I don't remember the exact date, but I do remember Watershed was opening for Cheap Trick at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH when they were touring behind the under-rated "Woke Up with a Monster" record. We were waiting in the wings to load our gear and the Trick had just fished sound-checking with a thunderous version of "Let Her Go" from said album.
As they finished, somebody mentioned it was Father's Day and each member dropped everything and went to one another and wished each other a Happy Father's Day with a heartfelt hug. And I don't mean briefly: Rick shook Tom's hand and they hugged, Robin shook Rick's hand and they hugged and so on. I think Bun did the same with everybody but I only remember the guys at the front of the stage.
At this point I was 24 years old, playing 200 shows a year and parenthood was quite possibly the very last thing on my mind. (Unless trying to avoid it counts) Yet, here was my all time favorite band hugging each other in full view and wishing each other Happy Father's Day.
It was so not rock n roll. It was also one of the coolest things I had ever seen. It was obvious that these guys cared deeply about being parents. Hell, I didn't even know they had kids. To me, they were just rock n roll super heroes who just endlessly roamed the globe playing to packed houses every night. I heard that one of the guys from the Elvis Brothers might have been related to Robin, but that was just a rumor. I digress.......
Anyway, if you have been a fan of Watershed, read the book Hitless Wonder, visited Pencilstorm or chatted with me at Colin's Coffee or a bar, you are painfully aware how big of Cheap Trick fan I am. As such, I couldn't help but notice that while losing an all-time great drummer like Bun E. Carlos is a blow, replacing him with Rick's son Daxx was a masterstroke. Cheap Trick is in his DNA and it shows. Bun E. is a legend, but Daxx has brought a whole new energy to the band. If you need proof, Check out the recent set list from Red Rocks.
Hmmm…..I got to thinking.....drums are a very physical instrument. Sooner or later even the very best wear out and have to stop touring. (Except Charlie Watts.) Never hurts to plan ahead just in case. Hopefully it's years away, but if Cheap Trick can thrive with Daxx Nielsen on the stool, perhaps Watershed could have a similar renaissance with Owen Gawel in the year 2027?
Owen is just 11 years old and though he has never had a drum lesson, he has had access to a full-band rehearsal room in our basement since he was four. A couple times a week he puts down the baseball/basketball, picks up some sticks and head downstairs to play along to some AC/DC. This year at the end of 5th grade, some talented girls in his class heard he could play drums and asked him to sit in with them as they played "Faithfully" (Journey ) for a school assembly.
I was thinking, "'Faithfully,' in front of your boys with a bunch of girls? Dude, prepare for beatings on the playground."
O was unfazed. "Sure, I'll do it. It's a gig."
That's my boy. Now get cracking on "5th of July" And then get those dirty clothes off the floor before Mom gets home.
Below: Owen playing for the very first time in front of his elementary school.
Below that: Daxx playing with his Dad and some of his Dad's friends in front of a bunch of boozed up gamblers. Both are tough crowds.
Happy Father's Day from all of us at Pencilstorm. Colin Gawel.