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In the Right Place at the Right Time

In many ways I’ve had the good fortune to often be ‘in the right place at the right time' when it comes to performances and gigs in general. I feel that this has always been an important fact to consider when choosing gigs, or deciding if a certain night may be the right time to “sit in” at a cool gathering of folks or not.

Of course, it is also just a chance thing, and we can never really know when it is really the magic time or not, but we must put ourselves “out there’ so we at least give it a chance to happen. As I’ve always said, in my early days as an up and coming player, I always noticed that one good thing always seemed to lead to another. If I sat in with a bunch of great players up in Woodstock for example, such as Paul Butterfield or The Band, the next thing I’d know was that I’d get an “out of the blue” call from someone related to that night, needing me to play on an album, or to do a show.

I can recall that the call I’m referring to actually came on an average day, right after I had just torn my ankle playing basketball in a NYC schoolyard. John Simon, the producer of The Band, who was playing keyboards one of those great nights in Woodstock, suddenly called me to play on a Rachel Faro album, and to fill in for the great R&B guitarist, Cornell Dupree. Well, I was not going to let anything deter me from making this, my first session EVER on a real album, so I made it, even though I literally had to be carried around by all the other players from chair to chair…or even to go to the bathroom!!

Even on one fateful night, Eric Andersen, the folk singer who I’d been working with off and on for many years, told me there was a gig going on down at Gerde’s Folk City, where Dylan was possibly going to show up, and that the “survivors of the ‘70s” was to be decided!! Well, it all sounded kind of far-fetched o me, but I went down anyway, threw a Pignose amp up onstage, watched as film crews, to my surprise  started putting mics in front of it, and before you knew it, not only was Dylan there with Joan Baez, using it as a kind of “kick off” night of their “Rolling Thunder” tour, but it was being made into a film called “Renaldo and Clara”! By the end of the night, I had ended up playing with the likes of not only Dylan and Baez, but also Phil Ochs (his last ever appearance), Patti Smith, Roger McGuinn, Bette Midler, and even Ramblin’ Jack Elliot! It was a legendary night that ended up in many books, and it was certainly a thrill to be a part of! By the way, the only other time I played in that club, I ended up in another movie; a documentary about the Hell’s Angels!!! More sagas next time….till then…….

Arlen Roth

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Posted: 3/17/2009 3:09:26 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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