2019 – Tommy James/Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, BergenPac, Englewood, NJ 11-1-19
(ignore May 1, 2017 publish date – this was published on November 5, 2019)
I’ve been going to concerts since 1964. In all these years, I can’t believe I’ve never seen Tommy James perform. I’ve seen Felix here and there – most notably in 1986 when he was part of the house band for a short-lived TV show I shot for called “Deja View”, where I took what I consider to be my definitive 60s shot:
Recognize them all? From left to right: John Sebastian (Lovin’ Spoonful), Felix Cavaliere (The Rascals), Ronnie Spector (The Ronettes), Roger McGuinn (The Byrds)
If you read my previous post, you know that I finally met Tommy three weeks before this show when he made an in-store appearance at a Barnes & Noble in Clifton, NJ. I’ve known his manager, Carol Ross, for over 40 years, when I used to get photo passes from her office to shoot KISS, for whom she did publicity in the late 70s.
Carol was instrumental in setting us up (me, Eric Leefe and his friend John, who drove us there) with tickets, backstage passes and a photo pass.
Eric got tickets in the same handicap seating area as he did the last time we were there (Joan Jett), when he had a terrible time because people stood a lot and he can’t (cerebral palsy), so I was determined to get him a better SITuation.
First, we went backstage to say hello to everyone and take pictures of Eric with Tommy, Felix and T.O.N.E-z (see previous post).
Then – before the show started – I wheeled him down the far left aisle and spoke to someone stationed near the stage about getting Eric positioned somewhere where he could see.
Since he had a backstage pass and I happened to mention that he was a personal friend of both Tommy and his manager, the house employee pointed out an indentation at the beginning of the third row where a seat may have once been and suggested that maybe we could fit his wheelchair in there.
Eric had the best time rocking out to Felix’s band while I ran around the theater taking pictures, so thank you to that helpful house employee.
Between acts, we went backstage again. On the ride up to the 2nd floor backstage area, I saw this inside the elevator:
Once out of the elevator, I saw this on another wall (I haven’t deciphered it yet):
Backstage, Eric was thrilled to be reunited with an old friend named Brian Jackson – Tommy’s son:
Eric, John and I took the elevator downstairs where John wheeled Eric to the stage-right wing where Tommy was getting ready to go on. We had been under the impression that no one was allowed there, but no one said a word about Eric being there, stationary in his wheelchair.
The show started, I took a couple of shots from that stage wing…
…but because those tend to look the same after two shots, I went out into the house. John did too. Eric – in his absolute glory – stayed right where he was and didn’t miss us one bit. I’m glad.
John and I pretty much camped out against that stage-right wall up front with Carol and T.O.N.E-z. A few times, I went to the opposite corner (stage-left) for some variety and even took some shots from that 32nd-row handicap area.
At one point, Tommy introduced T.O.N.E-z to the audience. He was standing next to me, one person closer to the stage. I zoomed in on Tommy as he started to point in T.O.N.E-z’s direction and got this shot, which I – of course – made all about me (in a slightly self-deprecating manner):
In the next shot, a spotlight was on T.O.N.E-z so the audience could see him and applaud. Fortunately, I now had both Tommy and T.O.N.E-z in my frame and – with both men illuminated – was able to get this:
I spent the rest of the show roaming around as I did during Felix’s Rascals. Here is a sampling of what I shot:
(Two from the 32nd row):
Hey! Quit moving my watermark!
In the latter part of the show, Tommy comes out into the house and interacts with audience members, who mostly take selfies with him:
The last time I recall seeing something like that was over 40 years ago at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ, when this guy – Bruce Somebody-Or-Other – ventured up the left-middle orchestra aisle with his guitar during a song. No selfies THAT night.
Tommy eventually made his way back onstage and did a few more songs before the show ended:
He ends the show by handing my watermark to an audience member:
I guess that means I’M done too.
That free publicity aside (thanks, T!), it was a really good show. Tommy’s voice was strong and his band was tight.
Meanwhile – back in the wings – Eric was ecstatic over having seen his friend perform so well in such proximity to Eric’s unique seating location. THIS was exactly what we were hoping for at the Joan Jett show, so everyone was happy that things worked out perfectly for Eric on this night.
SO……….a huge THANK YOU goes to Carol Ross for making it all happen.
And special thanks to my little pocket Canon for fooling people into thinking that I still might know what I’m doing when shooting a concert.
Now if Canon could only figure out how to eliminate that 0.29-second shutter lag time…………..
Now a week later, I just decided to add these two short video bits that I put together: