Saturday, July 18, 2009

Requiem For A Western Belt. Part 1

A dude or greaser needs a good belt. Pretty much all guys need a belt, and guys who don't wear belts scare me. Nothing says deranged like a hiked up pair of jeans with no belt. Even hillbillies have enough common sense to get piece of rope to hold up their britches.

After twenty two years, my trusty western belt finally gave out. I just ignored the fact that I had gained two waist sizes since I got it. It just seems to be the last thing one would think to replace. Greasers got bigger fish to fry, like that ever important haircut. We will eventually get around to buying shorts when the ones we have are in tatters, same goes for socks, when we realize that all of them are singles. The ongoing search for those elusive cool t-shirts or vintage threads is a priority, but a belt? Fifty bucks buys a lot beer.

Not being prone to sentimentality, I don't anthropomorphize inanimate objects. If that belt could talk, however, it would at least remind me of some good shows that I have seen , because a lot of then ended in a blur.

22 years, 39 States, 8 Provinces, hundreds of bands, a few exes who hate me, a million beers,
and the odd rumble would take up hundreds of pages, but I will give you some random highlights.

Originally purchased in Cambridge, Ontario at a western shop, I have worn it constantly ever since. Some people who know me might actually find it hard to believe that I was actually once in my twenties.
Hillbilly Jamming.

I wore that sucker when I started my first band, The Hollywood Mufflers, but this was a few years before the internet, so no pics. Here are some other places where I wore that ole belt.

Played some jam in a club in New York with my guitar player Cincinnati Lou. People thought we were from Louisiana and they dug it. The host of the jam got angry because we stole the show and grabbed the guitar out of Lou's hand and kicked us off the stage. Little prick, I bet he's still running a jam in some shithole in the East Village.

There used to be a place in Montreal called the Blue Angel where the had an on going hillbilly jam on Monday's (still going on to this day). You had to have your material straight and they wouldn't let you do rockabilly, but you got to play with some some stellar old timers and got free hot dogs afterwards. I was singing a tune one hot summer night, and as the verse came up, this gigantic moth flew into my mouth. I spit it out and didn't miss a beat.

That seemed to have impressed some of the regulars. I was invited to their table. After the jam, they invited me back to their place and I partied until the wee hours on the local Mohawk reservation.

Some random night, I was driving around the North part of Montreal I spotted a country bar that had a sign that said talent contest. I thought I would check it out. I spoke to the guy running the show and convinced him to lend me a guitar.

I won the contest. I didn't win because I was the best performer, it's just that I was the only one there who actually spoke English. All the other singers were French and sang phonetically. Kind of like shooting fish in a barrel.

Sittin' Around Wearing Shades, Feelin' Heavy

The Montreal Jazz Festival has featured some cool acts over the years. The only problem is that you have to mingle with throngs of squares who couldn't really give a shit about music. The unruly behavior of a gang of greasers always seemed to shock them. Jimmie Vaughan, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Van Walls, Cab Calaway were some of the acts I saw there.

I had forgotten to purchase a ticket for Jimmie Vaughan and had to buy one off a scalper for seventy five bucks. I was so happy to have gotten in, but angry at myself for spending so much dough. Halfway througt the show, I was gettin' pretty liqoured and letting of a barrage of yee-haws. I have a vague memory of squares getting away from me. I was in an empty circle by myself, like those Pepe LePew cartoons. Damn squares.

American Music.

Due to the convoluted laws and arbitrary power of Canadian Border Services, we Canadians often have to go down to the USA to catch some good shows. I never seem to have problems getting into the States. They ask me where I'm going and I tell I'm going to see a country show. They see the belt, they welcome me and send me on my way.

Canada Customs, on the other hand, seems highly suspicious of country music and always gives me a real hard time.

I've seen many shows in the US, here are just a few.

Junior Brown in Burlington, Vermont. Me and my buddy Texas Nick were huge Junior Brown fans and decided to make the 2 hour trip to check it out. We got a ride in some shitty Chrysler K car who's driver's abilities were equally shitty.

The venue was great, and everybody had that small town friendliness. I had brought along a date, a real cutie who was probably too young for me. Texas Nick was just beside himself with excitment.

During one of my many trips to the bar, I noticed thise huge gaping hole in the armpit of my t-shirt. I couldn't believe that I could have been such a goof. It was summer, so no jacket. I thought about it for a minute, then I spotted the merchandise table.

I looked at the t-shirts and decided to buy one. That vendor seemed pretty lonesome, because nobody talks to the merch guy. I talked with him for about 15 minutes, struggling to understand his heavy Oklahoma accent. I was rewarded with some back stage passes. I went to the bathroom and changed into a Junior Brown t-shirt and tossed to old one in the trash.

The show was great, and Junior Brown's playing was stellar. We got to meet him after the show and he was a great guy.

The time came for us to leave, and on the way back sitting in that crappy K car, it suddenly dawned on me: you know that one guy wearing the band t-shirt of the band that's playing? That night, I was that guy.

I had heard about this huge rockabilly party in Vegas and decided that I should go.Viva Las Vegas was all that it was cracked up to be and more. Anyone who's ever attended has especially fond memories of their first one.

Viva in itself could be an entire book. The sheer amount of music, cars , excess, debauchery and sensory overload will leave you exhausted.

I ended up jamming with a Danish band called Wild Wax Combo at a meet and greet in Ronnie Weiser's back yard. Some folks had brought Canadian beer, and combined with the hot Nevada sun, I would soon succumb to it's effects. Last I remember of that afternoon was being tossed around the floor in the back of a mini van somebody had threw me in to bring me back to my hotel. I would have many a drink with those boys over the course of the next few days, and learned to never drink with Danes and try to keep up.

I saw many great bands, found money and chips on the floor, rescued two gals with enormous boobs from a psycho, gambled and made many new Mexican friends.

I went see a band called Big Boy Bloater from England. I had met them the previous year in Canada and my wild demeanor seemed to shock their staid British sensibilities. The show started at 2 am and I must have been outta control, because I remember the singer telling me to calm down on his microphone. Damn Canadians, can't take them anywhere.

I spent most of my time in the lounge where the Rockabilly hall of Fame was set up. I saw many legendary performers.

If you look carefully at the Glen Glenn photo, Between the mic and the guitar, the dude with the beady eyes is me.

Me and my trusty belt have had a lot of fun, stay tuned for more belt stories in Part 2.

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