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Lasting Orange Memory: I Need To Get To A Clinic

As you learned in my previous post on Orange Memories, I was a drummer. And forgive me, but the actual dates involved here have long since disappeared from my mind. I even Googled it, and got nothing, so let's just call it mid to late 1980's. That makes me under 18.

My father had told me of a clinic coming to town featuring Max Weinberg, from E. Street Band fame. Keep in mind, this is pre-Conan. We're talking "Born in the USA" era here. I couldn't have been less interested about that, as I was a Metal-head, and quite honestly still hate Bruce's music. But a clinic is special. For those of you who do not know, a clinic is a get together where a musician plays alone for the most part, in front of other drummers, or whatever other instrument said person plays. They take questions, tell their story, teach you how they do things, meet and greet, etc. This was a clinic I would go to based on Max being a great drummer, not for the crap he was playing with Jersey boy.

The clinic was held at the Schine Student Center on campus. And if my memory serves me right, there was a club or bar inside? It was to be an over 18 affair. Upon deciding to go, my father had called ahead and spoke to someone about me getting in. Under the circumstances of being with a parent, and my father's convincing them that they were going to have problems with young drummers all over town wanting to go, they said okay. We would be on a list at the door.

I know you all know what comes next. It's the same old story, with the same old set-up. They wouldn't let me in. There wasn't a list. No one had our names. After much discussion, and pleading with people at the door, we began walking out. Now I don't know exactly what we were saying to each other, but the combination of that and our low hanging heads led to my magical, Orange Hero moment.

A 6'6", 252 lb. young man (We knew who it was, but I'll drag it out to build suspense in my piece) stopped us to ask what was going on, having overheard whatever we were saying. We gave him the story, and he put his hand on my shoulder and said "Come with me". Maybe there is something to be said about the old cliché "big man on campus". He led us back to the door told the person there that we were with him, and we walked right in. Then he rode off on his white stallion, in slow motion, and to a swell of orchestral music after saving the day. Well, not really. But he did just turn around and leave. He was Pat Kelly, TE. And even though I had always been a fan of his all along, I always felt a little more of a special connection with him watching him play after this happened.

By the way, the clinic was awesome, and at the time had taught me a lot. I was a hard rock / metal drummer, but some of the things I learned that night really helped me out on the jazz styles that I had to suffer through in school. I have been to clinics for Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater fame, and Chester Thompson of Genesis. Max's was right up there.

Pat was a great tight end at Syracuse. Pat caught the TD pass that allowed the opportunity for the two-point conversion to beat WVU in 1987.He was in the NFL for a short time with both the Broncos and the Jets. In 2002, after being diagnosed with cancer, Pat was given the Zunic award at the Carrier Dome. The award is given to someone who exemplifies courage, self-sacrifice and spirit.

Pat Kelly passed on March 28, 2003. He will always be one of my favorite players, for more reasons than one.

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