| Southern Rock Penn - 5/13/02
I'm in Norfolk, getting ready
to do our show. We had those first two days of awful press
we have in a week run. So, Monday, I was up at 5am
(counting the time change, way before I go to bed), battled
with some meat puppets and then back for a nap that was
longer than my night's sleep. I got up and walked over to
the mall, just to find something to do for the evening. I
walked by a rock club with Molly Hatchet playing. Live
entertainment is always better, so I walked up to buy a
ticket. It was a standard, large rock club, without a lot
of people. I walked in as the Rhythm Pigs were ending.
They're a local Southern Rock trio playing Hendrix and
Allman Brothers. This isn't my music, but it was great to
see and hear. I get very philosophical when I'm out to a
show alone, and I like that. A lot of people recognized me
and I talked to a few folks that were a bit drunker than
I'd like to be talking to (which is one sip and they'd had
more than that).
A roadie recognized me and I went backstage. I got a real
Molly Hatchet laminate. I don't' think I'm aware of any of
Molly Hatchet's songs, but I had a great time backstage.
Dino told me that he thinks that since the guitar player
had a heart attack, there are no original members in the
band. It's a Molly Hatchet Tribute band, that's called
Molly Hatchet. I liked that too. We took a lot of
pictures (maybe some will make it to their website). They
talked about how much they hated the Masked Magician (they
care a LOT about integrity, and I liked that, even though I
don't care about Valentino at all). We talked about
showbiz and "how counts were since 9/11." I always like
talking to different acts about business. It makes me feel
like I'm really in showbiz and I like that. I feel like
I'm in some comedy team in vaudeville, talking to a dance
team. I like that "one show business" feel.
It was time for the show, so I went down and got a bar
stool right in the middle. The show really moved me. It
was much too loud, and all that Southern Rock wailing. It
was often in the same key so the lead singer could use the
same harmonica. It was double bass drums and "Quaalude
thunder." It was squealing wailing and simple bass lines.
It was Southern Rock. I think they did every cliché, but
with an integrity that made me hate Spinal Tap. I kept
reminding myself, that Spinal Tap was from the heart and
digging what these guys were doing, but man; I loved it
with no irony. There was a purity. These guys really are
like me. I can listen to art that speaks for the common
man, I can listen to Springsteen sing about cars, but these
guys really were me. They all were my age, had my hair,
and had my exact body. They were all big guys, with broad
shoulders and a bit of gut over the belt. When the lead
singer kicked, it wasn't very high, but in his heart it was
to the ceiling. They were in jeans and shirts and biker
vests and some chaps on the bass player. What I think I
liked most, was, I thought they looked cool and sexy. I
usually see shows with people who look very different from
me, and think, "I wish I looked like that" but this was a
show where I could laugh at how stupid they looked, think
about them looking strong and sexy, and all of that was
about me. I guess it was the feeling Naomi Wolfe wants to
get looking at a fat chick on Cosmo. I liked it. I was
"woohooing" and clapping. Every song was dedicated to
someone. They dedicated a song to Nam POWs and MIAs. They
brought out the confederate flag and wrapped it around the
guitar player while he played Dixie. And this New England
boy was wooing along and hoping not to get busted. He
dedicated a song to his parents, who had died of cancer (it
was a benefit against cancer) and dedicated a song to all
the Moms who had passed on. It's that Mother's Day thing
ripping us all apart, and I cried a bit for his mother.
And he dedicated a song to the men and women of the armed
services who were "over there spanking some ass." I guess
you could see it as pandering, but there was none of the
greasy Tony Orlando/Wayne Newton stuff. I believed him.
He didn't try to stir the audience up, or get a reaction.
He dedicated a song to their bus driver who won a
Congressional Medal of Honor. He introduced the whole crew,
and I believed he meant it.
My favorite comedy moment was a LONG introduction on how
"this is for all the hellraisers who like to drink cold beer.
" Which he said several times, and then added "Jack
Daniels" and "Moonshine." He talked a lot about everyone
having a drink and getting drunk. Someone in the front row,
handed him a glass of beer, and he handed it to the
keyboard player, "I don't drink, man. Eleven years sober.
You know, it was cool, but it was time. I had to choose
between getting drunk and rocking and I liked rocking more.
" There was a long pause and he said, "But, I drank more
Jack than a river before that." And then he "Woo Hooed"
like he was drunk and went right back to the intro about
"everyone liking to drink beer." It was great. I didn't
feel it as hypocritical at all. It seemed really beautiful
(while still funny) to me.
I get in a lot of arguments about being "intolerant." I
don't have any close friends who believe in god. I'm not
around people who drink, but I loved this band. And I
stayed teary-eyed most of the night. And I thought about
the USA. Who cares about the country but I thought about
how diverse the people on this continent are. I mean
really diverse. In the little biology I know, the way I
understand it is that sexual reproduction is important
because (in addition to giving us a reason to talk to the
other sex), it gives us a diversity that means that a virus
can't just whip through the entire species. It's going to
hit some difference that screws it up. This really made me
feel that about our culture. I thought about Bin Laudin
and Ashcroft working together to take away lives, and
freedom and I thought about how hard it was, in North
America to find a way to get everyone with the same
intellectual weapon. In a population that has Jimmy Buffet,
Dr Dre, Ray Browne, Blink 182, Yo La Tengo, Wayne Newton,
and Molly Hatchet - well, you got trouble getting all of
them, at the same weak point. They're just not going to
all catch the same mental virus. The understanding of
freedom that Molly Hatchet has, is different than my
understanding and they strengthen each other. Oh, if given
the time, I'd argue with them, but I love the commitment
they have and the honesty. I loved how much the lead
singer touched his heart with his hand, and my heart with
his show. I also loved that a guy who looks like me (in
the general sense, late 40's, same build, long hair) could
really rock. It made me want to kick my leg up more on
stage. I think I'm a Southern Rocker.
Some of the drunker patrons (and there was competition)
wouldn't let go of me after the show, so security took me
backstage. They all gave me those biker hugs. I believe I
got more big man sweat on me than a lapdancer during the
rodeo in Vegas. They were all soaked, and they soaked me
with their hugs. These were big biker American hugs, and,
even though I'm from New England and, as my Mom said, "We
don't like to be touched", I was still very happy with it.
I liked that there was this sincere powerful culture, that
I had nothing to do with, but kept rocking on. Man,
they've been on the road as long as I have, and, all things
considered, there are a LOT more similarities than
differences. We all like to drink cold beer.