On July 2nd, 1979 Parousia played a free public concert to an outdoor festival crowd surrounded by food vendors, rides and attractions from Zable’s shows, sponsored by the 21st Ward Independence Day association (a non-profit, non-partisan civic group formed to coordinate the 4th of July celebration in Riverside Park).
This was a highly anticipated annual event in my old neighborhood of Riverside. People from all over Buffalo and Canada would come to this celebration to watch the parade, see the fireworks, ride their favorite rides and eat exotic foods like… corn dogs?
After performing a full night of music by ourselves at the July 2nd show, we appeared a second time on the big stage at the July 4th talent competition to play one song. This was no small feat as our band had seven members, a full drum kit, A Wurlitzer organ, synthesizers, two guitars a bass, flute, etc.
No sound check this time… just throw your stuff up there and go, go go… well it wasn’t the best environment for us because of all our ‘fancy’ low budget equipment needed tweaking.
We only had one shot at this so we figured we would wow the judges by performing a complicated song that required expert musicianship using a wide array of instruments – not the best choice, in hindsight. We decided to perform, “The Portrait” (aka: “He Knew”) from the ‘Point of No Return’ album by Kansas.
Dave Maltbie loved to play that song as the keyboards parts were quite a challenge. It also has a killer guitar solo in the middle that Garth duplicated exactly. If you don’t know the tune, it is a heavy progressive rock song that requires detailed attention to complex time signatures and vocal harmonies.
Unfortunately, our Wurlitzer organ was way out of tune, having sat in the sun all day, and we tried to compensate the best we could. If the Wurlitzer had not been so badly out of tune our plan might have worked, but alas, we came in second place that day.
We lost first place to “Equinox” a band that played Led Zeppelin covers… they kind of cheated because their one song was actually a seven minute medley of several Led Zeppelin songs strung together. Well, the judges allowed it and ended up liking it better than our song and we were a bit pissed… moreover I think because we didn’t think of the medley idea first.
What made our loss even more intolerable for me and Barry was that Equinox had band member Andrew Stier, known as a local terror in Riverside. Andrew was a troubled kid and a bully. My brother and I had many confrontations with him and he had wanted to beat us up on more than one occasion.
One memory I have of him was when he kicked my bike out from under me while riding by Pizza Bella on Tonawanda Street and my head hit the curb. Andrew always traveled in a group with other roughnecks and I dared not try to retaliate alone because if they got mad enough those kids would kill you.
Anyway I presume Andrew went on to bigger and better criminal activities and landed himself in jail or likely became a Buffalo Cop so he could practice bullying with impunity under the color of authority.
The group LaMont also performed at this talent competition which featured a good friend of ours Joe Martucci on bass who shared St. Joe’s alumni status along with me, Patt, Garth and Bob.