MF Encounter 8 - Chris Hooten
By Chris Hooten
Hey Matt, I just had a recent experience with the BBNB. I once read on your site from a former valet of Maynard's, that the band could always use an extra hand for setting up, tearing down or security. So just recently I exercised my rights. The venue was Lake Shore Central High School (right outside of Buffalo, NY), on April 22, 2002. I had received information of when the bus would be pulling in on that day. I was there on time, the bus pulled in about 15 minutes later. Four guys got off the bus, while the others were back at the hotel due to some "down time" they had got over the weekend. I immediately met and introduced myself to Brandon Southern (sound engineer). I told him that I'd like to volunteer for set-up, security etc. He was very pleased. The school had a stage crew all ready to roll (due to contractual agreements). At that time we all pitched in and started carting in all the equipment from the trailer that the tour bus tows.
Being 35, I was telling some of the kids who were helping that I had the pleasure to help unload the equipment 22 years ago when Maynard visited my High School. Even one of the stage crew members (whom was not involved in the music Dept.) asked me if M.F. was famous back when I saw him in 1980. I kind of laughed for a second, and told him "If you ever even knew how popular he was". And of course, when you mention the song; "gonna fly now" (theme from Rocky), then they all agreed that they knew who he was. As time moved on, the stage was looking great. It just seemed to need a band, and a terrific trumpeter and leader, which it would see in 4 hours. I was getting my usual pumped up, anxious, I can't wait attitude that I always get right before any M.F. gig. The funny part about helping set-up was that somehow I happened to be plugging in microphones into a junction box right next to the drum risers. Right out of nowhere I was right in the middle of a very pleasant conversation with M.F. drummer Paul Stivits. He was setting up the drum set at the time. I asked him about his musical background (Univ. of North Texas State). He also told me about his family at home, and how his kids are starting to get use out of his drum set back at home etc. Paul was a very nice person to meet. This is the exact reason why I made arrangements to travel 40 miles from Niagra Falls, get babysitting, etc. Brandon Southern is also another class act to follow!!! These guys took the time to talk about their life on the road with the band while we were setting up. Brandon was telling me the crazy stuff they like to do with their "down time" . He also pointed out some of the new equipment that the band just purchased. The voice of the theater speakers were still being transported around in the cardboard boxes they came in, they were so new.
At one point, I saw Brandon stressin' a little. I asked him what the problem was. He replied that he couldn't believe that he was missing hardware off of the new microphone stands. I asked him what one does in a similar situation on the road. Brandon told me that "duct tape works just fine". I thought that was so funny!!! Needless to say, he did find the appropriate hardware. There was another band member walking around whom I thought looked familiar from photos I've seen on this site. It turned out to be trumpeter Kevin Meads. I wish I would have had the opportunity to talk to him (me, of course being a fellow musician on "God's favorite instrument"!!!) As I was just savoring and enjoying every second up on stage, I had noticed most of the schools crew had disappeared, I think drummer Paul Stivits was catching some z's in the secure band members only area. Brandon and Kevin Meads were also cabareting elsewhere. I know this sounds a little goofy, but as I was keeping an eye out on the equipment for them, I just had to do it!!! I stood right in the same spot that the boss will be standing in in just hours. I felt dizzy for a moment. It was that kind of "you don't belong in here" type of feeling. But, I loved it!!!! And of course, my dreams would have not been complete if I didn't stand up on the trumpet risers for a few seconds. I just didn't get that same feeling up there. Anyway, as all good things come to an end, so did my 2 hours of pure enjoyment spent with some of the M.F. BBNB musicians and crew, as the High School's Music Dept. head exercised his authority to "I'm going have to ask you to leave the area now" after he asked me if I had family or friends in the band. The man even had the nerve to make sure I had tickets (no, I'm just in here busting my butt for food and a concert ticket). Of course I had tickets. About 5 of them for my wife and kids. He had even asked Brandon Southern if I was allowed to be on stage etc., who told him yes. I couldn't believe it was all over so quick. I hope the Dept. chairman felt all mighty and powerful after exercising his authority (if that is what you want to call it). And of course, moments after I was rudely asked to leave, the bus pulled in with all the members, and the limo which the boss was in arrived 20 seconds behind the bus. I gave the back part of the limo a soft smile as it drove by. I'm almost 99% sure that the boss saw me acknowledge him through those tinted windows.
At any rate, the Lake Shore High School Jazz Ensemble opened up the concert, under the direction of Eric Blodgett whom took the time out of his busy schedule to go down memory lane with me earlier. He was a very pleasant outgoing person. He has done a wonderful job with his jazz band. They were very tight and precise!! They received a standing O after they played. Great job!!! The BBNB concert was very enjoyable as always. M.F. was right on as usual. I didn't seem to hear any real freaky above triple C stuff, but the band had rehearsed prior to the gig. It was nice to see Chip McNeil back. He is an excellent soloist. Ernie Hammes soloed 4 or 5 times. He seemed to have some nice moves . I especially enjoyed his duel with Maynard on I believe "cruesin for a bluesin", and his harmon mute solo on "milestones". Although I am a big Reggie watkins fan, Raul had a big sound. Maynard, and the band still haven't lost the sense of humor. The sold out crowd of 850 was right on top of things .Especially when the band came out and played "Hey Jude". All 3 trumpeters really nailed it!!!. The lead player Pat Hession was having a great consistent night belting out high G's, A's etc.thruout the 85 minutes they were on stage. Anyway, what a memorable day that was !!!!!