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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   Denny Laine at the Bearsville Theatre
Saturday, November 9 2013
As you may recall, the playing of "Baby Blue" over the final scene of the final episode of Breaking Bad sent me on something of a nostalgic adventure down through the early years of psychedelic rock. I ended up, as I always do, at the Moody Blues, though this time I explored the subject a little deeper. Youtube and perhaps even Wikipedia had been invented since the last time I'd gone that way, so it was much easier to call up facts and even video clips of things that interested me. In the process I came up against the question of how it was that the music of the British invasion changed so radically in the mid-60s from stale faux R&B to psychedelia. We all know the answer to that question, of course: drugs. But knowing this doesn't make the transformation any less astounding. I'd find myself watching the Moody Blues performing "Go Now," their only number-one hit, and it just blew my mind that all they'd needed was two personnel changes and a few acid trips in order to start producing music like "Tuesday Afternoon."
In addition to the drugs, you can't help but wonder about the significance of those personnel changes. Could it be that the two people who left the Moody Blues in 1966 were fuddy duddy sticks in the mud who couldn't get with the trippy new program? But then I discovered that one of those two, Denny Laine, had been part of Paul McCartney's band Wings. I know it's fashionable to believe Wings was an embarrassing phase of Paul McCartney's career, but I don't think that. I think Wings was a great band, so perhaps Denny Laine wasn't as lame as history had initially suggested.
The other morning Gretchen had been reading a local newspaper (something we rarely do) and found out that "some guy" will be performing all of the Beatles' classic Abbey Road at the Bearsville Theatre. That "some guy" turned out to be a former member of the Moody Blues and Wings. "Oh, that guy!" I'd exclaimed. Denny Fucking Laine.
So tonight we'd be going to the Bearsville Theatre to see Denny Laine perform all of Abbey Road as well as a number of other songs from that period. There we'd be meeting up with Sarah the Vegan, our friend Kate, and that boyfriend of hers we've not yet met. I expected the crowd to be comprised mostly of "old fuds" (as my father might have said).
Gretchen spent the day working at the bookstore in Woodstock while I took something of a staycation, watching my various gold mining shows, drinking beers and other fun beverages, and smoking some of my special marijuana. At some point I took a bath. I don't know how it happened, but I got out of the tub only 15 minutes before I was supposed to meet Gretchen at the bookstore. Somehow I'd spent three hours soaking in the water.
As I'd predicted, it was old fogey night at the Bearsville Theatre; Gretchen might have been the youngest person there. In keeping with this demographic, the show tonight was a sit-down one. Few who are eligible for Medicare can stand and listen to a rock and roll band, even one that really rocks.
The band definitely did rock, and Denny Laine held his own as guitarist and vocalist. His bandmates were all considerably younger than him (he's now 69), and the bassist even played his bass upside down, which gave the band's appearance on the stage a Beatlesque symmetry. But I wouldn't say Denny Laine is a particularly charismatic rock star. I felt a little sorry for the guy; he has the cursed distinction of working with great musicians either before or after their classic periods. And now the thing he's cobbled together for himself is to be the authentic connection to the past for what is essentially a tribute band.
But tribute bands can be fun, particularly when you've brought some of your special marijuana and shared it with some of your friends. Denny Laine didn't stick around for all the songs, letting his lefthand bassist do the vocals for such songs as "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," tending to return dramatically just as vocals were needed for the more charismatic songs. For the benefit of those who were stoned in the audience, the band repeated that little lick at the end of "Carry That Weight" more times than I could count. It was great.
In addition to Abbey Road, Denny Laine and his band covered some Wings material, did the two most famous Badfinger songs (including "Baby Blue"), and also the song from the pinnacle of Denny Laine's career, "Go Now," which sounded every bit as dated and pre-classic live as it does on Youtube. But, damn it, it was Denny Laine's song, and I clapped enthusiastically.
I was perhaps a bit too drunk and stoned to drive home, but I did so anyway. I'm a cautious drunk driver, and the cops weren't expecting bad behavior from the attendees of a Denny Laine show.

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