Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Loved Ones: Early 90's R&B Oakland-based band

Valentines Day 2006: to hell with romance, needy women and missed connections. I ventured out on another soul journey. I drove my ass down to Albany for another unbelievably good performance by the Loved Ones at the Ivy Room. Perched on my knees on a bar stool, I witnessed the power once again of incredible musicians doing their thing.

What's the significance? In 1992, I began playing blues guitar in earnest. That led to a serious pursuit of blues masters and my first 'study' of a music genre. Playing out was hard for me, so I went to as many shows as I could to see what I could learn from others. One night in the fall of 1993, I soloed out for a live music mision to La Salles, which often had live music. Up steps this band with a very cool mod influenced aesthetic. Thirty seconds into the show I knew I was seeing something special. At the break, I went up and talked to them. Xan played an old Harmony semi-hollow body guitar that sounded just incredible.[He told me last night he traded it in to get a Telecaster but wished he wouldn't have]. A Harmony acoustic was my main guitar at that time. He had forgotten his ID and was forced to spend non performance time in the van. I hung out with him out there.

They were on tour for their new album of mostly originals called The Price For Love. After the show I hung out and rode in their stinky van a few blocks away to a friend's house where they were staying. Xan drove and the cassette deck was playing a 'how to' tape for blues harmonica. In the back John Kent, Mike Therieau, and Bart Davenport were riding along.

Once inside, we drank some beers and someone put on some Buddy Guy. Xan replayed a part of the solo for a live version ofThe First Time I Met The Blues. Specifically, track 11 on The Very Best of Buddy Guy at 3:15. It's a string jumping descending run. He commented on how great it was and it may be the first time I heard someone say "from outer space." I had heard exactly the same moment the same way some time before. Here was Xan talking about and was able to play it. In retrospect, this moment changed my life. I hope they wouldn't think it creepy for me to say that. It's just that I learned something about myself that I should've kept in better touch with. I think it meant simply that I was on the right track.

As will happen with late nights after a show, they have to end. The boys were heading out for Portland in the morning. I walked home smiling all the way and knew that I was stirred. These guys were like performing, mature versions of what I wanted to be but felt strongly that I never could be. I should have listened to my soul, maybe I did.

Their first album is a masterpiece. It has been part of nearly every road trip I have ever taken. Once I moved to the Bay Area in 1997, I looked up those guys and found that they recorded one more album and disbanded. Xan McCurdy went on to play with Cake. Bart did several other projects and is still an active musician. John Kent and Mike Therieau joined Dave Gleason to form Wasted Days.

Too many things in my life are like this. I am so thankful for it. Some time after joined Hellbound Glory, Leroy had arranged to have Dave Gleason come up for a show late October. I had not heard of him and looked it up. To my uncontrollable excitement, I realized the connection. I immediately looked up Bart and wrote an email. A random thing to do, and he indicated that he was not part of Wasted Days, but Mike and John were (I had misread something). They came up, had a good time and it was great to see that caliber of musicians again. Gleason repaid the favor and booked us for the Ivy Room on 2/11. I checked the Ivy Room calendar to make sure we were on it in late January. To my amazement, what? A Valentine's Day Loved Ones reunion.

I drove 3 hours to see the show. I wore my Beatle's suit coat. I had a great time. I can't believe they hadn't played together in over a decade. The band did great, Bart's harmonica playing was inspired, and the show was something I am glad to have seen. Another special night.

I left immediately after the show but hit snow in Truckee. Chains required. I slept in the back seat at the park for an hour and drove home the rest of the way at 4:30 this morning. I would absolutely do it again and then some.

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