hooters return to their ardmore roots

DSC_0207This is not a Chester County specific post.  So if that is what you are seeking, turn away from your computer now…I saw the Hooters in Ardmore once again last night. (Photos found HERE)

As I said to Hooters drummer David Uosikkinen last evening when he was talking to my friend Eric before the show, the last time I saw the Hooters live I think I was about 23 years old. I am a little older now….

DSC_0063If you were a child of the 1980s and grew up in the greater Philadelphia region you remember the Hooters. They were part of that amazing music scene in Philadelphia of the 1980s which also included Robert Hazard (RIP – he passed away in 2008 – saw him the last time at MilkBoy in Ardmore in 2007), Beru Revu, Tommy Conwell , Dennis Selfridge and more.

The music in Philadelphia at that time was amazing.  Original song writing, not cover bands.  A lot of the music had a ska and reggae influence, not just rock and roll or folk.  You can hear that in the Hooters.  I loved ska and still listen to English Beat and Madness on occasion although overall my music tastes have evolved somewhat to indie singer-songwriter people with a more lyrical and folk sound to them.

DSC_0240So “back in the day” we all heard bands like the Hooters at high schools all over the area (I remember seeing the Hooters in Harriton High School’s auditorium, for example), and then at the cabarets: Chestnut, Avalon, and Ardmore.

DSC_0252The Hooters were already popular on the Philadelphia music scene when they opened for Philadelphia’s portion of Live Aid in 1985. I am not going to restate their entire history, it exists online, but the Hooters are also known for Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman giving Cyndi Lauper one of her greatest hits, Time After Time.  Throughout the years, other artists like Joan Osborne for example, benefitted from the talent (remember her song “One of Us”?)

DSC_0061When you think of the Hooters as many of us do, you do think of them and the Ardmore Cabaret.  And last night was like old home night on the Main Line.  Including, amusingly enough, the groupies.  They were older and in some cases wider, but there they were pressed up against the stage….waiting.  Including the twins.

Now a brief homage to the venue.  It started out life as I knew it as the 23 East Cabaret. Then about 20 years ago my friend Joe Rufo purchased the building.  It morphed into Brownies 23 East and then 23 East.

I got to know Joe when Lower Merion Township tried to take a large chunk of the Main Street downtown business district via eminent domain for private gain.  Thankfully that ill-advised initiative failed miserably.

Joe is the guy who has opened his doors many, many times for fundraisers and is incredibly generous to the community…besides just being a nice guy.  Personal highlights for me include 2007 when he opened his doors to those of us having a fundraiser on St. Patrick’s Day for a woman named Moira Shaughnessy who was part of our community and had been struck down by viral encephalitis after surviving non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  On that night, the community came together and everything from the use of the building to the food to the bands was donated. St. Patricks Day 2007 artists like Deb Callahan, Jeffrey Gaines, Amanda Kaletsky, and Dennis Selfridge all donated their time.  Another memory of the building is more recent.  Earlier this year we did a fundraiser for my friend, the late Jim McCaffrey who was not only a friend but an amazing reporter. (Have a minute? Listen to what he had to say on that evening.)  Joe also hosted countless other fundraisers over the years.

DSC_0011A few years ago when the guys from Point Entertainment had lost their music home in Ardmore and were looking for a new place I remember saying to both Rich Kardon and Joe Rufo at the time that they should combine talents and “bring the Hooters back to Ardmore.” We laughed about that last night before the show, because it is just funny how life works out.  What the heck did I know? I just thought it was a great idea and they were people I liked.

So when the news broke this summer about their new partnership, I was definitely psyched.  23 East was reborn as Ardmore Music Hall. After all, living in Chester County, it is definitely easier all the way around to get to Ardmore versus West Philadelphia for WXPN Live.

Ardmore Music Hall is the same building, slightly reconfigured.  And it is still an awesome place to hear a band.  And last night just exceeded all expectations.

DSC_0014We got there in time for the doors to open to the VIP ticket holders and people were lined up around the block waiting for general admission like the old days. Inside, the Hooters milled about with guests, graciously posing for photos,autographs and chatting.

You know what the best part of the Hooters was? They still have it and more.  They haven’t turned into aging rockers who should stay off the stage. Their sound has matured and evolved and they are as engaging and awesome as ever.  It is no wonder that European audiences love them – they have a huge following there. The Hooters are a band who just love what they do and it shows.  They are accomplished musicians and singer songwriters and the magic hasn’t waned.

The Hooters played many of their old favorites and newer music. They did this absolutely astoundingly beautiful cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”. That is one of my favorite songs, and I have to say I think I like their version I heard last night better than the original version.set list sept 21

All of the photos are mine except the photo of the play list.  That comes courtesy of the Point Entertainment folks.  I was upstairs seated overlooking the balcony.

DSC_0299The place was packed to the rafters for this concert which made me happy.  I wasn’t jazzed at times by some of the people behind us, especially Mr. Pin Stripe Shirt.  He was all so perfectly pressed and pushy.  He reminded me of people I saw when I saw when Robert Randolph and the Family Band were doing a then WXPN festival on Penn’s Landing.  And I did get a beer dumped down my back by a tipsy girl and a camera whack in the side of my head by a zealous woman who decided to just stick her camera into my face to try to get a shot.  But overall it was an amazing experience.  The Hooters always did attract a good crowd.

DSC_0098Also as musicians and human beings, this band is as gracious as ever with their fans.  I always remembered that about them: very genuine bunch of guys who took time for everyone. If you are jaded you could have said last night they are just past masters at working a crowd now, but it wasn’t that, it was different.  They stop and spoke to people, looked at old photos of concert events passed.  It was a nice thing to see.

I hope the Hooters return again to Ardmore.  It was such a pleasure to hear them live again sounding better than ever.  And yes, Pierre Robert introduced them.  I have some concert snippets posted up on Chester County Rambling’s Facebook Page.

Check out Ardmore Music Hall for other upcoming shows including Soul Asylum, Fountains of Wayne, Marc Broussard, Uncle Kracker, and Michael Allman Band. Go early, Lower Merion Township doesn’t offer much parking in downtown Ardmore.

pay it forward: the jim mccaffrey fundraiser

mccaffreyIt started simply:

We hope you remember former native son Jim McCaffrey who for years covered our news up and down the Main Line and in Philadelphia via Main Line Times, Wayne & Suburban, Main Line Life and The Bulletin.
He helped give our local world and issues a voice and now he is facing a health crisis of some enormity and it is very serious. He has been diagnosed with MDS or Myelodysplastic syndrome. MDS is a malignant disorder of the bone marrow.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 18,000 people develop MDS each year. MDS can affect all of the cells in our blood. MDS used to be called preleukemia due to the progression that is sometimes seen from MDS to leukemia.
Jim is going to need a  bone marrow transplant. When he finds a bone marrow match he will go to Stanford University Hospital and live near the  hospital for up to a year during treatment (chemotherapy, etc.) and recovery.  He will require an aid to help him day in, day out – transportation, housecleaning, and so forth and so on.
His friends are paying  it forward for Jim and a fundraiser to help him with the enormous costs he will be facing.  The event is being held at 23 East thanks to the big heart and generosity of Joe Rufo. The event will be Feb. 28 (snow date March 7) at Ardmore’s 23 East. We will have the place to ourselves from 6-9 p.m with DJ Kevin Murphy. The doors open to the public at 9 p.m. for the band, which begins at 10 p.m. There will be food and discounted drinks. $20 per person. Cash or checks only please. Hope to see you there!

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail friendsofjimmccaffrey@gmail.com

Today a most fabulous article has come in Main Line Media News out written by my friend Cheryl Allison.  Much like Jim has over the years, she has given many of our issues a voice.
When I read the article today I started to cry.  It is just so amazing how wonderful people can be.  This article is exceptional.  It captures the essence of the person we are working on this fundraiser for, and the goodness that exists in people.  As a breast cancer survivor I know all too well how your friends literally buoy you through many difficult days.
If you would like to attend the fundraiser, the more the merrier.  Today we learned, pending his doctor’s approval, Jim will be joining us for the fundraiser! If you would like to make a contribution, you may send a check payable to “James McCaffrey” to James McCaffrey, P.O. Box 11, Devon, PA 19333-0011. Or to Main Line Media News, Attn: Pete Bannan, 311 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore PA 19003.  The deductions are not tax-deductible – they would constitute a gift.
Jim has a website:  http://www.jimmccaffrey.com/ – you can contact friendsofjimmccaffrey@gmail.com with questions about the fundraiser. friendsofmccaffrey@gmail.com  also works. Friends of Jim McCaffrey can also be found on Facebook. There is also a flyer for the event: The-Jim-McCaffrey-Fundraiser
Special thanks to my friends in Ardmore, especially Joe Rufo owner of 23 East for opening his doors and allowing his space to be used for this fundraiser.
Please take a moment to read this article.  Thank you for reading this post. Jim says on his website simply and eloquently “I can’t live without you.” He has been our friend for many, many years and we can’t live without him either.  If you can help, please do.

Main Line Times > Life

Community rallying around an old friend in dire straights

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

By Cheryl Allison

Broad-shouldered, standing well over 6 feet, gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, reporter Jim McCaffrey was an unmistakable presence at meetings and events from the Main Line to Philadelphia City Hall for nearly two decades.

Unmistakable, too, was his voice as a writer, whether he was sorting out contentious community issues or telling the human stories of the area.

When he returned to his home state of California in 2008 at a time of family loss, he left behind a wide circle of friends, some of whom may not have had much in common besides their appreciation for his keen insight into local politics, his generous nature, or his wicked sense of humor.

Now those friends are rallying to his aid, from the other side of the continent.

McCaffrey, 58, was diagnosed last year with a rare and life-threatening blood disorder, MDS, or myelodysplastic. Its aggressive advance in the last several months puts him at high risk to develop leukemia.

A bone marrow transplant is a potential cure, but it comes with side effects and risks….The Jim McCaffrey Fundraiser will take place Thursday, Feb. 28, at 23 East on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore. Joe Rufo, owner of the club, is making it available from 6 to 9 p.m. for the event. Local restaurants are coming on board to provide food, and local businessman and resident Kevin Murphy will serve as DJ. Tickets are $20 per person at the door for the 21-and-over event.

At the same time, funds have been established at Bryn Mawr Trust to receive donations, mirroring arrangements on the West Coast.

“Jim has helped a lot of people, and now it’s our turn to help him,” said Dawn Blake, a former co-worker and one of the organizers of the Feb. 28 event.

“He helped give our local world a voice.”

Born and raised in the San Francisco area, McCaffrey began working for weekly newspapers in Oregon and Idaho after attending the University of Oregon. He relocated to the East Coast in 1986, taking a job with a legal publications firm in Berwyn. He began reporting for the Suburban and Wayne Times three years later, moving on in 1994 to become one of the original staff of a new weekly, Main Line Life, later one of the papers that merged with the Suburban and the Main Line Times under the umbrella of Main Line Media News. He lived in several Main Line communities over those years, eventually settling in Ardmore.

“My beat was politics and police, so I really did cover the Main Line,” he said in a phone interview this week. “Eventually, it narrowed to Lower Merion Township.” ….Rufo was one who knew him during those years. “He would pop in once in a while” to what was then known as Brownie’s 23 East. “He would come in Thursday nights to hear Splintered Sunlight,” a Grateful Dead tribute band. “It was great to chat with him about music. I took a liking to him – he had that kind of personality,” Rufo said.

But the club owner said he also had a reason to appreciate McCaffrey as a journalist. In 2003 and 2004, when Lower Merion Township’s plans for a new Ardmore Transit Center and downtown revitalization contemplated taking and demolishing some Lancaster Avenue business properties, stopping just short of Brownie’s, Rufo said he was concerned along with the owners of potentially targeted businesses. “If it could happen to them, it could happen to any of us,” he reasoned. The township later renounced any plans to use its eminent domain powers for the still-emerging project, but in the heat of controversy, Rufo said, “Jim wrote honestly and openly about it.”

Others who appreciated McCaffrey’s work from different perspectives are former Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Bill DeHaven of Berwyn and state Rep. Greg Vitali of Havertown….Vitali said he met McCaffrey 20 years ago, when he was launching his legislative career. They became friends. …Later, McCaffrey took a new job as part of the start-up team of a new Philadelphia daily newspaper, The Bulletin, where he covered City Hall and the Philadelphia school district. “I loved it,” he said of those assignments. But in 2008, a younger brother and sister died of cancer within two weeks, and he decided to move back to his hometown of Petaluma, to be with his elderly parents….. Late last month, McCaffrey received some potentially promising news: his surviving brother, Chris, has been identified as a donor match.

“The tantalizing thing about this is it offers a ‘cure,’ but the problems that go along with it are huge,” he said. Those include the risk of infection – prior to the procedure, he would receive intensive chemotherapy to destroy his own marrow, leaving him with no immunity.

The procedure would be done at Stanford Medical Center, about an hour-and-a-half from Petaluma. After the hospital stay, he would need to live near the medical center for about three months. During that time, he would need 24-hour monitoring and help from a caregiver, who would take him to daily appointments. It could be a year before he could return to work.

McCaffrey said medical insurance will cover the procedure and some other costs, but not the caregiver and other living expenses. His company has assured him he can come back. “I know I have a job, if I can make my way through this,” he said….McCaffrey had not told many about his diagnosis until recently, but he said he knew he had to ask for help “when I realized the kind of trouble I was in.” That meant reaching out back East. “My support system is on the East Coast,” he said. “That is where I spent most of my adult life.”

And that is why the words “I can’t live without you” are at the top of a website, www.jimmccaffrey.com …The response here has been quick and broad, even from community members and business owners who have never met him. [Dawn] Blake and another former coworker from Main Line Life days, Susie Bell, got to work planning the benefit. A friend from his Ardmore days, Carla Zambelli, is reaching out to media.

For those who cannot attend the Feb. 28 event, McCaffrey’s financial advisor here, Chris Stevens, and another friend, Bryn Mawr Trust President Ted Peters, have set up an account to which contributions can be sent. Checks should be made out to James McCaffrey, and mailed to P. O. Box 11, Devon, PA, 19333-0011.

Rufo readily made 23 East available as the benefit venue. The club will be open exclusively for the event until 9 p.m., when the doors will open to the public an hour before the band for the night – Splintered Sunshine, as it happens – will perform.

A number of Main Line restaurants and stores will provide food, and 23 East will offer discounted drinks. The list includes Firinji, Gillane’s Bar & Grille, Ardmore Pizza, Sodexo Inc., The Ultimate Bake Shoppe (Ardmore Farmer’s Market at Suburban Square), ACME Markets and McCloskey’s Tavern and Jack McShea’s. Bella Italia and Jeannie’s Deli have made monetary donations. More restaurants are needed and welcome; any who would like to participate are asked to e-mail friendsofjimmccaffrey@gmail.com.

McCaffrey is planning to come to the event.