Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Real Hephzibah People, Take Two, Hephzibah, Ga. (DS09/DH09)

As soon as I saw a town called Hephzibah on the map, I wanted to go there. It was kind of on the way from Augusta to Savannah, so we stopped at the one gas station in town to take on fuel. One couple was making out at the c-store, the boy seated on the curb and his young lady leaning over him. Next to the gas station was a brilliantly painted wood and cinder block restaurant, THE BURGER SHACK, desolate and bathing in the moonlight and the weak fluorescence emanating from the gas station.

I tried shooting the shack with two or three different lenses, and I wasn't getting it right. Of my three companions, at least two were already in the air-conditioned car and itching to go. It was just before ten, and the drive was going to take over two hours. We thought that our chances of drinking in Savannah were just about to die in this lonely country town.

Just as I was about to walk back to the car with my camera bag, I heard an engine revving up in the unlit, adjoining parking lot. Suddenly, a Dodge pickup came tearing out of the darkness, directly at me, with just its parking lights on. Meade's eyes registered the fast-approaching truck. Being from Queens, we thought we were in for some type of altercation, a good ol' street standoff.

The truck screeched to a stop about ten yards from us. A voice came from the blackness behind the wheel of the pickup: "Y'all take a picture of us!"

Out stepped three teenage Hephzibans into one of my favorite shots of Deep South 2009, Real Hephzibah People:

We chatted with these kids for a while. They were kind of shocked by our ambitious roadtrip plans; none of them got out of town often. They were just whiling away this hot, humid, late spring Thursday night in the Family Dollar parking lot. Meade and I brought them over to our vehicle to introduce everyone.

There were two girls and a boy. I've forgotten two out of three names, but the girl pictured at the top of the post was named Savannah.

"Y'all be careful, especially in the city," she said just before we shipped off. "People are crazy out there."

We got to Savannah after midnight but stayed up til 3 or 4. A couple nights later, when we made a late-night fuel stop deep in the Florida panhandle, and almost a dozen teens were found in and around the gas station, it just made sense.

Cross-posted to Flickr.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Louie Mueller Barbecue: Smoke and Sunlight -- Taylor, Tex.

Louie Mueller Barbecue: Lone Star Beer, Best Beer in the World -- Taylor, Tex.

Louie Mueller Barbecue Dining Room -- Taylor, Tex.

Dale Watson's Guitar

Whenever I talk about Dale Watson's guitar, someone gets pissed off. Apparently if I touch Dale Watson's guitar, people get even angrier.

Dale Watson is probably my only living musical hero, a man twenty years my senior who does exactly what he wants/needs to do, and makes a living doing it. Last year, in the men's room of Manhattan's Rodeo Bar, I told a guy who looked suspiciously like Popa Chubby that Dale's guitar wasn't a Telecaster, it was a custom-made Australian Tomkins. The guy sulked off angrily. Oh well.

I've seen Dale play on his home turf of Austin several times, both at the Continental Club and the Broken Spoke. When I met him at the Broken Spoke, and later at the Rodeo Bar, he told me of his affinity for Johnny D's in Davis and vowed to return there.

So when he finally arrived in Somerville tonight, of course I was at the show. But, after an amazing, two-hour set , I refused to stand in the line of couples waiting to talk to Dale. I left, satisfied to have enjoyed some fine, American music.

After I walked out the door, though, I looked back through the slotted blinds of Johnny D's. On the stage, some potbellied, non-urbane, fat bastard in a cowboy hat sat slouched over Dale's battle-worn, custom Australian guitar, slaughtering even the cheesiest blues licks while his wife loudly applauded him. I couldn't even believe that the instrument was still plugged in. "This has to stop," I told my companions, and marched back into the closed club, past the doorman who earlier noted that I was "becoming a regular."

I approached the guy attempting to play the guitar. My right hand found a quarter in the right front pocket of my jeans and I clenched the coin in my fist. When the fat man stood up to relinquish the most important guitar in country music, he stepped on the cable to the amplifier, ripping it out of the guitar. He dropped Dale's guitar on the stage, then attempted to play his own guitar, which he had apparently brought to the show in hope of doing something with it.

Once the fat man moved aside, I picked up Dale Watson's guitar!! Though famously covered with Mexican coins, the guitar was surprisingly light and the fretboard buttery to the touch. I found the instrument cable on the floor and tapped the tip with my thumb--the amp was still live from the set. I plugged the guitar back in, and using the quarter as a pick, started ripping through my song "Teardown Kings," transposed from E to D to match Dale Watson's tuning.

Immediately people began clapping along and moved closer to the stage. Surprised at not being challenged in any way, I shouted: "I paid fifteen dollars, and I'm gonna have fifteen dollars worth of fun!" People clapped more. The suburbanites took offense. I ripped into a few INFRASTRUCTURE leads before the fat man's wife descended on me, ripped Dale Watson's guitar out of my hands, tore the live amplifier cable out of the guitar, and ran off with the instrument, shouting KID, GO HOME! YOU SUCK, KID! KID, YOU SUCK!

You better take a cab home, classy lady! I said, after apparently emasculating the drunken fat hubby. Don't drive tonight. Time to go back to the suburbs!

As I walked away from the stage, I felt a force on my back. The crazy lady had run up to me and grabbed me from behind. She was holding me back with both arms. I felt the fingernails of both her hands through my leather jacket.


I turned around, looked her dead in the drunken eyes, and said: That's even worse.
And walked off.

After that, I somehow ended up talking to Don Raby, Dale Watson's fiddle player, about how he left a successful career developing hardware and software for Dell in favor of a musician's life on the road. I like hearing what I need to hear. Then, I talked for a while with Dale's new drummer, who invited me onto the band's 1975 Eagle tour bus, the Drag N Fly, before they shipped south to gigs in DC and Richmond.

Among other topics discussed, I had the opportunity to ask Dale Watson if he got his guitar back. He made a wincing gesture. That guy was terrible, he said. I just left him to mess around with it and got out of there.

Dale gave me a Lone Star beer to walk home with. But you might want to hide that, he said, the cops have been watching us all night.

Sure enough, a Somerville cop saw me with the bottle, parked and waited for me to walk past him. I stopped in my tracks for about ten minutes. The cop drove around the block with his headlights off, parked again, and waited some more. I had to pour about ten ounces out, but I'm keeping the bottle Dale Watson gave me on my bookshelf.

As for the suburban couple, I hope they made it home alive, but I don't really care either way.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

True Tales of the MBTA

Brother is on 86, trying to transfer onto 66. Upon the 86's arrival at Dawes Island, 66 immediately pulls away, stranding all transfer passengers.

I board 66 at next stop. 86 pulls up behind. I ask driver if he minds waiting for passengers from the 86. NO, he says. DIS EEZ NOT A CAB. He speeds off, leaving the 86 behind.

Brother tells 86 driver he is trying to get on 66. 86 driver cuts off 66 in Brighton, allowing brother to transfer at Western Ave.

Fuck you, 66 driver! I see you every Saturday, and you NEVER say good morning back to me. Now I know for sure that you're an actual piece of human garbage.

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Dale Watson at the Broken Spoke, 12/12/09

Boston people should see him at Johnny D's tomorrow night, 1/24.

The apartment next door just said:

"I mean, he's having a cigarette because he's still alive."


Thursday, January 21, 2010

There is no shortage of White Boy Funk bands in New Hampshire.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

INFRATOUR: Will it happen this summer?

FACT: The band will have by next month 11 original songs.
FACT: The live show rocks.
FACT: Dan Meade and Rob Bellinger are professional roadtrippers.
FACT: We know people all over America.
FACT: We want to play American music for them.
FACT: We can afford to do so.

So what's to stop us?

Do you have any suggestions for additions or deletions to the map...or venues where our sound would go over well? Please comment below.

View INFRAtour `10 in a larger map

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Sunday, January 17, 2010


"You gotta be shittin' me," said a passerby. "Talk about minimum wage."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Vulcan of Birmingham Thrusts His Spearpoint Skyward (DS09)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Silo, Lexington, Tex.

Child, Vacuum, Dumpster, Lexington, Tex. (DH09)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cowkid, Lexington, Tex. (DH09)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Snow's BBQ, Lexington, Texas: 2009 Visit

Snow's serves the best barbecue in Texas, as judged by Texas Monthly (not the New Yorker). The Manic American team visits Snow's every December to have brisket for breakfast and check in with the crew.

Please check out the photos from this year's visit on Flickr. Here are my three favorites:

Tootsie Tomanetz, Pitmaster

Brisket, Pork Shoulder, Jalapeno, Sauce

Owner Kerry Bexley Explaining His Art

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