Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Homecoming (Of Sorts)

This Saturday, September 27, The Project will be traveling to the town of Nettleton, Mississippi, for the Town Creek Festival. If you've never heard of it, there's a reason: this is the first time for any festival in Nettleton that I know of, and I've been in the area most of my life!

Nettleton is your typical small town, USA. Everyone knows everyone else, and no one has any secrets (because everyone knows your business). There is not a lot of excitement, the sidewalks are rolled up at 9:00, etc., and the town has changed very little over the years. Most of the same families still call Nettleton their home, most of the same businesses owned by the same people, and they still have the same "unforgettable characters" walking around town (What's up, Big Bird!). My friend, Paul Thorn, is from Nettleton. I'm from Nettleton, too.

This Saturday will mark the first time in a little over 25 years I have taken the stage in Nettleton. The first time I ever played in Nettleton was the first time I ever played in public, but I've told you that story already (Junior at Nettleton High School, yada yada, Dean Hudson screaming "Roy Orbison", yada yada). The difference between then and now is I have the Project with me this weekend, and I DARE Dean to say something this time!

I'm really excited to get to play in my hometown after all these years. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends I haven't seen in "a coon's age" (that's a popular saying around Nettleton and means "a really long time" if you don't already know). Some, I have bumped into in recent years and have reconnected with them through social media, and some I haven't seen since our 20 year reunion in 2010, and still SOME I haven't seen since the day we graduated, but I can remember then names of every one of the 68 classmates I graduated with in 1990. Oh, you don't believe me? I can prove it, but I won't let you pull me into that pissing contest. ;-)

I remember fifth grade science class with Mrs. Gillespie. Trey Schlicht and I were the "teacher's pets" in this class and our desks were beside her desk, you know, like minions. Mrs. Gillespie would lean or sit on the front of her desk when giving tests, to watch the class. Trey and I were positioned to her side, slightly behind her, with the answer key (that was in her hand) in plain view, meaning we never failed a test. There was one test, though, that was apparently too easy, because everyone in the class aced it. Mrs. Gillespie was sure the class somehow cheated and kept the ENTIRE class in at recess to take a different test. Everyone, that is, except Trey and I. "They would never cheat on a test," was her response, and Trey and I were allowed to enjoyed recess that day. Chad Humble was pissed!

Or the time in eighth grade I broke BOTH of my arms trying to lift weights at a friend's house. This happened the Friday we got out of school for Spring Break and I guess I got a 2-for-1. Anyway, I had both arms in casts during Achievement Tests (do they even still give those?) and finals and couldn't hold a pen to take them with. Ms. McBrayer took my test for me and would look at me funny until I answered correctly. Danny Bacon got ticked at me at recess one day and punched me in the eye, leaving a strawberry-type mark on my eyelid. But, in Mr. Luckett's math class, when the spot was noticed, Mr. Luckett's question of "What kind of "man" would hit a guy with two broke arms? I mean, how low must that person feel?" was enough to have Danny in the floor almost to the point of crying. I never ratted on him, though.

Matt Gard and I were instant friends when he moved to Nettleton in the ninth grade.

Robby Patterson and I built an Ultralight frame, but it never made its virgin flight.

Mrs. Brasswell accused me and a few friends of being "devil worshippers" because of our tastes in music.

Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Welford made me think, whether I wanted to or not.

And Michael Oliver asking Mrs. Hill, "Honey, do you love as good as you look?" was the funniest thing that happened all that school year.

I almost got suspended the day before finals my Junior year, but I opted to "look the tiger in the eyes" while that same tiger took large bites out of my @$$!

Or the time the whole junior and senior class walked off campus in protest of the new rules against the length of a male student's hair.

Lot's of memories of Nettleton, both good and bad, but all worth remembering. Hell, at least they will make good stories the next time I go fishing for something to write about.

Remind me, sometime, to tell you the story of Dusty Snelson.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Where's the bar? The Bank!

The Project played a show in Pheba, Mississippi, this past weekend. Pheba (fee-bee) is a small community just west of West Point on Highway 50. I say small, but that really doesn't describe it correctly. Foosh and I blinked our eyes and had passed completely through the bustling metropolis before we knew it.

"Uh, I bet that's the sign saying 'Pheba' when you're coming from the other direction...Yup, that's the sign saying 'Pheba' when you're coming from the other direction!"

"Damn, guess he meant the FIRST first left turn in Pheba."

So we find us a place to turn around, and hope we can react quickly enough on the second go around to find the ONLY left (or right, from this direction) turn in Pheba.

We were told we would know where to go when we get there, and sure enough, we knew exactly where to go!

We were to play the 2nd Annual Customer Appreciation Day at The Bank-The Bar! It was a day full of music, food, booze, and F-U-N, with Sunday Jam kicking of the event, followed by us, Sweet Tea Jubilee, and finally Southern Legends.

We pulled up to 50 or so people just as Sunday Jam was beginning their performance and were met at the gate by Joey Morgan, the owner of The Bank-The Bar, and his lovely lady Laura, who took us around and introduced us to all the staff. Foosh and I mingled with the crowd until Blake arrived and we began getting our gear ready to perform.

We took the stage a good 15 minutes early and played a few songs before getting Jimi and Marty from Southern Legends to jam on some Bobby "Blue" Bland with us. Marty Miller is a damn BEAST on guitar, and Jimi Key ain't no slouch his-self! I really enjoyed getting to jam with those guys.

We took a break long enough for Mr. Charles Burgin to sing a couple of tunes. What a treat! We then finished our set and started to mingle with the crowd, which had grown slightly. We met a lot of cool people (Sherri, Melissa, Dale) and we hope we left a good first impression.

Sweet Tea Jubilee did their normal bang-up job, but we had to hit the road before Southern Legends got the stage. Looking at the pics on Facebook from the night, it looks like they killed 'em as usual. The food was phenomenal and the hospitality was truly southern. Thank you so much for having us Pheba. We hope to be back to entertain you soon.

I do wanna mention the really cool old church building a block or so from the bar. Go check it out if you ever find yourself in that area.

Just remember, it's the FIRST first left turn in Pheba.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Will, As Soon As A Commercial Comes On!

I have no use for TV. 

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a good movie on occasion, but having access to 300+ stations on a daily basis, nope, care nothing for it. 

My biggest complaint about television? Commercials. Yup, I said it. I work in the marketing field (day gig) and I HATE the advertising. It's gotten out of control. Too much information packed into much too little time per commercial. AND THEY WON'T STOP HOLLARIN' AT ME!

My second biggest complaint about television? News. They don't focus on the important stuff, just the garbage that will increase ratings. The TV industry lives and dies by the Ratings System. I've got my own blues to deal with. I don't need to know all the world's blues, too.

Then there's the crap that's served up on a daily, weekly, or mini-series basis. All dribble. Reality shows are the worst. Back in the 90's, when the reality craze started, I just knew it was a passing phase. It couldn't last for more than a few seasons, as the whole idea is flawed. Man, was I wrong.

I've never understood the infatuation with watching sports on TV, particularly football. I mean, sports by its very nature means get your lazy @$$ out of the air conditioning and participate! Talk about living vicariously through the accomplishments of someone you've never met in your entire life. Then again, I'm sure they don't understand my infatuation with music.

For me, TV is an unneeded distraction, a piece of equipment best left unplugged from the wall, especially if you have something you should be doing, like practicing.

The Internet, on the other hand, I have lot's of uses for. B-)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Super Stoopid!

In this second installment in the "Memoirs Of A Teen-Aged Idiot" series, I want to tell you about this one time, at band camp...

Just kidding. I didn't go to band camp. I have, however, made my fair share of stupid decisions.

Let's rewind back to 1993. I was still in the band I started out of high school, Little Dreamer, but we were on our second singer by this time. Johnny quit to go back to school and Anthony "Tree" Rollins (rest in peace) was singing with us. Tree was known by everyone for being in another, more popular, band at the time, Teezr (I think was how it was spelled). Teezr broke up in late 1991/early 92, leaving Tree free to "pursue other opportunities," and we snatched him up as soon as Johnny let us know of his intentions. Actually, now that I think about it, I believe it was Johnny who talked to Tree and convinced him to take the spot, thus providing his own replacement. What a saint!

Little Dreamer played the Rod Brasfield Festival in Smithville, Mississippi, in 1993. Smithville is located in Monroe County, which is a dry county. For all you northerners that have no clue what a dry county is, a dry county is one in which no alcohol is sold, or even publicly tolerated. Not a suitable place for a bunch of early 20's-aged rock'n'roll kids determined to raise some hell.

We sat behind the stage, in the bed of my 1970 GMC truck, with a cooler FULL of alcohol that we were consuming at a tremendously rapid pace. We were a 5 piece band by this time, and we came prepared: 3 cases of beer, 2 bottles of Purple Passion (for the womenfolk), a fifth of Everclear, and enough mixers to get the Everclear down. For those of you not in the know, Everclear is an aptly named clear liquor that clears your brain of all memories, leaving you nursing a Texas-sized hangover while desperately trying to recall the events of the previous evening, you know, a lot like J├Ąger, except it tastes a hell of a lot better!

We drunkenly took to the stage, blasted through our set, loaded our equipment, and went to Tree's girlfriends house a couple of miles away to "get serious about our drinking" (yes, that's how we referred to it).

We got to a friend's house and proceeded to get serious. I remember we were sitting at the table in the kitchen playing Quarters with the Everclear. Shit gets real QUICK like that. The other guitarist (who shall remain nameless) was more of a stoner than a drinker and was sitting to himself toking on his pipe. In my full-on drunken stupor, I proceeded to lecture him on the evils of Marijuana when, all of a sudden, I had this feeling of a hypocrite, telling him how bad the pot was for him having never tried it myself. Everclear gave me the confidence to say, "Fine then. Give me that damn pipe!" Everyone else split off into two different groups; the "angels" on my left shoulder telling me not to partake, and the "devils" on my right coaching me through the process, tell me to hold it in, don't let it go, not yet, etc. Remember, now, we had just finished off a bottle of Everclear.

For the next few minutes, I sat in probably my soberest state of the day waiting for the weed to kick in. Then, after about 10 minutes, I jumped at the front door, dropped to my knees, and started puking what was obviously all on my internal organs up. I must have puked for 45 minutes before the dry heaving started, which lasted for at least another hour! I had expelled every bit of food/liquid/stomach acid in my body onto her front door step, but I was still alive, though I would be sore as hell the next morning.

Once everyone was convinced I was going to live, they all decided it was time to go home and promptly left. Since Tree (and all the equipment) rode with me, he was going to drive me back to his house to unload equipment. I should be sober by then. But first, he and his lady wanted a little alone time in the bedroom.

I don't know about you, but I really don't want to sit around and listen to two people "bumpin' uglies" in the next room regardless of the state of mind I'm in, and this evening was no exception. I waited until I heard the first moan slip from the room and darted out of the house, cranked my truck, and was gone like the wind! I made it back to Tree's house in Bigbee, unloaded everyone's equipment by myself, and decided I was good enough to drive to Chris Wages's house in Pontotoc. So I start running the backroads from Amory to Pontotoc. This was around 2:00 AM.

I remember hearing a car horn blow. I opened my eyes to see that I was still driving and was about to hit a car head on on Palmetto Road. I quickly got back into my lane and admonished myself for falling asleep at the wheel. I must have went to sleep again, because I woke up in a ditch doing 60 MPH coming to an embankment for a driveway to a house, which I jumped like I was one of the Duke boys! 8 feet in the air I went, landing in the driveway with a thud, but upright. The battery turned over and shorted out, killing the engine, which brought me to a sudden stop. I saw the lights come on in the house that belonged to this particular drive and I asked the man at the door to borrow his phone. He said ok and I said thanks and called Chris to come pick me up. I walked back to my truck to assess the damage and think of a good lie to tell if anyone found out.

As I approached my truck, a noticed a crease on the hood that wasn't there before. Opening the hood to examine it was what led me to see that the battery was lying sideways. I sat it upright and turned the key over. It cranked!

Remember the cooler from earlier in the day? Well, it was never taken out of the back of my truck and it now lay in the middle of Palmetto Road. What were once full beer cans earlier in the day had become empty cans put back in the cooler and left for me to dispose of. 3 cases worth of beer cans, assorted bottles, and the like were littered all over the road, it was 2:00 in the morning, and I was drunk AND high, so I grabbed the empty cooler, threw it in the back of the truck, and hauled ass to Chris's house. I actually managed to make it all the way before passing out this time, to which we started drinking again. The following day would show me the scars of the previous night, but it took weeks for me to piece together the patches that would come back to me, scenes I have relived many times through the years.

So just remember, if you're drinking to forget, choose Everclear.

Oh, and don't drink and drive.

Or litter.

Or do drugs.