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Shinn the Musician (Prior)
Last update: December 5, 2022
Damn Neighbors Rides Again
Was it really going to happen? Damn Neighbors actually getting together? Just for an afternoon, mind you, not for a gig, but we’d made plans. It’s would be less for the music and more for the friendships that we’ll be dusting off the old songs, not to mention the old skills, and perhaps trying a couple of new ones. Yeah, this is the same band whose PA I just disposed of because nobody wanted to store it. The band I couldn’t get a commitment from to practice even as much as once a month. The most frustrating band to be in ever. I was so happy when I discovered Craigslist and found that I could move on to better things, though the friendships of this group (many of which began long before the band) remain strong to this day.
It was less than two months ago that I triumphantly wrote of the demise of Damn Neighbors. I’d gotten rid of what remained of their PA system, figuring this would not only free up some needed space in my garage, but also prevent the old band from ever getting together again. I ended that essay “May we rest in peace.” We didn’t.
It all started when I recently watched the 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions. Among the inductees was the Eurythmics. Among the songs they performed was “Would I Lie to You.” This song has special meaning to me, because it was the first song I played with Pam when she joined Damn Neighbors. I’d never played the song before, but kinda sorta knew how it went and cobbled together the iconic intro riff on the spot, all four notes of it. I suspect we were all hoping for mediocrity, given some of the other singer wannabes who’d dropped by. Even Clance, our other guitarist who had invited her over had never actually heard her sing.
Pam’s voice was beyond mediocre, left good in the dust, and went straight to “damn, why would she ever want to sing with us?” With her addition we actually became a reasonable band. Sadly, there were too many careers and families, and not enough motivation to allow us to practice enough to get good. Eventually, Pam and her husband moved out of state and that was the end of that, though we all remained on good terms. Pam and I became “Facebook Friends” contacting each other from time to time. Damn Neighbors continued by hiring a rent-a-singer for our gigs which were few and far between anyway.
When I saw the Eurythmics, I decided I had to contact Pam about it, which led to a series of emails in which Pam and I reminisced about our band. She mentioned that her favorite song was Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” I didn’t remember that we’d ever done that song and told her so. I couldn’t imagine it as a Damn Neighbors song since it was principally a duet. In the end I sent an email to the band asking if we’d indeed ever done it. Two of them got back immediately, recalling that indeed we actually did play Landslide, one even recalling a specific gig where we played it.
As it turned out, I still had the set list, and there it was. Pam and I may have simply performed it as a duet rather than all six of us doing the song as a band, but I’m not sure. Either way, egg on my face. But as it turned out, this started another chain of emails which led to plans to, you guessed it, get the band back together. Yup, Damn Neighbors rides again. Though I’d gotten rid of our old PA, bass Player Mac said he had a small one. We even put together a list of songs we figured we could pull off.
Our drummer, Schultzie (with two Jims in the band we don’t call either by their first name, opting for Clance and Schultzie, variations of their last names) prefers to play guitar, and hadn’t touched his drums since pre-Covid times. We’ve gotten together several times, often with Clance and once with Mac, but these have always been acoustic oriented sessions, and this was definitely set to be an electric, rock and roll jam. I came in with exceedingly low expectations, at least musically. Pam, of course, wouldn’t be joining us this time, still living out of state. She expressed interest in a planned reunion, though.
I should have had selfish motives for wanting to get together again. Two of the songs (Wild Nights and Moon Dance) feature sax in their Van Morrison iterations. Had I kept up with sax I’d
Little details ~ A harmonica and a power cord left behind for the Damn Neighbors reunion. Better luck next time, whenever that may be.
break it out with confidence, but I let it slide and struggle with basic scales at this point. Damn! I’m starting to play it from time to time again, though, and may be ready for some later opportunity. For now, I planned on just guitar and harmonica.
On Saturday, even after I arrived at Dan’s, I only gave this gathering about a 50% chance of actually happening. Mac would be returning from Hawaii and my guess was that he’d want to have a day off to recoup from the flight, cancelling at the last minute. But sure enough, three hours after he’d arrived home from the airport, we had a bass player and PA. I was the one who nearly ruined the party, having missed packing a power cable for my amp AND forgetting my harmonica. Fortunately, Dan had a small practice amp that performed remarkably well, and we only had one harmonica song.
Early on, we had to reach a momentous decision, whether to open the garage door to let (force) Dan’s real neighbors hear us. It was only briefly that we opened the garage door before deciding it was simply too cold, and down it went again. Good thing as far as I was concerned. My fingers were having trouble keeping up with what my brain wanted them to play.
All in all, it was just good fun. As the saying goes, we had low expectations, and we met them, laughing at our many clams (a musician’s term for a very noticeable mistake). On a hunch, I’d brought my flute and played it on two songs which added to my enjoyment of the occasion. I’d kept up on the instrument during Covid enough to contribute, though I would have preferred sax. We all showed rust, but actually played better than I had anticipated. Schultzie had a hard time especially on the faster songs, since drums require much more physical stamina than the other instruments. Dan and I sang the songs but had to refer to lyric sheets more than we would have liked. Clance had a hard time remembering chords, and I had a big reminder that rock and roll lead guitar is way different from the stuff I play on my porch. Fortunately, Mac had been playing quite a bit and, though he had to be playing on autopilot after his trip back from Hawaii, never seemed to miss a thing. And a good bass player can hold a band together, even after four years.
Hopefully it won’t be another four. Maybe next time we’ll remember to play Landslide.