Rockin’ With Raitt, Spritzin’ With Spider: Cambridge, 1971

John Troy was a founding member of the Pousette-Dart Band, and has recorded and/or toured with Bonnie Raitt, Livingston Taylor, Natalie Cole, the Mamas and the Papas and Joe Cocker, among countless other artists.

In the fall of 1971 I shared an apartment with Jon Pousette-Dart at 888 Massachusetts Avenue between Central and Harvard Squares in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We didn’t have much work yet. Our routine was to practice much of the day and hit the bars at night.

One particular evening, after going over songs with Jon all afternoon, I gratefully took my leave. I descended the steps of the stoop to my building, hit the sidewalk & turned left. I stopped at the corner and peered into the Plough and the Stars…it was crowded, as usual…and continued on. Half a block later I came abreast of Jack’s. I entered.

On stage was my friend Reeve Little. Good. I went to the bar and settled in. The place got busier and began to outgrow Reeve’s sweet serenading:  “…and I’m lookin’ for another girl…one who’ll love me and always will…”

Reeve’s set ended. I waved him over. “Place is jumpin’, huh?” I said. “Who’s headlining?”

“Bonnie.”

“Bonnie who?”

Bonnie Raitt.” Oh yeah, I’d heard of her. OK. We had another round.

Miss Raitt took the stage. She had a bass player named Freebo with her. She had a shock of red hair with a white streak in it while Freebo was about seven feet tall with a yard-wide explosion of black hair. “Wow!” I said. “She’s good!”

“Yeah,” said Reeve.

I moved away from the bar to get a better look. I found a good spot by the restrooms. The place was packed. Bonnie was doing her thing. I was standing with a shot in one hand and a pop in the other when I noticed an audience member near the stage visibly jerk in his seat and hurriedly feel the back of his neck. Then he turned in his seat and looked behind himself.

I returned my gaze to the stage when it happened again to a woman a couple tables over. And then again to someone else. I was puzzling over this when I noticed the guy next to me convulsed in laughter. I regarded him. I knew him. His name was John Koerner. “Spider,” they called him.

“Hey, Spider!” I yelled at him over the noise. He looked at me conspiratorially and put his finger over his lips. Then he withdrew his hand from inside his jacket. In it was a little, yellow, plastic squirt gun. I could see the water level was down by a few squirts already. He looked at me gleefully, aimed it toward the stage while keeping it close to his body, took care to adjust for the proper trajectory, and gave it a squeeze. Yet another person in prime real estate reacted spasmodically and searched vainly for the source. Spider & I yukked it up. “Don’t tell anybody!” he said.

And I haven’t.

Until now.

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