It’s been a strange week here in Bootleg City. Let’s just say that some weird things went down.

First of all, everyone I ran into had the nerve to drink green beer and eat a whole lot of corned beef on a day when they were supposed to be celebrating the 13th anniversary of Van Halen III, which was born into the world on March 17, 1998.

I suppose green beer and corned beef would be perfectly acceptable tokens of hospitality at a celebratory event, possibly one with an environmental or beef-related theme, but I kept hearing loud, slurred references to Ain’t Patrick’s Day. Is that some sort of holiday? I don’t know about you, but I had to work yesterday, which seemed totally unfair since I ain’t Patrick.

And because I had to work, I passively-aggressively procrastinated through lunch. Actually, I do that every day at work, but yesterday after lunch I decided to phone up former Van Halen singer Gary Cherone and congratulate him on the anniversary of his one album with the band.

But he wasn’t home.

“Hi, this is Gary Cherone. I can’t make it to the phone right now because I’m out touring the planet with my new project called Hurtsmile. Check out our music on YouTube — where all the kids go these days — and, oh yeah, leave me a message!”

So I left a message.

“Gary, you don’t know me, really, but there I was in the audience at the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on the night when you stone-cold rocked my world with Van mothertruckin’ Halen! You were the man up there! While it wasn’t quite as awesome as that time I saw you dressed head to toe in black at the Odeon Concert Club, climbing all over the speaker columns, it was still awesome, because my man, Gary Cherone, had grown up and got himself a job fronting one of the most awesome rock bands since Extreme!”

But the call got disconnected.

So I called back.

“Hey, man, sorry. I got cut off. Where was I? Oh yeah, so I realize now, all these years later, that the whole Van Cherone thing — is it cool that I call it that? Okay, cool — didn’t go so well commercially in the eyes of the industry, and most Van Halen fans hated it, but I thought it was pretty cool. By the way, I checked out some of that Hurtsmile disc, and I have to tell you, that ‘Jesus Would You Meet Me’ tune is pretty awesome. All right, man, hopefully I’ll see you out there somewhere. Peace.”

Life gives you weird things to think about sometimes. For instance, my friend Jim — actually, he’s my girlfriend’s friend Jim — posed the following question/realization:

“Tossed on Night Ranger’s Midnight Madness tonight and realized something: they are the original Van Hagar. Shredding guitarist(s), keyboards, harmonies galore, lovable ‘everyman’ frontman who was good-looking but not super good-looking.”

Hold up now. I said, HOLD UP. Kelly Keagy and Jack Blades, did you just hear what my girlfriend’s friend Jim said about you?

But let’s hear him out …

“Kept thinking that this was what the Van Halen brothers had in mind when they added Sammy to the mix.”

Ponder that, folks.

And in the meantime enjoy this mighty fine bootleg of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince — and, uh, Ready Rock C — at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on June 29, 1988. As far as I know, they weren’t Van Hagar fans, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sammy Hagar rocked “Nightmare on My Street” at least once in his bathroom mirror.

[interlude #1]
[Ready Rock C’s “human jukebox” routine]
Rock the House
[interlude #2]
Human Video Game
[interlude #3]
Nightmare on My Street
Parents Just Don’t Understand
[interlude #4]
Brand New Funk
Brand New Funk [continued]

About the Author

Matt Wardlaw

Matt Wardlaw is a music lifer with nearly 20 years of experience in the industry. Of course you all have shoes older than that, but that's okay, Matt realizes that he's still a rookie. His byline has appeared in the Riverfront Times (St. Louis), Cleveland Scene, Blogcritics, Music's Bottom Line and Ultimate Classic Rock, among others. In addition to writing for Popdose, Matt also has his own music blog called Addicted to Vinyl where he writes about a variety of subjects including but not limited to vinyl. In his spare time, Matt enjoys long walks in the park, Cherone-era Van Halen and driving long distances to Night Ranger concerts.

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