Saturday, June 6, 2009

7 Rockabilly Problems

1. Wallet Chain Incidents.

No self respecting greaser would walk around without his trusty wallet chain. I removed mine to cross the border and I felt naked without it (didn't want to look too greasy, damn pesky Canada Customs)) It's part of the code and deeply ingrained into our sense of self. Plus, it prevents the dirtbags and crackheads from stealing our hard-earned dough.

Only problem is that they always get snagged, wedged or hooked up somewhere. Everytime I go to a BBQ and sit in those ubiquitous plastic chairs, I get caught up. When I get up for a beer, the chair comes along with me.

I once missed a bus because my chain got really wedged in the the bench. I got up, but was promptly yanked down. Needless to say, I missed the bus.

Nothing will ruin your cool like having people seeing you lurch out of a seat and start furiously yanking on your chain. It's embarrassing to say the least.

Cool to Fool in less than ten seconds. Dang!

2. Cuffs.

You gotta have the cuffs. Unfortunately, the Jeans always tear right at the fold. Although useful for holding a pack of smokes, all manner of crud and debris finds it's way in there.

Last laundry day when I undid the cuffs, all kinds of detritus came pouring out. Included in the pile, $4.36 in loose change, a guitar pick, beer bottle cap, numerous rocks, and what seemed like five pounds of sand. I never go to the beach, where the hell did all that sand come from?

Then there is the debate on how big that cuff should be. There seems to be a strange hierarchy based on the size. British Rockabillies seem to the most adamant about it.
I say West Coast Standard: 4 inches. Feel free to give your opinion in the comments section.

3. Pompus Interuptus.

What most clearly defines the greaser is the pomp. What a freakin' pain in the ass that can be.
Trying to figure out what kind of grease to use. Fussin' and fumin' in front of the mirror for an hour and a half on a Saturday night. It's takes a lot of work to get it right. Almost as frustrating as computers, that elusive, perfect pomp requires a lot of patience.

When you are out, you're constantly checkin' it out in the bathroom mirror, because a lock hair sticking up is more embarrassing that walking around with a booger hanging off your nose.

You see other greasers in Vegas with perfect pomps and ask yourself how the hell they do it.

Then there's the overall greasiness. Ruined pillowcases, designated grease towels, endless arguments with girlfriends over gettin' grease on all her stuff, greasy doorknobs, your barber wanting to strangle you and clumps of greasy hair everywhere.

A lot of dedication, all in the name of coolness. Long live grease!

4. Squares

There will invariably be squares at a rockabilly show. You will be standing around with your buddies and some drunken, white trash sac o' shit will lurch up to you. Slurring incoherently and staggering around, they always wanna touch your hair.

That's when the Rockabilly Recoil happens. You and your buddies will involuntarily lean your head and shoulders back in reaction to this attack on your carefully arranged pomp and affront to your coolness. Usually only two year olds do this, but squares can't handle their booze.

Then you have the squares who always seemed to be threatened by your presence. " What are you guys supposed to be?" seems to be the common question. Some toothless cougar once asked us angrily " Do you guys actually like what your wearing?" Huh!?

Best one I heard was in Vegas, " Why are all these guys walkin' around with those big fiddles?"

Of course if someone at your job blankly stares at you and says " What's Rockabilly?" it's best to just walk away.

5. Mean Ole No Car Walk-abilly Blues.

Having a hot rod is whole other exercise in stress. Needing constant attention and sucking money faster than a Hoover. It takes real dedication to own a hot rod.

On my way to L.A. from Vegas after Viva, I saw a whole bunch of hot rods broken down by the side of the road in Mojave desert.The greasers were peering under the hood, their hankies flapping in the wind. I felt their pain.

My buddy's hot rod broke down on the way to Vegas. Sporting a newly rebuilt hemi, he was rarin' to go, The whole trip was brought to a grinding halt all because of a $9 part, which had to be ordered from North Carolina.

I'm sure there's a million stories like that, but you get the idea. At least you can ride a bicycle when you're drunk.

6. Being In A Band.

Oh the crazy, raucous life of booze and debauchery that is being in a Rockabilly band.
Never mind a touring band, just being a local band can have enough Bukowski-esque moments to write several novels.

From beer-fueled raging arguments at rehearsals, playing in dives, weed smoking guitar players who forget what key they're in to louts at almost every gig who shout "play some Skynyrd", it's always entertaining.

I think every band has had their hecklers and their share of roots rock weirdos who "just wanna hang around with the band, man". I once had a guy jump up on stage, while I was singing, and yell in my ear," play some Zeppelin!". A well placed engineer boot took care of that mullet-clad idiot.

When it's all over, your bar tab is often more than what you made and you have to drunkenly lug all your gear up three flights of stairs at four in morning. By that time all the groupies are gone, but the dude who wants to hang around bands somehow made his way to your place.

Once you get rid of the hangers on you have a few more beers with the boys and go on about how much you rocked. Go to sleep, nurse a hangover and do it all over again next weekend.

7. Running Out of Beer.

Rockabillies don't run out of beer.

That's it for now


  1. Hey, I resemble that remark about Guitar players not remembering what key they're in. I'm lucky if I can remember which band playin with!
    Pretty accurate description of being in a local band. My favorite part is when people say "but what's your real job?"

  2. "Big fiddles"... too funny.

    My favorite comments mostly came via slack-jawed gawkers while in Vegas for Viva...

    "Why does everyone look like Lucile Ball?"

    "Those tattoos, do they hurt?"

    response #1 (yes i am in excruciating pain as we speak madam... don't know what i was thinkin.)

    response #2 (no, they were licked on by kittens)

    [ j ]