I was in the last mile of the half version of the AZ rock n roll marathon. Sure, I hate the demise of local marathons at the hands of the godless Competitor group, but what can you do? Bad beer still gives you a buzz.
If you’ve ever run one of these races, you know the drill. Local bands on little stages at regular intervals, with various degrees of success. Some are OK, a few are amazing, some make you glad you’re moving along. But I always wished one of the local bands who were big at the time would just say what the hell and show up. Like the time Lennon and McCartney almost went to SNL on a whim.
The perfect Saturday afternoon in Tempe was sitting in the sun on the patio of Four Peaks when the Gin Blossoms were recording. Robin had bought the building next door and turned it into a recording studio. So when the door was open, you could hear the music. It would even make me forgot they killed Doug. Bastards.
So why not here? The Blossoms, Dead Hot, the Refrescos. I just wanted to turn the corner and find a huge band playing on a tiny stage. But it never happened. Until.
I was heading into the last half mile or so, turning into downtown Tempe. There was a serious of turns to negotiate while winding our way to Sun Devil Stadium. Entering Mill Avenue, home of so many nights of music spent killing brain cells, I heard it.
A roar. Then that opening riff of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.”
I was stunned. But it made sense. Big publicity, not that much effort, a perfect lark. Adkins didn’t believe in playing in town because he wanted to be national, but this would be the perfect stage. I wasn’t able to see them, but my cooked brain was buzzing as the sound got nearer. They were in fine form. Unbelievable. What do I do? I’m in a race, but my time sucks. Just stop and listen? Finish the race and come back, hoping they’ll play for a while? My mind raced, even if my legs couldn’t.
The music got louder and louder. I turned the corner. And there they were.
Two bored guys with a big P.A. system and a CD player.
I finished the race. I walked around the parking lot. There were no Meat Puppets to be found. Alice Cooper was out somewhere golfing. So I went home. Went to Four Peaks later in the day. The studio was closed.
This was what I thought about during today’s run as part of the VRB plan. I was listening to JEW and cruising along. I had no idea that memory would come running by. It made me miss home. At least now I know where it is.
Three miles later, still no Jim Adkins. But that’s OK. It was the perfect run down memory lane. Mo pulling me over to the listening station at Zia’s in 1995 to say YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS BAND!! A race that would’ve been totally forgettable except for a concert that wasn’t. A recovery run with a friend who’s half a country away.
It just takes some time …