My 1999 album "The John Faye Power Trip" turns twenty this month and twenty years ago today (Sept. 5,1999) Cliff Hillis, Dave Anthony, and Joann Schmidt accompanied me on stage, as the JFPT opened for REM (and Spacehog) at what was then called the Blockbuster Sony Music E-Centre, the venue all Philly/SNJ folks now know as "the place in Camden named after whatever corporate bank is currently paying the rent." I believe this was Joann‘s second gig as a member of JFPT.
The REM show was the grand prize for winning the Y-100 Big Break contest, which was a crazy battle of the bands at the TLA. Our set in Camden almost never happened. What we didn’t really know until we got to the E-Centre was that we were actually supposed to play in the venue concourse on a side stage. It was raining on and off that day and they were just going to cancel us, which clearly would have sucked. Luckily, our manager Lanny West, happened to know REM’s manager Jefferson Holt, a fellow Georgian, and he convinced him to let us open the show on the main stage, miraculously saving the day.
It was an incredible experience to open for one of my favorite bands of all time, and Michael Stipe even gave us a little shout out from the stage (although I think he got the name wrong, but whatever). It was all part of a whirlwind year during which I released my first record since the break up the Caulfields, toured with Matthew Sweet, and saw the single “Miss Catch-22” (co-written by Ritchie Rubini) win the Y-100 Cage Match 13 nights in a row, depressingly losing on day 14 to “Nookie” by Limp Bizkit. What a way to go into the new millennium!