Up to Newcastle, on the Central Coast, where we play at a facility that shows as an odd amalgamation of private gambling casino, public bar, children’s daycare (“not now honey, mommy’s on a roll!”) and performance center. About two hours north of Sydney by van at 120 kmh, through low riverine valleys under broken sky.
The sameness of the scenery causes my attention to wander, and I grab one of Eric Valentine’s sticks 3B wood tipped drumsticks. Is this his actual signature?
There is extra time after line check and I escape the facility to wander the surrounding neighborhood. Many band members are at the MacDonald’s down the street because it has free and functional wifi. Walls facing the street display posters for upcoming shows as well as other entreaties.
Can you squeal? Do you look good? hmmm….okay, cool. What, you have a van? Right. You’re in.
The rains have stopped and the warm thick humid air is the right temperature for wandering aimlessly. Gathering dusk means time to head back to the venue, though. Luke will be starting soon and that means I’ll grab a bass, warm up my fingers, change clothes and stretch. When Vai’s set begins then I know we’re close and I start to get antsy. O yes, these are all part of being prepared, of being professional. Those details observed, a good time can be had. The icing on this splendid cake arrives when the sound on stage is great. That’s when the music becomes magic.
Back at the venue after an enjoyable ramble I encounter two old friends in conversation.
Imagine them as teenagers together. Hanging out in Joe’s room maybe, playing guitar, watched over by posters of Alice Cooper and Jimi Hendrix. Downstairs Mom is cooking and if Steve is going to stay over for dinner he’ll have to give his Mom a call to let her know. There’s a single family phone number and he’ll use the kitchen wall phone with a long coiled cable twisted into an impossible knot. There’s no answering machine but a pad of paper and pencil are close at hand to take messages.
Did Mom and Dad despair that their kids would never “amount to anything?” I know mine did. Thankfully, their predictions were correct.
Luke’s set done, Vai’s set about to begin, Philip wanders by and I coerce him into trying my Precision bass. It’s like a ukelele in his hands. The oversized knobs make him laugh. We’ll be up soon.