One day, during lunch, about a week after our second gig, Keith told me that he was leaving the band.
“Leaving the band? Wha’ d’ya mean yer leaving the band? We’re just getting started!”
“Yeah, I know man, but, I just… I’m not sure if I wanna do this anymore…”
“Seriously? What are you gonna do, man…?”
“I don’t know… finish school…”
“What are you gonna do with your gear…?”
“I don’t know, probably sell it, I guess…”
Then he stood up and walked away.
Then, a few days later…
Al left the band.
Did they leave the band or was I fired?
You tell me.
Suddenly, I was a man without a band.
Actually, and more than likely, I was an ego maniac without a band.
I’d started to think that I was not only on my way to the top, but that I’d already arrived.
Regrettably, this would not be the last time that my ego would kick me in the nuts.
I remember one day, Keith brought up the idea of maybe doing a country song.
I said, “I’d rather pump gas for the rest of my life than sing country music.”
The next thing I knew, my band had left me.
Not because I didn’t want to sing a country song.
No, the main reason was because I had become insufferable.
I had all the attitude and nothing to back it up.
I was all hat and no cattle.
I didn’t know a C note from a hundred dollar bill.
And now it was over.
For the next couple weeks I moped around.
The next thing I knew, Al, Curt and Ernie had all decided to join Keith’s new band.
To make matters worse, they had started auditioning singers for their new band.
I was stunned.
I started to ponder the idea of maybe moving back to New Brunswick.
Then one day, Keith called me at home and asked if I’d be interested in playing rhythm guitar for their new band.
“Yeah, sure man! Sounds fun! When’s rehearsal?”
“Cool, see you there!”
“See you there!”
“You bet, buddy, I’ll see you there.”
Saturday rolled around, Curtis pulled up in front of my place, honked the horn and off we went to band rehearsal.
There was a girl from school who was auditioning to be the “official” singer in the band.
Her name was Bridgette.
I didn’t really care one way or the other who was singing, I was just happy to be back in the band.
Anyway, Bridgette wanted to sing the Pat Benetar song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”.
After a three or four passes through the song, we had it down pat.
She knocked it out of the park.
I could see why they wanted her to be the singer.
I wanted her to be the singer.
Then, out of the blue, Keith said, “Hey Mike, d’ya wanna sing “Johnny B Goode” for old times sake?”
“Sure! Sounds good to me!”
It hadn’t even been three months since we first played “Johnny B Goode” for new times sake, but I didn’t care.
I was back in the band again and all was well in my world.
For some reason, we didn’t work up another song for Bridgette to sing.
I don’t know why and I didn’t ask.
Maybe it was to teach me a lesson.
Our next show was towards the end of March, in the gymnasium at school during lunch hour.
It was the first time we got to play more than two songs.
Keith on lead guitar.
Curt on keys.
Ernie on drums.
Al on bass.
Bridgette on lead vocals for “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”.
And me on rhythm guitar and vocals.
It was the first time I’d ever played guitar on stage.
After a smokin’ version of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, Bridgette left the stage.
I moved towards the center of the stage, adjusted the mic stand.
Strummed a chord and looked at Keith.
He counted us in as we launched in to a pretty good version of “Lick It Up”.
Followed by Honeymoon Suite’s, “New Girl Now”.
“Walk of Life” by Dire Straits.
“Life Is Life” by Opus.
We also did a smoking version of David Lee Roth’s version of the Beach Boys song “California Girls”.
We closed with our hit “Johnny B. Goode”.
Over the next couple months we worked in a couple more songs.
“One More Time” by Streetheart.
“Talking In Your Sleep” by the Romantics.
We also learned “Runaway” by Bon Jovi.
Man, did I love that song.
It was one of the first songs that was, vocally, in my wheelhouse.
For some reason we also worked up a version of Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”.
I don’t know why we learned that song, but we did and we did it justice.
Sadly, the same could not be said for “Love Walks In” by Van Halen.
That song was way beyond my station.
And, truth be told, it still is.
Jesus, what were we thinking?
I think I gave myself an aneurysm and a hernia by the end of the first verse.
If that song had been an animal, PETA would’ve been protesting outside of our shows.
We played it once and then had to take it out back and have it put down.
We nailed it at soundcheck and butchered it at the actual show.
Why do good musicians execute their music and bad musicians murder their music?
There’s a fine line.
It was also another early lesson for me.
The better the soundcheck, the worse the show.
Over 2800 shows in and it still rings true.
I don’t why it is, it just is…
Whatever, all I knew was that we were back to the original lineup and I couldn’t have been happier.
We were also getting better as a band too.
We were starting to figure out what I could and couldn’t sing.
We’d also changed our name…
One day, while having a plate of fries and gravy at the Steak and Pizza, Ernie said,
“Hey guys, I’ve been thinking! Wha’ d’ya say we change the name for the band?
I was thinking, “Caught In The Act”!?! Wha d’ya think? Not bad huh?
And with that, we were now, officially, called “Caught In The Act”.
Once again, thank God there wasn’t a tattoo parlor nearby because I’d have ink that’d read “Caught In The Act” to match my “Diamonds In The Ruff” tattoo.
There but for the Grace of God.
Our last show of the school year was at the Bonnyville Tradex.
It was also supposed to be my last show with the band.
I had decided that I was going move back to New Brunswick.
I missed everything about Moncton.
I missed the school that I’d hated so much.
I missed the beach that I never went to.
I missed my pals.
I missed who I used to be.
I just wanted to go home.
I talked to my Mom about it.
She wasn’t happy but understood where I was coming from.
It was decided that I would live at her sister’s place in Moncton.
I’d go back to Harrison Trimble High for my senior year.
At least that was the plan.
(If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans…)
Anyway, towards the end of the school year, my Mom had rented a new place in town.
A little duplex just off the main drag.
Not a palace, but better than the trailer we’d been living in.
I remember packing our stuff into boxes for the trip across town.
Moving had become common place in our family.
This would be our 6th move and 7th school in the last 5 years.
I was tired of moving.
But this time it was different.
This time, I was helping my Mom and my brother move in to their new home.
I was leaving.
A thread of melancholy had crept into my disposition.
I guess I had the blues.
As we were loading up our junk and completely unannounced, a bunch of friends of mine showed up to help us move.
I couldn’t believe it.
The four guys who I met on the first day of school while waiting in line for my schedule.
They weren’t even asked to help.
They just chipped in.
I guess they had nothing better to do.
While we were lugging boxes into our new home, my Mom snuck out and bought a two four of ice cold Molson Canadian.
After the job was done, we tucked in to that box of beer like there was no tomorrow.
Beer has never tasted better than it did that night.
It was a perfect moment in time.
I’d give almost anything to go back to that night.
I could live in that night forever.
All these years later, I can snap right back to that Friday night in May of 1986.
I can still see us all sitting on the front steps, watching the sun set, drinking beer and laughing.
Life was never better.