Redneck Week, 2013

Just a followup on my redneck tendencies.  Around Christmas time last year, my sisters asked me if I wanted to go to Red Rocks to see George Thorogood in the summer.  I’ve seen him twice before, and he’s on my top 10 list of all time favorites, so I couldn’t resist.  The concert was in August, and I kind of filed it away until a few weeks before.   Velma checked the Red Rocks website one night, and she asked me who Buddy Guy was.  After a 20 minute dissertation detailing why Buddy Guy is a Musical God, she asked me if I knew that he was opening for George and the Destroyers.  After about 5 minutes later, after catching my breath, crying in joy, laughing hysterically, and generally scaring her and the cat and dogs, I told her that I never thought I’d get the chance to see him play.  I mean, it’s Buddy Freaking Guy!  There is a video on youtube with Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy jamming together, and Buddy just goes off.  Jimi steps back and just watches, and you can tell that he’s actually in awe of what he’s seeing.  Anyone that can play the guitar and make Jimi Hendrix stop and watch has to be able to play a little.  Needless to say, my interest in the upcoming concert went up quite a bit.

We headed up to Denver the day before and hung around with Mikey and Nicole and the girls, and we headed over to the concert about 4 hours early because we didn’t have our tickets and had to meet my sister Julie to get them.   We get a nice surprise, because my niece Aaron is with Julie.  Aaron is in her mid 20’s and she was about to get a lesson in how old folks get down.  We get inside, make the 900 foot descent to our seats, and meet up with the rest of the party.  My sister Janet and her husband George, who will break into dance whenever they hear music are there.  I swear that one time an ice cream truck came up the street in front of my mom and dad’s house, and Janet and George started doing the Foxtrot across the yard.  They will dance to ring tones.  My sister Susan and her husband Howard, who were with us when we saw George Thorogood back in the early 1980’s were also there.    Howard is from Kansas, but he can pass for redneck.  When he talks, I always think of Tom Petty.  Same drawl, same delivery.  So, 8 people, 2 generations of rednecks, waiting for the fun to start.

By the time the announcer comes out, I’m past anticipation and into the realm of psychotic lunatic waiting to hear Buddy Guy.  For those of you that haven’t been to Red Rocks, it’s been voted the best outdoor concert venue in the  world several times.  It’s in the mountains west of Denver, a natural amphitheater that seats over 10,000 people, tucked between two gigantic sandstone rocks.  The stage is backed by another huge rock, and it looks like you’re in a concert on Mars.  No better place to see a show.  I’m so pumped to see Buddy Guy come out, and the announcer introduces a 14 year old kid that looks like Justin Bieber’s classmate.  His name is Quinn Sullivan, and I was so disappointed to see him on stage that all I could think about was ‘what kind of cruel joke is this to let some kid come out when I’m expecting guitar brilliance?’.  Well the kid plugs in, and within 30 seconds, grass and plants were dying and birds were falling from the sky.  How did a 14 year old white kid just do that?  I don’t have an adjective for this kid.  He wrote his own music.  He literally had the crowd on their feet for his entire set, and later he came out and played a few songs with Buddy Guy.  14 years old and he’s on stage with Buddy Guy!  And he’s not out of place.   He’s holding his own.  Thank you, Musical Gods.  The Blues will live on, even if it’s carried to the next generation by 14 year old white kids.  Do yourself a favor and look him up.  Quinn Sullivan.

Now my niece is getting the picture that even though she always knew Uncle Mike wasn’t quite normal, she never truly realized how not normal.  Buddy Guy came out, and I lost my mind.  Christ, the guy is 77 years old and he has more energy than I do at 57. I watched every video I could find of his concerts, many of them back in the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve listened to  him for 30 years.  He’s better now than he ever has been.  And he just does what he wants!  He was playing a song towards the end of his set, and he walked off the stage, went up the aisle to about the 15th row, and just walked through the crowd, laughing, singing, playing, giving high fives, and driving the security guards crazy.  Incredible.  I know this will probably piss a few people off, but that hour was one of the best hours of my life.

George and the Destroyers were their usual self.  Awesome.  Who knew that a semi-professional baseball player from Delaware would also be stricken with a severe case of the blues.  Man, that guy can play like no one else.  When he puts on that slide, he’s a magician.  And the band, they haven’t lost a step.  And my favorite Texas Blues Guitarist is still touring with him.  Jim Suhler.  Another guy to look up.  I remember seeing him 10 years ago, at another Destroyers concert, and George called him ‘the future of Texas Blues’.  He wasn’t wrong.  He has a band called Monkey Beat, and if you ever get the chance to see him play, take it.  You’ll thank me.  My favorite part of the concert.  One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer.  George starts singing and gets about 5 words into the first verse.  Hang on, George, we got this.  About 10,000 rabid fans pick up the song and we sing the next 30 seconds or so.  George stops, watches, and waits.  When we finished, he looks out at the crowd and says “I take it you’ve heard this story before”.  Yeah man, about 500,000 times.  I’ve called that bartender every time.  “Come Down Here!”  Thanks again, guys.  You destroyed them.  And the topping on the cake, the concert was filmed for that AXXS channel or whatever it is that shows concerts and music documentaries.  Maybe I got on TV!

Concert is over.  We’re sitting there waiting for the crowd to thin out, and my sister Julie tells us that Lynyrd Skynyrd is at the State Fair on Saturday.  It’s 11 pm on a Wednesday.  I have to drive an hour to pick up my stuff and my dogs at Mikey and Nicole’s house.  And then I need to drive 120 miles back to Cripple Creek to go to work at 8 the next morning.  My sister wants me to drive 100 miles to Pueblo after work and see a concert and then drive 100 miles back to work the next morning.  Lots of miles and not much rest, so what choice do I have?  I tell her yes, and on Saturday we’re heading down the mountain to Pueblo and Skynyrd.  How could I miss that?  I mean, Buddy Guy, George Thorogood and Lynyrd Skynyrd within 72 hours, with about 400 miles of travel and work.  Small sacrifices must be made at times.

There are maybe 3 people in the world that know what Lynyrd Skynyrd means to me.  I listened to “One More From the Road” so many times that I had to buy another copy of the albums, because I wore the first one out.  I won’t even bore you guys with this, so we’ll just leave it at this.  I’m a fan.  Now there are no original members left in the band, but they stay so true to the music that I could have been sitting in my living room listening to “One More”.  And Ricky Medlocke is playing lead guitar!  Ricky is another one of those guys to me.  My goal in life is to be able to play the harmonica intro to Blackfoot’s “Train Train”  After that, I’m going to talk Ricky into letting me play it on stage with him.  But I digress into fantasy.  Let me sum up the concert.  I’ve heard Free Bird about 855, 309 times, give or take a few.  When the piano player started the intro, I started crying.  I know.  Pretty pathetic.  But that’s what a redneck does.  A fine end to an awesome few days.

But there’s more.  I come back to work on Sunday.  I do my usual stuff and head down to the casino to get some coffee.  I walk out of the elevator and bump right into Big Mike Fowler.  The guy from the last story.  Bass player for Black Oak Arkansas.  After I wrote about him in a previous story, I got an email from his sister.  She found my blog and sent it to him and he thought it was funny.  He looks at me and says ‘Are you the blog guy?’  I almost crap my pants before I stutter out my pathetic reply.  Yeah, that’s me….sorry about the mullet comment.  He just laughed, and we talked for a few minutes.  He’s probably one of the coolest people I ever met.  And I was wrong about the haircut.  Definitely not a mullet.  It’s the Southern Rock God haircut.  Look at an album cover by Molly Hatchett from the 1980’s and you’ll see what I mean.  If I could pull it off, that’s the ‘do that I’d be sporting.  Mike told me stories about some of the people he’s been on stage with, and I almost had to stop myself from bowing and scraping.  What a week!  So much for redneck stuff for now.  Back to all things Bojon with the next episode.  Until then, “Be proud to be rebel, cause the South’s gonna do it again!”

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Aaron on October 4, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    I love this story! You ARE the best Uncle ever!!
    Love you,
    Aaron

    Reply

  2. Posted by Vic Mishmash on December 18, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Mike – Vic Mishmash here formerly from 908 Egan. John Zobeck turned me on to your blog. Great stuff, I read it all and enjoyed it. Don’t know if you remember me but your Uncle Kenny was my first friend. I’m a year older than Ken and I used to help him babysit you when you were 2 or 3. I was there when Kenny gave you your first cussing lessons. I told him not to do it but you know Uncle Kenny. Anyway, my wife and I go to Cripple Creek sometimes and maybe we’ll run into you. I’ll look for a guy with a fancy cane.

    Reply

    • Hi Vic! Of course I remember you. You were one of the nicest guys ever to me. Some of the older guys tolerated me, but you were really cool to me! I’m back in Pueblo now. Cripple Creek is a great place to visit. Not so great to live and work in. By the way, you guys did a great job on molding my vocabulary! I still use a lot of those words frequently. It’s great to hear from you. I almost gave up on this blog, but knowing that guys like you actually took the time to read it and respond just makes me want to write more. Look for something soon.

      Reply

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