March 24th, 2005


fame and fortune

I don’t think I was doing anything really pressing when my brother called. He’d been hanging out with Josh Komorowski and the Love Syndicate folks (I don’t think he was officially managing the band yet) and gotten me to come out and see them once when they were playing at the Gryphon Café. They were a fun band – Josh on guitar and vox, Erin on cello, Jesse Honig on drums and some kid on bass. The sound was pretty unique: jazz drums mixed with classical cello mixed with funk guitar, with Josh’s dreamy vocals on top. Not really my style, but they didn’t suck. “They’re having some problems with the bass player,” Len had confided, “and I’d like to hear what you sound like with them.”

So he calls. “Hey, bro,” he says, “you give any thought to whether you wanted to get together some time and jam with Love Syndicate?”

“Yeah, that would be fun. I haven’t really played in a couple years, so it would be good to see if I remember how. When are you thinking?”

“Um. Tonight?”

I think he could hear me blinking. “Yeah, ok. What time?”

“Now?” He sounded apologetic. “Actually, about 10 minutes ago. We were supposed to go on at 8.” He paused, and then said, “the bass player didn’t show up. If he shows up now, he’s fired.

“Um. I don’t know the songs.”

“Josh wrote down all the chord changes for all the songs for you.”

What the hell? “Yeah, why not?” I said. “I’ve got to pick up my amp from Charlie’s house, and I’ll be right down.”

Of course, nobody was home at Charlie and Kim’s, so I broke in and collected my gear and headed to the Gryphon. To my horror, the place was packed. Len grabbed my amp and got it hooked up. Josh gave me a small stack of 3x5 index cards with the chord changes scribbled on them, and off we went. Trial by fire. I fucked up a lot, and funk doesn’t really come naturally to me (along with reggae – memories of my old drummer from a previous band, Bruce, saying to my guitarist, “I’m a Russian Jew! What part of my genetics is supposed to know how play reggae?”), but the song structures were fairly simple, so I actually managed to pull off playing a concert wherein I’d only heard half the songs before, and those only once. Nobody seemed to notice my fuckups. I got compliments, even, and nobody believed that I hadn’t actually touched my bass for two years.

After that I was in the band, for a while, at least. I found that I play better barefoot, so I developed a reputation… It’s really an odd experience when complete strangers walk up to you in public places and say, “Hey, I saw you guys at [insert venue]! You guys are really great!” and then proceed to go on and on and on about your talent. And in a sense you’re really flattered, but in another you’re thinking that it would be really nice to pay for this coffee so you can actually drink it.