The return of Bono in lingerie.

Last night was the show at Phog. Really. If you look it up in the Book of Nights, “the show at Phog” is the definition/explanation for “last night”.

It was the first time I’d played live in any capacity in well over three years. Crazy, man. I think I was more nervous during the sound check when only a handful of people were there than I was during the actual performance, though the nerves were there in full force during the first song I played on. I fucked up pretty horribly right at the beginning of the first verse. My hands knew what they were supposed to do but somehow ended up in the wrong place anyway. It wasn’t one of my finer moments.

I managed to recover and didn’t fuck up like that again, and after the first song the nerves more or less went away. Figured if I could pay little to no attention to the audience and just concentrate on playing music with Adam for the enjoyment of it, I’d be alright.

All things considered, I think it went pretty well. Adam sounded good, anyway. I’d never done anything like that before — playing someone else’s songs live and singing harmony with them. I think my harmonies were a little dodgy, particularly on the last song where I sang a bit I’d never actually rehearsed just for the hell of it.

The main thing that threw me off was that we weren’t coming out of the same speakers, so the sound onstage was difficult to gauge. Adam was coming out of the house PA system. My keyboard was coming out of a separate amp the keyboardist in another band was kind enough to let us use. Because the keyboard amp was about four feet away from my right ear, whenever I would play with any amount of force it sounded to me like I was drowning everything else out, so I ended up playing with more restraint than I might have during some passages. But apparently everything sounded pretty balanced out in the audience, which is the important thing.

Next Thursday should be better, onstage-sound-wise and piano/harmony-wise. I think it also helps that we got the first show out of the way and I didn’t bomb as badly as I could have. I don’t think I’ll be as nervous when the next one rolls around.

I had fun in spite of the nerves. A nice surprise, because I kind of expected to be a trembling wreck. I should have remembered the words of Kate Beckinsale in Cold Comfort Farm: “You can’t feel sick. Everything’s arranged.”

After the set was over the real fun began. A group of renegade women abducted me and held me overnight in a janitorial closet without any hope of escape.

Actually, that didn’t happen at all. But I did see a dog unlike any I’d ever seen before. And I saw the great Ron Leary for the first time in quite a while. That guy must have the most impressive sideburns in the history of sideburns. Also, when one of the guys in one of the other bands was repeatedly saying “check” into his microphone I found myself tempted to say, “I’m Czech. Throw down some Czech! Show what you know!”

Instead, I drank a pint of good beer. An even trade.

I went on to have several dreams full of captivating music that I sadly can’t remember anymore. I mean, I can remember pretty much every detail — the instruments that were played, the treatments, the tone — except for the actual melodies. It’s always frustrating when that happens. Especially when one of the songs is tied in with Nick Nolte just being released from prison and looking a little like a beached goldfish, and another is a spontaneous a cappella moment in a restaurant that serves all-day breakfast.


  1. You can’t crumble! Lest I have to put you back together, like a Scandinavian pumpkin in reverse. They have pumpkins in Scandinavia, don’t they? Either way, I’m sure I’ll play when you’re less crumbly at some point. Maybe even away from an audience, sitting on furniture with you in this thing the existentialists call a “room of curious living”.

  2. Saw the show at The Room tonight and was so proud to see you Johhny West playing keyboard and singing with Adam Fox. You guys are great together!! And the harmonizing is amazing!!

    The 1st highlight of the night was hearing you 2 play What a Fool Believes by the Doobie Brothers.

    The 2nd highlight was being approached by another musician who told me what he thought of your playing and your solo music which I won’t say for risk of embarassment but let’s just say he made me so very very proud to be your D.

    I was sooooo PROUD of you!!! Well done Sir Johhny Well done!!

    Please play again in the future!!

  3. You be careful, Ismal. You might make my head expand like a balloon, and I’ll float away with a literally inflated sense of self-worth. Grandeur: it’s what’s for dinner. I still think I could have done better if I could have heard myself clearly, but there’s always Michael McDonald waiting around the corner to save the day when he’s needed.

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