The following is an excerpt from an article originally found on www.mpprojects.com/tc.
One of my most memorable events was the record release party for Walkin' on the Water, held at the Chestnut Cabaret on Monday, December 29, 1986. Everybody was there for a reason! Aside from a few possible groupie-types, everyone there had something to do with the cause. The Chestnut Cabaret filled up quickly on that special night. I went with Buzz Barkley and it was on the way there that we talked about him being a part of Street Beat as the music news informant. He was about to start writing for the South Street Star so it made sense. Street Beat, the original local music show I hosted and produced for WMMR for ten years had just begun in February.
There was a true sense of family in the room. When Joe Conwell, “the famous one” as Tommy called his brother, walked into the room pushing the disabled Mr. Conwell in a wheelchair, I got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I didn’t know whether I’d be able to talk to this man whom I had read about in the Daily News, whom Joe referred to as the real strength in the family. I wanted to talk to him – I just didn’t know if I’d be able to get past the emotion. But later I did. He and his wife were sitting alone and I approached them, introduced myself, hoping they’d heard of me, which they said they had. Mr. Conwell was a little hard to follow but he was excited. I told them this must be a proud moment. Mrs. Conwell said she’s just happy for Tommy.
Walkin' on the Water was playing on a great sound system all night and I couldn’t stop moving to it. I think it was hearing it there and being there that made me realize I loved it. During dinner I sat with Lou, Tommy’s cousin who worked for him as a roadie, Buzz, Greg Davis and Paul Slivka of the Rumblers.
About 9 o’clock Tommy made his speech. He stood on the Chestnut Cabaret’s stage in a red light with an orange print suit. One hand in a pocket, completely at ease, he began. He told a story about how his voice teacher told him about a caterpillar. It was walking on a rug, crossing different colors, wandering all along what this rug was about. It seemed to have no order or design. Soon, the caterpillar became a butterfly, and it flew above the rug. It saw the colors and how they went together to form a pattern and he saw that there was order to the rug. He sees the Young Rumblers as entering the butterfly stage. And they are being rewarded. Everyone who works hard eventually is rewarded. The room was perfectly quiet throughout his speech. I was impressed. Tommy was serious and slow, thinking his words out carefully sometimes looking up into the air for his thoughts. He then thanked all the people, and pictures on the stage followed.
All of the Hooters were there, most of Beru Revue, Tommy’s roommate from Dynagroove, Don Van Winkle, Eddie Bader and Ian Cross from Bricklin, and John Kuzma, among others. I left about midnight with Jack Quigley, WMMR’s Promotion Director.
Tommy’s manager Steve Mountain’s closing words to us were “wait – in ten years – the book – you’ll be in it!”