June 25, 2019

A Little Magic

A Little Magic
By John R. Greenwood

Magic Dick and Shun Ng
June 21,2019 @ Caffe` Lena
In 1972 I was a High School Junior—a Saratoga Springs Blue Streak. My wife and I were dating, and we’ve now been married for 45 years. Three weeks ago, we retired hand-in-hand on the very same day. We are looking forward to a work-free summer filled with dates, day-trips, and mini adventures. Last night I enjoyed one of those mini-adventures when I witnessed a little Magic at Caffè Lena. 

"My 1972 Album Cover" 
The music was going to be a trip back and step forward all in the same night. That music was provided by Magic Dick and Shun Ng. Richard Salwitz known as Magic Dick, born May 13, 1945 was a member of the J. Geils band in 1972. That was the year I purchased the J. Geils Live album Full House (Yes, I still have the original pictured here). Full House was recorded at the Cinderella Ballroom in Detroit, Michigan. "Whammer Jammer" the #4 song on that album was always one of those songs that made me feel good. It got your “heart pumpin’” and looking forward to whatever was coming next. So, when I saw Magic Dick pop up on Caffè Lena’s upcoming event page, my curiosity and nostalgia kicked in. Three minutes later I had an Eventbrite Ticket Confirmation. 

"Magic Dick in 1972"
Photo from the back of the Full House Album
Magic was now partnered with Shun Ng. The promo said Shun was an acoustic guitar sensation. Although the name was not familiar, I trusted Caffè Lena and Magic Dick. That’s the adventure part of this retirement gig. A short Shun Ng trip on Google and Youtube indicated this was going to be more interesting than I first thought. I was not disappointed. 

Even the search for a Saratoga parking spot on a Friday night in June turned into an enjoyable adventure. Finally, after circling nearby lots and streets, I settled on a quiet spot on Regent Street a few blocks away. The walk to 47 Phila began the walk back in time. This was the other end of the street, where I went to Jr. High. A few buildings south of that is where we'd drop my son off at Marilyn Rollison's "MarLyn Nursery School". It was the street where I would steal a kiss from my girlfriend, now wife, on our walks from the Eastside to SPAC for a James Taylor concert. It was a block away from the Spring St. Market and Eartha’s Kitchen where I delivered milk back in the 80s. An endless loop of fond memories and sights was playing in my head. 

My wife and I have differing likes when it comes to music, so tonight was a solo flight. It was okay, the camaraderie of a Caffè Lena crowd was sure to provide some interesting conversation. The show was spectacular. Magic, now seventy and still sporting black leather was energetic and engaging as was his sub-thirty partner Shun Ng. 

This story is more than a music review. I wanted to focus on the living beyond work part, and the re-wiring of our goals and aspirations for life on a monthly check and weeks with no weekends. Caffè Lena presented me with a priceless gift Friday night. Never in my wildest dreams back in 1972 did I think that in forty-seven years I’d be sitting in a quaint music venue enjoying one of my teenage music heroes just a few feet away. This isn’t about going back and trying to recapture youth, it’s about savoring the entire dish. Life for me has all taken place within a 30-mile radius, but when I start pulling out the strands of experiences, friendships, characters, and memories, it’s a mountainous collection of joy. Finding joy and not regret is what we should strive for in life after work. How many times have we heard, “life is what  you make of it.” Sitting at that little table on that beautiful Friday night in June, I had the immense pleasure of listening to 1972 again. It’s not about re-creating it, it’s about letting those sounds and voices inspire you to want more—even after the workdays end. May 31st, 2019 was my last day of employment but the first day of school for me. Excitement and curiosity are alive and well. Thanks to some old friends and places, it’s tasting delicious. 

Thank you Magic, it was an honor to shake your hand and have an opportunity to tell you face to face how much your music meant to me when I was 17. Thank you for introducing Shun Ng and his music to me. Thank you, Sarah Craig, for pouring your heart and soul into Lena’s place and helping it thrive. Thank you, Joe Deuel, for your gentle demeanor and undying commitment to capturing the essence of Lena’s in sound and photographs.

Thank you, Saratoga, Wilton, and Greenfield for the buffet of life you’ve laid out for me, Chapter # 1’s been a great ride. Chapter # 2’s off to a great start!  

* Fun side note and testament to my lack of music nerd-ness. As I was Googling around J. Geils and all the Wikipedia side trips I stumbled upon the simplest of facts. The poker hand on the cover of Full House is not a full house. I've owned that album for almost a half-century and listened to it hundreds of times, and I never realized it! See what I mean. You're never too old to be curious. You may be surprised at what you find. No wonder when I looked at the Queen of Hearts closely she was winking at me. ;)

And just in case you're wondering: 

"Whammer Jammer" - Let me hear you Dickie!

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