I gathered the troops for another reunion, now close to 39 years since we first formed. It was a long day with a three and a half hour rehearsal for the night’s show, and the first one with Reid coming in from NH. We had several splintered rehearsals over the last few months with some new tunes, but today we put them all together. I particularly enjoy the banter that goes on as we put tunes together and I remarked that it was good to get the cussing out before we went public later on.
There was a good house for the show, with many familiar faces from gigs gone by, and though we we’re as tight as we used to be, the stage communication was good and the humor flowed as well.
I had put together some of my newer tunes like Ireland, False from True, Santa Assassin and Lessons from Pete, all of which we did remarkably well, especially the Pete tune. I put together the two sets and the leads were spread nicely around, Reid’s nasty guitar and crazed vocals, Hub’s Texas Swing tunes and his Leon Russell “Song for You”, Jeff’s “I’m an Old Cowhand” on guitar, Chris’s steel and Kris’s solid bass. Peggy Salvatore opened the second set with two fine tunes. The good cheer was in the house and we fed off the audience. We had great feedback from everyone and each other. A rich performing experience.
Chris Jones suggested we do “Yulesville”, an odd beatnik version of “The Night Before Christmas”. Hub brought berets and shades, the band played a perfectly nebulous jazz riff and I delivered the poem. It came off very cool and definitely in the Steppin’ Out! tradition of performance art. I was really proud that we delivered some new stuff to go along with some old favorites.
I was exhausted at the end, but a good exhaustion. There was no sound tech for the evening so we had to fly by the seat of our pants, and, unfortunately, the recording of the evening suffered. I feel that some of my projects here on stage still lack a little hometown support and there were few fellow players in the audience (with the major exception of Steve Brosky!). People have no idea how good this band was, and continues to be.
I was quite concerned with our former bass player Denny who was unable to play last year and was uneven the year before. In order to do the gig, I asked Kris Kehr to fill in and he was tickled to do it and did it well. This year, Denny popped up saying he wished he had been asked and I told Denny that I was sorry but I had committed to Kris. I offered him a slot to sit in and a few days before the gig, he emailed that he had practiced all the material and was ready to go. I felt quite uncomfortable in this situation, as did the band. As it turns out, Denny didn’t show up. It would have been very difficult for him in many ways – to play bass and sing after a long layoff, and, perhaps more importantly, be in the house and not play. Next year, I will try to navigate this better.