A Bimini Essay
Rev. Rod Morgan (that's Jason's dad, by the way!) wrote this during and after one of our gigs at Berkeley Bob's Coffee House (surely our favorite place to play). Specifically, Saturday, May 10, 2008. He just nailed the experience.
Berkeley Bob’s on a Saturday Night in May
Fat raindrops splattered the sidewalk, tables and chairs outside the doors of Berkeley Bob’s Coffee Shop now doing business in a renovated store front built in the 1920's. A sultry breeze from the South swept the moisture laden air in through the open triple doors of the cafe. The dampness in the Saturday-night air generated great drops of perspiration on the brows of the musicians toiling beneath the lights on the low stage in the back of the shop.
A rail-thin waitress with shoulder-length curls, a black apron, a wealth of bracelets on both wrists and a tattoo on her left, upper arm made her way back to the serving counter carrying an ice-cold can of Redi-Whip from the cooler near the front door.
She danced to the music as she sauntered back to the coffee counter pressing the cold cannister to her neck as she went in a partially successful attempt to gain some relief from the hot, humid, night air warming waitress, musicians and patrons alike.
Two young girls about five or six years old got up and danced along with the waitress in the aisle as the fifty-something adults smiled knowingly at their free-spirited swaying and stepping. The young blond girl insisted on a series of spins and twirls supported by the outstretched arm and hand of her almost reluctant brunette partner.
Framed by high shelves filled with glass coffee jars and topped with colorful fifty pound sacks of coffee beans, Berkeley Bob himself, the owner of the shop made one of his frequent appeals on behalf of the band. He hoisted the glass 2 gallon tip jar aloft so that all could see and give generously.
The T-shirts and hand drawn wall decorations took you back to the energy and optimism of the 60's. “Peace, Love, Coffee” declared the wall size poster behind the band. The other poster behind the counter bore the iconic VW love bus festooned with long- stem blossoms and the assurance that everything was “groovy.”
A black T-shirt sported the mantra of a generation committed to its belief that it possessed the power to change the world. “Stop Bitching, Start A Revolution” was its call to action. The sentiment seemed somehow appropriate even some 40 years on down the road.
The rich aroma of brewing coffee and grilling sandwiches seemed to render the music even more intoxicating as it beckoned its listeners to navigate the nostalgic melodies not often enjoyed on a Saturday night.
Ruthie, the feminine voice of Bimini Road, every bit as sultry as the early May weather, coaxed her energetic vocals from the depths of her Joplinesque throatiness to the dome of the skylight rising above the appreciative listeners.
In concert with her dad, Chuck, she quickened the sense that some sounds truly do transcend generations and find new voice in children nurtured on the stories lived by the parents who told and sang them.
Just another Saturday night it was not. After all, it was Berkeley Bob’s with all the promise of California in the 60's and it was the music of Bimini Road still keeping faith with the hope that created it all.
The flower children were unable to change all the world. Yet, they changed enough to empower the next generation to continue to make the music, speak the truth to power and live the notion that things do get better even if it is mostly on a Saturday night at Berkeley Bob’s.