I don't know if I've already written this story, but I don't have time to check, and I need to take care of a promise I made last night that I would write something about someone I knew long ago, and then saw again last night for the first time in 20+ years. Her name is Claire, and when I knew her, she was friends with Robin's sister Tami when they were going to UC Davis. Back then, Davis had this dinky little coffeeshop/cafe/something on campus where concerts were held. I had a Berkeley snob's attitude towards Davis and the music I imagined people listened to up there, so I mostly ignored Tami when she said that 1) good bands played there, and 2) her friend Claire had connections ... I think she might have been a DJ for the campus radio station, she had (and has) the voice for it.
So I broke down and we went up to see the Ramones. It was pretty amazing. First off, it truly was dinky. Second, this was the good days of the Ramones ... Claire can correct me, but I believe this was late-70s, around the time of Road to Ruin. Robin planted herself front and center, and no matter how many cowpokes tried to push her away, she held her ground the entire show, right underneath Joey (about where Riff Randall stands in Rock & Roll High School, although Robin didn't have a big crush on Joey ... in fact, I seem to recall she thought he was even worse looking up close).
Which leads to the following story. The Tom Robinson Band was coming to town, we were big fans, he was playing somewhere semi-large in the City, but he was playing in that dinky club in Davis before he got to San Fran, so we decided to see him there. And Claire said she could get us backstage. I came prepared ... I had a thing for the guitar player, Danny Kustow ... well, I should probably clarify that I had a thing for his guitar playing ... but who knows ... anyway, I made a big sign that read "Danny Kustow is God" and took it to the show. We set up right near the stage on the side Kustow would be playing, and it's safe to say the band was delighted to have such a big fan in such a dinky club, because for probably the only time in my life, then, now, or in the future, the band played to me ... that is, I was identified as the biggest fan in the crowd, so I got a lot of the "let's interact with the audience by looking his way" stuff.
And when the show was over, Claire was as good as her word. She escorted me backstage ... and if the club was dinky, you can imagine what the dressing room was like. It was, to be perfectly honest, not much more than a closet. A closet with four people stuffed inside of it. Five, once I entered. (I should probably clarify again ... while we were literally in a closet, Tom Robinson was never in a figurative closet.)
The band was v.nice ... they all autographed my sign ... to this day it's the only time I got to go backstage, unless you count the old Keystone in Berkeley where "backstage" and "the rest rooms" weren't really all that different in terms of location.
So, here's to Claire, who I got to find out last night is still a fascinating person! Unlike me, still reliving five minutes spent in a closet with the Tom Robinson Band almost 30 years ago.