Thriller 5383

Bob dropped by the farm as I was about ready to go pick up Amy, and he rode with me to get my baby girl. On the way there, Johnny called me to ask what I was doing for dinner. I told him I would pick up some subs and bring them back to the farm. “Stray and I were helping out at the studio, which was interesting,” the little guy then said. “Alright,” I replied. “Yeah, yeah, don’t contain your interest, Scragg.” “Okay.” I clicked off and then proceeded with my day. “Sometimes I wonder if Johnny wasn’t born with the wrong chromosomes,” I told Bob, who chuckled.

After picking up Amy, I swung by Subway and got a bunch of subs that I brought back to the farm. Blake was home and was chatting with Tabby and Brie. Paige was talking to her sisters while her boys ran around the farm with Johnny with Farley and Stray looking on with smiles.

I love these days.

Naturally, Paige asked what sub I got her, and I gave her my usual reply. “The most sodium and fat filled sub they have with extra jalapenos.” “Daddy!” “I got all you girls the same thing.” “Did I get a cheesesteak,” Amy asked. “No, you got a veggie sub with extra spinach.” “Daddy!” “Caroline got a corn beef sub with mayo,” I continued. “Daddy, that’s gross.” “Maire can’t wait to dig into her pastrami hoagie with mustard, mayo, and extra vinegar.” “Blake, do something with him,” my SoCal daughter demanded. “Elmer, stop being obnoxious.” “I got Blake a buffalo chicken sub with jalapenos and coleslaw.” “Elmer!”

That was fun.

It was a pleasant dinner with everyone catching up on the goings-on with each other. I asked about Bruce, who flew back to Kansas to attend the funeral of an old buddy who had battled cancer for years. “He’s going to spend a few more days out there to see his son. He said he drove through Jackton yesterday, and nothing has changed,” Bob replied.

Bob then pulled out a DVD.

“This is from Mike Frohm, who sent it to me last week. It’s pictures of Warren County that his son took over the years and then put to music and made a video from. I thought you guys might want to see it,” Bob said. “Sure, how’s Mike doing,” Blake asked. “Good, it’s been rough ever since Doris died, but he’s hanging in there.” “How’s Mike Jr. and Elle?” “They’re doing well, you Elle is now head nurse at the hospital.” “Wow, she has come a long way,” my wife replied. “Alright, Scragg put this video on.”

I put the DVD in and a photo of downtown Jackton taken twenty or so years ago appeared the screen with lame piano music as the soundtrack. There were a few more shots of the town before some pics of King and Warren appeared with the grating music providing nothing to the experience. “They could have done without the music,” Stray commented. Some shots of the various farms followed.

Then, Michael Jackson’s, “Thriller” began to play.

A scene from a cemetery emerged, and we all looked at Bob, who was grinning. I looked at Blake, whose eyes widened from embarrassment.

What did my baby do back in the day?

Suddenly, a photo of a thirteen-year-old Blake supposedly dressed like a little zombie but looking more like cute little clown appeared and the room erupted in laughter. Her face paint, which was poorly applied, made her look like a cross between Ronald McDonald and Little Orphan Annie. She was as cute as a button, and if her idea was to scare people, she failed miserably.

This is priceless.

Pics of Blake, Lana, Sara, and several other girls, plus four guys rolled on the screen as they were escorted out of the cemetery by the cops, who were laughing themselves silly. “What were you doing,” I asked my wife. “We were trying to recreate the video for the song, “Thriller” It was the night before Halloween, and we thought it would be fun to scare people as they walked by,” my wife said. “Blake, the cemetery is on the outskirts of town and doesn’t have a sidewalk near it,” Bob replied. “People still walk by it,” she said, embarrassed as can be. “Oh my God, who are those guys,” I asked. “That’s Davey Donahue,” Bob said, pointing a boy with a goofy smile wearing a pink jumpsuit and red face paint. “Blake, how long did it take for you to figure out he was gay?” “Shut up.” “That’s Billy Summerwood,” Bob said, singling out a tall kid who looked like a beanpole. “John Hetzmann and Nathan Pawbrey,” Blake said as the photo of two boys being led out of the cemetery by two laughing deputies came on the screen.

Oh, my God.

A pic of a towering deputy standing over a terrified Blake and Davey Donahue while Sheriff Landon Rivers laughed in the background made everyone bust up again. “What happened here,” I asked. “Someone saw us in the cemetery and called the cops. A photographer; well, he was an intern at the paper, a jerk named Fred Rossum was riding with one of the deputies, and took all these pictures. He was such an a-hole; laughing as he snapped every shot,” my wife sulked. “Look at the pic,” Paige screamed before laughing. It was of Blake looking at the sheriff with her doe eyes and him laughing Davey, and the three guys were getting manhandled by the deputies. “Look at Lana,” Bob cracked. She, too, was giving an innocent look while the Summerwood kid was being grabbed by the collar. The sheriff and deputies took it easy on the girls while roughing up the guys a bit. “They were awful to those boys, especially Davey and Billy,” Blake protested. “Why you say that,” I asked. “Because they made nasty insinuations. They also embarrassed John and Nathan.” “But I see you girls charmed your way out of this.” “Look,” Bob yelled. A pic of the gang sitting on the curb then flashed on the screen as the song ended.

Oh, Lord.

“Did you ever do a skit that didn’t end in disaster,” I asked my wife. “What’s that supposed to mean?” “I mean where the troupe wasn’t arrested or someone didn’t get knocked out?” “We weren’t arrested, and that was an accident with Davey,” Blake snapped. “He was still knocked out. Oh yeah, then there’s college where your skits have over a billion views combined and not because of their outstanding quality.” “I doubt that it’s a billion and we didn’t release those!” The crew laughed while Blake sulked.

Only Blake could have pulled something like that off.


Published in: on October 16, 2017 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Old Barn In Hooper 5382

We got back to the farm a little after nine, and I promptly joined Blake in the bed. Johnny and Stray headed over to Johnny Style’s place to crash for the night. It was a productive weekend that was also fun, but I’m always relieved to be home.

Blake and I got up and got the girls ready for school. I gave my wife complete rundown of the show and how Bella has matured as a performer. Blake said that she’s happy for her and that it’s good to see a nice person become successful through hard work and dedication. “She’s looking forward to seeing Robin,” I then said. “Yeah, it’s been awhile since they’ve seen each other,” Blake replied.

After taking the girls to school, Blake got a call from Alan, who told her that Janice was down and that she was invited to a meeting about some new courses they’re thinking of implementing. Blake decided to go because the courses were her idea and she wants to see that they get approved. “You mean Alan didn’t suggest these courses,” I said in jest. “Elmer, Alan does a good job and isn’t the lazy lunk you make him out to be,” Blake protested. “Yes, he is, but keep defending that slug,” I replied. “It’s awful how you talk about him.” “It’s okay, I say it to his face.” “I know, and it’s terrible.”

Speaking of.

Alan called Blake again asking her to bring some materials for something that he should have had done, which made me chuckle, and as usual, Blake said she would do it and assured the putz that it was no problem.

I then took the phone from her.

The hapless professor was still rambling on about how he forgot that Janice wanted him to get those study materials and was pleading like a babbling schoolboy. “You know how hectic home life can be, Blake,” the idiot said. “I sure do, Alan, Esther does everything while you sit on your fat ass and look around like a lost child,” I replied. “Scragg!” “Don’t worry, in a few years, you can boss Jr. around; that’s if he doesn’t squash you like a bug, which in that case, it won’t matter.” “Scragg!” “Yes, Alan?” “Put Blake back on the phone.” “Don’t you want to talk to me?” “No, you’re an asshole!” “Now that wasn’t very nice and will require me to reply; however, I’ll wait until after this meeting.” “You’re a dick!” “There you go again, Alan, but I’ll overlook that one. I’ll give you back to Blake so she can soothe your wounds.”

My wife talked to the hapless professor for a couple of minutes before clicking off. She then gave me a stern look. “That’s not helping, Elmer.” “I’m not trying to help, Blake, I’m giving Alan hell.” “Which doesn’t accomplish anything.” “Not true, it makes me feel better.” “Whatever, Elmer.”

After Blake left to go to the school, I headed to the barn to do a little painting. I harkened back to my time in Kansas and a clear picture of an old barn standing at the edge of a wheat field in Hooper that I always thought was picture-worthy. I began putting the image in my head on the canvas and found myself lost in Warren County.

There were a lot of picturesque sites in the county and I intend to paint as many of them as I can. Warren County was familiar to me because it was rural and revolved around agriculture; much like McSwain, a place that I spent my life trying to get out of, yet, will always where I’m from. You can run from who you are, but you can better yourself and add to that person. I might be a bumpkin with a predilection for the bucolic way of life, but I appreciate the finer things in life, too.

But I digress, it’s mainly about the cool-looking old barn.

Published in: on October 16, 2017 at 5:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Perpetual Discontent 5381

We got up early Sunday morning and had breakfast with Bella and Jeff at a nice restaurant in Van Wert. I asked Bella if she was going to hit the road after she left here. “Yes, we’re ready to get home and rest. Fortunately, there was a clinic here in town that would see the ladies, and they started them on medication, so at least they’ve been treated and can just go home and rest up,” she replied. “Strep is highly contagious, so keep away from them on the bus,” I said. Bella laughed and said she would.

Bella then thanked us again.

“Last night was unreal, and you guys turned a potential disaster into something magical. You guys are stars but don’t act like it, which makes you even bigger. I just want you to know how much I appreciate what you guys did,” she said. “No problem, you’re family, and you’ve helped us out,” I replied. “You’re a terrific performer, Bella, and it was a pleasure working with you,” Stray added. “I had a blast and always enjoy coming to these parts,” Johnny chimed in. Jeff said it was nice to have some guys around for a change, which made us all laugh.

We got on the road with Johnny taking the wheel to start. I called Blake and told her that we were on our way home. She asked how the show went and I told her that Bella knocked it out of the park. “I’m sure she was appreciative,” Blake said. “She was, and she’s excited to get back home to see Robin. How is everything going there?” “Good, other than Julie and Eva called yesterday trying to start shit,” my wife replied. “What did they do?” “Well, Julie is pissed that no one is keeping her up and got hostile with Paige, who hung up on her and is going to cut her off. Eva was drunk when she called Caroline and was rambling on about how she did all the work while you’re getting the credit. Caroline hung up on her, too. The problem, Elmer, is those two aren’t getting any more mileage out of the guilt trip they put you on, which has pissed them off, and as I recall, both Paige and Caroline weren’t doing that well when they were introduced to you. I’m not having this bullshit, Elmer, and neither are Paige and Caroline. It’s time those two took control of their lives and stop blaming others for their fuck-ups,” Blake said. “I couldn’t agree more.” “Oh yeah, don’t help Julie, anymore,” my wife added.

I reckon I got my orders.

Blake then told me that Farley got the Arizona Heat album yesterday and said it was a disgusting and distressing listen. “I’m not joking, Elmer, that piece of trash topped off the day. Those morons are sexist pigs who need a good swift kick in the groin. The songs are hateful towards women, and the use of profanity is shocking because it’s not used for laughs. Sal wrote all of the lyrics, and that big ape clearly had issues with women, which makes me concerned for his wife.” “Okay, tell Farley not to play it around the kids,” I replied. “I don’t want to hear that album ever again,” my wife snapped.

Sal is an asshole.

I told Johnny and Stray about the Arizona Heat album, and they shook their heads in dismay. Stray then called Honey, who said that Randy played him the album yesterday, which pissed him off. “Honey is outraged won’t let Amelia listen to it because the lyrics are so hateful towards women,” Stray said in a serious tone. “What is wrong with that guy,” I asked. “I have no idea, oh yeah, in the liner notes, Sal wrote that Phil could suck his you know what, which reveals even more about him,” Stray added. “He’s got a serious problem,” Johnny remarked.

Julie, Eva, and Sal all have something in common, and that is they’re wasting their lives envying others instead of doing something constructive with their lives. Blaming others for your failures has been around since the dawn of man, and the end result is always the same.

Published in: on October 15, 2017 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Once Upon A Time In Van Wert 5380

We spent the day rehearsing for tonight’s show that was sold-out. I felt confident that we all knew our parts and were ready to get this done. Bella was in an upbeat mood and eager to get onstage. “I’m ready to do this, but what do I tell the crowd about you guys,” she asked. “Nothing, this show is about you,” I replied. “Yeah, but they’re eventually going to notice.” “Just play your show,” I told her.

We met Bonnie, and the Belles, an odd name for the band as two of the members, were dudes. They were likable youngsters who cracked a lot of self-deprecating jokes and kept asking me if I was really the Scragg Man. I told them I was and they seemed dazed by that fact. They also looked at Stray in awe. I told them to give it all they had when they took the stage.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have a whole lot to give.

Bonnie’s limited voice was a serious problem as was the band’s limited technical skills. All of their originals sounded the same and dealt with broken relationships complete with every cliche known to music. It also didn’t help that Bonnie stood frozen at the mic. They then performed “Brand New Key” a novelty song from the early 70’s, and Bonnie butchered it with gusto. I looked at Stray who winced as the poor gal failed to hit the high notes. Fortunately, the band sang one more song before exiting the stage.

Man, that sucked.

We took the stage with Bella to a rousing applause, and she greeted the crowd with her infectious smile. “It’s wonderful to have you all here tonight, and we have a great show for you. I’d like to start off the show with, “Beyond the Noise,” she then told the audience, who gave her another big hand.

We then performed the composition about maintaining your composure through life’s crazy times.

Bella’s lovely voice and beautiful piano playing shined, and I marveled at how far she has come since I first met her. Besides being a polished performer, she has become a brilliant composer with piercing insight. Much of that comes from her dingbat family that neglected her, but it made Bella stronger, and luckily she has friends who love and respect her.

I then played the violin part.

When we finished the song, Bella beamed with pride and whispered to me that the violin was amazing. I told her I’m merely doing my job.

With each song, Bella played as if her life depended on it, which gave the concert an added intensity. I suggested we expand her piano role and Bella played the keys like a seasoned professional, which she is, but with energy to spare.

The audience then began to whisper loudly about the all-male band.

I told Bella that she can now say what happened to her bandmates because it’s causing the audience to focus on us instead of the music. She stepped to the mic and explained that her drummer, violinist, and bassist were sick and that instead of canceling the concert, someone from her label stepped in and provided some musicians. “Yes, they are who you think they are. On bass is Steven Straylock. On drums is Johnny Deagan, and on violin is a guy you might have heard of, the Scragg Man,” Bella said.

The audience stood up and gave us a standing ovation.

I then stepped to the mic.

“We’re here to help out a dear friend; this show is about Bella, so please give her the ovation,” I said. The crowd stood up again and clapped for a solid minute.

We played the rest of the concert like any other Bella show with the exceptions of her doing a duet with me on, “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord” a tune of mine she has always loved, and one with Stray, on another one of my songs, “How Can You See the Moon in Our Backyard” It was an unforgettable night for us all as Bella smile lit up the arena. The audience gave her another standing ovation toward the end of the show and when the lights went on let out a nice cheer.

The drive to Van Wert was worth it to see Bella so happy and for us to see the arrival of a talented artist who no longer questions her talent.

It’s a night none of us will forget.

Published in: on October 14, 2017 at 7:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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One Helluva Makeshift Band 5379

We drove into Van Wert a little before seven and scanned the town, which is only a tad larger than McSwain. “I guess I was expecting a bigger town,” Johnny commented as we drove through the city. I called Bella, who answered on the first ring. “Meet us at the Bob Evans here,” I told her. “Scragg, you don’t know what this means,” she replied. “Don’t mention it, just come on, we’re hungry.”

Bella arrived with her guitarist, a young fella named Jeff Roberts, the bus driver, George, and two techs, named Barry and John. “Wow, this is unreal,” the two techs said in unison. “Let’s eat,” I said. “Oh yeah, are the sick players quarantined,” I then asked. “Yes,” Bella replied.

We had a good supper that hit the spot. Bella said the tour has gone well and that it’s a shame this happened because everything was going so smoothly. “We have a two-week break before wrapping it up down south for this year,” she lamented. “It happens, now let’s focus on tomorrow’s show. First of all, who is the opening act,” I asked. “Bonnie and the Belles, they’re  folk-rock band,” Bella replied. “Are they solid?” “No,” Jeff quickly answered. “Why not?” “They suck, Bonnie’s got a weak voice, and her band is subpar players. We’ve played two shows with them, and they suck,” Jeff reiterated. “Okay, I knew that the reviews said that you’re a terrific performer and put on a great show with the only knock against your concerts is the opening acts, which have been described as ‘amateurish’ and ‘awful’ which isn’t good, so we’ll correct that in the future,” I said. “Good, if you can believe it, Bonnie does a kickass version of “Brand New Key,” Jimmy said. I laughed and said that I couldn’t wait.

We drove to the Van Wert Center, an impressive facility that stood all alone in a field on the outskirts of town. There was a show tonight, so drove to the hotel where Bella and the band were staying, and I asked the manager if they had a small room where we could play. He told me there was a meeting room upstairs that is soundproof.

We git situated, and Bella showed us the song list. We looked over the music and gave it a go. Johnny, who was concerned about not being up to snuff, was note-perfect, as was Stray, who handled the bass with dazzling skill. I enjoyed playing the violin again and told the band that we got this.

We practiced for a couple of hours before we all turned in. I assured Bell that all would go well tomorrow and that she would get through this leg of the tour with a flourish. She smiled and thanked me again. “This is one helluva makeshift band,” Jeff commented.

I reckon it is.

Published in: on October 13, 2017 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Men Of A Certain Age 5378

Last night during supper, Bella called Robin and told her that her violin player is down with the strep throat and had to be sent home. She has one show left before a two-week break before she resumes her tour in North Carolina and Virginia, before wrapping it up this year. I figured she was nearby, but Robin told me that the show on Saturday is in Van Wert, Ohio, which is in Northwest Ohio, not far from Fort Wayne. I didn’t ask about the particulars of her tour and figured that she would make due, but then thought about some of her songs that are dependant on the violin for their full effect.

Blake looked at me, as did Johnny, who stayed for supper, and I knew I was going to Van Wert.

I got up this morning not wanting to go, but since it was Bella, it lessened the misery. “I am part of management and Bella’s stock is rising, so this is part of the job, or that’s what I’m told,” I told Blake, who said that if it were anyone other than Bella, she’d be pissed. “She’s family, Elmer, and I know she’s grateful,” she replied. “I know.” “And Johnny is going with you.” “Yeah, the little guy is always there when you need him.” “And you get to take the Prius.” “Okay, that’s embarrassing, but we’ll make due.” “You’re the one who keeps letting people use the Caddy for the movies.” “Yes, but they pay the insurance.” “That’s cheap, Elmer.” “True, my lineage keeps on showing.”

Johnny and I hit the road a little before six, and he took the wheel. We put on some music and talked about nothing in particular. Johnny then brought up the possibility of him making a solo record, which I found interesting. “I realize I don’t have Doyle’s voice or his chops, but I can sing. I didn’t mention Stray because that’s just silly, but back to me, I have ideas, and it would give me a chance to find my own voice; something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. I laughed and told him to go for it. “You serious?” “Aren’t you?” “Yes, I just thought you would laugh.” “Give yourself more credit, Johnny, you can do it and probably cut an interesting record. Jack sure did.” “Yes, he did,” Johnny agreed.

Robin then called me.

“Daddy, Bella called and said that her drummer and bassist aren’t feeling too good and that they may just cancel the show.” “Negatory, tell her we’ll be there this evening, and we’ll make a determination.” “Okay, but she’s worried.” “I understand. How is she feeling?” “She and her guitarist are fine.” “Tell her to hang in there,” I told Johnny the situation, and he placed a call to Stray, who said he was ready to pitch in. “He said to he’ll have Melvin drive him to Benson, and we’ll pick him up there.” “Excellent, you ready to do a little drumming?” “No, but I guess I have no choice.” “Right, so you might as well be.”

We picked up Stray standing by a Taco Bell and hopped in the Prius. “I want to see Bella perform, anyway, and this gives me an opportunity to see it up close,” he said. “I appreciate this,” I told the tenor. “Glad to do it, Scragg, it’s always a pleasure to work with fellow artists,” Stray replied with genuine sincerity.

The conversation remained light as we chatted about things of little or no consequence to pass the time. Stray then brought up the first time he heard the Club Jack album. “My God, I almost passed out from laughing so hard. Johnny had the CD and then played it for Honey, who called you a crazed degenerate and a purveyor of sleaze. “I bet that pervert makes millions off this and lives the high on the hog, thus proving that life isn’t fair,” Stray said in a great impersonation of Honey. I laughed so hard my sides hurt. “You two are just as twisted as that moron, and you guys are college educated,” Johnny added, doing an even better job mimicking Honey. “Listen to that, the fall of civilization is upon us and you two idiots are wallowing in this lunatic’s depraved antics,” Stray continued. “Well, I hope Scragg makes millions off of slavish dimwits like you two and becomes a mogul, which would be fitting. I can see him now living in palatial comfort laughing at the fools who buy his trash,” Johnny followed.

Johnny had to pull the car over because he was laughing so hard. Stray and I were too.

We got back on the road, and Johnny then told me about Honey’s assessment of the “Live at Scuzz’s” album. “I won’t dignify something this obscene with comment. Scragg obviously has taken decency and flushed it down the commode, which has allowed him to entertain his basest impulses. I guess if you just don’t care then it’s easy to be a sleazebag who counts his money with a big grin. I’d love to slap him, but I’m afraid I’d get some sort of fungus from touching something so filthy,” Johnny said in his spot-on Honey impersonation. “Oh God, you’re going to have to stop,” I said before laughing myself silly.

Time passed quickly, and before we knew it, we were halfway to Van Wern and then closer after more laughter.

I reckon men of a certain age know how to pass the time and when they have nothing else to do.

Published in: on October 13, 2017 at 7:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Live From Steedston, August 10, 1983 5377

Johnny spent the day at the farm chatting with Blake and me, listening in on Caroline’s recording session, which he said was ‘out of this world’ and then having dinner with us at my restaurant where he ordered chocolate pancakes that got him a good ribbing from some of the guys, which he took in stride. We then stopped by the label office and checked on Honey’s recordings from way back when. E. Jr. burned us a copy of the one in Steedston that Johnna spoke about, and we headed back to the farm but got involved with a computer issue at the school, which Alan couldn’t–or wouldn’t bother to solve, so Johnny, and I went over there, and in a couple of minutes the issue was resolved. Naturally, I congratulated my old friend for his gumption and doing all he could before bothering us. “Yes, Alan, it’s good to know that there are some constants in this world and you being a hapless dingleberry is one of them,” I said. “I don’t need your shit, Scragg,” he scoffed while trying to get away from me. “Where you off in such a hurry,” I then asked. “I have a job to do,” he replied in a hostile tone. “Really, I didn’t realize that sitting on your ass in your office qualified as work.” “I don’t have to take this shit!” “Okay, Professor Putz, go hide and pray that nothing else fucks up today,” I told him. “Asshole.” Brenda Hastings then walked into the computer room, and I asked why we were bothered with this nonsense. “Because I wasn’t made aware of the problem, but it won’t happen again, Scragg,” she assured me. “Good, make sure it doesn’t.” “I guess you are the Don,” Alan spat put like an angry child. “Shut up, it’s a good thing you have Scragg; otherwise you would have been fucked all those years,” Brenda snapped. “I’m fucked, anyway!”

Alan is so dramatic.

We stopped by the label office again and chatted with E. Jr. and Sr. before picking up the girls, who were delighted to see Johnny. We then went back to the farm and relaxed before putting in Honey’s 1983 concert in Steedston.

I was surprised at the sound quality, which was excellent. Johnny told me that Honey was friends with the son of a music store owner in Fayetteville, which meant he had access to some high-quality equipment.

But enough about the equipment.

“Little Bobo” a charming song about a mentally disabled young woman who worked at a restaurant opened up the set and revealed a sensitive young man despite his gruff exterior. The beautiful ballad with complex chord progressions and sung with passion brought a smile to every face in the room and Honey’s voice and guitar were more than enough.

“Cast Iron Fry Pan” followed, and showed the darker side of the mercurial musician as it dealt with domestic violence; mainly between him and one of his mother’s boyfriends. The stark contrast between the songs was jarring, and I could see a young Honey violently swinging the frying pan in abject rage at an abusive man.

“False Teeth in a Pickle Jar” another caustic composition about one of Honey’s mama’s boyfriend’s, but with more humor. It illustrated his mother’s lack of judgment and self-esteem, which enraged him. Again, it was impossible not to listen despite the grim subject matter.

“Hoop Cheese” changed the mood with a delightful ode to the southern stable and simpler times. Even growing up in a dysfunctional family, there are always childhood memories that you recall with fondness.

“When the Carnival Came to Town” continued the childhood recollections that made Honey’s life bearable while growing up in the sticks. Eating corn dogs, cotton candy, and riding the creaky rides are still memories that I hold onto today and will do so until I pass on. The fancy amusement parks of today have nothing on the rickety old carnivals that came to small towns every year back in the day.

“Lye Soap” a hilarious number about the venerable cleaner that Honey used while growing up. I used it in the joint, which was enough for me. I remember Honey saying that an old man gave him bags of the stuff, which pleased his mother who told him that she now didn’t have to buy him regular soap. “I was just glad it didn’t burn off my skin,” he added.

“666” followed, and it too was a funny little ditty. No, the song wasn’t about the Number of the Beast, but rather, about the awful tasting cough syrup that always worked wonders. I still remember taking the piss yellow stiff and grimacing as it went down.

“Winter’s is Coming,” told the story that every tradesman who works outdoors can relate to, and Honey told it better than anyone I’ve ever heard.

“What Else is There,” asks the age-old question about life in general. For Honey, it would take a while, but his ship would come in with treasures aplenty.

“That Cat” another rib-tickler about a stray tom that bedeviled Honey by pissing on the tires of his truck and screen door. The cat was finally captured by animal control and taken to the pound where it was adopted by a rich widow who neutered it and gave the thing a satin pillow to sleep on.”

“Wrong Turn to Nowhere” a gritty story about small-town desperation that turns deadly on a summer night. Honey’s brilliant use of the harmonica made the song especially haunting.

“Eddie Mathews” a tribute to the Hall-of-Fame third baseman who played most of his career for the Milwaukee Braves, and then played one season in Atlanta, when the Braves moved south. Mathews was the manager of Braves from ’72 to ’74, and Honey met Mathews in Dunn during a tour to drum up fan interest. Honey still has the baseball that the Hall-of-Famer signed for him.

“Big Earl” another tribute to a man Honey knew as a child, who made his dreary existence better.

“Not Just Another Night” ended the set with a bang and found Honey doling out wisdom far beyond his years. The tune is about doing something every day, which eventually leads to a body of work. It may or may not result in anything grand, but at least you did something.

I looked around the room, and everyone agreed that it was an incredible show that showcased a rare talent. Every song told a great story, and the sublime playing made it a pleasure to listen to. Honey’s harmonica skills were also on display, and he should show them off more often. “He’s such a fantastic artist,” Caroline remarked. “When are the other tapes going to be ready,” Blake asked. “Soon,” I replied. “His fans are going to want to hear this,” Robin said.

They sure are.


Published in: on October 13, 2017 at 1:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Influential Predator 5376

Johnny came down early in the morning to get a copy of the concert CD’s and to discuss the business end of it, which I told him the lawyers were handling on my end. He said that he trusted everyone involved but didn’t want any surprises from Uncle Sam, which is understandable. I assured him all that will be worked out.

Johnny then brought up Harvey Weinstein.

I know very little about the movie mogul other than he’s now embroiled in an ugly scandal where numerous women have accused him of sexual harassment, and now rape allegations have surfaced. It was the last subject that I wanted to hear about, and I was a tad pissed that the little man would broach it. “I realize you’re not into the Hollywood scene, despite being a star, but Honey talked to Joanne last night, and she said that there are some really nasty allegations swirling about out there about his transgressions involving a lot of actresses who were harassed by him and it’s been going on for decades, which got all of us thinking about Maire and her friends. I don’t know if she’s talked to you about this and I know it’s not my place to butt in; however, this guy is a creep, and I’m sick of powerful Hollywood types pontificating about women’s rights and other social issues while being sexual predators,” Johnny said. “I understand, and Maire has never said anything about it, but I suppose I should ask if she ever dealt with this guy,” I replied.

I called my daughter who quickly came over when she found out that Johnny was here.

I asked her about Harvey Weinstein, and she said she never had any dealings with him other than meeting him at a few social functions. “He had a reputation for being a lout, but he was a powerful man in Hollywood, so it was overlooked, much like Bill Cosby. It’s disgusting, but that’s how it works out there and in other industries, too,” Maire replied. “We were just concerned that you or your friends might have crossed paths with him,” Johnny said. “I know some of the actresses and will probably know more as they step forward. I’m afraid this is going to be very ugly. Harvey won’t go quietly, and if he sees that he’s doomed, he’ll take people down with him, or that’s what I’ve heard,” Maire said. “I heard Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck are already wrapped up in the mess and are in a PR nightmare. Affleck condemned Weinstein’s behavior and then it came to light that he groped a young actress. Damon and Russell Crowe supposedly gutted a story about Weinstein’s deviant behavior, which is now coming back to haunt them. God knows what else is going to come from this, but that’s on them. I’m relieved you never had any contact with that creep,” Johnny told Maire.

Harvey Weinstein could make an unknown actor or actress a star. He produced movies that no one else would and turned them into hits. He became fabulously wealthy and was able to throw his influence around far beyond Hollywood. He’s one of the biggest donors to the Democratic Party, and many of their politicians are beholden to him. Unfortunately, beneath the brash facade of hotshot producer and political activist lies a troubled man whose private actions disgrace is public words.

Power and arrogance will do that to you, as will being a sexual predator.

I’m not talking about this fucking guy again.

Published in: on October 12, 2017 at 6:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Diablo Winds 5375

With the wildfires burning out-of-control in California combined with the on-going relief efforts in Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas in the aftermath of the hurricanes, I decided that now was the time to release the live album we recorded in Pacific in 2016. The album has been mixed, mastered, and is ready to go and I can’t see any reason to hold onto it any longer. People are in crisis now, and we performed that concert to help restock the food banks in Missouri after the terrible floods out there. “I’ll need to call Kilburn, so he can get the tax stuff right and the best way to get the money where it needs to be, but first I called the performers in the show and got them to sign off, which was no problem. Johnny said he would come down tomorrow and pick up a copy for his household. Robin and Farley fondly recalled the show. Rory texted me and said to go for it. I then called Amber and told her to get the project ready before giving E. Jr. a ring and telling him to run over a few copies of the concert here tomorrow. “It sounds great, Scragg, unlike anything you’ve ever heard,” he remarked.

Blake and I watched the news report from California as residents scurried for their lives from the fast-moving fires that have already burned up over 3500 homes and business and scorched over 170, 000 acres. The images of the some of the neighborhoods that have been burned are surreal with every house completely incinerated with only the chimneys standing. Northern California has especially been walloped, and most of the 21 dead are from there. There are hundreds of people missing, so the death toll will probably rise. “That is awful,” my wife said as we watched the horrific images. “Those firefighters are doing heroic work, it’s just that there are so many fires to contend with and not enough resources to fight them. Those Santa Ana winds are brutal,” I replied. “I’ve heard a lot about ‘Diablo winds’ from the news reports, and that’s a good description of them. Look how they’re blowing those embers all over the place,” Blake said. “I know, they say fires can throw those embers a mile-and-a-half, which explain why those fires proliferate. I heard last night that one of those blazes out there was burning fifty acres a minute,” I added.

When fires have names you know you’re dealing with something that can kill you in a matter of seconds should you make a wrong move, which is why those brave firefighters deserve our highest respect. The unpredictability of a wildfire with fifty-mile-per-hour winds hurling the embers in every direction is a nightmare that those firefighters are dealing with at this moment; some for three shifts because of the lack of manpower. Unlike a hurricane where you can track its movements, wildfires can pop up anywhere and usually do so in numbers, making them especially dangerous

Even more so when you have the ‘Diablo winds’ blowing.



Published in: on October 12, 2017 at 12:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Guitar Heroine 5374

I checked on Caroline and the girls in the morning and found that they had gotten into my Eastwood guitars and Danelectro bass, which tickled me. The sight of Caroline and Beth exchanging leads on the Big Horn and Fire Bird warmed my heart while Jo kept a rock steady beat on the Dano Longhorn. I assumed they were just jamming before getting down to business, but Robin informed that they were recording and the song they were playing would be on the album. “Wow, this is a nice surprise,” I remarked. “After the jam yesterday, Caroline decided to cut loose and make a more rocking album, much to the delight of her bandmates,” Robin said. I sat back and watched my oldest daughter play with fire and then belt out some heartfelt lyrics about heartache and coming back stronger, which were cliche-free and intelligent.

I couldn’t help but smile.

When they finished the song, Caroline went and grabbed the Coronado, while Beth picked up the Danelectro ’64. Jo put down the and retrieved the ’64 Dano bass. I walked out and greeted the ladies who said that yesterday gave them a whole new perspective. “We can rock with anybody, and although we’re not going to go overboard, there’s nothing that says we can’t turn up the volume,” Caroline said. “Absolutely not,” I replied. “I love these guitars,” Beth declared. “Yes, I can see why you love these Danelectro basses,” Jo the told me. “They have a cool sound,” I replied.

The band then began to play a song called, “In the Night.”

Caroline’s vocals perfectly captured the mood of the song, which dealt with an emotionally unstable woman trying to hold it together until morning. Again, the lyrics steer clear of overwrought imagery and focuses on real-life torment that gives the tune far more power. As I listened, I couldn’t help but feel guilty that she had to endure much of what she was singing and that I wasn’t there, but I knew now wasn’t the time for such ruminations.

Caroline then tore into a ferocious lead.

Female guitarists have endured ridicule and condescending attitudes from males for as long as the guitar has been around, especially in popular music, which is galling, but it is a sad fact. There have been great women guitarists, yet, they don’t get the accolades that their male counterparts do. From Mother Maybelle to Jennifer Batten to Memphis Minnie to Bonnie Raitt, popular music is filled with ladies who could flat out play. Unfortunately, they don’t get their just die for their chops, and some of the great ones today have been sexualized to sell their music. That has always bothered me, but now that I have six daughters and two granddaughters, it really, really, really angers me.

I listened to my daughter’s blistering lead that left me and everyone in the studio in awe.

Being able to whip out notes at lightning speed is impressive to a point, but being able to play with tone, taste, and a mixture of tempos while making it sound seamless is something altogether different and requires far more ability. Caroline pulled it off by creating a lead that fit the mood of the song and allowing it to build to a sonic boom that gave it more power.

The band then finished the song with a bang.

“That’s was impressive,” I told my daughter. “I don’t know what got into me,” she replied. “You can play, and you just let it be known, oh yeah, it’s also a terrific song,” I said. “Thank you, Daddy.” “Wow, that was something,” Farley said. “Yeah, start taking notes,” I cracked. “I need to, but I’m afraid I’m hopelessly behind.”

I always knew Caroline could tear it up on guitar and now her fans are going to hear just how terrific she is on the instrument.

And another guitar heroine is always welcome.

Published in: on October 11, 2017 at 1:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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