I have seen a lot of great shows this past year. This was not one of them.
One of the greatest things about this year is the full on support and encouragement I have received from friends and family. People read my blog, suggest bands, turn me on to new music and basically are cheering me on this odyssey. Therefore, I am always game when a friend wants to be part of this year and suggests a band to go see. When that said friend then organizes other friends to join, that is just a bonus. That was the premise this past Friday. We were going to see a friend’s art opening at a bar and then head over to Sugar House Casino (yup I had forgotten Philly had a casino too) to see the Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns.
My friend Cindy has great taste in music and she turned me on this outstanding brass band, New Sound Brass Band, that reminds me of a young Rebirth Brass Band. We did not see them on Friday night. Instead, we were seeing Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns. So far so good, horns are in the name, I like new Sound Brass Band, I thought I was all set. The casino location was odd, but there was no cover fee and free parking. I started having visions that this would be my new Friday night hangout like the rat pack or something.
The seven of us had an absolutely lovely time at Jerry’s pre show as we did a whole lot of laughing and telling of old stories. Lots of interesting tidbits were revealed and I am somewhat amazed that after 20 years, I still learn new Cindy and Genie stories. Absolutely hysterical.
I am not a fan of casinos. I actually love gambling, but am too cheap to spend any of my own money. I just don’t know why you have to use your own money to win. Harrumph. And there is always a sense of desperation permeating. And there are some odd characters. Really odd, but I am sure people thought that as well when we came in. We enter to “bad to the bone” blaring. As we try and get our bearings, I am asked to move to the side for Shorty’s entrance. On a motorized big wheel, microphone in hand. Shorty is a little person and/or has Spina Bifida. And that was not the strangest part of the evening.
There were about eight members of the band and the horns section was really tight. They definitely practiced together and covered rap, blues, rock and roll and soul and just every song blended into the next. Just as they were getting warmed up, they would then take a break, because you know, the casino wants people gambling not listening to music.
As I was dancing to Donna Summer, Doobie Brothers, Bruno Mars, Rolling Stones and Tina Turner, I realized, once again, that I am true lover of music. We were dancing and having a really great time in this very bizarre place. Regardless of surroundings, when music starts flowing, music starts flowing. And music is also a great unifier. For one night, the seven of us had entered the twilight zone and found a way to connect, bond and have fun.
I think I would have been more enthusiastic about Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns, if i had left 10 minutes before I had. As we were about to make our escape, we see Shorty being wheeled through the crowd wearing a bamboo hat shaped like a pagoda (Chinese manual laborer visual reference) and Susan says,” Uh oh, I think something racist is about to happen.” I remark in jest, “Oh, they are probably just going to play Kung Fu Fighting.” And as the opening bars started of, wait for it, King Fu Fighting, we decided it was definitely time to leave. So close.
I am not going to lie; I did not like this show. But, and this is a big but, I had a great time! I learned all sorts of new things. Like Genie dated a rodeo clown and her CB handle was two-step. I learned that Cindy has hotel-owning relatives in Memphis and her handle was Sugaree. I am not planning on organizing any Friday nights at the casino, a la rat pack. Lastly, and most importantly, I love that my friends want to be part of this year with me and I will dance, have fun and enjoy a racist band, just for them. And do it again. This year is about music and the relationships that are forged over it. And when I look back at this year years from now, I can pretty much guarantee that Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns will be one of the most memorable.
10 shows to go, 76 days left…