Act III Episode 13 – Mitch Ryder and the Wheels are Late
Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, riding high on their number one hit “Devil With the Blue Dress” were due Friday afternoon to play as Tony Marts headliners for the three day Labor Day weekend, but their tour bus was mired in a traffic jam at the base of the Atlantic City Expressway where it forks into two roads – the Expressway and the Black Horse Pike.
The Expressway had just opened the previous year, and while it was a toll road that cost a dollar, motorcycles were prohibited and a group of irate bikers were having a sort of a sit in and blocking traffic from entering the Expressway to protest the ban on motorcycles chanting, “Bikers Pay Taxes Too.”
So Joe and the Nomads, along with the Fall Guys – the new house band, and Joey Dee and the Starliters, with their amazing guitarist, all had to do extra duty until Mitch and his band showed up, and the Nomads came through like troopers in the clutch.
They had to keep the crowd at Tony Marts and keep them from leaving and crossing the street to Bay Shores to see Tido Mambo and the Messiah’s of Soul, Johnny Caswell and the Crystal Mansion and Pete Carroll and the Carroll Brothers, heroes of what they call the Incident at 14th Street Beach. And they did. When Jimmie the guitarist from the Skyliters sat in with the Nomads, he blew everybody away, playing the guitar behind his back and with his teeth on beat and without missing a note.
When Mitch Ryder and the Wheels finally arrived around ten PM that Friday night, Mitch came in and immediately took command and his band played their hearts out, making up for their tardiness.
With Mitch Ryder playing the “Devil with the Blue Dress” at Tony Marts and Tido Mambo playing Jesus Christ with the Messiahs of Soul across the street at Bay Shores, there was an anticipation in the air for the arrival of the Angels – the Hells Angels and the Barbarians from LA – Los Angeles – the City of Angeles.
And when Joe and the Nomads finished their gig and unplugged their guitars from behind the side bar, setting the stage for Mitch Ryder, Tony called Joe over to his bar, gave him a drink, thanked him for playing the two extra sets and handed him a white envelop saying, “Youse boys did a fine job, thank you.”
Joe later opened the envelop that contained four twenties and four five dollar bills that he shared equally with the other two Nomads and Jimi, the Skyliters’ guitarist who was picking his unplugged guitar in the corner.
“A bonus from Tony,” Joe said as he gave the $25 to Jimi, who smiled and said the only two works Joe ever heard him say.
“Thanks, man,” that was accompanied by a big smile.
With the $25 bonus and the pay that Tony gave the Nomads for playing the week long gig at Tony Marts, Joe bought a motorcycle that he mounted on the front of his VW bus that slowed down the already slow speed of the bus that on Monday morning, would get him to Kent State Ohio for his first semester despite having missed freshman orientation.
Joe on his bike and a year later at school with his new band The James Gang