By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
Yo, watch out for flying slogans. Sure, come on over, and bring your bud with you. We're heading to Al's Pumphouse, the coolest club in town, located at the north end of Greenville, South Carolina. This place is like Churchill's but bigger A divided by the bar into a pool-shootin' side and a music side, down-to-earth in its ambiance, easy on the budget. In fact on this open-mike Tuesday the pitchers of Busch go for two bucks, as do the margaritas. And even though it's an off night, the joint is packed. We've been driving awhile, so the first order of Pumphouse business is availing ourselves of the facilities. I enter the rest room, and this scruffy dood trails me in. "Hey bro, how y'all doin' tonight?" Knowing that he's either setting me up for a hustle, looking to rip me, or ridiculing a nonregular, I begin menacingly mumbling the graffiti next to the toilet. He says some more yee-haw stuff and then walks out. I'm relieved I didn't have to jack him up, but now one of the pool shooters has walked in, and he starts yapping at me. Homes don't play this shit, man, so I stare him cold and say, "Look, buckwheat, I came here for the music. That's it. Bacdafucup." He smiles and says, "Well all right. Now we got us some real good amateur musicians up here...." It will take me a couple of hours to realize that these cats weren't jerking me at all. They were just trying to be friendly. Low and slow. Bizarre.
So we're scoping some real decent jams A mostly blues, a few too many crowd-pleasers (i.e., covers) A when this brother walks in with guitar case in hand and he looks exactly like a young Hendrix, right down to the ruffled dress shirt under his black leather jacket. We gotta stick around and check this out. During a break we go outside for air and notice the bartender tossing something on the ground. Feeding chickens? No. It's after midnight and the barkeep is outside seeding the lawn. Finally the Jimi guy goes up with his rhythm section and we prepare for the worst A embarrassingly bad Hendrix covers. Someone yells out "Purple Haze" and we get peeved at the perceived putdown, especially since the (95 percent white) crowd has been so supportive of the other acts. The guy launches into an instrumental jam that salves all our concerns. This voodoo child (not-so-slight return) can play some licks now I'm telling you what. More calls for Hendrix A and sho' nuff, that's his shtick. And he's got it down cold A Jimi would be proud.
Another person, a mustached, sweats-and-T-wearing guy who looked a lot like my friend Bay Snow, was weeblin' and wobblin' around the room, and (thanks to those two-dollar pitchers) I found myself in the rest room again, this time with him. I don't talk to lowlife drunks 'cause I am one, but he started in with that "how ya doin' tonight" crap. "I came for the music." I thought that might shut this boozy bum up, but he says back, "Oh, yeah. I have five or six of these guys play at my barbecue. I have a big party for all my employees." Turns out he owns a construction company. Y'all come back real soon.
And bring your bud with you.
You never know who's below the salt. And, I guess, you really shouldn't care. Peoples is peoples. Good and bad.
And musical: The funny and warm folkster Steve Key drops in at Stephen Talkhouse on Saturday. Electric violinist Hugo Martinez is spending Fridays and Saturdays entertaining the eaters at Janjo's, and watch for Peter Betan and Marc Berner to occasionally sit in. Check out some silver flute mastery when Laura Sue Wilansky plays at the May Day for AIDS on Friday. It begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Gallery of Masters, 3440 N. Ocean Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. It's free; money from art sales goes to Center One.
John Tovar and his TCA team have been busy, signing Jack Off Jill, who'll have a six-song tape, Children Five and Up, out soon. Mr. Manson boarded the project. And speaking of Marilyn, don't believe all those wanna-be scoopers blabbing weeks ago about how the band had signed a deal. The deal is now done, as far as inking, but a producer and studio site haven't even been selected. Relax, and get your updates here. Excessive (formerly XSF, but Tovar has always called them "Excessive" anyway) has a nine-song CD coming out at the end of the month, and the band will then hit the road. The Holy Terrors are being courted by a couple of majors, and will showcase their tight, hard sound on June 12 in Atlanta. The Bellefires A and please, scoopers, please put the "the" in their name A showcased for ASCAP in New Yawk. "I have to say thanks to the Miami Rocks team for letting them play acoustic at Rocks," Tovar says. "As a result of that, ASCAP was impressed with their songwriting. Five labels and eight or nine publishers were at the showcase in Soho. As a result of that, we're in the middle of negotiations with a big label and a publisher. They played several shows on the way up, in the Carolinas and North Florida, and at every one the club asked them to come back. Tell the bands that it's hard work, but it's important to get out of Miami and play. You get great response." Hey bands A get out of Miami and play. And bring your bud with you.
Why would a band called the Screaming Iguanas of Love change its name? Maybe to help us smokers fight for equal rights, the same rights granted to the offensive users of perfumes, colognes, deodorants, and other harmful products that are not banned in public places but should be. Maybe not. Melbourne's coolest trio is now known as the Nicoteens, with suitable spinoffs A the fan club becomes "The Smoking Section." The Nics are working on a new album, and using this slogan: "We want to pop your head off and sing down your neck."
Butthorn of the week: Miami drivers. Leave for a while and it really hits home. Low and slow is a better way to go.
The media circus: Out on one of the many highways slicing through northwestern South Carolina was a Baptist church (actually, anywhere you look in the Upstate, or for that matter the Low Country, there's a Baptist church) with a sign boasting this slogan: "Inspiration comes from working every day." Sort of the antithesis of Tom Waits's great lyric, "Girl I know that job you got leaves you so uninspired" or even the Skels' "If you get enough time off your goddamn job/To make your peace with yourself and God." Pardon the sacrilege, but seeing an American bald eagle in the wild, that's inspiring. Being with people you care about, being in places without people, being free of the sham and drudgery A those things are inspiring. It makes me wonder where is God's country.
Pet corner: And the blue laws A come on over but don't bring your Bud with you. Liquor stores cannot post any signs beyond a b-ball size and wordless red dot, and you can't buy a drink on Sunday to save your life. One day at this lake, far from the madding everything, with our lines in the water, my brother-in-law Kenny told me how he found this other lake on a large piece of private property. It was a Sunday morning, his day off, so he went to the landowner and asked permission to fish there. "Don't permit no fishing on a Sunday," the man told him sternly. Ol' Ken, now, he just shrugged it off and left, but in his mind was this thought: Fishing is how I commune with my God.