Playing music for the sake of playing music is a beautiful thing, even after an artist is still recovering from a small defeat. So, Dia and I booked ourselves a gig on a Saturday night at The Electric Theater without the Jade Harbor band backing us up.
We packed our arsenal of songs and sang our hearts out for an audience of about 20-30 preoccupied students. Although we enjoyed performing, the excitement for us took place about 10 minutes after we finished when the headlining band began their foot-stomping set. A display of musical theatrics that our small town had never experienced before. Do you guys remember Limbeck? They used to be a Doghouse Records band. In my young eyes Limbeck was the real deal.
They tumbled out on stage, belligerent, sweaty, road--worn in all the right ways. They just sounded so together and smooth, like a real rock n' roll band. The lead singer even had that "thing" that all lead singers seem to possess. At that moment I stole a sidelong glance at Dia and then up at the singer on stage, secretly scheming how I could rip a few holes in her jeans without her knowing and perhaps get her to stop brushing her hair for a week or two.
Back then I would have given an arm and a leg to be able to travel in their beaten-up, 15-passenger van, heck I'd give up half my limbs to even sit shot gun around the block with all of the band members hanging their arms out the window, cigarette smoke hot-boxing our conversation. (A decade later, I feel slightly different about traveling via van and even more intense about cigarette smoke, but back when I was 17, those smelly bench seats called out to me with a vengeance!)
After Limbeck finished their set, Dia and I took our places behind the merch table, arranging a few demo cds and two horrible t-shirt designs on the folding table near the entrance of the venue. The task proved difficult because a pair of ankles clad in worn sandals kept stomping around in our very compact space. I looked up at the man hopping around on the table. His giant pirate mustache muffled his hollering, "Limbeck CDs! Two for 10!" With every hoot and yell his head dramatically swooped back and his auburn, curly-hair waved around excitedly. I didn't know if I should be concerned for his safety. He looked as though at any moment he might slip on a cd or t-shirt and fall to his doom.
Usually Dia and I, wearing a sweet little expression on our faces with a "please sir?" in a Tiny Tim voice usually does the trick when it comes to selling a cd or two at the merch table, but we didn't have a prayer to outshine this energetic salesman's techniques. Really? Running around ON the merch table? There has got to be a "fair practices" rule book for touring bands somewhere!
"Excu-, Ex-, EXCUSE me SIR!" I nudged a few people away from the merch table to attempt to bring sanity to our selling space. "Would you mind stepping off the table? I really don't think that it's fair for you to be calling attention to yourself in such a manner." He seemed to not even notice me. "Err…" bright-eyed and glowing with this bright orange aura he finally responded, "Hmm? Oh yes. You know, you guys were just… great. Just fantastic. I've done a lot of touring in my days, and I've just never seen… Just so different. I can't really explain…" "The name is Jon Cheese," he tried again reaching down his hand. I stood up on my tippy toes to shake while introducing myself and Dia.
He hopped down from the table, tumbling backward into one of the merch bins, knocking over a member of Limbeck, who didn't seem at all festered by the impact. Mr. Cheese folded his arms on his chest and leaned into the table. "I want to help you guys. I'm just a merch guy. I don't really know…much. But I want to help you. If you ever need anything. If you ever have any questions, give me a call." He handed me a ridiculous looking business card with his face drawn out in a cartoon complete with the signature wild hair do and mustache. Such curious words to hear from a complete stranger. Well, at least he had a business card. I guessed that that was something.
|Visit his website HERE|
The rest of that evening Dia and I learned a little more about Mr. Cheese and his travels with Limbeck, and although he seemed a lot to take in, being from a mysterious and faraway state like New Jersey, we both decided: we liked him.
So, I kept his card in my wallet for the next 8 months, and just like the guitar in its case under my bed, there it stayed collecting dust.