The night shift |

The night shift

Jay Meehan, Park Record columnist

Every now and then a rube from Hebertown such as myself has got to bite the bullet and pull the night shift over on Park City’s Main Street. Can’t perform that function too often, of course, as the historic byway has been known to chew up and spit out most interlopers who venture in without portfolio.

Not that I’m totally lacking in credentials. But the last time I felt like a local in them parts had to be during the somewhat abbreviated second Nixon administration. But as a longtime freelance consultant on watering-hole dance floors, it’s pretty much imperative that, on a semi-regular basis, I commingle with the current crop.

Beginning not too far downhill from the seemingly never-ending new construction abomination underway just below the dogleg, I encountered my first roadblock. Although of the opinion that it might be just a tad bit early in the season to play the no-room-at-the-inn card, I quickly caught their drift.

It was a "no tickee, no washee" situation — or whatever that phrase happened to be that screenwriter Robert Towne put into Jack Nicholson’s mouth during the film "Chinatown." Without a ticket, I was out in the cold. They were sold out. Lack of forethought had trumped my best-laid plans once again.

No worries. The night was quite young and I had important work to accomplish elsewhere. Other saloons beckoned. I would later learn, however, that there were downsides to being cast aside. I would miss both Small House Strings and John Boy’s Mule, two favorites! So it goes!

Other establishments beckoned, however — those that accepted modest fees for entry, no questions asked, no "tickee" needed. To add further mystique to my evening, I would think of them as bribes and slip them to the folks at the door in a covert fashion, although, actually, they were nothing more than the usual cover charges.

So there I sat, ensconced on a most comfortable barstool in a most friendly confine. Arriving early enough to observe the band set up their amps and instruments while rattling ice in a cocktail glass has its merits. Did I mention the fetching barkeep?

Kicking multi-venue evenings off with Dana and the Motherlode Canyon Band proved, as usual, to be a no-brainer. Crowd pleasers from the top shelf, their musical chops immediately facilitated my initial dance floor scrutiny of the evening. It’s that old "give him a couple of Jamesons and he thinks he’s Savion Glover" kind of thing.

Not that my footwork dazzles, by any stretch, but it does, more often than not, pay timely homage to the rhythm section. In that I mostly just bounce, locating the downbeat is somewhat essential. And, as that’s where the pedal meets the metal with club bands, hardwood landscapes quickly become target-rich environments.

And that’s when Marty blundered, through no fault of his own, into my crosshairs. He, a cultural wag and musician of note, mapped out the next stop on our musical pub-crawl. So, with gravity in tow, we moseyed down the street to where destiny busily tapped its foot to the complex rhythms of Sin City Soul.

Now, that band was a flat out revelation. Not being one to get out of the house very often, I had never previously caught their shtick in person. If I were one of those impetuous pigeon-holers, I would probably stuff them in a genre box labeled "Jazz-Rock-R&B-Reggae-Country-Blues," but that would only demonstrate my limited vocabulary. They are much, much more!

If you haven’t already (I know I’m way behind the curve on this), you should check them out as soon as possible. Marty’s duo-partner John wails on tenor and soprano saxophones and keyboards and is joined by a most wonderful ensemble cast of bass, drums, and guitar — not to mention a female vocalist who wails quite well on her own.

It was at this point that my partner-in-crime gave me the slip, leaving me on my own to follow the trail of feathered-boa parts from venue to venue. The boa, along with neon loops and flashing globes, were part of the swag package thrust upon those who met the formerly mentioned ticket acquisition deadline.

From there, it was across the street to a joint featuring a DJ and an always well-populated dance floor. This was followed by an up-street jaunt to partake of some punk-rap-with-coronet (again, my label). Then came a grand finale with the MCB back at the scene of my original crime.

The dance floors along Park City’s Historic Main Street, I must say, passed my inspections with the flying colors of flying boas. Tuxedo Randy and the KPCW fundraiser had truly painted the town.

Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.

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