Black Moses Stole My Pen!
To meet the man himself . After the thoroughly entertaining show on Saturday p.m., of which the highlights included "Joy", a fully orchestrated ~15 minute version of "The Theme from Shaft", and numerous rambling, comic, and touching spoken word interludes. Personally, I thought that the show would have been fine without the "Light My Fire" and "My Funny Valentine" covers.
Our seats had great sightlines, but they were pretty far from the stage. After the show to get to where I wanted to be, I had to go down to the second Mezzanine level. Just as a door opened, I heard a guy say to his wife and buddy "Do you guys want to come and meet him as well?"
When they opened the door, I ever so confidently followed them, maintaining space of about 15 paces behind them through the maze of the back corridor.
Even though I am all wobbly on the inside, I keep a cool exterior appearance--like I kinda belong there. I pass the musicians, congratulate a few singers on their great performance, figure out where the key room is and saunter to it - get interrupted by a tall-skinny, handsome black guy with a thin mustache, shiny grey suit, fancy cream shirt, wide lapel and open collar (looks like Robert Townsend) who stops me and asks "Where is Isaac is at?" I of course, now the expert, point him in the right direction.
At this point I walk on by a big black guy with a phone sticking out of his ear. I nod to him knowingly. He nods back. The door across from the female change room (room c) is room A. The name Isaac Hayes is engraved on the door. Paydirt!
I wait patiently with about 5 other people (one scrawny white guy who obviously belongs there, kinda guarding the door (looking real nervous), one suit who must be a manager at Roy Thompson Hall, one "corporate sweet" who looks like she books artists. The usual back-stage rank and file, are all hanging out, outside of the room, waiting for the door to open. A real nice guy with dreadlocks (Toronto musician) compliments me on bringing "Black Moses" with the most excellent gate-fold sleeve - he says that it is the first album which really "got to [him]"- you know started it all--the fully-orchestrated-soul-funk concept albums with rapping and singing). I must give props to Todd Minerson at this point, who found the sample in Ike's Rap II which has been used by Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack-among others.
Rob Bowman, author of Soulsville -the History of Stax, Grammy award winner for his liner notes, York University professor, with his wife and buddy "John." Rob is very well respected in the business. Also a few young musicians (Asian percussionist from California), and a big Southern Fried fellow (bassist) who speaks with a huge booming southern Drawl.- I liked him. He invites Rob back to the hotel room to hang out. They are all talking about meeting up in LA next week (I wanna be those guys!).
I wait and wait and wait (Robert Townsend is complaining that he is hungry---"Let's go and eat!")
Of course, a really tall-tarty, leggy, red-head gets to go in first because, well just because she is really tall, tarty, leggy and red; and Ike likes them tall, tarty, leggy, and red -- with her sister (nice woman, but Red obviously got the looks in the family) and mother. So all 9 of us cram into his change room--Past Bennie (now you see, Bennie is Ike's main man! big rotund fellow, gold teeth and chains, little man purse and leather hat. This guy is the cool shit. He has been involved in soul Music since time began. Not famous or anything, just a real Hot-Buttered,-Tennessee Soul-brother).
So the tarty red's sister has brought a copy of the soundtrack to Shaft (complains that she has had to walk all over Queen street to get it that day). Anybody knows that a real fan would have had a copy since 1971 and kept their hands on it like the Elstone/Livingston family. And the novice that she is, has only brought a blue ball point pen (if you ever go chasing autographs, one must have a thin black indelible marker). So I hand Isaac my thin black indelible marker (keeping cap in hand).
By this point, Red is all smoochy-smoochy with Ike, (really awkward silence in the room--there is trembling amounts of sexual chemistry in the room - she says that she has gotta go- he says O.K. - and they kiss cheeks good-bye. As she turns to leave, she whispers to him (fortunately I am standing close enough to hear---see you at the hotel in 15 min.)----Nice, Ike, Nice!.
Into this sexual vacuum, no one is really sure who is next to pay respect to the Godfather. The "man" kinda looks at me, I hand him the album and say "these people are more important, I really just want you to sign my album".
Rob Bowman who is the white man that they all respect, now goes over and gets a hug from Isaac. There are introductions all around---Isaac takes my Black Moses album and starts to sign it with "To", I realize that he is about to write just any thing old name on it, doesn't even ask my name, so I kinda blurt out "ugh, it's uh to Neil that's N-E-I-L".
He signs it while talking and introducing. He continues to hold on to the record. Finally after what seems like an eternity, he hands the record back to me and I say "thanks". He turns back to Mr. Bowman who is chatting with Robert Townsend, and I say "ugh, actually that is my pen too." (A few startled chuckles from the assembled peanut gallery) He kinda looks at me funny, so I say "but you know, if you need it, you can keep it."
He replies real slow and methodical like "Well you know that might be nice, because if anyone else brings me anything to sign...." I hand him the cap:
"You might need this too".
I thank the man, float out of the room--nodding to my soul brothers along the way.