One of the most satisfying moments of my life was during the 7 year life span of my band – and I say “my” band” only because I was the only one to make it through the entire marathon; a couple of others almost did, but not quite, and all told there were 21 ladies & gentlemen who were a part of what at first was known as Friends of the Devil, after the Grateful Dead song, quite obviously, and morphed into Cottonwood Sage. In reality, we were actually a fairly democratic band, Everyone had about equal input in song selection, arrangements, set lists. I did get stuck with most of the booking and agent deals, which was most unfortunate, because I am a terrible businessman. And that was a seriously long-winded departure from my initial point. There’s a reason I call this Richard’s Meanderings.
Over the lifespan of probably every band there are highs and there are lows. A couple of our lows might include: 1- The wedding we did where one of the requested songs was the old Beatles song, I Will. For some reason, long lost to me, we never sufficiently rehearsed that song and butchered it like a rump of beef. Funny. I don’t think anyone noticed. And, 2- A night the crowd was so drunk that they cheered and danced to anything, and to prove the point, during our rendition of Neil Young’s mellow Long May You Run, our lead guitar player attacked his mic stand with the neck of his Stratocaster creating some major “a-melodic” feed back and screeching sounds. I know nobody noticed that one.
But this is about the satisfying high points, one in particular. Keep in mind, we recorded many of the gigs. Amazing how sometimes we thought we were spot-on and the tape was plain horrible. Others, the opposite was true. Not sure which was the case this one particular night, but it sure felt good.
We played mostly Long Island clubs and colleges, a wedding and party, or two, ventured upstate once, and down to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital another. We were pretty popular on the Island, very much so in Farmingdale. A little club there was a joint named Whiskey Red’s, and that became the base of our following right there. Eventually, we were invited to play at a little cabin on the Campus of SUNY Farmingdale by their agricultural department. It was a Halloween Party and a great time was had by all. And that led to a few appearances at the campus’ main concert venue, The Ram’s Den.
There was this one night, and this will finally complete my opening sentence fragment 4 paragraphs above this one, where we, it would seem, were smokin’! Everything was tight, harmonies right on, lots of energy … and the substantial crowd was just loving it. Energy from the crowd feeds the energy of the band which throws back on the crowd, increasing their energy, back to the band … resulting in all-around frenzy. I think we did three sets. The show was done. I left the stage and moseyed on over to the men’s room, which was toward the rear of the room. I could hear the commotion while in there. Pandemonium! Upon exiting, I looked back toward the stage. Between my vantage point and that stage was a smoke-filled, blue [from the stage lights], haze. The sound was deafening. People were standing on chairs and tables, stomping their feel, hands high holding beer bottles, just wildly chanting, “More, More, More”! It was hard to digest. This was for US? “Rage With the Sage!” Rage With the Sage! I was in awe. Wow, this was our 15 minutes of fame – one of many, perhaps, but the high tide, for sure.
We slowly all made our way back to the stage – from various locations in the room [mostly the bar], profusely thanked this most enthusiastic bunch of college kids, and played one more sweat-soaked set of the best music we could muster. I think everyone went home that night satisfied. I know that I did! There were a lot of nights over those 7 years. I will never forget this one!