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Monday
Apr022012

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and a Davey Johnstone Memory

Okay, tonight’s the night, my parents are coming over to my freshly cleaned apartment for drinks and then it’s off to dinner. There’s the buzzer, let’s go let them in!

Down the stairs to the front hallway which leads to...

The front door and my parents. Uh, oh, my mom's got her rain hat on, it's started to rain outside. I bring them into my dry building.

Once inside my dad went to work mixing up a couple drinks in my narrow kitchen.

He's adding the water now. Note the water bottle that doubles as their flask.

Cheers from my mom and dad! We had a nice visit and a couple of drinks and it was time to catch a cab to dinner. I was a little worried it might be tough to get one in the rain.

And I was right. It took us a little while to snare this one and we changed dinner plans in the cab. We were going to go to The Water Club, one of our favorite spots that overlooks the East River, but we were afraid that it might be tough to get a cab after dinner. So we decided on Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, which is within walking distance of their hotel and an old standby for occasions like this. The food's always good there.

I didn't get a shot of the outside because of the rain, but here's one off the internet. Just imagine it's darker and rainier.

And here we are going inside. Whenever we go to Ruth's Chris, we always end up telling a story about the night we met Elton John's lead guitarist, Davey Johnston in this restaurant years ago. I'll share the memory with you now as we eat our dinner.

My Davey Johnstone Ruth’s Chris Memory
Davey Johnstone has played guitar for Elton John for years. When I was a kid I was a big Elton John fan. I followed his music from Tumbleweed Connection to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. After Goodbye Yellow Brick Road I felt his music went downhill and I stopped listening. So while a lot of people would have no idea who Davey Johnstone is, I do.

In the winter of 2002 my parents came to visit me here in New York.
We were out to dinner at Ruth’s Chris steakhouse in midtown, having a few drinks and enjoying dinner. The three of us were seated at a table in the bar, because back then you could still smoke in bars in New York and my mom smokes and so do I. Right in the middle of dinner an older guy with long blonde hair past his shoulders wearing red-tinted, wire rim glasses and an expensive, shiny suit walked by our table and sat down at the bar with a good looking woman with fiery red hair, who looked young enough to be his daughter. I mentally thought that this guy looked like an old man version of Davey Johnstone, the lead guitar player for Elton John's band.

After he walked by my dad laughed and said, “Geez, did you see that weirdo?” I laughed and we continued on with dinner and drinks.

About ten minutes later, the blonde hostess walked up to the blond-haired guy and said, “Mr. Johnstone, your table’s ready now.”

He and the woman got up and they walked by our table again and were seated two tables away in the bar. He or she must’ve been a smoker as well. I also realized it had been years since I’ve seen a photo of the guy, so naturally he looks a lot older. I told my folks that he was Elton John’s lead guitarist and that he had been with him way back before Elton John was very famous. We laughed about the young woman he was with and I said she was probably a groupie. Soon we were done with dinner and we stood up and I said I’d get the coats from the coat check. My dad said, “I’m going to go over there and say hi to him.”

Now my dad’s a big jokester, he’d had a few drinks and I thought he was kidding. It’s kind of a rule not to bug stars in New York, but you really don’t bother someone when they’re eating.

I laughed and said, “Yeah, right,” and went to the coat check.

I assumed my folks would meet me in the lobby. Well I get there and they’re not there, I look up, while clutching our coats and they’re standing in front of Davey Johnstone’s table! I ran up there to escort them away from what I thought would be an angry rock star. Instead I heard my dad saying to him, “Now you’re one of the originals in Elton’s band, right?”

He was parroting what I had told him and Davey Johnstone was amazed that this 70-something-year-old knew who he was and his history.

 “Yeah, that’s right, are you in the business?” Johnstone asked my dad as I walked up.

“Oh here’s our son, now, Marty, met Davey Johnstone,” my dad said as Johnstone stuck out his hand.

“Hi, nice to meet you,” I said as I shook his hand.

“Likewise,” he said smiling.

“So what are you doing in town?” my dad asked him.

He told us they had played Madison Square Garden that week and Elton wanted to stay in New York for the week for a little vacation for he and the band. Then he asked where we were from and my dad told him they lived in Peoria but I lived in New York. Then he started asking me all about New York, where I lived, isn’t it hard to find a place, and on and on and on. It was starting to feel a little uncomfortable.

After about five minutes I had to say, “Well, listen it sure was great meeting you, but we have to get going, we’re meeting some people” or we’d probably still be there talking to the guy!

We laughed about it later and realized he probably hardly ever gets recognized and he got a big kick out of it. And so did the woman, she was beaming at him. I’m sure they had some fun later on in his hotel room. So, Davey, if by some miraculous chance you’ve stumbled onto this via the internet, there’s no need to thank me. Just send me a gold album or something I can sell on eBay.

After dinner, the rain had stopped and we went back to their hotel room for a beer.

And after a bit. my parents were ready to go to sleep, they're flying back to Peoria tomorrow.  It was nice spending time with them in New York. I had time for one last obligatory elevator mirror shot.

On my way home I shot this photo of some neon lights in Ray's Pizza. See you all tomorrow.

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
148 W. 51st St. (Near Seventh Ave.)
212-245-9600


Further Reading: New York Magazine, Music Radar and All Music.

Until you've seen this trash can dream come true,
You stand at the edge, while people run you through.
And I thank the Lord, there's people out there like you.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!

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Reader Comments (31)

Did I miss the part where you tell us what you ate????

Love your parents, I want them. Will you give them to me? NO? Why not. You've had them for a long time. learn to share. and please tell them not to use their plastic bottles as flasks - there are BPA's in there that could KILL THEM.. make them switch to snapple.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Monkey

glad you had a nice visit with your parents, thanks for sharing it with us with your pictures and text.! that davy johnstone story was great! nice memories!

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D

Marty, I looked at the 1st picture of Davey Johnstone, & thought to myself, is that Dick Dale, Tom Petty or Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith? That story with your father & Davey Johnstone was hysterical. Now I see that the apple dosen't fall far from the tree in the Wombacher family. I love your Mother's rain hat, looks very Goth.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanny the Freelancer

Very cool "plastic" flask your dad carries. Of course this makes perfect sense to me because flying in from Peoria and all the regulations,,,,it's just easier to buy a bottle when you get to your hotel, then use an empty water bottle, as a flask. Your parents look very fit. Your dad look's like a former linebacker, tough and strong. Great story about Johnstone, and I agree about the early Elton albums,,,,,Honky Chateau was great and the song "I think I'm gonna kill myself" unless "Brigitte Bardot comes to visit me every night" Loved that song.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

@Green Monkey: I had a petite filet with shrimp, my dad had crab cakes and my mom had a petite filet. We shared a chopped salad and au gratin potatoes, it was a great meal! And I am sharing my parents with you, via this blog! I'll remember that about the plastic bottle for the next trip, thanks!

@Bobby D: Glad you like the Davey J. story and the posts!

@Danny the Freelancer: Yes, it was my dad and my mom who always encouraged silliness and talking to strangers and I thank them for that! Cool that you liked my mom's rain hat, I'll tell her!

@Al: My parents are in great shape for their age and I'm grateful they can travel here and spend time with me. It's always fun to go out with them in New York City! And I agree about Honky Chateau, one of his best! I love those old Elton John albums!

April 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Marty - very nice post about your Mom and Dad. Reminds me a lot of mine (especially the part about traveling with their own liquor! Who ever thought that parents could be so much fun). My father is also the kind of guy who can walk up to strangers, introduce himself and end up having a long conversation. Not a trait I inherited.

I agree with your comments about "Goodbye Yellowbrick Road" and Sir Elton's career. It has always seemed to me that it took nearly everything he had and what was left has been mediocre ever since. 1

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave - Everywhere

I don't know exactly what it is, but there is something so RIGHT about seeing your folks sitting on your couch havin' a drink smilin' away.
And maybe your pop should get into the music biz.....sometimes all it takes is a bit of chutzpa to break in. Ooohhh.......oooohhhhhh.......I can picture your mom and pop in an Elton John-like stage costume. And YOU could supply the tunes and multi-media. I got it......The WamBos!


PS : Belated Happy Birthday to Mistah Chittle....Shawn and his lady simply CANNOT look that good in person.....I mean they positively GLOW!

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrBOP

Another great glimpse of the Wombacher Elite :)

Speaking of Elton, my Dad was a big fan and long ago I remember him wandering into the living room when I was watching MTV. "I'm Still Standing Standing" was on at the time and Dad was so disappointed.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterroadsidewonders

I've been meaning to ask you, Marty, what's your mom & dad's drink of choice? Looks to be bourbon, or perhaps American "blended whiskey." What brand? Do they add any mixers, or just straight onto the rocks? Do you ever partake of dad's concoction? Or do you stick with your trusty ol' Budweiser?

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Davis

@Dave - Everywhere: I never dreamed as a wild-eyed teenager I'd have so much fun with my parents, all part of growing older I guess. I stopped listening to Elton John after I bought the Brown Dirt Cowboy album and disappointed in it and bummed I had wasted money on it. The early albums are all great.

@DrBOP: Ha ha ha! I love the WamBos idea! I'll start pitching it to agents! You can be our manager! And yes, Shawn and Lindsay do glow when they're together, it's all part of a nuclear accident, but they don't like to talk about it, so we'll leave it be!

@roadsidewonders: Your comment made me think of something I read in an Elton John interview. He was talking about the mistake he made when he married a woman in the '80's. He said Rod Stewart sent a telegram that read: "You may still be standing, but we're rolling on the ground laughing our asses off over this unlikely turn of events." Ha ha ha!

@Bruce Davis: Their drink of choice is Canadian Club on the rocks with just a little bit of water. My dad's been mixing this drink for them for years. I pretty much just stick to Budweiser. I can drink a lot of that, but when I switch to hard liquor, things can get a little ugly and I don't want to go to jail for a fifth time!

April 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

@TWM: My unconstitutional law degree from a Cracker Jack box informed me that pleading a fifth of whiskey will not keep you out of a government spa for trip number five.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

I want to hang out with your parents, they seem like they would be a blast!!! Must be in the Peoria water! Sorry you didn't get to make it out to the Water Club!!!

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay

I too am jealous of your parents. Mine are pretty good, but when they visit, they stay at my sisters on Long Island and I pertty much have to take the goddam LIRR out there if I want to see them. Sure she has a condo on the water, spare bedroom and a boat, and I got well, mice, but cmon, NYC vs LI?!? That should be a no-brainer.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpike

I freaking ADORE your parents!!!!!

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

An extremely charming post. Can't go wrong taking the parents to Morton's.

The story about talking to Davey Johnstone was hysterical, my compliments on having such a cool dad.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveW

Your parents are adorable! It's fun to grow up and actually party with and enjoy the company of your "parental units". Mine were a blast too (my mom still is, my dad is raising hell in the afterlife no doubt). SKOAL! Hope they had a safe trip home.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatrink

@csp: I'll drink to that!

@Lindsay: I'll let you know the next trip and we'll meet you and Shawn for a drink! I've met your dad, who's a great guy, so its only fair!

@Spike: Hey at least you don't have rats! Your folks are free to sleep in my bathtub on their next trip!

@Meleah: Thanks, I do too!

@Dave W: Thanks so much, my parents are great, I feel lucky to have them.

@Katrink: I always got along with my parents, they were always really open-minded and didn't push us into stuff we didn't want to do. Sorry to hear about your dad, but glad you're still having fun with your mom! SKOAL! And my parents are on the way back right now. Probably having a drink on the plane!

April 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

damn that song always gets me blurry...
only seen Elton twice.. paid far to much for the tickets but they were the two best live shows i have ever seen.

I think your parents need a blog now.. I love them..
and your dad and my dad would love eachother with the CC's mixed in little BPA laden bottles.

I love when old people go on cruises and they are all waiting in line with very heavy suitcases. then when you pick your own old people back up in a week the suitcases are lighter..and then you realize they all sneak the booze on. and that is why they travel in packs and one will rent the suite as the party central.

OK true story..
my mom and i were having lunch at the pier in SF.. she used to meet me on my lunch breaks when i worked out there.
She went up to this couple during our lunch and told them how much me and my brother were judas priest fans.
would have been find had the couple actually been KK Downing and Rob Halford.. but no.. just a nice couple of GIRLS who just happened to look like them... but played along with my mom just in case she was nuts.
which i was motioning behind her to them that she was...

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

Great story, Marty! And I love that Elton John song. Indigo Girls did a pretty good cover of it way back in the day. Glad that you had a nice visit with the parents.

Speaking of plastic bottles, MAKE SURE YOU REMOVE THE CAPS BEFORE RECYCLING. The machines can't process anything with a cap, so if you screw it back on there when you're done, those bottles go straight to the landfill.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

I salute your parents and their trippin' son. People I would break bread with anywhere anytime. As long as they have red, white or rose, I'm there to raise a glass or ten to the Wombacher spunk.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

@Gidget: Before we get my parent's a blog, we need to get them a computer! That's a great story about your mom! Too funny!

@Biff: Thanks! I love that Elton John song too! Listened to it long before I ever dreamed I'd be living here! And thanks for the recycling tip, I never knew that! All tops will be removed in the future!

@Marco: Thank you sir! Anytime you're in NYC, you are more than welcome to break bread and wine bottles with all of us!

April 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

That sounds wonderful!!! Ahh, glad you were able to meet my dad, he's the swellest of guys around!! I'm pretty biased, though. Look forward to it!!!

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay

@Linsday: My pleasure to have met your dad! I look forward to other meetings, a cool guy indeed!

April 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Great Post, Great Story and it would be hard to find Greater Parents.
Glad I had a chance to meet them.
Many parallels with them and my parents (My Dad was the same way, would talk and shoot the shit with anyone, Mom is similar, but Dad had the gift and passed it on to me to some degree).
Good talking to you tonight.
Glad they got back home safe.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

Nothing like fine food, fine company and an aging rockstar to make a good night!

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterReggie Thistleton

Yeah. High proof alcohol and plastic don't mix well. As others have said the alcohol degrades the plastic and all that nasty shit that goes into making plastic leaches into the booze. Beer's OK though and probably wine too.

That's my public service announcement of the day. That and "Madman Across the Water" is a killer EJ song.

It's funny to think of him as a knight. I wonder what his armor looks like.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrandall

@"Boris": Thanks, Daddio! It was great to meet your mom a couple years ago. A beautiful and nice woman and reminded me much of my own mom. Great yakking with you tonight!

@Reggie Thistleton: It's the trifecta for a perfect evening!

@ randall: I'll pass the warning onto my folks, thanks! I agree about "Madman Acroos the Water," great song! And I have no idea what Elton's armor looks like, but I bet it's shiny!

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Great story Marty!

Your parents look so very sweet. You are so very blessed to still have them.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiki Bar Susie

@Tiki Bar Susie: Thanks and I'm so happy they can still come and visit!

April 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Thanks Marty!

April 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

Hi Marty, thanks for that nice anecdote and the accompanying photos! I really mean it, I came here on a very obscure way (actually looking for photos of Davey Johnstone on Google). But I really enjoyed your little story about a rainy night in NYC with your parents.

August 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

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