James Brown takes me back to 1965 and Patsy Skerrett

James Brown

In 2004, I was working on PEI for a music store.

We heard that James Brown was playing the Civic Centre in Halifax.

That got a buzz going: gotta go see the Man. James Brown, he’s the Man.

I talked Dave MacDonald, the owner, into making the 4 hour drive to Halifax to see James Brown in concert.

When we got to the Civic Centre there were a lot of black people in the audience and Dave seemed ill at ease. PEI is one of the least racially integrated places on the planet.

So I told him the story of how I dated Patsy Skerrett, a black girl, when I was in high school.

Dave seemed less than impressed as we sat down high in hockey rink.

The concert started with the soul band and the announcer shouting “James Brown”. Then the band plays the riff, he shouts “James Brown” over and over again until the man himself appeared on stage to thunderous applause.

The concert was so hot. As old as he was, James Brown could out perform anyone.

There were two 50ish black ladies to my left and they were grooving away. One looked at me and asked “You digging this?” “Yes I am!”

When the concert was all over, James Brown was sweating and exhausted. So was most of the audience.

The lights went up and I beamed at Dave “Wasn’t that great!” He muttered something and then I looked over his shoulder.

“Oh my God! Patsy Skerrett!”

There Patsy was 40 years later sitting next to Dave. Patsy introduced me to soul and  James Brown and was my wannabe-girl friend.

I brushed by Dave to give her a big hug. We traded lies about the 4 decades in-between. You know the marriages – her three and my two – divorces, etc.

Alongside was her little brother Wendell now all grown up. Patsy’s mother made us take Wendell him on as a chaperone. I think Wendell was less than impressed with my hug.

In the space of a few minutes she was gone. I gathered up Dave and we left.

James Brown left. The building emptied and we headed downtown for a meal before the all-night drive back to the Island.

Isn’t it weird? To meet my old James Brown date forty years later at a James Brown concert.

What do you think it means?