I’ve long said that music heals, and I knew that Saturday night was going to be a catharsis of sorts.
The Denver Day of Rock has been a staple of summer since it first began in 2009, typically falling the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. It’s a day of live music along the 16th Street Mall in Downtown Denver, 5 stages featuring music all day, all benefiting AMP the Cause (formerly known as Concerts for Kids). The fact that one of my most favorite bands has been a headliner since its inception was even more reason to go! Food for my soul and supporting a good cause, sign me up!
I knew this year would be a little different, okay, a lot different. I’m sure many are thinking it’d be different because of the covid concerns and the ever-changing rules associated with that, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, the biggest difference with this year’s show is it was going to be missing someone we love: Lewis.
These firsts are always hard and yet needed in order to live the life they would want us to have. I was grateful to know that there would be support in the crowd, my brother and sister in law were going, as was Lewis’s sister and her husband. There was no doubt that he’d want us all to be there, singing and celebrating, being brought together through time and space in a pastime we all love dearly.
As the band took the stage and started playing the familiar notes of the first song of their set, we all set out on a journey. While the crowd swayed and sang along to another song about “Mexico”, I was brought back to the basement of the house I spent my high school years in. It was in that basement that I first met Lewis, and I’m surprised we didn’t wear out the “Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy” disc as we listened to it with regularity while playing pool. I could feel a lump in my throat but I pushed through, singing about the good guys and the bad guys sitting side to side in cantinas, talking to senioritas and drinking warm beer.
The set list was amazing, and had just the right mix of nostalgia. “Hello Tiger” brought tears to my eyes, as I recalled the last DDoR in 2019, where Lewis stepped on my toes and the ensuing shenanigans that followed. I could almost hear his laughter dancing among the notes that were ringing out. Goodness do I miss that sound.
A couple songs later and the tears were flowing again for us all, as they began to play “Leaky Little Boat”. Lewis’s sister Kat has a tattoo on her right arm of a boat with a leak sprung in it to remember him. The oars are a hockey stick and a pool cue, and it is a beautiful piece of art and a perfect way to wrap up things he loved: The Peacemakers, that song, hockey, billiards and most importantly, his sister.
“Alone, adrift together are we
Slowly sinkin’ in a deep blue sea
But we smile and we wave
And we say, “I’m afraid… and I love you… and here we go…”
The truth is, there wasn’t a song in that set that didn’t have a memory or twelve associated with it and him, flashes of fond memories from years of friendship with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers as the soundtrack. They somehow hold more meaning now, laced with the memories of songs sung together and the good times they highlighted. Jim Dalton’s “When She’s Drinking” did provide just the right amount of levity too, we love that song!
Mekong was the next to really pull at the heart strings, and more tears were shed. This was played at his services with a slideshow of pictures, and the chorus perfectly sums up how I think of our friendship.
“Is it true
It’s always happy hour here
If it is I’d like to stay a while
And as cliche as it sounds
I’d like to raise another round
And if you bottles empty
Help yourself to mine
Thank you for your time
And here’s to life”
After the show, we stood in line for the Colorado specific RCPM shirts. By the time we got to the table, they were out of both men’s and women’s large and extra large, but Kat was able to get a medium so it wasn’t for nothing! We meandered around and found my sister in law talking with a few other fellow Peacemakers, and we could see Roger Clyne talking with people on the other side of a moving truck. Kat commented that she wished she could get his autograph so she could add it to her tattoo, but she didn’t want to bother him.
We chatted a bit more, and I saw an opportunity to ask Roger for a favor. The answer is always no if you don’t ask, right? He is such a genuine and kind soul, and he didn’t hesitate at all to come over and talk with us. He signed Kat’s shirt twice, once in pen and once with a sharpie, and also said they were a lifetime guarantee for an autograph because his hand hurt from playing, and he wanted her to have a good signature for something as important as remembering her brother. We were able to talk and reminisce, sharing about our friend, and it meant the world to us. Roger then asked if we could take “a family photo” before he ran off to get some much deserved chimichangas and tequila.
Music certainly heals, though he is still missed dearly.
Here’s to life,