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Ramona's Ramblings

Turning corners

Ramona Jan
Posted 2/27/24

It was March ‘76 and my new friend Patti and I were going to see a band whose leader, Clifford Carter, Patti knew from college, The University of Miami’s Music School. Thanks to Patti, …

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Ramona's Ramblings

Turning corners


It was March ‘76 and my new friend Patti and I were going to see a band whose leader, Clifford Carter, Patti knew from college, The University of Miami’s Music School. Thanks to Patti, the tickets were free and the event was at the historic Beacon Theater on Broadway in NYC, so why not?

Patti and I both worked at Mediasound Recording Studio on West 57th Street where she was the front desk receptionist and I an audio engineer. We hung out as much as we could at work and then talked on the phone incessantly for hours afterwards. We supported each other emotionally through the ups and downs of life and punctuated our friendship by telling people we were cousins.

In her spare time, Patti sang (busked) on the streets of NYC particularly in SoHo with another musician, fiddle player/singer/songwriter Soozie Tyrell. I went downtown to see them regularly. There was a third singer/songwriter, Lisa Lowell. They called themselves Trickster. (Eventually, I would replace Patti in the trio and it would become Venus Fly Trap, but that dream-day was far in the future, and totally unbeknownst to me at the time.)

During the Beacon Theater concert, Carter suddenly invited Patti onstage to play keyboards while he either sang or played another instrument. Whether or not it was planned that Patti would be invited onstage, I do not know as she didn’t say anything to me prior and seemed surprised when asked. In fact, I didn’t even know that she was capable of playing keys.

What Carter was up to the moment Patti got on stage, I must confess, I don’t remember. I was too focused on my friend crossing my fingers that she would make no mistakes. I knew she was nervous. As it turned out she did hit a couple of wrong notes scrunching her shoulders and kind of making a face each time. I’m pretty sure no one noticed except for me and maybe some of the band members; a group that would later be called The 24th Street Band and would include Steve Jordan on drums, Hiram Bullock on guitar, and Will Lee on bass. 

The Beacon was not sold out that night. There were plenty of empty seats, which made the whole event feel very casual. With Patti back in the seat next to me, the headlining act, some guy named Bruce Springsteen, finally took the stage. 

Coincidentally, Springsteen had earlier recorded a demo at Mediasound; one that got him signed to a major label. His song, Born to Run, was being played regularly on the radio, but his theatrically-overloaded music was not to my taste. I was a minimalist and to prove it would soon form the synth-punk band, Comateens, even though at the time I had no idea I’d ever front a band. 

Though I wasn’t a fan of Springsteen’s music, I was greatly impressed by his stage presence. It was a long concert, maybe two or three hours, during which he was a very captivating storyteller and athlete, sliding across the stage, jumping on the piano, dancing and such. He was and still is a fantastic showman. 

Little did I know what the future held; years later I would see him perform many times for free even at private events. I’d go to his sound check, hang out backstage, and spend time at his house, all because the girl sitting next to me, my friend Patti Scialfa, would eventually marry him. And because Patti married him, the other two girls, Lisa and Soozie, would forever tour and record with him. In life, we may sometimes think there’s nothing around the corner because everything feels stagnant. But I say, one never knows including Bruce.

RAMONA JAN is the Founder and Director of Yarnslingers, a storytelling group that tells tales both fantastic and true. She is also the roving historian for Callicoon, NY and is often seen giving tours around town. You can email her at callicoonwalkingtours@gmail.com.


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