Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's Gonna Be A Long Walk Home

Nothing about real estate this time, but this is so cool, I just had to share..

Back in 1985, my friend Jim and I were 16 and on a YMCA summer camp trip that traveled up the coast of Southern California, from Orange County, where we lived, to San Fransisco and back again. On the way north, we stopped at the town of Solvang. As we did when we got to any new town, the first place we went was the local record store. It was there that Jim handed me a cassette copy of Born In The U.S.A. and said "Here. Buy this, you'll like it." I did and I've been a huge Springsteen fan since that day.

Twenty two years later, Jim now owns his own record label, Teenacide Records. He specializes in power pop and Rocket, one of his bands, can currently be seen on Fox's The Next Great American Band. Somehow, a couple of his bands caught the ear of Little Steven and now his bands regularly get picked as the Coolest Song In The World on Little Steven's Underground Garage radio show on Sirius. Little Steven has also asked his bands to play at concerts he puts on.

So my friend has a contact with one of the members of the E Street Band. And they are on tour and playing in Los Angeles. Do you see where this is going?

Monday night, we found ourselves with passes around our necks heading down to a pre-show hospitality party at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Jim, whose music industry contacts have grown beyond my ability to keep track of, introduced me to many other famous people there: Clem Burke, the drummer for Blondie, and Kim Fowley, producer extraordinaire and Jack Skellington look-alike. (Warning: When Kim Fowley is around, hide your daughters!) As we hung out waiting for Little Steven to show up, we heard some great stories from Clem. For instance, back in 1979, Blondie and Springsteen were both recording albums in the same studio in New York, Blondie working on Eat To The Beat, and Bruce on The River. During a session, Frank Infante's guitar broke. He borrowed Bruce's and so the guitar that is being played on Atomic is actually Springsteen's guitar. You heard it here first. We also heard about a rock star who shall remain nameless whose leg fell asleep and fell down while boarding an airplane. When the stewardesses pulled off his boot, white powder flew everywhere. Turns out the plastic bags of cocaine he stuffed down there broke and his skin started soaking up the drug. Luckily, the stewardesses had a supply of baggies and helped clean up the mess. I guess they really were flying the friendly skies that day!

Little Steven showed up, looking as piratey as ever, and spent some time in a meet and greet with some contest winners from his radio show. After that was done, Jim and I stopped by and said hello and got our picture taken with him. He then invited us to a post-concert dinner that was for "just a few friends" at an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills. Sweet! He asked for the latest Rocket CD and Jim said he had one in his car and would give it to him at the dinner.

The concert started shortly after that and it was incredible. I've been to dozens of Springsteen shows and this was definitely one of the best. I think only 2 slow songs were played and the whole show was a guitarfest whose energy level kept escalating. Bruce was obviously having a great time and I can only hope that when I am 58, I have one-tenth the energy he does.

We got out of the venue incredibly easily. It took us about 3 minutes to walk to our car and we were out of the parking lot in less than 1 minute after that. As a result, we were one of the first ones to show up at the restaurant. Nicole, Little Steven's assistant, was already there and greeted us. She asked how we liked the show and said that some people in other cities complained about the setlist. It was heavy on new material (he played 8 songs from the new album that night), so those fans who just want to hear old stuff were disappointed. She said New Jersey fans, believe it or not, are actually the roughest crowd. Of course, those are mostly fans who want to hear the old stuff. Personally, I like the new stuff and I don't want Bruce shows to become some nostalgia-fest.

We sat down at a table and waited, eating some bread and drinking wine. After a short time, other people started showing up. Kim Fowley was there, so we talked with him a bit more. Gary W. Tallent, the E Street Band bassist, showed up. And the last person to show up was Little Steven. We ordered dinner (I had lasagna and Jim had linguine with meatballs) and just relaxed. There was a group of TV people from the Sopranos - writers mainly, no actors. There was a writer who was reviewing the concert and, of course, Kim Fowley, Jim and myself. Only about 25 people in all. Towards the end of the evening, a fan stuck his head in the room and spotted Little Steven. The fan was drunk and said something I didn't hear to Little Steven. Kim Fowley saw what was going on and motioned to his driver, who also was a bodyguard for Jack Nicholson at one time, to be alert. I heard Little Steven tell the fan in a rather nice voice "Of course I fucking care. I said "Thank you," didn't I?" After that, the fan left and tension eased.

We asked both Gary and Nicole about the possibility of more shows in the U.S. after the European tour. They said that was the plan, but nothing was finalized yet. I told Gary they needed to stop in Arizona the next time around :-)

At around 1 AM, the night was wrapping up. The waiter was asking if anyone wanted coffee or espresso. Little Steven said "Bring one of everything for everybody!" People started leaving shortly after that and Little Steven started posing for more pictures. Kim Fowley started unbuttoning his shirt and said to Jim and me, "I've got a surprise to show Steve. Watch this." Now when a guy like Kim Fowley starts unbuttoning his shirt, you should be scared. Luckily though, we weren't treated to the sight of an old man's scrawny chest, but to a Little Steven's Underground Garage t-shirt that Fowley had on. Phew. Close call.

As we walked out, Jim gave Little Steven the Rocket CD and I shook his hand and told him it was a great show and thanked him for dinner. He said it was his pleasure.

It was a fantastic night and pretty much a dream come true. Everyone was very friendly and down to earth. There were no rock star attitudes. And the funniest moment of the evening? Seeing Little Steven put on a pair of reading glasses to sign the credit card slip.

Jim - thanks for the opportunity, my friend. We learned more from a three minute record...


Anonymous said...

Hey Shaun!

I heard about your awesome night from Jim! Hope all is well!

Alicia (C-23)

Shaun Stuart said...

Oh my god!! Lulu!!! Hi!!! Jim told me about Echo's myspace page a couple years ago - wow, has she ever changed! I asked her for your email, but she never got back to me. How are things going?? Leave me your email address in a comment here. Comments are moderated, so I'll see it, but won't publish it, so no one else will see it. Good to hear from you!!! Stay in touch!

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