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The “New Normal”

I left Woodstock, NY, for home (Nashville) the day after the memorial event … Monday, September 17th … via Southwest out of Albany. Thank God for simple, reliable systems that work without much thought.

Tuesday morning I hit the ground running on what I call a “re-entry day”. When I’ve been gone for 10 days, it takes a couple of days just to get things back in order at home. Wednesday found me in a rehearsal for a show on Thursday — Baillie & the Boys at a country fair just outside of Atlanta — with dear, old friends Kathie Baillie, Michael Bonagura, Vince Barranco on drums and me as the singing bass player. This is the exact band configuration that existed in 1989 when Kat and Mike brought me to Nashville to be part of their success. But that’s another story.

Baillie & the Boys

Friday and Saturday I put the final touches on my preparation for re-entry into my church community, having been gone for 2 months. I play in the band there every Sunday I’m not on the road, so I’m a very visible and, apparently, highly-regarded member. The last time I had seen any of these people was 2 days before Larry’s sudden passing. I was already gone on my anticipated 2-month sabbatical … but not in the way any of us had expected.

Not wishing to creep back in quietly, I had asked the Music Director, Sean O’Shea, if I might be the featured artist that day, and he gladly consented.  For my 2 songs I chose “God Never Gives You More Than You Can Handle” (a recent Orleans composition which some of you have heard) and Jane Siberry’s “Calling All Angels”.

Calling all angels, Calling all angels
Walk me through this one
Don’t leave me alone
Calling all angels, Calling all angels
We’re trying, we’re hoping
We’re hurting, we’re loving
We’re crying and we’re calling
’Cause we’re not sure how this goes

I’ll let you imagine the effect those songs might have had on the audience, as well as on me as the performer. Let’s just say it was emotional.

Having aced this final high bar hurdle, I was ready for some real R&R. That Monday, September 24th was exactly 2 months to the day from the beginning of this journey. Thirty days of hell followed by another thirty days of high activity. I had earned some rest, and I took it.

For the next 3 1/2 weeks I did little in the way of work. A few no-pressure in-town shows, puttering around the house, spending time with my daughters and granddaughter … that was all I had energy for.

The last few days of that I spent with a sweet soul mate of mine in Los Angeles, as I became ready, willing, able and even eager to get back in the saddle.

Returning from LA, I headed to Jackson, TN, to play the Kool 103 oldies radio station’s listener appreciation show. This is a gig Larry turned me on to a couple of years ago, and I’ve done it every spring and fall since then. It’s the kind of show where there are 8 or 10 singers and we (the house band) play for all them … 4 or 5 songs each. So, do the math! That’s a marathon gig, which takes all day to rehearse and all night to perform … not to mention hours upon hours of personal prep time. Thank God for the Nashville Numbers system of short-hand song charting!

I started as just another guy in that house band but, as is often the case, I stepped into the leadership void and became the de facto bandleader. Hey — somebody’s got to do it, right? And it’s better to be in charge than at the mercy of the otherwise certain chaos.

Some of the show is really fun; some of it not so much. The highlights this year were working again with good pal Skip Martin, former lead singer with The Dazz Band and Kool & the Gang (he’s an excellent singer, trumpet player and a real entertainer!) and Terry Sylvester from the Hollies (how cool is it to play “Bus Stop”, “The Air That I Breathe”, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and “Long Cool Woman” with an original member of the group?).

Larry had done this show as a featured performer 2 or 3 times previously. The last time was just this past spring, so the staff and the audience there were very cognizant of and sympathetic to his absence. As a tribute, as the finale of the show, the entire cast performed Still the One.

And now here it is … Wednesday, October 24th — exactly 3 months from “the event”. Larry’s still gone and, although I am aware of that every day, time has a way of dulling pain, and healing does take place. This is not a thing one “gets over”. This is a thing one learns to live with. Life goes on. The way things are now becomes “the new normal”. The only thing to do is get used to it.

This coming weekend, the band as it is now (John, Fly, Lane, Charlie and me) will travel to play at the Texas Country Reporter Festival in Waxahachie (outside of Dallas).  At this point, we know what to do and how to do it. It will be just fine. And that’s part of the new normal, too.

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Lance, Commentary, News, The Road, October 29, 2012, 4:06 PM

4 Responses to “The “New Normal””

  1. boldeagle Says:

    Hi Lance,

    I always enjoy reading your blogs and these last few have even more meaning than usual. I’m so sorry for your personal loss and for the band members to lose Larry. You are showing much strength under what must be such very difficult conditions. I wish you more healing while keeping the memory of Larry very much alive.

    Be well,
    Barry Lubotta

  2. polksoasis Says:

    Hey Lance,

    Boldeagle read my mind. Great post. You are an excellent writer and I expect it will aid you in your journey through the grieving process. How wonderful to have the music and therefore Larry with you everyday.

    Hugs to you,
    Ingrid

  3. caninobass Says:

    Glad you’re hanging in Lance – I’ve been a big fan since the Max’s showcase days..

  4. teasermike1 Says:

    Thank-you again for keeping us fans up to date on your life and especially your feelings, which are very personal. The Memorial in Woodstock was so well done and I was honored to be there for Larry…he would have been proud, and very proud of you Lance. May God bless you, your family and the band…although the band is different now, in Larry’s honor is very special. Can’t wait to see you soon.

    Always a fan, Mike Leonard and Family
    (Jodi, Ashley, Erika and Julia)