Volume #22, Issue #3
Just when fate lends a hand in making existence unbearable, its other hand extends itself and embraces you. I've recently been through such a slap-happy period.
Three hours before a scheduled flight to San Francisco, I got the phone call. Rick Spanier, my most exalted layout person, called. "I have some bad news", he said. As all sorts of horrors rushed through my mind, he let me in on a publisher's worst nightmare. "I just go an empty box from UPS. What was in it?"
Doom, gloom, flat out shock! "WHAT WAS IN IT?" My heart raced and my head exploded. "All the advertising for the June issue!"
I'm sure to many readers, an issue without ads would be just fine. The realities, however, are that many advertisers rely on us as an important source of business. And without them, we couldn't afford to bring you an issue.
After the initial horror sunk its sharp claws into my head, I slowly came to the realization that I might have to cancel my flight. But with intense determination, I hit the phones and the patience and understanding I received from advertisers was very heartening. With the help of Phyllis Antoniello, our office manager, I made all the contacts I needed to.
If you've ever wondered the big "what if", you'll understand how I felt. But even in the face of adversity, I held steady and caught my flight to my favorite town.
San Francisco more than made up for any anxiety. The chill in the air brought life to my step and uncluttered my head.
Zero appeared at the Great American Music Hall to celebrate their release of Chance in a Million (Horizon/A & M). I wish my old friends the best of luck on their new project. Judge Murphy was back in the fold, lending his hearty vocals to the incredible musicianship that makes Zero one of the finest improvisational units in the world. Steve Kimrock still has not received his just recognition as one of the finest guitarists around. Simply magic.
Second Sight, Dead soundman Bob Bralove's solo outing, opened for Zero. With usual keyboardist Vince Welnick on vacation, Grateful Dead alumni Tom Constanten took over piano chores and the band took flight on some well paced free-form jazz that left the packed Great American screaming for more. Bralove has done well in bringing together some exciting players. Second Sight is planning to tour and an album is imminent.
The real purpose of this trip had yet to unfold. In the recent past, we've worked with Bill Graham Presents to bring Relix musical events to the Warfield. Unfortunately, this year, all appropriate dates were taken. What a great excuse to have a party! With the help of Gibson Guitars' Merl Saunders, Jr. and record manufacturer Disc Makers, we threw a major bash that drew 300 musical and industry friends.
The music was the catalyst and there wasn't enough time to get everyone on the stage throughout the evening.
Tom Constanten started things off and I had the pleasure of singing a final number with him. We were honored by the fabulous Ramblin' Jack Elliott, who played two songs before The David Nelson Band made their Bay Area debut. Nelson's many friends were thrilled to hear him deliver his new material with an energy and enthusiasm that surprised all. His band gives him the support he needs to take thing off the ground. Special guests T.C., Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Steve Kimock joined in and finished the set. A quick Harvey Mandel showcase followed. The monster guitarist was joined by Greg Anton on drums and Squid Vicious on bass.
The surprise of the evening came with a reunion of Kingfish. Matthew Kelly, Barry Flast, Fred Campbell and Robbie Hoddinott hadn't performed together in many years. They were joined by Pat Quinn on vocals. Jerry Miller and Harvey Mandel joined Kingfish for a guitar barrage that ended an incredible evening.
Just when I thought my energy had been zapped, I woke to another day with musical anticipation. The Nelson Band was scheduled to open for Little Feat at the Fillmore! The local band Jambay, featuring an energetic acoustic set reminiscent of early Jefferson Airplane flavored by Yes, sounded amazingly original.
When the David Nelson Band stepped on stage, the sold-out audience picked it up with the familiar "Panama Red". The rest of the set consisted of all-original material. Most of the crowd hadn't seen Nelson since his New Rider days, but even the newcomers couldn't help but enjoy the show.
Little Feat, celebrating their 25th anniversary, knocked us all out! New addition Shawn Murphy on vocals added an entire dimension to the band. Her command of the stage and the music was inspiring. The extended "Dixie Chicken" rocked the house.
My 8:00AM flight home the next morning came with the dread of returning to a desk laden with problems I'd left in my haste. But with renewed vigor, I took to the task.
You hold before you, one of the most difficult issues of my career. But with it all, I know you'll enjoy every page (including the advertising).
Just remember the words: "Walk in the sunshine, watch for the bright sign, be all of the things you're able to be. You got to listen to the heavens, you got to try and understand, the greatness of their movement is just as small as it is grand. Try not to hurry, it's just not your worry, leave it to those all caught up in time. You got to deep-six your wristwatch, you got to try and understand, the time it seems to capture is just the movement of its hands."…Walk in the Sunshine by Bob Weir/John Barlow
Have a great summer. Walk in light and leave only footprints. Watch out for your brothers and sisters, leave your pets at home and be aware. Feed your head with lots of music and surround yourself in beauty.
Toni A. Brown, Publisher
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