Music is one of those experiences that is so many things to so many people. From the beginning of civilization, people have been creating unique sounds that gave them enjoyment. The subjectivity of music makes it enjoyable to some and a nuisance to others. Although I’m a huge fan of instrumental, I enjoy something from each genre of music. I’d like to tell you about one of the most incredible musical experiences in my life.
FIRST A LITTLE BACKSTORY.
During the early stages of wooing my wife, we would spend our Sunday nights in the back room of “Bukkets” in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Jacksonville has a pretty impressive local music scene (MANY musical acts have originated there, including Limp Bizkit and Lynrd Skynrd. Whether or not you consider them “substantial” is up to personal interpretation; I, personally have always liked them.) and we were there to see “Monkey The Fish”, a now defunct group of three guys who went their separate directions. The lead singer, Lucio Rubino (or, as we called him, “Lu”) went on to found Storyside B, which has also broken up.
I had gotten to be a regular in this dark back room, and always wore my Nebraska Cornhuskers ball cap turned around backwards. Even before I began dating my wife, I would show up with a couple other friends, have a couple drinks, and sit on the couch to cheer on Monkey The Fish. From covers to original tunes, these guys were killing it up on stage. One of my favorite covers of theirs was “In The Air Tonight” from Mr Phil Collins. As I became a regular, Lu would holler off the stage that they would be playing “In The Air Tonight” for their red-ballcap-wearing buddy, Dave, and each time was better than the last.
ONCE AGAIN, I DIGRESS.
Another song that has been covered countless times by countless artists is none other than Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower”. Like I said earlier, Monkey The Fish played their share of covers and this particular night was no different upon first glance. What started out as just another run of the mill cover of a timeless classic, became what I consider the most incredible musical experience of my life. I love All Along The Watchtower, honestly. It makes for a great cover.
This particular night, they had played their usual playlist and then, just as it was getting close to closing time and the patrons were petering out, the bartender turned to us “regulars” (there were less than a dozen people left in the bar at this point) and told us we were welcome to stay a few minutes longer as she cleaned up but drinks were finished for the night.
From Lu’s mouth came “There must be some kinda way outta heeeerrreee…”
The guitar work by Lu and Mike was so fluid and partnered well together. Lu would sing the lyrics and then there would be a thirty second instrumental of just the guitars, then he would sing the next round of lyrics. It was incredible, and it only got better. Hendrix’s classic leaves itself open to a lot of interpretation and slight modifications, and Monkey The Fish did THE BEST job of that. Ten minutes into the song, Lu grabbed an extra guitar and invited one of the bar patrons up on stage. Now there were THREE guitarists playing at the same time. Lu’s singing took a back seat to the strumming of the guitars and we were given ANOTHER ten minutes or so of instrumental. After his set was finished, the nameless patron set the guitar back down and took his seat with us mere mortals, and Lu’s voice continued on.
By the end of the set, over twenty minutes had passed and I’m pretty sure that we all knew we had witnessed something incredible. To this day, when I hear ANY version of Watchtower I’m taken back to the night I heard a 20+ minute cover by a fantastic local band.
Unfortunately Monkey The Fish broke up before they released a second album. I have the first album but the only clip I could find was the following. The track is called “Through” and was a constant on their weekly playlist.