Charm City’s Gene Krupa Rocks Rural VA

Good evening, friends.

So how is everyone doing on the tryptophan front?

Nothing quite like a Thanksgiving celebration, until, of course, your stomach starts to feel like you ingested a few water balloons!!

Be that as it may, I hope everybody enjoyed today with their families.

I know we’re all tired of saying how tough the last year and 1/2 plus has been, so maybe some semblance of normalcy was restored today when we all sat down to dinner.

As for today, and our march towards Solstice 2021, I thought it might be fun to go off the board again. (I mean why not? If you guys are up for it, you know I am, too.)

If you’re into remembrances and dates, I’d say today – already day 5 of our adventure together – is as good a time as any to point to those events that continue to mean something to you. To all of us.

April 26th, 1986 – A bunch of my buddies and I pile into an old car, a 1979 Ford Country Squire station wagon.  For those of you who are old enough to remember, that was the same model that was originally designed with an electric rear window, made of – you ready for this? – plate glass! (And in the very back of the car, in what was commonly known as the “way way back,” there was a sunken, single seat that rarely – if ever – included a seat belt.) Not exactly a particularly safe vehicle, especially that night, with eight of us somehow stuffed into every bit of surface area the old rig had to offer.

The journey began at about 8pm or so that night, with the rickety old Ford largely resembling a circus car. Our raucous crew readied for the nearly-20-mile trek to Ashland, Virginia from the West Side of Richmond, VA to attend a party in a corn field near Randolph Macon College.

The buzz around the event was that a little-known cover band out of Baltimore, MD, who called themselves “Crash Davenport,” (the name eerily ironic even today, given the number of highway safety rules we broke on the way there that evening) had a drummer so energetic and rowdy, he made the legendary percussionist Gene Krupa look like he’d ingested one too many doses of Sominex.

The show was set to start, and even though the newly-planted spring corn barely showed any signs of life in the cool April night air, the small, but spirited crowd of college kids from schools in the local area hooted and hollered and waited. Crash Davenport, basically a garage band from a tough section of West Baltimore, was poised to take the makeshift stage. And then came the pre-gig warmup.

As the other band members took their places, the drummer started firing up the crowd, yelling loudly, and showcasing his incredible athleticism, hurling himself across the small stage setup, doing flips as he went.

And when the first song started (Modern English’s “Melt With You,” still quite popular even today), he took off his high-top sneakers and started wailing away, basically using them as drumsticks.

And he didn’t stop there.

The louder the music got, the more the drummer led the charge, smashing and banging away on his kit of snares and high-hats and yes, even a cowbell.

The crew of eight guys who made the trek that night in that old Country Squire wagon had to be glad they did. And the most amazing thing? I have seen those guys, at least once annually, over the last three and 1/2 decades. Every one of them.

When it comes to years and ages and the passage of time, God willing, I must accept that the numbers aren’t about to start going backwards!

But here’s the thing, though. If I get to hang onto memories like that one, I can live with the aging thing. (Not that any of us has any choice in the matter.) And better still, I can reminisce with the very same guys that were there that night all those years ago. Yep, that same night that the specter of Gene Krupa flipped and twisted and rocked a newly-planted cornfield in the middle of
rural Virginia.

Like I said, if I get to remember those moments, then jesus, what else is there?

So, onto tomorrow and countdown day 25, people.

Until then…ROCK ON!!



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