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So last night I was at the gym, and I had a hankering for an old Jefferson Starship song called “Layin’ it on the Line.” The tune came out in 1988, and while it’s commercial and poppy and all the reasons Jefferson Airplane burned to ash, I actually really dig it. Here’s what it sounds like. You can see why it works as workout fare.

Anyhow, YouTube takes you strange places—and I wound up here. It’s 2015, and I’m in a club called Sweetwater Music Hall in (thanks, Google) Mill Valley, California. Apparently people have paid to hear Craig Chaquico and his band cover the shitty years of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starhsip/Starship. And when I mean shitty—I mean shitty, shitty, shitty. This is “We Built This City” territory.

So I’m listening, watching, wondering why this guy Craig is standing front and center, behaving as if he’s the Eddie Van Halen of Jefferson Starship. Then, again thanks to Google, I learn he actually is the Eddie Van Halen of Jefferson Starship. As the band morphed and changed and crumbled and returned and crumbled again and returned again and lost members and gained members, ol’ Craig was the one consistent. He was there from beginning to end. The guy who rode the Airplane to the Starship.

However … I dunno. The blonde singer is reading lyrics off an iPad. The songs are not exactly guitar classics. The club probably has a capacity of 200. Craig looks bored, not unlike a man trapped in an eternal loop of terrible riffs, wondering whether he once really played Woodstock (he did). I just checked his website—and on March 2 he’s booked a gig called Grooves at the Westin. Then, on April 27, it’s down to Melbourne, Florida. Which is all fine and dandy, and a guy’s making an honest and legit living.

But there’s nothing pretty about the aging rocker. Nothing.


Jeff Pearlman is a writer.