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Feb. 10, 2022

My playing drums with Dion of Dion and the Belmonts, by Steve Townsend aka Stevie T

My playing drums with Dion of Dion and the Belmonts, by Steve Townsend aka Stevie T

 

 

In the '90s, The Romero Brothers were playing CBS-FM's Holiday Party.   The gig was at The Motown Cafe. 

I was the drummer for the Romero Brothers, and I also worked for CBS-FM's radio group.

Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer, Dion DiMucci of Dion and the Belmonts, a party guest. So at a point in the evening, I got the nerve up and asked if he, Dion, would like to sit in?  

That night, we stacked the band; big names, including Greenwich's own Bob Leinbach, played keyboards. Bob went on to play with the band Orleans. We were ready for anything. 

Dion says, sure, you guys sound pretty good! I had met Dion many times before this night, so I was a familiar face. Dion, now on stage with us, right in front, asks what tune you guys want to play? 

A nice blues, I figure?   I'm thinkin we should do one of his hits. 

So, I yell:

"How about The Wanderer?"

 He goes:  "Ok- count it off."

-My heart is racing. I'm loaded with nervous excitement and count off the tune like we are in a race to finish the song.

Dion turns around, bends down, looks me right in the face, and mouths the words…. "SLOW DOWN"… I'm mortified! All in front of my co-workers who happen to be Cousin Brucie, Ron Lundy, Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison…the original, legendary New York Rock n Roll DJ's…you get the picture- 

So now I'm trying to figure out how slow this thing down- I get us to the tempo Dion's originally recorded song, thinking- yeah, I got this.

 I recovered, and now I am badass. After all, I've played this song since I was 13 years old at all the school dances! 

But no- he wants to do the unheard slow blues version he likes to play…, so around he turns again, bends down, looks me in the eye, and mouths.

"SLOWER…."so I look at our bass player for moral support, and we bring The Wanderer to a slowwwww blues. Meanwhile, I peek out at the audience and see nothing but smiles and excitement with a bit of awkwardness as folks try to wrap their head around this slow version of their favorite hit Oldie. 

All of this happened within maybe a minute of the intro to the song, but it felt like hours. It's true that with experience, you learn most of your audience will never really see or hear screw-ups like this. You take it with you and try not to get nervous- Dion is a great person with immense talent, still active, and always a nice guy!!

 

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