Jammin' With The Beach Boys' Band
Jammin' With The Beach Boys Band
Jammin' With The Beach Boys' Band
Jammin' With The Beach Boys' band
by Chuck RitenouR
I wasn't sure I wanted to go. I usually avoid these kind of things, but I was invited to a "invitation only" jam session with members of the world famous Beach Boys and members of their road band. The event was being held at Sweet Caroline's, a very nice, upscale night spot in Winchester, Virginia. I have been a close friend of their sound tech, John Bracken for many years. The Beach Boys were playing a concert in Winchester the following day. John had made arrangements with the club owner. John invited musician friends that he knew could hold their own in such lofty company. I felt honored to be included, but was a bit leary of being in a room with so many monster egos. I have been accused in the past of acting as if I was above jamming. The truth is I don't really enjoy playing unrehearsed shows.
Everyone in my band had been invited. Only one member, Paul was not going to be able to make it. Paul Moschetto is working on his Masters Degree while teaching autistic grade school children in the Frederick County school system. Playing during the week is usually a trio effort with Big Ed Reedy, Ralph Fortune and myself. I could tell they really wanted to "make the scene". So at the last minute, I agreed to go.
I arrived at around 9 pm. The stage set up was still in progress. I went to the bar and ordered a cup of black coffee. I thought I was going to need a little help keeping my energy level up. The young female bartender asked to see my identification. As you might imagine, I was very amused. Without my usual smart ass remark, I handed her my driver's license which proved I was 57 years old. The club was already packed and looked like a who's who of Shenandoah Valley musicians. John came up briefly and thanked me for coming and then went back to the stage to finish. Another reason, I seldom go to these events is the lack of bass guitarists. I saw only one other bass player in the room. Dean Smith is the bass guitarist for Eyesoar and it was Eysoar's equipment being used tonight.
The room was filled with electricity. The non musicians who had just dropped by for a drink were all wearing puzzled looks. The jam session had not been advertised. So for a very lucky few, it was going to be something never witnessed, especially since it was free.
Around 9:30 pm, Eyesoar took the stage. Eyesoar did a blazing rendition of a Rollingstones' song. Dewey Vaughan, their lead vocalist starting calling my name. "Chuck RitenouR, Chuck RitenouR of NODRAMA, Chuck come up and sing harmony with us on this song" he said. All eyes were on me as I got up on stage by a undesignated microphone. The song was "Up On Cripple Creek" by the Band and we nailed it. After the song, I left the stage. Suddenly, I was surrounded "friends" I hadn't seen in quite sometime. Most were guitarists and needed a bass player. I felt a bit overwhelmed.
After Eyesoar finished, my bandmates and I went on. Ralph and Big Ed and I were joined on stage by a local guitar legend, Phil "Fly" Zuckerman and keyboardist, Donnie Walton of the Texas Chainsaw Horns. We started with "Flip, Flap. Fly", a blues swing number by Big Joe Turner. Our version features solos by everyone on stage as well as a capella vocals. The crowd roared their approval. Phil and Donnie are both excellent players and can follow anyone. Our next song was "Lovin' In Vain", an original Chuck RitenouR composition. The song went better than I expected. Phil and Donnie both played blistering solos. We played a few Hendrix covers then turned the stage over to members of the Beach Boys.
Scott Totten played lead guitar and sang. Scott is about five foot six inches tall and has medium length light brown hair. Randall Kirsch played bass guitar at this point and also sang though at times his microphone stand slipped down to his knee causing a great deal of laughter. Randall is thin and very tall. John Cowsill played drums and sang. John had been a member of the Cowsills, a seventies pop band. He had medium length dark hair and very little body fat. Christian Love, son of Beach Boy, Mike Love played guitar and sang. He was also thin and about five foot eight inches tall. They had a very excellent keyboardist, Tim Bonhomme who shared keyboard duties and at times keyboards with Donnie Walton. They played classic rock covers and a few of Christian Love's original songs.
Soon other guitar players and drummers began taking the stage and playing with different combinations of the Beach Boys band. A young blues guitarist, Paul Pfau played "Red House". At the end of the song, he and Scott Totten traded guitar licks. This went on for about two minutes prompting John Cowsill to say "ladies, ladies the song is officially over!" If Paul and Scott had been gun slingers, you couldn't have lived on the difference.
Later that evening and after many fine players had jammed with these great players, I was once again called to the stage. Beach Boy, Bruce Johnson was going to do a song and I was needed to play bass guitar. At this time, Randall Kirsch was playing guitar and apparently wanted me to do the bass guitar honors. I strapped on the bass and we played "Do You Wanna Dance", one of my very favorite Beach Boy tunes.
Well, needless to say, I was all in. The coffee had worn off. I stuck around for another 3o minutes. Just before I left, I heard Donnie Walton say, "Its time to open another can of guitar players." That was just too damned funny. On that note, Chuck RitenouR left the building. While driving home, I thought about those days when I was a 13 year old kid listening to the Beach Boys on my transistor radio and dreaming of the day when it would be me. In the music business, there are many peaks and valleys. This was a peak.