Really, I was just looking to hear a song I sorta like

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So last night I was at the gym, and I had a hankering for an old Jefferson Starship song called “Layin’ it on the Line.” The tune came out in 1988, and while it’s commercial and poppy and all the reasons Jefferson Airplane burned to ash, I actually really dig it. Here’s what it sounds like. You can see why it works as workout fare.

Anyhow, YouTube takes you strange places—and I wound up here. It’s 2015, and I’m in a club called Sweetwater Music Hall in (thanks, Google) Mill Valley, California. Apparently people have paid to hear Craig Chaquico and his band cover the shitty years of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starhsip/Starship. And when I mean shitty—I mean shitty, shitty, shitty. This is “We Built This City” territory.

So I’m listening, watching, wondering why this guy Craig is standing front and center, behaving as if he’s the Eddie Van Halen of Jefferson Starship. Then, again thanks to Google, I learn he actually is the Eddie Van Halen of Jefferson Starship. As the band morphed and changed and crumbled and returned and crumbled again and returned again and lost members and gained members, ol’ Craig was the one consistent. He was there from beginning to end. The guy who rode the Airplane to the Starship.

However … I dunno. The blonde singer is reading lyrics off an iPad. The songs are not exactly guitar classics. The club probably has a capacity of 200. Craig looks bored, not unlike a man trapped in an eternal loop of terrible riffs, wondering whether he once really played Woodstock (he did). I just checked his website—and on March 2 he’s booked a gig called Grooves at the Westin. Then, on April 27, it’s down to Melbourne, Florida. Which is all fine and dandy, and a guy’s making an honest and legit living.

But there’s nothing pretty about the aging rocker. Nothing.


2 thoughts on “Really, I was just looking to hear a song I sorta like”

  1. it’s one of the reasons I give thanks to the heavens for my profession (sportswriter). Lots of aging sportswriters still killing it.

  2. A few thoughts about this review…First, just fyi Craig wrote “Layin’ It On the Line,” (all but most of the lyrics which were by Mickey Thomas), “Find Your Way Back,” co-wrote “Jane” and many other songs that are considered guitar classics and are played in Craig’s sets and covered by other bands out there now. Also, he was never in Jefferson Airplane, though he played on Grace Slick and Paul Kantner’s solo albums when that band broke up. He is an original founding member of Jefferson Starship and Starship and yes, was on every song, album, video and tour over their original, hit-making duration (’74 – ’91). But then he actually is the only one from both of those bands who segued on to a successful, solo career (in his case, a Grammy-nominated contemporary jazz career), and he’s still performing and making records. So the 64-year old has some street cred. The blond singer you mentioned was new to performing with Craig so yeah, she did read from an iPad unfortunately now and again during this show. Craig currently has a terrific, experienced vocalist(s) who doesn’t need that crutch. His permanent band members are his bass player and drummer of 25+ years. Anyway, sorry you didn’t personally enjoy the set, but Craig’s rock portion of his shows (after the jazz set) include hits from the ’70s and ’80s–yes, including Starship. It’s what many of his fans want to hear him play. He’s definitely NOT bored, though. He loves what he does, whether it’s performing only the jazz (as will be the case in April in Florida), or a hybrid show like you saw in 2015, or a strictly rock/pop show. He also plays killer blues. Just fyi!

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