Music to My Ears

And The Beat Goes On

I have a recurring dream.

I’m standing backstage at a theater of some kind and the curtain is closed. Next to me is a guy whose name apparently is Fred and he’s some sort of agent or angel. I peek between the curtains and the audience is full of werewolves which I find more upsetting than odd.

“I can’t go back out there Fred.”

“Yes you can. You gotta.”

“No I don’t gotta! Whadyamean I GOTTA!”

“Ya gotta, that’s it. You’re just not sure you’ve still got it.”

“Got what ya ass clown? What are we even talking about?”

From the audience comes a sound like animals eating and it occurs to me the comedian that was just on is not there anymore.

“We’re talking about you going out there again.”

“I don’t know. What if they don’t like me?”

“Dude, they never liked you.”

“Oh. Right.”

“Man this is your future.”

“My future? This is my future? What happened to my present?”

“You know what I mean. Quit stalling. You need to get up and get going.”

“Get up and get going!”

“You’re the man!”

“I’m the man!”

“Take No Prisoners Troop!”

“TAKE NO PRISONERS!”

“LET’S GO!”

I turn to the bored stage hand and scream, “LET’S GO!”

The curtain rushes apart, the floodlights hit me. And I’m naked.

The last time I had this dream was the night before I had to deliver the eulogy for a guy I didn’t know. True story.

Like most folks I have several recurring dreams, taking place in houses I’ve never visited and with people I’ve never met. The human brain is a marvelous and dangerous place, full of chuckheads and gargoyles, luscious tropical islands, and giant gorillas. Yes, I have a giant man-eating gorilla that shows up in the damndest places. I can be dreaming about being at a car rally, a rock concert, or relaxing beside a pool when suddenly everyone’s running and screaming and this big ape rambles onto the scene roaring and throwing shit around. A real asshole.

So here I am, naked once again. I have had a few months away from Copper with a busy summer moving PS Audio operations into a new building and helping design and implement a new production line. It’s been like wrangling a huge writhing snarling sack of shit and I needed a break from the mag deadlines. I was never good at those deadlines anyway (Leebens will attest here) so that was one less scoop of shit I had to deal with. Paul McGowan suggested I throw in with some personal stories from my miscreant past. The man does not know what can happen. That could be a four part-er but my lovely wife Diana would pitch a fit. Some stories just shouldn’t be shared.

An apology here. I know no one is interested in my personal story. But reading is a choice. I strongly suggest you click out now.

I’ll keep with the music theme and talk some about my past with bands. I was never close to famous. That period in my 20’s was more of an experiment in debauchery, club life, and drugs than a serious attempt to ‘make it’. That was never important to me. Good thing, because I wasn’t very good.

I was one of a million guys and gals that loved music, had enough talent to get into a band, air it out on the road and never sniff true success. Worked my ass off gigging and practicing and always came home broke. It was wonderful. I don’t miss it mind you. ‘It’ damn near killed me. But I’m glad I did it. Part of who I am

There were bands with names like Pass the Hat Band, Gettin Even, Strictly Smokin, Somebody’s Dream, Parvenu, and The Uh Oh Squad.  Somebody’s Dream had the most talent but The Uh Oh Squad was the most talented group. It was the early 80’s and we were doing a lot of New Wave, like the Police, Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello. Loved it. I’ve talked before about gaining a new understanding of the music when you have to learn to play it. And New Wave was fun as hell to play.

We got the name for that last band from a song by Robert Ellis Orrall named ‘Call the Uh-oh Squad’, and we loved doing that song.

My stomping grounds started in CT but ended in CO after we moved. In CT the Pass the Hat Band played regularly in a place called the Putnam Pub. That was a definite weird scene. You know these places. They are out in the middle of nowhere and you hardly pass a car on the way to the joint, but the place is jammed with college kids from who knows where, construction workers, loggers and the ever present bikers.

One Halloween night I was playing next to a speaker stack and suddenly there was a knife sticking in it. They loved us.

On a snowblind winter afternoon we drove through a blizzard to get to the Putnam Pub. By the time we got done and broke the equipment down there was 18” on the ground and more coming. Of course we were all driving old vehicles with bad tires so we got going as quickly as we could. I left first in my ’66 Dodge truck and the remainder of the caravan was to follow.

Diana was with me. No more than two miles down the road I had to stop and clear the windshield. Wipers really sucked in those days. The wind was roaring and blowing snow onto the windshield faster than I could wipe it.

Through the roaring wind I heard rattling coming down the road. The guitar player in his ‘72 Jeep Wagoneer went sailing past at Mach 2 with the keyboard player yelling something through the open passenger window. Whatever he was yelling was swallowed by the wind. Hmm. That was weird.

My brother Ed came next in his ’56 GMC pickup with a homemade topper, bleating down the road and barely staying on the pavement. This time a roadie was screaming something incomprehensible and waving an arm signaling to get moving. I didn’t know what happened but knew enough to make haste. Bands have been known to get in all kinds of trouble.

I didn’t catch those swirling clowns for 30 miles. I finally saw the trucks parked at a snowed-in 7-11. Inside the group was getting coffee and laughing the relieved laugh of the prison escapee.

As it happened, we had a roadie who’d had a few too many cups guiding a truck driven by Ed out of an alley separating the club and a jewelry store. Turns out if you’re not careful and the roadie is piss drunk he might back you into the jewelry store window and set off the alarm. Not a good thing in a small rural town and half the guys are in the bag. So as responsible citizens they took the road most traveled. They got the hell out of Tombstone.

That venerable old ’66 Dodge. Bands traveled in all kinds of vehicles in the early parts of their careers. Rev. Horton Heat used to travel in one van. That mode was really common because you could also sleep in the thing, as long as you had no more than three band members. Three guys and all your equipment makes for tight sleeping arrangements. But that ’66 Dodge Stepside was special for a unique reason.

Just after I’d bought the truck a parked car pulled out and hit me. The force knocked the body around the frame just enough that I had a driver door that would no longer open and a passenger door that wouldn’t shut at all. So being the young entrepreneurs we were we simply bolted the passenger door shut. Now in order to get in the truck you had to climb through a window. Yeah. Those were the days.

We were coming back after a very late night at the Inn Place in Granby, CT. We loved that place because not only did they have a great crowd but after hours they’d shut the doors and the band partied with the staff for a few hours. While driving home with Duane the keyboard player through rural country a cop came out of nowhere and pulled us over. The cop comes up to the truck and shines his light at us and around inside the truck. He then asks me to step out of the vehicle, sir.

“You’ll have to step back.”

“Why?”

“Just take two steps back and I’ll show you.” The cop is looking less confident about this routine traffic stop.

After he stepped back I vaulted myself through window.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me.” Never heard a cop use that kind of language before that night.

I told him the short version of why I had to do that, and he explained I had a taillight out. He let on to how he wasn’t going to write me up because he wasn’t sure he could tell his sergeant about the window thing. So he told me to get the light fixed and he left.

I climbed back into the truck and noticed Duane looked a little green. He pointed at the floor under the dash where the cop had flashed his light. Lying there, neatly wrapped in clear plastic, was a full pound of weed. Apparently the sound man had scored at the club and for some insane reason decided my truck was the safest place to stash it.  So he stuffed it under the dash by the glove box. Sometime before we got pulled over it had fallen free and by the grace of God the cop’s flashlight didn’t catch it.

We proceeded to smoke as much as we could on the way home where we got baggies and separated more before giving it to the sound man. What a mook.

The pictures here all come from the Uh-Oh Squad and I’m the guy in the shades. The Rocky Mountain News had done an article on us and sent a photographer to one of the gigs. It was fun coming across those.

And it was fun writing this. My Editor will shit when he sees the length, but it was hard to keep short. And the stuff I left out..Hoo Boy.

{Your Editor is fine with the length. And next time, put the stuff in.–-Ed.]