LEGENDS OF THE LIGHTHOUSE CONCERT: A TIME FOR MEMORIES AND REMEMBRANCE … THOSE WHO PLAYED DID SO IN THE NAME OF ALL WHO COULDN’T … RECOLLECTIONS OF QUARRY, ESPECIALLY THE SPECIAL BOND BETWEEN DAVE CARRON AND MICK VALENTI
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, SEPT. 17, 2012) — “So many people have come and gone. Their faces fade as the years go by.”
That song, by the band Boston, came to mind while reflecting on the magic afternoon and evening spent with friends one week and a day ago. The success of the Legends of the Lighthouse reunion concert wasn’t in the 1,500 who turned out. It wasn’t in the fabulous display of musical virtuosity displayed by a busload of musicians, all locally grown. Where was the barometer by which we can best judge “success” in this case?
Want to find it?
The Definition of Success: In the Eyes of a Friend
Look into the eyes of a friend you haven’t seen in more than 40 years, picking up right where you left off (THE PLANET and Steve Coltrara, for example). Feel the hug of a mate whose life took him away and beyond, back in the a weekend, and resurrecting the enchanted, almost shamanistic mojo that did then and does now form the superglue-bond of enduring love.
We like to think that all of the musicians from back in the 60s, 70s, and a bit beyond who are no longer with us were present that day in their absence. We can’t name them all for fear of leaving some out. That being said, THE PLANET felt four special losses that day, between the notes of every song by every band. In those gaps of silence between notes that make music possible, we find the spirits of all who have passed on, preceding us on the eventual fate that shall be ours, too.
These four good friends were Dave Carron, Danny Velika, Johnny Soldato, and Bob Gabriel.
Dave and Danny, Mick’s Mates
Dave and Danny were band mates in my brother Mick’s band, QUARRY. Johnny and Bob were for years a part of Mick’s QUICK FOX.
What do we say when the wordless language of music, which once brought us all together a generation and 10 ago, floats through the air and weaves its euphonious thread? Nothing. The music “speaks” for itself, truly the universal language. This language has an amazing grammatical ability: To bring back to vividness the memory and spirit of departed friends.
There were stories Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Boys Club, about these men and others. Friends dedicated songs to the memory of their comrades in instruments. Dry eyes could not mask tear-filled souls. Tears revealed the depths of affection. They were the tears of wistfulness, of a once-pleasant time that you know can never come again … but did for one magical afternoon and evening.
Dave Carron: We Found Out in Texas
Dave Carron had a voice to rival Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. We found that out at the Texas International Pops Festival (TIPF), held two weeks after the original Woodstock on Labor Day Weekend.
THE QUARRY played on the free stage as Woodstock’s house band. The promoter of the TIPF attended, scouting talent to fill the bill at his event. He signed QUARRY, not as house band but to play the main stage along with Led Zeppelin (also Santana, Janis Joplin, Ten Years After, and others). The festival, produced at the Texas Speedway, attracted 150,000 people.
Here is a screen grab from the TIPF website:
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It was Labor Day weekend, 1969, two weeks after Woodstock, and thousands of hippies and lovers of peace and music converged on the small town of Lewisville, just north of Dallas, at the Texas Pop Festival to be and to see and to hear the music of B.B.King, Canned Heat, Chicago, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Freddie King, Grand Funk Railroad, Herbie Mann, Incredible String Band, James Cotton Blues Band, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Led Zeppelin, Nazz, The Quarry, Rotary Connection, Sam & Dave, Santana, Shiva’s Headband, Sly & the Family Stone, Space Opera, Spirit, Sweetwater, Ten Years After and Tony Joe White!
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Archives Lost in a Fire, though Some Remains
The bulk of QUARRY’s archives, sadly, were lost in a warehouse fire, and THE PLANET probably has one of the best collections of remaining material. That being said, we know there is material out there to be had for the asking — probably studio tapes and live-performance tapes out there that we don’t have. We would ask anyone who knows of such tapes (or photos) to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warner Brother has at least an hour of live footage of QUARRY in concert, but it will not release it as part of its intellectual copyright on Woodstock. Okay, but we are asking anyone who might have snapshots, fliers, ads, or tapes to contact us.
QUARRY was formed by Mick Valenti from the QUARRYMEN, and it featured Dave Carron, Danny Velika, and Mike Furey. The band achieved the status of “almost famous,” but a break away from taking it to the next level, which was the Big Time. PErhaps the apex of their run came in Texas.
Besides the information on the TIPF website, we have found two photos that provide evidence of QUARRY on the main stage at the TIPF. The first is a color snapshot, taken from about 30 rows back in the audience. In it, you can see the band’s equipment and instruments — amps, Mick’s drums, more amps, and at extreme stage right (as the viewer sees it) Dave Carron, with his guitar. He’s wearing a white top. The picture appears to be taken right before or after a performance.
The second photo shows Dave, probably backstage, picking out a chord. To his left is a Texas lawman-cowboy-rancher type, maybe part of staff or security.
We publish both photos here, for the first time:
Our Silence Said it All
QUARRY achieved a measure of fame and attention, but the Big Deal never came. They didn’t graduate from an opening act at major concerts, though they headlined at a lot of smaller venues. Dave Carron and Mick Valenti wrote the original music, with Danny throwing in the occasional gem. Dave and Mick found in each other musical soulmates, that rare case of a prodigy meeting his musical match, which happened when these two guys formed their bond. Perhaps there was too much talent to fit the confines of one band, and after five years, Mick and Dave went their separate ways, to careers apart from each other.
Still, wherever they went, whenever they played, Mick took a part of Dave with him, and Dave took a piece of Mick.
On Sunday, Sept. 9, during the Legends, we hung out mostly in the green room or back stage. We took one turn out in the audience, and we ran into Wendy, Dave’s effervescent wife (we won’t say widow, because Dave is alive in memory, in the metaphysics of the afterlife, and in the mind of God). Wendy and THE PLANET embraced each other in a long, wordless hug.
We work with and in words, not musical notes, and in that embrace, THE PLANET found ourselves not needed words, phrases, or syllables. As the music washed over us, our silence said it all.
Dave and Danny, Johnny and Bob, have passed on. Mike Furey is out of music. Mick is still going strong, having made of his gift the profession of a lifetime. In some way, with every note of music he plays or writes, there is contained the memory of everyone with whom he has ever played.
A NOONTIDE FOLLOWING, BACK INTO OUR WEEK, WE EMBRACE THE ONCOMING OF FALL AND ITS CRISPNESS. WE HAVE GRATITUDE IN OUR HEARTS FOR ALL THAT IS.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.