respectively, “Damn right!” and “You bet, and we’re proud of it!”
Leaving the motel the next morning, we rode back into
Buckhannon and picked up Route 20 north. However, the next
dirt road that we turned onto ended abruptly with a closed
(and locked) gate, forcing us to backtrack. The same scenario,
more or less, played out with the next three or four dirt roads
that we tried. Although the GPS showed the trails continuing,
they ended at people’s houses, farms, even cemeteries. Even-
tually, we found Stouts Run, a proper dirt road, and Neil and
Michael proceeded to do their best motocross impressions
while I skittered along behind.
After 100 miles or so, it was
time for me to head east, since I
was flying to Cape Cod the next
morning. We stopped at an in-
terchange with I-79 south of
Clarksburg, and, with a manly
hug and a theatrical “We have
faced death together,” we went
our separate ways. I rode east,
and they rode north, toward
that night’s Rush concert.
Normally, this is where my ride story would end, having
completed 688 miles of riding in two days. But Rush hap-
pened to be playing later in the same week at the Tweeter
Center outside of Boston, only 60 miles away from where I was
staying on the Cape. Clearly a short road trip was in order.
Having left Neil and Michael in West Virginia on Monday
afternoon, I drove to Mansfield, Mass., on Wednesday evening
and met up with them all over again. I was joined by my college
roommate and best friend, Buzz—who, for the record, was also
the hero of the story “A Nice Morning Drive.” A quick call to
Michael when we reached the Tweeter Center got us in, and
we found our way to Neil’s bus.
Neil kindly provided tickets to the concert, plus backstage passes,
T-shirts, CDs, tour booklets, hats, and dinner. We sat in on the sound
check, chatted some more with him in his practice room, and then
bumped into Alex Lifeson, the lead guitarist for Rush, with whom
we traded secret guitar tips. Were we happy campers or what?
Judging by the crowd, Rush is every bit as popular as it ever
was. It was brutally hot, but we were treated to an incredible
rock performance. I knew from listening to their records that
Neil, Alex, and vocalist Geddy Lee were exceptionally talented.
It wasn’t until I saw them in concert, however, that I realized
the full extent of their abilities. Alex would fling sweat off his
hands and then launch into a breathtaking guitar solo. Geddy
would switch seamlessly back and forth between the bass and
keyboard, singing all the while in his trademark voice.
The World’s Greatest Drummer drummed his heart out in
the 90-degree weather, with innovative styles and compelling
and addictive rhythms. The crowd’s favorite song was Neil’s ap-
proximately 15-minute drum solo, featuring a revolving drum
set. (He switched 180 degrees
twice during the solo, to play
the drums behind him.) It was
he drummed in 3/4 time with
his feet and 7/8 time with his
hands. By any reasonable stan-
dard, this technique should be
impossible. When I asked him
whether the pattern coincided
every 21 beats or every 32, he
said it took him a very long
time to learn to drum in this
way, and he didn’t dare think
about how it actually worked.
The audience gave the band innumerable standing ova-
tions (in part because no one ever sat down during the more
than three-hour concert), but eventually the encores were
finished and all we were left with was the “echoes from the
amplifiers ringing in our heads.” Buzz and I filed out in awe
and drove back to a suddenly prosaic vacation in Cape Cod.
I had a blast, from the start of the ride to the end of the
concert. Thanks, Neil and Michael, for a rousing adventure.
I’ll remember every moment of it forever—or, given my age,
as long as I can!
RICHARD S. FOSTER is chief actuary for the Centers for
Medicare & Medicaid Services.
This article is adapted with permission from an earlier version
that was printed in the June 2008 issue of
BMW Owners News
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