Tag Archives: Joelfest

Can’t Touch This (or Reflections on Joelfest 2017)

All my life I’ve wanted to be a hashtag. Aside from all those years when such a thing didn’t exist. Even now that it exists I don’t really know what it is. It’s a millennial thing, so I stay away from it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Two Saturdays past was Joelfest 2017. If you don’t know what that is, read the F.A.Q. The Joelfest Selection Committee plans this thing well in advance, and the invitation is sent out January 1, so the people who don’t show up don’t show up because they hate me and not because they have a previous engagement — because no one plans out their June activities in January.

Granted, had I known in December how busy I was going to be the week of June 24, I would have suggested another date. But despite how much crap I had to deal with that week, I still made time for the quinquennial festival of William Joel. Because I care.

I used to care that people didn’t show up for Joelfest, but not anymore. I’m old now and I understand that everyone really hates me, so the mere fact that anyone shows up says something — I’m not sure what. And I can’t hold a grudge if someone decides a last-minute trip to Iceland with the kids is more important than seeing an old friend of 38 years. Right? I can’t hold a grudge about that. Can I?

The week’s festivities began Wednesday with a short trip to Columbia so The Wife could attend a work thing. The Son and I spent most of the time in the hotel pool and hot tub (which were wondrously empty for the most part). We tried to walk the campus but it was hot and muggy and Andrew almost immediately had a meltdown, so we wound up at the mall instead.

I did get to visit a new comic book shop (screw you, Rock Bottom — any comic shop that bags its books before putting them out no longer gets my business) and had pizza at Shakespeare’s and a gyro at G&D, so it was a successful trip overall. We returned home Friday in time for a little cleaning followed by opera. The next morning there was more cleaning, grocery shopping, and general preparations. In some respects it was probably good that we didn’t spend the whole week at home as that would’ve given Laurie too much time to obsess over the cleaning.

First to arrive were longtime Joelfesters Ron and Laura Leigh, all the way in from Florida (which makes everyone who claims “Oh, St. Charles is too far away” look like the sissies they are). They were followed by longtime Joelfester Scott and his wife Kim, the latter of whom was the big winner in this year’s hotly contested 50 Days of Joelfest trivia challenge. Laurie went out to get pizza and when she came back, she had Jay with her.

Now, when Jay Chism dies I will write a long and heartfelt obituary about him, but since I’m likely to go first, I’d better just go ahead and say a few nice things now. I’ve known Jay since, I believe, kindergarten, and he’s one of my oldest and dearest friends. Jay doesn’t say he’s coming to Joelfest and not show up. Jay makes no pretense that he’s coming to Joelfest. He just shows up. Once he showed up in Kansas City (where I was living at the time) instead of Columbia (where the party was actually held). We laugh about it now — it probably wasn’t so funny for him at the time.

So we sat in the back yard and had a nice chat while all the other guests showed up and Laurie played hostess while also dealing with Andrew’s inevitable meltdowns (Joelfest is one of those rare occasions where I’m not the one dealing with the meltdowns). There was Liz and Ann and Gena and Christine & family and Tina & family and Melfy & family and Stevie and Coffin Joe and Paul and Julie and the Leahs.

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A pretty good crowd for a Saturday.

Now, I’m not a big rules guy. When you come into my house, I don’t make you take off your shoes. You’re welcome to put your feet up on my coffee table. You can have anything in the fridge or the pantry. Want to take a nap on the couch? Fine. Leave the seat up when you’re done in the bathroom? I don’t give a damn.

I only ask one thing: Don’t Touch My Stuff.

This really shouldn’t even be a rule. It’s really just common sense, common decency, common courtesy. I don’t come into your house and touch your stuff. I am not an animal or a 2-year-old. I had parents who raised me right. But I realize now that I’m living in Trump’s America, so I have to spell things out. But when I say “don’t touch my stuff,” all I’m really saying is “be a decent human being.”

By midnight things had wound down and Stevie ran off because a young person can only stand so many minutes of 50-somethings talking about dealing with their aging parents. The next morning I hopped onto Facebook to get caught up on yesterday’s events only to discover that not I, but my stuff, had become a hashtag.






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There’s more. So much more. But this is a family blog and some of the things that were done to my stuff is not appropriate for all ages.

This is the world we live in, where “friends” can touch your stuff with abandon and then post photographs of it. Smiling. And while I’ll never be a trending topic on the Internet, at least my stuff will be.

You know who didn’t touch my stuff? Jay. And Jay had every reason to get back at me. And not because of that whole Kansas City/Columbia mix-up. No, many years ago, when we were like, 10, I pushed him off a wagon into the mud and cow manure at Warren Argall’s dairy farm. Why did I do it? I don’t know! I was 10! Kids do stupid things! And yet Jay loves to bring up that story every chance he gets — including Joelfest 2017.

So, thanks Jay, for not touching my stuff.

Or at least being smart enough not to leave behind photographic evidence.

See you in 2022.



Days To Hold On To

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.

Chris and Leisa made it in from Nebraska and that was the last of the out-of-towners. The EC was well represented by Yellow and Sophia, Carrie and Paul, Melfy and Greg, and Rachie and Jeff.

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.

A first for the event: The Joelfest Nursery

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.

Scene From An Italian Restaurant

No time to blog. It’s Joelfest Day. Pre-festival festivities began last night.

A bottle of red, a bottle of white

Whatever kind of mood you’re in tonight

I’ll meet you anytime you want…