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  • Tommy Thompson

6th Movement: "Kathy"

Updated: 1 day ago

"A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”

-- Hunter S. Thompson

As I just wrote, our time period is still near the end of 1969….and we 4 Mamas just kept a'pluggin’ away at Casa Thrall. I was still taking classes at St. Mary’s. But was spending all of my other free time (outside of class and, “dorm surfing”) finding different ways of making sure I got my ass up to Pat’s pad in order to be with the band.

We were still crankin’ out new tunes and simply havin’ a ball playin’ our ever-expanding repertoire of new songs. We'd shoot pool and such during band rehearsal breaks. And we were all just so enjoying being around each other. Hangin’ out together. Makin' music and laughin' n' BSin'...a true Band of Brothers.

Down in our Basement "Rathskellar."

But, dammit all, there just weren’t that many gigs coming our way. I mean even with the 2 TV show appearances. And the stories and pix in the local press. And all of the rehearsin.' And learnin' new songs. And all the rest of it. That ol' "gig phone" t'weren't exactly ringin' off the hook, if ya know what I'm sayin'. Furthermore, we had yet to be able to break into the local nightclub scene. And that was where we wanted to be.

Hmm. What to do?

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.

The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

 —Mark Twain

So Pat's mom, Maggi, apparently overheard us whinin' and complainin' one night about our dearth of gigs and such other teen-aged dilemmas. And it was then and there that she decided that it was finally time to share with us young guns some of her vast experience, wisdom, and knowledge of the ""biz" side of "show biz." In a nutshell, what she told us that night was that what we needed was a good band manager. And an even better booking agent. In order for the band to get to that next level of the game.

But, where in the Sam Hill were we supposed to find this person? Hell, we didn't know any band managers or booking agents. So who could we possibly call to help us out?

Whoa there, Nellie. Dig this: How's 'bout Kathy Cronin?

Yep. That Kathy. She of the earlier-in-the-story “Anniversary Game” connections.

So, the next big step forward for us Mamas was to put in a call to Kathy. We called her up and asked if she'd be interested. And I'll be doggone if she didn't actually say "Yes" to our offer. Woo Hoo! We now had a full-time manager. As well as a "go git 'em" booking agent.

 “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it!”

Jonathan Winters

Kathy - as I have already mentioned - was not only gorgeous, sweet, and very charming, but she was also one sharp cookie when it came to business. And so now it was she who started digging around throughout the entire Bay Area. Looking under any and all kinds of rocks and inside every type of rat-hole for places where we could play our music.

It took a while at first, but then she finally began to hit pay dirt. And the gigs started comin’ in a bit more each week and month. It was still mostly High School dances and such. Just the same kind of gigs as before when we were a struggling 3-piece Trio. But hey, at least it was a start, dear reader. We had finally gotten our new 4-pc music train on its way and out of the doggone station.

Cookin' Mama be a'giggin' again, baby!

Plus now, the big difference was that we had a very well-rehearsed 4-piece Quartet that was actually beginning to understand how to bring it to each live performance. We were finally beginning to develop a real "leave all the blood on the stage" kinda approach. And it served us well.

Look, folks, I’m not tryin’ to say that we were great all the time. Or that we never, ever got nervous before, during or even after a show. No. Nothin’ like that.

But, speaking for myself?

I was now at least beginning to reach a point in my “live” performances where my onstage-urinating was at an all-time low.

Got it, Baby Huey? Cool.

Kathy also began coming to rehearsals to get a feel for the music, and occasionally offered an outsider’s non-musicians’ view of what she heard and saw. Was this a good thing, you ask? You betcha boots it was, Hoss. Sort of the antithesis of the dreaded “Yoko Ono Syndrome” which - in some peoples minds, at least - finally felled the famous “Fab Four.”

Kathy was not – at least at this point – any band member’s girlfriend or anything like that. Though I think some of us wanted to drill her. But, since crappin' too close to the dinner table was not only a saying, but also a really damn good rule of thumb, we all kept it nice and friendly. But nothing romantic.

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”

- John Lennon

Nonetheless, oftentimes when rehearsal was finally over in the very-late afternoon or early evening, the five of us would all pile into Kathy’s brand-new n’ shiny-bright “Arrest Me Red” VW bug. It was one of the first models that had the moon roof. And so we’d bomb our way up Claremont Ave. Blast past the Claremont Hotel. And then it was back n' forth up the winding uphill street to Grizzly Peak Rd. in the North Berkeley hills.

There was a lookout point that jutted out from Grizzly Peak, right above Cal Berkeley’s Lawrence Laboratories. And the panoramic view of the entire SF Bay - from the Golden Gate Bridge in the Northwest, all the way down towards San Leandro in the Southwest - was absolutely magical. It was at this spot that we would park Kathy's bug. Walk a couple dozen feet to the edge of the edifice. Claim a piece of outcropping. And smoke a spliff or two while watching the sun set over the bay.

Had a lot of great conversations and moments at that spot, lemme just tell ya.

And then when the sun had finally set behind the hills of South San Francisco? Well, even though Kathy and Lou never smoked pot, Pat n’ Vince n’ I did. So we’d always develop a huge case of the “munchies.”

Then it was an immediate band-herding back to the car. Followed by another lickity-split “Mr. Toads Wild Ride” down the hill to a La Val’s Pizza which was conveniently located only a few blocks away from Pat’s. Kathy would always buy – hell, none of us had a dime to our names to speak of. And even though she looked about 16 years old, she was actually "of-age.” Hence, she’d sashay her way up to the bar and order one or two pitchers of beer for Pat, Vince and me. As well as another pitcher of Coke for herself and Lou. And about 3 gargantuan pizzas.

Don’t ever remember having any leftovers.

It was also around this time when Pat went with his older sister, Pam, and her husband to San Francisco to experience a very special show at Bill Graham's "Winterland."

And, as a result of what occurred on that fateful night, everything -

and I do mean everything - would change musically for Cookin' Mama.

Kathy explainin' the "Cookin' Mama Rules"

to our Head Roadie, Terry Fowler, "up close n' personal" - 1969

"Tom" in the driver's seat of Kathy's "Arrest Me Red" VW Bug

w/ Moon Roof - 1969

©2024 Cookin' Mama


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