"Hold on!" cried Wilson Phillips (Marin County Fair, July 1).
It was freezing in the room, the heating system broken, a metaphor for their relationship. Jack had just walked out for the umpteenth time, and Wilson ran after him. "Stop your ramblin', Jack (Marin County Fair, July 2)," she yelled, "and come back and fix these Radiators (Mystic Theatre, June 13)!"
But Jack had already bought tickets for an around-the-world Pablo Cruise (Marin-Sonoma Fair, June 26) to catch a basketball game in Havana with the Afro-Cuban All-Stars (Robert Mondavi Winery, July 17). Wilson had argued against the trip, saying that the all-stars were too short to play basketball. "Yes (Wells Fargo Center, July 13)," Jack had said, "but They Might Be Giants (Uptown Theatre, Aug. 21)."
Wilson climbed to the top of Lauryn Hill (Harmony Festival, June 13) and tried to resist her Temptations (Marin County Fair, July 5). She wanted to fly away in a Joan Jett (Marin-Sonoma Fair, June 25) and find Jack. She prepared her ultimatum: "Lyle Lovett (Uptown, July 21; WFC, July 20) or leave it!" she'd tell him. If he didn't want her love, he could become one of Los Lonely Boys (Uptown, Aug. 5).
Luckily, who should see Wilson crying the tears of a clown but Smokey Robinson (WFC, May 28). "Ooh, baby, baby," he soothed, "the Weather Channel says there's a New Monsoon (Hopmonk Tavern, July 16) blowing through. I've got sunshine on these cloudy days—climb in my REO Speedwagon (WFC, July 28), and I'll take you to see a specialist at the Garaj Mahal (Hopmonk, July 23)."
The drive was long. To pass the time, they picked up hitchhikers. One, with a hammer and toolbox, was a Mary Chapin Carpenter (WFC, Aug. 6); another was in retail as a Natalie Merchant (WFC, Aug. 10). Both were Waifs, but they shared some Poor Man's Whiskey and sang songs by Greg Brown, Steve Earle, Ani DiFranco, Robert Earl Keen and Carrie Rodriguez (Kate Wolf Festival, June 25&–27).
Finally, they reached the spot, their car immediately surrounded by Court Yard Hounds (Mondavi, July 10), snarling and drooling. Smokey knew the secret word. "Vetiver (Gundlach-Bundschu, June 5)!" he yelled. The Pack (Phoenix Theater, June 5) dispersed, Smokey and Wilson making their way to the front porch and ringing the Joshua Bell (Festival del Sole, July 18). The door opened. She appeared, her hair bunched in a pin encrusted with an Eileen Jewell (Studio E, June 18). All Wilson noticed were the woman's low-cut dress and tell-tale Mother Hips (Hopmonk, June 18).
Sure enough. It was the exotic mystic, Charo (Lincoln Theater, Sept. 10).
Charo had worked her magic on many before, from Miranda Lambert (Sonoma County Fair, Aug. 2) to Esperanza Spalding (Healdsburg Jazz Festival, June 11) to Rickie Lee Jones (Uptown, June 19). Basically, had a woman ever been spurned by a man, Charo was there to make things right. Everyone Wilson knew used Charo's services—except Melissa Etheridge (WFC, Aug. 27)—and her power was legendary.
"Cuchi cuchi," said Charo, and Wilson suddenly felt woozy. Charo placed some Carolina Chocolate Drops (Mystic, June 26) in Wilson's mouth, and she went limp, falling to the floor. "Let me get my sister, Carol (Far West Fest, July 17)," said Charo. "She knows how to handle the tired, the worn-down, the Merle Haggard (Uptown, June 12)."
Carol came and lifted Wilson's body, placing an ancient Desert Rose Band (Mystic, May 29) around her right index finger. Carol gathered together a dried Bone, some Thugs and sang Harmony (Phoenix, June 5) into Wilson's ear. "My dear Carol!" Wilson cried, and then, because she was out of breath, repeated it in acronym form: "MDC! MDC! MDC (Phoenix, June 12)!"
But Carol was no singer, and her Monophonics (Far West Fest, July 17) grated on Charo's ears. "Enough!" the mystic commanded. "We go now into my Tower of Power (Marin-Sonoma Fair, June 23) for an exorcism with Ravi Coltrane, Charlie Haden and Geri Allen (Healdsburg Jazz Festival, June 12). You, Wilson, up the stairs. Now."
But the trio was nowhere to be found. Instead a Frenchman, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and an Italian, Carlo Ponti Jr. (Festival del Sole, July 20 and 25), stood guard. Smokey lied to them and said his name was Friedman, and ensured that he could fulfill their desires in exchange for passage into the tower—even a little hed (pe) (Phoenix, Aug.3), he promised, if that's what they were into. "Don't get kinky, Friedman (Studio E, Aug. 5)," said Carlo.
By now, Wilson had forgotten all about Jack—a good thing, since he had left the cruise to shack up with yet another fun-loving girl, Cyndi Lauper (Uptown, Aug. 18). Cyndi was a John Legend (WFC, July 31) in her own mind, a diabolical temptress who didn't mind being called Blondie (WFC, Aug. 5) if it meant getting ahead. Jack and Cyndi were lounging on the back patio of a New Mexican taqueria, drinking two beers each, turning the bottles bottoms-up and tipsily flinging the Four Tops (Marin County Fair, July 5) at each other, when the telegram came over the George Cables (HJF, June 9).
"Call my attorneys, Jason Moran and Bill Frisell (HJF, June 13)," it read. "Been kidnapped by disco flamenco hoochie and Motown legend. Come quick."
Jack bolted. Cyndi or no Cyndi, he wasn't about to let a disco flamenco hoochie steal his woman. He thought of calling famed tough-guy-for-hire Rufus Wainwright (Uptown, Aug. 22) to come along. He thought of renting a chainsaw from Jackyl (Last Day Saloon, May 26). He thought of bringing the Old Western posse Crosby, Stills and Nash (Sonoma Jazz +, May 21) to intimidate Wilson's kidnappers.
But no. This was a job for Jack to do alone. He found the nearest phone booth, spun around in a circle, and turned into the superhero Powerman 5000 (Last Day Saloon, June 2).
Will Powerman retrieve his woman? Will Wilson run off instead with Brandi Carslile (Mystic, June 24&–25)? How does Del McCoury and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Marin County Fair; July 4) fit into all of this? Stay tuned for the box-office sequel to Possibly the Most Ridiculous Thing I've Ever Written, starring Chuck Prophet (St. Helena Native Sons Hall, June 19), and see you at the shows this summer!