Hangin’ with Inukshuk Pass, second on the supporting bill, was an honor. Didn’t much matter it was a hole-in-the-wall dive where the owner not only stiffed us on the bread (his joint didn’t draw flies), but, buttonholing me at the bar about not playing covers, he was too cheap to spring for so much as a lousy drink. Or that my set got pushed back by a last-minute opening act that was, swear t’ God, a Barry-Manilow-cum-Robert-Plant fiasco. Or that all the good lookin’ girls (and the other one way across the bar) was spoke for. When y’ can say you gigged with seasoned pros, class folk like IP, well, even the worst night ain’t a total loss. In fact, in some ways it was a winning experience.
Things started off with the sound guy saying my acoustic guitar wasn’t going to work in that room. Great. What the hell do I do, sit and watch everybody else? God bless ‘im, Mark Martin of IP was gracious enough (told y’ they had class) to loan me his electric, a Fender make I’d never seen that, in fact, looks like a slim-bodied acoustic, has a sharp, warm edge to it and plays it’s part of y’. That gave me and Mark Dorshak our first chance to perform with both of us playing electrics, something I wanted to do for a long time. For one, I miss the hell out of playing in a band. Two, with Mark not having to tone down to blend in with my acoustic, he just went for it and ripped the place up. The lucky son-of-a—uh, I mean, my man—also got to jam with IP’s Paul Weyandt (bass) and Dave DeGennaro (drums). Where the hell’s a camera when y’ need one?
Inukshuk Pass showed how it’s done, coming with a hellified set of sweetly soulful rock. That’s Patti Ryan on lead vocals with Martin, Weyandt, DeGennaro and, sitting in on backing vocals, Amber Gay. Ryan belted with rich, full-bodied chops. Notes flowed from Martin’s guitar in a melodic river that ranged from silky smooth to just plain nasty. He also sang the hell out this one song that showed you what Greg Allman was going for all those years and was never quite able to do the quality of real power Martin commands. DeGennaro and Weyandt gave a clinic on holding down the pocket, each smartly inventive, both on the same driving, pumping wavelength. Amber Gay was angelic. Every last one of them came with a world of innate authority and strong ability that made me feel proud as hell just be able to hold my own on the same stage: I know my set worked, ‘cause they each told me. So there.
Added to which, they are a bunch of characters. Especially Weyandt, who’s liable to say just about anything at anytime to anyone and ain’t particularly worried who don’t like it. Don’t get them laughing about weird moments they’ve had at gigs, because the knee-slapping never stops. You want to fall out in hysterics? Walk up to Mark Martin sometime and ask him about what I’ll call The String Incident. Within minutes the both of you will be howling (no I can’t fill you in, ‘cause it’s pretty off-color stuff, just trust me, it’s funny as hell).
So, no, the place wasn’t packed. I didn’t go home lighting crooked cigarettes with ten-dollar bills. Women weren’t dragging me off-stage to invite me home for breakfast. God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, such things are inevitable (well, maybe not the burning up perfectly good money) and should not be rushed. Meanwhile, it still was one of those nights y’ remember a long time—runnin’ with masters of the craft.
Faithful Inukshuk Pass fans and followers know how special this outfit is. Other folk would do themselves a favor to find out. Hell, y’ spend enough time spraining your brain on Facebook. Next time you’re there, do something useful. Look ‘em up. For that matter, y’ can look me up, too. Mark Dorshak as well. And should there be a next time we’re all playing in the same place on the same night, stick your head in the door, come on in, and wiggle your booty some. It’ll be well worth the while.