I first saw John Beach perform in 1971. A group he was in had played on Bonnie Raitt’s first album, John had done some of the arrangements. The band he was in, Willie and the Bees, was also the opening act at her ‘debut’ concert in Minneapolis' old Marigold Ballroom. His performance that night left an indelible impression on me. John was already older than most of the guys who were playing in the bands I would go see; he was a true veteran, having been in the Army in the early 60s (where he played with a variety of groups.)
I met Paul Scher about six years later when I was working with a group named The Explodo Boys. He was five years younger than me. After one rehearsal he was invited to join the band. Ultimately, we ended up living in (and part-owning) the same house. After a few years, John ended up in the Explodos as well. When that group disbanded, John and Paul did a duo act for several months.
Last week Paul, who has lived in Brooklyn for many years, returned (for a wedding in his family) and he managed to land a gig with John. The show was great, a few missteps here and there, overall it was a gas. John is well into his seventies now and is still performing in his unique jazz, soul, and blues styles. Paul is now a youthful sixty and remains active in the New York music scene. He has finally managed to acquire a few wrinkles of his own!
To be able to see them perform together again after over thirty years was musically and, in light of their history together, extremely emotionally satisfying for me—as well as for the other fans who crowded into the tiny, stuffy, and hot backroom of the Minneapolis Eagles lodge: