Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Uncle Wayne

 Yesterday morning, my uncle Wayne Holt passed away. He tolerated no crap. Ever. Many of you knew Uncle Wayne from being on the road with me. He drove the van, sold the merch and was a part of the band. When Uncle Wayne got his facebook a lot of our fans friended him and he loved that. His profile picture forever was a shot of him in a terrible band house in Deadwood, SD but the smile on his face let you know that he was having a ball. 
It’s hard to explain my relationship with Uncle Wayne. He was more than just my uncle. He was my friend and my advisor. He was my dad’s younger brother. He and his wife and family were an important part of my father’s care when my dad was being treated for cancer. When I started touring, after my father had passed, Uncle Wayne went on the road with me, to drive and help with touring. When you tour together, you become close. You’re elbow to elbow 24/7. He and I would argue about everything. (We once had an argument that started with Muhammad Ali’s birthday and ended up with the war in Iraq and Rolling Stone magazine!). Even when I figured he was right, I’d still put up an argument; couldn’t let him know he was right; “No I don’t want to stop at Waffle House” (even though I was hungry and Waffle House is goood). He always drove the van like he stole it but I could sleep like a baby when he was driving. He would pump gas with a cigarette in his mouth just to freak out the band, all the while explaining to them how as long as you kept the flame away from the tank you were in no danger. We decided once to go see Little Bighorn. We were in Deadwood, SD and had to play that night. I misread the map, we left at 10:00 am and he drove the whole way to Little Bighorn and back by showtime (that’s 411 miles, one way, check it out if you don’t believe me).
 After a lot of miles, Uncle Wayne decided to come off the road. He was never replaced. I never hired another driver and sometimes we had two people doing part of what he did. Uncle Wayne was a brilliant mechanic. We developed a routine where I would go to his shop before or after every tour. Changing oil, general servicing and trouble shooting everything that could wrong on the next tour. Most of the time, my cousin Mark, who’s like a brother to me, would be there too and the three of us would always find time to go to lunch after the work was done. I would call Uncle Wayne, while driving down the road and describe some noise the van was making. He would diagnose it and tell me wether to find help right then or wait until I could get home and bring it to the shop. A mechanic that can diagnose a problem from a description over the phone is better than great in my opinion. I called more than once at 2 or 3 in the morning and he never got mad at being woken up, just asked what was wrong and then told me how to fix it. 
 Uncle Wayne wasn’t one to keep his opinions to himself (there are some people smiling as they read that sentence). He would tell me what I was doing wrong on stage or with my music and even though it would make me mad, I could hear an echo of my dad in it and I knew why he was saying it. I really, really miss him. I loved Uncle Wayne and I know he loved me. He wouldn’t have tolerated my crap if he didn’t.