“I hit the city and I ost my band. I know that some of you don’t understand…”
-Neil Young

It was really disorienting to return from Beijing and suddenly be stripped of everything I had so loved about my life in China, probably the band more than anything. It’s hard to describe in a few lines what it meant to spend two years building something up and then suddenly have it be out of your life. In the epilogue of Big in China, I wrote the following about my return to New Jersey:

Music kept me moving forward, even as it anchored me to my past. The editors at Guitar World brought me back into the fold; I continued to work on the Beijing Blues CD; and my friend Dave Gomberg, a frequent jamming partner from pre- China days, invited me to perform with his Maplewood band.

We took the stage in front of two hundred neighbors and nailed “Beijing Blues.” It felt easy and automatic, helping me realize that I could stand on my own as a musician, without Woodie
Alan—and so could the songs I had written for the band. Dave was amazed by my transformation. “You left for China as a guy who plays guitar and came back a musician,” he said.

I have continued to play with Dave’s band Mood Ring, frequently but irregularly. The last time was a great gig, at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, on a grand stage, with a great sound system. I did two songs with them. Here is “Beijing Blues”:

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