Monday, August 21, 2006

Amok Time

Subject: guitarist – Rock Bottom

Venue: Longshot Saloon, Portage Des Sioux, Mo

Saturday, August 19th

Part II

(Note: you might want to read Part I, Friday night’s installment “I Like Your Pants Around Your Feet” first, to get the full vibe of this weekend’s tales)

Tonight’s adventure started with a much dryer forecast and somewhat cooler as well. With the owner’s “gentle suggestion” last night, I figured we’d try to fire up a bit earlier tonight. That was cool with me, seeing as it would improve our chances of keeping a decent crowd, and we’d get out earlier, so I had a chance to hit a good party in Alton somewhere, probably Front Street again!

I decided to trek up to Alton before hand and grab some dinner alone. I’d planned on eating with my daughters before the show, but naturally, they had other plans: spending the night at a neighbor’s daughter’s house. God bless ‘em!

There’s several good dining choices in downtown Alton, but I was leaning towards Don and Penny’s, a small place I’d discovered a few months ago while wandering the streets of Alton, taking in the “local flavor” as I love doing when I travel. Last time I was there, I remember having a hard time deciding what to eat; there were so many good choices. That means I had to go back, and try some other entrée!

Don and Penny’s was very slow, I only spotted one family there eating pizza. Kinda sad, because I think it’s a quaint little place, and they have a very diverse menu. But, as business is, they have quite a bit of competition in the downtown area (Tony’s is a landmark), and you almost have to know it’s there to go there. But, maybe tonight was just a slow night.

I perused the menu, looking for what choices I passed on last time. They had the usual steaks and chops, and quite a Mexican line up. But, I could go to a Mexican restaurant for that. Last time there I had the Fettuccine Milano, which was a variation on the Fettuccine Alfredo, using meat for say, chicken or seafood. Well done, but, in all honesty, chicken and seafood better suit Alfredo. Interesting to try though.

As I scanned across their Board of Fare, the choice was obvious: Crawfish Etoufee! My ex-wife loves crab legs, and anytime we went to Joe’s Crab Shack, I always had the Cajun spicy Crawdad Etoufee, with loads of Habanaro sauce. OOO, son !

“What does that come with?” I asked my server.

“Uh, I don’t know,” she said. “No one’s ever ordered it since I’ve been working here.” Ah, I see. She’s on top of her game!

I ordered some potato soup to go along with which she brought out straight away, and it was delicious. My entrée was served up very shortly after, before I was even done with my soup. Speedy service! No Habanaro sauce, though, but then, I didn’t ask for any.

As I enjoyed my hearty serving of Etoufee (which was quite good, as good if not better than the Ameristar, I’ll tell you!), another server buzzed by, cleaning up the table left by the family who’d vacated the “non-smoking” section. I couldn’t help but notice her glance over at my direction, several times in fact. Was I an oddity? Is it that rare that someone orders Crawfish Etoufee around here?

Sure enough, she mustered up the courage to confront me and asked “did you have the Gumbo?”


“Oh,” she giggled. She was a young brunette with her pigtails braided. Her young face bore an Hispanic/Indian look. Perhaps it was the pigtails that made her look like the squaw on the Land O’ Lakes butter carton.

“It’s very good,” I told her.

She made some light banter, and shuffled off to let me enjoy my Etoufee, which packed some mild heat. Perfect for dousing out with Bud Light.

She returned a bit later, and we struck up an interesting conversation. I was almost getting the hint that she was attracted to me. At least, I was hoping she was! Quite an attractive young lady, with very pale, green eyes. Man, I’m a sucker for those!

I casually mentioned I was playing tonight and she broke in “yeah, I was going to ask her,” she said, motioning to my server “if you were a rock star or something!”

Uh, sure. You bet I am, honey!

I gently tried to gauge how young she was by stating “I’ll bet my guitar is older than you!”

“Oh yeah,” she said. “How old?”

“Well, it was made in 1978.”

“Oh,” she sighed, “yeah, it is. I was born in ’87.”

My fucking heart sank. She was the same age as my “ex” step-son. Ohh, that’s creepy. She literally could be my daughter, and we’re flirting away like cats in heat.

We talked for a moment, and I learned some interesting things about her. She seemed like a very sweet, interesting soul in our brief encounter. Then she left me to finish my dinner.

There was so much food on the plate I let it go. Etoufee – 1: Deron – 0. Megan, the young ladies name, came back a third time, announcing she was getting off work early because it was so slow. She asked me for a light, and I obliged. God, it was just sitting out there to get her phone number, and take this further, but am I really ready to invest time with a 19 year old? I couldn’t pull the trigger, as pretty as she was. She wished me a safe travel to my gig, and that it was WONDERFUL to meet me. Megan, it was wonderful to meet you, too. Made me feel 25 again, even though when I was 25, she was 4. And my guitar was 13.

I made it to Longshot before anyone else, naturally. No one else got the “memo” about starting early. I almost had half a mind to drive over to the St. Charles Landing for a beer. But, there was a serious problem: I was broke from last night.

I made small talk with the wait staff, and they were very amicable. One waitress who’d been there several times before when we’ve played chatted with me, and she’s an attractive, bookish librarian type. Love those glasses! Put green eyes and glasses together on a woman, and, well… I’m lucky I’m not paying alimony to that one! But I’m a sucker for ‘em, to be sure.

“I’m pissed!” she declared. “I’ve been here since 4, and I’ve made $26.”

Wow, this isn’t starting off well.

“You ready to start a three state killing spree?” I asked her.


“I have a list…”

The other bartender was a black woman who mentioned she was living in Bethalto. Quite a trek for her here too. She had some difficulty making a Bloody Mary, so she enlisted the help of the woman next to me who apparently was a bartender known to them. I dunno if she worked there previously. Upon striking up a conversation with her, I learned that today was “Jamaica Days” on the river.

What the hell was that?

“It’s like Party Cove, where every one ties their boats up, and it’s crazy. You literally have to walk your boat back there, there are so many people.” That cinches it: I need a bigger boat. My Bass Tracker isn’t going to pick up chicks!

Took me a second, but perhaps “Jamaica Days” means they’re all getting stoned or something. I still don’t quite understand the reference, but I understood two things quite clearly: loads of people (and bare breasted women) getting hammered and they might just travel down the river to check us out after dark. This had possibilities!

Another gray haired gentleman with an Argosy polo shirt (read: money) struck up a conversation with me.

“I saw you guys last night, you really kick ass!” he told me. I sheepishly thanked him. “You though, you look familiar. I’ve seen you play somewhere else.”

“Uh, well, the singer and I have been playing together for about 20 years. Perhaps you saw us at Grannys, or Stages, or Pops?” His face lit up.

“That’s it!” he declared. “I knew by the way you moved, I’d seen you around before!”

I was flattered he remembered me.

“Stages, wow! Now you’re dating yourself! That’s been closed for quite some time!”

I wasn’t so flattered now…

In all seriousness, he was a kind gentleman who said he was looking forward to hearing the full show as he couldn’t stay late last night, but that as he slept on his boat, he could still hear us. We put him to sleep. I imagine that most of Portage Des Sioux can hear us!

As the crew meandered in, drops of rain started to fall. Christ, not again! Carson, our soundman, scrambled for the tarps and we starting covering anything plugged in. The owner popped in from the screen door and asked if we could start some kind of music to let the boaters hear as they made the trip down the river from this massive party, hoping to entice them to stop in for a drink. Carson just about went off, continuing his rants from the night before, making all of us very uncomfortable. Don’t fuck this gig up for us, Carson, even if it does suck again tonight.

But, honestly, we had a good start. The rain was very brief, and there was little damage. We had a much better crowd to work with, and we started off on a very good note, getting some of the older, richer “40 something crowd” (CHRIST, of which I’m now a member!) dancing and enjoying the show. And it was a decent crowd tonight to start, with more finding their way in. I’d notice a number of bobbing heads to the beat of our music, and lips synching with the lyrics Steve was belting out. That’s a cool feeling, to know you’re connecting.

About halfway thorough the set, the air kind of let out of the set, and we sorta lost ‘em. We went through Barracuda again tonight, and I fully expected a better rendition tonight than last night, and a better response. I was wrong on both accounts. Oh well, c’est la vie! Sometimes when you walk that edge, you fall off.

Lo and behold, as promised, the Jagermeister Girls actually showed up! Before long, towards the end of our set, and through the break, the Jagerbombs were flowing. I had one myself, as our bookish librarian delivered trays full around the bar. By bookish librarian, I don’t mean to confuse that with Chrome Diva, who actually is a librarian! Her and her Salty Dog compatriot rode their bikes out again tonight to see us, but I disappointed them yet again by not playing Mississippi Queen. I need to work on that for them! I promise! That’s a bitch to sing and play at the same time!

The second set got underway, and it was a resounding success, courtesy of Jagermeister. The music selection was right on the money, and the Jagergirls had loosened everyone up. Our table of “band wives” (well, Theresa and Chrissy) were having a great time, dancing and strutting their stuff. Night and day from the night before. And, I was happy for the owner, because I knew tonight he wasn’t digging into his pocket to pay us.

Library Lady (I think her name was Maraleesa) delivered tray after tray of Jagerbombs to everyone (at $4 a pop). The sexy Jagergirls were handing out loads of Jager merchandise, including giving me a terrific hat (eat your damn heart out, Derrick!). I can’t remember how many Jagerbombs I did. “That will keep you going!” Steve motioned, remarking about the Red Bull and its caffeine effects.

One Jagerbomb does stick out in my mind, however. While playing, my favorite Librarian set one on the cabinet in front of me. “For you!” she declared. It sat for a spell as we were in a good groove, and I didn’t stop to break the momentum. When I did, I reached for it as she paraded across the bar with yet another tray of the purple “elixir”.

“Raise them up high,” I spouted off, and starting making some bullshit spiel about a toast, and everyone getting hammered on Jager tonight, helping the bar sell more. After all, I’m here mainly to sell drinks; I don’t kid myself of that!

No sooner than I made my toast, when someone had a toast of his own off to my left: a right hook! As I stood, Jagerbomb held high, a fracas erupted before me that can only be compared to a Blues/Blackhawk game of the old days! Cocktail tables went flying, drinks crashed to the ground (I didn’t see if my poor librarian lost her tray of goodies, as she was in the thick of things), and testosterone ran amok! Of the thirty or so patrons in the bar, half were involved in the debacle, and the other half followed them out to the parking lot where it continued unabated for, uh, ten or fifteen minutes or so.

“Damn,” I said. “You people are killing my buzz!” The combatants were unconcerned.

Like professionals we are, we kept playing, hoping peace would be restored. And that there still would be patrons left to enjoy our antics! I began to wonder, does Portage even have a police department? None had showed up, and I don’t believe any were ever called. St. Charles County would probably take a while to get out this far!

I looked out over my shoulder onto the parking lot while we played, and the fight carried on, with the throng of humanity shifting from one side of the lot to the other. That was as much as I could make out. Steve, with his wireless mic, stepped out onto the stairway, watching the brawl as he sang, uninterrupted. How surreal that must have seemed to the patrons standing next to him: all of them watching a rumble from above, while long haired Steve belting out 80’s metal hits at their side. A freaking game show! I found it very humorous.

At the end, I noticed a gentleman running down the road at top speed into the darkness with a couple individuals giving mild pursuit. I was later told he was the main instigator, a real tool that couldn’t handle his liquor, and subsequently had the shit kicked out of him several times that past altercation. He was fleeing for his life. He started the fight with a very mild mannered dentist in the crowd, picking on who I guess he thought he could man handle. Unfortunately for him, the entire crowd came to the dentist’s aide, and the shit was on.

At the conclusion of our set, I mentioned over the mic that I’m 350 lbs, and full of two years of anger I’m looking to work out, if anyone wants to go. There were no takers.

On break, the dentist’s brother, shirtless, sweating, and pumped with adrenaline, went into detail about the event, how this douchebag sucker punched his brother, how he came to his aide, how he proceeded to beat the hell out of him, and how GOD DAMMIT, HE FELT YOUNG AGAIN! WOOOO!

Yeah, brother, I’m with you there!

Alcohol is a dangerous drug!

By the way, the Jagergirls were nowhere to be found after this. Their work here was done!

To my amazement, a majority of the crowd piled back into the bar after the Gladiatorial Games, and we continued the third set to a good crowd. In fact, a trio of lovely ladies appeared off the “street” (river?), and in conversation with them, I learned they had been everywhere up the river tonight, at several party spots. I guess this was working out as planned after all! Bully!

Steve grudgingly sang Metal Health as an encore for the owner (Steve tried to get me to sing it! Yeah, right! Here, play guitar on it, douchebag!), and with that, I felt we put a good stamp onto a much better evening than last night. More successful, at any rate.

Now, there was only one thing on my mind: pack up, get paid, and hit Front Street!

I guess it was the Red Bull (Steve was right!), but I packed that Durango with a quickness, hauling both my cabinets down the steep steps with a flurry! I grabbed a beer to go (hey, it’s the boondocks!) and made my way straight to Front Street.

To my dismay, Frantic had quit performing when I arrived at 2:30. They were loading out (with damn near the same quickness I did) and greeted me at the door, apologizing. It was of little consequence.

I walked in to find the place packed, barely room to grab a beer at the bar, and pretty women everywhere, dancing on tables and railings to DJ T-Bone’s mix.

Alright, this is what I’m talking about!

I sucked down some suds, and cased the joint, looking for familiar faces, or even just smiling ones, if you know what I mean! It was a mad house! Quite a party. The lights, the mix, the females moving, shaking, smiling, drinking. Single man’s heaven!

But, being an older, shyer moron, I found myself kibitzing with those I knew.

Sam, a waitress from 501 was mounted on a barstool, smiling and putting on quite a buzz. Some of the usual suspects were there from last night, as well as Floyd and Chelly, and other familiar faces from the darkness.

C.J. rolled in, as I told him I was heading straight there. Boozie and his wife, Chrissy showed up too! And Carson even came in! What the hell? Where did he come from? I can’t remember when I’d last seen him at a bar that he wasn’t running sound at!

Lindsay approached me to my delight, arms open for a firm hug. She was wearing similar baggy pants as the night before, and I wondered where Jared was to help my imagination…

“I got your text message, but I didn’t read it until, like, 4 this afternoon when I got up!” she gushed.

Uh oh. How embarrassing! In the haze last night after leaving Front Street, I remembered while waiting in the drive thru line at McDonalds that I not only text messaged my flirty friend out of town, I sent a text to Lindsay about how adorable I find her at like, um, 3:30 AM. Well, I was drunk, and it was hard to get that visual out of my head! What can I say? Like you haven’t done something that you wake up the next day and went “did I really do that?”

Still, she seemed in good humor about it.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I hope you don’t think I’m a stalker or anything!”

“No!” she declared. “I liked it!”

Oh! Well! That changes everything!

“Really?” I asked. She nodded with a big, bright smile. “In that case, you’re going to get a lot more text messages from me, you know that?”

“Ok!” she said, beaming. What a girl.

With that, I let her be, and schmoozed around with everyone else. Randy and Howard from 501 were about, and obviously very happy with the turn out since they’ve taken this place over. Looks good tonight. We’re here in a couple weeks, and I hope we have a similar crowd, and a similar party.

Derrick Howard rambled in, gave me a firm handshake and asked “where were you at tonight, Derwood?”

“Portage Des Sioux,” I told him. “We had the Jager Girls!”

“YOU DICK!” he declared. I showed him my Jager cap I was sporting. “Hey!” he broke in, “what are you doing next weekend, you playing?”

“No, we’re off.”

“We’re doing 501, you want to play?”

“Absolutely!” Money! I need money! And a great crowd and place to play. Oh, yeah, and Lindsay works there too, but, hey…

“Play that and I’ll split it with you, and then you won’t owe me for the cabinet. Jay Rolens is on drums. Dude, he’s…” He rolled his eyes and gave me that “awesome” expression.

“Sounds great!” I told him. Yeah, truth be known, I just love playing, I love the action with the crowd, I love the party, I love the challenge of playing with different people and different styles.

Oh, yeah. And Lindsay works there…

We polished off as many beers as we could, and even some more as they kicked everyone out.

“If you’re not with the band, or sleeping with someone in the band, you have to leave!” they shouted.

“Does it matter what band?” I asked. “There’s a lot of us in bands around here tonight!”

I managed to finagle another road beer out of them, and they even handed it to me gratis, telling me to put my money away. It’s good to be the Deron! We said our goodbyes, our take cares, and drive safes, and we all parted into the summer night, under the bright lights of Argosy casino.

And yeah, on the way home, I texted Lindsay again, just because I told her I was going to…