Friday, September 12, 2008

My Summer Vacation Partying with Head East in Omaha

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2008 at 12:23 PM

By JUSTIN KENDALL

I was in an Omaha Comfort Inn & Suites when I spotted the man from this photo.

Glen_Bridger.jpg

He was wearing a sleeveless, gray Kansas City Royals shirt and talking with a biker-looking dude.

"Check out Vince Neil," I whispered to a friend. We giggled while signing for our room.

I was in Omaha for my friends Brandan and Maggie's wedding. The reception was at the Comfort Inn. When the reception ended at midnight, we weren't finished partying. So we headed for the hotel bar, the ambitiously named Firewater Grille. It was karaoke night, and the bride, still in her dress, hopped on stage, slipped on some shades and nailed every lyric to "The Humpty Dance."

"Let's get stupid!" she demanded.

"Vince" and several friends walked into the bar and snagged the table behind us. We grabbed our cameras and faked taking pictures of each other, instead, snapping photos of the dudes' flowing, curly and feathered locks.

We pulled the waitress aside and asked who the hell are these guys?

"Head East," she answered.

Head East? I had no idea who/what that was, but, in unison, the rest of the table sang, Save my life, I'm going down for the last time. Woman with the sweet lov'in, better than a white line. And then it dawned on me. It was the '70s rock band, in the flesh.

Dares flew across the table. Who's going to sing "Never Been Any Reason"? Better idea: Sign up Brandan. No one told him what was going on.

The synthesizers for the 1975 hit kicked in and the members of Head East cheered and threw up devil horns. But Brandan was struggling on stage. Maggie tried to make the save. Finally, lead singer Darren Walker and drummer Eddy Jones sneaked on stage behind the newlyweds. "Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!" Walker wailed, making his presence known.

The crowd went crazy. Everyone in the bar sang along, some of them still unsure who these dudes were. But, as this video from the incident attests, the Headsters were happy to be the center of attention:

The band downed Jäger bombs after their surprise performance, took pictures with the wedding party and invited everyone to their seventh floor suite.

wedding_party_and_head_east.jpg

When we showed up, a couple of the guys ran out to buy a case of beer. The scene was like Almost Famous, except the band wasn't up-and-coming and we weren't idealistic kids. Guitarist Greg Manahan strummed AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" on an acoustic guitar and told Brandan that's his life now.

As the Miller Lite went down, the night became somewhat hazy. I remember I told Roger Boyd (I think), the only original member still in the band, that I'd heard "Never Been Any Reason" on a Dazed and Confused soundtrack. Boyd had no idea what I was talking about. (Note to Boyd's attorney: Call about royalties.)

"Vince," whose real name is Glen Bridger, grabbed the acoustic guitar and serenaded a friend with Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine."

The guys found out that I'm a writer for The Pitch. Bridger talked about playing The Hurricane and The Riot Room in a band called the Baloney Ponyz. He and Manhan said they lived in the Kansas City area.

Jones told me the band tours in the summer months, playing festivals. It's the best time to make money, he told me.

"Where are you playing next?" a friend asked.

"Soldier," a band member responded.

"Soldier Field?"

"No, Soldier, Iowa."

Around 2:30 a.m., we left the room. I intercepted a pizza delivery man in the hallway and bought a Hawaiian pizza for $20. I'm not sure, but I may have bought a pizza heading for Head East's room. If so, apologies. I gotta say though, the band was really cool, and there'll never be any reason for me to forget about that night.

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