Sunday, March 9, 2014

Crosby Stills Nash or Me  

     This shot is me watching Moe, the mobile mechanic, install a generator to my VW fastback. June 1982.  Peace Sunday in the Rosebowl was soon to begin.  Inside the car, Stills' guitars were waiting to travel onstage very soon. I turned the key.  Nothing.

    Bill, the Alley's owner, called Moe. Howard Dumble, the electronic wizard of rock, had it diagnosed in seconds.  "Tell Moe to bring a generator for a '69 1600cc'. In less than an hour, I was cruising to Pasadena.  Late as I was, the onstage chaos let me slip through the tunnels with my VIP pass until I was out in the bowl, just behind the stage.  Instead of being out in the open, I knew Croz would appreciate some privacy later on.  The VW had been his loyal office for the past few months in LA finishing up Daylight Again.

     I pulled under the stage and if you didn't know it was there, you'd never find it.  "No Vehicles Beyond this Point" signs were duly ignored.  With armfuls of guitars, I headed up the steps.  Dave Mason stops me.  "Let me help".  Don Felder was just arriving, too, carrying a tiny practice amp.  "Is that it?" I asked.  "I'll double mike it".  This was going to be a heck of a day.

It's been a year since I blogged here at Rao Brothers.  But, commemorating Crosby Stills and Nash coming to my home of West Virginia is in order. They hadn't come to these mountains in near three decades. Nash commented the other night..."I'm not sure where we are".  Who does?

They came to Charleston's Clay Center.  Sold out in a matter of hours last month.  I never got a ticket, but that never stopped me before.  The last time I'd seen them was in Pittsburgh in 1985 at the Civic Arena.  Twenty years earlier, I was a sixteen year old punk drinking across the street at Angie's Civic Arena Lounge.  If you could reach the bar, he'd serve you.

With no ticket, I walked around to the back of the arena and spotted the buses. Mary Ann, my girlfriend, not believing much of my Hollywood history, was skeptical.  "Let's just go home.  This is a waste".  I told her to give it a few minutes.   Just then, Jay Parti, the now famous Nashville photographer John Partipilo, comes bounding out of a bus.

I scream to him.  He looks but can't see.  "Who is that?"  I tell him. "I'll be at the will call window.  Two tickets and two passes".  He runs off.  We get in and settle in our seats.

It was the loudest thing ever.  Making it backstage afterward, Nash asks Mary Ann what she thought.  "Too damn loud".  He deadpans.."If you can stand the heat, get out of the kitchen".

For a five year stretch, '79 to 84, I was deep in their kitchen.  24/7.  My job description was "Traffic Control".  All three had separate lawyers, accountants, roadies, managers and family.  I juggled and delegated which gave me the most free time of anyone, though I always appeared frantic.  It was Hollywood.

Back to the present.  The Clay Center in Charleston is on the other side of the freeway mixing bowl that separates West Charleston from East.  Since the concert sold out, there was no further advertising.  Lots of folks didn't know they were even coming.

At the Capitol, I literally ran into Governor Tomblin.  "Hey..Bikeman..did you ride your bike from Elkins?"
It was good to see he still had humor.  A week before, his younger brother was nabbed by the Feds for distributing pills.  "Governor, that drive on the first tee at the Greenbrier Classic was....", and I let it hang.  He had wiffed it in front of a large Pro/Celebrity gallery.  Very embarrassing

"'re coming up to Coalton Days in June. We'll do one last lesson.".  I'd given him a short one once with a short club while he was stuck in traffic at the Forest Festival.  We needed more room.  "If you don't redeem yourself this year with a solid hit straight down the middle, 250 yards, you can forget about the 500 bucks for the lesson.  His eyes glazed at the thought.  "You're sure?  I need lots of help."  I smiled and left. "You just need me."

Which, was one of my bigger lies.  I topped it with an invitation to meet CSN backstage after their concert the next day.  "Your kiddin' know them?  They were my favorite band.  Is Neil coming?"

"Yes", I said.

My ride the next day left without me.  My Mayor, Van, was driving me down, as he had a landfill bill ready for a vote.  The governor would surely sign it.

I waited, and waited.  No ride, no Neil, no nothing.

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