Thursday, August 28, 2008

John McCain is really Old Man Withers from the haunted amusement park!

Now that the Western leg of our 2008 tour is done, I’m finally able to find some semi-fond memories of our time in Sturgis! The heat, the flies (they bite!!), the rain, the dust, no showers for 3 days, 4 guys sleeping in a van for 3 days…ahh what a time! I was recently reading a music magazine, and they were interviewing some rock bands about touring during the summer, doing festivals. Basically, it came down to this; they get paid a lot of money, play short sets, tour on nice buses and play to huge crowds…and, according to them, it’s a pain in the ass!
Here’s the other side of the coin, (not bragging by any means, just putting some muthaf***in’ perspective on things!) We started our last tour leg in Jackson MO, played 4 hours, and drove overnight, straight through to Sturgis (14 hours). Due to the bike rally, there were no hotel rooms being provided by the gigs (…umm riiiight…) We finally find and check into a room at the Motel 6 in Rapid City (30 miles from Sturgis), paying double what we normally pay for a Motel 6 room, (remember, 4 guys, one room) effectively taking our entire motel budget for the week. This will be the last bed, last shower, last real comfort we have for the next 4 days. We proceed, over the course of the next 4 days to play 4 outdoor shows, in varying weather conditions (one night’s super hot, the next night has a rain storm with 80 mile an hour winds…)to sometimes less than enthusiastic crowds. Actually, while there were some small crowds, (one night very small!) there was only one sort of less than enthusiastic crowd on the last night, and that’s just because we were too loud…at a motorcycle rally…outside…too loud…bike rally…get it? The way the average day (if there is such a thing) works is this; you load-in in the afternoon, working up a decent sweat, play the gig (usually four hours), load out at the end of the night, get in the van and drive to a parking lot somewhere to go to sleep, sleep until you run out of positions that aren’t so numb you can’t fall asleep, get up, trying to get out of the van by crawling over everyone else and try not wake them up (although they’re not really asleep either), brush your teeth with a bottle of water in said parking lot, change shirts in said parking lot, find coffee and try to get through the next several hours before the next load-in. In the warm weather, you seek out places to loiter that are air-conditioned; malls, coffee shops, libraries, gun stores, etc. At one point Marshal and I went to the movies essentially to “buy” 3 hours of air-conditioning! After the last show, we drive 8 hours, overnight to the next gig in Nebraska, where we had to wait for the hotel rooms because of a mix-up in the reservations! We did make it into the rooms eventually and let me tell you showers never felt so good! Remember, that’s just the first week! We still had 2 more to go. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we were threatened with jail (!)by a club owner (hereafter known as jack “Q” ass) when we asked to be paid after playing an extra 2 hours at his request ( I will write about this creature in a future blog when I can figure out how to fully describe his repugnance without revealing his true identity, but trust me this guy was a real piece of work…he’s probably in jail as we speak!), we had the rear view mirror knocked of the van in a hit and run situation in Denver, we played multiple gigs some days, at one gig we loaded in, came back to the gig that night and had to tear down and move all of the stuff to another room, had another 22 hour drive…I could go on, but the point is during the entire 3 ½ weeks, no one complained. No one bitched about the lack of rooms, the lack of showers, the long drives, the little money, and the long nights of playing whether people were listening or not, nobody in the SHB whined at all! This isn’t acceptance of the situation, none of us, (me included), doesn’t want more of everything, more comfort, more money, more guitars, more attention, better shows, more people, etc. This is very much the art of being a warrior in a campaign. You get up every morning, prepare for battle and go to war. When you lay your head down at night, you know you were true to yourself, your art and your fans. Duct tape and Krazy Glue become your best friends. You learn to live on 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night (sometimes not all in a row!). You learn that while three square meals a day is great, you can live on one (or sometimes none!). Sometimes, you don’t get a motel for the night and you might think, “Any motel is better than no motel!”, then you get a motel that blows that theory out of the water!
I know that everything is relative and I’ve been in the “tour bus/four star hotel” situation and I definitely cried about the bad catering, bad view from the terrace of my suite or that the water in the dressing room wasn’t chilled, but having been there and then been truly blessed by God to have the reality check of having all of that taken away and find that none of that was why I do what I do, and that not only could I live without that stuff, in some ways I’m better off! That’s not to say I’m not trying to work my ass off to get it all back and then some, but it’s important to me to know that my aim is true. I know for a fact that there are plenty of musicians out there on the road, leaving blood on the stage every night doing what they believe in, whether they’re being rewarded financially or materially or not, they are being rewarded spiritually. My supreme respect is given to those fellow warriors for the love of Music. We didn’t invent this life, we just live it.
Life on the road, in any capacity, is life in a bubble. You are surrounded at all times by an almost static environment and whatever that environment is becomes your reality. Things make a sort of bizarre sense, because it’s all your really know. I learned from Buddy Guy who in his career has traveled, with a full band, in a car to the deep south on bald tires, had guns pulled on him, been cheated out of his pay, been pulled over and hauled before the judge by Mississippi cops in the middle of the night, seen people killed while he was playing and had to keep playing! I learned from his stories about legends like Earl Hooker, who while trying to entice workers in a field to come to that night’s performance, was ordered at gunpoint to, “pick up a hoe!” The road is littered with cautionary tales that transcend success. Elvis, Hank Williams and Robert Johnson all died basically scared and alone. Those are just three names that you might have heard of. There are plenty who didn’t gain that kind of notoriety who met similar fates. So to the new breed, I say, “what’s the matter, your Xbox 360 not working right? iPhone got you down? Are your free guitars not showing up in tune?” Shut the hell up and play!
As I finish this, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few of the “excellent” things that happened on tour; My friend Chuck MF Lanza and his lovely wife met up with us in Denver, I got to hang out with Buddy for an hour or so one night, my friend Kempf MF Poole came out and traveled with us for 10 days or so, we ate at the original Chipotle’s twice, met a bunch of our old friends across the country and made some new ones, discovered a new favorite beer in Salt Lake City, saw The Dark Knight for a fourth time in Denver on the IMAX screen, I finally found Jason & The Scorchers first album on CD at Twist & Shout, went hiking, made amazing music with two very dear friends, got to play loud at least 92% of the time, I even got to play my “big amp” on the last day of the tour, and then got to come home to my girls! I am truly truly blessed!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Phil Guy

I first met Phil Guy on Buddy Guy’s record, Stone Crazy. Stone Crazy is one of my favorite records. It has Ray “Killer” Allison playing drums, and it has Phil Guy playing rhythm guitar. For guitar players that want to under stand accompaniment, Phil’s performance on this record alone, is a text book for what to play. During the ten years that I was with Buddy, I crossed paths with Phil a lot of times. Particularly during the January shows at Legends when he would come up near the end of the night and jam with the band. I will always associate Turn On Your Love Light with Phil Guy! I love Buddy with all my heart and, having a brother myself, I can’t imagine what he’s going through right now, but I know that while none of us are here forever, we are blessed to have had Phil for the short time that we did. My prayers go out to Buddy and his family and I know that the music in heaven is a little sweeter (and a lot funkier!) now.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nude photos of Karl Rove

Today is Saturday, August 16, 2008. This is the 31st anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. When I found out about Elvis dying, I was at home, after school, watching Gilligan’s Island on television. In the old days, TV stations only ran a scroll across the bottom of the screen when something really momentous was happening; like a man walking on the moon, or to announce the death of the King of Rock and Roll. (Yeah that’s right I said the King!) These days, it seems like every channel has a scroll going 24/7. Looks kind of like:…AP/Senator John McCain says he will reduce taxes by 1,000% in his first six months as President…AP/ Senator Barak Obama has 2 eggs for breakfast…AP/Filmmaker Oliver Stone has not died today, he was just napping…AP/ AAA predicts gas prices will level off as we near November…AP/ “The Dark Knight is the greatest movie of all time, or at least 2008!”, says guitarist Scott Holt… We live in a world of 24 hour a day information overload. Look at Fox or CNN and you see at least one or two talking heads, a scroll across the bottom of the screen, text to the left or right of the screen recapping whatever you missed while you were trying to read the stuff at the bottom, and you’re still not sure exactly what the hell’s going on. When I was a kid, my dad would come home from work, read the evening papers (we had two; The Nashville Banner and the Daily Herald) and watch the news at 6:00pm and 10:00pm. And that was it! Anything else that might happen just had to wait for the one morning paper, (The Tennessean) to come out. I think it’s good to have a 24 hour news channel when something major happens, like war or some crisis that we need to be made aware of, but a couple of days ago in the hotel room we had CNN on and at least 6 hours that it was on were devoted to John Edwards affair. Not exactly the same in my book as the war in Iraq, Oil prices, the election, Darfur or the Russian/Georgia conflict! I don’t agree with people having affairs, but I really think that’s between him, his mistress, his wife and the very large fancy couch that I’m sure he’s sleeping on now! They only had about 45 seconds on about the Bigfoot those guys killed in Georgia. I knew that was a bunch of crap. If it had really been a Bigfoot, why would they kill it? They could just make friends with it and get their own reality show. I believe in Bigfoot. Why not? It could happen. I also believe in the Loch Ness Monster, Yeti’s, I believe that aliens created the pyramids in Egypt, and the animal drawings in Central America. I believe Oswald was framed and Jim Morrison faked his death. Why not? If none of that stuff is true, it doesn’t hurt anybody, so who cares?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sturgis...the final chapter

Today is the 4th and last gig for us in Sturgis and we decided to come over to one of our old haunts Deadwood for the day. We haven’t been here since we used to play at Saloon #10 back a hundred years or more. I’ve always liked this town. Too bad it’s so freaking far away from the rest of the known world! We came here for years until HBO started the series and then we never came back! It was frustrating to be seeing a show about a town that we’d spent so much time in and not be able to go see the actual sites. Yes, I know, you say, “Well why don’t you just go there on vacation or something?” The answer is simple, I travel for a living…not for fun…neither driving nor flying nor taking the train makes a difference. I’m also funny about going places that I play at when I’m not working there. It feels weird…like you’re trying to come back to the home of a party the next day to hang out. That would be pretty funny though. Go to a party, stay late and then just show up the next day at 9:30 or so and just say you had so much fun last night you just wanted to come over and hang out. If you don’t think that sounds funny in an awkward way, you are too young or socially retarded and you may be reading this from the person’s computer that you’re hanging out with today after you partied there last night!
Sight Seeing in Deadwood; Went with Marshal and Milburn to revisit John Wayne’s pickup truck (Marshal’s favorite landmark!) and the resting place of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. I didn’t make it up to Seth Bullock’s grave because he’s too far up the hill…and it was real hot. If you’ve never been here, the cemetery is at Mount Moriah and it’s a pretty healthy climb. Yes we walked it. I loved the show Deadwood. Best show on television at the time. Now it’s Lost, but then it was Deadwood. Cool to be in the town that the shows about. Have you ever noticed that some people treat bookstores like libraries? I notice this now because I’m in a library, (with no flies, thank God!) but some times when we hit a Barnes & Noble or a Borders, it always seems like everyone is being a little more quiet than they are at Best Buy or Target. I like to shush people in Barnes & Noble. For a moment they’re not sure if you’re right or not and they stand there in a sort of confused silence trying to figure it out. Then you smile and say, “Oh I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else!” Then I wander away whistling a wistful tune.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How to see Sturgis on $20.00 a day!

Well here we are, one more day on the road, one more mall! Free internet for me and my men! We are in Sturgis or as Milburn continues to refer to it “stooges”. This is a tricky part of the tour. We are in the middle of the Sturgis Bike Rally and there are no hotels, motels, or empty homes to stay in and we are forced to recharge at an “undisclosed location”. The shows are going great, the band sounds fantastic and while we miss Tyler very much, Marshal is doing a great job. Tonight we hit the Drag pipe Saloon. Sounds very “motorcycle-like”. Yesterday we hung out at the Rapid City Mall all day and today we’re back (free internet!) This mall’s cool except for the flies! There are flies everywhere around where we’re sitting…I wonder if it’s just us…or if it’s always like this!
RANDOM OBSERVATIONS: Lynyrd Skynyrd is playing in Sturgis this week and the paper is advertising them with a photo of the original band! There are only two of the original members left! John McCain was in town yesterday…so was Kenny Chesney…you figure out what I’m saying for yourself. I just finished reading All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Brilliant book! Thanks to Dino for the free books! There are no Chipotle’s in South Dakota! Of course, there aren’t any in Tennessee either…yet! Colorado, here we come! The flies in this place are terrible! Listening to Jesse Johnson’s Bare My Naked Soul. Brilliant, underrated guitarist. I’m really into Eddie Hazel lately. Original Funkadelic guitarist and another incredible guitarist that doesn’t get enough props. Funkadelic is the band we’re teaching Milburn about on this trip. We’re thinking about seeing the Dark Knight today (3rd time for me!) Best movie I’ve seen all year. I’d write more, but the flies win, I’m getting the hell out of here!