Short-term play, long-term work

Keith-&-LesliKeith’s relief from his suffering, if he was going to get real about it, called for human contact. Connecting with a woman. Even if it came nice and polite as a swanky night on the town, restaurant or night club of her choice, the whole nine.

He needed more than just sex, needed human contact that was at least in some small way special. Luis would say Keith was having a wuss moment. He’d be right. Keith didn’t care.

He riffed on the Ovation while Butch and Sundance ripped and ran and ripped and ran. The phone rang. For once, he didn’t mind. Might be a lovely looking for help holding down her bed. No such luck. It was Sam.

“Hey, sexy,” she said with, he knew, an X-rated smile.

“Smitty. Whaddya want, brat?”

“Helen and Louie told me your bad news. Thought I’d call and offer to console you.” He let the double entendre slide. “Or, at least get you to come out and play. Unless, of course, it’s past your bedtime.”

“Never mind my bedtime. Where you? And, scared to ask, but what’re you up to?”

“Bunking in the Village with a buddy until I find a place to live. By the way, she’d like to meet you.” She tossed in, joking, “But, I told her I got dibs. She can have Luis.” She lowered her voice. “I don’t think she likes him one little bit.”

“He’s over there?”

“And has his skins.”

“How long y’all plannin’ to stay up?”

“At least until you get here.”

Just what the doctor ordered. “On my way.” Sam gave him the address. Keith grabbed his guitar case, stopped on in the kitchen to feed the kittens, change their water. Then was out of there like a shot.

On the way, he thought about things. This flying by the seat of one’s pants worked in the short run. But a long-term game plan was in order. Helen had run it past him.

First things first, Helen had fallen in love with “Her Town Too.” So had Sam. Hence, it was green-lit to record. Jeff Christensen would be flown in for the session at Electric Lady. If Denise let Gerry out of the house, he’d be perfect on bass. Alena Sheridan would executive produce and direct the video.

At some point, they’d pull together an album. This was a fine first outing. Alena had also said something about signing Morgan Freeman for The Luther Allison Story and would Keith do the guitar playing. Freeman, of course, would do his own singing. Keith had nodded. Paperwork, so far as he knew, was on its way to Scott.

Second, a full-blown national tour. Worked around Helen’s shooting schedule. For good measure, she and Alena had secured rights to film an Etta James bio. A question was whether they’d shop it straight to a network or first go with a theatrical release. After that, Helen would portray groundbreaking Motown exec Suzanne de Passe.

She’d developed a thing, it now seemed, for playing women in music. Keith didn’t really care how much Helen’s filming schedule tied up the band. That simply meant time he’d have to himself. However you looked at it, work was good for the foreseeable future and beyond.

He arrived at some sort of converted warehouse. Went in a narrow hallway, climbed steps up to the third floor. Following a whole lot of noise. Looking around, at first he’d thought a bunch of bums were lined up and down the raggedly looking walls, lounging, leaning and squatting on the floor.

But, on looking closely, he made out a congregation of pleasantly stoned, not the least bit threadbare folk listening to the loud music coming out of an apartment down the hall. He recognized the sound of Luis clattering on his congas, Sam percolating on her keys, singing sultry. The whole hallway reeked of weed.

The apartment was open. More folks sitting inside, around the doorway. He called out, “Anybody I know here?”


Next week: Keith jams with Sam.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.