Troubador

Brushes With Fame #4

The year would have been 1980 to the best of my memory. I was about 22 and my day job was working as a floor audio assistant for a major Sydney TV station. By night I was mixing sound for my brother’s electro-folk band.

Tuesdays was the weekly Limerick Castle gig which we’d been doing for several months. We turned up on time as usual but the pub was closed up. Or I should say, the main front door was closed – looking over the back fence we could see that the lights were on and everything was prepared for opening. But it was Marie Celeste-ville baby. We hung around for half an hour but nothing happened.1

We decided to go around the corner to an arcade (‘Fonzie’s’) where we could spend some coins playing video games. This is in the days w-a-a-a-y before computers, so this was a novelty.2

Our favourite arcade game was the old classic Asteroids. Yeah, it looks kinda passé now but at the time it was the bees knees.

It was a quiet night in Fonzie’s and we were pretty much the only ones there. We were there for fifteen minutes blipping away and blowing up chunks of interstellar space debris when this tall, quiet American chap loped up to have a gander at what we were doing. We made affable conversation.

“How does it work?” he said.

“Here, hop on,” I said, plugging in a twenty cent piece. I showed him how to use the controls. He got the hang of it pretty fast and did much better than a first-timer, but declined a second game. He hung around and watched for a while, this older, quietly spoken guy, chatting amiably, and then sauntered off. Our little troupe of avant garde folkies didn’t give it much thought.

Next day I was at work, preparing the floor audio for a national popular variety and chat show. I’d already scanned down the guest list – we often did big name interview segments as I’ve mentioned before – and the only person of any note today was Noel Paul Stookey, better known as the ‘Paul’ from the legendary folk group Peter, Paul & Mary. I was rigging the boom when in walked the lanky Yank.

He looked up to where I stood, cable and mic in hand, and gave me a cheerful ‘Hi! How ya doin’ man?’

It was of course, Paul Stookey.

The looks on the faces of the rest of the floor crew were priceless.

  1. This is in the days w-a-a-a-y before mobile phones, so we had no real way of getting in touch with the owners. []
  2. We figured we’d call on back in another half hour and see if there was any movement at the station. In the event, there wasn’t. And then the Limerick Castle closed down so we never played that gig again. What happened remains a mystery. []