Music, you know, seeing an artist perform. Right?
“Sitting at mucky duck waiting to eat before Scott Miller tonight. People eating two tables over are driving me nuts. New York guy, Brazilian woman, loud talking guy who makes a statement and then says “right?”. All there seem obsessed with numbers, money and impressing each other. They are an unending stream carbon dioxide. Too bad there aren’t plants nearby. They would like them. It’s like a mini United Nations and just as pointless. I’d say kill me now but I really want to hear the show.” – Facebook post from Tuesday night.
I first met Scott Miller back in Fort Worth in ’95 or so. His band The V-Roys was touring to support their first release “Just Add Ice”. They’d been called the Viceroys until some defunct Jamaican band came out of the woodwork to claim the name. So, Scott and the band dropped the “ice” from their name and then on their first release gave you instructions to add the “ice” back in. The band was fronted by Scott and Mic Harrison. Now it’s been a long time, and a few drinks have been drunk between then and now (many more back then than now) but I seem to recall Mic’s name was Mike until a typo in a Guitar Player Magazine credited him as Mic, so they just kind of rolled with it. Scott wrote and sang. Mic wrote and sang. They were an incredible live band with a drunken swagger to their music. The contract rider for the Fort Worth show said simply, “Provide lots of Budweiser.” They drank two case before going on stage, a third while performing and then switched over to hard liquor after the set. That first night I was talking music with the drummer Jeff and they came round to kick me out and Jeff said not to worry. I was cool. I ended up hanging out drinking with them until 3 or so that evening.
I made a mess of this town
Now every sidewalk crack
Either knocks me down
Or breaks somebody’s back
And every face I see
As I look around
Says it’s time to leave
You made a mess of this town
Anyway, time passes. I saw the band several times in the Dallas and Fort Worth area over the next three years. Each time they put me on the guest list. I’m not sure why, I guess they were just nice that way. Also, I’m relatively unpopular in most circles, so they might have known I’d never be asking for a plus one on the guest list.
More time passed. The V-roys were too rock for country, too country for rock. In our world of easy classifications, they weren’t easy to classify. And, they broke up. There was also some issues with their label E-Squared. It was run by Steve Earle who had a deal with Warner Brothers, if I remember correctly. His deal was supposed to get the V-Roys a major label release. He had a falling out with Warners 3and it screwed up their rise to the majors.
Even more time passed (This chronology is making me feel very old). I moved back to Houston. Scott put together a new band and released a solo acoustic set he’d done. I’d actually dropped off a copy of that disc with Rusty, the owner of the Mucky Duck, and said he should try to get Scott to town. I guess I’m just nice that way. I don’t know if I had anything to do with him getting booked. Probably not.
It was probably about five years between the last time I saw the V-Roys play and the first time I saw Scott solo. I walked into the Mucky Duck and saw him and he immediately said, “Keith, how’s it going?” How in the hell he remembered my name I have no idea. I once went on a date with a girl I knew, but I spent the entire evening trying to remember her name. I’d run into her walking my dog and I’d asked her out, hoping that when she wrote down her number she’s write down her name as well. No luck. Bad date.
Well I dial your number,
maybe third time’s the charm
You make a pillow
in the crook of his arm
When you put on your story,
I will sigh with relief
Whatever you say dear,
it’s a lie I believe – The V-Roys
More time has passed and Scott’s been to town several times, with the band and without. About three years ago there was a loud mouthed ass who felt the need to respond to Scott’s banter in between songs. I’ve seen him at two other shows of Scott’s. He’s a fan which is nice, but he is an idiot when he’s drunk. The set was about to start and I saw that guy enter the room. I suddenly realized the only vacant seats were at my table. It was like the feeling of being on a crowded plane waiting for take-offf. Your rows empty and you’re thinking every things gonna be cool and then the last two people who get on the plane a huge. And you just have to sit there as they lumber up to your row and say, “I think I have the window. My friend has the aisle. I guess you’re in the middle.”
Sure enough the guy I was actively dreading would be at the show was not only there; he was going to be sitting at my table. He was with a different woman this time and he seems to have cut back on his drinking. He was fine for ninety percent of the show and then when he started on his third beer he got annoying. Not only is he a drunken lout, he’s a light weight as well. On the topic of the UN table of braggarts. when the woman with the loudmouth sat down at my table she commented on the room getting warmer. I mentioned that with more bodies in the place it was heating up. She then said, “it could also be from all that hot air coming from that table over there.” She motioned toward the UN building. New York Guy was talking about drinking sipping tequila in Shenzhou City, China. Loud talker was saying, “I bench press two forty-three, right?”
During the set break two other total strangers, unsolicited, talked with me about the loud idiots on the far side of the room. These were complete strangers that felt compelled to share how annoying those folks were. We were all dreading how the mini UN would handle the intrusion of midis everyone else was there to see. Well, the crowd shushed them on three separate occasions. Then the representatives from New York and Brazil left the table and loud talking jackass had no one to bray to. Things could have been worse.
Goodnight you loser,
you midnight moonlight user
It’s time for you to try and fall asleep
When you dance with him,
I see you blend Into who you are supposed to be
When you dance with him, the time you spend
Begins to turn you into something cheap
At the set break I saw a guy from the music section of the Chronicle, Andrew Dansby. I’d met him once before at a Johnny Bush/Roy Head Live from SugarHill session. That was where the photo to the right happened. I was the one running the camera. Proud to say I didn’t flinch.
When I mentioned Roy Head this 73-year-old regular of the Mucky Duck jumped into the conversation. He’d seen Roy play back in the sixties and Buck Owens back in the fifties. We talked about his fifty-fifth high school reunion. Out of 102 students in his class 82 were still around. “We did pretty good what with Vietnam and all,” he said. We talked about music and his dream journals. See, he’s been having dreams where he runs into a friend that he knows, but the location of the meeting is always somewhere completely foreign to his relationship with the person in the dream. He cautioned me to watch out for Ambien. “Don’t mess around with that stuff.”
I jumped at it when I had the chance[Chorus:] All we do is keep it rolling on
I joined the army and I went to France
At Roosevelt’s request
Two weeks of sitting in the mud
Made me lie to the man that I could drive a truck
For the Red Ball Express
Trading bodies for petroleum
Heating rations on the manifold
Never sleep enough to dream about home
Benzedreamin’ looking through cat eyes
Of a deuce and-a-half and a day’s supply
Of jerrycans in back
Ain’t no secret how the generals felt
F*** the men, they can eat their belts
But the tanks – they must have gas.
Finally, we talked about a Discovery Channel show he had just seen that convinced him that biblical figures like Moses were not messengers of God, but rather how they were given special abilities by space aliens. That’s when the conversation took a weird turn. We talked Roswell. We talked about the Greys. We talked about alien imagery in ancient cave paintings. We never got around to the Nazca lines. He wasn’t sure entirely of his new found beliefs because, as he put it, “I kept switching over to Friends, like a dumbass and missed some of it, but do you know about the oracle at Delphi?” Yep. Definitely took a wrong turn in there somewhere. It might have been at the start.
The show was good. A little mellow, but still a really nice evening. Scott was accompanied by the very talented Rayna Gellert on violin. It was a lot like the old days of seeing Scott with the V-Roys. Except, he’s sober now, the set was acoustic, I don’t have all my hair and I didn’t close down the bars. Actually, the only thing that was like the old days was that I didn’t have a plus one with me.
Oh, well. . . .
Midnight and I’m feeling alright, but my baby is tired
We drove down to a party in town
Should of known I was gonna drink too hard.
Windy road when I’m driving it home
Every twist and turn
I’ve had enough of the way I was
Seems like by now its time to learn
The way. – Scott Miller, The Way, Upside Downside