A Toasted Jam
Once again an innocent foray to the clubs in Sioux City has gone slightly astray. It started innocently enough. Honest.
“Hey, Radloff, I’m on my normal bar stool. Come on down and have a beer.” Thus started the oddity. I regarded the voice on the phone with my normal amount of suspicion and paranoia for a second or two, pondering my alternatives. I could either continue on my set path and go home, put my jammies on, cook up a nice grilled peanut-butter, banana and honey sammich, or I could follow the voice and go have a beer. Hmmm… “I’ll be right there,” I said.
Ten minutes later I found myself ensconced in a local establishment, sipping on a nice Boulevard Wheat, chatting with my buddy (whose voice sounded a lot like the voice that came from my phone). That was at about ten after five. By five-thirty we were both ordering another drink. I like beer. By quarter to six I was empty again. A little voice in my head whispered “restraint.” I unhappily ordered a Diet Coke.
“Hey, there’s a new bar open just down the street. Wanna go check it out?” asked my buddy, sloshing a bit of his Guinness. (Actually, Guinness doesn’t really slosh all that well. It’s too thick. It kind of, well, sludges. That’s better. Sludge. He sludged a bit of his Guinness.)
“Sure,” I said. “Let me finish my sody-pop… Okay, I’m done. Let’s go.” My pal drained his sludge and off we went…
“I don’t like it,” I said when we got to the new place. “It’s too sterile.”
“I hate it,” said my buddy. “This sucks. Let’s have a beer.”
I opted against another Boulevard – they’re too good to drink lightly. Miller Lite in hand, my buddy and I found ourselves talking with some other friends. They thought the new bar was pretty cool. I have to admit, by the time I finished my beer my opinion of the place was changing a bit… But not that much. My friend was happy that they had Guinness there.
“Hey, finish your sludge,” I told my buddy. “I wanna go to the jam session at the Chesterfield.” With nary a whimper my friend drained his Guinness. I swear I saw him chewing on it. (They really should give you a fork with your Guinness. It’d make it easier to eat.) Off we went up the street to the Chesterfield.
Once in the door, we made our way to the bar and placed our orders. “Hey, isn’t that your wife?” asked my friend, pointing towards the door. Sure enough, my beloved Austrian Snickerdoodle was coming in the front door, big smile on her face.
“Snookums!” I hollered. “How are you?” I planted a kiss on her delicate little nose.
“Snookums?” said my friend.
“Snookums?” said the bartender.
“I thought I’d come down und see you,” said my Viennese Snowflake. “You alvays talk about how much fun dis jam night is…” She saw me reaching for my Miller Lite. “How are you feeling?” she continued. “Haf you had much to drink?”
“I’m feeling fine,” I said. “I’ve only had two beers. Oh, and two Miller Lites too.” With that, we pushed our way through the gaggle of musicians hanging around the front of the bar and found ourselves a table near the stage.
Conversation flowed freely as people gradually filtered in and joined us, lots of smiles and laughter. Eventually some musicians got up and started playing. Someone bought me another bottle of happiness. A different group of musicians took over on-stage. It was good. Someone bought me a very small glass full of a rather clear liquid. Smiling, I clinked glasses and gulped the drink. Somehow I thought it was gonna be… Well, I’m not sure just what I thought it was gonna be, but I didn’t think it was gonna be Tequila. By the time I got done gasping and clutching at my throat, I felt distinctly addlepated. Woozy, even. Here’s a picture of me being addlepated. I’m the guy not paying attention.
That, of course, was precisely the point in time when the bass player on stage yelled, “Radloff – time for you to play now. Get on up here.”
Before I could compose a reply, or even figure out which muscles to twitch in order to shake my head “no,” I was on stage and people were strapping a bass on me. Hmmm… This isn’t gonna be good. Whilst I’ve often had a beer during a gig, I really do try to avoid playing if I can’t say “is your second sister’s sixth zither strung, sir?” without giggling.
“Whaddaya wanna do?” asked the guitarist who joined me on stage, a guy I’ve met once before at a jam weeks ago. “Twelve-bar blues in C? Shall we just jam?”
“Blues?” asked the drummer. “You want me to play blues? I thought we were gonna play some Metallica or something.”
“I’ll start it,” I said. “You guys just hop in when you feel like it…”
It worked out beautifully! I started in a traditional blues bassline, the guys all jumped in on the song, and for fifteen or twenty seconds it was GREAT! The guitarist sparkled – he was playing some really cool stuff… Until he broke a string, less than thirty seconds into the jam. We limped through the rest of the song, keeping to simple blues…
“I have a spare string in my case,” said the guitarist. “It’ll take me about five minutes to change ’em.”
I stepped up to the microphone. “Hey, we have a broken string – anyone else out there wanna play a song or two?”
In just a few seconds another guitarist hopped on-stage. “Hey,” he said. “What do you say we play ‘Black Dog’ by Led Zeppelin, but let’s play it in a slow swing beat…” Now, you need to understand that “Black Dog” is a tricky song. It has lots of notes in it. Very, very quick titchy little notes. A lot of ’em. I haven’t even tried to play that song in years. I’m not even all that sure what key it’s in… The guitarist looked at me, “Do you know how to play it?”
I don’t know who answered that question, but it wasn’t me. It may have been the beer, but my bet is that it was the Tequila. I watched the words float out of my mouth… “Sure,”was the first word. “I know that song,” were the rest of the words. I opened my mouth again and waited, genuinely interested to know what was gonna come out next. “Go ahead and start it…”
And off we went! To my credit, I did figure out what key the song’s in by the time we got to the second chorus. By the last verse, I even had a handle on that whole “switch to B” thing. But, realistically, I’m pretty sure that I should NOT have attempted that song.
So, to the world in general, and to those who were in attendance at the Chesterfield last night, and particularly to those who were on stage at the time, you have my humblest apologies. I think I rated about a 9.3 on the Suckometer on that song. (Who knows… Maybe it wasn’t all that bad. But it sure felt lousy at the time. There’s a reason why I don’t mix booze with anything requiring thought. Much.)
This morning I had to drop off Dagmar’s car at the local tire-and-fix-it shop. The poor little car’s had a slow leak in one of the tires for months and months, and it’s time for an oil change anyway…
“You finally gonna get that tire fixed?” said the nice lady who pumps air the tire every week. “It’s about time!”
I nodded and smiled at her and made my way to the front counter. “I have an appointment to get the oil changed and the back tire fixed today at nine,” I said to the counter lady. “I called in yesterday and made the appointment.”
“What kind of car is it?” the lady asked. “They have two things written down. Is it a Geo Metro or a Ford Taurus?”
“Neither,” I said. “When they asked what car I had I automatically said ‘Geo Metro,’ since that’s what I drive. But this is my wife’s car. I thought it was a Taurus, but it’s really an Escort.”
The lady looked at me like I was an idiot. I couldn’t blame her for that. “Are you SURE it’s an Escort?” she asked. I nodded. She continued, “What year is it? They have 1992 written down. Is that right?”
“Um… Sure.” I said. “I think.”
“What do you know about the car?”
“That helps a lot.” She sighed. “We’ll have it done by ten.”
You know how United States President G. Walker Bush has been saying for months that he’s not to blame for the lack of response to the Katrina crisis? His main excuse was ignorance – “No one told me that the levies could fail,” he repeats over and over. Well, they have a videotape of people telling him exactly that. “The levies could fail,” they told him in a conference three days before the hurricane hit. “This is serious.” (I’m making the quotes up, by the way. Paraphrasing, if you will.) Yet I feel confident in predicting that our government will continue to avoid responsibility.
The National Football League is having contract problems. The players want more money, and the owners don’t wanna give it to ’em. source I don’t understand the particulars – my knowledge of finance is about that of your average otter – but I do know that NFL players make a LOT of money already. Normally I come down on the side of the worker in any dispute such as this, but when the workers that are doing the moaning and complaining are making, on average, well over a million dollars a year (let me say that again – a million dollars a year) source, I tend to think they’re being adequately compensated. In fact, in order to pay for their million-dollar salaries, ticket prices have gone through the roof (I’ve never been able to afford to go to a game, probably never will), and now Monday Night Football is being broadcast on ESPN – a network you must pay to receive in spite of all the commercials they put in your face. I really and truly do enjoy watching football, but I get a bit upset that the NFL is starting to price itself out of the market.
Off I Go…
The doctor says I’m fine. The pesky spot on my lung has pretty much gone away. They think it’s scar tissue from the pneumonia I had a few months ago. In any case, the doctor told me not to worry, and I don’t have to go back or anything.