Music’s Last Hurrah…………….#174 (80’s)

The Kiowa Supper Club

.  Music having been indelibly inscribed in Gary’s past life,  although dormant since his residency in Kiowa.  He still retained all the necessary band equipment to engage in a piano bar or bandstand presentation.  In Gary’s vision, Kiowa was currently disemboweled of performing musicians with exception of Larry Swonger,  who in the past had performed,  and Roger Powell,  having performed, recorded and complimented professionals, but currently was inactive.   The only establishments currently  with a Juke Box was the Uptown Recreation and The Supper Club.  Uptown Recreation was  a beer serving pool room,  providing sandwiches and accessories,  positioned on 6th Street, better known to the local town  inhabitants as Bruce’s,  Bruce Koblitz  the enunciated proprietor.  Entering Bruce’s  domain, one is immediately subjected to an atmosphere permeated with cigarette smoke,  centered in the room are two pool tables opposite a long bar addressed with stools.   Adjacent to the end of the bar was a small open cooking grill providing sandwiches.  Several tables with chairs fulfilled the remaining expanse, with a door leading to a unisex single restroom, the juke box positioned beside it.

.  Gary wasn’t evoked by Bruce’s,  having discerned public taprooms of its accord in his past music experiences,  but on occasion given the special circumstance,  he joined the other Service Company employees for round of beer.  The special circumstances was an expostulation  constituted by owner Steve Miller.  Friday’s were payday at the Service Company,  the weekly checks being dispersed between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. by management,  either John or Steve Miller or when neither were available, by Sandi Palmer.   Unlike Steve who was strictly business and punctual,  good-natured John Miller was not a temporal person and most Fridays was late in relinquishing the company payroll checks which for some reason got under his brother Steve’s skin.   Steve initiating an authoritative rule, if John was late with the checks he would have to provide a round of  beer at Bruce’s for all those wishing to participate..   It was soon realized one could look antecedently to an after work beer whenever John handed out checks.   Gary surmised that instead of a chastisement, John thought it was a vindication, thoroughly enjoying the Friday convergence on Bruce’s Uptown Recreation with the employees.

.  The other established conception, a definitive contrast, the Supper Club, occupying the remnants of an old hotel on Railroad Avenue,  bordering the Santa Fe Railroad tracks,  across from the defunct relic of the once prestige’s  Kiowa Railway Station.  The Supper Club,  a unique dining and lounge facility with a full service kitchen, dining room and special catering area, a separate lounge component opening in the afternoons.  The regal upstairs hotel accommodations,  a thing of the past having been obstructed and excluded long ago,  Lynn and Gerva Harget having opened it in 19 78,  the amicable title holding host.  The lounge radiating a warm but not overly plush atmosphere, a small dance floor and jukebox adjacent to entry,  both sides of the room adorned with booths, the center section with tables, the far end of the room hosting the bar and stools.  The Supper Club and Lounge not an overt  atmosphere of sophistication,  but one of small town contentment.

.  Gary having retain his band equipment, it lying dormant stored away in his residence, discovering an opportunity to resurrect it from it dormancy. recalling his musical background in Kiowa, his first acquaintance 9 years earlier, Judy Jantz  hiring his band for the Chamber of Commerce Labor Day Dance,  appearing as The Persuaders.   Gary visiting with Larry Swonger about forming a trio , acquainting the  Fender Rhodes piano,  affording the bass octave,  Larry on guitar and his high school son Doug on drums.  The trio’s inaugural presentation accorded an acceptable performance, the Harget’s impressed,  Gary, Larry and Doug continuing with several weekend engagements.

.  Once a musician always a musician,  even when sequestered.  Gary’s  activity as a trio having come to a conclusion, but on occasion he would slip off to the Supper Club on a Friday or Saturday night, there was something inherent about the atmosphere of a well addressed nightclub.  The 19 year association in the realm of Wurlitzer and Seeburg having not only provided a means of livelihood,  but a bonding with a profession that was shared by notables throughout history.  The Supper Club sporting an upright piano placed off to the side of the dance floor,  the musician when asked,  demonstrated  the eighty-eight keys still retained its functional heritage.  It was a quiet evening at the Supper Club, the far and few between after dinner patrons who ventured into the beverage half of the Supper Club having left.

.  Gary having been asked to play a couple of songs and was in process of leaving when he noticed that his brother-in-law Shawn’s mother, Iva Beth and another lady entering,  seating themselves in a booth.   Iva whom Gary was acquainted with, approached the piano,  asking if he knew the Bette Midler song The Rose,  Gary responding  that he had seen the movie and was familiar with the song and then adding,  if you can sing it, I can play it,  thinking the comment would end the conversation, but he was wrong, Iva saying okay, I’ll be right back, I have the words at home.  Iva returning with a note pad with the words written on it.

.  Gary recalling the unusual two note right hand intro to the song, Iva beginning “Some say love it is a river that drowns the tender reed”, the rest all fell into place, the voice and the piano blending as one, Gary having accompanied many stellar professional vocalist in the past, but this was totally astonishing,  Iva was The Rose.  The musician somewhat mesmerized by what had just transpired, bidding Iva Beth and her friend goodbye, but before leaving asking a favor of Iva,  could he have her handwritten words to the song.  what wasn’t said was,  it would be kept, a remembrance of the night he accompanied The Rose.


.  It was by invitation only,  the provincial Kiowa farmers not solicited,  Steve Miller extending a welcome to clientele from surrounding states and locations, providing the availability of his Cessna  as transportation.  The celebrated event an appreciation of their sponsorship in his John Deere business endeavors, but an attendance dismissal administered to the local community.  Steve very much aware of Gary’s music background,  presenting an overture, asking if he could provide the music for the 75 people invited to the event at his residence.  The petitioned musician placing a phone call to Oklahoma City,  questioning if the guitarist sax player and friend Jerry Willis would make the drive for a Saturday night appearance in Kiowa with him,  Larry and Doug Swonger.

.  The night of the event, the h’orderves,  cocktails,  beverages of every imaginable genus flowing,  served in the outdoor area adjoining Miller capacious indoor pool.   A curiosity beginning to prevail, Gary cognizance that there was no provision for a meal, but that was soon to change.   Steve Miller approached asking to use the microphone.  All expecting a flourishing announcement about the attendance of the loyal customers but instead there was  a pronouncement.   Steve relating that dinner would be served at the Supper Club,  the Clubs complete menu at the guest disposal, compliment of their host.  Steve Continued enumerating,  a petition from the Supper Club’s Lynn Hargett,  requesting the assemblage interval their convergence so as not to overwhelm the kitchen and  to better serve the entourage.  

.  The enjoyable evening accomplished,  Gary’s band equipment once again finding solace in its storage capacity,  making  a decision to bid a farewell to the provisional giver of captivating musical memories,  acknowledging the road of life having taken a new direction,  the Steve Miller presentation his music’s last hurrah.

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