Joelfest Weekend (I can remember when the whole thing took, like, three hours) began around 5 p.m. Friday with the arrival from Florida of event co-founder Ron and longtime event stalwart Laura Leigh. I’m pretty sure Ron hasn’t listened to Joel in 30 years, but he was being a good sport.
LL wanted to go to an Italian restaurant on The Hill (for the St. Louis-impaired, that’s the city’s Italian neighborhood) so we made the long drive into town and enjoyed some delicious pasta as well as a bottle of red, as that was the kind of mood we were in that night.
We arrived home and discovered I had a flat tire. Not what I wanted to deal with on Joelfest Day. So I got up the next morn and drove to the tire store where they said it would be several hours, so I made The Wife come get me and I sat down in the basement with our guests and watched a movie. Then we ate lunch and Ron and I watched another movie while the women made pomegranate margaritas and, well, I don’t want to know what else was going on upstairs.
The party was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. but I told the out-of-towners and people with small children to come over anytime. Around 5:30 p.m. Liz arrived from Columbia, followed by the Cales clan — 2011 RROY REPORT IDOL Aaron Defenbaugh, Jami ‘Cales,’ Cales Jr., Toddler Cales and Baby Cales. Aaron gave me a lovely portrait he’d drawn of me on a napkin. Since it wasn’t officially Joel time, we played Chris Brashear CDs as the opening act. Chris was another founder but couldn’t make it in.
At this point everyone started arriving in bunches, so pay no mind to the order. Scott and Kim made it in from Piedmont, Mo., with homemade soaps, lip balm and two bottles of wine from St. Genevieve (I really wanted one of Scott’s homemade knifes, but apparently he doesn’t trust me with sharp object. We’ve known each other a long time).
Ward, Kim and daughter Alex came in from Ohio with an awesome T-Rex with moveable jaw. Marc showed up from Farmington with a gift for The Wife — a framed photograph from the first Joelfest with a ticket stub from the Joel concert that started it all.
You know, gift giving is not traditionally a part of Joelfest, so I don’t know where all this was coming from. But I am all in favor of gift giving, in fact that’s the kind of thing that could turn JF back into an annual event.
Susan showed up from the old-guard Journal days and Aleshia and her cousin dropped in to represent the Arc (I’ve probably spelled Aleshia’s name wrong but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read the Report so she’ll never know).
A pretty good crowd for a Saturday. I fear I’m leaving someone out but I can always come back and edit later.
The program was simple: The Main Hall featured Joelfest Live — a 4-hour-plus compilation of songs from The Man’s various live albums. The RROY Cave featured Joelfest Classic — all Joel studio albums in chronological order. Or at least that was the plan. Ward had to leave early and demanded I play “The Stranger” before he left, and then LL showed up with a copy of “Cold Spring Harbor” but long after we’d already started the proceedings. It basically turned into a free-for-all. We got through almost everything but somewhere along the line, “An Innocent Man” didn’t get played. Purely by accident.
By midnight all the die-hards had left, so Marc, Ron, LL, Liz and I sat around the bar and discussed where Marc’s life had gone wrong. It was 1982 all over again. Marc had planned to drive back to Farmington that night but after a steady diet of Budweiser Selects he decided the basement floor looked pretty comfy. We called it a night around 2:45 a.m.
Six hours later The Wife informs me that everyone else is up and LL has made coffee and she’s going out to get donuts. What is wrong with these people? Why are they awake? Now I have to be awake. I want to sleep some more.
I drag out of bed and we gather around the kitchen table to drink coffee and eat donuts and listen to “Fantasies & Delusions.” Once that’s over I put on “Streetlife Serenade,” since it got skipped the night before. People are still hanging around so I finally put in “An Innocent Man” confident that “Uptown Girl” will clear the house.
The group dispersed around noon, leaving me with a lot of meatballs and hummus to eat for the next week. Note to my Facebook “friends”: When you rsvp for a party you should show up so I don’t get stuck with so many leftovers. Strangely, there were no pomegranite margaritas left.