Herewith is the continuing narrative of my latest serial short story, concocted from one of my songs.
Red frowned when he heard the sound of a country band, really more like a rock band playing country songs, from outside. This was bad for two reasons. The first was that he and Andy couldn’t set up their own equipment till the opening act got through. Maybe he could get some help from the paying customers, and maybe they’d still be sober enough to do it without dropping something or tripping over the cords. The second reason he didn’t like it was because it wasn’t easy for two guys, one playing rhythm and the other playing lead, to follow a band, even though this particular one wasn’t much good.
Lord, ain’t they butchering that Dwight Yoakam song. If I was a bad feller, I’d go up there and open with “Guitars, Cadillacs” just to show ‘em how to do it right. Fortunately, I ain’t a bad feller.
The band wasn’t bound for glory, but apparently its members knew who Red Hawthorn was. As soon as they saw him, they made a point of introducing him to the modest crowd, one he hoped was going to get larger because he was playing for a percentage, not a flat rate.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the reason we’re here is that that fellow right yonder’s here,” the lead singer, who didn’t play an instrument, intoned. “One of the greatest songwriters ever come out of these parts, Mr. Red Hawthorn. Stand up and take a bow, Red!”
Ah, it’s early. They’ll be a heap more once these boys get done. Red tipped his black cowboy hat. He figured they’d be playing about another hour. Out of appreciation, he watched one more song, then he and Andy walked with their guitars into the dressing room, where the boys onstage had a small cooler of beer they’d brought with him and Hal had a big one that was part of his deal. More evidence of the band’s respect was that its members apparently hadn’t helped themselves to his beer. Andy sat on the couch. Red grabbed two Bud Lights and handed his son one.
“No big deal about me being underage?”
“Not back here,” Red answered, “and likely not onstage. Nobody’s gonna say nothing if somebody brings up beers for the two of us. And they will. Nothing folks love more than feeling like they’re getting drunk and the band is, too. They’re glad to help.”
Red sat down and took a swig.
“Uh, it helps, up to a point, to have a few drinks just to make you relax,” he said. “At least it does me. People think I’m relaxed as all get-out onstage. I ain’t, really. What I’m good at is hiding it. Nothing I hate worse than going onstage sober. I can do it, but, honestly, what I was thinking about was you. Andy, you’re at least five times better on a guitar than I am, but I have a lot easier time relaxing than you do. I’m all instinct. Shit, son, you actually know what you’re doing. What I do, essentially, is chase my voice with my guitar. That’s all songwriting is, at least for me. You can jam and riff and everything else I can’t, but you’re shy and uncertain when you’re trying to play along with me, and I think all you need is a little beer buzz to get you going.”
“I know what would help even more.”
“I know you do,” Red said, “but I want to play at this joint again sometime.”
TO BE CONTINUED