This past Friday, I went with Julie and our Good Shepherd friend Jay Shennum to the Neighborhood Theater in the NoDa section of Charlotte to enjoy a concert by “On The Border,” an Eagles Tribute Band.
This was our second such foray, but by far the most interesting. Why? Get some pink champagne on ice, read on, and you’ll see why:
One: It’s A Small World After All. We arrived early, secured our seats, and waited patiently for the show to begin. Soon a woman and her husband sat right next to me and I detected a strong New England accent in their conversation. She did not have an introvert bone in her body and soon decided to move the conversation to me. Shortly, she admitted: “I’m the MOM of one of the guys. My son does all the Joe Walsh songs.” (Here is where I kept the fact that I am a Don Henley die hard to myself.) That’s when Julie jumped (Yankee attraction perhaps?) and it came out that “Joe Walsh’s” MOM is not only a New England transplant, but she lives in Union County very close to our old stomping grounds, and she’s a METHODIST. A Methodist! As a member of Weddington UMC, she knew the late, great Lenny Stadler (himself a rock star before he became one of the earliest UMC mega church pastors) and Terry Moore. When I was a young pup in Monroe, I used to dream that one day I could be part of a church like Weddington UMC in the 90s (dream granted, by the way). What are the odds that not only did I sit next to “Joe Walsh’s” mom but we know all the same UMC friends? Small world indeed. Here’s Mom, “Joe,” and Julie:
Two: Smaller World. In the middle of this Massachusetts / Rocky Mountain Way / Methodist serendipity, a man sits down behind us and starts talking. His voice was SO FAMILIAR. Turns out it was our old friend Dennis Stufflebeam who, upon our arrival to Good Shepherd in 1999, was one of the first folks to welcome us to the church and the area. Our children carpooled to Charlotte Christian School together. Dennis and family were unfailing in their support of Good Shepherd and its ministry. Then about 10 years ago, they moved to … Monroe, NC, buying a house mere minutes from the Mt. Carmel parsonage. Life’s been good to Dennis so far, but he did take a moment to remind me that if his time comes, I’m the one doing his funeral. Not a typical question you ask at a rock concert, but I said YES nonetheless.
Three: Back To On The Border — Killer Version Of Songs From The Dark Side. The band’s stage presence, musicianship, and harmonies do much justice to their ancestors in the Eagles. Yet their strongest moments come in two of the Eagles’ darkest songs: “One Of These Nights” and “Witchy Woman.” The latter in particular comes across as a menace of a song, almost on the warpath. Added bonus: the drummer sings on those tunes just like Don Henley used to, and his voice has the blend of intensity and crescendo as did Henley in his younger days.
Four: Joe Walsh Is Popular. Oh my gosh, is he. At times I felt like OTB was a Joe Walsh Tribute Band with a few Eagles’ tracks sprinkled in. By my count they did at least five songs from Walsh’s career beyond the Eagles: “Seems To Me,” “Funk 49,” “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Life’s Been Good,” and “In The City.” Of course, this gave our new friend — Massachusetts Methodist Mom — time to relish in her son’s performance. The good news is that son’s voice is much stronger and clearer that his inspiration’s ever was.
Five: Request Hour Didn’t Really Work. When you sit next to the parents of one of the stars, and you got some time before the show, what do you do? You ask THEM to text their son a request or two in advance of the show. So I did! And you KNOW what song I asked for: can y’all sing “The Boys Of Summer”? The answer came back: “Oh, we’ve never even rehearsed that one. Probably not tonight.” Foiled again! (Though of course, for a song of such epic brilliance, you’d WANT them to be well prepared.) OTB did perform “Dirty Laundry” (never on my list of Henley favorites), but maybe now that I have such a deep connection with “Joe Walsh’s” mom, the next time we see them, they’ll start with the rat-a-tat-tat of the cymbals and into “Nobody on the road, nobody on the beach; I feel it in the air, summer’s out of reach … “