After a day of politely listening to authors, pundits, commentators, and literary mavens, a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of book fair attendees feel the urge to gather for some heartfelt rock 'n' roll, and so they show up at the Student Life Pavilion to listen to the Rock Bottom Remainders.
Stephen King, who joins the band whenever his schedule permits, characterizes the RBR's sound as "hard listening music." They do have a good time, and it is contagious. The playlist ranges from 60s and 70s classics to novelty tunes like "The Tupperware Blues" and perennial book fair favorite, "I'm in Love With a Proofreading Woman." Kathi Goldmark, the band's founder, also has a great song; I think they call it "The Slut Song" and the essential lyrics are "I wonder if he'd care / if he knew I had underwear / older than him" -- of course Dave mentions that it really should be "older than he."
The band's roster is extremely fluid. This year's book fair edition included--in addition to Dave Barry and Kathi Goldmark--Scott Turow, Greg Iles, Roy Blount, Jr. , Ridley Pearson, Tananarive Due, and assorted vocalists such as Dave's son's girlfriend. (I'm sorry but I didn't get her name. ) Dave's brother, Sam ("the one who got all the musical talent in the Barry family") delighted the audience with a gospel number, "Nobody's Fault But Mine."
The most incredible addition to the band was real life musician Monte Montgomery, from Austin, Texas. Guitar Player magazine named him one of the fifty best guitar players of all time. This guy does not belong on the stage with the group whose recording contract is literally(!) with "Don't Quit Your Day Job Records, Inc." I'll tell you what it was like. If you make lemonade from powdered mix, it doesn't taste anything like fresh-squeezed lemonade. But if you mix the powdered lemonade with water and then squeeze one fresh lemon into it, you might be very surprised at how much it tastes like the real thing. Monte was the band's fresh lemon and his talent and professionalism turned a fun evening into a fun musical evening.
I was there with my new digital camera, not a fancy piece of equipment by any means. The photos I took didn't come out well. I borrowed this one from Dave's blog:
That's Brother Sam to Dave's right and Kathi Goldmark leading the clapping.
I more or less accidentally took some video of the opening act, a supremely talented juggler named John Nations, or as he says in Miami, "Juan Países." I don't know how to edit the video, and that is obvious. But you can get an idea of how good he is. Check it out.