Getting into the groove – at any age

James Avena (guitar) and Porscha Thompkins (vocals) perform at the Longhouse as part of Got 2 Groove, Gilroy's up and coming new band. Got 2 Groove plays regularly at the Longhouse.

I wandered into Station 55 in Gilroy one night not long ago and discovered a band I had never heard before. As they launched into “Chain of Fools,” by Aretha Franklin and “Superstition,” by Stevie Wonder, I couldn’t believe how good they were. Had I suddenly been transported back in time?
The lead singer of Got 2 Groove, the gorgeous Porscha, had many surprises up her vocal sleeve. After belting out Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic of independence and starting over, “I Will Survive,” she was not content just to cover the typical oldies sung by girl singers. She put her powerhouse vocal technique to work on, “I Feel Good” as if she was channeling James Brown. Followed by Dwight Yoakam’s, “Fast as You,” she effortlessly switched to country.  
After a long and tiring week, I had no higher aspirations than to go sit and put my feet up while enjoying a tasty red velvet dessert from the restaurant’s dessert menu. But when the band fired up “Let’s Go Crazy,” by Prince, I found I could sit still no longer.
The band is definitely a cut above anything I have heard in Gilroy in a long time. Alexx Vanderveen on drums and vocals, James Avena on lead guitar and vocals, Kim Stanyard on bass, and Darrell Smith on keyboards add up to a very tightly synchronized group of musicians with great arrangements of songs that really showcase the vocal talent of Porscha Thompkins. But this column is not so much about the band as about the effect the band has on the audience. 
I had not been on a dance floor in many years. Getting to my feet, I inexplicably found myself on the small upstairs dance floor at Station 55 with 30 other people. How we all fit is a mystery, but the feeling was intoxicating.
It did not matter if we were black or white, young or old; there with a significant other or alone. Everyone danced with everyone, no one cared if you looked foolish; it was more about just feeling good about being part of a community with your neighbor next to you than anything else. All socio-economic barriers ceased to exist as we became one in appreciation with the music.
At one point, there was a sound problem and one of the guitars cut out. But most of the audience never knew it because Porscha immediately covered for it by vocally making the exact guitar sounds that would have filled that spot in the song. It was amazing.
Like others there that night, I thought to myself, what am I doing; I’m too old for this. This doesn’t fit with my sedate middle-aged lifestyle. But the music inspired me as if I was young again in the way a good friend of mine says, “Something in me is kicking open new doors. Like I’m shedding some middle-age identity that I’ve allowed myself to fall into the past few years. I’m not ready for it – it’s an old person, giving in, instead of a vital robust sexy senior (smile).
As I spun around the dance floor at top speed, shaking a tail feather to “Get Ready (‘Cause Here I Come”) by Rare Earth, I felt as if something was happening in terms of creativity and new potential. As my friend described: “It’s as if there is a young, fiery person being birthed.”  
It’s the way my mother felt when at 52 she shocked our family by suddenly appearing in the living room one night dressed only in a bathing suit. You have to understand that in my 25 years of life, I had never seen my mother wear a bathing suit ever.
It was her way of announcing a radical career change from an underpaid, unhappy, overworked secretary to a teacher of special needs children with severe disabilities. The reason for the bathing suit was that she would be going into the swimming pool as part of the therapy that the special needs children required.
I was astounded. Not only did Mom start literally wearing pants (more practical for a job where you have to crawl around on the floor), she had found her true passion. Parents asked for her to work with their children when they saw the results of her care. Children began eating on their own who were on feeding tubes, and children began walking who had never walked before. 
As I get closer to the age she was when she made these radical changes, I am more and more awed by the courage it must have taken for her to break out of the everyday rut her life had become after 13 years behind a desk. I look around me and I see many people afraid to try something new, and I am grateful for the impact of her example that you can make a change at a later point in life; you can try something new; you can start over.
And in Gilroy, you can get in touch with that long forgotten passion of your youth on a Saturday night by dancing to Got 2 Groove.
“I’ve got all my life to live; I’ve got all my love to give,” Porscha sings the Gloria Gaynor lyrics with conviction as she inspires us in the dance of life.   
Got 2 Groove will perform at Clos la Chance Winery in San Martin on Thursday, July 19, Paine’s in Hollister on Friday, July 20, and The Longhouse in Gilroy on Friday, July 27.  For more information, go to:

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