Steel Mill at Clearwater Beach Club
by Thomas Blatz
Steel Mill played that night, Bruce on guitar, I think it was a Les paul, Steve Van Zandt on his clear Danny Armstrong bass, Danny Federici on the Hammond B-3. and the drummer with a Viking horned helmet atop the bass drum, whose name escapes me at the moment. Bruce and Steve were out front, sporting their tie-dye sleeveless t-shirts, bellbottoms, long hair and great tans, and Bruce with his his signature underbite and flawless delivery and phrasing, hypnotizing the crowd of at least 500fans with a wonderful litany of intensely original music, including: Hail Resurrection, Garden State Parkway Blues, and a piece called 'Heavy Louise' that was extraordinary in its quiet, contemplative narrative that drew the listener to a place he or she had never been before, but longed to return to . Bruce had the charisma and power of an evangelist, and the complete attention of every member of the crowd. His guitar work in those days was cutting edge, and the polyphony and synchronicity between him and Van Zandt was spellbinding. They just rocked to put it mildly.
Carl West ( Tinker ) was doing the sound, as he always did, his gleaming macintosh amplifiers churning out the amperes that powered the towers of black voice of the theater cabinets and horns, and the evening was in full swing , until the Middletown police arrived. They had been summoned , by an irate neighbor, to stop the "noise", and apparently pulled the plug on the electricity. The band was in the middle of a number, and suddenly, all one could hear was drums, and then quiet. Tinker, a former boy scout, was always prepared, and fired up his generator in short order, and within minutes, the band continued their performance, and cheers erupted from the throngs of happy fans. At this point, the police returned, and began climbing up to the rear of the stage to pull the plugs from the amplifiers, and it was then, I believe, that Mr. Federici unwittingly toppled his rather large amplifier over, on top of one of the officers on the ground. Needless to say, the music stopped, and a tumult ensued, resulting in the crowd being told to leave, and the rumor was that Mr. Federici retreated to his native Flemington, NJ. where his family owned the Dy-Dee laundromat, to hide out, until the heat died down. The heat did not die down, and eventually Danny faced the music, as it were. We trust that he is well today, but the Middletown police were infamous for their intolerance of those with long hair, in those days