T.C. has been playing keyboards in the Starship since 2005, but this year’s Summer of Love extravaganza is the biggest jaunt yet with the band. “It’s a really fun show, like a psychedelic revue,” he enthuses. “They give me anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes to do a solo set. That opens the show. Then I’m part of the band of It’s a Beautiful Day, with David LaFlamme. Then we have Big Brother & the Holding Company, then Quicksilver and then the Starship. It’s a big traveling festival and fairly long tour—I’m not going to be home in Charlotte until mid-September.” The tour is mainly hitting outdoor “sheds” and a few festivals, including, appropriately enough, one taking place at the Patee Fairgrounds in Northern California, site of the original Monterey International Pop Festival 40 years ago this past June. (For a complete listing of the Starship’s forthcoming gigs, as well as the ever-changing configuration of the Summer of Love tour, go to jeffersonstarshipsf.com and click on the “Ship’s Tour Log” button.)
T.C. says he’s thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Starship’s current evolution. In addition to original Jefferson Airplane members Paul Kantner and Marty Balin (who makes most but not all appearances), the band also includes long-time Kantner associates Slick Aguilar on guitar, the wondrous Diana Mangano on vocals, late-era Starship drummer Don Baldwin (who was also the final drummer in the Jerry Garcia Band), and occasionally, bassist/keyboardist David Freiberg, who usually plays in Quicksilver Messenger Service.
The crowds have been large and enthusiastic. “First of all, I think everyone’s amazed we’re alive,” T.C. laughs. “But each of the bands has a few original members and everyone can still play. Really, it’s like the same old long, strange trip, and we’re carrying the torch on this leg. It has that same sort of magic that elevates the music.”
T.C.’s web site is tomconstanten.com