now playing: lyle lovett, “north dakota”


yesterday, darryl (drummer for stone road) called me and told me that he, too, was retiring after the last gig in december.

so that’s two down, now.

(regular readers will remember that barry, the bass player, gave his notice about a month ago.)

there’s work booked for next year – i’m not sure what we’re gonna do where that’s concerned. i’ll probably talk to the guys about it next week when we get together.

we have four shows left…one of which will be our “last waltz”…our farewell show. hopefully, quin and maybe shawn will agree to get involved. i mentioned the idea to darryl yesterday, and he was receptive. now all that remains is to call everyone else.

mitch was out for the show this past weekend, and we talked about it for quite some time afterward. mitch is, without a doubt, the biggest fan of this band there is, and he’s as bummed as someone in that position would be. i can’t say that i’m not a little disappointed, but i’ve been pretty philosophical about it – to quote jeremy pivens’ character in serendipity, “when god closes a door, he opens a window….”

i told him that i thought it was a good time to call it quits for this band, as we hadn’t really improved as a unit, we’ve been stagnating musically, and we’d been doing too much of the same old material and it had been becoming increasingly obvious with every passing gig that we were phoning it in, to a certain extent. and a lot of the gigs just weren’t fun anymore.

the show on saturday was a bit of a scramble, to put it nicely.

barry called me on my cell phone as we were driving home saturday evening and told me that darryl had been called in to work, and wasn’t going to be able to make the gig. my first thought was, “excellent! i’m off the hook and i can get some stuff done at home…”

and yet barry seemed pretty determined to pull this gig off…and we did, by the seat of our pants. he called donnie, who got in touch with a drummer friend of his (affectionately named pinhead) and asked him to come out and sit in with us for the gig….but i had to bring my drums up from the basement, pack them into the van, and cart them to the show in order to be able to pull it off. i was running later than i wanted to be in the first place, and all that extra work really set me into the hole, from the clock’s perspective. barry had dropped kathy off at a bar that i knew how to get to, so i picked her up for directions once we got on the road (the location of the gig was a rod and gun club in the northern berks county woods with a healthy amount of taxidermy on the walls behind the stage).

we were up and playing by roughly :20 after the hour…so everything was going ok at that point.

for about seven minutes.

at that point, my lab L-7 amp (the one that i’m depending on to work right now, because my fender twin is getting a new set of output tubes and a cap job) shut itself off…and didn’t power up again for the rest of the night. so, for the rest of the night, my little twelve watt fender princeton that only just happened to be in the van carried me. i plugged the speakers from the larger amp into it, and managed to get a little more headroom…enough to finish the night, anyway.

saturday night was the official debut of the two new guitars that keith amos built for me, and i was a little upset that things panned out the way they did. now, the princeton actually held its own for the course of the night, which is a small miracle…all things considered. when you consider that i was across the stage from a hundred watt marshall with a 4×12 cabinet, it’s amazing anyone even knew i was there.

there’s something magical about that little amp. i’ve never had it examined or repaired for anything, because it’s never broken…but it’s the loudest amp of its class that i’ve ever played through. and not just for the sake of volume, either.

when you crank it up, it just sounds better and better.

now, the only problem with that is that once you’re over 6 or 7, you can put any notions of a clean sound out of your mind.

but the new strat and the black ragu tele certainly held their own.

our saturday morning meetings are becoming a ritual for the three of us…keith, ragu, and myself. mike noecker stopped by a couple of weeks ago as well, since he had a pair of instruments in to be worked on. we’re considering forming a band behind the three of us in the spring. we’re all ready to take the winter off.

ragu is a master storyteller…i could listen to that guy for hours. some of his stories aren’t necessarily funny, but you end up laughing anyway. i have to get him to retell his story about the kid who wanted to fight him at the village for my son when he’s around next…he’ll get a kick out of it.

but saturdays…we end up gravitating to keith’s shop, and while keith works on whatever is at hand, ragu tweaks whatever project he’s working on at the time, and i either come in with something else that needs work or check on the progress of whatever might be in the shop at the time. inevitably, i’ll end up picking up a guitar and ragu and i start playing off each other.

on saturday, i had brought my princeton inside to test one of the guitars and i started playing “that smell” by lynyrd skynyrd, and ragu started playing the other part…and when the time came for the dual lead at the end, he and i damn near nailed it, including the swapping,
ascending part that comes right after the dual lead.

now, it should be remarked, that he and i got it well before donnie and i got it….it’s still a little shady when stone road plays it.

so anyway, keith is working on a headstock joint repair on a 40+ year old gibson es-335, and it’s up on a stand on one of the benches, next to its case.

ragu and i go over to inspect keiths’ joint repair, and as we’re standing there looking at it, keith says to us, “hey…you gotta open the case, man. get a whiff of the case.”

and, without saying a word, the case gets opened up, and three grown men all stick their heads down into the case cavity and inhale as if we were smelling what was cooking in the oven.

then, at some point, one of us looked up and we all made eye contact – it was one of those moments where you’re doing something embarrassing and you get caught by someone who is also doing something absurd….

and we all doubled over, laughing, and ragu almost wet himself…he had to run to the bathroom.

and as of now, an official phrase has been coined for our affliction.

we’re all guitarded.

in fact, we’re talking about getting t-shirts made to proclaim it to the world.

grown men…reduced to lowly case sniffers in the presence of a vintage guitar.

geetards, every one of us.

the great american guitar show is in philadelphia this coming weekend, and we’re
going as a group.

it’ll be like therapy.

or maybe more like a threshold rehabilitation services field trip….

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