Date: Sun, 09 Jan 2000 19:33:11 -0800
Subject: Y2K with Dan
As we got our dressiest duds ready for the evening's festivities at the San Rafael Millennium Party 2000, we watched the worldwide celebrations on TV, as the New Year (and century) made its way westward.
We headed for San Rafael at about 8:15. We really didn't know where to park, so we just headed in the general direction of the party once we got off Highway 101. We finally found a parking lot close to the action, showed the attendant our tickets, and asked if we could park there. He said it was the Media Lot, but for $5 he'd "look the other way", which seemed fair enough.
We parked and walked over to the ticket booths, where revelers received their wristbands and boarded motorized open-air ersatz "San Francisco cable cars", festooned with colorful twinkling lights. It was a chilly but pleasant ride up the hill to the Elks Lodge, where Dan and Jerry Lee Lewis were to appear.
After alighting from the "cable car" outside the Lodge, we walked up the steps to check out the logistics. According to the event map, Dan would be playing at the Elks Terrace, known for the night as "Bayside Jazz". A little bit farther up the hill from the Terrace, Jerry Lee Lewis would be appearing in the parking lot, dubbed the "Shakin' Shack". The performance venues were large heated white tents, and those who had dinner tickets were seated within, dining on catered fare.
We got a couple of Scotches from the bar outside "Bayside Jazz", and walked up the hill to check out the "Shakin' Shack" while we were waiting to get a table for Dan's show. The diners started to leave the Elks Terrace tent at about 9:30 en route to other venues, so we entered to find our seats for Dan's first set.
The tent had been set up over lawn and brick sidewalk. The smell of warm, moist lawn greeted us, and Kathy's heels sunk an inch into the grass with each step. The tent also enclosed a pair of two-tiered classical-motif fountains, which had been turned off for the event, but still had about a foot of water in their pools. The "mood" lighting overall was mostly blue, with swirling multicolored star shapes, reflected from a twirling spot-lit glass mobile, dancing across the tent walls. Overhead were giant nets filled with maroon and gold balloons.
The stage had a backdrop of a big, glittered Art Deco scallop shell, flanked by two huge quilted white satin dolphins. The effect was like Dan and crew had been inserted into Botticelli's "Birth Of Venus". It was interesting, but how it related to Dan, jazz, or the millennium, we're not quite sure.
The evening's lineup, billed as "Hot Lix 2K", included Paul Robinson on guitar, Alan Gleason on bass, Tim Vaughan on drums, Mark Shinbrot on keyboards, Brian Godchaux on violin and mandolin, and backup vocals by Groovettes Susan Rabin and Sheila Glover. The band was decked out in formal attire - Paul R. wore a smooth-looking velvet jacket, and Dan went for the White Dinner Jacket look, accompanied by a snazzy black hat with a red feather. (Dan was quite limber, too, doing a high kick to touch his toes to his hand in the first set, and lots of cool moves all night long.)
Dan and the band started the first set right on schedule. The "big band" sounded great, and the set was comprised of pretty much equal parts of Dan's material, and standards from the Bayside Jazz songbook. Between tunes, Dan commented that the suspended balloons were all filled with nitrous oxide, and that when they were released at midnight, Bill Graham would return from the dead. He also talked about listening to KABL, the local SF radio station specializing in tunes from the 40s and 50s, mentioning how the DJs sometimes introduce a song as a "forgotten classic". "*I* haven't forgotten them", he said.
He went on to talk about movies, including "The Nutty Professor", "starring Jerry Mahoney". This got a yock out of anyone old enough to remember ventriloquist Paul Winchell's TV show. Then he said, "I'm just going to keep making all these late '40s cultural references all night."
At about 11:30 or so, in between Dan's sets, band and audience members drifted up to the "Shakin' Shack" to check out Jerry Lee Lewis's act. Jerry Lee was scheduled to start his set at 11PM. However, those steeped in the mythology surrounding The Killer know that he never takes the stage on time, and he never goes on stage until he's got the money (in cash), so the band's warm-up tunes can go on for quite a while. We hung around long enough for a Killer-less rendition of Charlie Rich's classic "Lonely Weekends", and for amateur raconteuse and singer, Mrs. Jerry Lee #6, to take the stage at 11:45. That seemed like the perfect cue to head back for the midnight countdown with Dan and company. (Ken did head up a little later to watch The Killer Himself sing "Roll Over Beethoven". He said he sounded pretty good, but that Mrs. Jerry Lee wasn't much of a backup singer.)
The "Bayside Jazz" tent was really hopping for the second set, as it filled up with the partygoers who wanted to spend midnight with Dan. As midnight approached, Dan started the countdown, as only Dan could. It was kind of a straight countdown, until he began messing with our minds. Right before the ultimate moment, he stopped and said that his watch was really some 50 seconds fast, so he was going to start again. However, we think it was pretty close to actual midnight, give or take a minute, by the time the band launched into "Auld Lang Syne", amidst balloons dropping and popping, and people smooching and hugging.
Songs for the evening included:
*Up! Up! Up!
*Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy
*Long Comma Viper
*I Scare Myself
*Four or Five Times
*The Buzzard Was Their Friend
*Milk Shakin' Mama
*That Old Black Magic
*You Go To My Head
*On The Street Where You Live
*I Don't Want Love
*Stella By Starlight
*How Can I Miss You
They also played a nice instrumental medley, including tunes like "The Shadow Of Your Smile" and "Perfidia". Ken "Turtle" VanDemarr, last seen at the Christmas Jug Band shows the week before, joined the band during the second set to sit in on guitar. He and Paul sure did trade off some tasty licks. Surprise tune of the evening: Chuck Berry's classic "Nadine", in which Dan got off one of those great rockin' screams of his before the instrumental break.
Finally, around 2AM, it was time for the magical evening to end. We reluctantly headed down the hill to catch one of the merrily-lit "cable cars". Many of our fellow riders were equally merrily lit, toting purloined floral centerpieces from the performance venues, and cheering loudly for San Rafael, the trolley driver, and whatever the hell else they could think of to cheer for. We heard Commander Cody and a couple of other bands still loudly holding court, as we wended our way back to the parking lot.
The new year, according to Dan, is "Twenty-Hundred". And the new decade, according to us, is "The Aughts". It was good enough for our grandparents, and it's good enough for us.
All good things to all you Hixters in the coming year. And may the new CD be out soon!
Kathy & Ken