Nothin’ Up My Sleeve! Presto!

My posts have been rather heavy over the last year. So let me tell you a story about Dr. Wu’s Rock n Soul Revue.

Wu had just played a show at Union Station in St Louis. I was screwing around and missed the shuttle to the hotel down the street.

downloadSo here I am huffing my fat ass in the middle of the night through St. Louis carrying my guitar case and my heavy old Vintage 50 amplifier down to the Marriott. When I got there the festivities were all ready going strong. The smell of beer, cigarette smoke, a tinge of marijuana and sweat from playing a three hour concert filled the air.

The party was always in Bugsy’s room, either by chance or design. The hotel staff were calling for us to keep it down plus looking for a luggage cart that Kent ‘Sweet’ Aberle had commandeered to load his drums on. He just never returned it.

The Lobby Luge was in full swing. A murder of hickerbilly twenty- something year old R&B musicians pushing each other at dangerous speeds down the hallways of the Marriott cussing, laughing and riding elevators up and down then repeating the process on several floors.

Luge :  noun. [lüzh] a small sled that is ridden in a supine position and used especially in competition; also : the competition itself

forbes-industriesfrb-2425brass-birdcage-luggage-cart-43-x-24-x-78-3304-085The sport of the Lobby Luge consists of placing one guy on the luggage cart sitting down while another guy would push you as fast as he could down the hallway then let you loose and watch as the laws of physics and motion took effect. I don’t know how you keep score but it was funny as hell watching Sweet flying past your room.

We were in the Lou playing as the backup band for the Shirelles and Snake and Dogwood’s Tribute to the Blues Brothers.

Our unofficial member Jon Clarkson from Poprocks/X Krush fame, rode along. Doug Evans convinced Jon to sit in a wheelchair he had found in a closet somewhere in Union Station. Jon, oblivious to the mischievous side of Doug, was pushed with a running start into the center of a large hall full of people awaiting the show. Jon alone and not nearly crippled enough to need a wheelchair did the only thing he could do…

Like a preacher at gospel revival… Jon stood up! A miracle. A tough lesson for Jon who probably will never fully trust Doug again. A good laugh from the other guys who knew never to trust Doug in any position where he could make you look silly, or a situation that could be dangerous. Neither of these would ever stop Doug, though he was quick to apologize before you got too mad.

I was sitting in a chair a few beers in and taking my turn at the jazz cabbage being passed around. Later in life I would become a connoisseur of marijuana. Not much of a surprise to most people who know me. I wasn’t driving so I indulged.

imagesSnake was the ‘Jake’ of the Blues Brother’s Tribute. He had seen it all and we were young and listened to tales of hooker’s being tied up in hotel rooms, horn players hanging off the balcony, and a tale of his partner Dogwood walking nude through a bar wear nothing but a white athletic sock on his dick n balls while the crowd chanted “Sock cock! Sock cock!” This was pre Red Hot Chili Peppers. He was ahead of his time.

During the middle of Snake and my conversation, Snake pulled out a cigarette, told me to watch closely. He held it in his hand and counted 1…2…3… and BAM he opened his hand and the cigarette disappeared right before my eyes. Hand was wide open, he hadn’t thrown it, it was just gone! He then reached back and produced the cigarette from behind his ear. It was the first time I had ever seen a close up magic trick in my life. Upon threats of bodily harm I demanded he show me how it was done.


I’ve always loved magic shows. I used to watch Doug ‘It’s an illusion’ Henning’s hippie magic specials on TV. He would float a a bedazzled woman in the air, cut her in half and make her reappear whole. David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear or would make an elephant appear out of thin air, just by dropping a curtain and prancing dramatically with spirit fingers.

Sometimes we’d have a magician come to grade school and put on a show. He would link rings, cut ropes making them whole again, make doves appear and his assistant disappear from big boxes. These shows were pretty lame even to a 3rd grade kid.

Doug-HenningOne night I was watching ‘The Worlds Greatest Magic” on ABC and David Copperfield did a simple little trick. No boxes or dancing ladies, just him sitting on a set of stairs with two rubber bands. As he spoke he pulled one rubber band through the other. Right before my eyes. You could see him do it. No curtains, no spirit fingers, just two regular rubber bands.

I had to learn how to do this. In the early days of the internet it wasn’t as easy to find information and there was no video to show you how.

I finally discovered the secret, practiced, and could do it for you. Jaws would drop and “Show me that again” were usually the reactions I would get.

Bugsy and I were in Champaign IL hitting the used record shops looking for old David Bromberg albums for me and forgotten gems of vinyl for Bugs. While we were there he said we needed to stop by Dallas and Company. It’s a huge novelty and costume shop. The owner Andy Dallas is also a world class magician and escape artist. His claim to fame was doing a straight jacket escape hanging from a helicopter over the St Louis Arch. Dallas and Company had a magic shop in the back. You had to ask to go there and either Andy or another magician would take you back. Kinda like a whore house but with decks of cards instead of working girls. To this day Dallas and Co has the best magic shop I have ever seen.

A magic shop will usually show you about three tricks and then try to sell you one. Of course you buy it. You want to do cool tricks too. So like all magicians starting out I bought books, videos, gaffed cards, coin boxes, tricks with silver dollars and English pennies. I had magicians wax, invisible thread, and the list goes on and on.

When you buy a magic trick you don’t just pay for the object which might be a blank card or a cup. You pay for the idea. So I had a case with all sorts of junk cheap gimmicks.

There is a theory behind magic believe it or not. It’s just a guy who knows a few cool things. One of the things that master magicians point out is quality over quantity. Get really good at a few things and it will take you farther than knowing fifty tricks.

So I finally took it to heart. I decided a couple of things.  Don’t do pointless magic. Don’t do complex magic. A good trick should be able to be described in a sentence. “The magician changed my red card into a blue card.”

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Notice the pick-pocket behind the spectator.

Sponge balls… You who carries around sponge balls? Magicians. There is no reason a person would have a sponge ball on them. That is pointless magic and I’m a damn good sponge ball magician. But wouldn’t a trick be cooler if it was done with something off your desk? Or maybe items found in any bar? Give me a bar jigger and an olive and I’ll show you a great version of the oldest magic trick ever, the cups and balls.

There are people I despise performing for. The one that wants to trip you up instead of enjoying a moment of wonder. “Pick a card and put it back on top of the deck.” “No I want to put it in the middle somewhere” … dude it’s not that kinda trick. But if you insist, I’ll pull out a marker have them sign their name and phone number and where they work, then I put the card in my pocket and start the trick all over again. If you want to fight the magician we have ways of  getting around that. You are ruining it for anyone else who would like to see it, you are ruining it for yourself, and you are ruining it for me. Sit back and enjoy. It’s not real magic and I’m not a real magician so I can only do so much.

Then you have the guy who thinks you have just tried to out smart him. They don’t smile, they just start tossing ideas out there on how you did it. My answer is always “Yep. That’s how I did it.”

This one is on me. Showing a trick to the indifferent. They don’t care. They didn’t want to see it and they have no moment of joy.

What I do like when performing is people ready to have fun, to enjoy it, and maybe make a little impression of mystery and a smile on their face.

So give me a pack of cigarettes, a couple of rubber bands, and a deck of cards and I’ll knock your socks off for about 20 minutes.


Prologue

When you do a few tricks people will often reference Chris Angel or David Blaine. They are fine magicians and they realize that the real trick is in the performance and the reaction. But they are TV magicians. They set up their revelations before hand. David Copperfield couldn’t make an elephant appear if it wasn’t on TV and the audience wasn’t in on it.

The true masters are the guys who create those effects. Guys you never heard of. Jay Sankey, Jeff McBride (probably the best card manipulator in the world) Michael Ammar, Bill Malone, and the list goes on and on. They are the brains behind much of this. It’s their ideas that they turn into little miracles. You rarely see them. If you ever get the chance though, do not miss them. Chris Angel sure as hell knows who they are. Please enjoy….

This is the craziest trick I have ever seen. I won’t be doing this for you EVER. The man’s name is Tom Mullica and he also did a tribute to Red Skelton and has appeared all over the world, including Effingham Performance Center. He has passed on but he left us with this. RIP Tom. I loved it.

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Bubble Gum and Bailing Wire

I once asked the group if they were pro guns and the majority belted out in approval. I asked a man in the front row why he was pro guns and he gave me the basic ‘personal protection liberty 2nd amendment’ jazz.

I told the group, “I’m pro guns because I enjoy living in a world with only four Nirvana albums.” My depression was the only one who laughed.

So a guy is walking with a young boy into the woods.

Boy “hey mister its getting dark out and I’m scared”

Man “how do you think I feel, I have to walk back alone”

 

It’s back with a vengeance.  I don’t know if my black dog runs in cycles. Fall always seems the worst.

141001081059-kelly-slater-big-wave-super-169At certain times I don’t hide it. When I’m around people I know and trust I can talk about it. I can scream and  yell or curl up in a ball. I’m also extremely empathetic and realize when I should keep to myself and try and ride it out. Well, I’m surfing the big waves and am heading straight into that pipeline. When It knocks me off my board I’m going to grab a hold of it and hang on till the tide brings me in.

It has eased off for so long that I thought I may of had it licked, but the elephant sitting on my chest is back, I’m not speaking, I cry way too often to release my breath that I didn’t know I was holding. The feeling of being scared 24/7 for absolutely no reason, with no where to go and no one to I want to see me like this. I’ve isolated and have become someone to avoid. I think that’s what always hurt the worst. Knowing that it’s above most people’s pay grade. I have ostracized my friends.

I’m constantly doing something artistic. It’s a way to express what I’m feeling, keeping my mind off of what I’m feeling, keeping busy so I don’t dwell.

I write for the same reasons. Not to gather sympathy but it’s cathartic to put pen to paper, or in this case pound out a blog post to make me feel like I’m still in a good enough state of mind to be able to think straight and know there is still hope.

A little secret to make you think:
Why is the crazy stuff we never say
poetry in ink?

Smokin’ day-glow red;
Explodo pink!
Purple mountains majesty –
Show me you? I’ll show you me.

People will talk to me about their own problems with chronic depression. When they read my words they don’t feel so alone. I may not know the circumstances but I can relate to the feeling.

milI’m going to be talking to a friend who I have never met tonight. She’s fighting this as hard if not harder than me. We talked a few weeks ago and she spilled to a stranger who she met through swapping smart ass remarks on Facebook about those douche bag ‘patriots’  who stormed a bird sanctuary gift shop in Oregon a few years ago.

I don’t know what I’ll tell her but I’ll keep talking until we get a plan for her to deal with own personal demons.

I know what people are telling her. “You are beautiful. You have a great family, loving wonderful husband. You are an educated professional. What do you have to be down about?” I can feel her pain simply through Facebook posts. She lets a bit of it seep out now and then  before going back to being a smart ass, and sweet, and as far as I know a really great person.

I landed a job at a Monterey hotel working nights. It’s perfect. I come into work. Relieve my co-worker. Do some paper work, answer a phone call, and set up your ‘Free Continental Breakfast!’ In other words I set the cereal out.

imagesBy the time I go in nobody is up and I rarely see anyone during the night. I leave before they start checking out. It’s a great job, pays well, and I want to keep it. Here is my problem. I think I need to go to the hospital. If I go I will lose the job, if I don’t go I’ll lose my mind. I’m at that point. I can’t see the future. That scares me. I’m not suicidal, but i’m not living either.  The joke around here is I’m Winnie the Pooh’s friend Eeyore. Agreed. A pretty close analogy.

I’m homesick for my friends and for my family but I don’t want to leave California. I’ll never make it back. I’ll be some pitiful mother fucker living in Greenup where I will isolate myself there also. I’m not really even sure I’m welcome home. I know things are easier when I’m away. I don’t want to rock that boat or makes things bad on those I love.

I’d have to find a new job, a place to live, get a new doctor, new medications. At the end of that road this will come back again.

Then what?

 

At Any Rate…

I lost one of my best friends a few weeks ago. I called him about a week before he left us. So I did talk to him and told him I was thinking of him and that I loved him.

Bugsy was definitely a one-of-a-kind. I know that’s said about a lot of people, but this was the real deal. I had the gift of knowing this man. He was a master storyteller. Most stories I can’t or won’t repeat here. The memory that comes to mind is a story he told us in his hotel room after a show somewhere in the in the lower forty-eight.

The story was about a man who was too drunk to ride his bicycle home from a local knife and gun club called El Patio. Somehow Bugsy wove this tale of a man repeatedly falling over, into an epic story in league with Homer’s Odyssey. For the next forty-five minutes, the bass player for Dr. Wu’s Rock n Soul Revue, Doug Evans and myself were both laying on the other bed in the hotel room doubled over in the fetal position, sides aching, crying and howling with laughter at the images Bugs painted of this scene. To this day it is probably the funniest thing I have ever heard and I can’t remember a word of it.

 
This is what you get when you are my friend. You get to be a guinea pig for new software I’m learning. Ladies and gents.

My favorite bass player I that I have ever played with….
Doug Evans. He’s the bomb!


I was the sober guy. So on gig day, we’d meet at Bugsy’s. Bugs, our singer George Ozier , and myself would hop into into the van, and since Bugs drove to the gig and I would drive back. Invariably George had to sit on a brown metal folding chair between the two seats, known affectionately as ‘the bitch seat.’

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The Bitch Seat

We were playing a great venue in Olney, IL (home of the white squirrel) called the Fireside. It was a two-nighter, in that we played Friday and Saturday so our lazy asses only had to set up our gear once and tear it down once.

That Friday we drove to the gig, set up the gear, played to an apathetic audience, I put my guitar away, waited as Ozier would get shot down in flames by the shooters girl. Then… Time to go home!

I’m sober and driving, Bugs in the passenger seat drunk and belligerent, Ozier is riding bitch and is drunk and belligerent. This was the norm. Olney was only an hour from home. Not bad at all for some road warriors. Halfway home Bugs has to pee.

‘STOP!” he yelled

‘What?’ I replied waiting for what ever stupid shit was about to be said to me.

‘I gotta weedle.’

Ozier pipes in ‘Yeah! I gotta weedle too!’

They started chanting together “WEEDLE, WEEDLE, WEEDLE…”  stomping and clapping as I looked for somewhere to stop.


They started chanting together “WEEDLE, WEEDLE, WEEDLE…” as I looked for somewhere to stop.


So begrudgingly and with a ‘SHUT THE F*** UP!”  I turned off on a country road. I drove down about two miles to a place where there weren’t any farm houses.

Mind you, these are grown men…

Those two drunken boobs roll out of the van, door open, radio on, interior ‘dope scope’ light was on, and at 2:30 am, are pissing off the side of the road being loud, still bitching, and waking up half of the county.

I’m looking out my driver’s side mirror behind me and is see…. a pin light.

The light got larger and you could see it was a car barreling down the road, heading our way.

I yelled that ‘2:30 am’ yell. “F****N’ HURRY UP! A CAR IS COMING!”

They grumbled, probably still arguing about what ever tonight’s subject was and resumed their places in the van. That’s when the cherries came on. They just had to be cops, right? Of course they were cops…

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“Remember, cops aren’t your friends and they ARE out to get you” L. Eagleson

The cops are sitting behind the van calling in our plates. What we didn’t know was, there had been a rash of thefts from farmers and the county po-lice were scouting the country side for suspicious activity.

Now, I know we are fine because I was totally sober and these two’s collective intoxication makes me look like the hero as the designated driver. (Is two’s proper grammar?)

Creeping up on us from both sides of the van were two County Mounties, one on either side of the van. Hands firmly planted on their guns. The one on my side comes up and shines the mag light in my face. “What are you doing out here in the middle of the night?”


Creeping up on us from both sides were two County Mounties, one on either side of the van. Hands firmly planted on their guns.


Let me remind you of my circumstances.

Someone has been stealing from the local farmers.

I’m two miles away from the highway, on a country road surrounded by farms, at 2:30 in the morning, in an empty panel van, wearing a smelly suit*, with two caricatures of drunken hobos sitting next to me one of which is sitting on the bitch seat.

I told the cop “We’re in a band and we’re on our way home when these guys had to pee.” rolling my eyes as if to say ‘can you relate.’

He shines a light into the empty back of the van. “Where are your guitars?”

“Uh… Our gig was in Olney and we play there two nights, so we are empty” I started to see where this was going. No doubt about it. Our activity was definitely suspicious.

“I’m driving these two drunkards home. They had to pee.” I said again.

“Uh huh…Can I see your insurance card and license?”

As my cop goes back to run my license, the passenger side cop has his light steadfast on my cohorts who are giggling at me and cracking jokes to me under their breath.

All of a sudden Bugsy turns to the cop and slurs “It’s all his fault!” pointing at Ozier trying not to laugh. “THAT’S why nobody likes you…” Ozier replies drunkenly “No it wasn’t! You’re the one who had to weedle!”

Bugs quit laughing and turned to George and me straight faced and slowly said “You can’t say weedle to a cop.”

37075200_734456770278757_3708327432550350848_n

HEY BUGSY!!!!!!

The cop lost it.

He starts laughing at this mess because it really does look bad, but realizes this bunch can barely sit upright let alone steal Farmer Brown’s four-wheeler. The other cop comes back not only with my license but had a confirmation that we had indeed played a show in Olney tonight.

They shine the light around a few more times looking for a roach in the ashtray or an open bottle. We were clean. They both lightened up realizing that we were harmless and kinda pitiful. My cop shined his light on the bitch seat Ozier was planted on and said with a smirk, “You of course have checked that chair with the DMV and have seat-belts and everything, right?”

The three of us agreed. “Oh yes Officer, this is totally street legal.”

“Go home.”

Turns out not only can you say ‘weedle’ to a cop, but I encourage you to do so.


Wanna know a secret?

58c7f410e665570916c65407One thing that put joy in Bugsy’s heart was to put a sliver of duct tape on your back at some point during your show. You of course spent the night trying not to be tagged. Sometimes Doug would turn around and I’d see it on his back, and I’d snicker while also having one on the back of my suit.* You’d usually wake up with it in your hair. Thanks a lot Bugs.

The day they told me Bugsy had passed, I called the funeral director and I asked him for a favor.

“What can we do?

“Could you put a 1″x 1″ piece of silver duct tape on the back of Bugsy’s suit?”


The day they told me Bugsy had passed, I called the funeral director and I asked him for a favor.


We used to end the night with this tune. I’m glad the Wu guys all got in contact and helped each other through the loss of our sound-man, band-mate, friend and brother. I’m dedicating this to us and only us. No one knows the whole story but the ones who lived it. Our memories are clouded at best.

.


Subscribe if ya want to. My readership is well into the double digits but I’ll still remember you, the little people, who make it all happen.

I’ve been in touch with an old friend. I couldn’t be happier about it. He’s been very cathartic, good ear, good friend, and hasn’t told me I’m bugging him yet.

He wrote a book! It’s down there. I wrote an album, you can have it for free. It’s over there.

Zen and the Art of Racing Motorcycles

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Zen and the Art of Racing Motorcycles

*Dr Wu was a Classic 60’s R&B band. Ya needed to play in a suit. They smelled like sweat, Fabreeze, cologne, cigarettes, and Budweiser, with just a hint of skunk. JCPenny’s City Streets Collection. Came in all colors and you could get a suit for sixty bucks. We got a lot of mileage because of and out of those suits. 

Ya Gotsta Kick at the Darkness Till It Bleeds Daylight, and Don Felder.

So, I’m standing in front of the hotel waiting for the shuttle to pick me up to take me to the stage where I’ll be playing tonight. I’m playing a celebrity golf tournament after party. I’m smoking a cigarette and making small talk with another guy waiting for the shuttle.

Our management told us to prepare a couple of songs because Don Felder from the Eagles would be there, some guy who is famous south of the border and one of the guys from Survivor. Strangely enough they told us to only plan a couple of tunes, One for Felder and one for South of the Border. Nothing for Survivor.


“Oh I’d have to be really drunk to play with you guys?” laughed the Survivor guy.


So this guy and I strike up a conversation

“You waitin’ on the bus” said the dude.

“Yeah, you too ?” I replied

“Yup”

“I’m Sammy Roan, I’m in the band tonight,” shaking hands.

“I’m *Joe Blow (I can’t remember his name as I write this) I’m the guy from Survivor”

“Great to meet you. Are ya gonna hop up a play a tune with us?”

“Oh I’d have to be really drunk to play with you guys?” laughed the Survivor guy.

My inner musical ego just got pimp slapped from some dude who sings lyrics like;

I’ve been holding back the night (how is this done exactly and how will this affect your current romantic situation?)
and
Piercin’ eyes, like a raven
*translation. You have bird eyes, just like the crows eating out of a dumpster

… eye roll. 80’s pop crap….

feature-a-raven

She looked kinda like this I guess…

“We aren’t THAT bad dude, It’s not like we couldn’t whip out freakin’ “Eye of the Tiger” I replied with righteous indignation.

The guy starts laughing his ass off and says “Man, I’m from the TV SHOW Survivor.”

So I made an ass out of myself to a stranger. I played Johnny B. Goode with the guy who wrote Hotel California and I drank beers with some dude from Survivor. Don hit on our guitar player’s girlfriend and that’s about all I remember.

The moral of the story; Everyone who is from Survivor can not necessarily play Eye of the Tiger.

 


I felt my first twinge of depression this week. I haven’t felt any since returning to California. Scared the shit out of me. What if it gets real bad again? What if I start fucking up, what if I lose my job, along with other various fears and over reactions.

I work in a part of town that is populated by the super rich. I see more Porsches in a day that I have my entire life. Being a white-trash, non practicing Rockabilly, I would swap the Porsche for a rusty, E flat, rat rod with a four foot gear shift, dually tires and blowin’ enough black smoke that there is a permanent hole in the ozone over it.

A few times a week this guy with one arm comes in. British dude. Always is cool, buys a couple of tall boys and makes some chit chat and gets on his bicycle and leaves.

Last Saturday he comes in late and, said he just got back from LA and was glad to be home. It’s just me and him. He knows I’m a musician and he says he and his wife are putting together a group and wondered if I might be interested.

“Depending on the music, maybe”. He said it was Americana stuff, and I said “Hell Yeah, lets do it!” We talked about music a bit, we swap numbers and I finally ask “Hey man, what’s your name? I’m Sammy” He replies “Rick.”  then he turns around and walks out of the store and says on his way out “Ya know the band Def Leppard? One arm drummer…”

Holy shit! I had a poster of this guy on my wall as a kid. I loved the album Pyromania. It was one of the first tapes I bought back in the day.

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Def Leppard

In case you didn’t know, Rick Allen is the drummer for Def Leppard. His story is  inspirational. In between albums Rick was in a car crash and lost his arm. His band WAITED on him to recover. They wouldn’t replace him. He was going to have to quit.

Rick ended up putting together a drum kit where he could play with one arm and had foot pedals that would play the parts that his missing right arm used to play. He got up to speed and joined the band as they put out Hysteria, and became the biggest band in the world at the time (88-89)

What an amazing show of friendship from the guys in Def Leppard and what an amazing drive to not let his handicap stop him from drumming. Both admirable traits. Even though my Def Leppard years were way behind me, ya gotta respect that.

They needed a slide guitarist. “Sure. I can play slide” maybe exaggerating a little… so I stopped by the hardware store on my break and had them cut me off a piece of copper tubing the length of my third finger, went home, tuned the guitar to open D and looked up a few slide licks stolen directly from Duane Allman.


“Sure. I can play slide” maybe exaggerating a little… so I stopped by the hardware store on my break and had them cut me off a piece of copper tubing the length of my third finger, went home, tuned the guitar to open D and looked up a few slide licks stolen directly from Duane Allman.

I figure three licks will be enough to pass myself off as a real slide player….


I figure three licks will be enough to pass myself off as a real slide player, the rest I’ll learn later. (I have played slide guitar before but only on a basic level) I got them down and was ready to stop by the studio. Filled with excitement I kept that slide in my pocket everyday. This could be a great gig playing with Rick Allen.

I stopped off one day at the studio and met the owner for the first time. He had put together a band for Rick (that didn’t include me.  He didn’t even know me.) He said they were doing original material for gigs around the area. Come by tomorrow and meet the rest of the band.

I grabbed a thumb drive and popped on three of my finished songs plus one that was music only, no lyrics, if she wanted to write to it, and a song by my friend George Ozier called “Question Is.” I had a hit song for them with “Question Is”  put my five song demo in my pocket and was ready. Between myself and a group of friends I have access to enough great songwriting to keep them busy for years. I was on pins and needles waiting for this. Stomach in a knot.

That same day I got some really bad news about a close friend. His days are numbered. I have shared a million miles of road with him, dozens of concerts, nights out on the town and best of all listened as he told story after story. A natural. Cumberland County’s Mark Twain with a button on his shirt that read “Question Authority” and the greatest concert and band t-shirt collection ever. He is supposed to leave me those in his will we joked years ago. I never thought that he may need one soon. Heart broken and sharing stories with old band mates who also love this guy, we are all at kind of a loss.  Hope I don’t have to go to court to get those T-shirts. It was a verbal agreement.


Cumberland County’s Mark Twain with a button on his shirt that read “Question Authority”


The same knot was there just the reasons have changed. My close friend is dying.

The next day I took the slide out of my pocket, stopped by the studio listened to a couple of songs and met the band, handed Ricks wife my five songs and said, “I gotta go to work”

Everything had come into focus. I don’t want to play slide. Even after hearing them I wasn’t blown away by the music, not that it wasn’t good but I played with George Ozier, Matt Poss, Isaiah Edwards, Tommy Dunn. THESE GUYS CAN WRITE A SONG!! I can write a damn good song. Great musical ideas, clever, funny, poignant… you name it, they have written it. I have to bring my A game when I play my material for them.

I’ve played with drummers like Kent Aberle and Brendan Gamble. Two drummers who’ll put that kick drum right up your ass while laying the smack down on the snare. I’ve never played with better. Jim Thompson never failed to bring it. Great player.

I stood toe to toe with guitar god George Lynch and held my own but Wally Hooker, Jon Clarkson can play that shit, and I played with them for years. Garrie Carlen is the most underrated guitarist in Illinois. Doug Evans is still my favorite bass player and we started together in a garage. Bobby Reynolds is the best slide player I know and most of America knows. I can call him anytime.

yaggi_bw_5in

Blow Daddy!!!! Dr. Shane Pitsch

The horn players in Dr Wu are unbelievable musicians and writers. Pat Lee is a lot like me. He’s not schooled like the others but he has that Jr. Walker style of sax playing down. That’s what I want to hear anyway.

One of the top 10 concert/shows I have ever been to was hearing J.B. Faries’ band, Huck Fate, play a set at The Top Of The Rock in Charleston Illinois. The power and performance that came from that band hit you in the chest like a freight train. Awe inspiring. It was THAT good.

So yeah, it would be a notch in my belt to say I played with a guy from Def Leppard, but I have and still play with the best. It may not impress the neighbors as much, but the circle of players I have worked with blow most of the famous ones I have played with away or are at least on that level.

The knot is gone and if they call that’s cool but the people that I want to impress are the same ones I want to have beers with, talk about old times, great gigs, bad gigs, and who I love way beyond their talent, which is as mighty as anyone you have ever heard.

“Time is Tight” as Booker T and the MG’s said. My heart isn’t into it. I have a friend who I’m concerned about, I’ve decided to write and record a new album, and I’m still getting used to my new city.  Once I realized this, the depression subsided, I feel great again, and am just going to do what I want to do and not worry about impressing anyone but the people I mentioned before.

My resume as a musician is long and has many high points on it. I’m very proud of it. I’m not going to waste what took me all this time by pursuing a gig I don’t really want. It’s not fair to Rick’s band either. I think I’ll suggest we just have some beers instead of jamming. After all, I know what he likes to drink.


New album coming. I have about half of it written. I have a sound in my head that I’m going to attempt to capture. I’ll also lay out thoughts on fear, sadness, love, and great times. Just so someone can say “This is a piece of crap” and toss it away. Fuck em. I bet I don’t like your band either.

Stay close, know that I am fine and through my friends and family, I’m getting stronger everyday.

If you hear of anyone needing a three impressive licks on slide guitar have em give me a call. But don’t let them listen too closely to the Allman Brothers Statesboro Blues.

Here is how I did it… Ya gotta love YouTube

 

 

Project:Holiday Cheer and Update on Lies, Gratitude, and Love.

My ex-wife had a few (very few) redeeming qualities. She is a teacher and I can’t tell you how many times we would run to Wal-Mart to buy school supplies, shoes, and tee shirts for a kid who was behind the 8 ball when it came to extra.

The next day the parent/guardian would get a call about the extra pair of flip flops or shorts that we had accidentally received and couldn’t return and wanted to know if the parent would mind if we sent them home with Jr. because she thought they might fit him and we didn’t want them to go to waste.

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Santa just rolled into town

It’s about helping someone knowing that someday you might be at the mercy of your fellow man. I have been there, Hell I am there! I found out there are millions of wonderful people in the world. The same ones I complain about constantly.

There is a local Facebook group that I belong to. It’s kind of a buy/sell page… plus. It’s called the Perpetual Bargain Fair. They have ran a project called Holiday Cheer for the past few years.

I get to know the Lopez family. They live in Salinas and Ms. Lopez has recently become unemployed.  She has three kids, ages 7, 12, and a special needs 17 year old. Ya know what she wants? Groceries.

Here is what we do, it’s fairly simple;

I get to know the Lopez family. They live in Salinas and Ms. Lopez has recently become unemployed.  She has three daughters, ages 7, 12, and a special needs 17 year old. Ya know what she wants? Groceries.

Rice-A-Roni

From all of us, to all of you. Merry Christmas!

So I’m going to wrap up a box of Cheerios, a can of sardines, and a box of Rice-A-Roni (the San Francisco Treat) for the 7 year old. No need to thank me kid. It’s the least I can do. And never let it be said that I didn’t do the least I could do.

OK what I’m really going to do is track down an I-Pod from someone who has one in good condition and will give it to me so that I can give it to them. I also have a page set up on Amazon.com with grocery store gift cards, Visa gift cards, Walmart gift cards. Anywhere you can get a sweater and a can of chicken noodle soup. Plus I’ll find out what a Dora is and give the kids something to open that they can’t eat. Then I’ll have somewhere to spend my Christmas.

CLICK HERE FOR THE WISHLIST Plus I’m looking for an IPod

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Yeah…I still love them.

They have teamed me up with a wonderful woman named Amy. She’s hopefully helping with clothes since my choices in girls clothes might not be the best, and I have no idea what ‘Dora’ is. Most of my choices would have the Planet of the Apes printed somewhere on it.

In the past people have donated a set of breaks and installation for the car, or a mattress so you don’t have to sleep on the floor. This is the community I live in. Just like the one I moved moved away from. Great people just being great each in their own way.

That’s it. Simple.

The Outlaw Josey Wales lives around here somewhere and so does the guy who pumps his gas. If either of them needed a ride it really wouldn’t be that big of a deal to give them one.

The Outlaw Josey Wales lives around here somewhere and so does the guy who pumps his gas. If either of them needed a ride it really wouldn’t be that big of a deal to give them one. They are both my neighbors and until I hear differently, my friends.

It reminds me of a favorite memory.

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I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

It’s the middle of winter in Illinois. It’s pissing rain and the Christmas snow is melting and turning black from wood smoke and car exhaust. It’s cold and nasty with a little fog thrown in for good measure.

I came upon a kid, probably 19 or 20 years old who was out of gas along Highway 130. I told him to hop in, and we ran about five miles to the gas station and I got him ten bucks in gas and a ride back to his truck. He put the gas in and came back to pay me and I replied “Pay it forward.” and moved on. I’m not the only person ever to do that BTW. Most folks do that.

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That’s the dude who picked me up!

Later that summer I’m opening for some country guy who I didn’t know at a good size concert venue. I finished my set and was heading to the merch table to beg people to buy our album we were promoting at the time. I hear “HEY! DUDE!” being yelled at me from a guy on the other side of the concert fencing. So I go up and say “Hey.”

It was that kid. He told me his girl friend made him come to the Famous Country Guy show and when we came on he said “Hey! That’s the dude who gave me a ride!”

Small world… But I wouldn’t want to paint it.


 

 

I don’t really celebrate Christmas. Maybe I’ll give the cat a can of tuna if I have some but usually it’s just us two.

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My Christmas buddy

If I had any kids I would hope that I could pull off Christmas like my Ma used to. We weren’t loaded but she always had the best Christmas for us. She made awesome stockings with candy and comic books. She got me an A.J. Foyt race car one year and I got a hell of a lot of good out of it. Hot Wheels and of course the obligatory Planet of the Apes toy.

If I can help facilitate even a tenth of what Ma made for us, to the Lopez girls I’m going to have one hell of a nice Christmas. Thanks Ma. Feliz Navidad.


Update on my last post.

I was overwhelmed once again by love and support, questions and caring, by people I know and love and by strangers who dropped me a line or a private message telling me that they were there for me or asking where to get help for themselves. Christ people! My cup runneth over already.

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Would you like to go to coffee? And I need a quart of Quaker State

I’m feeling great. I finished up the boat with Eric AND without falling in the ocean. Only one argument and it was small. What a great experience. I found out I suck as a sailor but I’m pretty good at making new friends and keeping old ones. I did get to drive the boat and Eric did send Sarah my message about ice cream and petting puppies… But I’ve moved on Sarah…Ya snooze ya lose.

I’m now in love with the girl at the gas station off of exit 399C. I’m going to ask her for coffee. If she doesn’t shoot me down immediately, she probably will when I ask her if she can pay.


This is the album we were promoting and this is the song I wrote for the album. This song was inspired by a picture on the wall at a now defunked bar called Daddy Rabbits. My friend Mandy was dancing on the bar in the photo. I’d like to think I helped defunk it a little.

Nobody rips off the Stones like I can. Three chords A/G/D.
“You can even play it on the saxophone”~F. Zappa

 

Lies, Gratitude and Love

Life has been somewhat surreal since September. I have been collecting on every piece of karma I have put out into the cosmos.

It’s tough to talk about my depression in real time and not in generalities. This one was a mother fucker. Sorry but that’s really the only way to describe it.

When ever I am stressed to the max I will literally black out. I lie about the stress and the horrible feelings that come along so that I don’t scare the living shit out of friends and family. This is a double edged sword.

I lie about the stress and the horrible feelings that come along so that I don’t scare the living shit out of friends and family.

One it makes me me a liar. I lie to escape the advice of  Dr. Phil watchers. I lie to quickly get rid of the immediate stress until I can hide. Kind of a ‘Look over there” as I make an escape. I lie about how I’m feeling. That one is more like talking myself into feeling better. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I found out that the lies I use to protect myself and others, make me a “pathological liar.” I know this is true because I heard specific examples. I’m a pretty easy target because I internalize my sadness instead of getting up and punching you in the nose for being cruel. But I’m not going to point fingers today or any-day. I will just know who is and who isn’t there to count on.

I blacked out in September and I tried to remove my hand by cutting it off at the wrist. I did a pretty good job except I hung on. Barely, but I did. I awoke in the hospital after bleeding out in my apartment for about three hours. My sweet neighbor Brooke found me hours later called 911 and I guess they drug me out and I came to in the hospital. I would give anything to have not put her through that. I am not her cross to bear.

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You brought this on yourself

My ‘friend’ went into panic mode and started making calls to make sure she looked 100% innocent and not a cruel bitch who verbal abuse at me like tomahawks. She called around and gathered info to make sure that, even though I felt bad, I didn’t feel bad enough. As they were pouring blood into me my friend called and wanted the Version account number. My ER nurse actually ripped the phone out of the wall and wouldn’t allow anymore calls after the ones that came through.  Let me repeat… SHE RIPPED THE PHONE OUT OF THE WALL! “Don’t let any one else call this guy!” The Mother Theresa’s were out in full that day making sure I knew I wasn’t feeling bad enough for them.

From there I healed and then checked into the Monterey Monkey House. I walked around in my jammies and went to Group, colored pictures and watched movies with the rest of the loons.

As the song ‘Message in a Bottle’ by the Police says, ‘I’m not alone in being alone.’ in fact I’m normal when it comes to severe depression.


In Group they finally explained the stages and severity of depression, mania, and bi-polar condition. As the counselor went through the habits of each of these conditions she would ask if any of us had these habits. EVERYONE in that group of 20 people raised their hands.

I’m going to explain it once and for all and never apologize for it again.

I’m going to call this the Fuck Dr Phil and his Bullshit Show and his Dumb-ass forty minute diagnose’s  or FDPAHDAFMD for short.

Imagine a  scale of 1-10.  1 being bad, 10 being good…kinda

scaleMost ‘normal’ people live around 5. but can fluctuate up or down a number or two. Having a bad week might make you dip to a 3 for a bit or waiting on Christmas might put you at a 7. They are short term and will pass and the median will still be right in the middle.

Bi-polar people can range from 1 to 10 depending on the day and usually stay around 3 or 7 depending on the person. Mine is depression so I stay about 3-4 daily. I’m going to only focus on depression.

The term they use for me is Dysthymia. It is long term but a person can function. You can work, be social, go places, take care of yourself and hide the pain.

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Changes in sleep habits — oversleeping or not sleeping enough
  • Changes in appetite — overeating or poor appetite

When I am under stress, I can dip down to the 1-2 area, also called Major Depressive Order

  • Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
  • Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day (called anhedonia, this symptom can be indicated by reports from significant others)
  • Restlessness or feeling slowed down
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)
  • Feelings of fear
  • Memory problems
  • Suicide

And there it is. I usually hit 1-2 when under a ton of stress. I have abandonment issues that pop up and people either don’t know or worse DO KNOW and use it against me as a threat.

depression-meditation-8Some people strike out and crawl up in a tower and shoot into McDonalds. Some people like myself internalize it and their brain just shuts down. Too much stimuli and fear, and months of feeling like you can’t do anything right. It becomes a self fulfilling prophesy but all I can do is follow my doctor’s orders.

The abandonment comes from the feeling of not being worth sticking around for. Friends and family write you off and you hear from them twice a year out of some sense of dreaded duty. Like having to pay taxes. Ya do it, but you don’t want to. I can tell and I can feel the resentment and the out of sight out of mind attitude. Hell I’d probably do it myself. I put these people through a lot so I can’t really blame them, but I also can count on them to either disappear, distance themselves, or pawn you off onto a doctor. I’m not looking for happiness. I have happiness. I’m looking for peace.

I’m not looking for happiness. I have happiness. I’m looking for peace.

The funny thing is, the number one thing every doctor and counselor tells me that I must have is emotional support. I’ll say it again THE NUMBER ONE THING YOU NEED IS EMOTIONAL SUPPORT! If you can’t get it here, then find it somewhere else. I get it that you need to distance yourself but you have to also get it that I will too. The difference is  you have the choice. My part is getting over the resentment I feel when I know I can’t call and cry. I don’t blame anyone really, but I do miss them. Life goes on, just without them.


It is Thanksgiving today so I’m going to give thanks where I know it is due. In no specific order.

  • Brooke Weston. My beautiful neighbor for two years who makes the greatest lowbrow art. Thank you and I love you.
  • Jen Shipley. A surprise friend, and my angel.
  • Lily, the other angel in my life.

Lily and Jen met for the first time when they broke into my apartment and grabbed my guitars and computer. They had never met in person and I hadn’t met Lily until later. When I got out of the hospital they brought me home and put me up. Now that is a friend. They knew so little about me yet they did so much for me.

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The Mighty Dr. Wu

  • My brothers and best friends from Dr Wu’s Rock and Soul Revue. They dropped everything and gathered the money and the love and support to get me home to heal up and be around people who loved me. My Doctor, myself, and the fellas thought this was exactly what I needed. So Pat ‘Mr. Sax’ Lee, Mark ‘the Master’ Cornell, Dr. Shane Pitsch DMA, and his ex-wife Jamey, Kent “Sweet’ Aberle, George Ozier, Doug Evans, Chris ‘H.C.’ Taylor, J.B. and Michelle Faires, Bugsy Eagleson, and Doug Evans.
  • My brother’s in the Matt Poss Band, Matt Poss, Tim Alverson (I want that Tele back someday!) and Mac McDevitt.
  • My brother’s in Poprocks Jon Clarkson, Wally Hooker, and Brendan Gamble.
  • The loves of my life Kelly Guerrettaz, Brandi Yagow, Beth Kintner, Karen VanBlaircum, Jenny Green, Michelle Robertson,  Joi Green, Marna Neese. If I ever get married again, it will be to one of these women. Don’t worry ladies I’m never going to get married again, the last wife cured that and the last girlfriend cured me of relationships. Rest easy.
  • Tommy Dunn, Ike Edwards, Damian Light. Corey Neidigh, I have more love for you guys than I can ever express.
  • Rich Matlock, I never had a bad time at a Rhythm Pigz show, or with you.
  • Aaron Cox my oldest friend.
  • And who ever I missed. I got out of the hospital and found hundreds of ‘I love you’ messages.
  • My sister Mo for talking me through a lot of this.

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

A special thanks to J.B. and Michelle Faires. You put me up, took no shit, gave your love your time, your advice, and your studio to a guy and his cat who had no place to go. I have been thinking everyday how to tell you what that meant to me. I have never found the words that even come close to the the appreciation I feel. Thank you.

Dr. J.B. Faires

Dr. J.B. Faires DMA

Jon invited me to lunch and to hang regularly. Pat did too.

Michelle Faires said something as she was walking out the door one day. I told her I was overwhelmed by the out pouring of love from so many people and she replied “And the common denominator is you”

So I can look at these scars and know these people cared enough to get up and help me when I was sicker than I have ever been in my life. You don’t get in the paper for helping with an invisible illness. You did it anyway. I can’t express my gratitude enough.


So I’m back in California, I’m feeling better than I have in a really long time. It’s a shame some of the people in my past couldn’t hold out a little longer because the best has yet to come. I am actively searching for work in San Francisco doing graphics. I sold my guitars, even my beloved Telecaster that I have had for 25 years, to get back to Californie  but what the hell? I don’t feel like making music anyway. Now I have no choice LOL.

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A Ketch, not THE Ketch

In the interim I just spent the week at the Breakwater Marina in Monterey working on my new friend’s boat. I spent seven days 8-14 hours a day in the sun, climbing ladders (the boat was in dry dock) cutting wood for bulkheads, painting the boat, smelling salt air and listening to the sea lions bark. I have a farmer’s tan and a new friend in Eric.

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Eric is a character. He fits right in with the rest of my friends perfectly. He laughs a lot, He looks like Ritchie Havens, he listens to 80’s Rush, He hates Trump, and he’s famous. For real famous, not infamous. Award winning film star, scuba instructor, lives on a boat in the Caribbean. I’m sure many of you have enjoyed his work and I have put the pressure on him to hook me up with his friend-ish Sarah, who is also famous.

I want to take her to Dairy Queen for ice cream and then to the ASPCA to pet kittens and puppy dogs.  Eric seems to think she’ll expect a nicer date but ya know what? That seems like a great date. If she wants to dress up and go to dinner and dancing, we’ll just crash a wedding. If Sarah doesn’t want to go screw her, He knows plenty of people that I’m a fan of. I bet one of them would love ice cream.

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Ice cream and petting puppies with Sarah

I watched a beautiful Ketch (it’s a boat) being lifted up and put into the Pacific yesterday. We smoked cigarettes and sat on the boat he restored. The two masts looked a mile high. It never felt so good to be so tired. Thank you Eric for giving me the opportunity and for not getting too pissed because I can’t remember anything. Call Sarah…

I have too much to be thankful for. I hope you all do too.

S.

Depression. Yeah it’s personal.

I don’t owe anyone any more money. All my cavities are filled.
If I pull my hand outside my pocket too fast, I might drop a couple of fifty-dollar bills.
I got more dope than I can smoke. I got more chicks than I can use.
Somehow when I woke up the morning, I guess I had somebody else’s blues.
I swear I don’t know why. I don’t know why I feel this way.
You know I got someone else’s blues in the midst of an almost perfect day.
~SOMEONE ELSE’S BLUES (David Bromberg)


Why so blue Sammy?

I don’t know.
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