Beside Jimi Hendrix’s quote (which is the title of this piece), I always thought Bob Marley sang it best when he stated “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
That’s why we do crazy things like drive 1 1/2 hours through a torrential rain storm just to spend a few hours soaking up tunes and witnessing the creation of magic. That’s exactly what we did on Saturday, after working a morning overtime shift, Kim and I hopped in the car and headed west to lovely Blairstown NJ to catch the second night of the East Coast debut of The Contribution.
Yes, I was excited about going to Blairstown because it’s the location of the “town” scenes in the original Friday the 13th … and yes, I got my photo taken by the arches that Robbi Morgan walks through, but I was even more excited to see The Contribution. Tim Carbone, Phil Ferlino, Matt Butler, Keith Mobsey and Jeff Miller together on stage in an amazing ensemble of master musicians.
But sadly… I left my gear at home. Never being to the theater, I wasn’t sure of their policy, and in hindsight I was glad I did. Not just because of the awkward layout of the place (remember this is a real theater, but also because the one photog that was there was bordering on embarrassing. After seeing her lie down on stage, I was ready for her to stand up on the bar to get shots. She must have been with the band, or they didn’t mind, but it’s that kind of total unprofessional attitude that gives us concert photographers a bad name. I will note though that there were at least two other guys with SLRs who managed to stay out of the way and hidden.
Anyway… as the band played, my mind drifted back a few months and only a few miles away to The Sherman. Ahh, the Sherman theater. As readers of my blog will know, the Thanksgiving Railroad Earth shows are pretty much the most important part of my musical year. This year the boys raged in style, taking over the whole town and providing before and after entertainment in the local bars. It was like a good appetizer and desert, but as always, it’s the main course that counts. Once again, Railroad Earth brought their best game, and burned the place down. Knowing the Sherman was very camera friendly, and also knowing I wasn’t going to lie on stage or stand on the bar, I came back with some quality stuff.
I also managed to get autographs from the whole band on photos I had taken of them, to add to my collection.
So we drove back from an incredible night with The Contribution, with an awesome autographed CD, under thankfully clear skies. You know what I think is the one good thing about music? Just when you think you’ve heard it all… it’s time for another show.
Here’s some of the shots of Railroad Earth November 2012, the rest can be seen here
With a mighty “Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa” the silence is broken. Finally… after what seems like a year of waiting (ok, it’s only be 8 months) Railroad Earth has announced the 2011 Thanksgiving shows.
My regular blog readers know how important these shows are in my life. (Here) It’s pretty much the high point of my year. Driving away from the Sherman on Sunday morning, Kim will begin the countdown until the next year.
Well this year Railroad Earth is doing it in style. With hotel room deals, pre and post show parties, they’re turning the quiet hamlet of Stroudsburg PA into Railroad Earth central. It’s being called The Horn O’Plenty Getaway. It’s going to be an awesome time, Kim and I can’t wait. Railroad Earth is an amazing band, the music will be amazing, our best friends will be there … and as always Bob will guide us from above, and dance next to us in the shadows of the Sherman. Join us this year…
Here are a few from last year’s shows… even more can be found one my site… here
Lots more Railroad Earth images from the past few years are on my site here
As the miles rolled under the tires and we got closer and closer, the grip around my throat got tighter. What was looming ahead of us was as big as the great outdoors and despite the fact I was driving like a low flying rocket, part of me wasn’t looking forward to reaching my destination. I tried to vocize it, and all I could manage to get out was “it sucks he won’t be there”.
Thanksgiving weekend in Stroudsburg PA could only mean one thing – Railroad Earth. The band grew out of this area and every year they come off whatever tour they’re doing, they come home. I’ve been seeing them since 2005 in the Sherman Theater, a beautiful old theater and pretty much the only venue in this isolated place in the northeast.
Every show at the Sherman has been with Bob, and in fact he looked forward to this yearly celebration in his own backyard. He’d start bugging me about it by August.
Last year Bob slipped after 9 years of sobriety and the methadone he shot stopped his heart and dropped him dead on the floor of his house, walking distance from the Sherman. It was the biggest heart I’ve ever known and his end was tragic and stupid.
His death haunted me the whole year. Its been an eventful year, to say the least, and not having Bob there for counsel has been rough. Around the summer I announced to anyone who would listen that I was going to the RRE Thanksgiving shows even if I had to walk there. Now I was going, and with every exit sign I passed I contemplated turning around.
Then Kim mentioned the sky.
Being an afternoon in late fall the sun had begun setting. It found holes in the clouds and it’s rays shot out and filled the sky with really trippy patterns. Soon the clouds on the horizon parted and the half the sky became as bright as day as the rest turned dark as night. As we drove along the clouds in the sky thinned out and long purple streaks filled the sky. I laughed because I knew it was Bob. I pictured him playing with the big dials that controlled the sun and clouds with that big goofy grin he always had when he was up to no good. As we crossed the Delaware river the sun slipped below the horizon.
Yes, Railroad Earth blew the roof off the place. Friday night they burned the place down and then on Saturday they rebuilt it only to burn it down again. Bob would have loved the shows. I had my camera, found a nice spot at the foot of the stage and shot away. Friends surrounded me, and it was so good to see them again. Over dinner before handed we toasted Bob and then danced our asses off, even Kim, who was right in the thick of it for both nights.
I have a lot of “internet friends” who I’ve met over the years, most Bob met as well, but he always had one up on me. Well she was there Saturday night, to my surprise. Haha Bob. She gave me such a great hug too.
I came away feeling, for lack of a better word, healed. The music washed over me, and when they played “Seven Story Mountain” the words really dug into me.
“Its a seven story mountain
Its a long long life ahead
Got to find a light to fill my heart again.”
That’s when I felt Bob slap me across the back of the head again.
Yes he’s gone and I’m gonna miss him until the day we meet again, but that’s not gonna be for awhile. In the meantime he’s gonna be pulling some strings to get me amazing skies and mind blowing shows. Its not about what I’ve lost, but about what I have and about all I have yet to receive.
Like next Thanksgivings RRE shows at The Sherman…