Are you sure this is how Richie Havens got famous? Part XI: To stone or not to stone


A favorite memory playing in Midlight, this blues band I had in Boston with an old buddy, was that we’d play Bunratty’s on Commonwealth Avenue, a decent sized hole-in-the-wall with good traffic, do the first set pretty much by the numbers. Just put all the right notes in the right places and, hopefully, shake off last night’s hangover. Never failed the three weeks I was there: no sooner would we get off stage than somebody would invite us out into the alley and get us so lit up that by the time we were ready to do a second set, I swore I could see the air. It goes without saying, of course, that we played with, let’s say, vigor and a renewed sense of purpose.

Over the years since then, anytime I played a gig, I just considered it part of the program to be wired whenever I went on. About ten years ago was the last time.

Fast forward to, give or take, last fall. Landed a gig at Corner Coffee and, swear t’ God, turned down the chance to smoke a bone before I went on. In fact, by an odd enough coincidence, every time I’ve played Corner Coffee, there’s been a phone call from a friend offering to wire me for sound. Each time, I’ve declined. They, to this day, want to know who I am and what I did with their hangout buddy.

Must be old age. Just don’t trust myself not to be flying so high I play the chorus while singing the verse.

Gonna be in on the open mic session at benefit for Michael McElrath on the 23rd at Barfly in Minneapolis. Probably tank up with a Jack-rocks or two before me and my guitar player Mark Dorshak hit the stage. That’s about it. No wacky tobacky. No seeing the air. Sad to see a venerable tradition go by the wayside. Guess it’s just for younger men and women.

Still the same, it’ll be a ball getting up in front of folk. Connecting with the crowd.

Besides, once the last chord is played and the last note is sung, all bets are off.

Wednesday, February 23
8 p.m. ’til close Party for Life Session 2: A Benefit for Michael McElrath
The Loft above BarFly
711 Hennepin Ave. S. in downtown Minneapolis