Thursday, September 22, 2011

Home for Wayward Musicians; part 2

[I've tried to use the option to schedule posting times so this will appear below part 1. Then I decided to stagger the posts, in case anyone reads the story.]

There I was walking down the road on a sunny, cool, crisp, North Carolina day under a Carolina blue sky. No idea what was next but I knew I might find solace at the Somewhere Else Tavern.

The music scene in Greensboro at that time was incredible. The heart of the action was the Sunday jam at The Somewhere Else Tavern. Other nights often turned into spontaneous nights of vibrant live music, but Sunday jams were fairly dependable.

People would not believe the quality of the jams, the nature of them, and the number of big names that drifted in. There were also many who'd toured with name bands, big stars and all that. I hardly paid attention to that aspect because I was, and am, woefully ignorant when it comes to band names and who's who. There were grads from Berklee School of Music, Juliard, and people that may have been kicked off of other planets and just dropped off at the Somewhere Else Parking lot.

I arrived that afternoon about 2 PM, I think. If I'm not mistaken it was a week day. No one was there except a couple of the usual suspects; the bar owner, the old guy who drank beer 24 hours a day, the guy who did all kinds of odd jobs and such there, and my favorite drummer, Dave. That explained the old ford van parked on the opposite side of the building from the parking lot, facing down a rather steep slope.

That was the vehicle we dubbed, "The Racing Van". A 65? Ford with three on the tree. Wow, I didn't know Dave had a car, and I was fairly certain he had no license--a misunderstanding with the authorities involving drinking, I think.

It was my lucky day. Dave said he had a place for me to stay, and would be grateful if I would drive since I was legal, and I had that "clean cut all American boy thing going". I informed him of my lack of funds and he disclosed that he was also in the same fix.

As a matter of fact, if he couldn't pay the $120 outstanding utility bill, his power would be cut. It had to be paid that day. How convenient. I happened to have that much, so we worked a deal. Pay the bill and stay as long as you like. We can split up the power bill in the future. Besides the shifty and less than trustworthy guitar diseased Steve B was renting a room. And he owed money. He'd pay the next bill or be out. Steve B was odd. That's about all I can say. He wasn't the type you thought might punch you or anything, and he wasn't really stupid. He just had his values misplaced, if they existed at all.

Dave had somehow been given use of a large, pleasant, very old house in Jamestown, rent free. I think whoever owned it was dead, or got it from someone who was, and felt it better to have it lived in that just let it sit and rot. I've never been clear on that detail, or on the matter of who actually owned the Racing Van. It was registered and had legal plates. I trusted Dave and knew if an issue came up, he'd step forward and take blame rather than let me go down for something not of my doing. Dave had a bit of the Code in him. You either understand The Code or you don't.

My room was one of the better ones. It seems like we found wood and materials and built me a closet. I guess we went back and got my bed from the apartment in the racing van. Oh yea, the van had no starter. That is why we always parked on a hill. That way we could let it roll, put it in second and pop the clutch. It usually started without us having to push it back up a hill. Usually.

This was my period of purely dropped out, almost homeless. One of my periods of that. There was another span of time in the same general era, after being at Dave's, which found me working temp jobs and sleeping on a few different women's couches or in their rooms. Sometimes both.

OK. Due to the fact I was never not under the influence and constantly drinking, there are some very blurry extended periods of time.

I do know that I began playing with a very very bizarre band fronted by the one and only Marvin, aka MAVRIN. Sort of a country band. We had a gig most weekends, and we did not hold out for the high paying stuff. That's the guy I mentioned another time who used stick on aluminum mailbox letters to write on his guitar. Dave often filled in when the regular drummer couldn't make a gig.

On his guitar, in mailbox stick on letters it said, Mavrin's Rockabillys. He misspelled his own name. I didn't say anything for a couple months and neither did anyone else.

When I did ask if he spelled Marvin, M A V R I N, and pointed to his now defaced, very valuable Les Paul, he exclaimed, "W'll Ahl be! I spelt my own name wrong!" Dave and other friends have referred to him as Mavrin ever since. Mavrin was a bit spooky in a country sort of way. Never did figure out the nature of the rotgut stuff he always drank. He sipped it somewhat stealthily out of a dark bottle in a paper bag.

Whatever it was, it definitely was potent. Made Mavrin want to dance--not a thing of beauty.

part 3 next

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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