If you can’t see the video above this sentence, click here
To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember where I met Steve Markowski. It was at an event where I gave a speech, and none of that is important. What I remember was telling Steve about a weird dream from the late 80s. Think about how weird and serendipitous that conversation is for a moment. I told Steve about a dream from over two decades ago.
I dreamed that I attended a concert of the band the Fabulous Thunderbirds. In the 80s, they had two hits: “Wrap it Up” and “Tuff Enuff.” I wasn’t very much into the band before the dream. In the dream, I saw them, then sat in for a song with the band, and found them to be really nice and fun guys. Somehow, after that dream, I ended up liking the band much more than I did before the dream. Weird, right?
So Who Cares?
This story and meeting with Steve ended up being something that Steve remembered. As I said when I started the post, I barely remember the speech, and I remember Steve only because he’s quite the character. But Steve remembered me, remembered the dream, and when he heard that the T’Birds were coming to Lowell, Massachusetts (about 30 miles from where I live), he asked if I’d want to go to the show. Oh, and did I want to meet the band? Oh, and did I want to go backstage?
Steve gave my daughter, Violette, and I quite an experience.
Seeing the Fabulous Thunderbirds
Steve Markowski introduced us to Steve Thomas, tour manager for the band. When we arrived at the show, Steve Thomas (friend of Steve Markowski) took us around, introduced us to the security team, let them know we had all access, and then we settled into the show.
Neither Violette nor I are especially blues fans. But we both appreciated the music. The moment they opened, Kim Wilson (leader, vocals and harmonica) really sets the tone that we’re going to groove and have fun. Violette liked the drummer, Jay Moeller, very much. I was impressed with their guitarists, Johnny Moeller (brother of Jay) and Mike Keller, not to mention Kim, himself.
At one point, I tweeted that I was listening to the most amazing harmonica solo ever, and I added the snarky hashtag “#thingsyouneverhear.” The point is, who thinks harmonica is an amazing instrument? No one, really. But when Kim Wilson plays, you get a whole new appreciation. Don’t say Dylan. He sounds like a wheezer compared to Wilson (Yeah, I said it). Don’t say John Popper. That’s like calling french fries the same as French cuisine. But Kim Wilson? He made me think there was a whole band stuck in his mouth and that he was 95% lungs.
Wilson did a solo that I can’t even begin to explain. It was maybe 10 minutes or longer. Remember, this is a guy’s BREATH controlling this. The whole band left, took a break, and came back in the space of time of this solo. In that span, every bit of what he played sounded soulful, energetic, varied, and extremely mind-blowing. Here’s a clip of it (can’t see it? Click here).
Violette heard only one thing from the moment we met up with Steve Thomas: I’ll take you backstage at some point to check out some of the set from back there. She was as patient as she could be, and we got to see the whole second part of the set from backstage. That involved also meeting Kim Wilson and the rest of the band.
I’ve been backstage once before, at a Clutch concert (thanks, Lindsay Maines), and it’s a strange thing. You’re SO aware that you’ve gotta stay out of anyone’s way (all the tech crew), plus you can see the audience (in smaller venues) so that means they see you, and you know they’re thinking, “Who’s that weird guy and girl back there?” Beyond that, it’s pretty darned cool. We saw all kinds of neat perspective from back there.
Thanks, Steve Markowski
What’s most important in this story (besides how cool it was that my nine year old daughter got to experience what it’s like to go backstage with a band), is that Steve Markowski remembered this little detail about a guy he met through social media, a story about a dream from decades ago, and he put it into action. Total serendipity. Steve and I don’t do business together. He doesn’t benefit from this (well, some people will say that my talking him up in this post is a benefit, but that’s pretty minimal in the scheme of things). He just did something nice because it was in his power.
That is human business, friends. And that is cool.
Oh, and if you’re into blues at all? The Fabulous Thunderbirds totally rocked. Kim Wilson and the band (the only guy I didn’t mention by name was Randy Bermudes, so hi Randy!) really have it. One could say that they’re tuff enuff. But you can check them out for yourself.
The whole photo set is here, if you want to see more.