Jonathan Richman in My Backyard

17 Sep

Jerry Encoe at the Robot Rocket Residence, photo by Craig Fergus
Once I had a dream that Jonathan Richman, one of my favorite musicians of all time, played a show in my backyard. I had been trying to book him—in real life—for six years, starting with a big benefit concert I organized in high school and then for the KDVS music festival when I was in college. And here he was—in my dreams—at my house.

I posted something about it on Facebook, and my musician buddy Michael Ulrich said something like, “Well I can curl my hair, wear a striped shirt and play some covers.” And the planning for the Robot Rocket Residence’s Open Mic Jonathan Richman Cover Night began.

We held the show a few days before I moved out, five years ago this week. I opened the night, with my roommate Sally Hensel on a drum, with a recitation of “I Eat with Gusto, Damn! You Bet” (also the very first track of my very first radio show). I also sang by myself, for the first and only time, with my cousin Jojo Brandel on guitar (Julia Sweeney from SNL sings this song with Jonathan).

[youtube http://youtu.be/_9vk09d-NJQ]

 

Jojo took the stage alone for a Modern Lovers jam.

[youtube http://youtu.be/e7lzPaTryOo]

 

Craig Fergus did a jive-talkin’ “Abominable Snowman in the Market.”

[youtube “http://youtu.be/-bDwIw2rNAg”%5D

 

Michael did not curl his hair or wear a striped shirt, but he had pretty dead-on Jonathan mannerisms. (By this time, some punk kids had showed up to party and were making a ruckus. Sorry.)

[youtube http://youtu.be/j8FgP_C23gU]

 

Ian Cameron rocked “Egyptian Reggae” (in a striped shirt),  Jerry Encoe borrowed Sally’s Fender Stratocaster to play “Fender Stratocaster,” and Joe Finkel led us in a group chorus of “Roadrunner.”

All kinds of magic happened in that home in the four years I lived there, and this night was a wonderfully fitting conclusion to my Robot Rocket reign.

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