A pretty incredible thing happened at last night’s Bradburys gig.
Long-time readers may recall the story from last summer when, at the Taste of Wisconsin, a guy came up to me after we played Off Broadway’s “Stay In Time” and told me he was the original guitarist and that we did a good job with it. He also said, “your singer sounds just like Cliff!”
So there we were last night about halfway through our set when an older dude with wild hair came down to the front of the stage and got my attention. “Hey, I’m Cliff Johnson. Can I come up and sing with you guys?”
It really was him. Apparently Dan, our fearless leader, knew this was a possibility but he kept it from the rest of us. Cliff came up and we launched into “Stay In Time” after he asked us if we were sure we knew the eighth-note riff before the chorus. (Please.) And as soon as he leaned into that first line, “Every day when you turn away from your world, boy,” all the hairs on my neck stood up and I broke into the biggest smile. This was the voice that was playing through my radio all summer in 1980. Those junior high years were the most critical of my formative era as a musician. I doubt most people reading this will remember that song; it peaked at #51 on the Billboard charts nationally, but it was a much bigger hit here since they were local heroes. It’s hard for me to overstate how incredible it was to share a stage, even a mic, with a guy who I’ve been singing along with for 30+ years. (I really hope he didn’t catch whatever this disease is in my lungs. Sorry, Cliff.)
After that, we did The Beatles’ “Bad Boy” (now Junior, behave yourself) which Cliff totally owned. Then he took his leave to big smiles and big applause all around. Our next song was “No Matter What” by Badfinger, and he couldn’t help himself and came back up and sang background vocals while Jake, our bass player, handled lead. Super fun.
Anyway, that’s truly a first. I’ve opened for some semi-legendary people, but this was the first time I ever actually got to play with one, live. I love that after over 30 years as a performer, I still get the occasional first-time experience. It was a thrill I’ll never forget.
(You can hear “Stay In Time” at the link to the old post above. Photos by Dan’s daughter Mari.)