“So you’re a little bit older and a lot less bolder than you used to be.”
I used to think Bob Seeger was a dork, so damn earnest.
When I first heard “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” I was 22, wrapping up my lead singer wannabe years and hoping to find a career in advertising.
That ode of Seeger’s about hanging on to your inner Mick Jagger, it was sappy, I thought.
Then I turned 31, like the character in the song, and I thought, Gee, this is kind of clever.
And now that I’m a Man of a Certain Age, I realize that Bob Seeger is Shakespeare! Freud! The Goethe of Detroit!
After a certain age, some men golf. Some ride off on Harleys to smoke peyote at Burning Man. Me, I sing and play harmonica for The Bassboards, a 12-piece rock band that plays killer covers of songs by Bruce, Sly, James Brown, and Janis Joplin. We help people locate and activate their Groove Thang.
Once audiences find it, they go a little crazy, as they did recently when we played a lounge in New Jersey. In this era of high unemployment, home foreclosures and political polarization, I like to think I’m performing a public service, helping the crowd gain a little release by engaging in mid-life crisis behavior that’s safer than, say, Bill Clinton’s or Mark Sanford’s. But still with its own risks.
One night in New Jersey …
When you play a lounge, your efforts inevitably become part of the mating ritual. On this night, after a slow start, the room filled with women, so many that a single buddy of mine who came to see us thought this was perhaps a lesbian bar and he’d be out of luck.
He had nothing to fear.
By 10:15, after we rocked through Hit me with you best shot and a Doors medley, the scorecard began to even out. A very heterosexual mix filled the room. Then, a bachelorette party made a noisy entrance.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Jess, our female lead singer said. “Megan here is getting married tomorrow.” The room erupted with a cheers and boos. “Now, now,” I said. “Just because Megan’s off the market tomorrow, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun tonight. Megan, this is for you.”
Hey sista, go sista, soul sista, flow sista
Recognizing the first verse of Lady Marmalade, a crowd stormed the floor.
The 30-something bachelorettes formed a booty-shaking love circle around Megan, holding hands and sniffling. It was adorable, in a Girls Gone Wild kind of way. The dance vibe established, we then played “10th Avenue Freezeout” and “Piece of My Heart,” and took a break.
A Phish-free zone
“Do you guys play any Smashing Pumpkins? Or Phish?” I turned around and came face to chin with a tall, attractive blond in early 20’s. Decades ago, I would have called her a hippie chick, her long hair falling to the middle of her back. I wanted to accommodate her, musically that is, but the answer was no. No Pumpkins. No Phish either.
After the break, we kicked into another medley — ‘Knock on Wood,” “Midnight Hour” and “Soul Man.” Blondie began to dance. Well, actually, she – and I have to keep it clean as this is a family news site – she began to undulate, a word I don’t use often, but there you have it. She was undulating, this Uma Thurman/ Gwyneth Paltrow. Her flower child flailing was punctuated by karate kicks, squats and pelvic thrusts; it was Woodstock meets Showgirls.
It was awkward — and because she was so lithesome – seductive.
So, yes, I did miss a cue during “Bitch,” leading the horn section into no man’s land, as Uma Paltrow’s corn-stalk mane whipped about. Our bass player, a sensible, serious man with a list of degrees, was as nerve gassed as I was.
Just as I was planning to cash in a fifty for a stack of ones to show my appreciation, the Dwarf appeared. Truth! A young man half her size and even thinner zipped on to the floor, Egyptian two-stepping and pigeon necking around her. At first she greeted the dancing dwarf as a familiar friend, but when he edged too close, Uma backed away. But that just drew him closer. An episode of Wild Kingdom was now in progress.
A many-splendored thang
Meanwhile, an attractive cougar dancing in front of me had become the prey of a short bald guy with a goatee and earring. If there had been more of him, he’d made a fine bouncer. By 1:00 a.m. their relationship had evolved from conversation, to dancing, to full-on PDA.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this will be our last song,” I said. “Please tip your servers and do drive safely.”
Oooooooo, baby. Here I am. Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours.
Just as we hit the chorus, Miss Cougar boogeyed toward me, extending her hand as if offering a last dance. Before I could shift a hip in her direction, the mini-bouncer threw a cross block in front of me, and wrapped his arms around her. She acquiesced, and they went off into the night.
By all measures, the night was a success.
Alan Sharavsky is a writer, director and president of Sharavsky Communications, a creative development and marketing firm. He’s also director of development for Broderville Pictures, a video production company. To hear the Bassboards, visit http://bassboardsmusic.com/audiovideo.htm