Live Music October 2011
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Steve Key
Steve is a Pismo Beach resident, a singer-songwriter whose music is posted at Steve  He is also host of Songwriters At Play, held at several Central Coast venues.

The Six Million Dollar Drummer

by Steve Key

Lou Mars tweets: "Beautiful Blue Sky Day in Morro Bay, attending my first live music festival sober, and it's a Margarita Festival LOL . . ." 

Well, I gotta see this, so I send a message to Lou, and we agree to meet at the sound tent near the music stage of Morro Bay Avocado and Margarita Festival.

Lou Mars
Lou Mars in August 2010 (Photo by Brian Peterson Pro Video)

Probably been a year since I last saw Lou.  He came to our songwriters showcase Monday nights at Rose's Landing, just hanging out at the bar and listening.  I didn't know much about him, other than he came to our show and kept coming back.  I try to encourage that.  We became Facebook friends, exchanged occasional messages.  We had a couple of musician friends in common.  I figured out that Lou was a professional drummer who lived in Morro Bay, but that's about all I knew, until recently.

I know a lot more about Lou now, because I read all about it here: Lou Mars Drums

Lou Mars and Bike
Lou and His Bike

The adventure begins July 7, Lou riding his Harley up the coast in the late afternoon, and his sunny summer ride ends tragically. On an off-ramp cloverleaf, Lou's bike collides head-on with an SUV, leaving him seriously injured.  "My pelvis had been completely split apart," he writes. "The accident almost tore me in half vertically."

I am amazed at the details Lou is able to remember about the crash, including his conversations with the EMTs who helicoptered him to SLO, and then on to Stanford Hospital. "The SF Life Flight EMT had told me that 93% of motorcycle accidents end in fatalities," Lou reports.  "As a matter of fact, when they got the call it was reported as a head-on-collision, so they figured they would be using a body bag. To their surprise I was still alive and kicking upon landing."

Even more amazing to me is the emotional inventory Lou shares in his blog: "I'm a drummer that cannot walk or move, my right arm and wrist shattered. Prior to the accident, I had just completed very positive visits with my relatives, children etc; have had a career that I am satisfied with, and have completed many of the things in my life that I sought out to do. My relationship over the last year with my wife Karen had soured, was distant, and appeared unrepairable, so I figured no harm done there either. i.e. She was already gone. So the accident actually would have been a great time to exit stage left. Going out doing something I love, riding my Harley by the ocean. Moreover, I had enjoyed a great comeback run in the last few years involving my drumming. Perfect ending to a crazy life!"

But his life didn't end.  So here I am at the Avocado and Margarita Festival, scanning the crowd for Lou Mars.  Will he be in a wheelchair?  Or is he now able to walk with a cane?  Perhaps he'll have a health care aide with him, assisting Lou in the painful shuffle through the festival crowd.

None of the above.  Lou taps my shoulder, and there he is, walking upright, no cane or other assistance.  Karen is there too, and they seem happy as newlyweds.  He's thinner than I remember, hair a little shorter, but otherwise no hint of his extensive injuries. Lou shows me he can't make a fist with his right hand yet, but otherwise his recovery is remarkable.

Lou and I get right into chatting music biz.  He's full of plans for October gigs, and I remind him that October begins in two weeks.  He's already turned down drumming work which would have started sooner, but he's confident he can be working again this month.

Lou and Karen moved to Morro Bay in September 2010.  He's one of those guys when you ask him where he's from, he shrugs and says, "All over."  But he gigs a lot in L.A., and wanted to find a place to live where he could be close to L.A. and yet not in L.A.  He's only been an observer of the Central Coast music scene so far, but I bet that will change in the near future.

We watch The Mystics on the main stage led by bassist Bobby Santa Cruz, who alternates lead vocals with guitarist Steve Mazzetta. They keep the dance crowd happy with Al Green's Let's Stay Together and The Temptations' Standing on Shaky Ground.  Steve announces their next song, Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, and Lou air-drums the opening riff a few seconds before Mystics drummer Bobby Freeman kicks it out. "I like the snap he's getting on that snare," Lou admires.  He looks almost ready to get back in the game.

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