Jammin’ at Founders (photo by Cheryl Thompson Schuch)
The week started loud, like I like it. Feedback 2014: What a blast.
The Honeytones’ 20th anniversary gig to benefit Access, its food pantries and anti-poverty programs was every bit as glorious as it should have been: packing out Founders with fans and friends; listening to the sharp pop of Domestic Problems and the garage-rock ecstasy of the Fuzzrites; playing just what we felt like playing helped by the lovely voice of Hannah Rose Graves, the blues harp of Hank Mowery and the golden sax of Rolly Smith.
There’s something marvelous about the fact that John Sinkevics and I started this journey in his Comstock Park basement more than 25 years ago. We plinked out tunes by Tommy James and Steve Earle on his Casio keyboard (which was little more than a glorified Mattel model), a drum machine that produced maybe two or three beats we could actually use, and an electric guitar that I’d borrowed from Mom. With us was Ron Hovingh, like John and I a refugee from The Press newsroom, all of us brought here by the simple fact that we loved rock ‘n’ roll and for a long time had wanted to play it with other people.
Thus was born Sink and the Honeytones, later shortened to The Honeytones for strictly utilitarian reasons, although our ex-Press comrade Ted Roelofs will claim it was a brazen bid by me for greater glory. If so, looks like I won!
And so we played and played until one day we came above ground to play at a Press holiday party. Our first number was “I Think We’re Alone Now,” when in fact we were finally not alone. We were playing with and for other people, and what a happy fact that was.
Hundreds of songs and scores of gigs later we are still playing, John and I, the Click and Clack of The Honeytones. Ron tragically passed away some years ago but his sweet, high harmonies linger in our memories. Many drummers have come and gone, none of whom exploded on stage although their hands did set off pyrotechnics. Currently we are more than ably backed by drummer Tom Taylor and bassist Matt Fouts, and rejoined by the gifted vocalist Susan Beerens, who first sang with us some two decades ago.
All of which is to say that last Sunday’s 20th anniversary Feedback was not just a day of rock ‘n’ roll joy, as always, but a true treasure and gift. To still be able to make music all these years later, as part of a giving community, for an agency that feeds others, is a wonderful way of feeding the soul. As John wrote in his music blog Local Spins, “It made for the perfect pre-Thanksgiving party.”
The following night saw a much quieter kind of pre-Thanksgiving party: the 15th annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. Andrea and I huddled into Westminster Presbyterian Church with several hundred others to hear expressions of gratitude from our community’s wide array of faith perspectives: Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, secular. Here too was food for the soul, whether singing a responsive hymn with Dominican sisters, or listening to a beautiful praise of God by a young woman from the West Michigan Hindu Temple.
For Andrea and me, the week ended with a more traditional kind of food, courtesy of a smorgasbord at a local restaurant. With family spread far and wide, we celebrated Thanksgiving Day with a movie and a meal and the cherished company of each other. We fed more than our tummies; it was love and gratitude that filled our souls. It was not nearly as loud as rock ‘n’ roll, but just as joyful in its simple way.