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This week in Music History: week in review button

Meeting Hank Williams Jr.

Filed under: RAT-Tales ! — rat July 26, 2006 @ 5:16 pm

hank williams jr.A few weeks before we opened the show for George Jones we were at that same venue setting up for the coming weekends show (when we were the headline act) and guess who walked in ?

Yep, it was Hank Williams Jr. along with a man in a nice suit. It was his promoter, they were there discussing an upcoming concert Hank was to play there. Unfortunately we did not get to open for Hank due to playing there already the week before, however, Hank did invite us to have a beer with him at the bar (that he paid for) and after talking to us for a while, sent his promoter out to the car to get an 8 x 10 photo of himself at the Grand Ole Opry which he autographed for us. I will never forget the look on that guys face when he was asked to do that ! Of course I still have the picture and will never forget meeting and being treated as equal by such a legend and influence in my music career.We could have seen the show for free but we were booked somewhere else that night. In the weeks to follow we got to open for George Jones to make up for not getting to open for Hank. Either way I feel very lucky.

Opening for George Jones

Filed under: RAT-Tales ! — rat @ 5:09 pm

george jonesAltho I have met and/or opened shows for many famous people in my career, the most memorable has to be opening the show for George “The Possum” Jones in 1985.

His legendary “He Stopped Loving Her Today” album had just been released and was doing very well in the charts when I got a phone call. It was about 6:30pm. “Hey Randy, this is Dave Friday at Big Reds, how would you like to open the show for George Jones tonight?,,,,,,pause,,,,Randy?,,,,,hello?,,,,” I was already on my way !

Soon as we got there, I was asked by who I thought was the head roadie if we had an amp the fiddle player could play thru as theirs had stopped working. So, I got to use my amp to play thru then the fiddler used it. Then a little short guy who we thought was another roadie came up and said “Hey, I`m, George’s drummer! Who’s your drummer?” Then we knew that these previously thought roadies were in fact The Band ! Very nice guys, and despite being a bit nervous, we did very well.

It was a sold out packed crowd. Soon as the MC announced us and we took the stage, I couldn’t help but notice at the foot of the stage below me at one of the few tables there (the rest was seating only, obviously an expensive ticket) was my girlfriend’s father, and it wasn’t her mother that he was with !!! Could have knocked him over with a feather !! After our show, we got to sit with George’s brother, his wife and some other crew and drink all the free beer we wanted while we enjoyed an excellent show that he DID show up for! It is a memory I will never forget.

Remember the milk !

Filed under: RAT-Tales ! — rat @ 5:07 pm

March 1, 2005: Having played on the road and eating at many Waffle Houses, Huddle Houses, Perkins’, Ihop’s, etc., in the wee hours of the morning after the shows for over 30 years, only twice has a waitress remembered to bring my large glass of milk when the meal was served, I always had to remind them. Each one of those two times, I gave a $5 tip (alot for me, lol) and told them this story !

The party after the party !

Filed under: RAT-Tales ! — rat @ 5:02 pm

As with most bands that stay overnight in motel / hotel rooms, there is usually always the “party after the party”,,,,,

Now this can mean either the band parties together with friends made at the club after the show and/or that one of the rooms is used for couples wishing to “do their own thing” ! I can remember vividly on one such occasion when we planned to play a practical joke on one of our band members by telling him there was going to be some hot chick meet one of us in “the room” for some “good times” and that if he wanted in on it he should get there first and be waiting naked in the closet ! Later that night after the show, the rest of the band and several “club aquaintances” quietly snuck into the room and got into position before turning on the lights and quickly opening the closet door to reveal this very surprised and slightly embarrassed person! Everyone had a good laugh including him as he dressed himself and joined the “party after the party” !

How we got the name “West 67”

Filed under: RAT-Tales ! — rat @ 5:01 pm

It’s not a long story, altho we spent a lot of time trying to come up with a good band name that would satisfy the agent.We were about to give up and choose something we all couldn’t agree on when RAT had to use the bathroom and then,,,, ,,,,,,,,it came to him.We practiced in the basement of my parents’ house (naturally)so everytime I would open the door and go outside to pee, the flourescent lights would shine outside and illuminate the road sign which read “WEST 67”. SO, that night while doing my business I decided, HEY, that’s it !!! I ran back inside (forgetting to zip my pants as I was quickly reminded by the bass players wife who was there) shouting out that I had IT ! I ran it by them and it was unaminously decided that would be our new name. The old one BTW was Southern Harvest Band which was unacceptable for a professional band.

RAT, the early years

Filed under: RAT-Tales ! — rat @ 4:59 pm

I was born into a musical family so I had access to various instruments laying around from the earliest time I can remember. I started trying to play them before I was even big enough to hold onto them. I remember people would say to my mom “That’s cute, do you pick?” Mom would say “Yes I pick. I pick them up here and move them over there, they are always laying around !!”. We had an old Kay acoustic that my dad bought in the 50`s, very large bodied guitar and I had a hard time holding it and it was hard to chord, but my dad wouldnt let me play the Gibson J50 (also bought in the 50`s until I was older. My older brother who could play well showed me my first chord: E minor. It’s the easiest one by far, so while he was playing the “good guitar” playing bar chords of all sorts and singing real songs, I would play along (loudly) in my only known chord (E min) !!! , this had to drive him nuts !! My dad showed me G, C, and D which led me to playing real songs myself. I had full access to bluegrass and country (all that was heard at my house) music tapes, records, etc., so I taught myself to play all that was there and by the time I was 9 I was playing at a local weekly getogether called “Hickory Tree”, was a gas station where bluegrass lovers came from all over to play and listen. I used to cry and pitch a fit when I could not go ! There were musicians there that went on to be big names like Raymond Fairchild, and Leon Kiser and the Holston Mountain Boys who used to let me inside “the circle” to pick with them. “The circle” is how bluegrass is played, everyone around one mic taking turns moving in sync to be near the mic for singing lead vocals, back-up harmonies and lead instruments as the turn was needed, it’s quite a choreography. Along with the many parkinglot bands that are found at most all bluegrass festivals and events which my dad took me to alot as he liked to collect recordings of it all, there was always the oppourtunity to wander around and stand close, listen, and play along with the different musicians. Eventually I got pretty good and upon hearing me, most all would open up “the circle” to allow me inside to join in and show off my skills. Of course there were problems, mainly, I was so short that I couldnt reach the mic and when I tried to hold up the oversized guitar, then I couldn’t pick fast enough. Eventually this was cured by my dad realizing my talent and responsibility for taking care of a guitar, he gave me the smaller bodied, much better quality guitar, the Gibson J50. Was I in Heaven then ! This gained me more respect and they started lowering the mic for me, plus I was starting to sing some. My dad still reminds me of my first song I sang there (that he recorded of course), “Bringing Mary Home”. All I remember was how nervous I was and how good it felt to have the complete attention of everyone there and all the applause at the end ! From that time on I was hooked and there was not enough festivals to go to which I started competing in and winning alot, played with some prominent bluegrass bands as an early teen, did some gospel music stuff, always sang at home with my mother who could sing high tenor to a siren, but then that all changed with puberty, yes it was the 70’s, the time for Rock and Roll ! I was old enough and good enough to play in my brothers band by 1973, so we had several bands playing country (where the money was) and rock for many years off and on, opened shows for some big names like George Jones, Hank Jr., Greer Craig, etc., until eventually in 1993 we landed an agent to pick us up and went on the road full time playing some very large high paying venues as a renamed band called “West 67”. (Check back for the story of how we got the name!!)

Funny Old Memory !

Filed under: RAT-Tales ! — rat @ 4:47 pm

I can never forget the time many , many years ago back when we played the “Antler circuit” and there was plenty of time in between songs (to drink, smoke, bs, etc) we were at a Moose club and there was this one really drunk chick who stayed out on the dance floor swaying (definitely not dancing) and everytime the music stopped she would scream “Play something g*d d****t” !! Later on in yrs. after becoming pro and playing venues where there was to be NO dead time in between songs, I often wonder if she was sent to prepare me for what was to come !!!