UC MusicFest has been on the calendar for months, marked with a big red circle. This is a seriously cool show put on by This Is It! Productions, three stages, two days, and LOT of bands, rides and attractions. We did it last year and couldn’t wait to come back. These guys erect a huge stage and bring in an amazing sound crew, and DJ Mickey G is ever-present, keepin’ the party flowing between sets.
But not even the amazing crew at This Is It! could keep the rain away. It’s been a disappointing summer, weather-wise. Several of our big-deal gigs were rained out… including almost every Hoboken show we had planned! It wasn’t raining hard in Clark, just a drizzle by the time we were ready to take the stage, but it was enough to keep most of the audience home and dry.
Dana and I got there first; Justin and Brandon were driving the U-Haul and Kipley was driving himself to the show following another gig. She and I hung out under the audience awning with Matt Wilson and Stephanie Sine, whom we’d met in August at the Kids Kingdom show. We cheered for Matt & Stefanie’s Ultimate Rock’n’Roll show and had a mini drum-circle with the other This Is It! entertainers huddled with us under the tent. The guy who’d brought the drums (later introduced to me as Steve) was an amazing player with a wide variety of percussion instruments on and about his person. It’s been too long since I’ve done any cool drumming; I had a blast passing the time pounding away in the rain with him and the few kids who’d braved the weather.
When our turn came, it was still drizzling enough that Brandon was (justifiably) concerned about his drums. They’d already been doused with water twice this summer and he wasn’t very interested in a third soaking—especially for such a tiny audience. So we set up our gear but kept some tarps handy.
Sure enough, we were three songs in to our set and the drizzle hadn’t let up, so Brandon covered his drums and we did a few songs “au natural.” But I had an inspiration… the guy with the handdrums down in the tent was amazing, so I quickly suggested that Dj Mickey G invite him up to join us on stage. And soon he was there, hunkered down in a chair behind me (best seat in the house) and thumping away on his djembe. I dunno if he was good or if it’s just that Lemons’ songs are simple, but he clicked right in as if he’d been rehearsing with us for weeks. When the rains finally did mellow out, Brandon rejoined us and we had a full percussion section for the last few songs. Wow, it sounded amazing, I must say.
After the first set, Brandon and Steve talked drums for pretty much the entire break, and we invited him to sit in again for the second set. The rain ceased and families started to show up, and I think we put on a great show. Man, I wish we had a recording of it, Steve brought some really cool textures and grooves to our songs. And he was so mellow; afterwards he just ambled off with a wave. Gotta love a musician who lets his instrument do the talking.