Saturday the 1st I took Nina to a birthday party at Rebounderz (think trampoline heaven). We were supposed to have Nina’s first tee-ball practice that afternoon, but it was raining and the fields were closed.
Thursday I sat in a chair most of the day like any other weekday, but previous to that there was a plane and subway ride and my view was band rehearsals for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame instead of a computer. I arrived in Brooklyn around 8:30AM to windy and cold conditions, made my first stop a bodega for an umbrella and walked around. I found Brooklyn CrÃªpe & Juice Bar and waited for them to open at 9, had a quick breakfast of a crÃªpe and a smoothie and was at Barclays Center right at 9:30.
First up was Journey. For all the rehearsals they seated us in section 23, and there wasn’t much happening on stage yet – Gregg Rollie and Jonathan Cain were at their keyboards. Steve Smith sat at the drum set, and they started playing “Separate Ways”. After that, Ross Valory, Neal Schon, and Arnel Pineda joined them on stage and ran through “Separate Ways” again – Gregg did not play keys. There was some discussion after that and Arnel teased “I’m Cryin'” and “Patiently”, then one more time through “Separate Ways”. Aynsley Dunbar switched in on drums and they played “Lights”. Arnel stepped off for a discussion, and the rest of the band played “Lights” again (with backing vocals). Then they were ready for a full run through: Gregg and Aynsley left and the band played the intro for “Separate Ways” and stopped, then played the whole song. Neal introduced Gregg and Aynsley and they played “Lights” together, then Gregg and Aynsley left again. Finally they played “Don’t Stop Believin'” of course, then Arnel had to leave and the band played “Don’t Stop Believin'” again (with backing vocals). No sign of Steve Perry, but I was not surprised. “Don’t Stop Believing” still sounded fantastic even without vocals.
There was a break after that and I walked over to Bricolage for lunch where I had the 5-Spiced Fried Chicken and a beer, as well as an iced tea to go (I was feeling my 4AM wakeup by then). I made my way back to Barclays and they were still setting up instruments, and we watched the Chuck Berry and Journey videos they would show the next night. Finally Electric Light Orchestra was ready to go – but Jeff Lynne wasn’t there. So they ran through “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Evil Woman” without him, playing riffs of Yes’ “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” (bassist Lee Pomeroy is also a member of Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman) and Rush’s “Cygnus X-1” in between. Finally Jeff rolled in, grabbed his guitar and got down to business and they went through the whole set twice: “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Evil Woman”, and “Mr. Blue Sky”. Then he left, and we left. They sounded as tight as they did when I saw them in September, but I was surprised that Richard Tandy didn’t join them this time (I learned later he wasn’t well).
They’d asked us to leave the arena between Journey and ELO, but this time they just asked us to go to the concourse where I charged my phone and read. They let us back in about 30 minutes later, and soundcheck was still going on. Yes was the rehearsal I was most excited to see, and the rumors were quickly proven true, as out came most of the Union era lineup (Steve Howe, Alan White, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, and Trevor Rabin) as well the one and only Geddy Lee (of Rush) slappin’ that bass on “Roundabout”. And then something more amazing happened. The other song Yes was doing is “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” (and Steve played bass on that – founding member Chris Squire was the bass player prior to his death two years ago). Jon wasn’t happy with the chorus, and looked over at the audience and asked if we knew the words. Quick as a flash half of us were on stage behind a microphone. Unfortunately the powers that be put the kibosh on it, but Geddy was standing 10 feet from me. So now I can say I’ve shared the stage with Geddy Lee. They ran through “Roundabout” and “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” one more time after that. Also Alex Lifeson was sitting at the table closest to the stage watching the whole thing.
After sitting all day, I made up for it by taking the subway to Manhattan and walking around NYU. I found Generation Records to shop in, then met up with my friend (and host for the trip) Chris. We walked over to nearby Tim Ho Wan where he knew we wouldn’t have to wait if we ate standing up at the bar and shared some delicious dim sum (especially their dumplings). I managed to get on the wrong subway line back to Brooklyn necessitating a long walk to transfer to the correct one. I was tired after my very long day, but I rallied to leave the apartment and make it the half block to the grocery store to buy some Lithuanian beer that convincingly replicates US craft brew labels. Too bad I hurt my foot not paying attention to the step down from the bathroom.
The next morning I was limping and decided not to go shopping as I’d planned, instead got a Bulgogi cheese steak from Hanki before getting back in a seat at a Barclays for Pearl Jam’s rehearsal. It was more crowded and enthusiastic as we waited for the band – the techs tuning got cheers when we recognized parts of “Daughter” and “Better Man”. They started and stopped “Not For You” and “Better Man” before the band entered. First drummer Dave Krusen played as they went through “Alive”, then Matt Cameron took over. Mike McCready played the riff to “Black Diamond” as they waited, then they played “Given To Fly”. They got through the intro of “Better Man”, then stopped, then played the whole thing and they were done. Next, “set for finale” announced a voice and soon Alex Lifeson appeared stage right playing what sounded like the intro to “Rockin’ In The Free World”. Soon Geddy Lee, Dhani Harrison, Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon, and Trevor Rabin joined the band and they played it one time through. We also got to see Geddy and Alex’s induction speech and some of Dhani Harrison’s speech before they kicked us out.
My foot was feeling better and I was walking close to normal, so I did manage to go to Fifth Avenue Record Shop and Music Matters before taking a break. I was back at Barclays for the end of cocktail hour, where I found out my life was not all roses – a Pearl Jam fan saw my Rush shirt and asked me who he got pictures with. It was Geddy and Alex. Sigh. Someday. At least the bar had Magic Hat #9 on draft. Also Barclays closed all the cool local food vendors I had planned on eating at. At least Nathan’s is authentic NYC. The ceremony itself was great, the Joan Baez and Lenny Kravitz segments were great and Tupac was ok. Things I learned that night:
- Rick Wakeman should get a job as a comedian
- Steve Perry ain’t ever playing with Journey again
- Geddy and Alex are awesome (OK, I already knew that)
- If you go get a drink after a show with a fraternity brother (Henry), be prepared to hang out until it appears they’ve started closing the bar down (at the North Pole Pub).
- If the train you’re looking for shows up on the express side instead of local DON’T get on it (then later I found out that due to construction there was no local stop there, but I might have switched lines if I knew that).
- Googling “how to unfold a futon” saves you from waking up your host or sleeping on a couch.
- You can see the back of me in the lower left corner of the picture below.
My trip back had only one bit of excitement – my determination to get the Cubano I’d missed the night before took so long I nearly missed boarding my flight (it was 100 feet away, but still). The next day was Nina’s first tee-ball practice, and she really enjoyed it (she was a natural at batting, need some work throwing and catching).
Thursday the 13th was Jill and Nina’s turn to travel – up to Massachusetts for Easter on the train. After some long days at work to make up hours, I spent most of Saturday cleaning and sealing the dock boat. Then I followed up the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a tribute to Pete Seeger, who would surely be in a Folk Hall of Fame. I started with a lamb burger at Red Apron Burger Bar, then walked over to Foggy Bottom and took the shuttle to the Kennedy Center. The night was like a super-sized Falcon Ridge Folk Festival workshop. I was pleased that Judy Collins, like Joan Baez the previous week, still possesses her full powers (she brought the house down with “Both Sides Now”). Too bad I had to skip Peter Yarrow & Noel Paul Stookey to catch the last train home. The next day I got to drown my sorrows that Barclays Center had closed all the cool Brooklyn food stands with all that Nats Park has to offer (like kimchi tater tots) with my dad (celebrating his birthday).
Nina had a great time celebrating Easter with her cousins, even lost her fourth tooth. She visited the Zoo in Forest Park there, and then her class took a field trip to the National Zoo on Thursday the 20th. Saturday was the official start of tee-ball season and Nina got to meet Nationals mascots Teddy and Abe before she walked in a parade with her team. Unfortunately rain started at the end and the rally and the games afterwards were washed out (but Nina and I had breakfast at Ted’s Bulletin). Jill’s mom had surgery a couple days earlier and recovery wasn’t going well, so Jill decided to go up and help out on Sunday, so it was just Nina and me until Thursday night (her mom’s doing much better now). When I took Nina to Daisy Scouts on Sunday I had a fun experience as we were listening to a new CD by Peter Mulvey in the car and he slipped a “f*ck” into the first verse of 2 songs in a row.
Friday there was a meme about 10 bands you’ve seen (and one is a lie). Everyone knows I’ve seen way too many bands to participate in that meme. So I did a different one: 10 bands with special guests on stage, one is a lie:
- John Mellencamp (with Tiffany)
- The Dead (with Tipper Gore)
- Metallica (with Ray Davies)
- U2 (with The Black Eyed Peas)
- R.E.M. (with Thom Yorke)
- Fleetwood Mac (with Warren Haynes)
- Dave Matthews Band (with Herbie Hancock)
- Yes (with Geddy Lee)
- The Wallflowers (with Jewel)
- George Michael (with Garth Brooks)
Answer: Fleetwood Mac
Saturday the 29th was Nina’s first tee-ball game, and I never knew watching it could be so stressful. Things I’ve said:
- Watch the ball!
- Stop fighting over the ball!
- Get your glove off your head!
- Run to first! No, the other way!
- Stop climbing the dugout!
- Stop digging in the dugout!
- Stop watching the boy peeing in the woods!
We followed that with her school’s International Day and then her swim lesson, and we all needed a break after that. Nicely timed was an offer by Janice to host dinner as Tony and Charissa were down picking up Stuart’s train set.
Sunday I again went to watch the Nationals with my dad, this time bringing along Nina and Jill for the first time in two and three years, respectively. As I hoped Nina was much more into the game now. The Nats were up 5-1 after 1 inning. Nina may be a good luck charm. She certainly can scream loud enough to be heard from across the field. They finished off the Mets 23-5, one of their biggest offensive performances ever. That night I noted that the new season of Silicon Valley is now 2 for 2 with laugh out loud moments at the end of each episode.