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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Discovering The Bear Ghost

I looked at the clock. It was 10:30pm. It was also Thursday – a school night. I shook my head, gathered up my car keys and headed to the car. It’s awfully late, I thought, but it was time to leave to go see the Bear Ghost and late was no longer relevant. I knew what I was in for – I would be the oldest guy in the place, sitting at a bar surrounded by hipster kids with tattoos and gauged earlobes who drank PBR from an oversized can. And since I was driving, I would myself be drinking soda instead of a Scotch/Rocks to take the edge off, which was a tragedy, plain and simple. You see, Bear Ghost is a terrific young band made up of twenty-somethings with a keen sound and an energetic act that makes you smile and tap your foot at the same time. I may be fifty-plus years-old, but I like to smile and my toes tap like a sonofabitch. So, off I went, just a tiny bit ashamed of myself.

Let me explain how it came to this.
I cannot possibly express the level of disappointment I felt when I learned that my beautiful, intelligent, witty, tattooed, gauged-earlobed daughter was dating a guitar-player. Karma, I sighed to myself, is one motherfucker. I didn’t meet the lad for a month or two, until I was bushwhacked at a gig I was playing myself, at a small local music venue called The Rogue, strumming my acoustic guitar and warbling tender, antiquated love songs to at least a half-dozen semi-interested patrons, who fiddled with their change and consumed well-drinks as quickly as their livers would allow.
“Hi Dad,” my daughter Logan said, coming out of nowhere as I headed toward the bar for a much-deserved well-drink that I wanted to consume as quickly as my liver would allow. “This is Ryan…” A thin, hyperkinetic young man with a smile that took up at least half of his face and a head of unruly hair thrust out his paw and I shook it. I was sweaty and still a little weepy from singing an Everly Brothers tune and was caught off-guard. “Hi,” I muttered, signaling the barkeep.
Ryan proceeded to gush enthusiastically about how much he enjoyed my warbling, then darted off, presumably moving on to spread a shitload of positive energy elsewhere. I watched him leave with a suspicious eye, then turned to my daughter. “Is that him?” I asked. “The guitar player?”
She nodded and smiled. “Isn’t he a dork?”
I nodded. “Devilishly handsome fellow.” I collected my drink, drank half and raised an eyebrow. “Was he pulling my chain?”
She shook her head. “No, he’s always like that… Disgusting, right?”
I nodded again. “Because I’ll kick the hell out of him if he was pulling my chain,” I added. Logan laughed.
A few months later, Logan gave me a CD put together by her boyfriend’s band, Bear Ghost. I smiled indulgently and promised I’d listen when I could, at the same time throwing out some witty retorts about the perceived value of a band called “Bear Ghost”.
Then I listened. And I enjoyed. And another few months later, I was cajoled and shamed into showing up at an all-ages show at a local music hall to hear the band live. An hour later, I had pushed my way to the front of the audience through the sea of 16 year-olds and was dancing with my hands over my head like a chubby, bald dancing bear. I was now officially a fan. What the hell - how did this happen? I asked myself. I shrugged to myself in answer and continued dancing like a foolish, retarded jester.
I saw them at a mall. And I dragged a friend – a musician, who was even older than me. I saw him smiling and tapping his foot. I nodded to myself – hooked, I thought. Well done, Bear Ghost.
I saw them at the same music venue again for the release of their CD “Your Parents are only marginally disappointed in your musical taste”. I dragged a couple of more oldster-friends long familiar with the local music scene, from back in the halcyon days of the 90’s. More smiling and toe-tapping. I grinned and sighed to myself. I was fighting the good fight.
Each show was equally-energetic and equally entertaining. Bear Ghost actually looked like they loved every minute they got to spend on stage. And the music was incredibly tight, with them pulling off the intricate songs from their CD as well as covers by Queen and The Tubes and a song from “The Jungle Book”. I knew how much hard work it was to sound that tight and to look like they were having so much fun. “Ryan’s band is really good!” I gushed to Logan. “I know,” she said.

Equally Energetic, Equally Entertaining
Now, here I was, a fifty-something year-old man, climbing into my car at 10:30 at night on a Thursday to drive to Scottsdale to see Bear Ghost at the Rogue, where I had first suspiciously eyed my daughter’s boyfriend. I stretched my tapping-toe in the car – it would be simply awful to pull a muscle tapping my toe at my advanced age – and I braced myself for the throng of smiling, toe-tapping hipsters.  It’s okay, I thought to myself. One day I’ll be able to say “I saw them at a mall…”
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