For a while, it looked like the original Greg Kihn Band would never play again.
Bassist and song co-writer Steve Wright had a stroke in 2007 and no one was sure if he could perform. For a while, Kihn contemplated hanging up music, fearing he couldn't go on without his longtime partner.
But the musician, and disk jockey on KUFX-FM (98.5) and novelist soldiered on, waiting for a show like Saturday's reunion.
"I can't wait," says Kihn, whose career hit its zenith in 1983 with the No. 2 hit "Jeopardy," but has been a top crowd pleasing favorite around Santa Cruz before and after charting so high.
"It's going to be a very emotional moment to welcome Steve back. I'll probably have tears streaming down my face. This will be a high-water mark in my life."
Wright will play left-handed keyboards for the first time with the band.
Kihn's usual band these days includes Robert Berry, who replaced Greg Lake for a time with prog rockers Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer and keyboardist Dave Med from the Tubes.
But this Catalyst gig is the first reunion of the original members, Larry Lynch, Greg Douglas and Wright, who started out in 1976 and had their first hit in 1981 with "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)."
Lynch has been working in a cover band called the Lynch Mob and Douglas lives in San Diego and teaches guitar and tours as a solo artist. Dave Carpender, the guitarist in the band from 1976-1983, died in 2007 of a heart attack.
The show will also celebrate Kihn's latest disk, The Best of Beserkley, a tribute to the songs and the label that took the band from playing bars to international fame.
The small independent Berkeley label discovered Kihn along with Jonathan Richman and the Rubinoos. Kihn pulled out some of his less-known songs for the disc, including a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "For You," that the Boss liked so much he gave Kihn his song "Rendezvous."
"I was remastering that stuff for the disc and it sounded so fresh," says Kihn. "We were so young and naive and we didn't even know what mixing was. Now, everything is calculated to be a hit. To do the things we did then would be impossible. We never thought about having hits. All we wanted to do was make art and make the next record. We just hoped to have enough money from the last one to do the next album."
Kihn says the label and the band pulled off a miracle. He didn't have a hit until his seventh album, something unheard of in these days.
Kihn, whose novels written in the 1990s are surprisingly good, is thinking of writing a book about the history of Berserkley. His excellent novels which read with a speed and intrigue that would please Stephen King fans, include Horror Show, Shade of Pale, Big Rock Beat and Mojo Hand. They follow some of the same characters from the early days of black and white horror movies to an Oakland Stadium concert by Robert Johnson, who has been hiding out for years in Hayward as a short-order cook.
"I would consider myself a writer first, before musician or broadcaster," says Kihn.
He's also been on top of the radio ratings in San Francisco and San Jose for years now, a career he says he will continue "until I drop."
"It gives me the freedom to write. I have the last laugh on everyone. I'm still here. I have my own radio show and every day I talk to hundreds of thousands of people. My income isn't affected by my music or anything. It gives me the freedom to be myself."
Kihn's got some treats for the Catalyst audience: he's raffling an autographed guitar and showing off some of his vintage guitar collection.
"It used to be about good music, great songs, partying, going to Santa Cruz and having a great time," says Kihn, driving to his East Bay home from San Francisco. "Now, it's a human interest story. I'm really proud of what I accomplished in my life. You don't realize how far you've gone until you look back.
"We've been playing the Catalyst for 30 years. I bet if you looked it up, we'd be the band that played there the most. This will be a gathering of the tribes again, like coming home."
Best of Beserkley CD Release Party & Reunion
THE GREG KIHN BAND
plus Special Guests
RUDY COLOMBINI &
THE UNAUTHORIZED ROLLING STONES
also RACHEL ROBERTS
$20 in advance/ $25 at the door
Doors open 7PM/ Music starts 8PM