Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Help Me -- Lamont Cranston Band

One night back in the day, my buddy Jerry and I decided to hang out at one of the premiere places to see live music in the Twin Cities.  It was a place called The Cabooze.  The Cabooze was a local biker bar that also showcased some pretty big musical acts.  James Brown played there, Tower Of Power played there and all the major Blues acts from Chicago played there--Junior Wells, Lil’ Ed, Albert Collins, James Cotton and Willie Dixon.

Jerry and I were pretty familiar with the usual suspects at The Cabooze.  The bartender lived up the street from me as a child and one of the bouncers was a fraternity brother of ours named Alexei.  Alexei was a smart fellow majoring in some science field.  But he was also a macho son-of-a-bitch who worked out a lot.  Him and his weight lifting buddies would attend our frat parties and for shit and giggles they used to punch each other in the stomach as hard as they could.

Anyway, on this particular night, there was some kind of “Blues Night” going on featuring a handful of local Blues bands.  I recall that the good vibe was missing that night.  The anticipated big crowd didn’t materialize, the bands didn’t have any zest and the general feeling was one of unrelieved boredom.  My frat brother Alexei must have recruited one of his gym rat buddies to help him bounce at The Cabooze that night.  Jerry and I had never seen him before.  This guy was like a tall, blonde Clark Kent, mild mannered looking guy with glasses.  He looked like a rookie. 

We didn’t pay too much mind to him until suddenly there was a skirmish.  The big blonde Clark Kent guy was trying to physically remove this little guy from the bar.  The little guy must have been terrified that he was going to get his ass kicked because he wrestled with this huge 6-foot-4, 225 pound bouncer like a little badger.  He ripped the bouncers t-shirt, wriggled away and sprinted out the door.  Everyone just watched the whole scene in awe and then before we knew it, it was all over.

Despite the bad vibe, the skirmish and the not so great music, Jerry and I stayed a while longer.  However, business was slow and they decided to close the place down early.  Jerry and I walked towards this exit that lead next door to another bar connected to The Cabooze called The Joint.  This was the exit we almost always took to exit The Cabooze.  For some reason, this time they wouldn’t let us through.  The big blonde Clark Kent guy was guarding the door.  Jerry and I didn’t act up or anything, we just asked if we could cut through to The Joint.  He stood there in his torn t-shirt and said no.  I said we were just going to use the bathroom and leave.  He got snide and again told us no.  I didn’t like the tone he used with us.  We weren’t causing any trouble.  After ten or so drinks, the smart-ass in me came to the surface and I said, “Nice shirt” as Jerry and I walked away.

Clark did not find this remark amusing.  He started marching right on our asses.  Jerry and I looked over our shoulders and tried not to be intimated.  But Clark was pissed and not ready to take mess from anybody.  Jerry and I didn’t run out the door, but we sure picked up our pace and got he hell out of there.

Anyway, the music connection...

In honor of the great blues scene that existed in The Twin Cities back in those days, I pay honor to Twin Cities Blues legends Pat Hayes and The Lamont Cranston Band.  For those of you unfamiliar with these guys, they had a song hit the Billboard Top 100 back in the early 80's called "Upper Mississippi Shakedown."  Pat Hayes was one of those guys born to entertain others.  He was, and probably still is, an amazing harmonica player and a better than average lead guitar player.  He also has a good set of pipes for singing too.  These guys toured with The Stones and Bonnie Raitt.  Allegedly, Dan Aykroyd is a fan and has these guys play and every opening of a new House of Blues.

Most importantly, however, Lamont Cranston also played at my buddy Jack's wedding reception.  And it was a good gig.

Here they are resplendent in horrible early 80's garb, The Lamont Cranston Band.

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