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Chapter 29 - ROCKIN' AT HUMPHREY'S

There was an early morning fog over the marina, which eventually lifted to reveal the beginnings of another perfect day in San Diego, a great day for a concert. And after seeing last night's show with Taj Mahal and Sam Moore, we were especially anxious to get back in the groove and take our turn on stage. We'd been on the road for a while now and the band was as tight as a Swiss wristwatch and ready to rock.

By 11:00 a.m., I saw the first signs of the crew who had begun to roll in and unload the anvil cases in preparation for the show. Oddly enough I was struck by the thought that I very rarely get to witness the crew at work and the whole set up process. I would just show up for sound check and everything would be magically there, just like it was the day before. In fact, except for the venue, almost exactly the way it was the day before. Now I had a chance to see what went on to make it all happen.

I have to admit, after all these years of being on the road, I was still fascinated to watch how efficient and thorough the crew was. As I watched the load in from my hotel balcony, I couldn't help but think that in a way it was pretty similar to a band, everybody had a specific but very important part to play if it was all going to happen and these guys were as good as they get. And they do this almost every day! Amazing!

I guess I wasn't the only one who was fascinated with the whole production process because it wasn't too long before I spotted Photoglo and McEntee down below watching from about the center of the third row. And it was not too long after that when Zoot finally appeared to greet the day and then he too, eventually came down to hang out around the stage.

By late afternoon, everything was ready for sound check and we were more than ready to play. I guess we made that obvious when we were all sitting at the front of the stage for hours like a pack of drooling dogs patiently waiting for some treats. Our sound checks had become more than just a preparation for the show. They were also a chance for us to jam and experiment a little bit after the run through so, like true "musos," we couldn't wait to get up there and crank out some beautiful noise.

After we had finished our sound check by the sea, we all broke for dinner. As the sun was setting and the audience started to filter in to their assigned seats, we could hear Dan's new CD playing through the sound system and the low din of pre-show audience conversation. They all sounded like the usual Humphrey's audience, pumped up and ready to have some fun. In fact, the "Loud Crowd" were already mooring their boats in the marina and breaking out the snacks and refreshments, as you can imagine. Humphrey's has always provided a wild audience and this crowd was a perfect example.

It was finally time to hit the stage and I could feel the energy of the audience as soon as I sat down behind the drums. When you get an audience like that, it really raises the bar a couple of notches for the whole band. It's that kind of enthusiasm that usually translates into a higher energy level for the performers as well.

Like an old married couple that is able to complete each other's sentences, Dan and all of us in the band had established a unique and special musical bond. We had played the show enough times on this tour to really trust ourselves as players and we were now getting into the nuances of the music. Our musical interaction had become so intuitive, we were no longer mimicking a series of individual parts, we were interpreting the songs and lending our own musical signature to each one of them like a band with one brain.

I mentioned earlier that this band would play good or great. Well, by the time we'd finished our opener, "Part of the Plan," I knew this was going to be one of the great nights. And when it gets that good it gets to be almost too much fun! There was no place else I would rather have been than on that stage with Dan Fogelberg, Jim Photoglo, Robert McEntee and the inimitable Michael "Zoot" Hanna. I guess that's why we keep on doing it, there's just no other feeling like it.

Next up was "Heart Hotel" and after that the show just kept getting better. The vocals were strong and tight and the band was absolutely burnin'. We could do no wrong! The crowd picked up on it and fanned the flames even more. And before I realized it, we were offstage getting ready to come out for our first encore, "The Gambler." You know what they say about time and having fun, well we must have had an absolute ball on stage because it all felt like it flew by in a matter of minutes. We played every song on the set list and even a few extras and it still felt like we'd only played for about half an hour.

If there wasn't a hotel curfew time on the concert, I'm convinced we would have all stayed on stage and probably jammed for another hour. Like I said, "too much fun!"

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