You might recall some of the events I’ve described from down here in Podunkville; namely, the Norfolk County Fair and the PD 13 Bike Rally. I’ve yet to describe Pumkinfest, nor have I ever tried to give credence to Cornfest, Bayfest, or Watermelonfest. Suffice it to say, that around here it’s pretty festive all year round. Hell, I have my very own Beerfest every weekend here at the homestead
So, in keeping with this blog space, I’d like to tell you about something a little different. Jimbo attended the Open Jam at the Scotland Restaurant/Bowling Alley/Hole in the Wall/Entertainment Complex and had a hell of a good time.
Here’s the lowdown on the hoedown.
My sister-in-law and brother-in-law invited us to meet them at the venue, assuring us that we will really enjoy the entertainment and the atmosphere.
“Meet us there at 7:15, and we’ll get to see the kids perform,” my sister-in-law said.
Hey, if there are kids there it’s got to be safe, right? Besides, old Jimbo has had a lot of first hand experience with “low places” so this couldn’t be any worse.
But, I did relate to you in my last blog that, upon seeing the place, my daughter said, “Dad, that place looks like a dump. You’re not really going there?”
You have to realize my daughter is into the club scene, you know, with all the glitter and flashing lights.
Out of concern, and just before were about to leave the house, my daughter said to my wife (with a chuckle), “Don’t you be picking up any stray men there tonight, mom!”
Not to be outdone, my son said, “Dad, I don’t want to see you on a youtube video either?” We’d been discussing the inappropriateness of “Bum Fights “and a current video of one of his friends in a dust up.
Our kids are supportive of our social life and their concern for us goes unmatched. After all, we’re financing their lifestyle, aren’t we.
In essence, our commitment to this event was not unlike a “blind date”. We really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. So, when we pulled up in the vehicle we decided to “set for a spell” and reconnoiter the surroundings. Our partners in crime were on their way, so we had a few minutes to spare.
As the cars pulled up, we assessed the clientele and felt that, with the number of senior citizens attending, perhaps personal safety would not be an issue. Of course, that was blown out of the water when a few others looked like bikers from Hell.
No matter, as I said to my wife, “I’ve seen some pretty rowdy seniors at bars, you know! And, remember, Willy Nelson looks pretty scruffy at times.”
When we hooked up with my in-laws and their friends at the doorway, anticipation was at the max, and so, with some trepidation, we entered the establishment.
I’d entered these doors once before, a long time ago, when my youngest had to pee on our way back from a baseball game. The interior was just as I remembered. The restaurant was small, road house style and at the moment completely empty. We followed deeper into the bowels of the joint, only to discover that the bowling alley had been converted into a rustic music hall.
The atmosphere was so “Hoedown” rustic, that I felt I was walking through a portal, back in time to another era. The tables and benches were in kind of a random configuration, the lighting subdued and the clientele leaning on the side of, Rest Home residential. There were a few old instruments attached to the wall, some wagon wheels and, of course, a walk up bar with gathering of cowboys nestled around it.
I say this because the dress code was a little bit down-home country. There were cowboy hats, Feed Store farmer caps, plaid lumberjack shirts and whole whack of boots and dancing shoes.
A sign beside the stage said, “If you don’t play country, you don’t play here!”
The safety issue was not a concern for us because:
My brother-in-law and his buddy are cutting horse cowboys, as big as pack mules and strong enough to fight off the hoards whilst holding me above their head with one hand. And, I may be turning sixty but I still can kick an eighty year olds ass.
As we sat drinking our first round, the musicians began to file in one-by-one. They were required to write their name on a White Board such that the order of the night’s entertainment might be determined. All the while, a group of talented elderly gentleman was playing country music as if we were back in the 1950’s. I didn’t know the songs but I certainly recognized the “twang “and “dag nab it” these guys were good. It was like listening to Flatt and Scruggs play the intro to the “Beverly Hillbillies”, ten times over.
I got to thinking about the stories these guys could tell, given that they had obviously played in bands and bars over the course of their lifetimes. The look of utter joy on their faces and their musical competence gave evidence to the fact that this was going to be no amateur show.
When the little ones hit the stage (A little girl and her two older brothers) the real entertainment began. They played along with their grandfather and “Uncle Don “and they sang and played their little hearts out. I hadn’t heard Bluegrass live since I was in my 30’s.
Here’s a little breakdown of what made the evening so much fun.
One of the acts involved an eighty-year plus gentleman playing the guitar with his white-haired wife singing. As I listened to the words I couldn’t believe it when I recognized they were singing, “On the Cover of the Rolling Stone.”
OMG#1. That’s like your grandmother singing, “Stairway to Heaven.”
We met one of the older parishioners from church who had recently lost her husband. She was hooked up with another guy who used to play Santa Claus at the Sunday School Christmas celebration.
She said to my wife, “He’s such a pest. He comes down to my house every morning for coffee. Then he ends up coming for every meal of the day.”
Old Santa was seen a few times doing a jig. When we asked him about it later, he said, “I used to be able to go like that for ten minutes straight before my heart attack.”
Hell, I couldn’t do what he was doing for one minute without having paramedics on the premises.
Another older duo, as they sang their second song, (Three Song Sets per Performer) had to stop in the middle when the old guy started singing the first song over again.
Guess what? The song he sang again was, “Polly Walla Doodle All the Day!”
As the talent list grew the proprietor put a two song limit on the performances. Well, there was this one dude who was wider than he was tall, dressed like a lumberjack and about the size of an NFL nose tackle. After his second song he said in a voice brought up from the depths of Hell, “I’m gonna sing one more song!”
At times there were as many as 15 people on stage playing and it sounded as if they had played together for years. There were banjos, fiddles, mandolins, guitars and a stand up bass. And, there even was a dude in the back playing some jazz riffs on his TRUMPET, Dixieland style.
People would randomly step up to a mike and sing harmony when someone was singing, and there never was an objection. It just seemed like the thing to do when the notion overcame you.
Guys would set down their guitar, mosey up to the bar for a beer, then return to jump back in the jam. You see the “jam-band” was quite malleable and ever-changing.
I recognized our waitress as a former student from the elementary school where I taught before I retired. This was Teeterville Public School, and yes the town was much like Hooterville, although I never did meet up with Arnold the pig.
Anyway, once we talked with the gal, she said she knew our daughter and vaguely remembered me. After all, I was her kindergarten Phys Ed teacher about a jillion years ago. She said she knew our daughter’s former boyfriend, the one she broke up with after a five year relationshiip.
So I texted my daughter her name and got this response:
Uggggggg :( :( :( not cool!!!!!!!!”
Explaining later, my daughter told us how this gal was the best friend of the little “skank” (her words) that got “jiggy” with her beau several years ago, causing one of their breakups. Hell and I remember this girl as being a sweet little six year’ old.
Now I wish I could re-jig that tip I gave her.
My wife had this commented on my daughter’s earlier statement about picking up a hot guy. “I think I’ll stick with my sixty year old, seeing as most of the guys here are over eighty.”
Even she knows I could kick their collective asses.
I had to catch one of the octogenarian gals when she tripped over that little rise you have in bowling alleys, the one you use to step up to the alley.
Naturally, I applied my sixty year old muscles and a hand to the small of her back and eased that petite ninety pounder gently into her chair.
But with the look she gave me, I think she might have been one of those “Cougars” they talk about. Hey, I ain’t about to become no “boy toy” for a grandmother, I’m a happily married man and, I have my wife’s permission to say so!
Really, the place was hopping all night long.
The patrons drank beer as well as other beverages of choice with joyous abandon. There were hugs and kisses among the musical participants, dancing on the floor and a lot of talk at the tables. The music was A1 –from Bluegrass, to Old Country, and then some.
So what did I learn from my Hoedown experience?
I learned that having fun has no age barrier, that music is the soundtrack to our lives, and that if you’re with friends, it makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
These musicians played as if they had received injections from the Fountain of Youth and they were damn good at it. The seniors danced the night away, laughed, drank and had a hell of a time. (Maybe it’s the Viagra Generation?)
And, what makes a venue special is not the building itself, but the people in it.
I say, “Pump Up the Jam” because a Hoedown in Podunkville is a hell of lot more fun than paying hundreds of dollars to see some self-possessed superstar, from up in the nose bleed section, try to bust your eardrums in an acoustically challenged hockey arena.
Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it – The Lowdown on the Hoedown, as it were.
Anyway, it’s the weekend, so it’s about time for Jimbo to settle into Part II of his Beer Fest. (Last Night being Part I)