Saturday, August 6, 2011

48 Hours of Grease

As I pondered the vast musical wasteland that is prevalent in our town when it pertains to Rockabilly, even my usual disdain of hippies was at its lowest ebb.

Bongos in the distance, stupid outfits, even stupider bikes and the overly ripe smell of unwashed hippies barely raised my ire as I pondered deeper greasy existentialism.

There just seemed to be a shortage of all things Rockabilly. Many US bands simply won't make the trek north of the border cuz them damn revenooers won't leave 'em alone. Canada Border Services just don't like the looks of tattoos, pomps and a bunch of greasers riding shotgun in a '78 Chevy van. Hell, them sumbitches don't even like the looks of me, and I live here.

A few of the cool car shows that used to happen have all gone by the wayside. There are still some car shows left, but keep in mind that there are many hosers here north of 49. How many jacked up '74 Plymouth Dusters or Chevy Novas with furry dashboards can you look at ?

In a strange twist of fate several things happened all at on once that renewed my faith and jump started my fervor for all things greasy.

The catalyst for all this revved up behavior was a book that I purchased. I highly recommend it. It is surprisingly detailed for an illustrated book. There are many cool pics and the layout is beautifully done. A lot of research went into this book because it touches on many aspects of the genre and delves into the obscure performers that are often forgotten. I could hear all the tunes in my head as I read this book. Unfortunately, I was sitting at my favorite Italian coffee shop at the time and they insist on blaring crappy music on their patio, which usually drowns out any cool music that may be floating around inside people's heads.

I went to the coffee shop, because I had attempted to read the book the previous evening while having a few cold ones on a patio, but had to stop after several beers. I kept reading and re-reading the same paragraph and was having a hard time assimilating the information. It was if I had suddenly become a retard and couldn't understand. I was starting to get funny looks, because I think that I began to read out loud in a semi-mumble.

I was still getting strange looks from passers-by at the coffee shop, and realized that they couldn't correlate two seemingly opposite images. A greaser reading a book was something that squares didn't think possible. Yeah it had a lot of pictures but there were a lot of whattya call them things......yeah...words.

Dang squares , yeah we can read books, although I must admit that I have a lot of friends who read nothing but shop manuals and wiring diagrams, but I digress.

After three espressos I was starting to get a little squirrely and realized that it was time to partake in the most revered of Rockabilly rituals;the haircut. Getting it just right can be a harrowing experience ( see earlier post called Greasy Hair Stories) but I had found the right place and this dude can cut a wicked DA ( duck ass for the uninitiated). My barber is actually a buddy of mine and digs Rockabilly so he cranked up some tunes when I showed up, much to the consternation of some of the other patrons. This place does both men and women so there a rather strange cross section of customers.

The place was abuzz, but it wasn't because of all the twanginess emanating from the dude section in the back. Everyone was getting all bent out of shape because a Hollywood actress was getting her hair done. I am always perplexed and sometimes annoyed when people act like demented basset hounds around stars ( it makes me understand the stars' point of view). They are just another person, no different than anyone else.

Turns out that I knew this certain Hollywood person's sisters. When my haircut was done. I went over to say howdy and then left. big deal. As I shut the door on my way out I could still see some of the young girls in there acting more squirelly than me after 5 espressos.

It was OK though, I had that mild euphoria derived from having just gotten a fresh and damned greasy haircut. That's a great feeling, beer being a very close runner up. Very close to that satisfying moment earlier that day when I had been riding my bike and some hippie snidely asked where my helmet was. The look on his scruffy bearded face was priceless when I informed him that I left my bike helmet at his momma's place.

I had to get going cuz I was heading out to Squaresville to see a show. Good friend and guitar ace Paul Pigat was doing a show with his band Cousin Harley. There was some sort of arts festival and his band had been booked to play there. Only problem was this was deep in the heart if Squaresville. I decided to ride a bike there because it was the quickest option. I rode my bike a while to get to this floating loser cruiser called a Seabus. I made the 20 minute crossing while the tub was bobbing back and forth, and the funny looks were already starting.

I knew some shortcuts on the North Shore and started out on the half hour ride. I illegally cut through and Indian reserve and I heard something in back of me. I hauled ass as I realized that I was being chased by a pack of dogs. Man, nuthin' gets the ole adrenaline pumping like being chased by wild animals.

As I finally arrived at the stage where the band was playing people looked at me like I was a wild animal. Compared to them, maybe I was. The band had already started and oddly enough, everyone was seated in folding chairs. The heads kept turning in my direction as I tried to find a spot to stand, like security cameras tracking bad guys.

The band rocked out and people seemed to dig it, but the absolute lack of booze or pubs was making me a little loco. Paul's girlfriend had wisely packed some booze in the bandmobile and we weren't foolin' no one as we guzzled cider from enormous plastic containers. This is a pretty uppity place so there is a conspicuous lack of dirt bags and crackheads ( not necessarily a bad thing) but that night, I was the West Vancouver official dirt bag.

On a side note, in the aforementioned book, one of the chapters is an interview with Brian Setzer. When asked who his favorite modern Rockabilly guitar players were, Brian cited Paul Pigat as one of them. Good on ya, Paul.

It was an early show so I headed back to the city. The greasy folk here take over a nice little hole in the wall pub once a month and make it into a Rockabilly night. There were some hot rods parked out front and that created a sense of familiarity that I find satisfying; or maybe that was the booze. The evening continued on to the sound track of cool tunes and good friends and I did what any self respecting greaser would do on a night like this; I proceeded to get shithouse hammered. So much so in fact, that it had become impossible to ride a bike. The buses were still running and I could see my buddies across the street laughing as I struggled ( and failed) to put my bike on the bike rack that they have on the front of buses. The driver had to do it for me. That night, I was the Gastown village idiot.

The Friday preceding this weekend had probably set the tone. After work, I stopped by the water for a few cold ones in the shade. I noticed someone attempting to take my picture. I struck up a conversation with them. They were sorta hippie-ish folks from Portland OR, but really nice. We had a few drinks and it was time for me to leave. But I couldn't you see, because my wallet chain had firmly wedged itself into the park bench (again). The  Portland folks laughed and gently admonished me as they said, " Oh, you Rockabilly people". Yep. They GOT it.

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