Five miles and twenty-one years stand between the Paradise – a home away from home for O Positive in their heyday – and the Midway Café. This townie bar, nestled in an industrial neighborhood between Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, has the feel of the best rec-room ever. As we enter the club, a pug sits perched on a stool at the bar. A Grateful Dead tribute band called, naturally, 420, plays a new version of “Old Macdonald Had a Farm”, with a toddler on drums and vocals. After procuring some spirits, we settle in to watch the Celtics game and keep an eye out for the members of Hey Dave.
Gradually, they file in. Dave Martin sidles up to the bar, arm-in-arm with a striking brunette. Avuncular bass player Dave Ingham joins us to watch some of the game and to exchange facetious pleasantries with my gentleman caller and me. In the middle distance, Dave Herlihy ducks through the door, lifting a small child over the threshold. Kenny Hickey, who manned the drum seat for O Positive in the Home Sweet Head years, mills about by the soundman as 420 winds down their set.
When I ask Dave Martin about the possibility of an interview, he shrugs his shoulders. “We’ll see,” he says, before adding “You could always write an observational piece about a bunch of guys who have moved on.” Point taken.
My gaze shifts from the TV to the stage as Hey Dave start to set up their gear. Twenty-one years ago, I listened to these albums and daydreamed about the band, who appeared mysterious, thoughtful, and deep in their shadowy photos. I thought of the day when I’d leave my scruffy little burg, move to Boston, and become a writer, and how my favorite bands – like, yes, O Positive – would be among my friends. I also think back a few months, to my fond wish that working on these articles might eventually lead to a reissue of those first two EPs.
The band has finished setting up, and Dave Martin steps up to the mic. A major chord rings through the joint, and the walls cradle Martin’s oaken baritone. “The moon was full, and the sky was painted blue,” he sings, and the three-part harmonies back him up. The crowd begins to sway. My eyelids flutter shut, and a grin creases my face from ear to ear. Right now, standing in this room, all that matters are these songs.