Thursday, April 2, 2009

CRUEL JOKE

YouTube - Aztec Two Step - Prisoner Sometimes in life you have a difference of opinion with someone and to prove your point you just have to let things develop and see what the future will bring and let the future decide who was right.

In 1975 I was a senior student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut and the co-chairman of the concert committee of the Student Union Board of Governors. My co-chairman was a fellow student named Rick Schoor. So, Rick Shaw (that is me) and Rick Schoor headed the concert committee that year.

Rick Schoor was a fan of the English group "The Strawbs". Rick Wakeman was at one time a member of "The Strawbs" before he left and became a member of the band "Yes". " The Strawbs" were a talented professional band with a lot of guitars, synthesizers, etc. that played loud rock and roll music. I didn't mind that type of music personally but I thought that "The Strawbs" weren't well known enough at UCONN to sell many tickets for the concert we were planning for the Jorgensen auditorium at the campus. I told Rick Schoor of my concerns about "The Strawbs" not being a big enough draw with the students. I said "Rick, I'll agree to "The Strawbs" if we put somebody like "Aztec Two Step" with them as I know that they are popular".

"Aztec Two Step" is a folk-rock type of band formed by Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman in 1971. They had a good following on the UCONN campus at the time and used to play frequently in the area including a local night club called "Shaboo." (Check out the You Tube link of their song "Prisoner".) So, Rick and I agreed to this "grand compromise" as each of us had a band that we thought was popular for the concert.

The concert was well attended. It was determined that "Aztec Two Step" would perform first. The crowd was very excited by their performance and clapping, cheering, wildly after each of their songs. I was backstage during part of their performance and remember speaking with the road manager of "The Strawbs" during the "Aztec Two Step" performance. He said "Wow, sounds like a great crowd. Wait until they hear "The Strawbs".

"Aztec Two Step" and "The Strawbs" were like oil and water in the respect that fans of one group aren't necessarily fans of the other style of music. After "Aztec Two Step" finished their set; a substantial part of the audience got up and started to leave the auditorium. "The Strawbs" came on stage and started a loud, intricate multi-layered song I believe called "Round and Round" with their guitars, synthesizers, drums, blazing away. They finished their song to very muted clapping, mostly silence, and a continuation of the exodus of people getting up to leave the auditorium. I tried to clap as loud as I could for them; but one person can only make so much noise.

Needless to say, "The Strawbs" weren't well received that night. The show went about as well as I thought it would go prior to the concert. I was glad that at least "Aztec Two Step" was part of this show so we were able to sell some tickets and that the audience liked their performance.

It was a cruel joke to subject "The Strawbs" to a show with a folk-rock band although of course they were paid and did receive top billing. I did ending up proving my point to Rick my co-chairman.

Shortly after this concert I happened to be listening to the Hartford radio station WHCN which is known for their "progressive rock" format. They were interviewing "The Strawbs" band members. "The Strawbs" members discussed that they had just played a concert at UCONN with "Aztec Two Step". They said, "Boy, whoever put us on the same bill with "Aztec Two Step" must have been nuts."

I understand that both of these bands are still playing after over thirty years from my UCONN show. So, check them out if they come to your area. You probably won't see them at the same show.