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All’s fair at the fair

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I start off my feeding frenzy with a lemonade, the good kind with the whole lemon in the cup (sort of like a meal in a drink, pits and all). Next stop is the Wiggle Chips, just ‘cause of the name. It takes forever and a day to get to the front of that line – I’m sure the poor guys sweating away in the truck must have been out in the field picking the potatoes before slicing them in that wiggly sort of way and deep frying them in front of our eyes, creating what might best be described as, um, potato chips. To complete my meal of entirely yellow food, I grab a corn dog and two packets of mustard before heading back to the blanket.

THE SHOW
I arrive to find the eternal and inevitable battle between the standers and the sitters in its full throes. With just a few minutes until the start of the show, the entire concert area has filled in with people standing in the aisles, making it impossible to see the stage from the lawn unless you too are standing. It’s always a one-way fight, and a losing one at that, from the standpoint (no pun intended) of the sitters, those poor schlubs who came early enough to stake out their spot on the lawn so that they wouldn’t have to stand. The most entrenched warriors cry out at the injustice – it’s not FAIR that they’ve lost their sightline. But eventually, the message spreads – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – and soon we’re all up on our feet clapping and moving to the sounds of Hugh Anthony Cregg III, a.k.a. Huey Lewis.

You’ve got to give it to the guy – he’s 60 years old, has been cranking out the tunes for over 30 years, and has a new album coming out. The first three songs of the show are from the new project, as would be expected, and are a bit hard to dance to. I’m hopeful as he introduces the fourth song by saying, “Soul music is dance music,” that this might be the one to get me moving, until he launches into another tune I’ve never heard. Still, the voice is unmistakable, bringing me back to my college days at UC Davis and the pungent aroma of cattle on a hot summer afternoon (such are my associations with my post-secondary education… but I digress).

Who knew Huey played the harmonica, and not badly at that? Not I, but I’m obviously out of the loop. “Here’s a song you’ll all know,” Huey says, as he plows into the fifth song-I’ve-never-heard-before-in-my-whole-life. I look around me and see a sea of white people rocking and clapping on the beat. So cute.

Finally, a tune I know, Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’,” a duet with Vancouver singer/ song-writer and country/soul rocker, Kelly Brock, whose beautiful face and pipes are a welcome contrast to Huey’s hardened, gruff style (but still sexy, adds Heidi, the diehard fan).

I’m beginning to lose hope that I’ll hear any of the songs I vaguely remember from those dairy days at Davis, when Huey kicks into “I Want a New Drug,” with a wicked guitar solo by Stef Burns. One or two other familiar tunes, and then a quick bow and a dramatic exit by Huey, stage right. Two fans hold up lighters, as if to summons back the ghost of an old rocker to the stage for an encore. It works. A few more classics follow – “Power of Love,” “The Heart of Rock n’ Roll,” “Heart and Soul.” And then it ends, in a classic fashion, with the guitars and the horns and the drums building up to a prolonged fevered pitch, the thundering applause rising from the standing audience, a leap up in the air by the rock ‘n roll star, and as his feet hit the stage, The End.

And with that, I pick up a Whales Tale with cinnamon sugar and head home. An awesome night at the PNE. The dogs and pigs will have to wait, but I’ll be back.

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