Thursday, August 27, 2015

Act III Episode 4 - Joe and the Nomads Get a Gig

Act III – Episode 4  – Joe and the Nomads Get a Gig

Image result for Joe Walsh and the NOmads

After enlisting Stephane to sing with them for their second Tony Marts audition, Joe and the Nomads went looking for a keyboard player, first to Shriver’s Pavilion on the Ocean City boardwalk, but they didn’t expect to find one there since it was a scene dominated totally by guitars. So they scoped it out for a little while, then grabbed a slice of pizza at Mack & Manco’s counter and ate as they walked to 8th Street to the Purple Dragon Coffee House.

You could see the big roaring Purple Dragon head jutting out above the front door that looked like it belonged on a Thanksgiving parade float, but as legend would have it, was from the bow of a Spanish treasure ship that ran aground at Anchorage Point during a Noreaster’ a hundred years before the Dutch and English Quakers arrived and settled in. It was made of old hard wood and refashioned paper mache, and painted purple, of course.

The large purple dragon’s head jutting out over the sidewalk would have been an issue for the building inspector, but since the building was owned by D. Allen Stretch, the city commissioner responsible for public works and safety, it got a pass.

Inside the Dragon there was half the afternoon lunch crowd there usually is because all of the folkies and most of the hippies were camping at the second annual Philadelphia Folk Festival at the Wilson farm outside Philly. While most of Philly was heading down the pikes or Expressway to the Shore, the folkies and hippies were going in the other direction, leaving a lot of empty seats at Shriver’s Pavilion and the Purple Dragon.

Still drinking their Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer from the boardwalk, they sat at a table in the back, where a folkie was playing guitar on the small stage. Not just a stage for singers and guitarist, the Purple Dragon soap box was also open to poets and story tellers, and so it was after a guitarist John Buloshi would trash was finished, Pittsburgh Paul took the stage, and after a moment of stage fright, he straightened up and began reading from a white piece of paper – “The Sheriff of Reality.”

The Sheriff of Reality
By Pittsburg Paul

I am
The Sheriff of Reality
So watch out Bad Guys
For I am

I'll step upon
Your Shadow
And walk upon
Your Dreams
Until you think
Your carrying
The world upon
Your shoulders.

Thus spoke
The Sheriff of Reality

Wither I come
And wither I go
No one knows
Not even I

Thus spoke
The Sheriff of Reality

Cold steel
Pressed upon
Your back

Thus spoke
The Sheriff of Reality

Give me
The Goods
And I don't
Mean the money

Thus spoke
The Sheriff of Reality

Thundering I come
And thundering I go
And the world
Will never
be the same

Thus Spoke
The Sheriff of Reality

After a few lines he put the paper down and really got into it, reciting off the top of his head, and a tinkling of the piano keys against the wall grabbed everyone’s attention for a split moment – it was Tido Mambo chiming in, and then the Nomad’s percussionist began tapping his bongos and dragging Paul’s poem into the realm of music.

When Pittsburgh Paul was done and walked off stage with an extended applause and a smile on his face, Joe asked Tido to stay where he was and sat down on a stool on the stage and began playing his acoustic guitar, a Ventures surfing tune that everyone knew, and the bongos and Tido on keys rounded out the sound. After an extended jam, Joe knew Tido was in another league, but asked him to join the Nomads at the Tony Marts audition.

Tido was honest about it, “I already have a band,” he said, “and I’ve already been fired by Tony three times in one week – not the record,” he pointed out.

But he did want to go back to Tony Marts and since it was a Monday and his band was off that night, Tido agreed to join the Nomads for the audition, and asked them to stop by the Anchorage two hours early so they could practice a little before going on.

So later that afternoon the Nomads VW bus pulled up in front of the Anchorage Tavern and the three Nomads and Stephanie went in and to the back of the bar where Tido was sitting at the Tom Thumb piano, with his hair pulled up and hidden under a yellow silk Egyptian turban that Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs had given him after they jammed to "Woolly Bully" into the early morning at the Dunes the previous week. Stevie and the Nomads got it – since Tido had been unceremoniously fired and kicked out of Tony Marts by the bouncers three times, he had to go back in disguise so he wouldn’t be recognized.

Stevie and the Nomads all ordered Cokes from Buck the bartender even though he would have served them despite none of them, except Tido, was over 21. They didn’t want to drink before their audition, introduced Stephanie to Tido and then ran though the two songs Stevie wrote but mainly stuck to the popular standards that they knew Tony was looking for.

Then they all packed into the VW bus and Joe drove the few blocks down Bay Avenue and pulled up to Tony Marts front door to unload the equipment they would need.

Image result for Tony Marts Somers Point

Tony wasn’t in the house yet, Joe noticed as he looked up into the corner seat at the little elevated bar in the corner where Tony always sat, his seat was empty, that bar wasn’t open yet, but a few of the others were, and manned by popular bartenders like Doobie Duberson, Harry Goldberg, Sonny McCullough and Dick Squires.

Joe had arranged to go on first, and they were a half hour early, so after plugging in his guitar and testing the microphones, he sat down in the corner on a keg of beer next to a tall, thin black guy picking at an electric guitar that wasn’t plugged in, staring intently at his fingers as they plucked the guitar.

When he was done the tall, thin black dude looked up at Joe sitting there next to him and smiled, but didn’t say anything.

“I’m Joe, with the Nomads,” Walsh said, reaching out his hand, “we’re auditioning tonight.”

The guy shook Joe’s hand but didn’t say anything, just smiled.

“Hey, you got a pick I could borrow?” Joe asked, “I’m fresh out.”

The guy hands Joe the guitar pick he had in his hands and Joe thanked him and then added, “We got an extra guitar slot if you want to sit in on any of our set, feel free.”

“You with Joey Dee and the Starliters?” Joe asked, and the guy just nodded yes.

“Wow, that must be really neat! But I guess you get tired of playing the Twist and Peperment Twist so much.”
The guy just smiled and picked up another pick from his guitar case and started stairing at his fingers as he plucked the unplugged guitar, and Joe went back to the stage with his pick.

They were all in place on the main stage a few minutes before they were to go on when out of the corner of his eye Joe saw Mr. Marotta come in the front door, sit down in his spot at the corner of the bar and light his cigar.

It was Show Time in the Showplace of the World.

The three Nomads kicked in with the power trio set, while Tido just played softly to fill in the sound and not call attention to himself, while Stevie stood back against the wall and wasn’t introduced until the third song, a popular number before they did Stevie’s two originals, that they knew would make Tony winch.

But they didn’t get the hook or get unplugged because Stevie was really strong and Tony liked her immediately, and during her second song, the tall, thin black guy who played with the Skyliters plugged in and stood in the back but added a dynamic third guitar that blew everybody away, except Tony. Tony just didn’t get it, and appeared perplexed, as the crowd, as it filtered in, were suddenly paying attention to a no nothing new band nobody ever heard of before and at the end of the song everybody was applauding, cheering and whistling, including the bartenders and bouncers, so Tony couldn’t give them the hook as the crowd clearly liked it.
Before the Nomad’s set was over the Starliter’s guitarist unplugged his guitar and unobtrusely left the back of the stage to go over to the other stage where his band was getting ready to play.

Ending with the Ventures surf songs that kept people’s attention and got the dance floor going, the Nomads ended their half hour audition as Joey Dee and the Skyliters began playing “The Peperment Twist” across the room.

The Starliters front man Little Joey Dee was a Jersey Guy, that is a North Jersey Guy in the Frank Sinatra-Frankie Valle mold, and married to the mob, and had a squeaky voice that has been heard over every radio in the country, but on this night it was the Starliter’s guitarist who was getting all the attention, much to the dismay of Joey Dee.

“Who is that guy?” everyone wanted to know.

A few years out of the Army, James Jimi Hendrix was still looking for himself and a good paying job in music, and had already left Little Richard and jammed with his idol Muddy Waters when he hooked up with Joey Dee and the Starliters through Leroy Brown, his old drill sergeant from Fort Dix.

While the whole room was twisting the night away, and Tido Mambo sneaked out a side door, Joe was still pumping with excitement and was smiling as he approached Mister Marotta at the bar.

“How’d we do Mister Mart?” Joe asked.

Tony took the cigar out of his mouth and smiled, “You’se guys did good. You got a job, three sets a night on the back stage through next Thursday,” he said knowing that Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels were coming in Friday to play the Labor Day weekend. The Nomads were just going to fill in for a few nights, but it was a gig, and while  it was too late to include them in the newspaper print ads, they would have their name on the Tony Marts Marque – along with Joey Dee and the Starliters, the Fall Guys and a few bands like the Nomads who just came down the pike looking for action. 

Joe was due to be at Kent State, Ohio on Thursday for freshman orientation, but he would miss that in order to play a paying gig at Tony Marts, and wouldn’t make it to Ohio until Tuesday, he day after Labor Day, and he would be forever disoriented for missing freshman orientation.

And they were going to have to play without Todo Mambo or Jimi Hendrix and Stevie could only sit in to sing a few sets, but Joe was confident they could hold their own and after scrounging around Shrivers Pavilion and the Purple Dragon for more players to fill out the band for the three night gig, Walsh just sat down with Tony and explained it to him.

“We’re a Power Trio,” Joe said, “and even though we’re only three guys, we try harder.”

So Tony let them play, and even got to like some of their original songs because the crowd liked them too, and just let it go, like water off a duck’s back, he was just resigned to the fact that, as he put it, “The Hawks were the last of the gentlemen.”

“After the Hawks, the animals took over,” he lamented, taking a puff of his cigar and a sip of his drink. 

On the other side of the room Joey Dee and the Skyliters were rockin' the house, as everybody was up twisting to the "Peppermint Twist," the song that made them famous two years previous. They played the Peppermint Lounge in New York City, and their song made that place famous, so they became the house band there, but were now milking that song for whatever they could get. And then to close the set they did an extended version of the Isley Brothers' "Shout!" that had the college kids going crazy and lying down on the dance floor and bars and shaking on their backs - the ultimate Twist and Shout! 

"Shout, shout, let it all hang out.
These are the things I can do without
Come on, I'm talking to you, come on

In violent times 
You shouldn't have to sell your soul 
in black and white 
They really ought to know
Those one track minds 
That took you for a working boy
Kiss them goodbye
You shouldn't have to jump for joy

They gave you life
and in return you gave them Hell 
As cold as ice
I hope we live to tell the tale 
I hope we live to tel the tale 

And when you've taken down your guard 
If I could change your mind
I'd really love to break your heart 
I'd really love to break your heart 

Come on, I'm talking to you come on 

But you really have to hear it with Hendrix on guitar. 

After his successful audition Joe Walsh talked to Tony about some gig details and then stuck around to see the Joey Dee and the Skyliters, but was attracted, as was everyone else in the house, to the guy in the back with the guitar, the tall, skinny black dude in the Afro. Joe zoomed in on the guitarists fingers and watched for a few minutes in awe and thought how the quiet guy talked with his guitar. 

Joe then searched his pockets and took out the guitar pick the guy with the left handed strat had given him and looked at it as if it had something magical about it, and he kissed it.
Jimi Hendrix with Joey Dee and the Starliters-1965

1 comment:

  1. Roomfull of Mirrors –A Biography of Jimi Hendrix - by Charles R. Cross –
    (Hyperion, NY, 2005)
    p. 122

    “When Jimi found he couldn’t make enough with the Squires to survive, he went on the road with Joey Dee and the Starliters, playing fifty-eight shows in sixty days. The job represented a coup for Jimi, as the Starliters were a successful band and their ‘Peppermint Twist’ had been a No. 1 hit….The Starliters were the first racially integrated band Jimi had joined since Seatle, and their sound was more rock’roll than his other early bands. Their tour concentrated on the Northeast, but they did make some appearances in the South, where Jimi found that being in an integrated band was even more difficult than playing in an all-black group. They slept in black-owned hotels, sometimes as far as fifty miles from the venue, and are sitting on flour sacks in the kitchen since the three black band members were not welcome in most restaurants. Though Jimi would later complain that he wasn’t paid enough, his tenure with the Starliters offered firsthand evidence that white musicians existed who were willing to stand up for civil rights…On the tour, the Starliters played to crowds as large as ten thousand, the biggest Jimi had yet seen. Still, because of the racial tension caused by the mixed band, in many venues the musicians were not allowed to leave the backstage area during set breaks. Perhaps because of their shared burden of prejudice, the Starliters were a close band, and Jimi quickly ingratiated himself….As a dance band, the Starliters had little choice but to play their hits note for note. Still, Jimi was given a solo every night during which he played with his guitar behind his head.”
    Joey Dee: “Jimi auditioned in my garage in Lodi, New Jersey, and we hired him immediately. He was a great guitar player.”
    “There were many times I was offered more money to tour without the black players, but I refused.”
    Starliter David Brigati: “Jimi was really shy at first, but he opened up and told wild stories of being on the road with the Isleys and Little Richard.”