Rock & Roll Never Forgets: A JP Kinkaid Mystery

An excerpt from Deborah Grabien's novel


Some nights, you just know the gig's going to kick ass. You know it early; the crowd picks it up, they feed it back to you, you run with it and turn it into fire and smoke and sex, and you feed it right back to them.

It was in the air, that night at the Miami gig. This was the best kind of electricity, the best kind of knowing it would work - we'd brought some of it with us, from the time we'd got to the venue and begun the sound check.

"...the American Airlines Center is proud to present..."

That crackle, that moment of knowing there's magic in the air and all you've got to do is work it, had happened halfway through the soundcheck, hours before the gig itself. There was some sort of EQ issue with Cal's bass stack; while the various roadies and tech types fiddled and diddled and tested and asked Calvin anxious questions, I got bored. It's a basic component of soundchecks, that's what they're for, but if it isn't your sound being messed about with, it gets tedious.

So, I started arsing with the guitar, just noodling, and out of nowhere, I found myself playing an old song, one the band hadn't done in nearly twenty years. I played a few bars of it, and all of a sudden, there was that smell of magic. That light went on, across the board, you know? You could see it happen: Mac's head jerked and the rest of the band followed suit.

"Was that from the intro to 'Heart Attack'?" Stu hit a drum roll, the exact roll from the song's original album track, a tricky little 4/3 beat, like a heart. "Shit, I haven't played that since Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. I love that song. Cal? You remember the bass, yeah?"

"Damned right I do." Calvin played it, his neck arched, his ponytail flying. "Fuckin' hell, I love this one. Remember the Partly Possible sessions? Why did we stop covering it, anyway?"

"Damned if I know. It's a brilliant song." Luke, who'd been taking a break, draped his Strat around his neck and ran a few licks. "And appropriate, all things considered. JP, mate, can you run the rhythm part? No, not the verse section - I meant the bit you were just doing, just before it does the rollover into the verse...?"

Thirty seconds in, and you'd have thought we'd been rehearsing the damned song for a month. No one hit a wrong note; no one missed a beat. Mac came in with the vocal, hot and drawly and very much the voice of a bloke all turned on and ready to go. Every head in the building whipsawed his way, roadies, techs, house staff and all: Baby pack your suitcase, don't forget to catch your train....oh, sweet baby, you know I've had you on the brain....come on back, now come on back, daddy's waitin' for you at the sugar shack, oh pretty mama, you're givin' me a heart attack...

We ran it through once, and everyone in the building began to applaud, completely spontaneous. That sewed it up, all right. We added about six minutes to the show's set list right then and there.

Copyrighted by Deborah Grabien. No reproduction or reuse of this material in part or in
whole may be done without the express written permission of Deborah Grabien. Rock & Roll Never
Forgets: A JP Kinkaid Mystery
will be released July 2008 by St. Martin's Minotaur.