Wednesday, April 2, 2014

There's nothing like Show Business!

...and this is nothing like Show Business.

(This week's installment continues a series of Whitt's reflections on becoming a folk music addict and performer.)

During the Pat & Barbara chapter of my careen, I was back and forth some betwixt Atlanta and Tucson.  When I was in the Old Pueblo, I'd usually pick up a radio shift, and while I was working at KCUB (before they went country) Bob & Travis met for a concert as "Shane & Travis" at the U of A student union auditorium.

When they came by the radio station to see me, Bob had a 45 he was collecting opinions on.  I spun the side Bob thought would be the "A" side, a song Rod McKuen wrote, called "Weepin' Analeah."  Then we heard the other side.  Frank Sanchez (talented and versatile percussionist) was there, too, and he and I both said, "That's the one!" 
Knowing that free advice is worth every penny, Bob decided to go with the McKuen song.  Six weeks later, Bobby Goldsboro released the other song, "Honey."

Like most successful acts that have "broken up," Pat & Barbara eventually got around to a "reunion;" but, Pat was still on tour with The New Kingston Trio, so Barbara and I had agreed to "hold down the fort" with Barbara performing as a single.  The best part of that, for me, was shopping for musicians for the back-up combo.

We spent an evening at "Clendenon's," a supper club owned by Donn Clendenon, the baseball star.  We were the only white faces in the place, and we were greeted warmly, seated at a table with other folks who were genuinely glad to have us join them, and caught up in the appreciative comments and party atmosphere that resulted from the outstanding entertainment.

The house band was up on a balcony/loft, and very hot and hip.  The staging was very organic to the room, including a stairway used to great effect as an entry point for a soloist, and the sound and lighting were actually excellent!.  We saw four incredible acts.  Can't remember the name of a single one, but I can recall highlights of their performances to this day!

We put together a neat "acoustic" trio (electric bass) for Barbara's band and started working on a really classy single.  Since "the corporation" considered this all nothing more than a holding action, there was zero advertising.  The "network" of old friends had been drastically reduced and scattered over two years of nothing like P & B, and Barbara was playing in a very large room to very small crowds.

Finally, Pat was back, being over the thrilling part of his ride with The New Kingston Trio, and rehearsals began for the big reunion.  I don't recall what actually came of that, or how it went.  To do it, I stayed pretty heavily self-medicated.

Honestly, I don't remember the sequence of things; but the result was an effort to make Barbara's act work in other venues.  Times were changing--the listening venue was dying--and the great Monk Arnold wasn't really interested in helping an act that was not already successful.  Barbara began doing gigs with just a guitarist, since most gigs other than dance joints couldn't support a band.  After a while, she said, "Didn't you used to play guitar in highschool?"

Next thing I knew, I owned a Gibson J-200 and actually took a guitar lesson from her accompanist, a guy with a Masters in music, whose name I have also forgotten--Mike something.  He taught me how to transpose using the movable barre chords.  I spent two or three weeks relearning how to play and developing callouses, working on songs from her repertoire I had some chance of being able to play, and got a call from an old, very close friend, Joe Monsanto.

Joe and another cohort from previous enterprises, David John, were opening a venue in the well-known hip district of Tucson that would be a non-alcoholic night club.  He asked me to come help with stage lighting and sound. 
This is one of my favorite memories and stories.
I'll tell you all about it, and my stage debut with Barbara, next week!


4 comments:

  1. Had you not played guitar at all since high school?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi,
    I'm relishing Whitt's posts regarding Pat & Barbara, Travis, Shane, etc.
    What is the relationship (if any) to Barbara McKinney, and how many
    more posts will there be on this Atlanta/Tucson period? I'm hoping to pass
    along the entire compendium of posts upon the conclusion to my friends.
    Sincere thanks for sharing; I've never seen this information elsewhere.
    All The Best,
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for stopping by!
    There will be, and is, more about all that. I was married to Barbara--that's where she got the last name.
    Appreciate your sharing; but it would be more helpful to us if you forwarded the link(s) and let the extra visits add up!
    Nonetheless, stay tuned--there's a little more. Do I know you from ago?

    ReplyDelete