Illinois

What Was the Best Day of Your Life?

The election has taken its toll on me. I look at people differently. Maybe this simple question will realign how I look at the world.

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My 2000th Sound Check….Ugh!

I’m pretty lucky to have had a life of being an entertainer. My job is to make you happy. I’m in the smile business. I’ve always given 100% when it comes to me giving you your money’s worth. I didn’t hit it on the head every time but I sure as hell came into the game with that on my mind.

I picked up my guitar and played it and winked and smiled. I slapped hands, snuck people backstage, told stories, and wrote songs. I juggled; I did magic tricks (I’m a fairly good magician in case you didn’t know) I did it even when there was a party I wanted to go to, or my depression had kept me in bed until I left for the shows. Hiding anxiety and sadness many times so that I wouldn’t let down my band mates or my audience. Some days I hid it better than others, but those are stories for another time.

So let’s think about this. What were the best moments I have known….

My first kiss. I won’t embarrass the young lady that gave it to me. As they said in Stephen King’s “Hearts in Atlantis”; It is the kiss that all other kisses will be measured by.

I was at the Cumberland Co Fair when a girl I knew asked if I wanted to go uptown with her other two friends. I said ‘Sure!” Having a crush on the gal superseded the “Don’t leave the Fairgrounds” instructions that had been laid down by Ma.

3cb9dd7c4449b87759645e740542e92aWe hopped in the back seat and somewhere along that ride she laid a kiss on me that curled my toes. I was so scared. I didn’t give her a feel up or anything, just kept kissing.  I was IN LOVE! I couldn’t sleep for three days. I wasn’t hungry for a week.  It was the last kiss I ever got from her. I’m not sure why? Like it matters. It was perfect for a few minutes.


For my birthday my Mom bought me a boom box. I was about 13-14 probably and was obsessed with music. I listened to the radio constantly. The radio tuner quit working after a few months.

My Dad wasn’t around much and when he finally came home I asked him to fix it. He’s a handy guy. Got it to working in about ten minutes. About a week later it quit dialing again. No telling when the Old Man was going to show back up at home.

Ma got the screwdriver out and took the boom box apart. She fixed it.

14938220_10211416113624679_3024598311309867963_nI guess it was at that moment I realized we were going to be okay without my Dad around. Mom and Michelle and I were going to be OK because we didn’t have to wait around for the old man to reappear when he decided to.  Fuck him. The three of us were a pretty good group of people. Better than the barflies and whores my dad spent most of his time with. We didn’t have much but we never felt unloved. Mom made sure of that and I know sacrificed a lot for us and still does to this day.

I played a lot of gigs in my day. Some with huge arena crowds and some to the bar staff. The ones that stand out were the ones that happened when I was coming up.

My first band Bootleg, were playing a little knife and gun club outside of Greenup, IL called El Patio. I had found two huge bags full of these hollow plastic balls with faces on them. They were like a whiffle ball in size and weight. They were called “Ugly Balls”

832d925da7220111148bb36d5ef3e285Bootleg is pumping out tunes like  “All right Now” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” while dodging  Ugly Balls that were being tossed full speed across the bar. I was playing with my best friends Rod, Doug, Bugsy and George to about 50 people who were having a ball. It was the first time I found out I could make OTHERS happy with my limited knowledge of the guitar.

I have always believed that every night the best band in the world is playing their best show ever. The band changes from night to night. I’m happy to say I feel like I have played in the best band in the world a few nights.

My first big indoor show was opening for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in Mattoon, IL. Sold out show and my R&B band Dr Wu was opening the show. That band had a great set that we had honed to a razor’s edge. Pat the sax player always said, “Give this band 45 minutes and we could take on anyone.”

fee9bef7a4073cae14a2db0a60049c2fRight before we were about to go up the ramp to the stage, Doug Evan’s, my best bud from High School and band mate shook my hand. We started playing together knowing two songs. “Wipe Out” and “Paranoid” All that work was paying off with high paying gigs all over the country and then some. Doug’s handshake that night was different. An epiphany that we had surpassed our dreams. The next 45 minutes we tore the stage up with swinging horns, great tunes, pounding drums and classic R&B music blasting out as only a clueless all white rock  band could. A standing ovation for the open band.


I met a gal in San Francisco. We saw a jazz concert featuring Esperanza Spalding. I could have sworn once those lights went down, Esperanza played just for the two of us. Lisa agreed. Amazing feeling.


My main girl Susan came over for my birthday a couple of years ago and made lunch and spent the day just talking stupid stuff. Meeting Susan was one of the best days of my life.


A buddy sat in on bass one night at a show in Greenup. I asked a girl to dance. It was the closest dance I ever had. Silently two people held on for dear life as we danced to Van Morrison’s ‘Into the Mystic’


Hands down though, the best day I ever had in my life was the day my girlfriend and future wife, Shannon told me she loved me. She was painfully shy and quiet and the nerve it had to take to say those words had to be one of the toughest things she ever had to say. It was returned in spades.

57d19a2c7af888af166edd1cde724a91I will always love her even though we aren’t together anymore. Shannon is one of the greatest women on the entire planet. I miss her sometimes at unexpected moments. She loved me without condition. I screwed it up and a lot of self loathing comes along with it. If I had only not been so scared to get help with my depression instead of running from it till it was too late. She’s living a better life than I could have ever given her. She’s remarried to a good man, she has adopted two babies and I have no doubt those kids won the lottery when they came home with Shannon. A mom who knows nothing but love.

I have love for all my friends, some helped me get up when I was broken down I treasure them for it. I do have the best friends.

So there it is.

Tell me about your best day and let’s forget about hating each other for a minute just to relate a story. I’ll protest tomorrow. Today is all about us. We are all on the same side of the fence when it comes to the best day ever.

Below the video is a link my last album. It’s your’s for the taking. I hope you enjoy it.


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No Green Weenies

In 1982 Cumberland Unit #77’s High School student body collectively rioted and demanded action. Cumberland Unit #77, surrendered in two days.

Due to the efforts of the sadistic Lunch Ladies, a series of events caused the students to take drastic action. Utilizing every bit of know-how at their disposal, (A civics textbook) they fought the school’s establishment, armed with nothing but a Plat Map, the Student Handbook, and a poster board sign reading “NO GREEN WEENIES!”

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Cumberland Students march against the frequency and color of their weenies

These are the facts

  1. Students could not leave the school grounds for lunch.
  2. For one week the students were fed corn dogs each day.
  3. The next week they were given hot dogs that had a green tint to it.
  4. The students revolted…

I don’t know the complete story with names and dates, but I know how it went.

Sun Tzu says in the Art of War “Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of a trigger.” 

It probably started out as a joke, then an idea, then a strategy. Hushed meetings in the library between Mrs. Ettlebrick’s piercing ‘SHhhh!” Someone says something to another student between classes. Notes are passed, rumors of a coup d’état have started.

The scheme was planned like the JFK Assassination. No one knows who put in the order, deniable plausibility. The entire student body knows their part. Everyone had to be in for the plot to work. Nerds, jocks, stoners and Prom Queens joined together in unity. There could be no dissention if the scheme were to be effective…

Sun Tzu says in the Art of War “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.ript_samuraiwars

Each morning after attendance was taken in homeroom, the teacher would ask how many were eating school lunch. They would then send this number to the office and the kitchen workers would prepare food for at least that many students. The campus was closed so the students ate what they were given, brought their own lunch, or went hungry.

Sun Tzu says in the Art of War “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” 
The morning of the conspiracy, each student in every class raised their hand. They were ALL eating in the cafeteria that day. The die had been cast. There was no turning back.

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Hands raised in the classroom. The Conspiracy has started

When the lunch bell rang, the Lunch Ladies, (as they became known) with their ladles, hair nets, and their cowboy cake, stood ready to shovel the daily swill onto virtually indentured students who had no choice but to take their mocking smiles as they shoveled mystery meat at them.

The Lunch Ladies waited, and waited, and waited… Not a single student ate their swill that day. They cursed the students, they screamed “FOUL!”, with cigarettes dangling from the corners of their mouths. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??? What will we do with all this swill?”

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What will we do with all this swill?

The students had drawn first blood. The teaching staff and Principal were in a panic. “These punks won’t strong arm us! WE are in control!

Sun Tzu says in the Art of War “he who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” 

“You will not raise your hand during attendance if you are not eating” growled the Principal, teeth clinched veins bulging as his fist crushed the school intercom mic. “There will be hell to pay!” as he throws the mic against the wall.

The students stood steadfast as 350 green hot dogs went cold. There would be no ‘Cowboy Cake” that day.

Students were called in and interrogated. Parents were called. Detention was cancelled due to overcrowding. Reports of beatings, sleep deprivation, and threats about a “Permanent Record” were being thrown around. The due dates on essays of “Moby Dick” were moved up a week.

The students were prepared with water, nourishment and a stack of Cliff Notes for Moby Dick. They laid low and kept the momentum of their first victory to themselves. The war was far from over

Sun Tzu says in the Art of War “You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.”  bag

Part two of the battle plan involved the Plat Map and the civics book…probably.

While the students couldn’t picket on school property, they discovered that there was nothing the School could do if you stood along the highway on the opposite side of the road. It is owned by the state.

Sun Tzu says in the Art of War “the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” 

“Who gives a damn about those ungrateful bastards? Who cares about a group of  kids holding a  poster board sign that said ‘NO GREEN WEENIES’?

WTHI TV Channel 10 out of Terre Haute Indiana. Serving the Wabash Valley with news and information; that’s who cared. photo

A masked spokesman for the group explained to the entire Wabash Valley about the school’s weenie policy. Terre Haute was outraged! Letters were written and phone calls were made. Politicians gave speeches. It was a turkey shoot. No one was left unscathed. War is hell. A lone child stepped forward and sang “99 Luft Ballons” tears fell and hugs were exchanged. The weenie word was out. The students could stand down.

Sun Tzu says in the Art of War “One need not destroy one’s enemy. One need only destroy his willingness to engage.”

Feb16

Victory!

Battled scarred and weary, Cumberland Unit #77 gave in to the student’s demands and nary a green weenie is seen in Cumberland County Illinois ever since. The Principal hung his head in disgrace. He later left teaching altogether to join the carnival. He runs that machine where you spray the water in the clown’s mouth.

The lunch Ladies simply disappeared. It’s rumored they are buried under the 50 Yard Line at the field where the Fighting Pirates played football.

And there isn’t even a fuckin’ plaque.

*The events are true even if I have taken liberty by filling in the blanks. 

On a side note, I graduated from Cumberland and the Kitchen Staff, Administration, and Teachers were always wonderful. Forgive me if I have put you in a bad light.


Dedicated to

Ciara Jade Faires

  In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond

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