If I Had Any Doubts That I Am Now Officially Old, Saturday Night Erased All Of Them

Above: it’s me who sings on Saturday evenings (I sing in lead on some songs and in backup on the rest). Dig my t-shirt with the insignia of the Royal British Airforce. I had a cool jacket that I was going to wear, but it was in my car, and it started to rain, and old people don’t do well to run in the rain, so…

When I was barely 16, I played in my first rock band. The group was called “Phoenix,” and I was the drummer. The vocalist (James Aparo) and I were the two youngsters in the band (we were just high school juniors, while bassist Tim, keyboardist Tayloe, and lead guitarist Tony were all seniors). They were also very accomplished musicians for their age which meant that James and I received a constant stream of sympathetic disdain at the fact that they had to put up with us with two lowly uncool juniors in the band, which I have to imagine was unbearable for them (LOL!).

Above: It’s Joe (our vocalist, and a really cool guy), me (looking pretty serious), Tony our lead guitarist and Tim the bassist on the far right. Photo by the wonderful (and super kind to come and take pictures), Larry Becker.

Anyway, every five years we all get together to play our high school reunion, minus our lead singer James for the past few years – he’s a star in his own right, still playing gigs, and he’s got penned Faith Hill’s Grammy-winning mega-hit “Cry.” – her stage name is Angie Aparo. Yet back in school he was just “James” to us or “hey kid” to seniors). Well, that Saturday night was our 45th reunion, and we got to play again for the big Saturday night party (it was a huge senior class from a huge high school).

From L to R: Tayloe Harding on keyboards, “Big Dog” on percussion, Joe Mathien on vocals, Me, Tony McMahon on lead guitar, Tim Colton on bass and Dean Erskine on rhythm guitar and banjo.
Above: I look like I’m mad at my mic, but really, I just want those damn kids off my lawn!

This is “not my meeting”

When I tell my wife it’s time to play that gig again; she quickly reminds me that it’s actually NOT my reunion – it’s really the other guys in the band reunion. I graduated the following year (remember, I was just a junior), so my wife refers to it, lovingly, mind you, as the “Not My Reunion” concert. However, at the reunion last Saturday night, I realized that I am now officially old (that’s me below, Saturday night between sets, not looking as old as I am on the not realize that I am).

Above: The calm before the storm. Taken right after our first set. I was barely sweating because I was mostly napping.

We rehearsed on Friday at the local college music building, then prepared for our sound check and concert on Saturday. It was so great to see these guys again, to catch up and a real treat to play with them (plus they don’t treat me like a high school kid anymore which is a big plus). We mostly play the same songs we did back then (Doobie Brothers, Bad Company, Chicago, Lynyrd Skynrd, The Eagles, Steely Dan, Santana, ZZ Top, Grand Funk and even a KISS song). We laughed a lot along the way, but we take the gig pretty seriously, and the crowd at the reunion is really great to play. They’re dancing, they’re cheering and clapping for a band, it’s a really fun night (and yes, someone is still shouting, still in the crowd, “Freebird!”, and yes, we ended the night with it).

Above: Here’s a view of my drum kit before the gig (actually it’s my son’s kit – he let me borrow it for the gig). The mat is there in case I need a nap.

That’s when it hit me…

Most of the people attending this event are around 63 years old (much older than me. Stop smiling), anyway, between sets the official reunion MC is on the mic making various announcements and giving out prizes, then in a moment I’ll never forget, the MC asks the crowd (and I’m not making this up):

“If you’ve had a hip replacement or surgically replaced joints, take the stage to be recognized.”

That. To the right. The. If I ever needed proof that I’m officially old, I now play gigs where the MC asks you if you’ve had hip or joint replacement to come in and be recognized, and that’s not is not even my meeting. Mine is next year. What happened to me? It all happened so fast. Anyway, of course, about 30 or 40 people came on stage, and he asked that we give them all a big round of applause. Maybe we were cheering that they could get on stage. I don’t know, everything was a blur at the time, and all I could think of was that it was probably such a solid sign that I’m going to figure it’s time for me to get it over with with that and finally join AARP.

OK, it’s time for five years of flashbacks

OK, that’s me, same venue, same gig, but five years ago, and look at the huge kit I play – double bass drums, loads of cymbals, two-stage toms, etc. Now look at this year’s photo: a bass drum, a floor tom and a good amount of cymbals. Holy shit, I’m getting old. Next time I’ll probably stick with a tom, maybe a snare drum and a small cymbal. Or just a washboard.

Let’s go back even further

Yup – that’s me with the gloves and the bolo tie with strings, late 80s. My wife Kalebra is in the center (we’ve been married for 33 years this year). That Tony Llanes (from my current band on the far left – I still play with this Tony after all these years – if you’ve heard my band at Photoshop World parties, you’ve seen Tony play. Far right is Scotty, my drummer, and you’ve probably seen him play Photoshop World, too. Both of them are super talented musicians, and both are like brothers to me. Finally, it’s Jackie Green in the white jacket. One hell of a bassist and vocalist.

What the heck – let’s go back even further

It’s the band “Strut” from 1980 (slogan: “Shake your butt to Strut!”). Hey, five points to the photographer at the time for using a fog machine. Anyway, we were more of a disco/funk band, and that’s me in the red shirt with the white “I’m the keyboard player” tie. Yeah it is Tony Llanes still on the far left, who hired me to play keyboards in Strut when I was barely 20. Behind him (and me) is Dennis Mones (absolutely amazing drummer); to my right is percussionist Nicky Noyes, singer Betts Johnston and bassist Ray Villadonga. Of course, they were all much better than me, but I learned so much being in this band – about music, business and life. Obviously, I haven’t learned anything about how to dress.

Anyway, thanks for coming on this journey of discovery that I am, now, officially old as a dinosaur. If you plan to post a comment along the lines of “You’re only the age you feel,” just know that at that time, I felt pretty damn old (but I rocked it anyway!). LOL!!!

I wish you a “throw your walker and dance” a little on Monday! 🙂

Certified Old Guy / Aging Rocker

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