- Toad the Wet Sprocket at Wabash College (Crawfordsville, IN), 11/8/1997 -
I flew into St. Louis from Phoenix for a Beta Sigma Psi fund raiser and drove up to Crawfordsville, IN with Internet "listserv" member Rae Robertson. We met up with a bunch of others from the Toad fan e-mail list, including Stephanie Wezeman and Mel Martin. We arrived kinda early, so I helped "Fan Ambassador" and merchandise man Joe Lyons set up the t-shirt stand.
The main set was great, as always. Rarely performed "All in All", "Jam", "Covered in Roses", "Little Heaven" and "High on a Riverbed" were highlights for me.
When the first encore was about to begin, Rae and Steph and I moved up to the middle of the crowd. (Earlier, the crowd surfers (?!) had caused us to move to the back.)
The band came back out after the short break and lead singer Glen Phillips goes up to the microphone and says something close to "We got this letter from this guy -- Steve". I knew it was me and I thought Glen was about to wish Rae a one day belated "Happy Birthday", which was one of the little requests I'd made. I was pumped!
But no, he continued with something like "He asked if he could play guitar with us on this next song, Walk On The Ocean -- to do the slide part that our guitar tech. Jonas usually does. So, come on up here..." I had already started running towards the stage, jumping up and down while running (which doesn't work very well) and yelling "That's me! That's me!". I was so shocked! The crowd parted nicely to allow me to get to the stage. (Sorry to the people I inevitably ran into/over in my state of frenzy.) Everyone was smiling and cheering for me as I went by. A few fans and a security guy helped me over the barricade.
Glen was buying time at the microphone but I couldn't hear what he was saying. I later found out he was describing the part I was to play. He kept vocally imitating it, "Wah...waaaaaah..." to the amusement of the crowd. But, as lead guitar player Todd Nichols' guitar technician Jonas Marquez pulled me onto the stage, I heard Glen say something like "Big hand for our new guitarist: Steve!" Unthinkable! I carefully walked past some of the stage equipment and turned around to take a look at the sea of fans who were cheering on this strange sight. A small group in the crowd actually starting yelling "Steve! Steve! Steve!"
I disappeared side stage for a moment while Jonas slipped a guitar on me. (I found out from Joe Lyons a day later that this was Todd's favorite guitar, a 1955 or 1957 Gibson Les Paul, I think... I'm glad I didn't know that at the time!) I confirmed that the volume was off and that I should "crank it" when the time came. I checked to make sure I knew the part right. (I never really thought for a minute that they'd let me play guitar with them, but I did come prepared -- I practiced that little part... over and over and over again!) Jonas handed me one of Todd's green D'Addario picks and I was ready to go.
At some point, Glen sang those familiar words: "We spotted the ocean..." to
start the song, but I have to confess that I never heard them. I was too busy preparing
with Jonas (and trembling a bit). I crept out on stage about two feet from Todd's left and
slightly behind him as the first chorus was performed. I instinctively sang along and
tried to relax. I looked out into the crowd and saw Rae and Steph smiling and waving along
with a bunch of people in the first 10+ rows continually motioning for me to move towards
center stage. But, I was very comfortable right there next to Todd. And, after watching
Jonas perform this part many times, I knew that's where he stood to do it. And, it seemed
like the right place to be: on stage, but out of the way of the real band members.
I took a couple of steps forward and then hit the first note, then slid it down to the right fret. I heard the heightened cheers from the crowd, kinda acknowledging that they were pretty pumped that some "nobody" was plucked out of the middle of the crowd to play guitar -- and had hit the right notes, too! (I didn't dare look up at the crowd, though, 'cause I wanted to make sure I did it right the next three times. But, I heard 'em cheering... Thanks!)
Well, I think I cashed in all of my "15 minutes of fame" on this one. This was easily the most unbelievable and memorable concert experience I've ever had...
Listen to a recording of the actual concert! (4 M)
Listen to me talk about it on the radio! (2 M)
(Special thanks goes to Rae Robertson, Mel Martin, Stephanie Wezeman, Michele McCoy, Doug Michaelson, Jen Olach, and Leah Miller for the pictures, an audio tape of the show and scanning.)
Hey, this was even mentioned on other people's web pages! (Thanks, Danielle and Cathy!)