Saturday, August 1, 2009

Requiem For A Western Belt. Epilogue.

Go West.

Me, my western belt and Texas Nick's universe was shrinking. We had worn out every bar on the Main, jammed at every jam, got into a couple of rumbles and had just, plainly, had arrived at the end of the road.

Texas Nick moved onto greener pastures in New York and started a successful country band.

Having lost a good guitar pickin' buddy ( and drinking buddy) I had an epiphany; time to get out of Dodge ( Or Duh-dge, as it is pronounced in Montreal). I sold most of my stuff, packed some clothes and my Nashville-bought guitar and headed as far away as I could without falling into the ocean, Vancouver, BC.

I began regretting my decision when I saw the likes of the American Hotel and The Cobalt. I eventually hooked up with one the only two people that I knew in town, Ray Condo. (see earlier post). Ray hooked me up with a sub-let and that same week , I discovered The Marine Club.

Oh, the raucous good times at The Marine Club! That first week alone, I ended up on stage a few times with Ray's band. I met a string of crazy characters and a seemingly in-exhaustible array of talented musicians.

Being and ole greaseball had it's merits, because I was soon after offered a job as doorman at The Marine Club. So far, I thought, I was batting a thousand.

The music scene was in full force in those days, and I had the privilege of meeting the cream of Vancouver's musical crop in those first few years. Paul Pigat, Pete Turland, Steve Kozak, Ken " Bullfiddle" Wilson, Jimmy Roy and others too numerous to mention.

Go South.

A side trip to Seattle cemented my love of the West Coast even more. BR-549 were playing and I wasn't going to miss it.

You just don't get to see these types of Country Bands in Montreal, the market is simply not there.

That was one of the best shows I had ever seen ( I still, to this day, have the t-shirt). Don, the pedal steel player was almost lost amidst a mountain of various guitars, lap steels, pedal steels and fiddles. At one point he was jumping around, going back and forth from guitar to guitar, so much so, that Chuck had to calm him down.

Seattle was an eye-opener. What a vibrant city with an equally vibrant music scene. Too bad I hadn't planned it properly and ended up staying in a fleabag hotel. No shower, and just an old bathtub, the bathroom was also devoid of curtains. I guess half of Bell-town saw me take a dump.

The show was at the now defunct Crocodile, and that place had a great vibe. Cheap beer, an enthusiastic crowd, lots of friendly, pretty girls, I was loving it.

Being the aged band hanger-on that I am, I of course, managed to get backstage to meet the boys in the band. Nice bunch of guys, but they seemed really exhausted. In retrospect, I must have come across as some drunken hoser. You know that feeling: when you're really hammered, you know it and try to act normal. You're not fooling anyone.

It was time to go, I managed to remember to grab the t-shirt that I had convinced the bartender to stash for me, went back to the fleabag and crashed.

On the way back, I stopped in a small town that hosting a hot-rod show. It was right out of a Western movie. There were scary lookin' hillbillies everywhere, and some of them were scowling at me.

I went to get some pizza, and on the wall they had all these checks that people had bounced. Yep, bouncing checks to buy pizza. I was skeered, very skeered.

I was to return to Seattle a few years later to see another of my favorites, Dale Watson. Canada Customs seems to hate country music, because, like many times in the past, when I told them that I had gone down for the weekend to see a country show, they would pull me over. I had a drug sniffing dog in the car this time. The amazing arbitrary powers of Canada Customs.

Go Nuts.

My greaser buddy, Reece, who I had met years before in Vegas, needed a room-mate so I moved in. Two greasers in a greasy house was a recipe for some real crazy times.

Being out of work, I accepted another bouncer job at some hip downtown pub. I later found out that they had been actively seeking a " rockabilly doorman" . Superficial as that seems, it worked out fine for me. The owners were soon to find out what rockabilly entailed and found that they had gotten more than they had bargained for. Seems I was scaring all the metro-sexuals.

Reece still worked at The Marine Club, so we would both get home late at night and that's when the party started. The neighbours were starting to hate us, with the hot-rodders coming and going with their loud pipes, numerous upright bass players starting impromptu jams and half the Railway Club's patrons squeezed into that tiny apartment, it was no wonder.

Early one morning, while standing on the balcony clutching a drink of who knows what ( because we had ran out of beer long ago) I saw the sun come up and heard the birds chirping.

That's when it kinda dawned on me that I was getting too old for this.

Go On.

I eventually moved to a quieter place settled into a steady job. The Marine Club went out of business and the scene just seemed to wind down. A lot of cats just disappeared.

I started building and riding bikes for fun ( see earlier post, tales of the enviro-billy). I use to call those bikes Pee-Wee Herman bikes, but Vancouver's natural beauty and mild weather changed my mind. I hooked up with some cruiser rides and ended up doing most of my socializing and drinking outdoors. Back east, someone who drinks outdoors is called a hobo, but it's different out here.

The scene recently got a new lease on life with a couple of new monthly events. The Grease 'n' Grind at Pat's Pub is always a blast. The Rockabilly Roundup nights from the Marine Club were moved to the Fairview Pub and the greasiness continues.

A lot of the old faces are gone, but some are still around. The music has attracted a whole new generation of greasy kats 'n' kittens. You know you're getting old when you are able to witness a an entirely new generation coming into a scene.

Sensei, am I to some hard core Psychobilly aficionados barely in their twenties. They have nicknamed me Sensei mainly due my long time tenure in the world of greasiness.

I am still spinning the in-between tunes at The Fairview and the music goes on.

I have retired the belt after 22 years of rockin' and given it a place of honour. I purchased a new western belt and I am hoping to get 22 years out of that one.

When all is said and done, amongst the winners and the sinners,and the losers and boozers I will be the last man standing and always; King of The Barstools.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Serge, those late nite parties when you and Reece were room mates were indeed fun. Thanks for reminding me that I have photos stashed somewhere and I'll let you know when I find them.

    I recall an occasional feature at those parties was hearing a loud crash from your room and Reece shutting things down out shortly after. It was like a signal, when Serge finally fell down and could drink no more, we knew the party was over.

    Great blog, keep it up!

    Your friend,

    Dan Z.