Saturday, May 26, 2012

This is a photo of Sal Valentino and me during the 70th Anniversary celebration of White’s Bar on Saturday July 21st, 2007. I was totally thrilled to meet the “voice” of the Beau Brummels. I found myself giving Sal several big hugs with an awe shucks star struck type of hero worship that was just a bit over the top. Sal took it all in stride. It all began after I bought a few CD’s from his website. He also sent me a promo photo with an inscription made out to me. It’s on the wall at White’s to this day.  We began planning his concert in mid-April. It almost didn’t happen. I just couldn’t find a band willing to devote the effort to learn the songs – some were quite complex instrumentally. Ron Elliott the primary songwriter and lyricist for the Beau Brummels was an exquisite finger pickin’ guitarist with few rivals. In the late sixties guitarists were playing loud and heavy blues-based rock; Elliot was creating intricate country folk  stylings that had session men like Glen Campbell, Jerry Reed. The 1968 stoned masterpiece Bradley’s Barn was the culmination of the Beau Brummels artistry. At my insistent pain-in-the-ass pleading Sal agreed to perform a few songs from my all-time favorite LP. But my problems had only just begun. I was still looking for a band, my first choice the mighty Maybe August declined. The Gentlemen Callers also declined citing the complex signature changes and the difficult acoustic guitar work. Finally Barbarossa a talented new band fresh from high school agreed to take the assignment. I dodged a bullet. On May 21st  Sal sent me 4 copies of a 2 CD set list of twenty songs to be given to the band with one copy for me. The band would learn the songs from listening to the CDs. That was all well and good but Barbarossa was unable to devote sufficient time for rehearsal. They weren’t quite ready to perform this complex music that wasn’t quite rock & roll nor was it folk or country. It was a cool hybrid that was unlike most of the music released in the new millennium. I was a bit worried so I called Bob Hauser a local country/folk veteran who could sing like a dove and play anything under the sun. Bob was available and he began learning the songs and separating out the parts for each instrument – guitar, keyboards, bass, drums etc.  The first rehearsal with Sal occurred a week or so before the show. The band showed signs of progress and would continue to rehearse with Hauser in the upcoming week. It was a go. The show was spectacular – Sal did the Beau Brummel hits Laugh Laugh, Just A little, and Tell Me Why. He successfully reinterpreted the Dylan classics Isis and Everything is Broken and he dedicated An Added Attraction (Come and See Me) to me. It was a thrill of a lifetime for me. Sal and I would make occasional contact in the ensuing 5 years.  A few years ago he called and left a message wishing me well. He said he just wanted to hear my voice. Wow.

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