Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Doobie Brothers!

I just walked up to the commons area of Interlochen in time to hear the concert begin:  Do Do Do - Do-Do - Dooooo, Do Do Do - Do-Do - Dooooo, Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright with me....  The crowd is pouring into Kesge Hall and everyone seems amped to see a great show.  Rockin Down the Highway just started.  Awesome!

So, here I am hangin out, listening to the Doobie Brothers tear it up.  They are fantastic!

I have two overarching memories of the Doobie Brothers from my childhood that I will share real quickly.  One involves "China Grove" and the other, "What a Food Believes."

The year was 1978.  I was in 7th grade at Indian (PA) Junior High.  I loved being in junior high and was working hard to  figure out  the social situation in a junior high.  I was a good musician, a good student, and a mediocre athlete.  I didn't dress in the latest fashions, but had a knack for getting by with a few well placed labels and fashion items: a clear plastic belt, one pair of Levis, a pair of Nikes, and occasionally a jean jacket  (not Levis).  I only remember a couple of teachers and classes with any clarity.  English was my favorite.  Mr. Petro, my English teacher was really cool.  He gave interesting assignments and seemed to like me.  He inspired my creativity in all the right ways.  Mr. Shadel was the band director.   He was all band director.  And, while I was a violinist, I played percussion in the band and really enjoyed it.  I learned a great deal about adolescence in band.  Back there in the percussion section, there was much to learn - and not really having anything to do with music most of the time.  Finally, I remember Art class and Ms. Olsen.  She was very cool.  She always played the radio while we worked on assignments.    I was a horrible visual artist, but it was so fun to listen to great tunes on the radio, tell stories, laugh, and generally have a great time.  The tune that I remember hearing all of the time in that class was "What a Fool Believes."  Michael McDonald's amazing voice was intoxicating.  I couldn't get enough of it.  That song must have come on the radio every single day of 1978 during my art class.  I think of that class every time I hear it to this day.

China Grove was released in 1973, but I was first introduced to it in 1979 or so.  I was playing in one of my first bands, and had to learn a lot of  music on bass in a short time.  China Grove was one of the tunes.  Our singer, Ricky, and our guitarist, Joe, really already knew the tune and they wanted the rest of us to get it down quickly.  It was perfect for Ricky's  voice and Joe could tear it  up on guitar.   It quickly became our best tune and we played it at every show.    We even got to play it  as part of a warm up act for the Iron City House Rockers and the Silencers, a couple of regional bands from Pittsburgh that had a little bit  of chart success in those years.  What a blast!!  I think of that show every time I hear China Grove: the lights, the sound of the crowd, the feeling.  It was something I wanted to experience for the rest of my life.  Fortunately, as a musician, I have had that feeling many more times in my life.  I am truly blessed to make music for a living!

There are definitely memories from other Doobies songs, but those two are the biggies.  So, for now, I am going to hang out  and enjoy the show.  They sound great.


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