O Come, Angel Band
Come, and around me stand, bear me away on your snowy wings….
Miller has one, Basie has one, Ellington too. Ghost bands. Bands traveling the country bringing their tunes to adoring crowds 50, 60, 70 years after many of the tunes were considered pop hits, many years after the names on the books are gone. Legends.
Sunday, August 21, a different kind of ghost band appeared at Gilly’s night club in downtown Dayton. Different because this was no headline act, not one of many stops along a road of “what city are we in today” gigs. One night only. Special performance. One night to honor a fallen comrade, hold up memories of days forever young.
It was a good cause, pass the hat and help send kids through music school. But it didn’t stop there. Many of these performers hadn’t seen each other in 35 years. Others had hung up their instruments years ago. Some were still living on what they killed. They came from all over, a veritable “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” . Red eye from California, fly with multiple saxes from Florida, drive from DC and fall victim to bad directions. They came to honor a fallen legend and serve a living one. They came for love.
And love was palpable in a darkened and beer stained nightclub. Love bore the ghosts of those no longer with us and bore the wisps of dreamy memories on its wings into an audience enraptured from beginning to end. The uninitiated were amazed by the versatility on display; those in the know were blown away by the masterful manipulation of keys, the beautiful arrangements, the love. The room was filled with love. People listening and watching who really didn’t know the stories could feel it. Engulfed in it, they weren’t ready for it to be over. At the close of the last tune, the entire audience was silent waiting expectantly. No one wanted it to be over.
Yet even angels must sleep, catch planes, wind down. Angels who brought with them the perfect state of grace and shared it with the rest of us, showed us what a perfect storm of time, place and shared journey can look like, thirty five years later. A band of angels.