3/23/14

Where The Leprechauns Howl

   
     He walked in and the 7 foot guy stared him down.  Started and listened in amazement.  Who was this skinny white boy with Unc?  Smothered his shoulder with his hand after the performance.  "You turned me around son, I didn't know what to think," he boomed.
     "I learned from the three Kings--Albert, Freddie, and Elvis.  Martin Luther And Martin Luther King. Jr and Sr too."  He talked with knowing confidence.  The place smelled of chicken necks and the guitar players coated their fingers with chicken grease.  This was in the backwoods.  The hills of Tennessee.  Where the Cashes come from.  Self sufficient and musical people.  This is not Nashville.  These people made Nashville.  Players all around.  That Gibson box was tuned in.  Learned to play every note.  Studied the theory of music and heard sounds.  Not a follow me man.  "You say you play better than Jimmy Hendrix.  Really?  Let's hear it."  He was older now.  This was years later.  "Now Jimmy wrote the book.  There is no doubt.  Had to go and off himself.  Intentional or not, He was reckless.  Can't be drinking too much prior to a performance.  Can't be sloppy.  We move forward, we don't look back."
     Buzzards was a lake bar.  Near pottsboro and pink.  These texoma boys flash cash around.  Floating the waters while the red river dies.  Beach camping bums and stripper fillets.  Green waters and hundred pound catfish.  Cold and windy on granpappy point.  The Munson place near the cliff.  They never heard a big sound.  They never heard the doctor on the keys.  Three piece county bands with honky tonk covers and straw hats.  It was buzzards.  Big red loved the guitar.  I'm playing one for him.  And the strings were pulled off.  Bended and mangled and shredded.  Burns run come down.  Sleep the next day.
     Playing the glow gig set and this gentlemen walks up to the stage.  He calmly straps on the electric guitar and begins to ensure proper tuning.  I have just completed the opening song, swaying California brown, and the place is full of anticipation.  The opener is a ripper and my sideman was playing nice long slide licks.  The bar was ringing noises of commerce.  I'll have another, make it two or three.  Once he's satisfied with the sound of the telecaster, he proceeds to play the introduction to the second track, north end of Erwin park, the most local of all glowface songs and my favorite to sing.  He seems to know it and the minor chord laced solos and improvisational sounds we're filling the entire room with melted wax.  Incredible, I thought as I signaled the slide for some butter knife whines.  The protest of the protest song went on for an hour.  The gentleman would not stop.  I was pouring sweat and exhausted.  We had played the entire album, finishing with a remarkable rendition of Rankin Blues.  He made up notes, he tore off the paint, he made the chandeliers cry.  All songs were played without pause.  It was like one long song.  The place smelled of mushrooms and beer.  The man finally unstrapped the worn out guitar and placed it back on it's lonely stand. He walked through the stunned crowd, out the back door, and down the ally. We stood there amazed, not knowing what had happened.  The slide player was hypnotized.  The crowed was silent as he left, but glowing brightly.
     He came from the end of the road.  Near the washed out bridge.  Where the leprechauns howl.