The Competitor

Came home from band practice Tuesday night, all excited.  Our drummer couldn’t make it; so rather than slave over the ‘originals’ we worked up some covers.  I got to sing one; if I’d figured out my guitar solo better at the time we recorded it (my 5th or 6th pass thru the song, keep in mind), I’d have posted it up on YouTube and probably crowed insufferably about it.  But anyway, back to Tuesday after practice: I played the new one, and the originals we’d worked up, which were about thiiiis clooooose to being finished, and I was anxious to get back to practice and get all this shit buttoned up!  I’d been so absorbed in my day-to-day mundane busywork I’d failed to notice how close the band was to actually having a full set of new stuff.  Just was not a priority for me, which is bitterly ironic, as many of my past attempts to work with other people have been a profound waste of time, and I wanted so badly for many of those projects to ‘go somewhere.’

But anyway, the covers were of the Dirt Daubers.  Not a big fan; they’re the current project for J.D. Wilkes, the lead guy for th’ Legendary Shack Shakers.  My dad and I visited Nashville a couple times in ’99 and ’01, back when the Shakers had a residency on Broadway at Jim and Leyla’s Bluegrass Inn, and my dad loved that band. Me? Not so much.  They were still a straight-ahead rockabilly band, and at the time I wanted nothing more than to be part of a straight-ahead rockabilly band.  So I looked at the Shakers as ‘competition’ they way guys who don’t have much experience do.  Watched them, grumbling to myself, “They’re doing it wrong” and “That’s so beginner…”*  I was shocked in ’04, ’05, when I found out the Shakers were a bit of a national ‘thing,’ I couldn’t imagine how.  ‘Til I found out the amateurish rockabilly costume spuds in the band had been replaced by scummy ‘road dog’ ‘lifers.’

So yeah, the Dirt Daubers.  If there’s a concept, it’s this: Do you remember the Squirrel Nut Zippers?  Yeah.  They sound like that, but with psychobilly lyrics.  And if that isn’t bad enough, precious girlie singing.   Here, I’ll let Hee-Hawg Herman, who is clearly a figment of my imagination and not representative of anyone alive or dead, tell you about them:

The Dirt Daubers?  Man, that shit is as gay as a goose! Um, not that there's anything wrong with that....HEE-HAWG OUT!!!

The Dirt Daubers? Man, that shit is as gay as a goose! Um, not that there’s anything wrong with that….HEE-HAWG OUT!!!

You’d take Hee-Hawg Herman’s word for it, right?  He’s cool, right?  Sideburns and a soul patch, that’s cold as ice, right?  I think we did a right good job with those tunes.  Sure, that guy on the edge of 1997 culture may not like them stripped of banjers and toy pianos, but I think they’ll do.

So I get a text today wanting to know if I want to do a 15-minute set on Saturday.  Do I want to play? You bet.  I’m proud of this band.  It’s not one of those deals where one grits one’s teeth thru another’s singing, waiting for the chance to play ‘hot licks’ or some shit like that, which ‘rescues the show’ from Tediumsburgh for ‘everybody.’

Ehhhhhh, and it’s not like I want it to be this way, I have a hard time viewing other music people as anything but competition, taking up space, time, acclaim, and for that matter, oxygen that should belong to me.  Believe you me, I don’t want to view the music world as a zero-sum game.  But it is.  I know two of the other bands; I’d say they’re familiars but I wouldn’t go so far as to call any of them friends.  And I like some of those guys!  And some of those guys are sorry me-first assholes!  I’d say it’s been difficult, watching the guys in the other bands ‘play the game’ while I went thru the trouble of getting my shit together in my ‘real life.’  I had a good year there before my daughter was born when I had the spare time and the money to pursue music to get to the point where people would answer my phone calls, and I couldn’t get it done in time.  I don’t so much blame my daughter for taking me away from music as I do hate barroom music people for being flaky assholes.  Cripes, unless you’re ‘out there’ all the time, lodged in some big-talking dipshit’s colon, it feels as is no one could possibly make the effort to remember you, your performances, or your music.  So in the five years since my daughter came along, I’ve watched Esskay Pea (of Esskay Pea and the Bloated Pissoirs)  go from ‘lone wolf’ ‘outsider’ status to ‘epicenter of happening shit.’  And he was a good guy back then; what bugs me is how long it took him to get people to work with him; he really had to work people over, cultivating relationships and contacts over years, until all the follower-type music people thought he was ‘big enough’ with which to work.

I won’t lie to you, I’m not looking forward to being in the same building as Putz Poodinski and the Nite-Liters.  I don’t like that fucking guy.  Bugs me that try as I might to get away from useless Baltimore asshole music people, I always have to run right into ’em again.

"These guys, they party hard, they black out at their own shows, they never record shit, it's like they think they're me: HEEEEEEE-HAAAAAAWG! YOW!!!

“These guys, they party hard, they black out at their own shows, they never record shit, it’s like they think they’re me: HEEEEEEE-HAAAAAAWG! YOW!!!”

My hope is that people will be in the back room at Olde Towne in Fredneck early to see us.  But, as you can well imagine, I have only the dimmest view of barroom music people.  I see Hilljack Suicide doing a killer set for the 6 people in Fredneck who don’t care that they aren’t in the same room at the same time as all the people they hang out with.  Fucking smoking laws.  God dammit, you used have to provide only a slightly more interesting experience for faceless herpetics than ESPN 8:  THE ALL AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL AND RUGBY SUPERSTATION with the closed captioning on, and you were, if not loved, then certainly deemed an acceptable professional musician by creep bar manager and creep bar patron alike.  But nowadays, people will step outside for an entire set if they aren’t close personal friends with a performer. And if I run into Teddy Toughnuts, Pumpkinhead, or the re-animated corpse of Paulie Macaroni, I’m finished.

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh toward Putz Poodinski.  To his credit, he’s one of the few people to remember me and my music during one of the times I’ve thrown in the towel.  But that was a long time ago, and a little of that guy goes a long way.

Come to think of it, the last time I had to do a ’15-minute set’ at the last minute with a band was when I was in a band which shared several members of a more vintage edition of the Nite-Liters.  Which was a shitty experience, as it occurred shortly after I quit drinking.  We got a literal 15 minute set, everyone else in the band was gonna be playing all night and didn’t really want to cut too deeply into their drinking time.  I got done, looked at the shitty rowhouse bar cramped with band crap, noticed not one soul paid my band at the time any attention, was all amped up and pissed off.  Nice of me to come out, but ain’t nobody gonna interrupt their own good-timin’ no matter how close their friends are.  Can’t remember who the out-of-town band was that night, whoever the Nite-Liters were trying to shake down for favors.  So while I wanna serve notice and get those Olde Towne Fredneck debutantes and socialites all excited for Hilljack Suicide, I think we’re gonna get the bum’s rush after 10 minutes and get to watch another hour of sound check for our trouble.  ‘Cause I have a feeling we’ve caught a headliner between wanting to make road pals with other bands on the one hand and be a never-say-no-directly people-pleaser on the other.

*Hey man, I had a copy of The Humbler in those days.  I knew what stuff was supposed to sound like!


About rockiebee

Husband. Dad. Carpenter. Troubadour. Creative Director for an action figure theater troupe. Video director. Critic. Comics fan.
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