The Rock Concert

Season 1, Episode 7



    ZACKERY (over microphone)

Good evening.  I'm Zackery Calvin. a very special night...  We are here to give awards..  We are here to hear great music by the Doobie Brothers.


And most of all we are here to honor men and women for whom this honor is long overdue.  I'ld like to introduce to you now the spokesman for Veterans Aid, a decorated veteran, and the recipient of tonight's first award, Tony Fiorentino.


Good drama always mirrors real life, but this episode took this fiction-reality connection to a new dimension, when the Doobie Brothers (yes, the real ones) agreed to be guests in this episode of Milford-Haven. They chose not to have speaking roles, but rather to allow their music to be featured in the show, and to allow me to include glimpses of rehearsal, set-up, and back-stage at one of their big concerts.

How and why did this happen? In real life, the Doobies are my long-time friends, but after many years of success, the band broke up, and each member went on to play solo or to work with other groups. (John McFee and Keith Knudsen formed another band called Southern Pacific, which had success of its own.)

But a dire need had arisen in our country—support for Vietnam Veterans, many of whom lacked proper medical and mental health care following the war, and some of whom needed basic housing and support. Keith Knudsen, a percussionist and long-time member of the Doobs, connected with Shad Meshad—himself a U.S. Army Medical Service Officer in that war—who’d founded the National Veterans Foundation (

Moved by what Shad explained to him about homelessness, PTSD (then a relatively new diagnosis), broken families, indigence and many other issues facing those who served our country, Keith decided to create a major concert to benefit vets. He asked the Doobies to get back together just for this one concert, and he invited every musician who’d ever been in the band, not just the most recent members. Every one of them said yes, and so did the Hollywood Bowl. And Kris Kristoferson agreed to be the opening act. Wow! What a concert this would be! The venue sold out—except for the first two rows, which were reserved for the veterans who were being honored that night.

As a friend of John and Marcy McFee—both of whom were now Milford-Haven cast members—and of Keith Knudsen’s, I was invited to join the small group of family-and-friends backstage. We were there all day, so during set-up and sound checks, we were all enjoying a huge reunion. Then once the musicians stepped onto the stage. Picture this: not one, not two, but three percussionists; two bass players; numerous singers including Michael McDonald, several guitar players. The stage was crowded, guitarists moving downstage close to those front-row vets, drummers pounding out their signature beats and truly rocking the house—and the hillsides in that part of Los Angeles.

I think all of practically levitated during that evening, floating upward on the sheer joy of the music, the love for the vets, the reunion of musicians who loved playing together, the exuberant audience of devoted fans, and the sense that Love—capital “L”—was overpowering limitation and loss.

The very next day, I asked Keith and John how they’d feel if I wrote an episode of my new radio drama based on that incredible night of the concert. My fictional characters would be the ones backstage and helping with the show, and the venue would be changed to a fictional location to be called the “Central Coast Bowl”—but the generosity of the band, the honoring of the veterans, and the resounding success of the event would all remain as they were.

They said yes, as did the rest of the band members, and I wrote the episode. Because this was the seventh in the series, I made each episode with a “7″ centered on a musical performance, and this fit perfectly with my multi-talented cast members, many of whom were also singers or musicians.

Keith Knudsen left us all too early. When he passed on in 2005, close friends joined his family and we sang and played our favorite music throughout the day and into the evening. It was the very best way to honor a wonderful man. John and Marcy McFee are still dear friends, and John still tours with the Doobies, while Marcy has become a valued member of their community as a doctor of Chinese medicine.

By the way, years later, when I began adapting my radio drama to become a series of novels, Book 2, Where the Heart Livese, featured this concert in much more elaborate detail, and once again included my pals the Doobs. “We’re gonna be in a book!” one of them enthused when I told them. I have a few copies of the hardcover signed by the band members, true treasures.

As you listen to Episode 7 of Milford-Haven USA, have fun imaging yourself backstage, and then out front with the Doobie Brothers at one of the great rock concerts of the late 1980s.

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