Micky and Coco at Waterfest--Oshkosh, WI 8/19/04
Story by Shane Worden
Alright, boys and girls, you've come this far. Might as well come all the way now. It's Micky and Coco's turn up to bat now at Waterfest and the weather looked pretty good. As Cindy mentioned in the last newsletter, this past summer has been particularly weird in the weather department. It rained to death in the early part of the summer, and then got downright chilly in the later weeks. Felix Cavaliere got the worst of our cold August temps on the 12th, and the Dolenz kids got it almost as bad on the 19th. But the good news is that we can deal with the chilly temps...and I don't really think that it affected attendance all that badly.
After a couple of failed attempts at meeting up at Waterfest this past summer, (the last being for Paul Revere & The Raiders a few weeks prior, and to be fair she did have a good excuse), PFG member and longtime friend Ronda Russell and I finally got a chance to visit at this show. As an added bonus, Ronda brought her friend Kris with her. The two of them had actually been around for the Jones show in June, but hightailed it out of town when the weather started becoming uncooperative. And I really can't say that I blamed them much there. This day, Kris needed to drop her kids off with relatives in Appleton, (a short distance north of Oshkosh), and then the two of them were going to drive back, check in at my humble place of employment and meet me at the concert grounds.
As for myself, I decided to head down to the concert grounds early, not just because I wanted to try and save some spots for Ronda and Kris if I could, but also because I knew some other acquaintances of mine would be showing up sooner as opposed to later, and thought it would be nice to hang out with them for a while, as well.
So, around 3:00, I made the short two block journey down to the park. As I was crossing the last street to actually get to the grounds I was about ten paces behind a guy in a floral shirt and a panama hat. It was right around this time that the same little feeling I got when I
recognized Aviva checking in at the hotel in Lockport last year crept back into me. The feeling that said that this can't possibly be who I think it is, but yet...it was! Sure enough, I was walking directly behind Micky, who diverted his course toward the direction of the stage. My timing couldn't have been better if I had tried. Sound check was about to start!
The friends that I had been expecting early at the park had just arrived themselves, and duly noticed the main attraction as well. After a couple minutes of setting up, both Micky AND Coco came out for the sound check. As Bonnie and Cindy can also attest, the old chestnut about the star never coming out to do sound check does not always hold true. We didn't exactly have a bird,s eye view of the proceedings, (we had to watch from the entrance gate to the park about 20 feet or so away from the front of the stage), but we still had a pretty good side view of what was going on. It kind of felt like the ten to fifteen of us who had gathered by the end of sound check were getting our own little private concert.
Micky, Coco and the band went through the entire show, sometimes doing parts of songs twice to make sure they got it right. Whenever they would finish a song, our little group would applaud and cheer for them. It took a little while for her to catch on to exactly where we were, but when Coco spotted our group, she really played it up for us; waving and gesturing us to cheer enthusiastically every time they ended something. It was really kind of funny, as well as a lot of fun.
The greatest part about that whole experience, though, was that both Micky and Coco made their way over to the entrance gate after they were through and stuck around for pictures and autographs for a few minutes. That, I thought, was a very nice gesture on both their parts. Since Micky was right there in front of me, I had him sign my Headquarters Sessions set, (now sporting three of the four Monkees' autographs, thank you very much!), and figured that would be one less item to deal with in the madhouse that always constitutes autograph lines following most concerts. One particular teenage fan was caught completely off guard by Micky and Coco's surprise greeting, and scrambled for a slip of paper for Micky to sign. Later we learned that it was her back to school list. (But not anymore!)
Micky pretty much signed and ran, but Coco stayed around for a while and spent a good fifteen minutes or so talking with anybody who happened to say hello. I had a brief, but very nice conversation with her about everything in general and nothing in particular. Coco said that everybody had got into town rather late the evening before, so they really didn't have much of a chance to take a large look around town, but was particularly interested in hearing about Oshkosh, and the Waterfest concert series that she and Micky were a part of that evening. After a few minutes of chatting, she made her way back to the hotel as well in order to get ready for the show
By the time the gates opened up at 6 PM, there was the usual long line of locals and concert regulars, including Karen Barnes and her clan who I've talked about a little in the previous Peter review, waiting to get in. Still no Ronda and Kris yet, though. So as soon as security started letting us in, I hightailed it over to the bandstand and did my best to keep some spots open for the two of them when they showed up. In the interim, a few of the younger fans who found had procured some front row spots proceeded to do a little undercover cosmetic surgery to the banner hanging off the front of the stage proclaiming that "Mickey Dolenz" would be performing that evening. While I don't necessarily agree on tampering with property that isn't yours, I do admire the effort to try and correct this spelling error that's been plaguing both Micky and Davy since time out of mind. Nobody's going to know it's wrong if nobody does anything about it, right?
Shortly before the first band of the evening, a local group called Spicy Tie, was about to take the stage, Ronda and Kris showed up and we were able to talk for just a few minutes before things got started. It had been quite a while--a few years in fact--since I had last seen Ronda, (at a different Micky and Coco show as chance would have it), and this was my first meeting with Kris. Just like with Joyce at the SSB show, this was the first Monkees-related show that either of them had been at in some time. (How can one survive without their annual requirement of Monkees?)
After some initial "howdys", the show was underway. Spicy Tie was pretty good, but the second act, another local group called The Friends kind of put me off. These guys have something of a cult following in the area. They had, in fact, recorded a couple of singles in the late 60's/early 70's. But it seemed to me that their following consisted of little more than their rowdy bar buddies who would periodically worm their way to our own rightfully earned places in front of the stage to hand them free beer and yell their drunken approval at them. Charming. I will say that the lead guitarist's use of an old beer bottle to play slide guitar was somewhat entertaining. That's about all I have to say there.
Then at long last, having already spent a number of hours on our feet, it was time for the main event. I noticed a lot of familiar faces--Wayne Avers and Jerry Renino among them--setting up the stage just before they got started. Since I was front and center by the stage, I had a pretty good look at the set list that was taped down by the front monitors. I considered taking a photo, but determined that it probably wouldn't turn out very well....
Once was all was ready to go, Micky was introduced to a large cheer, and off he and Coco went with a ninety minute set that didn't slow down one bit. The set list included: Last Train, Steppin' Stone, That Was Then This Is Now, The Girl I knew Somewhere, Randy Scouse Git, For Pete's Sake, A Little Bit Me, Too Much Monkey Business, Since I Fell For You, Circle Sky, Goin' Down, Daydream Believer, Pleasant Valley Sunday and I'm A Believer.
Micky interwove stories about his family, his start in show business and the Monkees in between most of his songs. He covered everything from the Monkees' audition process, (mentioning that he played Johnny B Goode on guitar for the producers--this was his introduction to Too Much Monkey Business), to meeting the Beatles, and talking about the kind of music that he grew up on, which was a nice segue into some of Coco's material and Micky's Since I Fell For You.
Coco did have opportunities for some solo songs as well which included: Different Drum, (which Micky introduced as a song that Mike Nesmith didn't write for the Monkees--that jerk, added with a well-meaning laugh), the down and dirty blues interpretation of Del Shannon's Runaway, Route 66, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, and a "unplanned" duet between she and Micky called "Blackbird". This song was done acapella, (or Acapulco as Micky puts it). I've seen this song done live a number of times now, and it still remains my favorite in their shows. It's got some complex rhythms and harmonies that really showcase what great voices Micky and Coco have. It's really something to hear, and I'm so glad that Coco has included a live recording on her CD reissue of "In The Silence".
Just like Peter and David, Micky has also got his usual funny bits that he puts into his solo shows, and this one wasn't any exception. He introduced Since I Fell with his PMS, (pre-Monkee singing) comment, and did the ceremonial lowering of his microphone in honor of David before he sang his own version of Daydream Believer. There was even an actual alarm clock used as a prop for this song. I caught Coco out of the corner of my eye winding it up to set it off just as Micky was starting the song. (I like acts that bring their own props!) During the show, one audience member standing near us held up an old teen magazine that had a picture of both Micky and Coco as youngsters in it. Coco spotted it right away, nudged Micky as he was about to introduce a song, and pointed it out. The two of them had a fun time talking about those days for a moment, with Coco mentioning that she was the *natural* blonde. (Micky had his hair dyed for his role on Circus Boy.)
As always, I couldn't believe how quickly the time just flew by. Traditionally, an encore is in order as a concert is ending, but this one got so close to ending at 10:30, (the cut-off time for live outdoor performances by way of city ordinance), that Micky and Coco weren't able to do that. That's the bad news. The good news is that while everybody else waited in front of the stage for an encore that didn't happen, (and Jerry Renino did come out to say why), Ronda, Kris and I had already managed to sneak our way over to the merchandise table to the right of the stage in order to get in and out of the autograph line as soon as possible.
I noticed that much of Micky's usual merchandise from his website was for sale at the table, but was a little dismayed that he didn't have any copies of his newly updated autobiography for offer. I did, however, pick up a new T-shirt that they were selling, as well as Coco's CD. Got my autograph on the CD, as well as the poster that I had David sign (finally) at the Lockport show last year with Cindy and got the heck out of there. Once Ronda and Kris had their opportunity to get through the line, we headed over to the Park Plaza across the street for a little post-concert relaxation. By this time, we had all been on our feet for over 4 hours, and we needed to sit!
As per my previous experiences with the Waterfest acts this past summer, I knew that most of Micky and Coco's band, and maybe the two of them as well, would turn up at the lounge, and I wasn't disappointed. Surprisingly enough, however, nobody really bothered the Dolenz siblings at all. They kind of stayed in their own little corner of the room, not bothering anybody, and nobody bothering them. In fact, most of the people who were in the lounge but not at the show didn't even have any idea of who they were until one of us told them. Besides, Ronda and Kris were having WAY too much fun without them. (Who can forget JoJo, right gals?) At one point in the lounge, somebody asked for a few Monkees songs from the guy who was running the music that night, (the same one, in fact, who was there when the Jones contingent had their Wasted Day and Wasted Night here in Oshkosh), and while he got Last Train off without a problem, the lounge manager put a quick kibosh on anything else, saying that he didn't want to make Micky uncomfortable. Oh, well.....
After a while, the Dolenz siblings left for the night, and so did we. It was getting to be WAAAY late for me, but I understand that Ronda and Kris hightailed it back to the Pioneer and played in the pool all night! I hope you enjoyed that. The pool's off limits now! Until renovations are done next season, anyway. I met the two of them for breakfast in the morning in the restaurant which I call my base of operations most of the time at work, and saw them on their way.
With the exception of Joyce and the SSB show, it seems that everybody who has come to visit with me during Waterfest this year has had a devil of a time trying to get back out! The Litterios', Kimmi and Bonnie had flood problems back in June, and Ronda and Kris had to deal with an accident on Hwy. 41 out of town that detoured traffic significantly. What's up with that? I think they all just should have stayed in Oshkosh and took up permanent residence. And to make matters worse, once Ronda and Kris got back on the right track on their way home, they got into their OWN accident on the road! Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and it wasn't THEIR fault, but man! What a price to pay!
I am thankful, though, that the two of them were able to come in for the Dolenz show. As I said above, it had been way too long since I had seen Ronda, and it was a real pleasure to meet Kris, too. I am especially thankful to Micky and Coco, and their band, for putting on a great show, and for being so accommodating to all the fans who came to see them. (Your graciousness after sound check by the entrance gate will never be forgotten. Thank you!) Also, I want to acknowledge one last time the good folks who put the Waterfest concert series together here in Oshkosh. They do a marvelous job every year, and it just keeps getting better. Hopefully the addition of the now "under-construction" community bandshell will be a draw to get David, Peter and Micky to come back in future years. Keep watching the concert schedules, and look for us down at the park the next time they "may be comin' to my town"!