Wildwood Daze – Spring of 1980 – The Union Jacks – Part 2

Look at Chaz in his black outfit, with his ’79 Black Ibanez Iceman, rocking out for the kids. Baby steps.

 

We get our first gig at Margaret Mace Elementary and Middle School. We’re going to play for the kids in middle school. 12, 13, 14 year old kids.

Jim went to this school, and knows the faculty. He was good student, but my dear friend is an older man in high school now. He’s in Wildwood High now with me and Mark the bassist.

Incidentally I will add this side note. My Uncle Jack was valedictorian from the first graduating class of Margaret Mace. My father told me he never cracked a book. Just a brilliant charming dude.

Love him forever.

I wish I were his son. Just neglect me and let me play rock and be in the music industry.

I think family genetics get mixed up but great creativity came from pain and oppression so I’m fine with where I came from.

All the best art comes from the oppressed. Under Jack I may have just ended up a privileged asshole so I’m fine with where my soul landed.

I’m terrified to do our first show. But it’s a bunch of young kids in an auditorium. I can’t eat before the show for fear of throwing up. No one in the band knows about my severe anxiety problem.

They’re ready to rock these kids and take this band for a test drive.

I’m terrified, but we’ve rehearsed everything and have our whole set list ready. Brian would write out the set list and tape it to the floor in front of every one of us so we knew what was going to happen. I always felt comfort in that, so thank you Bri.

If I just could get through the first song I’d be fine. We got this. We always opened with Freeway Jam, I think by Jeff Beck. It was just a cool song we could run licks on and warm up to get the audience going.

It’s funny because almost every blues act does the same thing. They come out and jam for a bit and then get into their real shit with singing and hits. We did the same thing as a fledgling band automatically. It just worked for us so we could warm up and get to the songs.

We hit our groove, and Brian is always the constant professional showman we need to carry us forth.

He’s just great. He is clearly the leader of this band and we let him have the reigns. He carries us through our show with tight drumming and great vocals and showmanship.

Brian is clearly the leader of this band, but he can’t do it without me, the creative songwriter, cute, rock star one, Jim, the sizzling lead guitarist, and Mark, his flexible tone deaf puppet, carrying the rhythm.

It’s Brian’s band and it’s always been Brian’s band, but today he’s a little outnumbered. The audience has me and Jim rocking out on our guitars in the front.

Thats who the audience adores.

I’m just trying to hold it together and hit all of the right notes.

However, I’ve brought several guitar picks with me and I am throwing them out to the kids in the audience.

I’ve lived this exact scenario as a kid. If there was some rock band playing and I could be a part of it, I would attach myself to that in a second. I knew that even though I was playing rock at a middle school I had to go full on rock star. Because that’s what I wanted to be.

I bought tons of guitar picks before the show and threw dozens into the crowd knowing the result. The kids went crazy. Brian picked up on this and tossed drumsticks into the audience and they fought over them.

Back in 1979-1980 the song by JJ. Cale that became a hit by Eric Clapton had become a hit. It was all over the radio. It was called Cocaine.

Huge hit. We covered the song because it was wildly popular that year. People loved it.

Should we have played Cocaine to a bunch of 13-year-old kids? Probably not. We didn’t even think about it at the time. It was just a hit. But to play that for a bunch of kids in middle school, we probably should have deleted from the set list.

I can tell you that we did the chorus…. “She don’t like, She don’t like, She don’t like…..

The kids would shout: COCAINE!

We had know idea.

Union Jacks were already a dangerous band. (We were just playing what was popular on the radio. (Should we have reviewed the set list before playing in front of a bunch of kids….yea probably)

We’re nearing the end of our set. (The kids are going wild) The Vice Pincipal walks onstage and tells us we’re done.

Brand new young lead guitarist Jim and former alum literally pushed him off the stage…

“We’re not done yet.”

He launches into “My Generation” by the The Who, which to me is my favorite song Jim ever performed with our band. It just seemed so arrogant. It just seemed to embody my best friend.

We close out the show and I think maybe Jim busted up his Strat for show.

We never fucked around with our equiptment but because I spent $500 of my busboy money on my sweet guitar I always treated like my best girl. But Jim beat his Strat into the bass drum that day. It was a pot CBS Strat so I knew that bolt on neck would hold and could be fixed.

 

We promise to meet up later to review and revel.

By the end of the show I had a headache from not eating/not puking/anxiety/ I walked home and sat at the kitchen table with my mom.

“How was the show?”

“I should probably eat something.”

“PBJ rock star?”

“That would be lovely, mom. I think we did good but we may have played some songs that not everybody liked.”

“Well you have to expect that in rock and roll. You think Elvis cared?”

I knew my mom cried when Elvis died, but in that moment I knew my mom, even though she wouldn’t go to my shows, was proud of me.

She got it.

She just was so afraid of watching me fail.

I didn’t care. I was just happy I didn’t puke on stage because of my anxiety.

I did it. I made it.

Knock at the door. Mark and Brain are there.

One Bufferin and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich later…

“Hey guys. Thanks for bring my gear home.

Mark: “I feel like a fuckin roadie.”

Chaz: Welcome to real rock and roll. We just played a real gig and rocked the fuck out. I know it was to a bunch of kids, but we’ve got something here an got paid! ”

Mark: “Some kids recorded the whole concert on tape recorders.”

Chaz: ” Really? We have to hear them!”

Brian: “Yea. We have more gigs coming up.”

Chaz: “Cool man. We’re going to the top!”

Brian: “Oh, these are for you. Looks like you’re pretty popular.”

He hands me a stack of slips of paper with girls names and phone numbers on them.

IT’S STARTING….

I have finally arrived.

I read them all and can’t believe that after all of this time of being a loser this is happening now.

A bunch of 11, 12 and 13 year old girls want to meet me.

I throw them all in the wastebasket in my bedroom.

Because all of these lovelies are minors. Sadly this is something that will haunt me my entire life.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Wildwood Daze – Spring of 1980 – The Union Jacks – Part 2”

  1. Oh, how I love the “Wildwood Daze” series. So so good. I felt the joy you felt playing your first paid gig, the mark of a great writer, his/her readers feel all the emotions being written about. Can’t wait for more, Charles!

    Liked by 1 person

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