Ahoy! That is how people would greet each other back in the olde days. It means "Hi!" So since it is close to Christmas and other assorted holidays, I thought we would do something to go along with the famous Christmas song, "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things." Raindrops on windows! Schnitzers with noodles! But most of the things I want to talk about involve rock, and the most awesome yet not very famous rock stars of all time. So let's go!
The first awesome rock group is one you may have never even heard of, except their name is the same name of the most famous fake cowboy of all time, and also the only dude my dad has ever heard who has also received a verbal beat-down by the rap group Public Enemy -- I am speaking of course of Jon Wayne. Jon Wayne was one of the first groups we, the mighty NDI, ever listened to. We had their record, "Texas Funeral," and we said to ourselves, "Dang, these guys are worse than us!" But they weren't just worse -- they were both worse AND better than any band you can think of. It sounded to us like these pig-stickers weren't even trying, which ran pretty close to our own work ethic. Also they had awesome songs that I am pretty sure they flat-out stole. Impressive. So we stole a bunch from them! We got the basics for our songs "Born to Be Hit" and "Jackson" straight off that first Jon Wayne album. The whole record had that warpy sound like the hole was off-center, or it sat in the sun up in your tree house all afternoon in the middle of summer vacation.
We never actually played with Jon Wayne, or even saw them. I am not sure they actually ever played live -- it doesn't sound like they could even if they wanted to. Skipper did write them a love letter but they never reciprocated. This was way before Facepage.com or any of your other social terrorism computer sites. Nowadays we would probably have tracked them down on-line and embarrassed them with our questions and importunities.
But the next band we did see live. Oh yes! To quote Bob Seger, "we are older now than these guys were then." But not the drummer! He has always been older than us. I am now talking about The Country Rockers, whom I mentioned in a previous blog entry, and their drummer, Ringo, who could barely walk or move his arms but still swung that beat so hard it made you dizzy. We first encountered these old boys in Memphis, Tennessee, where we were playing at a big dark empty punk club called The Antenna. This was a Tuesday night and it was raining and no one had heard of us yet and Skipper and I were both suffering from lung badgers, so our state of mind was a little bit on the dismal side. We needed some cheering up!
After we set up the band gear and inflatable clowns at the Antenna we decided to go across the street to this old-man bar that looked cozy and comforting. We crossed the street in the rain and entered a scene both familiar and strange. The beat-up bar was lit glowing red from beer signs, cloudy with smoke from unfiltered Camels, and populated by a few dozen serious drinkers who all turned their heads to behold these three straw hats walking into their inebriated little world. But most of all, there was a band on the stage whom we instantly fell in love with. It was The Country Rockers, and to us they looked something like where we might be in 50 years -- a three-piece band of croakers just trying to get through the set, slinging the prehistoric classics with casual authority. The primitive beats chased away our blues as we sat in the glowing red haze and sucked down icy PBRs.
The songs they played! The Elvis nugget "My Happiness;" stone weepers like "There Stands the Glass" and "Barrooms to Bedrooms;" a hot little number that we quickly adopted as a part of our set, "I'm A Rockin' Daddy From Ding-Dong, Tennessee." The Pigtail Character, I am going to go out on a limb and say his name was Gene, knew all the licks and possessed a gravelly twang that I know I will never earn but may be able to copy some day. The bass player was the youngest of the crew but was still well-seasoned, and I believe I have already mentioned the drummer, Ringo.
We did play in Memphis with The Country Rockers some short time later, when our fame had grown to the point where we could actually choose our own opening band. The Antenna was well-packed this time, and we all circulated happily through the crowd.
After the show the Pigtail Character asked Skipper if he could get a ride to his friend's place so he could pick up a bucket of barbeque that the dude apparently owed him from a bet. "Sure," said Skip, looking forward to dipping into the real world of our idols. So they headed off in the Zebra Van.
About two hours later Skipper showed up at the club alone. It was now about 4 in the morning and we were all a little worse for wear, but still going strong. Skipper walked in with an odd dazed look.
"Hey!" we said. "How did that go?"
"Well, we went to see his friend for the barbeque," said Skip. "Actually, it was a hotel room out by the interstate. His friend lives there."
"Cool!" we said.
"Yeah, said Skipper. "And his friend turned out to be Alex Chilton."
So that is how Skipper had barbeque with the unheralded king of 70's rock and the Pigtail Character from the Country Rockers.
The last band I will just mention here is not even a band, but a dude. His name is Jesco White, and he is the star of a TV thing called "The Last Mountain Dancer." There is no good way to describe this scene -- you really have to kind of experience it yourself. The magnificent world of old Jesco can be seen on the Youtube channel on the computer. Probably best not to go out there in person.
Right! I hope you got a little something out of this chapter. Also I just thought of about five more celebrities for future posts. I won't give them away just yet but trust me, they are pretty famous!