Telecaster

The Concert Tour: Day Six

 

Oct. 21st, 1991

The moderate distance between Dallas and Houston (approximately 250 miles) allows us to get up and drive during the day. Bonus. We're playing a straight-ahead bar gig, at the Bon Ton Room, run by the likable Pete and Pat Sellins (spelling?). Pete and Pat are married, veteran club owners with a variety of successes to their credit. Recently and most notably was the Club Hey Hey, where the Assassins held court just last year.

The Bon Ton is a good room, though not as elegant as the Hey Hey, and in a considerably um, less fortunate neighborhood. The Hey Hey was recently closed when the property was sold to a developer, sold out from under Pete and Pat. The Bon Ton is a step down in atmosphere, but it took almost no time at all to open, and overall the room has a good feeling.

The band loads in to do a sound check. Meanwhile, I'm able to raise a good friend on the phone and make plans for dinner. During the mid-afternoon sound check, I'm required to play around the drums while Jeff gets the drum tones and levels. During this miniature In-a-godda-da-vida a skinny, dirty man wanders in off the street. Reeking of alcohol, he good-naturedly compliments in my drumming, in Spanish. I don't understand a word of it mind you, but at least his gestures, smiles and body language indicate these are compliments.

Now, I'm not that comfortable around, or relating to drunks. I try to keep judgemental tendencies in check, but after years of exposure to drunks at gigs in bars I'm pretty jaded. So my primary reaction to this man is somewhat dismissive, commenting "Man, you can smell that guy from here ! So much for appreciating his good-natured compliments. Not to mention the liklihood that he speaks english and could possibly have heard my callous remark. Oh well…

But, enough guilt—let's talk about food. Greer B., a friend for many years shows up and we head for Andy's for some good, authentic, cheap Mexican food. A musician's hangout, pictures of Delbert McClinton and Roomful of Blues adorn the walls, and a total cost of about $12 adorns our check. The food is great.

It's great to see my friend. There's just not enough time to talk it all out. This is one of the tangible pleasures that help balance the boredom and grueling nature of working the road. One tends to keep better in touch with those good friends who live scattered all over creation.

The gig consists of one 90-minute set, a great arrangement. Long enough to get it all out and be thoroughly warmed-up, not too long that both band and crowd are exhausted. And, the relaxing day and extensive sound check and small stage all pay off: the band is the hottest by far. Danny especially. He is relaxed, his genius-level creativity flowing fast and furious. He raises the bar for us all; the entire band has a great night. The full and enthusiastic crowd concurs. A lightening-quick version of Charlie Christian's "Seven Come Eleven" blows the roof off the gig, and the night comes to an end.

Well, the musical portion of the night anyway. There is the all-night drive to contend with (we hadn't even bothered to get motel rooms). We're headed south, way south, to the Texas-Mexico border. A little town called McAllen. It's eight hours worth, and Eddie drives every inch. Tonight's drive is fun, everyone in a good mood after such a successful gig. There is plenty of beer and a leftover deli tray to be had. I have a nice one-on-one conversation with Danny, and later with John and Bill, who acknowledge some level of preference to my fairly flexible approach to certain songs versus Shannon's rock solid, carved-in-stone approach. As long as the idle speculation is flowing, there is some wondering if Shannon lays down the time with such severe (yet unerring) inflexibility because of his long years in the Gatlin Bros. band, where the bass-playing Gatlin is a notoriously BAD bass player. That's very tough on a drummer, especially one as skilled as Shannon. Interesting.

As one can imagine, any form of complimentary comparison to Shannon is music to my ears. Though I have to admit, it is never far from my mind that regardless of the great honor (which is how I perceive this whole deal) I'm not really a full fledged Gatton band member. Danny mentions regularly, in onstage player introductions, how I'm filling in for the real Gatton drummer, etc. But (as I often remind myself) to a large extent Danny says this kind of thing to make me look good. In a left-handed sort of way, he's milking the crowd to 'ooh' and 'ahh' the fact that the band is whirling through the tornado-like repetoire, and the drummer doesn't even know the stuff! (This is especially fun to do—as was done tonight—with the light-speed "Seven Come Eleven.") Danny especially likes to point out that we've never rehearsed, which, though basically true, is by now exaggerating the context.

But hey, that's show biz.

Next: Day 7—Tex-Mex for real…

Introduction || A Hot Band || The First Gig || Tour Plans
Day One || Day Two || Day Three, pt. 1 || Day Three, pt. 2
Day Four || Day Five || Day Six || Day Seven
Day Eight || Day Nine || Days 10-11
Epilogue || Feedback

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© 1991, 1996 by Brian S. Alpert. All rights reserved.