12 Step Program, chapter eight
You don’t remember me, do you, said the girl?
That stopped Bob Jansen as he prepared to take the stage at What’s New. He’d grown accustomed to girls accosting him and knew how to deal with them, fob them off. His customary reserve would come to his rescue. Not that he was immune to a pretty face and shapely figure. He was a male, after all, and only human, but Bob was careful.. You didn’t mix business with pleasure and The Hi-Steppers were his business.
She was prettier than most girls, though, and had a good body, but he couldn’t place her. Finally, he admitted that he couldn’t remember her.
Thought so, she said, I met you a few weeks ago at the rally outside Pandora’s Box.
At the riot?
Yep, I was about to be arrested by a cop, or beaten. You stopped him and while he was trying to deal with you, I beat it. The cop ran after me but I escaped. Thank you.
Hello, Amanda. I wondered what had happened to you. You found me. How?
I came here last week with a friend. I’m a little old for a teen club. I’m 19. But we’d heard good things about What’s New and the band here. So we checked it out. That’s when I saw you onstage and realized who you were. You’re good.
Well, thank you, too.
Are you staying?
I paid admission. The least I can do is see the first set. Why?
Maybe we can talk. For now, though, you’ll have to excuse me.
Amanda found a table where she could be alone and watch The Hi-Steppers. Bob thought only of her during the first set. The band noticed his self-consciousness, the distracted air. Greg saw Bob looking at Amanda and immediately understood. By the end of the first set, Greg had told the others.
Each of them had had their own encounters at the club and each had handled it in their own way. So the band watched to see how it’s leader would handle this.
He didn’t. Instead, he went over to her table, now filled by others, and talked to her. At the end of the second set, too, and afterward.
Al Berk’s role was changing and he felt a greater responsibility as The Hi-Steppers’ manager. At first, he looked for gigs, knowing the house dates at What’s New might end. Then, as 12 Step Program began its climb, fielded offers from other clubs and promoters.
He’d assured The Hi-Steppers of a tour. Berk’s first thought was that the band could go out on the road as opening act for Love.
Love had had a minor hit with it’s version of My Little Red Book and seemed to be doing well with the remarkable 7 And 7 Is. In way, Love was in a similar position as The Hi-Steppers although its label, Elektra, was better known than Barb, but as a folk company. Despite being Elektra’s first rock signing, Love wasn’t known outside its native L.A., which it ruled at this time.
That was the problem. Leader Arthur Lee couldn’t see much to be gained by going on tour. In L.A, the money and the work were plentiful. As an integrated group, Lee knew he’d face racism, taunts for the band’s clothes and long hair. Plus, Lee didn’t trust the music business.
So, despite all the urging, Love wasn’t going anywhere soon.
Frustrated, thwarted, Berk looked at other possibilities and saw only The Grantchesters.
Berk figured he could do better but he was getting desperate to deliver. The Grantchesters were doing modestly well with latest single, Psychedelia. The band was really good at writing singles for current trends, band wagon hopping as it were. The next one, Berk knew, would be The Power Of Flowers.
Berk knew because The Grantchesters was on Barb and Stern had told him.
He suspected that Psychedelia was surviving because now the business was more aware of Barb thanks to 12 Step Program. It might have gotten no higher than 34 but it stubbornly was keeping in the hit parade. If the public couldn’t buy the record, which seemed to be the case, the alternative was to make a request to radio. Those regular requests were keeping 12 Step Program alive.
Despite having more records to its credit, The Grantchesters needed The Hi-Steppers.
The Hi-Steppers was a better band, too, so the object, Berk told Jansen, was to steal the show.
It would go out with The Grantchesters, who added a third band also signed to Barb, The Joss, which was on the charts with Help Me, again thanks to the awareness created by12 Step Program.
Bob Jansen liked Amanda Flynn a lot.
He didn’t know yet if he loved her but she’d started to come to the club regularly and each time made him laugh. Other girls couldn’t do that, but Amanda could penetrate his renowned reserve, bring him out, get closer.
The Hi-Steppers hadn’t made up its mind whether or not it liked Amanda Flynn. The band was used to a Bob Jansen who was driven, was focused and had a work ethic. That was reassuring, The Hi-Steppers trusted that whatever he did was in its best interest. This new Bob Jansen seemed distracted. As Luke noted, a distracted Bob Jansen was a more relaxed Bob Jansen. This Bob was less likely to fuss over details and more prone to letting things happen. This entailed cutting slack for band members and letting them be more creative. That had to be good. We’ll see, was the collective decision.
Amanda worked in the women’s clothing section of a department store, therefore she knew about fashion.
In their short time together, she steered Bob away from making clothing mistakes.
By the time The Hi-Steppers left the Pacific Northwest, it had ditched its shiny green suits, opting for a Rolling Stones look – sports jackets, slacks and boots with a Cuban heel.
Amanda approved but fashions kept changing. She clucked her tongue when Bob said he was drawn to Nehru jackets and those scarves that were secured by a toggle ring.
You mean you want to look like The Association, Amanda asked? A glee club.
Well no, admitted Bob.
Or The Grantchesters?
In a few months nobody will be wearing Nehru jackets, but if you’re photographed in them that will be your image for years after.
OK, point taken.
He suggested going for a military look. Amanda liked that and said she’d look around at the used clothing stores that were beginning to appear.
As band leader, Bob knew he could make decisions for The Hi-Steppers, but he didn’t know if he could tell the band how to dress. So far, it was happy to go along with him. He had only two dress code rules. No facial hair; no running shoes.
That could be a challenge. More and more bands were appearing with moustaches and beards, and were dressed casually. Even Paul McCarney and John Lennon were sporting moustaches and whiskers. The rest of the world wouldn’t be far behind.