[continued from last post]
We had about an hour to get to Rockaway after leaving Record Surplus. We maneuvered over there and spotted a nearby Starbucks so we went there first for a bathroom break and drink. L.A. has more homeless population than I ever see and apparently one response to this dire social problem is the denial of a basic human need that cuts across all socioeconomic strata: the severe curtailing of public restrooms. This drives me insane as I feel that there should always be restrooms reasonably available for all humans in our so called society. Whoops, I’m ramping up. Needless to say we took advantage of the recent restroom controversy at Starbucks while still patronizing the store. I have to admit that it was the first time I’d ever been in one [I hate coffee] but the green cold drink I bought was very refreshing. Mr. Ware and I complained that we’d were not nearly hydrated to our accustomed levels but when you only have a restroom available in the occasional full service restaurant you dine in [the places we lunched at certainly didn’t offer any] apart from your lodgings, one has to cut back.
We made our way to Rockaway and helped the band to set up in the tight space in front of the rear counter. Rockaway had never held an in-store performance owing to the fact that the store was a tight “L” shaped space with no ream open room. But this was a special event. The store had been selling off Ron’s collection since December/January and we had talked to the owner before the show was to begin. He said that they had sold about 90% of the collection so far which surprised me. I had thought that it would have taken at least 18 months to research and price, but for many items, the owner said that they had no precedent to follow. Which, as a retailer, can be a precarious position to be in.
Ron had deep collections of European genres like Italian Prog that command rabid followings. I’d estimate that as much as 10% of his collection could have been high three to four figure records. I had low-balled his total collection value to have been at least a quarter of a million dollars. Ron had been seriously collecting records for almost 50 years. I’d be fascinated to know the value of how much they had sold thus far. The owner said that part of their problem was that they had obtained stock that maybe had sold once, 20 years ago at this level [holds his hand at waist level] then they priced them at this level [holds his hand at chest level] …and they just flew out of there. They had really decked out the front glass case with many Ron artifacts beyond the Decayes albums that had been there the day prior.
Since it was so tight in the store, Mr. Ware was wondering if the 88-keys he was playing would fit in the space. I told him I had Garage Band on my iPad and he could probably get by with that and it would take up a lot less space, but Cary had set up the full keyboard any way. There was no drumkit, obviously. Jim McGrath just sat on a box and played it like a bongo. Bob Gaulke sat out his rhythm guitar playing owing to the tight space, but of course, he gave an introduction to the concert, letting the assembled friends [and Sunday browsers] who Ron was and why he was significant to us all. See the video above as I hastily tried to capture the first song, “The Record Man” with that same iPad Mr. Ware no longer needed.
These Record Man Orchestra shows were brief; maybe all seven songs in 25 minutes. Ron may have enjoyed Prog, but the songs from Ron’s tribute album skewed pop; albeit of the left field sort. Here was the setlist:
- The Record Man
- Greatest Cheeseburger
- Unpopular Music
- How Can The Human Heart Occur In The Universe?
- Today’s List
- Manatees From Other Galaxies
- Doing That Scrapyard Thing [Cream cover]
I had grown to love all of these songs through the weekend’s events. I particularly loved “Unpopular Music” which really struck a chord with me. Live, the band had arranged the ending to drop the music out for an a cappella outro that was second to none. Peri Mason’s and Warren Bowman’s harmonies just slayed there. This time, when chasinvictoria and I performed “Today’s List” we ended with Run-DMC stance. Which was a tight squeeze in the cramped performance space, as seen below.
I had to say that I missed Ace Farren Ford [who played live the previous night as well as on the album itself] on “Manatees From Other Galaxies,” but the recitation of the lyric by Mark Moerman [it’s sort of like beat poetry] still packed an emotional wallop that conveyed our collective feelings about Ron and his death. And in a witty, if not downright puckish way. Then Rick Snyder made “Doing That Scrapyard Thing” his own for the finish.
My wife tells me that the Cream original leaves much to be desired. I’ll take her word on it! With this, the Record Man project and Ron-Kon II had come to its end in America. Next week Bob will be performing at two concerts in The Netherlands with the Dutch version of The Record Man Orchestra featuring all of the musicians who could not make it to Los Angeles, and they will be playing much larger venues.
Dutch luminaries like Henk Hofstede, Fay Lovsky, Marco Raaphorst, Tom America, Hans Croon, and Pieter Bon will all be participating, as they had on the disc. I have to say that if Ron only knew about this he would be coolly eating this up with a…shovel. Bob’s really put together a memorable tribute to our friend.
After we broke down the instruments, it was time to actually buy a copy of the CD that Bob had gone into hock for to bring to the world. Rockaway was selling them there and chasinvictoria, Mr. Ware and I each bought our copies. Some of Ron’s friends, around the David Ponak nexus, were retiring to some nearby pub and invited us along but I can’t remember why we didn’t go along. We headed back to our home base and got ready to wrap up this adventure.
Next: …Leavin’ On A Jet Plane