Keith keeps it simple

Keith-&-LesliWhen Helen told Keith he had his work cut out for him deciding on the set list, he sort of smirked and said, “No I don’t.” Put the pen down and handed her his pad. “There’s your list.”

She looked it over, smiled, and handed it to Sam. Then gave Keith a hug. “I could’ve never done it.”

Sam surprised him, not complaining, not even making a suggestion. “This is awesome! How did you know what to leave in and what to leave out?”

“I didn’t. Just closed my eyes and put the pen down on the paper. When I got to 15 songs, I was done.”

That wasn’t entirely true. When the pen landed on one too many cuts by either Helen or Samantha, he’d dropped it again. And he’d made up his mind before he started that the only songs he’d be singing in front on were “Rock Me Baby” and the trio arrangement for “Her Town Too.”

“You did not.” Sam wasn’t by herself — nobody believed him. Except Luis. Who probably would’ve solved this problem the same way. Mission accomplished, they were more than ready to break camp. Last thing they did was polish off what was left of the chow, washing it down while they loosely, leisurely conferred.

This time tomorrow — well, today as it was a little past midnight — was the recording session for “Her Town Too” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” They were looking forward to having Jeff Christensen and Gerry play on both.

With Lola jetting in to play drums and then jetting right back to Vegas to marry her girlfriend Fel, Luis wondered, “We ever gonna get a permanent pocket?” He raised a good point. It’d be cool to have a steady bass and drum combination. Lola had first refusal on that. Keith asked around the table whether anybody had a bass player in mind.

Faith, peeking over his shoulder at the song list, said, “Uh…”

He looked in her eyes — God, this was a gorgeous woman. Close up, right in his face, her heart-stopping gaze in fact left gorgeous in the dust. “Yeah?”

“Is it okay if I say something?”

Sam answered her. “Sure.”

“Well, I know somebody who’s pretty good on bass. Sammie, you know Sherry Jones.”

Sam lit up. “Hey, that’s right! She’s in this funk band out in Queens.”

Keith asked, “Well, do she got a demo?”

“Sure does,” said Faith. “Cut it at my place. Give me a minute and I’ll have it for you.” She went into the control booth, chatted briefly with Carl, then sat down. On his computer, she accessed her email where she stored backup files. And came up with Jones’ demo.

Carl switched some cords around and piped the feed into the speakers. The music was above average but nothing to write home about. Except the bass. Helen signaled Carl to cut the playback. She nodded to Faith, who went and got on the phone to Sherry Jones.

Keith said, “You’re going to wake her up at this hour?”

Faith looked at him. “Wouldn’t you want me to wake you with news like this?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Guess so.”

She said into the receiver, “Sherry, I hope you’re sitting down because this is your lucky night.” Handed the phone to Keith and told Sam, “She wasn’t even asleep.” Then poured herself a shot of Jack.

Keith said, “Hi. My name’s Keith Jackson and I work with Helen St. James. Faith played us your demo and, well, we want you to join our band. We’re gonna need an answer right away, because we’re going on tour and—”

He put the receiver down. “She hung up on me.” He looked at the rest of them. “Guess we’ll take that as a no.”

“Huh?” That was Helen.

Faith snatched the phone from him and dialed. Presently said, “Sherry, have you lost your mind embarrassing me like this? Sammie’s over here with Helen St. James, we’re working— Yes, that Helen St. James, how many are there?” Helen cracked up, coughing up Chianti.

Faith continued, “We’re working on their album. I recommend you for a chance like this and you gotta act up? You’re sorry? I’ll say!” She thrust her arm out, giving the phone to Keith. “She wants to talk to you.”

He smiled, thinking well, it sure don’t pay to get on this lady’s bad side, do it? Took the phone. Turned out Sherry Jones thought Faith’d been playing a practical joke. Now that she knew that she knew better, she was ready to hop in a cab and come right over.

“Hang on a second,” Keith said. He asked the others, “Who’s up for staying around? She wants to bring her bass, come get acquainted.”

Helen laughed. “What the hell?” The studio time was going on her investors’ tab. So much for breaking camp. All they needed now was to see what Lola’s long-term availability was like. And, of course, how much she wanted to get paid: You didn’t tie up the time of side artists like Luis and Lola without making it well worth their while.

Like Faith, Jones would work for a sensible salary and like it. Loving the exposure and, of course, life in the fast lane.


Next week: Sherry joins the fast lane.

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