Goin' for a rockin' ride in the time machine

October 25, 2016 - 10:45am

I’ve been taking a lot of rides in a time machine lately.  

I’ve been hanging around with The Beatles when they first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964.  I even managed not to faint like a teenaged girl.

I’ve been noodling around playing drums with The Young Rascals side by side with my favorite drummer Dino Danelli, laying down a fatback beat trying to keep up on “Good Lovin’”.  From the front row I watched Carole King and James Taylor play “You’ve Got a Friend” for the first time, and I sang along with Paul and Art, who are better known as Simon and Garfunkel, adding a completely out of tune third harmony to the heart-wrenching classic “Sounds of Silence”.

And not only that, I stood back stage (well at the side in the wings, stage right, to be more accurate) when Jimi cranked out Foxy Lady at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and lit his guitar on fire.  By sheer reflex, I was going to run out there with a fire extinguisher, but then I remembered I shouldn’t do anything to alter the space-time continuum.  Besides, that 25 year old Hendrix was himself on fire and I don’t mean the combustion created by the lighter fluid he poured onto his white Stratocaster. 

But that’s music for you.  The best music can take you on a trip, and the best music stored perfectly in the playlist of your memory banks can take you on an instantaneous journey through time.  Back where your most melodic memories still live.

For the past eight or nine months, I’ve been bouncing around back there in the groovy 60s and the funky 70s – visiting the far-out flower children and the get-down disco divas.  And I assure you, even though it must sound like I’ve been “going on a trip, all right” the strongest ingested indulgence along the way was an Advil when Jefferson Airplane was waaay to loud at the Fillmore East in ’68.  Especially when they cranked up “I Need Somebody to Love” right after “White Rabbit”.

And by the way, you wouldn’t believe what it was like to be on the road with Fleetwood Mac!  At the peak of their fame, fortune and foolishness during their world tour of 19??  The wizardess of song Stevie Nicks had in her contract rider that her hotel room had to be a penthouse suite in the best hotel in the city.  Oh, also the entire room had to be painted pink.  Oh, and also there had to be a full sized grand piano in the room, a white one.  I couldn’t believe my eyes that ritzy hotel in Paris hired a crane to hoist that humoungous white piano up to the penthouse for little Stevie N, true story.  Well the part about the pink room rider and hoisting the piano.  I really wasn’t actually, technically there, per se.

I mean, not physically.  But since the dead of last winter I’ve been living in the past, or more to the point – inside the music of the past.  The iconic golden melody nuggets of the decade of the 60s.  The lightning-a-bottle lyrical landmarks of the 1970s.  You see, I thought to myself, “Self.  Wouldn’t it be fun to put together a whole bunch of Central Alberta talent and re-visit the rock and pop tunes of the super cool hippie days of peace and love?”  And my other self, the one that resides on the other side of my tiny brain, the left side, the analytical worrying side suddenly and surprisingly sighed and said:  “Sure.  Why not?  You’re going to do it anyway, right?”

The neat thing I discovered when I wound the way-back machine to choose some favorite songs to include in the show was that when I dug around in the Hit Parade vaults long enough to blow out out a pair of earbuds and reach for the Advil again, I would eventually realize that the titles of some of my most beloved songs were actually beginning to tell a story.  A love story.

Some famous writer once said “The universe is made up of stories, not atoms.”  And I would add a coda to that.  Because I think the universe is made up of songs that tell stories that take us on a journey.  A trip on a time machine.

So how far-out groovy would it be to cherry pick a bunch of the best young musicians around, gather five of the best lead singers in town, and put that together with some video clips, a dazzling light show, and add some storytelling through song and bring it all to a hybrid dance/cabaret/theatre/concert/party for time travellers of any age at any stage in their joie de vive voyage?

Super far-out groovy, I think.  But then again, I’ve been gone for a few months, you know, time travelling.  But now it’s the here-and-now, and The Time Machine Retro Rock & Roll Revue launches at the Scott Block Nov 3,4 and 10-12.  Welcome aboard!

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