Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Micky Dolenz His Sister Coco and Their Band Rocked and Rolled The Dundalk Heritage Fair

After I had taken this shot of the sound and light booth I started to go around front and take another one showing those three guys' faces, as a historical document of themselves for them to see later; but, then I realized, knowing them Rock 'n Roll roadies/sound-light show-engineering types of guys like I do, in later years, they'd be more interested in seeing, and showing their family and friends, what mixing board and other equipment was being used than anything else.

In the photo below, I keep wondering what intimate, personal memories or feelings that the middle-aged couple holding hands were experiencing and sharing as Micky Dolenz, Coco and their band played great music. That couple had, most likely, like me, had been in their formative teenage years during the 1960s era, when The Monkees came to be a good part of our lives -- many of us back then watched The Monkees TV show every week and have enjoyed hearing their songs many, many times since. What memories/emotions would you guess they were sharing at the very moment I captured them together there on film?

Photography by David Robert Crews

Micky Dolenz along with his sister Coco and their kick-ass band rocked and rolled the Dundalk Heritage Fair on Sunday July 5, 2009. I watched most of the show from the front row, and I can tell you, emphatically, that Micky, Coco and the band were having a fantastic time up there giving it their all -- and their all was outstanding. I have never seen a bass guitar player lovin' life more or giving a better show of natural talents and well-honed musical skills. The drummer delivered a solid rockin' beat with dogged determination that rolled-right-on-time. The keyboard player tickled them thar' ivories with a deep belief in, and personal expression of, the credos of Rock 'n Roll. The lead guitar player kicked out guitar licks that loosened my screws in a most pleasant manner. Micky's sister Coco was up there on stage because she belonged there -- her voice added some powerhouse pleasures to the show. Micky sang and strummed his guitar like he was thrilled to just be getting his first big break into show business; personal stories Micky told about his long and eventful career were wonderfully expressed and well received by us in the audience. Those folks up on stage were so happy to be there that their inner joy spread throughout the audience like a surfer's legendary ninth-wave lifting us up and carrying us all on a thrilling ride. All together, the whole crew cooked my soul until I was simmering with contentment.

Ya' can't fool me, I know a great Rock 'n Roll concert when I experience it. I saw the first two Rolling Stones concerts at the Baltimore Civic Center back during the early 1960s, when the bands playing the Civic Center did an average, measly, 35 minutes of half-baked-poorly-amplified music then it was off to the next show in another city. From those early Stones' American tours on up through till I moved from Dundalk up to the vast woods of Northern Maine , in 1968, I saw most of the Rock and Roll acts that played the Baltimore Civic Center. I once paid a $2 admission to see Steppenwolf play at The Hullabaloo Club, which was in Brooklyn, Md., and the audience numbered less than 80; but Steppenwolf rocked our socks off. And that was many months before Steppenwolf's wild, rock music was ever played on a Baltimore radio station. Then a few years later Steppenwolf played the Civic Center and sounded lousy to me. When I was in high school -- DHS class of '68, I had close friends who played in two of the best teenage bands of the era -- the Rysing Suns and the Psychedelic Propeller -- both were substantial blues-rock bands. I saw them and lots of other local bands play at every dance, battle of the bands show or where ever I could get to. I bought many record albums back then before hardly anyone of us in the Baltimore area even knew who the bands were, including Jimi Hendrix. Later, in the early 1980s, at the height of George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyer's career, I saw them do a, one helluva badass, free 2 1/2 hour show in a small, West Chester, PA. bar. I've watched longtime, major Blues stars blast it out in small venues and at all day, outdoor concerts. I've seen lots of bands in all kinds of places and everyone I ever saw play at the Heritage Fair did just what the Micky Dolenz crew did on Sunday July 5, 2009 in Dundalk Heritage Park -- they played hard and with well honed musical skills, natural talents and honest expressions of deep gratitude towards, and warm, friendly connections to, their audience.

In the top photo, you can see that the Dundalk Heritage Fair Stage #1 is decorated with the flags of the five branches of America's military: left to right, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Army.

Dundalk, Maryland's obvious support for, and recognition of, United States military personnel and military veterans was the most probable reason why Micky told the story, on stage, of how the Monkees' first hit song, "Last Train To Clarksville", came to be written by the famous song writing team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and what that song is all about. It is about a member of the US Armed Forces who has received orders to go to war and that military member wants to see a loved one for just a few hours more before that Soldier/Sailor/Marine/Air Force/Coast Guard Guy/Gal is sent to a war zone; and they don't know if they're ever coming home. I had never known this, until Micky told me, and the rest of the Heritage Fair audience there on that Sunday evening, what the song is about. Myself having been in the military during the Vietnam War, but fortunate enough to have never gone to war, I nearly 'lost it' there in the audience and had to hold back tears from the pains of loosing so many of my comrades-in-arms to all of my country's wars, and the personal, family, knowledge that more of America's military folks go off to war every day.

Parts of the song "Last Train To Clarksville", sung in Micky's voice, have been running through my head, over and over again, for several days now. I can hear it more as Blues number now, with Micky deftly expressing the angst and fears that the soldier in the train station is feeling their self. And I used to think it was just a great pop song.

The Last Train To Clarksville
Performed by: The Monkees, Micky Dolenz
Written by: Tommy Boyce; Bobby Hart

Take the last train to Clarksville,
And I'll meet you at the station.
You can be be there by four thirty,
'Cause I made your reservation.
Don't be slow, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!

'Cause I'm leavin' in the morning
And I must see you again
We'll have one more night together
'Til the morning brings my train.
And I must go, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don't know if I'm ever coming home.

Take the last train to Clarksville.
I'll be waiting at the station.
We'll have time for coffee flavored kisses
And a bit of conversation.
Oh... Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!

Take the last train to Clarksville,
I can't hear you in this noisy
Railroad station all alone.
I'm feelin' low. Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don't know if I'm ever coming home.

Take the last train to Clarksville,
Take the last train to Clarksville,
(fade out)

And here is the set list for the entire Micky Dolenz and His Sister Coco show as performed at the Dundalk Heritage Fair on Sunday July 5, 2009 -- including one of my favorite songs of all times: Stepping Stone.

That Was Then, This is Now
A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
Sometime in the Morning
Last Train to Clarksville
Johnny B. Goode
Purple Haze
The Girl That I Knew Somewhere
Different Drum
(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
Goin’ Down
White Rabbit
Oh Darling
D.W. Washburn
Daydream Believer
Pleasant Valley Sunday
Gimme Some Lovin'
I'm a Believer

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