Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Evergreen Hotel

After we became established at Phase III we started playing at the Evergreen Hotel in the North Hills.  I'm not sure if it was through Ed, Doug, or both, but we were invited to open for Ezy Elmer as a sort of audition.  We were fortunate to have a great relationship with the Elmers, something I'll write more about later, and they were always gracious about letting us use their equipment and trying to get us into new venues.

We played there for the first time on November 11, 1978 and actually went over well with Ezy Elmer's crowd (at least, after they got over their initial shock).  We played a tight hour and a quarter set - since we'd played four sets at Phase III the night before we were pretty warmed up - and the response was so good that the management booked us for two Friday nights in January.

The Winter of 1978-9 was pretty brutal, with the temperature often dropping to -10 or -15 degrees.  Despite the cold and snow, we drew well at the Evergreen, although our crowd was more rowdy than most.  During the first show on January 5, some tables and chairs were knocked over, and the management was sufficiently irritated to make us announce at the next show (on the 26th) to cool it.  Some new material was introduced on the 5th, including Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" and Buddy Holly's "Rave On" with Doug singing lead.  On the 26th, we were joined for several tunes by Billy Price, who was regarded as one of the best singers and most popular draws on the local club circuit.  We played well enough backing him on "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Hound Dog", but because our arrangement of "Shout" was different than the record, we kind of made a mess of it.  Later on Billy returned to join Ed for a duet on "Gloria".

Ezy Elmer called on us to help them out of a jam on February 17.  They were scheduled to open for Roy Buchanan at St. Vincent College in Latrobe and asked if we could play an opening set or two to hold the audience until they could get there.  We were glad to oblige and ended up playing two fairly long sets.  The crowd, which had been pretty tolerant to this point, started getting impatient, and we played the second set to calls for Ezy Elmer. They finally arrived and we let them use our drums, amps, and p.a. to save time.

On March 2 we played at the Evergreen for the last time.  We drew really well and got a standing ovation for our debut of "Like A Rolling Stone", and were offered a month of weekly shows (maybe on Thursdays?)  However, due to Jim B. having an early class at Pitt the morning, we turned the booking down and weren't asked back.  We were disappointed, but we were already doing even better playing at The Decade, so it wasn't a great loss.

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