled to be hired to play a gig there.

The Young Ones all arrived in the parking lot beside the old building that really needed a new coat of paint but had a stunning view of the lake.  It was encouraging to see a large sign that had “Playing Tonight - The Young Ones” emblazoned on it.  Entering the large rectangular building prior to unloading their equipment, the band noted the low stage with about a 2-foot rise positioned in a corner of the pavilion.  The dance floor, although somewhat worn, was large, prompting the anticipation of a good crowd of dancers.  The lack of echo, as the Young Ones talked while exploring their temporary surroundings, indicated the possibility of good acoustics and subsequent quality of sound from the band.  Mr. Evers had started to bring in Bobby’s drum kit causing the band members to stop scouting and to set up theirs.  Soon it was time for the sound check which confirmed the anticipation of a really good sound from the Young Ones.  The decent PA system with 2 mics would allow the band harmonies to be enhanced by their single band-owned microphone.

The dance at the Henderson Pavilion started off well.  Upon completion of their signature song, the Young Ones launched Jody’s newest song that they had worked on this week.  It was an upbeat, danceable song entitled ‘I Don’t Care’.  The song chronicles the kinds of things teens are indifferent to during the context of summer.  They don’t care about reading books, parent curfews, eating fresh vegetables, getting up before noon and family chores.  It contrasts these family values with what teens want to experience during their 2 months away from school.  It seemed like with summer drawing to a close, trying this song in late August might just work and show the Lethbridge audience the uniqueness of the Young Ones.  Jody and the Rockstar delivered a spirited version to the rapidly expanding crowd of dancers.  The band moved quickly to their cover of ‘Mustang Sally’.  As a result of the Foggy Manor experience, the band gave another stellar performance of that number.  The first half of the set proceeded smoothly and the reception to the Young Ones and their music was very positive.  During one of an instrumental number, the Rockstar noticed 3 people in an aggressive discussion towards the side of the dance floor.  It was 2 guys and a girl.  One of the more antagonistic guys looked familiar.  The pavilion was darkened and the Rockstar gave it no further thought.  However, prior to the band’s scheduled break, a number of people left the pavilion in a big hurry.  It signaled that a fight had broken out in the parking lot.  Don left to see what was happening while the Young Ones completed ‘Tequila’ to showcase the skill and talent of each of the players.  The song ended to a sustained show of appreciation of the music.

The break and connections with the audience further revealed that the attendees were enjoying the music of this new-for-them band.  Some even requested autographs, a new wrinkle for the band members.  Most of the audience remained in the pavilion indicating the trouble was likely minor until the sound of sirens were heard.  Don returned from his foray and told the band that the fight was pretty violent and one of the participants was badly beaten.  The cause had something to do with one girl.  The parking lot was dark but one of the combatants looked very familiar to Don.  He recommended that the Young Ones should start the second set right away to prevent more people going outside and maybe getting involved in the existing tension.

After the break, the second set got people dancing really quickly.  It seemed to change the focus as many people came back inside to dance.  The police had arrived along with an ambulance and the returnees preferred not to have their involvement escalate beyond watching a fight.  The second half of the set list had a number of high tempo songs, which set the stage for Jody to perform ‘First Dance’ and ‘Dare I Dream’.  Each song captured the attention of the dancers and transformed the majority of them into an audience.  The reactions seemed very positive.  The same was true when the Rockstar performed ‘Castles in the Mist’ as the last dance.  Notably, many dancers chose to finish their evening on a close contact mode but also as listeners.  When the music ended, many fans engaged with the band members and comments about the uniqueness of their music were manifold.  During the break down as the band packed up for the drive back to Calgary, the positive comments about the uniqueness of the Young Ones were shared.  Don confirmed what all were hearing evidenced by a concrete offer for the band to return to play at the Henderson Pavilion in October and several times next summer.

The drive back to Calgary was subdued.  Both the Rockstar and Jody were tired by their performing.  Jody’s role went way beyond her tunes.  Having a second mic enabled her to be part of several harmonies in songs, a role she performed admirably.  She clearly did not see her role to be a performer and made that clear by her analysis of the impact of her songs.  She and the Rockstar talked extensively about ‘I Don’t Care’ and the reaction of the audience.  Jody was somewhat disappointed as the audience seemed to be paying little attention to the lyric which was not the case with her other 2 songs.  The conversation concluded with the realization that some songs caused the listener to focus on the lyrics and others evoked a more physical involvement.  A catchy tune and an up-tempo pace will elicit a more physical reaction and that is a measure of the success of the song.  This reflection seemed to satisfy Jody’s uneasiness and cause her to be romantic.  The balance of the drive back home saw her snuggled up close to the Rockstar with her hand resting on his upper thigh.

The week that followed was pivotal in the life of the Rockstar.  He registered in a Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Calgary.  He realized his growth as a musician and singer had reached the current extent of his talent.  He knew intuitively that he had to have some formal training in music in order to build a solid foundation in understanding the language and fundamentals of music upon which to build and determine his real potential.  Introductory courses in music offered evenings which would likely give him what he knew he needed.  He was able to register in the program and find a couple of courses he could take starting in mid-September.  He knew it would complicate his life and make heavy demands upon his time but knew he could handle it.

His professional life at work had settled into a comfortable routine.  His job was not challenging giving him opportunities to think about the other things in his life – his music, his relationship with Jody and his family.  Between the job and the band, the Rockstar was making decent money that enabled him to think about buying a car so he wouldn’t have to tie up his Mom’s car so often.  He thought about the need for a new amp to replace the Silvertone which was taking a beating now that the band was on the road.  It was during one of these deep-thinking sessions that Rosalind came up behind him while he was duplicating invoices on the Bruning copier.  She placed her hand on his shoulder to get his attention.  Even though he was startled, he felt the warmth and the electric gentleness of her touch on the muscles of his upper arm.  It was so pleasant, he asked to wait a moment while he finished running the invoice through the machine and added it to the stack.  Roz didn’t remove her hand until he pivoted on the stool upon which he was seated to look at her.  When he turned, the Rockstar first saw her cleavage revealed by the open top buttons on her blouse.  Her perfume was intoxicating as was the smile she delivered knowing the effect she was having on this young man child.  She asked the Rockstar if it was true he played in a rock band.  Upon his yes response, she further queried where the band played.  The Rockstar indicated the band was playing in Edmonton and Sylvan Lake the next upcoming weekends.  Somewhat coyly, Rosalind asked if they could have lunch together later and talk about the band.  Puzzled but intrigued, the Rockstar agreed.

Talking over lunch with Rosalind that day was not what the Rockstar expected.  They sat at a table in the upstairs location of the advertizing department.  Norm, the manager and the only other employee of the department was at a meeting somewhere, so the two had the whole office area to themselves.  Bagged lunches are not the greatest but when you eat your peanut butter and jam sandwich with a beautiful young woman, it tastes better.  Rosalind sat at the table across from the Rockstar and began eating her salad from a plastic container.  She casually asked him a series of innocuous questions about the band the like of which the Rockstar had fielded before.  Shortly, the questions took on a more personal note.Roz asked him about his dreams and goals as a musician.  She wanted to know about if there were girls in the band.  She asked about what the band members did for fun.  At that point, the Rockstar asked Roz why she wanted to know this as he was getting a little uncomfortable.  She looked at the Rockstar and told him she found him very attractive and just wanted to get to know more about him.  She was candid in explaining that she was tired of being hit on by guys who only wanted to get her into bed.  Her impression of the Rockstar was that he was a nice young guy who made her laugh and was fun to be with.  By her own admission, she was getting pretty jaded by intentions of men and just liked to spend time with a guy like him who was different.  This honest revelation dispensed the suspicion and added to the Rockstar’s liking of Rosalind.  But now he was sensing a loneliness in her voice and an earnestness in her manner.  Her candour caused him to feel a bit more comfortable but still wary lingered.  As the lunch break ended, the Rockstar thanked her for their talk and hoped they could do so again soon. Roz smiled coyly.


Submitted: March 12, 2021

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