It had just stopped raining when I arrived at Union Station in Springfield.
There I had to wait almost half an hour to catch the bus across the river. Boredom can sometimes lead to video making.
Eventually, I arrived at the Eastern States Exposition.
It don't change much.
My reason for meeting my friends at the Big E was the fact that what's left of the Jefferson Starship was playing an afternoon show. With Grace Slick a nearly 80 year old recluse, Marty Balin sidelined with health issues and Paul Kantner dead, this was truly a last gasp version of the band. Yet, if taken on their own terms, without focusing on who used to be in the band, this version of the Starship is a solid ensemble and a worthy vehicle for carrying on the group's legacy of being one of the few bands who can claim to have had Top Ten hits in three decades - the 60's, the 70's and the 80's.
When the show ended, I did what every veteran concert goer does, which is head right behind the stage to find the back door. Hey, they have to come out some time! I was not alone, there were about a dozen other back-door-johnnies (and janes) also in attendance. Sure enough, Donny Baldwin was the first to emerge. He was the drummer on some of the Starship's biggest 80's hits, like the infamous "We Built This City."
The person we were really hoping to see was David Friberg, who after an illustrious career with Quicksilver Messenger Service, jointed the Jefferson Airplane in 1972, remained after Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady quit and the band regrouped as Jefferson Starship, then stayed onboard through all but a few of the next forty years.
Soon he appeared, carrying his guitar in its case.
He seemed delighted to see us and waved as we cheered. David Friberg turned 80 years old last month.
He even paused to chat for a bit, and one person asked Friberg how Marty Balin was doing.
Friberg reported that Balin was "doing poorly." What none of us knew at the time, is that Balin's death would be announced just a few hours later. Here is Marty Balin performing at an outdoor concert in Northampton in 2007, as captured by Jeff Ziff.
Interestingly, that same day that Jefferson Starship was playing in West Springfield, Hot Tuna, the Airplane breakaway band that Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady have played in for almost half a century, were performing in Northampton. In his blog, Jorma recounted hearing that Balin had died.
I was more than saddened yesterday to hear of Marty Balin’s passing. Jack and I were in Northampton, Mass. at the Academy Of Music and we were just getting ready to do our sound check. I stood there in the little room in the wings, stage left… struck dumb.
Jorma also took the above photo of the Academy, which he described as "quite simply a lovely venue." For the record, here is the band's set list that night.
Jorma Kaukonen & Jack Casady
The Academy Of Music
Friday, September 28, 2018
1. Ain’t In No Hurry
2. Death Don’t Have No Mercy
3. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down & Out
4. Search My Heart
5. Barbeque King
6. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here
7. How Long Blues
8. Sea Child
9. Trial by Fire
10. I See The Light
11. San Francisco Bay Blues
1. Been So Long
2. Dime For Beer
3. Hesitation Blues
4. Come Back Baby
5. River Of Time
6. The Terrible Operation
7. Full Go Round
8. Sleep Song
9. Good Shepherd
10. I Am The Light Of This World
11. Candy Man
12. Keep Your Lamps Trimmed & Burning
13. Encore: I Know You Rider
Let's close with this underrated Balin tune.