Decades Later, Zonkaraz’s Love Leads to Friendship

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The 70s are remembered for historical and regrettable reasons, not the least of which was Dorothy Hamill’s haircut, which I mistakenly thought was a good fit for me. Watergate flooded the headlines (pun intended, though it was watered down by our current situation, pun repeated.) Bad fashion dominated the day. I lived in “farmer’s jeans” or overalls, and Earth shoes considered good for your feet and posture, although I think my lower back still suffers from walking in those leather ties that looked like loaves of bread. And I walked when I wasn’t hitchhiking.

When I think about it now, the thought of sticking my thumb out for a ride from a complete stranger chills my heart. I can’t believe I was so stupid, especially as a cop’s daughter. My dad never heard of my incredibly stupid risk-taking adventures. The fact that I’m alive to tell the tale is proof enough that Herk Harvey had no idea how stupid his third child was.

My destination was The Last Chance Saloon. Last Chance was located in the Grafton Street shopping center which now houses a Stop & Shop and Spectrum, among other businesses. At the time, I was living in the Elm Park neighborhood, in one of several apartments that I shared with a few different roommates. With a take-home pay of $75, earned by making cheap clothes look good in Lerner store windows, living alone was not an option.

I “thumped” because I didn’t have a driver’s license and wouldn’t have had one until I was 30. teenagers, I thought that was a great idea. Clearly, the bad judgment gene – found in most if not all of our branch of the Harvey tree – was passed along with the freckles. But I had a good reason to hitchhike until the Last Chance: Zonkaraz.

At a time when Worcester was buzzing with live music, Zonkaraz were my favorite band. No other band sounded like that. No other band I know of has played all their own stuff; no covers, except for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen. This classic would have been an odd choice if it hadn’t been sung by Joanne Barnard. As Herk would say, “she tore the seal.”

Jo Barnard would eventually leave the group as Jo List, wife and mother, and move to Florida. We never connected while she lived here, but I kept her on a pedestal with other local artists I admired. It would take Facebook to create a friendship between us, more than 40 years later.

Jo recently returned home to visit family and friends, and the connection we’ve forged via the internet over the past year has led to lunch at the sole proprietor’s home. It was then that we realized we were face to face with a hair over five feet.

“We’re going to need booster seats,” she chuckled.

Jo regaled me with the story of how this girl who sang all day, every day as a child joined a band creating a sound like no other in Worcester. Two hours later, convinced that we are sisters, we decide to meet again. The following Sunday we met in Spencer to listen to some great music made by Jon Webster (Jo’s bandmate at Zonkaraz) Jim Perry, Bill MacGillivray and Alison McTavish. The channel, as they are called, had listeners dancing in the sweltering heat. Jo List applauded them enthusiastically and more than a few concert shouts. We watched two gray-haired women dancing in the sun and laughed remembering a time when we would have considered them “cute.”

“And here we are!” I said.

Jo sometimes gets behind the microphone in Florida, when the mood arises. I look forward to when I can catch up with her in the Sunshine State soon. Until then, I’ll just listen to a CD of original songs that she created a few years ago and that she graciously offered to me. My days of hitchhiking are over.

Next time I travel to see Jo List, I’m flying.

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