Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rush road trip: Part IV of a 2-part trilogy

Summer 1978 - Trader's Post classifieds in Nashville, TN:
  • Ludwig 5 piece blue drum set used primarily in session work
  • Zildjian 24" ride, 17" crash, and 14" high-hat cymbals
  • Throne, hard shell cases, gig bag and extra hardware included
  • $400 firm
With a few hundred dollars from mowing lawns squirreled away at Commerce Union Bank, I talked over the ad with my mother, withdrew the money from my savings account, and had her drive me to buy myself a drum kit.

I set it up in the bedroom shared with my brother. The dimensions of our room weren't that big, and I quickly claimed eminent domain over about 40 percent of the floorspace. Once assembled, I spent that evening and most afternoons the next two years jamming to LPs and 8-tracks played on my bitchin' Radio Shack stereo. KISS, Journey, Skynyrd, a new band discovered by Gene Simmons called Van Halen, ELO, Boston, Peter Frampton, Aerosmith's "Toys In The Attic", and Deep Purple.

That was my drumming M.O. until the spring of 1980 - the wrap-up of my freshman year of high school. Thrashing the skins as if I was Keith Moon - though the reality is I probably had drumming skills more like Sun Myung Moon. Then a friend of mine asked me if I'd learned the drum part to Spirit of the Radio yet. What? Who is that by? Rush man! Don't you have Hemispheres?? La Villa? buh domp, ba doomp, bon bon bommmm, bon bon bommmm.

I borrowed the 8-track of Permanent Waves from my friend, listened to it through headphones as I sat behind my bass and snare, and didn't lift a stick. Finally, I stood to clunk through channels 2, 3, and 4 so the tape would eventually loop back to channel 1 to replay Spirit. (If you ever had an 8-track, you'll understand the verb "clunk".)

I was hooked. Feeble attempts were made to mimic Neil Peart's licks - including a few impromptu Lessons from friends who thought they had them down (they didn't). I had but a Ghost of a Chance of ever actually matching his skills. Then my buying spree began:

Permanent Waves on LP. Done.
Back track to 2112. Done.
All The World's A Stage - double live LP. Done.
Then back to present (at that time): Moving Pictures, Signals, Grace Under Pressure, etc.

As I blogged last week, I finally saw them live in 1984. I would never have guess that 1984 would be the only time to see them live ... until last week. 26 years later. I have to admit it was a bit surreal making plans to see the band I began listening to 30 years ago. Yet thinking about it now, it was really only about 3.25 Dog Years since I'd last seen them. Not bad.

The Countdown to see them again began about 5 or 6 months ago. When the Time Machine tour was announced, a friend of mine and his brother immediately committed to going. Fortunately for me, he decided to Take A Friend. So the three of us left our middle Tennessee Subdivisions last Wednesday AM with a playlist of classic Rush tunes, some high-end beer wrapped to stay cold in a soft-sided cooler, stories of how we enjoyed the band over the years, and various ideas for Making Memories during this overnight trip. One thing was certain. Having a steady salary from many years as a Working Man was going to allow me to more fully enjoy the 2010 show vs. what I could afford with my meager college budget in 1984.

Once settled in Atlanta, we met up with the rest of our traveling contingent. The carpooling crew consisted of 5 of us. Four guys, 1 woman. 80/20. Yep, it was a pretty representative sample of what was expected as the male/female crowd distribution for the evening. We had:
  • TMC
  • Friend, Atticus
  • Atticus' brother and proprietor of Food Furious, Ben
  • Atticus' cousin, Aaron, by siblings from a different marriage of parents...starting to get a bit dicey here
  • Ben's cousin, Leila aka gnumoon, but by yet another set of siblings from another marriage...or some sort of Circumstances like that...Bottom line: She and Ben are cousins. And Ben and Atticus are brothers. Yet, Atticus and Leila aren't cousins. Wait, the room is spinning. Can't figure this out. Confusion reigns! Mayday, mayday.
In the end, the best catch-all phrase I can now affectionately apply to all my new friends is they are all somehow related as Courthouse Cousins.

After a couple of introductory, how-are-ya? beers at our hotel, we were off to Mission number 1: dinner at The Vortex in Atlanta's Little Five Points. There we met up with two more fans - Carl and Rachel - neither of whom are related to the Courthouse Cousins. But since I had no known relatives on the trip, perhaps the two of them were my CHC.

The Vortex had some really interesting burger and beer choices. Ben settled on the Hell Burger with hot pepper cheese and a jalapeno/habanero pepper relish. Atticus downed the Coronary Bypass - a burger with a fried egg, a few strips of bacon, and several slices of cheese. And after a debate with Carl as to which one of us would get it, I finally decided to Roll The Bones and order The Elvis burger:

As a joke, I almost ordered a salad with vinaigrette dressing as my side item plus a Diet Coke. But I didn't and chose tots and a large Sweetwater IPA instead. In retrospect, I wish I had ordered what others at our table got - sweet potato tots! Somehow I overlooked this as an option - too busy I suppose scheming a bad joke vs. focusing on the matter at hand.

We likely stayed at The Vortex one beer too long. Traffic was terrible. We underestimated the time it would take in Finding My Our Way to the venue and get parked at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater at Encore Park. (For just one lousy night, couldn't they have renamed the place Lakeside Park? But I digress...)

Full of the Elvis Burger and an afternoon of Sweetwater IPAs, favoring a bum knee, but with Vital Signs peaking, we sprint-walked to the front gate. While doing so, I could hear the faint but unmistakable notes of the first song I heard by the band 30 years ago - The Spirit of Radio.

To be continued...


No comments:

Post a Comment