Thankful for Friendship

In freshman year of high school, a new friend of mine invited me to sit with her friends during lunch. At the table was a tall girl, who had dumped her little box of raisins onto the table, and was taking each raisin one by one, pretended they were running across the table, then dropping them off the edge saying “AHHHH!” until they hit the floor.

This was how I met Donna Longcoy.

For almost 30 years, we have been friends. We made it through high school together, and college. We went on vacations together that featured pushing an antique car up a hill and knocking on random doors in a strange town in search of a funnel to siphon gas from said car to the out-of-gas truck towing it. We’ve been friends through fun times, hard times, guy trouble, job difficulties (we worked together for a while), weddings and funerals. Even though Donna and her husband live most of the way across the country, I am the official godmother to their 3 greyhounds, should anything happen to them.

Through most of this long journey, Donna and I shared the Monkees. With our other friend Donna Hanson, we followed “the guys” anywhere they appeared from New York to Virginia. Every tour brought new adventures, new memories, and new friends. The Monkees have been in our lives since 1986.

I dabble with drawing, and I had drawn a picture of the 4 Monkees. Over the years, one by one, I gathered the signatures of Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz on that picture. At last, the only signature I needed was Mike Nesmith.

This was a problem.

Michael Nesmith never toured with the Monkees after the group broke up in the late 1960s. He did a few select dates, but was for the most part missing. And he didn’t care much for solo tours, either, so he was hard to find. Until the past 2 years, Mike hadn’t toured since 1992. And even on these solo tours this year and last, he would not sign autographs for waiting fans—only to those lucky enough to get backstage passes.

Last year, neither Donna nor I got a pass. This year, a miracle occurred, and Donna, in the 11th hour, scored a backstage pass to Mike’s solo show in Arizona! Now, Mike had very strict rules about what he would sign. He’d sign almost unlimited items from his solo career, but only ONE Monkees item. ONE.

And Donna called me and said, “Send me your picture. I’ll get him to sign it.”

How incredible is that? She gave up her one Monkees item for me. She didn’t have to. I wouldn’t have asked her to. But she knew how long I had been trying for this, and she offered.

That is one great friend. But then, I don’t need proof of how awesome a friend Donna is—there’s a reason we’ve been friends for 29 years, after all!

So in this season of Thanksgiving, I am more thankful for my friend Donna than I can say. It is my fervent hope that our friendship will continue until our deaths—and on into Heaven, where we can rock out to the Monkees with our other friends whenever we want.

How about you? Any special friends you are thankful for and want to give a shout out to?

GoosesQuill FB

Monkee-ing Around

If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge Monkees fan. I was devastated when Davy Jones died earlier this year, because I was sure I’d never see another Monkees concert again. However, in a surprise move, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith got together and did a short tour this November!

Disclaimer: All the photos in this post are my own and are owned by me.
If you use them for any purpose, please identify them and attribute them to me.
Do not change them in any way or use them commercially.

All Three

Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork
Keswick Theatre
Glenside, PA

Not only were they touring, but they were playing my “hometown” theater, the Keswick…on Nov 29th. Why does the date matter? Because my two best friends and I rocked the Monkees all through high school and college and beyond. And Donna Hanson Woolman’s birthday was Nov 29th. She died almost 10 years ago, and I couldn’t help but feel some sort of karmic convergence in the date.

Keswick Marquee

And to further the cosmic aspect of the Keswick’s date, my other Monkee friend, Donna L., scored 6th row center seats for me. The amazing thing is not that she got the seats, but that she got them 4 HOURS after the tickets had gone on sale. As a veteran of many concerts, I can tell you those prime seats should have been gone in the first 4 MINUTES. While I don’t believe that God cares a hoot where I sat to see the Monkees, I couldn’t help feeling that Donna Hanson Woolman had a heavenly hand in making that happen.

So, I saw them at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA, and at the NJ State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ. Both shows rocked! All the favorites, plus all of my favorites that they never used to play. Since Mike never toured with the other three in the USA before, this was the first time I ever heard a lot of his songs live. Since his are some of my favorite tunes, I greatly enjoyed rocking to them.

Micky MaracasThe guys sounded great, and the music was excellent. These guys can still rock it like no one’s business! Mike on the guitar, Peter on guitar, keyboard, and banjo, and Micky on guitar, drums, tambourine, maracas, bongos, and the big timpani drum for Randy Scouse Git. The crowds jammed hard, too, singing along with every song.

The guys had an easy rapport with each other, talking back and forth in a mix of ad lib and scripted banter. They didn’t mind goofing aroundMoog Mike a little either, with Peter hamming it up during Auntie Grizelda, and Mike pretending to be a Moog synthesizer during Daily Nightly.

Peter CUIn an interview I read, Peter stated very firmly that this was not meant to be a “Davy is Dead” tour, but that Davy would be very much represented. Sure enough, on the big screen behind the band, video clips from the TV show, their movie HEAD, and even from 33 1/2 Revolutions Per Monkee ran continuously, Davy included. They also had a special tribute video montage of Davy, featuring clips from his pre-Monkees day as well as Monkee highlights. And, of course, no Monkees concert could be complete without Daydream Believer. For this, Micky pulled an audience member up on stage to help him sing, and the audience as a whole carried the refrain, while Davy danced on the big screen. It was a moving and fitting tribute.

DavyDaydream Believer

Daydream Believer

I had a great time, hitting back-to-back Monkees concerts and singing myself hoarse! I felt like a teenager again – until Toddler woke me up very early in the morning. Then I remembered I wasn’t 18 anymore!

I’ve been a Monkees fan since grade school, and starting following their tours in 1986, their 20th Reunion Tour. I’ve seen them together and on solo tours many times over the past 26 years. No matter how many times I see them, or in what configuration, I always love their shows. Together or separate, they have never failed to bring the energy, the skillful musicianship, and the showmanship I’ve come to expect.

Even after all these years, I’m A Believer.

Micky CU

Peter KeyboardMike

Curtain Closed: Goodbye to Davy Jones of the Monkees

My favorite photo of Davy

When I heard the news of Davy’s death, I was stunned. A weight settled in my chest, and the world turned surreal. I had trouble concentrating on my work, but luckily a toddler and a deadline are great motivators. And while I will shed a few tears for Davy tonight, my thoughts are with those whose grief is deep and searing—his wife and his four daughters, Talia, Sarah, Jessica, and Annabel.

I never thought Davy would be the first to go. He was the youngest Monkee, and always seemed the most fit. His off-stage life with his horses kept him athletic and strong. A heart attack makes no sense, but then death rarely does.

Much of the public never considered the Monkees a “serious” band, even though they were astronomically popular. Many people who only knew Davy as a Monkee wave him off with a snort. They don’t know that he had serious bona fides—he was a rising Broadway star before the Monkees got him. Davy was nominated for a Tony award for his role as the Artful Dodger in Oliver! He was on The Ed Sullivan Show the same day the Beatles were. You don’t get to those places without having something special.

Davy was my favorite Monkee. When my friends and I were in high school and college, we followed the Monkees as they toured. Whenever they came near, we were there—from New York to Virginia, from the wilds of New Jersey to the environs of Philadelphia. We called ourselves the Monkettes, made two halfway decent parody albums, and two completely cringeworthy videos. So, yes, we were groupies.

I got to be Davy because I was short and could do a passable English accent.

While the three Monkees who toured together (Mike Nesmith declined) treated their fans well, Davy always went the extra mile. He would stand outside the stage door until every fan got an autograph or picture, and never once look at his watch. In spite of the mass of fans around us, he had the talent of giving you his full attention for those few minutes he was with you. One time, my friends and I went to the hotel where the Monkees were staying after their concert. It had poured rain at the outdoor concert, and we were all soaked. When Davy noticed two particularly drenched girls shivering and shaking in the lobby, he had hot tea sent down to them.

A consummate performer, Davy never cancelled a show to my knowledge. One time, my friend Donna H. and I went to Long Island’s Jones Beach to see him do an open-air solo concert. He got about six songs in when a huge thunderstorm blew in from the ocean and caused a literal sandstorm before the deluge. To this day I firmly believe he would have stood there singing through it all if his band members hadn’t all disappeared when the lightning started.

When I was in college, my friend Donna L. and I went to WHYY studios to watch Davy tape the Don Kirschner Rock Awards infomercial. The filming dragged on and on and on. The audience wilted with fatigue. But Davy kept going. He joked with the audience during the down times, he stepped up whenever the cameras turned on, and he never wavered throughout that arduous filming session. He was a professional through and through, even though he had to be as exhausted as we all were.

Don Kirschner Rock Awards - May 22, 1990

Davy lived to be onstage. The audience jazzed him up, always, and he clearly gave us everything he had every time I saw him—which was too many times to count. He loved to interact with the audience, both onstage and off. He gloried in the spotlight.

Some people might have called this ego, or hubris. I never saw it that way. Davy Jones was supremely confident in who he was and what he did. Onstage he was magnetic and full of fun. Offstage he was warm and personable. Often irreverent, occasionally bawdy, he wore who he was right out there for all to see because he was secure in himself. He might have been only 5’4”, but he stood far taller than that in person.

Davy lived his life without apology and without regret. He made his living doing the things he loved most, and most people don’t get to do that. He was one of the lucky ones, and he knew it. I believe that was why he loved the stage so much, loved his fans so much. Because he understood that they were the reason he had risen from apprentice jockey to Monkee superstar.

Davy at Great Adventure 9-7-1987

Davy Jones didn’t need to be a daydream believer—he made all of his come true.

Curtains closed, Davy.

I hope you can hear the standing ovation.

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien