Reports of the Past


REPORT From The Field

6.08.01 - The Day Before The Flood

THE DAY BEFORE THE FLOOD

For me, it had already been one of those types of days that grandfathers tell their grandchildren about. It was that way long before the rains that caused the flood even began coming down.

Sure, I spent the night under the metal carport/roof at a Raceway Gas Station, but that was long after my nights sleep was interrupted hourly by one New Jack Hippie's lonely wife, long after I'd run over my guitar in the driveway, and a couple hours after The New Jack Hippies had been fired for playing too quietly in a foreign venue which had, just an hour before, driven Chaz out of the place entirely by repeatedly complaining ho him that the band was too loud.

It started after midnight on Thursday night, which is actually the beginning of Friday morning (unless one keeps time like Teri). I had arrived home from the acoustic gig at The Vintage Bar. Roger and I were joined by Carlos Johnson on percussion for the Vintage, and the live recordings say that it sounded great! I had already known that we had a good time, making up three new songs as we performed, as well as resurecting an old song from THUNDERDUCK, the band that Roger and Carlos had with Zeeder Hogg when I first met them, almost thirty years ago.

It was an early show, so I decided to head home to unload equipment and get an hour's rest before heading to Silky's to meet John and Heath - who were to spend the night at my place so that John could get to the gig on Friday while Janis used the car for work. As I nodded off, the phone rang. It was Janis, looking for John. She was tipsy and lonely.

I got up to get dressed for Silky's and Janis called again. Even after I returned from Silky's, she continued to call almost hourly, now in a drunken rage that was after only one thing - the emasculation of John Chupin...

At Silky's, I played bass for Jimmy's Pawn Shop while Jimmy took to the microphone as a stand-up frontman. We rocked! Of course, they rock just fine without me, but, WE ROCKED!

While I was onstage, Heath decided to leave Silky's with Disaster, a middle aged blond woman with a great figure, a large appetite for destruction, and a cute young daughter. She was quite a change (not) from the woman whom Heath had recently broken off a 5 year relationship with, and had recently discovered the band and loved us. I mean, really, really loved us. I got the feeling that she felt she had found the perfect mate for herself - Me AND Heath. The way I understood it, she figured that Heath and I were the perfect MAN (singular) for her. Young handsome Heath as a lover and drinking buddy, with wise old paternal Guy to raise her daughter!

While I was onstage with Eric, Leesa and Jimmy, Heath gave John the keys to his van, and disappeared with Disaster.

John and I caught THE BIG KAHUNA, a movie with Danny DeVito, Kevin Spacey and some other young actor in which the three of them play the whole movie as salesmen in one small reception room at a hotel, awaiting the big deal. The dialogue was magnificently written and delivered.

Janis called every 45 minutes.

By 6am, we had fallen asleep. I guess Janis must have called while I was asleep, and although I had probably intended to go wake up John, I had fallen right back to sleep with the phone off the hook. Her voice-mail messages were in serious need of a rating system to protect minors from being inadvertently exposed to the graphic language used to describe all of John's friends....

When I came back to life, I began the search for Heath. Fortunately, Disaster had to be at work by 11am, so Heath was soon dropped at my house at 10:30. He hadn't slept a wink.

The show that night was to be at a new venue for us, called SPLASH #2 in Dickinson, Texas. The owner had called afew times in the past 2 years to ask us to sub at the last minute for a cancelled band, but it had always been on a night we were working. Marlo and I had gone by there one night a few weeks earlier, as we went up and down Interstate 45 from Galveston to Conroe, dropping off flyers and posters, and checking out stage sizes, lighting and power supply at the various venues we had booked for May thru July. When we stopped in, the barmaid was friendly, and the band (called Stout) was good, and they were loud, playing classic rock and alternative hits with much more equipment than we take with us, at a volume loud enough to drive Marlo and I out of there fairly fast. I wondered if we would be hard rock enough for Splash #2, but figured we'd stay with our uptempo stuff and be OK.

Marlo came inside and told me that I had a flat tire. She said that she had noticed it a bit low the night before, so we figured it to be a slow leak. I used her car to go get some fix-a-flat, which worked fine. Since it was a slow leak, and our time was short, I had purchased a couple extra cans for the ride to Dickinson, figuring we'd get the tire fixed there.

I was happy that the presence of John and Heath meant that I would actually have to lift less equipment that I usually do, as we all pitched in to load the rest of the band gear.

On the other hand, the good thing about loading one's own equipment is that patterns emerge, and you get used to the order and placement of the gear in the truck, and know which items have already been transferred. Everything goes where it is supposed to go, and we are less likely to leave something behind.

As I started the truck to back it up, I felt the rear tire backing over something larger than they should. Somebody had brought my guitar to the driveway and laid it down behind the truck. I had just run over my Fender Stratocaster, the same one I purchased in 1970 as my first guitar, the same one I play every night.

Feeling flush, I attempted to put the splinter pieces of wood back into position on the partially flattened hard-shell case, lined up the fasteners, and opened the case to see what damage had been done. Five strings had broken, but the was no other apparent damage. Restringing the guitar showed that a Fender can take it! The strat was OK!

The guitar case was wasted...

Since this was a New Jack Hippies Show, and Heath only appears for a portion of the night, we had determined that it was OK for him to meet his friends Tom and Judy Carlson in Lake Jackson, where they had set up a dinner and movie with a "very hot date". He would then bring the party to Dickinson, approximately 40 miles away, in time to go on with the Hippies around 11pm. Heath took off for Lake Jackson as John and I headed for Splash #2.

The ride down 45 was uneventful, except for the fact that we had forgotten to bring the extra cans of fix-a-flat, and had to stop for more. We never had to use it. So, at least I have plenty of fix-a-flat if I need it...

THIS PART OF THE DAY WENT PERFECTLY

We arrived at Splash #2 and began setting up instruments, amps, sound system, backdrop and recording gear. We hoped to get there before the Friday evening Gulf Freeway traffic jam, set up in time to get the tire fixed and eat - hopefully at The King Buffet in Friendswood. Friendswood was several miles back towards Houston, but the buffet had a full selection Chinese food AND Japanese food (sushi), too! All at a reasonable ($7.95) price. We set up in time to do it all - plus drop in on Eric Smith (we missed Frankie), who was setting up at The R&R Sports Bar down the street from the buffet.

Back at Splash #2, we finished the final set up and began playing at 9:30pm sharp. The barmaid had given us notice at 9:28 that the blaringly loud music on the jukebox would go dead after the current song and we should start our set.

The band rocked! We were the smaller rhythm section, John and I joined by Chaz on keyboards and Roger on bass. I hoped that we were loud and rocking enogh for the 8 people in the bar. They all applauded after the first song... and the second...

During the third song, the lone waitress approached Chaz, rather frantically, yelling, "Turn it down, turn it down!"

We did.

We played on. The audience grew to 12, then 18, then the barmaid ran up to Chaz, saying, "You've got to turn it down!" We were only half as loud as the band I had seen there, and obviously playing softer than the jukebox system, but they were hollering at us (at Chaz) to go even lower.

The crowd kept growing slowly and applauding loudly. I was happy to be in a room full of listeners. They really seemed to appreciate the songs. The recordings we made came out great, and verify that the band was playing well, but the constant running up to the stage with arms waving were making us uncomfortable. Chaz decided to leave at the break.

The waitress lectured us all about volume. I was ready to go with Chaz...

We started the next set with some lower volume material with me on an acoustic guitar. The audience applauded for NIGHTSOUNDS, and I began YOU LIED TO ME. During the second verse, a fellow who looked like Frank Zappa crossed with Bonnie Raitt's old bass player, Freebo, wearing a b-boy hat on his head (backwards) walked in and stood in the middle of the the room with nhis hands on his hips, listening. Cool, thought I, another music appreciator!

During the slide solo, this guy comes running to the stage, waving his arms, saying, "Stop it! Stop the music! What is this elevator music shit? I hired you as a classic rock band! You guys play to quiet for my place. Pack your stuff up and get out of here!"

He was the owner.

I tried to explain that we really rocked the first set (I had it on tape), and his employees had repeatedly asked us to turn it down, He wanted no part of it.

Thirty minutes later, when Heath arrived, all of the gear was packed and ready to go. It was also storming hard, with Tropical Storm Allison beginning it's deluge. Now I knew why people had stayed home! They had seen the weather report!

The Carlsons had come with Heath, but his hot date had not materialized. Heath said he was going back to Lake Jackson to spend the night. We asked if he could take the equipment up the Freeway to the edge of Houston, on Edgebrook Ave., so we could keep it dry 'til the rain blows over (sic), and John could meet his buddy, Greg, who was at O'Shea's and could take John and his drums all the way home.

We loaded the stuff into Heath's van, I put a few of my things in Roger's car, and we all headed into the rainy night. Chaz and Roger headed for home, while Heath and John (with John as designated driver), The Carlson's and I, made a caravan to Edgebrook. On Edgebrook, I could see the street filling up, and see that the other side of the street was already full, so I flashed lights, waved arms, and attempted to get John and the Carlsons to stop and make a u-turn back to the higher ground of the freeways.

The Carlsons stopped. John didn't.

The Carlsons and I pulled in to the racetrack service station and called John's cell phone. John and Heath were making headway towards O'Shea's. Fifteen minutes later, Heath called the carlsons to say that John's stuff was unloaded and he was on his way back.

He never made it.

He was flooded in 4 feet of water, with some musical equipment submerged. We hoped for a break in the rain, but the radio told us that none would come 'til morning. It was 11:55, and the portion of Edgebrook in front of us was filling up.

Everyone in Houston has their own flood story, so I won't bother you with mine. The 24 hour Jack-In-The-Box next door could not feed us because the computers were down. They could still make food, but didn't know how to add up the charges without the machines.

None of us made it home until the next afternoon....

-Guy Schwartz
The New Jack Hippies
bluesguy.com
Houston, Texas, USA
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Reports of the Past