A month and change worth of ramble...

Before we get to this long awaited post, here's a brief opening note about it...

Much of this post was written upwards of a month ago or more.  To be honest, I can't remember when I started it.  It's pretty obvious that I was in a bad place when I hammered out most of these words, but since I left my laptop down at the Boohatcha while back, it's been quite some time since I worked on it.  There's not a lot of news in it, but there are some interesting stories and quips sandwiched between some sad sack bitching and moaning.  Ordinarily, I would start all over and leave it to an eternal and unfinished fate in the bowels of my drafts folder, but I'm sick of doing that.  I spend a lot of time coming up with some of this stuff only to throw it away like so many wads of notebook paper, but I don't throw it away because it isn't good...I throw it away because it's not always easy to confront the way I feel, and reading and re-reading and editing and re-reading my feelings often makes me sick of them.  Then I convince myself it isn't good so I can avoid said confrontation.  It's the very same thing that I feel adds to the strength of my songwriting.  Fullbright once told me that songwriting is a painful occupation for the sole fact that we experience our emotions and then force ourselves to re-experience and examine them to a point just shy of total insanity...and then we have to figure out an interesting and clever way to get those particular emotions across to another individual in 3 or 4 minutes worth of song. Anyway, self psychoanalysis session over.  Enjoy the post. -bw

If I were feeling more like myself as of late, I'd probably begin this post with some form of watered down half-apology in regards to my usual neglect of this randomly posted smattering of words. Then, I'd make some half-hearted promise that things will be different from now on in regards to my upkeep of this particular plot in the vast digital landscape that presently surrounds us. I would proceed to jump right on in to whatever thing or event might be going on or forthcoming, and I'd probably include some funny quips and descriptors about the way those things or events effect the trajectory and steer the course of my daily (nightly, really) life.  That's what I would do if I felt like myself. As it stands, I do not.  As a matter of cold, hard, undeniable fact, I can't remember the last time I even felt remotely akin to the person I used to think I might have been.  An uncomfortably foreign face stares back at me from any and every reflective surface I manage to walk by on any given day.  There are brief moments of clarity, moments when my visage seems ever so slightly more recognizable, but those moments are fleeting and fragile, few and far between. Most nights, I end up tottering around whatever venue or two-bit Texas town I happen to be frequenting with a big, dumb question mark hovering above my haggard head that tells the world around me that yes, in fact, I am as perpetually lost as I appear to be, and yes, I've almost come to terms with that fact. I've come as close as a man can without having the slightest insight as to his own tumultuous state of affairs.

Fuck this.

If I was an Emo kid, I'd be shedding tears in a graveyard and whining over pointless, poorly written lyrics about how pointless it is to try and find a point that was all moot to begin with.  So far, though, I'm not wearing makeup, sobbing along to some Sunny Day Real Estate, or trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans that are painfully and quite obviously too skinny for me, so I think it's safe to assume, dear reader, I remain (thankfully) no fucking Emo kid. Therefore, without further adieu (or bitchy rambling) we shall get this here hotdog wagon a-fuckin as my friend Adam Rittenberry would say.

Literally, that's the exact phrase he would most likely use, damn near down to the letter. I mention my friend and favorite harmonica player because I got to spend a substantial amount of time with him during the first week of this past October. Allow me to slowly and gently move you back through the  years, dear reader. Roughly three years if you want to get technical about it. This adventure will take us back to a time rife with excitement and awash in waves of optimistic uncertainty. The future was a wide open road that could have taken us absolutely anywhere, but actually only led us to this exact moment in time in which we currently reside.  It's a swath of the past that I find myself combing over and through more and more frequently as of late, partially in an effort to recapture the happiness and excitement that seemed to permeate those mythical years, and partially in an effort to learn from the missteps and mistakes that were made so as not to repeat them. I could spout off a few dozen different (and very adult-sounding) reasons that I'm sitting behind this desk, chain smoking Camel's in front of a flat panel monitor, and basking in the bitter-sweet limelight of yesteryear, but none of them would be wholly truthful.  The actual reason I'm digging through our first few raucous and rowdy years of being an honest-to-God full time touring rock and roll band is so I can remember what it feels like to look out on your future with unabashed, untarnished hope.  It's probably just me being a grumpy and slightly bitter human being, but hope has been in drastically short supply as of late.

 "What a whiny bitch!" he exclaimed to himself after a haphazard re-reading of the previous paragraphs.  I've also just taken about thirty minutes to start digging through ye olde social media sites in an effort to refresh my memory for what is most definitely going to be a far more expansive undertaking than i thought it would be.  However, just the random pics alone I've been pulling off of our facebook page from 2010/2011 have been enough to make me tear up a bit already. Througth those tears, I'm also laughing my ass off at the random Skinner Quotes, pictures, and bits of wisdom that Tiny bestowed upon me in those early years of being on the road.  Things like the following...
  • "I was hunkered down in the back of the van...you're always safe in the back of the van..." -from an audio file Mac sent me years ago of Tom recounting a tale about overindulgence in the eighties.
  • "It's a well oiled machine, aint it?" -following a forty-five minute adventure in which McClure was driving the MMB van haphazardly around the back roads of Missouri whilst we tried (and mostly failed) to follow his lead in a safe and basically legal manner.
  • "Well boys, time to take it on the road and root us up some ghosts!!" -during a conversation about our as-yet-unrealized dream of filming the pilot episode of Red Dirt Rockin' Ghost Hunters, a show in which various Red Dirt type artists go huntin' up ghosts, starring Tom Skinner as our resident spirit guide, medium, and expert consumer of fine fried eats. Unfortunately, time is an unrepentant and frigid mistress, and we're all her favorite whipping mice when it comes to our best laid plans.
A few horsemen of the Red Dirt Apocalypse. Chuck Dunlap, Randy Crouch, and Tiny Tom Skinner

Found a lot of fantastic stuff from our old Tweets about Tom.  I'm embedding them because they're incredible.  You're gonna like that!

That's not to mention the incredible gold on Tom's old Twitter account @nusofshu

Gloves are handy. Brief, true, and undeniably hilarious.

There we go.  Now I feel better. Sometimes, all it takes is a little time spent in reflection to calm the waters of the present enough to sail out into the vast and uncertain sea of the future. So off we sail...only, instead of into the future, we're going back to the past.  Eff you, future. And now, a brief interlude from the future.

I started this post quite some time ago, so if the tone seems a bit...two-toned, that's probably because it is.  Keep in mind, I have no control over where the movie begins or ends.  These blog's take substantial amounts of time and dedication, and sometimes I have to set them aside and let them breathe before I can muster the words with which to finish them.  Before I got all Twitter crazy (mainly because I finally figured out how to search through all of my old tweets and it distracted the shit out of me) I was attempting to get back around to some Biggie stories from the old days.  If my ramshackle idea of turning blog posts into pieces of book ever pans out, something tells me it's the Biggie chapters that will end up being the most popular.  I know they're going to be my favorites.

Looking back for the first time and trying to pinpoint the exact moment I met Adam Rittenberry, I'm honestly drawing a blank. I assume it was probably at the Deli, but chances are we had run into each other beforehand at some open mic type jam or other in or around the OKC metro area. I recall that he was under the employ of this Guy who, at that time, had a sponsorship with a local western outfitter. During those days, Biggie would wear these intensely western shirts with the snaps on 'em, a nice pair of boots, and occasionally a completely out-of-character-for-Biggie cowboy hat.  There are some pretty fantastic stories from that time in Biggie's life, most notably the last grouping of shows he played with said Guy (who I'm referring to as ambiguously as possible so nobody's feelings get hurt) before the entire band quit and had to make their way home in a most uncomfortable manner...but that's Biggie's tale to tell and I could hardly do it justice.  Let's just say there was a U-Haul, saran wrap, Vodka shortage, and a terribly long and bitter cold trip across half of the country before they made it back to yon Sooner State.  I can, however, tell this one...

Spacedog himself, aka Bob Moore

One of the first nights I can recall hanging out with Biggie was at that musty old house of ill repute known as the Porthole at 39th and Portland in Oklahoma City.  Our galactic guide to the rock and roll cosmultiverse Mr. Bob Moore used to host an open mic/jam at that smoke-hazed shack on Tuesday or Wednesday nights.  At the time, I was working a day job as an Autocad Technician for a fairly reputable engineering firm and spending my nights playing music with the Nefarious Double Clutchers, a trio that consisted of myself, Buffalo Rogers, and my high school homie and former roommate Joel Tiberius Mosman, By day, I worked my 9 to 5 in a pair of slacks and walked on a cane, pointing and clicking for better pay than I'll likely ever make again, and by night I played with Buff and J-Bear at any jam or open mic that happened to be happening around town so as to hone our folky-type chops and maybe catch a paying gig or three while we were at it.

We three Double Clutchers met up with Biggie and Guy at the Porthole for Bob Moore's jam, drank a few beers, smoked a few left handed cigarettes out back on the smoking porch, and Double Clutched our way through a decent little set around about the midnight hour.  While we were jamming, swapping stories, and having the proverbial time, a short but stocky dude in his forties was at the bar getting shit-hammered on whatever poison he was picking that fateful eve.  After the set was over, we cased our instruments and walked out front in a group of both substantial number AND substantial median weight.  While we were shooting the shit with Bob in the parking lot out front of the bar, this short but stocky gentleman erupted through the front door, muttering obscenities to the night air and paying absolutely no attention to the huge group of huge dudes standing around and yakking about songs and folk music. This asshole stumbled past Buffalo's Town Car to his own vehicle parked in the next spot over, opened his rear driver's side door, produced a metal baseball bat from the back seat, and shattered Buffalo's passenger side windows...for absolutely no reason. When the initial shock wore off and we all realized the insanity of what had just happened in front of us, Buffalo just yelled "Hey, that's my fuckin' Town Car!!" and we all turned to rush this guy in hopes of tuning him up a bit and detaining him until the cops arrived.  In spite of his herculean level of intoxication, the sight of all six of us (minus Guy, who fled into the night like a frightened baby deer at the first sign of trouble) bearing down on him sobered him up enough to realize that he had made a pretty grave , grievous mistake and was about to receive a serious ass kicking if he didn't get in his car and speed away.  Biggie managed to both kick his car as he pulled off AND throw a flip flop at it, neither of which did a whole lot of good but certainly made him feel better.  After stashing an unregistered handgun, we called the cops, made the report, and went back to my old place on 37th and Penn for more left handed cigarettes and music. It was a single night among a few years worth of noteworthy nights, nights spent under the influence and over the top.  We were young and certain that our best years lay somewhere out in front of us, when we were smack dab in the middle of some of the best times I can recall.

Nefarious Double Clutchers at Sauced OKC c. 2009
I realize this post is all over the damn place, but I've been working on it in pieces for over a month and I'm getting a little sick of hammering out a few thousand words only to let them lie dormant in a dead draft on my Blogger dashboard, so I'm just going to leave it be and let you decide whether or not its worth the read.  Look forward to more stories from the old days, I promise I'll get to all of them eventually.  Until then, folks and folkettes, I'll see you on down the road.

Bryon White/TDQ