The in-between season, while the kid and husband are home on winter break, is always a slow time for me, but I have a piece in this month's Penn Stater Magazine about how live music -- Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band in particular -- got me through a long winter before graduation.
The idea came from finding a bunch of Queen Bee clips on YouTube, at very, very long last. Here's Tonya Browne singing, and an early incarnation of the band playing, "Every Night About This Time" in 1990. I love how Mark Ross just kind of sways back and forth, the metronome keeping everyone in time.By the time I came around about a few years later, her voice had both strengthened and refined (Their MySpace Player has a few good clips from that time, especially "Let Me Tell You What Love Is.") and the band had changed up a little bit to include Rene Witzke and Doug Bernstein, who later split for Nashville. Through the wonders of Facebook I've got back in touch with Rene and am happy to find him -- and his beautiful, multi-talented wife, singer Molly Countermine, of Pure Cane Sugar, Maxwell Strait etc. -- living, playing and raising a family in the State College area. Mark Ross's son is now old enough that he played with the band on a recent reunion gig (Ryan Jones blogged about it for the Penn Stater here), and "Sleepy" Jack Wilkinson is still banging away, God love him.
Longtime Citizen Mom readers know about Tonya Browne. From '06:
. . . am fondly remembering sneaking up to an apartment above the Shire in Cape May with Tonya and a few others, and getting completely hammered during the drum solo in "Too Tall To Mambo."
During the next song, three hoochies and a large bouncer-looking dude from the (now bulldozed) Wildwood strip club C.R. Fannie's come in. The girls start busting moves on the dance floor -- not stripping, though they were wearing assless jeans and the CR Fannie's logo was painted on their buttcheeks. Such helpful girls, bless their hearts.
After they left, we were all so loaded we just looked at each other like "did that just happen?"
The Blue Hornet Band, with Tonya out front, accomplished a lot: Not just regular regional gigs, several CDs and a large and loyal group of fans, but European dates and opening for B.B. King -- who was said to have been drawn out of his dressing room by the sound of Tonya's voice. Every band needs its legends, and that one is beloved.
My own personal legend is about the night we finally graduated, and both my parents and Pop Cesspool's folks sat around a table at Cafe 210West, toasting themselves on their accomplishment and rocking out to the Queen Bee. There couldn't have been more happy people in State College that night.
I have plenty for which to thank Tonya, Mark, Rene and Jack -- and not just New Year's Eve '93 and '94 at the North Star Bar, though that alone would be plenty -- but the biggest may be that those shows ignited my love of live music and appreciation for the people who make it. Keep rocking.
For The Record: The version of "My Baby Loves The Way," on the MySpace Player, is my all-time favorite.