March, 1998. Practices at Tom's became less frequent. First, we knew our songs pretty well, and were quick to learn new ones. Secondly, we had no gigs on the horizon (hardly anyone else was out scouting places to play). Lastly, Tom was now working with a side-project of his with our old buddy Dan on drums, and the bass player from the band godheadsilo. Not only were our get-togethers happening a lot less, The Pace itself seemed like an afterthought. There was even a trio rehearsal without Tom one evening, as he had other things to do.
We came up with the idea of hitting some of the local open-mike shows in and around town...getting up there, blazing through five fast songs, and leaving the stage a smoking wreck behind us. But the concept died out after an unsuccessful attempt at Cole's Oasis in Ruston, as the bands there were bogarting the stage, and we seemed to lose interest in the whole thing as it got later and later. And then, Tom's off on a vacation to Washington D.C. for a couple of weeks.
I was told that we'd be getting together once he got back, but my phone wasn't ringing for about a week after that. When it did, I was invited by Tom to this party at a house a couple of blocks down from Tom's place. When I got there, I found that not only had the other guys been playing without me all that while, they were the evening's entertainment. But they were doing something with the old Thomas organ, delay pedals and percussion, and it wasn't what we had been doing. And it sure wasn't interesting. I left the house before the party even started.
May, 1998. I was called to a rehearsal, as the Pace were invited to open another show at the Central on the 8th, in a few days. When I got there, the rehearsal room was in total disarray, and I was using Dan's drums; he lately had tuned his snare really loose, making the whole rehearsal sound in slow-motion. We plowed through some of our old favorites, but we were rusty. When the day came, I tried to call Tom to see what time we were going to pack up for the show, but no answer. I went over there, and the other three guys were playing the same bit they had played at the party, only now they had borrowed an Optigan organ from Guitar Maniacs. I was told that this was what they were going to do onstage that night, and that I was invited to sit in with them. Sit in! With a band I was already in! Or was I?
I helped lug the gear in and set it onstage. We brought Dan's drums, but Winter was insistent on not taking the snare with us, for some odd reason. We were on first, on a bill that included the RC-5, the Notorious Brodies, and the Goddamn Gentlemen. I placed my microcassette atop Winter's guitar amp to record the show. Winter announced that the show was for the ladies in the audience. And off we went.
They started off with Tom playing repetitive guitar lines fed through a phaser, Lincoln on the Thomas organ's bass pedals, and Winter on bongos. Midway through this long, droning piece, one of Tom's buddies shouted, "Play something that rocks!!! Let's rock and roll!!!", making Tom crack back, "This is anti-rock!". Having no snare made things difficult, but I made up for it using a pair of felt-head mallets I had bought the day before, playing lots of washes on the cymbals.
We moved into another piece that was reliant on Winter playing guitar through the delay-pedal, piling lines and notes atop one another, which was slightly more interesting, and got some applause. And then they moved into some sort of ballad written by Tom, now playing the Optigan, and Lincoln on the bongos. The applause at the end seemed almost feigned and sarcastic.
The show was over....and so were The Pace.
Quite a shame to have ended with such an embarrassing end, as we were so much better than that, and had so much more to offer. But, it had been quite an enjoyable ride while it was happening, and a hell of a great start for me.