Better than even odds of a good time

by Jordan Green

Bob Boyer, city and county government reporter at the newspaper over in Burlington and moonlighting rock ‘n’roll singer, stands in the middle of the dance floor at Plum Krazy’s clutching a $450 cordless microphone as the band kicks into the sweet rock-soul riffs of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night.”

And everything looks so complete’…

He gestures with an upward jab of the thumb to the bass player, then turns to the guitar player with his wrist rolling counterclockwise, his index finger pointed downward. He surveys the bandstand and nods in approval. Then he turns his back to the stage and struts off.

When you’re walkin’ out on the street, and the wind catches your feet, and sends you flyin’, cryin”…

By now he’s practically in the back of the room, if not in the street, and the vocals still blend seamlessly with the instrumental mix of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards.

Ooh-whee! The wild night is calling’…

The weathered men with thinning gray beards in the 8:30 early crowd watch with expressionless eyes as if feeling tolerant and kindly towards a man who happens to be working a job in their midst. But when the sound-check ends the women – whose look tends towards peroxide hair, fire-engine-red lipstick and bluejeans – loose a good-hearted cheer.

Boyer, who joined Even Odds after responding to an ad in the defunct ESP magazine, will later explain: “When you’re a singer for a cover band you can’t afford to be aloof. They’ve already heard the songs, so you have to give ’em a little more.”

Give honestly and unreservedly to these, the Friday night throngs, and their reciprocated gifts will multiply. The crowd at Plum Krazy’s, a biker bar in Greensboro’s western suburbs, is not an exacting taskmaster. They require a little feeling from the band and a steady flow of booze, and they are ready to lose themselves in the joy. They are unrepentant smokers and proud drinkers of Bud in the bottle.

Though dimly lit, the bar’s neon beer signs and decorations such as an inflated Corona biplane, create a cheery effect. Plum Krazy’s may be the only biker bar in the country that can boast a bathroom with faux black marble tiling and a motion-sensor paper towel dispenser.

After grabbing a bite to eat and visiting with some friends in the crowd, the five members of Even Odds take the stage. If ever there were a group of journeyman musicians this would be it.

The drummer, Stan Bullock, wears his hair in a stylish mop-top and shows off a pair of black, pointy-toed Beatle boots. He reminisces about hanging out with Mitch Easter in the late ’60s when the legendary Winston-Salem producer wore his hair down his back as an eager 15-year-old rock kid. Bullock proudly reveals that he has played with Joey Molland, the sole surviving member of Badfinger, at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, and with Jackie Lomax opening up for Pete Best, the Beatles’ first drummer. In case any doubt about Bullock’s passions remain, note that he also plays in a Beatles cover band called Wonderwall.

The guitarist, Jeff Hoff, wears a Harley-Davidson cap and teases blistering note sequences from his axe. During the occasional vocal turn he sings with bluesy and muscular force. Bass player Wayne Adams, a Danville, Va. cable guy, bounces around the stage pounding the thunder-broom with a beatific glow in his eyes. Keyboardist Grant Wright, a chiropractor by day, sways over his instrument and places his fingers on the keys with doting care.

They romp through a pleasing sequence of covers – from Cream, Dylan and Tom Petty to Hendrix – and when Hoff tears out a solo on “Little Wing,” rips it like guts from a calf, Boyer bows in deference. The crowd swells on the floor and without missing a beat the band the band lurches into a cover of “Doctor Doctor.”

A woman at the bar who’s been getting steadily drunker since early evening hops off her bar stool as if drawn by magnetic force to the center of the dance floor. She spins between a young, blond-haired man with a ruddy face and a bearded gent with wire-frame glasses who wears a motorcycle jacket with the prisoner of war and missing in action emblem across the back and a black Confederate cap. The three of them anchor a universe, all rolling hips, boots scuffing the floor and shoulders working like oil derricks, as they enact their earthy ritual.

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