Friday night about 11:25pm I got a phone call from my friend Brad Davis. He is a guitar player of great skill and rhythm. He has played in several country road bands but is currently on the road with Billy Bob Thornton’s rock and roll band. Anyway, he called to tell me that I should not go to Lubbock the next day as planned. Seems that a bartender in that Lubbock club served a minor and got caught. In Texas that gets you a citation and a vacation for the club from the TABC. (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) So, he was giving me a “heads-up” and I should meet them in Odessa, Tx.
Saturday I packed, checked the backchannel, ate breakfast and was on the road by 8:20am. I drove out I 20 for 325 miles to Odessa, TX. My truck had been worked on in the last week and was doing just fine. I listened to the radio until the local stations I generally listen to were out of range. I wished in retrospect I had thought to bring a “books on tape” cassette. I did put in my Spanish language tape that I sometimes listen to and that was fun. Basically the trip to Odessa was pretty boring. I stopped in Sweetwater to get a bottled water and walk around a bit. I did see a lot of the windmill farms I had posted about a week or so ago. That was pretty cool.
I arrived in Odessa about 1:30pm. I called Brad from the lobby and he told me to come on up. We went to find a Mexican restaurant shortly thereafter. It was just adequate. Not good but not bad. Filling. Since Saturday was a road day off, most of the band had decided to go with Billy to the Music City Mall. (I know, I thought Nashville was the Music City. I never would have called Odessa, by God, Tx Music City.) We sat in the sports bar there called 10 so Billy could drink Bud Lite and watch TV. After about an hour Brad and I decided we had had enough. As we were walking out of the bar, Billy grabbed my arm and asked if we were gonna go bowling later that evening with everyone. Bowling? Sure, what the heck?
We went bowling that night. I have not been bowling in over 30 years. I have to say that I went about 5 frames before I knocked down a pin. I think I shot a 63 by the end of the game. That was all I wanted. We left after 3 games.
Sunday, I felt like I had broken my shoulder. Legs were in pain and the back was hurting again. Getting old is crummy. We drank a lot of coffee and finally went to breakfast about noon. Then it was off to sound check at a club called Dos Amigos. This venue had an outdoor stage and the roadies had already set up the sound system and the lighting. Did I mention that it was very hot? It was very hot. After sound check, Brad and a guy that Brad knew from bluegrass went to a steak house for yet another meal. It was soon time for the musicians to dress for the show. They have suits that they wear on stage for first set and the second the set is more “punk”.
The Boxmasters (the band’s formal name) play two sets and they have two separate personalities. The first set the band plays tunes that are more like older hillbilly music. It is different but it is more countrified. The band is dressed in suits with skinny lapels and skinny ties. They also wear Beatle boots. The idea is Hillbilly Music meets the Beatles. This also the only act I have ever been around that has it’s own “hair and makeup artist” and a “costumer”. Everyone gets the hair treatment and their hair is styled into a pompadour. The costumer gets the Beatle suits ready and sets them on a rack with their name. She can alter the clothing if necessary and also does the laundry every day. The band also has a photographer on staff.
So, with everyone dressed and looking great it is time for the Road Manager to walk the band to the stage. The Road Manager is the former Road Manager for Guns and Roses. One of the security crew is from New York and is the “arm wrestling champion of NY”. Lots of tattoos between the road crew and the band.
Just a note about the band, one of the guys quit Alice Cooper to play for Billy. This is a Greek guy named Teddy Zig-Zag. I did not ask if it was his real name or how he got that name. I think I can guess but I don’t know for sure. The fellow that plays the drums is from Alabama and is named Bubba. He is a Muscle Shoals studio cat and happens to be married to the “hair and makeup lady”. The steel player works for Bruce Springsteen in the E Street Band. This is the first tour he has been on where he had to ride in a bus. Seems that with Bruce, they travel in Lear Jets from gig to gig. My friend Brad is the only one that comes from a country background. Billy is the singer in the band.
First set gets underway about 8pm. It is till very hot with the sun still up. Crowd is sorta sparse maybe 200 but it is Odessa and it is Sunday night. The band leaves the stage and gets back into the air conditioning. The strip off the suits and towel off and then they put on the “punk stuff”. Mostly t-shirts and jeans. They are ready in about 20 minutes and out the door they go. You notice that the volume has increased. They play very loud and now the crowd is getting into it. They do an encore and Teddy the Greek is playing blues harp and one by one the band starts to slip back on stage and add to the song. After this song they really are through for the night.
Billy is very good about making sure anyone that wants an autograph or picture gets one. This “meet and greet” adds about an hour and a half to the night. Finally everyone is loaded on the bus and off we go to Abilene, Tx. This trip takes about 3 hours. We finally get into the hotel around 3:30am. We all promptly hit the hay. I slept until about 11:00am on Monday morning. Brad had a phone interview with a radio station and then some other phone calls. Billy’s personal assistant (Kristen) called and told us to be on the bus by 2pm. We left the room about 1:45pm to get to the bus. Billy was late. By about 45 minutes. He had a phone interview that ran long.
Finally we were off to a restaurant in a suburb called Buffalo Gap, Tx. The restaurant is called Perini Ranch Steakhouse. (www.periniranch.com) Monday is their normal day to be closed but for Billy they opened and fed about 25 of us. It was some of the best food I have ever had. We all met the owner and his wife (Tom and Lisa Perini) and they hovered over us like mother hens. We had appetizers and a salad and then they brought out fried catfish with home made tarter sauce that could have been eaten like it was potato salad. I could go on and on about how delicious that meal was. The highlight of the meal was the desert. Bread pudding with a Jack Daniels sauce. Boy, it was great. I was full but I was not in pain. It was the only meal I ate that day.
We all waddled back to the bus and off to sound check. This club was indoors and called Midnight Rodeo 3. Sort of a biker bar. I am seeing a pattern here with the venues Billy likes to play. Sound check consisted of one song and the sound guy was happy. Everyone just moved back to the “green room” and hung out until time to get suited up again and ready for the first set. They played the same show. Both sets were painfully loud. I think it is because it was indoors and sound could not escape. The crowd was much bigger and more into the show here. After the show more autographs and photos ensued. The bus left for Houston about midnight and I drove off into the night searching for a cheap motel. It was a big let down after two days of living in fine hotels and riding on a $350K tour bus. Today is Thursday as I write this and they are playing at the House of Blues in Dallas tonight and I plan on meeting up with them again this evening.
Link to Boxmasters my space page. http://www.myspace.com/theboxmasters
Adios para ahora, mis amigos
Yo soy un demócrata amarillo del perro.
¡yo soy Horsedooty