By John Benson
Gearing up for a possible breakdown is what the Midlife Chryslers have in store for 2013. This includes the cover band’s Lemon Grove debut Saturday night.
“If you’re a Chrysler, you have to be in gear,” said bandleader Michael Stanley. “The only thing new with this act is that we’re better and there are different things in the repertoire. But the same philosophy goes — we’re there to have a good time and see that everybody else does as well. It’s just a fun proposition for us.”
That proposition began roughly a decade ago when the former Michael Stanley Band frontman and current solo artist realized something was missing from his musical life. It turned out that something was nothing more than jamming as a bar band without the spotlight shining so bright.
More so, it’s a return to a youthful time for these musicians who decades ago cut their teeth playing any gig possible, which for the most part meant in a bar performing classic-rock hits.
“That’s how we all got started in this,” Stanley said. “It separated the men from the boys. Either you liked it, lived through it or went on to something more sensible. At the same time, there are a few songs in the set that show up every once in a while that most of us played in our first band, so it’s a connection with the whole process.
“Also, it’s just a chance to do songs that aren’t mine. That takes me back to why I got into this in the first place. The only thing missing here is that I’m driving my car to the gig instead of my dad’s car.”
Did the elder Stanley drive a Chrysler?
“No, he wasn’t a Chrysler guy, but he would be if he were around today,” Stanley said.
Featuring what is basically Stanley’s solo backing band, The Resonators — Marc Lee Shannon (guitar, vocals), Gary Jones (keyboards), Rodney Psyka (percussion, vocals), Eric “Eroc” Sosinski (bass, vocals), Paul Christensen (sax, vocals) and Tommy Dobeck (drums) (NOTE: for the Lemon Grove show, Sosinski will be replaced by Michael Gismondi) — the Midlife Chryslers are a blues-based act that on any given night will play a wide array of songs ranging from John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed and Bill Withers to Buffalo Springfield, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Temptations.
Basically, it’s a way for the band members to keep up their live chops and have fun in the process.
“In my solo career, I was never the lead guitar player in the band, and now I get to do that, so that’s a lot of fun,” Stanley said. “I get to make the faces that normally the other guys make. I know it’s made me a better player. It’s forced me to play things that are out of my comfort zone, or what has become my comfort zone, over the years after doing original music.”
Stanley said the Midlife Chryslers live by a simple motto that apparently isn’t foolproof. However, he said that’s part of the fun.
“No rehearsals and no excuses,” Stanley said. “It terrifies some people, and luckily none of these members are terrified. Now, that does not mean that there won’t be a train wreck occasionally. “