“Put out the spotlights one and all. And let the feeling get down to your soul.
The music’s so loud you can hear the sound. Reaching for the sky, churning up the ground. It’s all part of my rock ‘n’ roll fantasy. It’s all part of my rock ‘n’ roll dream.”
~ Paul Rodgers (Bad Company)
I don’t think there’s a better set of words to describe my experience these last four days. A surreality from day one that culminated in a euphoric explosion of emotion when our band performed on stage at the legendary Whisky A Go Go.
My last day at Rock Camp was similar to the three previous days. Upon our arrival, Bobby, Craig, Tom, Rik and I immediately dove in and polished up our Night Ranger song, “When You Close Your Eyes”. After three or four passes, including a few without vocals, I was confident we were ready. That is, until we entered the jam room with Jack Blades, Brad Gillis and Kelly Keagy.
As the sound tech is hooking up my guitar, I see Brad walk over and point me out.
“Who’s doing the guitar solo — you?”
A tidal wave of fear swept over me, and at that moment I was extremely grateful to have used the bathroom before we walked into the rehearsal room. Our plan was always to let Brad do the solo. None of us had even bothered to learn it. Thankfully, Brad obliged.
As a guitarist, it’s one thing to hear Brad perform on the records, but when he’s standing right next to you — on stage — and you can fully immerse yourself in his savage virtuosity, it’s mind blowing.
Shortly after our final rehearsal, the buses arrived and took us all over to The Whisky.
To try to put into words the feeling of walking into that venue with a guitar in your hand is nearly impossible. I found myself thinking about all the other bands who did the exact same thing — Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Van-Halen, AC/DC, Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses. Then to stand on those hallowed steps as the time came to have your name introduced over the PA — MAGIC.
Our performance was incredible and I credit it all to our amazing counselor, Craig Goldy, and his confidence in us. We had an opportunity to get a keyboard player perform with us at the last minute and Craig nixed it. He wanted Tom and I to be able to transpose those keyboard parts on guitar, and we did.
One of the things Craig kept saying to us during our short time together, and something I’ll take with me always, was this:
“You’re better than you think you are.”
To get to share the stage with Craig during our final performance was just as good as standing there with the guys from Night Ranger.
Finally, the time had come for our performance with Jack, Brad and Kelly. As a fan of this band since their days as Rubicon, and getting to double the guitar intro to “When You Close Your Eyes” with Brad was life changing.
After our performance, I stood upstairs just soaking in the vibe. It was a roller coaster ride of musical emotion. Of course there were flubs, and for a moment, I thought about what it might have been like if we had an entire week to rehearse. But in the end, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We were five strangers who had to learn three songs in four days and bring them to performance level– and we DID it!
As the time came to say goodbye, I embraced Bobby and Rik. As an East Coast dude, I already knew our chances of performing together again was nil. But this band and experience will stay with me long after the music ends.
Sadly, in the confusion of the evening, I didn’t have the chance to properly say goodbye to Tom and Craig, who had slipped out of sight and into the cool Hollywood night.
“Maybe that’s the way it was always meant to be,” I thought to myself as I stood on the corner of Sunset Blvd outside of The Whisky.
That’s a true rock and roll ending.