Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Paulie Cut That Rug Up Dance A Jig

It was soap and cold water clean but that old 'Llac had lost it's shine a couple decades prior. I kinda like the way an old car gets a certain patina to it though. If the original paint is still intact and it's not got too much bondo in it a car looks like a painting of it's self. It'd still bark a tire though and rode nice enough. Our Lady Of Gaudalupe hung from the rear view mirror and smelled like a french whore as she twirled round in the midnight swelter. Rod and Kenny had snot coming out of their faces they were laughing so hard. I was desperately defending my self and blaming it all on my fool ass buddy Rod. Sass was tryin' to catch her breath between laughin' and cussin' us like dogs as we pulled out onto the black top and rolled down highway 190 with a rabbit moon lighting the bayou up like a dance floor at a disco.

We'd just left a card game in a little bit of a hurry 'cause my buddy Rod Winiarski had got down pretty bad and into Conrad for like 12 hundred dollars. Conrad had a house game on the east side of Slidell and some cool hustlers and characters regularly attended. Rod had got down and come almost all the way back and Conrad was right pissed about it. Conrad had Rod all but broke and then Rod got on a roll and won like 5 hands in a row and came back. It was Conrad's game and his buddies were givin' him hell about not finishing Rod off. "Uh Oh here he comes Conrad, he's comin' back", they'd say every time Rod placed a bet. "Hell he ain't goin' any wheres, Rod'll play cards all night with me after y'all pussies are long gone off to bed. Isn't that right Rod".

Conrad was a great big coonass motherfucker with a head big as a bushel of turnips. His face was getting red and he was offering Rod drinks and telling Rod how he'd better not come to his game and run off after an hour off two. Conrad was intimidating as hell. You could tell he was short fused and we'd all heard about how crazy and dangerous he was. He was really leaning into Rod. It was definitely not a gentleman's game at this point. Conrad lost another hand and threw his glass against the wall. Even his old buddies were getting nervous and tellin' him to ease up. He started cussin' Rod some too, really starting to loose his composure. To say the least he was not a good looser. Hell he wasn't even loosing, he was still up. It was getting ugly and real uncomfortable.

Rod, as soon as he got back with in a few dollars of even, left Conrad sitting there like a bulldog at the end of a chain with a torn off piece of pants leg clinched in his teeth. Sass said "Rod you and Boo are gonna get all those goddamned saddles off my porch before I leave at 7 tomorrow morning". "Now we can sit here and play cards all night long but you sons-a-bitches are movin' that tack before I leave". There wasn't any doubt in anyones mind. Not even Rod's or mine, and we'd sold all that tack the morning before. It was already gone. But Sass laid down the law and gave us the opportunity to ease out of there and that was that. I looked at Conrad and shrugged and said "hey man, I sure do appreciate you, we gotta get though". Conrad stood up and pounded both his sledge sized fists down on the table and said, "Boo Ray you take that dog ass buddy of yours and get him the fuckin' hell out of here. I don't wanna see that son-of-a-bitch ever again".
Rod and Kenny Wood the other guy who was with us walked out the front door and Sass and I followed. Rod started laughing before we even fuckin' got to the car and Sass walked up behind him and smacked him in the back of the head real hard. We all piled into the old white Eldorado and got the hell out of there.

By the time we got back to the black top and off the old dirt road Conrad lived on Sass had us in stitches and about to damned die. She was like "Conrad would've had you motherfuckers chained up sittin' out there on concrete slabs like his fuckin' coon dogs if I hadn't saved your asses". We were laughin'. Damn we were laughin' so hard I could barely drive. You know how when you scare the shit out of yourself and it's just funny as hell and all you can do is laugh. Like when you jump down off a pannel and run across a bull pin and have a close call with a 2 thousand pound monster bull. Or get a crazy coonass like Conrad worked up and mad enough to eat you.

That Cadillac floated us down the road like a crew of rouge clown pirates sailing for a black horizon at midnight. I finally catch my breath and Sass and i start figuring on what kinda trouble we'll get into next. Sass has a friend Paulie who lives in the country still in St. Tammany Parish and has a little Fais do-do on wednesday nights. We agree and head for Paulie's. The main ingredients of a Fais do-do are extra fine corn liquor and assorted other home brews, stringed instruments, a tin shack, and something to cook slow over an open fire and fuss about. And of course a big jambalaya.

It's about a 30 minute ride out to Paulie's place in Bonfouca from where we were at on the east side of Slidell. The stars were like lights at a carnival and the moon shined down like a spot light on a microphone stand with a hat on it. We had the radio on and were singing along with Toni Braxton "Just another sad love song racking my brain like crazy" windows down rolling along Bayou Liberty Rd. singin' our heads off, "and it's all because of yooouooo". There's lots of little R&B stations down through there playing cool old songs all night every night. About the time we ought to be getting pretty close, Sass has me slowed down to about 15 miles an hour looking for a mail box nailed to the side of a hickory tree where Paulie's driveway is.

We find it there on the right and dive off down in the dark tunnel of a dirt road, spanish moss dripping off trees, the dank sweet smell of bayou water wafting in the air. It's more like being inside than it is outside. There's so much texture, smell, sound, shadow and light that it feels like your inside something, a vast ancient cavern, a dream, a movie set, an amusement park ride. We drive and drive the surrounding scenery all but climbing in the car with us.

Finally a clearing appears, lights, the sound of voices and laughter and music, men standing around in overhauls, bulldogs wrestling and growling, women decked out in party cloths, and the smell of Boudin sausage cooking on a fire. We park over by an Orange Monte Carlo and step out onto the ground where this glorious Fais do-do is in full swing. Sass leads us through the crowd and spots Paulie standing over a 50 gallon drum grill with his back turned toward us and she hollers out "howdy cousin!" He straightens up and tilts an ear in quary "Who dat!" Sass lights up like a bulb and crouches down where Paulie can't see her and replys "It's me baby!" Paulie spins around looking this way and that then sees Sass and explodes "Yeah You Right!" "You get yo sef over heah and give ol' Paulie a kiss girl". They greet each other with such exuberance Paulie knocks his hat off and Sass throws her purse on the ground.

Man I'm tellin' you we were right in the middle of it. In the zone like a slide trombone. Paulie sets Sass back down on her feet looks at everybody and says "Laissez Le Bon temp rouler!" Everybody raised glasses and whooped and hollered "AAAYYYEEE"!

Sass introduced us around a little. i knew a couple of folks and was glad to see them and they me. The whole thing was exquisite. I was completely swept up. Paulie calls me over, "Hey Boure", 'mon over her a sec' I got somethin' fo' ya". I walk on over and Paulie asks me "Say now Boure', you like to carry on or what". I'm like "Sho do". He reaches in the back pocket of his overhauls and pulls out a pint bottle of shine, holds it up and puts a flash light to it. It's clear as air and has swirls of vapors whirling 'round in the middle of it, suspended like an invisible universe waiting to be discovered.

Paulie offers me the bottle, I twist the cap off, smell it and hold in the breath, look at it again and carefully put the mouth of the bottle to my lips raise the bottom up a little and let just a skosh of liquor get past my lips. Just a nip. It's clean. I lick my lips and swallow. I look at Paulie nod my head in approval and put the bottle to my lips again. This time I take a pretty good pull off of it, twist the cap back on and return the pint of shine to it's creator.

Paulie was fussin' over the Boudin and they were getting there and he had that pint of shine in his back pocket. I knew where I was gonna be for the next hour or two. When a man's grillin' he's gotta have another man to refer to when the meat needs to be tested. So I thought it best that i stick around and give Paulie a hand with the sausage and shine.

I followed his lead and reached down into a big paper sac and grabbed a hand full of Schley Pecans. We stood there crackin' pecans and talking. You take two pecans in one hand and squeeze them together breaking one against the other. Then you pick the shell and hull paper off and eat the meat of the nut. It's a very specific and singular activity. When you stand there crackin' pecans more often than not the subject matter turns serious. It takes dexterity and casual concentration to do it with proper style. You gotta be sho' 'nuff talkin' about somethin', like your life might depend on it but you don't really give too big a damn about it.

We were talking about the state of modern music and team penning. Paulie said "Yeah if it's got some church in it". He accented the comment by cracking a peacn, "Then it's likely allright". I replied "the other day i was dragging a load of cow ponies". I threw some shell on the ground in a self effacing way, "and I got a Ronnie Millsap cd at the Flying J". Paulie explaines "Man, last spring I was riding this little green colt of mine at a team penning up by Lafayette" he cracked a pecan. We went on like this for a while. The sausage was smellin' like it wanted to get et, my stomach was growling, I was hungry as hell, and Paulie was givin' me grief for wanting to eat the Boudin before it was done, "ats like bustin' a nut 'fore you get a girl 'round the ben".

All of a sudden here comes Sass with a mandolin player, two guitar players, and a guy on banjo and she's singin' "Paulie's Cookin' Boudin Gather 'Round! Paulie's Cookin' Boudin Gather 'Round!" You know the tune of course. And I'm tellin' you they were fuckin' gettin' it to boy. 'Bout the time Sass is spinnin' a third verse everybody's come on over and Paulie's doin' a little jig and got his back to the grill. Sass is singin' "Paulie cut that rug up dance a jig!" Banjo player's wearing it out, Mandolin's pickin' a fight with it, and the tall skinny guitar player's just pitchin' a goddamned fit about it. I kinda ease on over to the grill and get busy with my knife a little. They's a couple of us standing there eatin' Boudin scorching the hell out of our mouths and burning our fingers on this sausage been cookin' for more than a damned hour.

Paulie spins a full circle with his jig and catches us fuckin' with his grill. "You sons-a-bitches better get off my goddamned grill RIGHT! NOW!" Sass and her boys turn it up another notch, "Paulie Get Dat Goddamned Boudin Off A Grill! Paulie Get Dat Goddamned Boudin Off A Grill!" They playin" so hard and fast working us all into a frenzy Paulie has to give in 'Allright then c'mon -n- gitch y'all somethin' to eat". There's some more to this one. 

We end up everybody in a tin shack with a wood stove taking the shiver off the  cool black night and play music and sing all night 'till the damned sun comes up. The jambalaya gets et in the hours 'fore the dawn, my buddie Rod gets blind drunk and tries to bed down in a chicken coup and Kenny wanders off some where and we don't see him for a few of days. I take Sass to the airport and she makes her early morning flight on time. It gets even more twisted and beautiful but that'll have to do for now.  

I appreciate y'all, Boo Ray

"Boots & Blue Jeans"

Boo Ray "Boots and Blue Jeans" Official Video from Boo Ray on Vimeo.

Shoot man, it took me a year of three day visits to figure out there was more than Broadway when I first started coming to Nashville in '07. I thought that's all there was. Like a lot of things, I was wrong and just didn't know. These few years later I've moved to Nashville so my girlfriend could join the Nashville Rollergirls. She made the team and is a star skater. I hustled up a little songwriting deal so I could tag along. Man, I couldn't be happier about being in Nashville. The Roller Derby season's rockin', it's the second night of a fine blackberry winter, and I've got a new record on my hands.

Guess it'd be good to start with the "Boots & Blue Jeans" video and jump back after that... My great friend Michael out in Santa Maria, California is a Los Angeles born guitar slingin', gun totin', vegetable farming redneck of a high degree. I was searching for a sort of smokey guitar sound and Michael has this point-to- point hand-wired "Craigar" guitar amp. He sent it to me to record with, said I might ought to put some tubes in it. My friend Price was just getting on a roll in Nashville with P3 Amplifiers so I asked if he'd mind crankin' up the "Craigar" with me when it got here. We did and Price liked it and he sent me over to meet Kye, his business partner in P3. Kye put some tubes in it for me, did a little VooDoo to it and sent me on my way. I'm leaving out the actual profound impression these guys made on me in order to continue the thread here, but the amp is perfect for me.

Here's a picture with the Craigar 17 Watt head in the natural wood cabinet and Sol Philcox on P3 Amplifiers Sonic Action.

On the other side of me that night Aaron "Woody" Wood from Asheville, NC was on a P3 Amplifiers "High Guy" rig. That was a tough night. They both a couple outright badass guitar slingers. 

A couple of weeks later Price called me and said they were shooting a music video and needed a guy to play the part of the seedy manager of the singer in the video. I guess they'd gotten a kick out of me and figured it wouldn't be too bad a stretch for me. I mean, Price does have an extraordinarily great eye, maybe he's on to something here. 

So, we do the video and it's real well organized and nothing but a blast. Rayland Baxter brought that old cream puff Valiant of his over for the car scene. He was wearing pajama pants and looked like he had on his kid brothers shirt turned inside out and been walking around barefoot in a cow field. He dropped the car off and split. Stoic & funny as hell, Rayland plays & sings cool too. Poni Silver played the lead and she was cool and we had a good hang. Daniel Henry was Directing. He was a whirl wind, real deal creative mad man. And the camera man, Matt Statterfield is a hot shot too. A week or so later Price asked me to come look at the video. It was incredible. I liked it right away. First off, "Be Connected" is a killer song. Second, the location house is incredible. It's one of Price's designs and is absolutely and thoroughly top notch in every single detail.  And third, that was a real cool looking group of characters he assembled for the shoot. Rock & Rollers, Belles, Artists, Trouble Makers, Dandies, misfits a bunch of East Nashville Hipster chics, Sol Philcox and me. What a blast. If I remember right it might of taken Sol a day or so to make his way home from this shindig.

P3 Amplifiers "Be Connected" from Daniel Henry on Vimeo.

Like i said, i'll get in to this some more later, but I'm trying to get around to the "Boots & Blue Jeans" video here. I was called in to play another part in the next video they did for Palmyra Delran and it was also a  complete blast and total success. Palmyra's song went #1 on Little Steven's Juke Box.  She's great. I dig the hell out of Palmyra.

Palmyra Delran "You're My Brian Jones" from Price Harrison on Vimeo.

Can't tell this story with out talking about Olathe Boot Company. My Dad wore Olathe's, real high quality work and riding boots, the preferred boot of top cowboys, horsemen,  troubadours and prospectors since 1879. 

Olathe Boots have always been part of my life. When I was a kid and watched my Dad (pictured above) put on his Olathe Buckaroo Boots, I knew he was doing something important and that those boots were among his most prized possessions. I learned early that after many resoles, it was a bitter sweet day when a pair of Olathes was retired and replaced with a brand new pair. Only a pair of Olathe's can replace a pair of Olathes. 

As a long time Troubadour with a ranch hand history and raised by a California Cowboy, I've been in Olathe Boots since my foot was big enough to wear a 7. They didn't used to make stock kids boots like they do now. 

Being a full-time troubadour my Olathes keep me comfortable when I take the stage and make a good impression when I'm signing autographs and meeting fans. My Olathe Boots are as important to me as my old Gibson Flat Top Guitar. I sure am proud to be an official Olathe Boot Company Endorser. 

Olathe Ad in The Direct Buzz Magazine

    see the Olathe Sponsored Americana Radio Chart on page 33

Here's the pair Doom, wore in the video.  

Yeah, I'm crazy about this girl.

Dani's the smartest, orneriest, hot lightning bolt of love. She's the love of my life. "Dani Doom" is her derby name, and when she skates out on the track the fans go "!!!!!DOOOOOOOM!!!!!" in a big drop D rumble... It drives me out of my mind, i loose my composure and become a crazed Roller Derby Fan. I know right... I think it's my favorite thing in the danged world. She's so cool. When her new book breaks big and she's rollin' in dough or I get a string of big cuts once Allison Krauss & Brad Paisley get back together to record "Partners in Crime" we're gonna get out on a spread and have American Bulldogs and I'll get back to calf roping. Her novel's great, I read a little when she fell asleep the other night.  

We gave "Trappers Cabin" from The Law Band these Tall Top Black Olathe's in the Video 

 and Artist James A. Willis the Tall Top Turquoise Buckaroos as seen in the video 

Here's my Rough Side Out Jerry Reed "The Snow Man" Olathe's

These are my Harry Crews "I can show you better-n-I can tell ya" Olathe's 

And these are my bread & butter Buckaroo's. They stand me up out of a mess, hook me on to a stool or by God stomp ass when needed. I like the U Toe and the 2 1/4" S Heel- 14" deep scallop top. Bronc riders wear 'em like that to tuck they're jeans in 'em & tape off the top, and they have a spur rest.  Hands wear 'Em with chinks. Olathe Boot Company is deep cowboy culture. 
Fester Hagood's Tuesday Night Confessional at Nowhere Bar in Athens Georgia is an absolute gas. There's a group of South Georgia boys up in Athens; Ty Manning, Scotty Nicholson, Fester Hagood, Paul Lee, all great players & songwriters.                                                                     

I'm real proud to be working with Steven Kahla raising some money for The Cowboy Crisis Fund with The Working Ranch Cowboy Association and The National Cow Horse Association. We made some custom Doom Ray Leather Guitar Straps for them and will be playing some benefit shows for them this year:

This pair of Olathe's I've had since '98. Best I can figure, no less than 7 resoles on these. I still wear 'em for something important. This stuff runs deep with me and I care about it. The world will be a better place with more people wearing Olathe Boots.  

So, a couple months later I pretty much had my new record in the can. I'd gotten to be good friends with Price and we'd been talking about doing a video for one of my songs. "Boots & Blue Jeans" was the song we picked and Price and I got busy hunting a location. A couple days later he said "You gotta come see this joint."

We went down to Johnny's Tavern and I fell in love with the place soon as I walked in the door and met Lisa. It was like going home. I grew up in the exact same honky tonk except it was in Walhalla South Carolina and it was called Burrelle's Place. It's a dry county where I grew up in Western North Carolina and the closest place to party was Burrelle's. Lisa & I made fast firends and Price scheduled a day to shoot. 


I called my buddy Fester  (pictured here w/ Law Band and me & Doom) 

who wrote the song with me, asked him if he could make it up to Nashville for the shoot. He said "Hell Yeah!" and brought some characters with him, The Law Band who look real stylish in the video. Fester and I are both friends with Laney Strickland and Laney introduced us to Bobby Keel. Bobby wrote "Whisky on Ice Women on Fire" and "Little Time Off for Bad Behavior". Laney couldn't make it but said to holler at Bobby for sure. Bobby got everybody riled up at the shoot and made the scene for us. I called my coonass buddy Will Rambeaux too. Will's had cuts with Ronnie Milsap, Jo Dee Messian, Faith Hill, Blake Shelton... So we brought a few bad asses with us to the shoot at Johnny's. 

When we got there to Johnny's it was a full house and everybody'd been listening to the song and was real cranked up about it. Lisa introduced me around and everybody was cool as hell and she said Tater & Pooter were in rare form. Pooter's my friend who flaps his leather jacket like some strange phoenix rising off the bar room floor. Tater's my buddy who whirls that lass around and then presses his finger to his lips "shhh". Richard told me Pooter's certified loco, got paper work to prove it, Pooter's a licensed high steel worker.  

Without incriminating myself or anybody else all I can say is that the video is a pretty accurate portrayal of the evening, minus a few felonies here and there. We did a couple performance takes first. At the end of the second take I was having so much danged fun, I threw my hand up in the air and said "To all my friends! Drinks for everyone!" It was an involuntary reaction. I couldn't have stopped it anymore than I could have stopped a rouge monster sneeze. Man, they drank 337 dollars worth of beer in about twenty minutes. When Fester did the damned "Worm" it brought the house down. Everybody had a blast, nobody got cut or shot, another total success. That's how the "Boots & Blue Jeans Video went down.

In the world of production, It's one thing for sure; ain't any of it works very well without a top notch song. Weather it's moody or rockin' or kitschy or whatever it is your doing. A great big part of this production is the incredible guitar playing and producing of my great friend Sol Philcox. He's a blast to work with and a danged card too. Sol was out of town for the shoot but we'll get him in the next one.

 The nature of this entire thing is real collaborative. Everybody says their piece the way they want to. It's way bigger than just me. I'd sent a few guitar/vocal tracks to my great friend Stephen Ferrone, to see what he thought. He sent 'em back to me a few days later with his drum tracks recorded by mega hit producer Eric "ET" Thorngren. When we pulled the sessions up and listened to 'em, we were blown away. They were perfect. The feel and impact and the sounds are big as a trucking company, or a "Jet Plane", as Tom Petty says . "Boots and Blue Jeans", "Twang", "Six Weeks in a Motel" and "Broken Wings" which Stephen and I'd written in Los Angeles '08, were the four songs I picked as the area we were mining. Ferrone and Sol Philcox make a pair of Englishman on this Redneck Rock & Roll Record. 

Bruce Bouton on Pedal Steel is nothing short amazing and a total blast and Jimmie Lee Sloas on Bass and in business with Ferrone in that Trucking Company venture is heavier than  a tandem rig haulin' bootleg Lone Star Beer down to Alabama. 

Everybody got all the way down on this new record. Danny Silvestri, Marlon Patton, Jason Gonzalez, Chris Casselo, Paul Lee, Kenny Head, AJ Adams... Wait 'till You hear Jodi James on "Partners in Crime". If You're not crazy about Jodi then you & me, we've got a problem.

These life changing friendships, collaborators, co-writers, players and amazing characters are really what all this is about for me. My great friends are the best thing about me. Reckon I'm just lucky & fortunate these cats like to  play my songs.  

Orange Moon

First time I fell under the spell of an orange moon was when I took this girl Harkey for a motorcycle ride one night and we fell in love with each other standing next to my bike on the side of the highway. I'd known her for less than an hour and we were together for two years from that night on. That was a big one as far as orange moons go. There's another couple of orange moons that've rocked me pretty good too but the one that turned in to the song will require a little back story to give you the context and gravity of it.

Robbie shot cars in a paint booth at Hwy 106 motors. He was always trading on something, an intake manafold off a Trans-Am 400 small block motor for the interior door panels and the custom chrome pieces off a '51 Chevrolet stepside pickup or some such barter. He had Bulldogs on chains and half a dozen cars on blocks in the yard and was always ready to get worked up and fly off the handle about something. I was messin' with an old Chevelle I had and Robbie knew where to get Camel Hump heads and SS parts to convert my Malibu into an SS Chevelle. It wouldn't really be an SS car but i'd have a bad ass little Chevelle none the less when I was through with it.

Robbie came by to see me with some urgent news. He'd heard that Leon had a fresh 327 small block motor that he was trying to unload real quick, said we needed to get over there and get it from him before somebody else did. So i piled in with Robbie into an old Mustang he was working on. It had a motor with a little cam in it, a 4 speed hurst and no back seat or rear window glass. That little pony screwed pretty good though. It'd pull the right front wheel off the pavement.

Anyways, we get over to Leon's and get out of the car and it's kinda quiet. He's not out at his shop, he had a little booth and painted cars too, so we walk over to the house and knock on the door, No answer. Robbie peeps the door and hollers. Still no answer. We walk on inside and hear some noise down the hall. We walk down the hall and the air was strong with the odor of paint thinner. We get to the bath room and Robbie opens the door.

There's Leon shut in his bathroom with three sheets soaked in laquer thinner hanging from the shower curtain rod and draped all over the place like a damned tent, just sitting there on the toilet breathing laquer thinner with this wild eyed look on his face. Robbie's like "you crazy son-of-a- bitch get your goddamned ass out of there!... I told you I was coming over, now quit fuckin' around and show us that goddamned motor you in such a fuckin' hurry to sell".

Leon pulls it together a little and comes outside after a minute and shows us the motor. There's a pecan tree right outside the shop, so we're stasnding there cracking pecans and talkin' trade. That's a thing, to stand around and crack pecans and talk about some serious shit. Robbie comes at him pretty hard 'cause he knows Leon doesn't have his shit together and Leon gets all flustered and we end up leaving out of there with the motor for a paultry 375 dollars. The motor was worth every bit of $3k. I ended up selling it later for 25 hundred bucks and building the 350 in my Chevelle instead.

I had a little extra cash left over since I'd gotten the motor like that. I gave Robbie a hundred bucks for making it happen and went home to see Harkey when we were through. I was in a good mood and had a plan.

When I wasn't busy fuckin' around with motorcycles and old cars I was playing guitar and singin' with my band. I had a three piece outfit and was getting around from Chattanooga down to Charleston and out as far as Little Rock, playing thursday friday and saturday nights. So i'd gotten to know a bunch of fraternity boys 'cause that's who payed the best money for loud guitar playing. When ever I didn't have something booked out of town I'd work the local collage scene a little.

These guys liked me pretty good 'cause I'd pitch a rock&roll fit for'em then I'd hang out and throw dice and carry on till the sun came up. I'd started dropping by on occasion when I was in town just to hang out even when I wasn't booked to play their place.

So I get back to the house and Harkey's out in the garden watering her plants, barefoot, wearing a mischievous smile and a pair of cut off overalls without a shirt or bra. She sees me coming and when I get about ten feet away from her she turns the hose on me and soaks me. We wrestle around and I get the hose and return the favor. It's the end of a hot day in the middle of September and the cool water feels good.

Harkey's after me pretty bad and wants me right then and there. I'd just read Miles Davis's autobiography and understood why he didn't have sex right before he played the same way boxers don't fuck before they fight. I wasn't playing that night, but like I said I had a plan. So we go inside and dry off and take a nap with the sound of her 20 gallon fish tank and some R&B lulling us. I can't remember exactly what was playing but I'd been listening to Roberta Flack, STP, and Lynyrd Skynyrd "Street Surviors".

We wake up after dark and I say "hey baby put on some cloths and let's go out". I loved to watch Harkey get dressed. She was impish and casual as a sigh about it. She washed at the sink in the bathroom with the door ajar. I could see her raise her arm and bring the soapy wash cloth to her arm pit. She turned her back to the door put a foot up on the side of the tub and bent over to wash her feet. She stood naked and brushed her long gold hair in front of the mirror and looked back over her shoulder through the crack in the door with playful disdain and then a smile. I took a phone call and Harkey came into the bedroom and lazily put on lotion while I talked on the phone. She knew I liked to watch her but would never let on that any of it was for my benefit. And she was fast about it, all of this didn't take more than a half hour. It was incredible theater.

I put on my black leathers even though they were still a little wet from the water hose fight. Splashed some 4711 on my face and upper body. I like the way your skin feels after swimming in a lake or bathing with a hose, the way your hair is soft and a little greasy. I sat down on a bench at the foot of the bed and put on my boots and laced them up while Harkey slipped into a dark denim jump suit cut low in the front, real '70s like. I put on a fresh t-shirt, she put on some eyeliner and her boots we grabbed our jackets and helmets and split.

It was about a 20 minute ride into town. It cooled off at night and felt perfect to ride in a t-shirt and leather jacket. I could feel the cold air and the warmth of leather on my skin. There was a big moon sitting low in the sky and on the rise. We ride up and park the bike in back of the frat house. We're greeted by Charlie and his girl friend Liegh. Harkey and I had become friends with them. They were cool. Charlie was smart and Leigh was gorgeous and brilliant. They liked us better than they liked their real friends. We walk around to the front of the house and go inside. The house has a grand spiral stair case and 20 foot ceilings in the foyer, there's a study and a den on either side and a sun room porch in the back past the living room.

Charlie and I go to the bar in the study and mix drinks while the girls sit in the den. Leigh put on some MC5 and we could hear them laughing and talking across the foyer. Charlie's a pretty good hustler and tells me about some new stuff he's in to. He's been working as an assistant to a designer in Atlanta who's just launched a new line of women's accessories in Neiman Marcus. The guy he's working for is sharp as he can be and friends with everybody in Atlanta. I ended up playing the Coca-Cola Christmas party and the Woodruff's private Christmas party that year because of the conversation Charlie and I had while we were mixing those drinks.

We take drinks in to the den and join Harkey and Leigh who are glad to see us and make a formidable pair of women. Leigh is in Law school and in the middle of her internship with a prestigious firm in Atlanta and Harkey is one of the most charming and most desired women any of us know. Harkey has celebrities and rock stars calling after her regularly.

We're all sitting together in a small seating arrangement, on a love sofa and two upholstered victorian chairs. We talk casually for a while then the conversation turns to more serious matters. Charlie turns up the stereo a little for confidentiality and gives me the low down on Palmer and Tumpy, two of his fraternity brothers whom I'd beaten pretty badly throwing craps the last time I'd played there two months ago for their big 4th Of July party. Leigh has some insight on Tumpy, she knows his girl friend Rene. And Harkey had talked with Palmer last time we were there while I was playing. She said Palmer was keen on her and would relish any conflict between her and me. I had called Charlie on the way home from Leon's earlier and explained the situation, he said it would be a good night 'cause Tumpy and Palmer were going out to see a band and would surely come home lit and even more arrogant than usual.

Leigh gets up to put on some new music. She was wearing long loose legged slacks and a blouse. She walks across the floor and stops half way and kind of stretches her knee then continues. She's squatted down by the stereo searching for a selection and says "hey what do you guys want to hear", "Oh I got it, you're gonna love this Boo". She puts on Shuggie Otis. I'd heard that single before but i'd never heard the whole record. I still love her for playing that record. We sit in that room like there might not be any place else in the world. Just basking in each others company and laughing at the beauty of it.

We listen to the whole record. When it's done I get up to fix a drink for Harkey. She's gone the bathroom and Charlie and Leigh are sitting on the sofa talking. "Hey kids what's shakin!". in walks Palmer good and tight like Charlie said he'd be. He plops down in a chair and says "Boo Ray, mutha fucka fix me a drink". "Hey Palmer, what's your poison". I pour him a stiff goddamned gin and tonic. I walk over hand Palmer his drink and sit down. Just as I'm about to engage with him I hear behind me "Can I have my fuckin' drink please Your Booness!" It's Harkey right on time. Palmer looks at me laughs and says "you need to learn how to take care of that girl". I scramble to appease the character Harkey's playing so she can dig in a little deeper. "Oh sorry baby Palmer just showed up". She's like "If you had your shit together you'd be dangerous". "Daaamn!" says Palmer. Charlie asks him where Tumpy is. "Tumpy got in to it with Rene".

Now if Tumpy doesn't show up game's off 'cause It just wouldn't hardly work to have me Charlie and Harkey tryin' to beat up on one guy. The action'd be all fucked up and obvious. Charlie had told Tumpy that I beat him playing poker dice and he wanted to get it back from me. I guess Tumpy had told Palmer 'cause Palmer says "forget Tumpy let's play poker dice".

They had a card table in the den so we pulled it out of the corner and set up. Poker dice is cool but you can't get a big swing like you can in craps, it.'s too slow. Anyways, we play poker dice for a little while, Harkey, Charlie, Palmer and me. Place your bet, throw 5 dice down on the table under a cup, call your hand and pass it to the left. Thankfully Tumpy shows up a half hour later. He's pissed and pissed. Charlie had got over a little on Palmer playing poker dice and been talking a lot of trash and got him worked up pretty good. Tumpy surveys the scene and says "let's roll bones you pussies".

It's on. Tumpy wants to play Acie Ducie and Palmer ain't no pussie so he's in too. We get started and I recklessly bet on the low rolls daring Palmer to throw some real money down. I had about 25 hundred in my pocket and Charlie told me Palmer had like 8 or 9 thousand on him 'cause he was fixin' to by a bunch of herb. Palmer takes the bait after I loose the first round and bets big. I wasn't trying to win it right then and there I was just trying to get him a little reckless and get in his pocket after a while. I mean there's just no way i could've won these bets i was making. I was gonna burn 4 or 5 hundred and then crush both of them once they got reckless.
Right on time again, Harkey responds to the rediculous bets I'm making "What are you a fuckin' idiot!" Palmer throws a stack of hundreds down and tells Tumpy to do the same thing. There's like 38 hundred out there and I hit ace duce.

So Palmer's on tilt and Tumpy's following suit. Rene shows up and starts fussin' with Tumpy. After a minute Charlie say's "hey man are you gonna fight with'at girl or throw dice". Palmer agrees, "yeah man I gotta get back in this damned thing". They wanna play 7/11 now. We play a couple rounds not much action and then I get Palmer betting against my 11. He throws a thousand at one roll and it pushes. He throws two thousand at the next one and it pushes and then he throws three thousand at my last roll and I hit it. Tumpy was in for about half what Palmer was so there..s more than 15 thousand down including my money.

Harkey had hung in there and split about 5k with Charlie. I walked away a little more than 10k up. I gave Leigh a thousand bucks for playing that Shuggie Otis record and Charlie was happy as a clam with his take. There was a little drama getting out of there but Harkey picked another fight with me and scared everybody and then Mose the fraternity cook came out to see what all the commotion was. He assessed the situation and said "Palmer you lost now and if you don't stop it I'm gonna call your Daddy". I was friends with Mose. I knew him from church. So that was it.

Leigh and Charlie and Harkey and I walked down the stairs and out the back door and stood there for a minute in the parking lot. The moon was so orange and so big it made me feel kinda sick. We could hear the stereo playing Tyrone Davis' "Loosing You" and Harkey twisted her arm around mine and whispered to me "Baby that was incredible" and i said "it ain't no thing just a damned old orange moon you and me and a sorrowful old tune".

I built the Chevelle, and lost Harkey. One day I dropped that car off to Robbie to tie up a last couple of details. It was almost finished, he was just installing newly upholstered diamond tuck door panels and then it was all done. We'd built the 350 motor and painted the car black. When I picked it up Robbie had finished the interior and painted across the boot lid in silver pinstripe letters "bad news travels fast".

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Southern Writers- Backwoods Malitia and The Birth of a Vernacular

"We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again" is the famous motto of General Nathanael Greene, who sent Cornwallis packing north to Virgina unable to capture and destroy the Southern Army of backwoods militia.

The American Revolutionary War turned in our favor at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781. American Brigadier General Daniel Morgan lead some 700 militia against Banastre Tarleton's legion of 1,100 dragoons, 17th Lancers, regulars and loyalists. Only Tarleton and about 260 British troops escaped. We suffered only 73 casualties (12 dead and 61 wounded). Our backwoods militia men shot the goddamned hell out of the British. We were just that much tougher and superior rifleman.

Just as a reference and to get a feel for the particular kind of men our militia were comprised of, here are a few of the names off the Anson County North Carolina Militia roster: Shadrick Bagget, Joseph Isgate, Humphry Delyard, Tubal Cain Hicks, William Slaughter... They were all Scotsmen and Irishmen. That's who inhabited the mountains of North Carolina. That's where our vernacular came from.

The sound of our speech at that time, revolted in a remote and far off land, must have been pretty strong sounding. Imagine the time, distance, and inhospitable enviorment, mangling the language and the folks who spoke it. The effect is like distilling. It makes for a certain efficiency and allows for particular perversions and peculiar twists. The vernacular from this region is the strongest sounding and therefore the most influential despite its small population of speakers. Because of it's strong sound, even when one colloquial phrase crept into an outsiders mouth and traveled around, it had boo coo influence on the words either side of it.

Sometimes people think Southerners speak slower because we're Lazy or think slowly. Not so. We speak slower because our love of words is so great that we can't stand to part with them. We care deeply about things and fit a word for it's purpose like a tool for a job or a garment for an occasion. We coin a phrase and linger on it, admire it, swear at it, and make love to it before we're willing to let it go.

We as Southerners will take the appropriate phrase or word from where ever we find it and own it without contention. The appropriate use of a word or phrase indicates ownership. It has to be delivered with complete conviction and casualness to be appropriate. You have to own it to use it. It's a matter of taste. If you've got bad taste don't even try it. It has to taste good in your mouth and you have to be able to handle it, like eating softshell crab or pickled okra, like holding a straw of sweet grass in your mouth or a chaw of tobacco. It takes dexterity to spit a line without making it sour or bitter.

I'm not trying to give a goddamned history lesson here. I'm drawing you a little stick figure hangman on a cocktail napkin as we have a couple of Jack and Cokes and watch the cargo ships come and go in and out of Charleston Harbor while we listen to Otis Redding sing Sittin' On A Dock of The Bay on my little transistor radio.

Here's what i'm getting at; All you have to do is go to Oxford Mississippi and you're there. Home of the greatest writers the world knows. I mean c'mon, William Faulkner and Mark Twain. How 'bout Tennessee Williams or Margret Mitchell. Or Harper Lee, James Dickey or Flannery O'Connor. Hell, how about Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe or Cormac McCarthy. The list goes on.

Don't get me wrong. I'm completely moved by Brendan Behan, i don't know his plays well but The Hostage was great and his published letters are fuckin' incredible. I know more of the stories about him than i do his work. Of course Walter Scott is just the damned creme too, Ivanhoe, my God!

So yeah, "we fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." It's the lack of bitterness that makes us who we are. Oh well, to hell with it, i don't give a goddamned about it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

These Days

It's only been a little bit ago but it seems like a long while. I was living up above Chateau Marmont in the hollywood hills. Getting around Los Angeles as best I could. I lucked out and found one of the finest Ozark hillbilly guitar pickers masqueradeing as a punk rock bass player in the Circle Jerks. Yeah, Zander's a full on trip. He lives up to any myths or rumors you might of heard. I grew up around ornery old flat pickers and never wanted a damned thing to do with it. I was like "fuck a bunch of bluegrass." When I was cutting my teeth, first chance I got I ran off down to Atlanta from Carolina and got on some rap tracks. 'Bout as far away from "Good Ol' Rocky Top" as I could get, which suited me just fine. The scene in Atlanta was thick with Goody Mob and a young OutKast. Killer R&B.

Anyways, I'd been out west for a minute and was beginning to get nostalgic if not homesick for sweet tea and fish & grits. I discovered people out there were digging the way I talked though. Especially girls. So being homesick and finding new approval and appreciation for a vernacular I couldn't seem to shake, I found myself pickin' & singing songs that Ol' Mountain John would be proud of. Right there in the middle of LA Zander and I got busy getting our twang on. He's hillbilly as a split rail fence too. One night he gathered a motley crew of players and we went to he buddy Stefan's loft studio in down town LA to lay down some tracks. Stefan's a Jersy imagrant with a thick accent of his own. 'Bout the third thing he'll say to a girl is "I like ya shews..." On drums he got this Russian, Alexander Gudenoff- On guitar rone, Juan Hernandez, from a working mariachi band with a white straw cowboy hat and mustache, hencho Mexico. The russian had a couple girls in tow and Juan brought his pittbull. One of the girls was wearing a gold lame top and brown bellbottom slacks. The other had on a sheer gray jump suit with green panties and orange ankle boots.

We all met in the alley outside Stefan's building, introduced our selves, grabbed up our instruments and piled in the freight elevator. The ride up was interesting. Juan's bulldog walked across the elevator and buried his head in the girl with the jump suit's ass and she just squatted and used his head like a stool. The other girl looked and smiled, Juan was expressionless and said nothing to his dog.

The russian played a kit Stefan had already miced up. As we were unpacking guitars and tuning up he started playing a slow soulful waltz. I figured it was some Slavic type of thing, then I heard him humming the melody to "So Lonesome I Could Cry". Zander walked across the room pickin' out the melody, I grabbed a chord and Juan fell in with his guitar rone cinched up under his chin. Right off the bat it was a fierce jug band jangle. Kick- high hat- snare- the russian had bad ass swing and Juan was tight and specific and primitive. We played a couple tunes and then went over the arrangement for "The Bleeding Song". We played it down one time and that's the recording. The Russian did overdub the spoons while the girl in the gold lame top was running her fingers through his hair. Then we did "Six Weeks In A Motel".
Those recordings are Lo-Fi as hell and not even mixed. Just what was on the board to do the session. They're pretty cool though 'cause they sound like what they are. I mean that was quite a scene that night with those characters and that bulldog up in Stefan's loft, down town LA, mannequins hangin' on the wall, Christmas lights draped about the place and those damned girls... Hell, Gary Katz gets a kick out of "The Bleeding Song".

Anyways, I take a couple of mixes with me and send them off to some folks. Not more than a day or so later I get a phone call from a guy I'd met at a craps table in Vegas. He says "Boo Ray, We love that music! What're you doing tomorrow? I'm sending you a plane ticket and'll pick up in Nashville." He's got a publishing company and they manage a successful singer. So I get to Nashville and these guys show me the town. We go down on Broadway and they throw me up on stage at Tootsies with some of their friends and down the block again at Legends. We're having a ball and end up the night at this joint called "Looser's". We walk in and don't get half way across the floor when this big corn fed motherfucker on the mic says "motherfuckin' Boo Ray! Get your ass over here boy!" It's my long time friend Jared. He throws me a guitar and busts into "Ooo That Smell" and plays song after song and won't let me off the stage. We finally take a break. Now Jared's pretty smooth and likes to hear girls sing, so he turns the mic over to this redhead girl and she gets up there singin' and just brings the place to it's knees. I mean she sounded so fucking good, we're all laughing about it and beside ourselves. She's got this beautiful Louisiana accent and plays and sings her ass off. I'm struck right there in my boots.

Then, in walks Two Foot Fred from Big & Rich flanked by two vixens. The scene was so thick I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. The red headed girl sings a few more to our delight and then I jump up and join her on Angel From Montgomery. We're instant friends. Jared takes us all deep into the night and we all sing and carry on 'till 4am.

I get back to LA a couple of days later and sit down that evening at a table looking out a 70' wide wall of glass over all of Los Angeles. Santa Monica and the ocean to the west and all the way down sunset boulevard to my left, downtown LA and Dodger Stadium miles away. I'm reeling about this trip to Nashville and just want to sing with this girl again. I watch the sun go down and the lights begin to flicker as as my heart drowns out there over LA. The stars in the sky are like a reflection of the lights swimming in the city of Los Angeles.

That night I wrote "These Days" and put it down on a little four track. I sent an mp3 of it off to the red headed girl. She sent it back the next day with her vocal on it and I spent another night drowning over LA while I listened to her sing that song over and over again all night long. That's the acoustic record's been up on the web page. We recut that song with "Q" a cool producer in Atlanta and it's on my new album which which will be released in October '09.

The red head is Jodi James and we've become good friends and still make music together. She's a great singer and song writer. Her song "I don't live Here Any More" just get's all the way to me. "Josephine" 's killer too... And then "Crazy Sometimes"...stops me dead in my tracks. She just sounds great. I always keep an ear out for Jodi James.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Truckstop R&B

Thought y'all might get a kick out of this track. I just cut this song "Constantina" with Noah Shane at his studio in Hollywood. Noah played trap set drums and put that big truck stop R&B beat on it. Paul Ill came by and put that unforgivable dirty damned bass line down. Zander Schloss crawled out of the sleeper of his tractor trailer and played that filthy bouzouki part on his way across the parking lot headed for the two dollar showers. Right when we needed some one to distract the cashier girl at the pumps so we could get away clean with a tank full of discount diesel, Jordan Shapiro showed up with his steel and stole that broads damned mind. Hell, I'm just tellin' the story, it wasn't my fault.


Baby I know you got your secrets
Honey I got my secrets too
The letter I sent did you receive it
I wrote it all down in black & blue

You wear you cloths like a knife in a sheath
You hide yo eyes you look at me like a thief
You sound like Baton Rouge & girl I feel you
There's no one lookin' baby I'm gonna steal you

Honey I'll take you to the airport
But I won't watch you fly away
Girl I know your heart is war torn
Constantina cross your heart now let us pray
Our Blessed Lady of Assumption
Is there nothing you can do
Why so many fallen angels
Where lies the burden of the proof

You wear your cloths like a knife in a sheath
So cruel and slow you cut me vicious and deep
You dig Los Angeles Nights & girl I feel you
Right in the broad day light I'm gonna steal you

I could just walk away and leave you
I won't look back I'm gone and on my way
'Cause girl I want you but I don't need you
To be you fool that's too high a price to pay

You wear your cloths like a knife in a sheath
You hide your eyes you look at me like a thief
You sound like Baton Rouge & girl I feel you
There's no one lookin' baby I'm gonna steel you

Boo Ray-Noah Shane

Friday, July 24, 2009

*Backslidin' Baptist Truck Stop*

It's a long and twisted tale, but there's a story behind this poster and every word,
name and image on it. 

For the sake of starting off on a good foot, let me clear a couple of facts. I walked in to the kitchen the other evening and my good friend Robbie Toulson was pulling this huge damn roasting pan out of the oven. You know that camping cook wear with the speckled ceramic coating. It was on of those, but bigger than any I'd ever seen. So, Robbie pulls this thing out of the oven and it fills the kitchen with an interesting aroma. Not putrid, but not the freshest thing you ever smelled either. You know how corn beef & cabbage can stink. It was kind of like that. This roasting pan's no less than 30" long, a foot wide and a foot deep. He pulls the lid off and it's a crust on top, all the way to the top, to the brim. I said "What you got a possum under that crust." We all laughed, 'cause the thing was so big it might of been true. Turns out it's layers of rice, roast beef, and a two inch biscuit crust. So, there's really not any possum in a possum pie. You can call it creative licence or just damn silly, but that's where our Possum Pie came from and you can get some on Monday night at Little Kings Shuffle Club.

I'll finish this yarn here directly. Gotta go pick up some posters from the printer.
'preciate ya,
Boo Ray

Man, we had a good time. The Possum Pie got damn devoured. Fester sang "She bent over to pick up her Bible & I saw her thong." Nate Hale brought his great sounding kit and hosted some bangin' jams. Paul Lee & Scotty brought their rigs and played their ass's off all night long. Tonks sounded like million bucks. Adam Payne sang killer. D Marler & Laney killed it. Ty brought the "Hostile Pentecostal Revue". Todd White sounded great. Carlton Owens showed up and stomped a damn hole in the floor. Everybody played. Everybody had a real good time.

Musicians in Attendance  10/4:
Nate Hale
Paul Lee
Carlton Owens
W. Tonks
Adam Payne
Ty Manning
Todd White
Sean (drummer)
Biker Lee
Adam Poulin
Anna Innecken
Big "E"
Fester Hagood
Laney Strickland
D. Marler
Boo Ray

The approximate Line up next week is:
Mike Dekel
Daniel Hutchens
Abby Owens
Charlie Garrett
Adam Payne
Ty Manning
Fester Hagood

And yes... They'll be Possum Pie next week too.

The Backslisin' Baptist Truck Stop at Little Kings Shuffle club was another damn good Monday night. October in Georgia starts to cool off a little bit and get comfortable. 

Right at 10pm De El and Robbie and I loaded up a couple of guitars and a Possum Pie and headed down to the club.  They were just finishing up the trivia night when we got there. I think the last question was something about a Thinn Lizzy song.

We loaded in and some regulars gathered on the side walk; salutations, a smoke, hauling some equipment and setting up the sound. Charlie Garrett brought a drum kit and we set that up alright for a couple guitar players. Scotty Nicholson brought his key rig and his guitar rig. Paul Lee set up his bass rig and did the rest of the PA set up, since he's just damn good at it and we don't mess with him. 

Man, I sure was glad when Mike Dekle walked in the door carrying his guitar case. Mike's a monster song writer. He wrote "Scarlet Fever" for Kenny Rogers,  Don't Love Make a Diamond Shine (Tracy Byrd), Someone Must Feel Like a Fool Tonight (Kenny Rogers), and Size Matters (Joe Nichols).

We get all set up and try one. Hell, sometimes the first one after a long one can be rough as a cobb, and it was. We're just missin' every other damn change and just not even close to it. I ain't mentioning any names but God all mighty, ain't you all ever heard Jail House Rock by Elvis. 

Mike's standing there and I'm thinking "he must think he just stepped off at the damn late night detention hall. If you ask him, Mike will tell you that "Boo used to rent a place from me" and I did, but I've written with him at Warner Chapel in Nashville too. Hell, I'll get a song cut by somebody before too long and he'll be proud I wrote with him. 

Mike grabs up his guitar and commences to singin'. He sounds great right off the bat and tells us some cool stories about the songs, plays 4 or 5 and say so long. We're off and running. I make sure and play a George Jones song as Mike's walking out the door and it sound just fine. About that time Daniel Hutchens and his wife arrive. 

Charlie Garrett  jumps up with his outfit and kicks in to a killer sounding guitar jam. Charlie's cool. He got some Neil Young and some Petty in him. 
I go over talk with Daniel for a minute and he get's up when Charlie's done. Daniel and William Tonks on electric kick some cool songs, and played a couple staple Bloodkin songs that sounded great too. Daniel calls up Carlton Owens and Paul Lee and they get on a good blues stomp for and ride out for a minute. 

Not a bad way to spend a Monday night. Man, every body who showed up,  played and sounded mean as hell. Ty Manning got to a real cool place on the guitar with a funk jam. Hell, he's funny with all his gospel parodies and can make the party happen, but he can tear it up on guitar too. 

About the time everybody's Jack & Cokes started getting hungry, Robbie's Possum Pie was there waiting like a sacrificial varmint.  

Fester Hagood had an early call time the next morning and almost eased off without singin' for us, but he jumped on the mic and sang a brand new song, knocked our socks off. We all played 'till about 2am or so. We'll be back next week with some more cool characters and Robbie said he's making something or other for us to eat.

I appreciate you all,
Boo Ray