Friday, May 10, 2013

Kick Me In The Pants -- Lurrie and Carey Bell

Throughout the history of my life, New Year’s Eve has not been a holiday with many fond memories.  In fact, I would say that virtually every New Year’s Eve celebration in my life has been a big fat failure.  The only time it was not, was when I was sitting at home watching TV (Nothing could go wrong in that situation, right?).  Such was the case way back in the late 1980’s at that world famous Blues Bar (thanks to me) Wilebski’s Blues Saloon in St. Paul, Minnesota.

I was well aware of my New Year’s Eve jinx by the time I reached my mid-20’s.  But this one year, I was sure that everything was going to be great.     Lurrie and Carey Bell were playing the New Year’s Eve gig at Wilebski’s.  I was going to be there for sure.  The previous time I saw them at The Cabooze on the West Bank of Minneapolis, they blew my friends and I away.  On this premise, I successfully talked my roommate Bob into going with me.  

It seems like every memory I have of Wilebski’s takes place on a North Pole like night.  Temperatures were way below freezing.  This night was no different.  However, back in those days I drove a Plymouth Horizon.  The Horizon was not a sexy car like my big black Buick.  It was much more utilitarian.  It had front wheel drive so it plowed through the snow.  Not only that, no matter how cold it got, that bastard started up.  When the temperatures fell below zero, I would get inundated by phone calls from people with brand new cars that needed a jump.

So, therefore, I had no fears this New Year’s Eve.

We get into the bar and grab a drink.  The vibe was kind of mellow, not the energized festivities I was anticipating.  Lurrie and Carey must have been bummed about playing in the frozen hell up in Minnesota on New Year’s Eve.  They started off the whole gig with this dreary slow blues.  Then the next one was some weary slow blues.  Then the next and the next... (now you get the idea of why I call this blog “No Old Fart Blues”).  I couldn’t stand it.  I was on the verge of shouting out something, but I would have made a spectacle of myself in the quiet, empty feeling of the room.

Bob and I finally decided that enough was enough.  It was time to go.  We put on our snowmobile suits (not really but it was that cold) and trudged out to my car.  I turned the key in the ignition and sure enough, like I had come to expect, the car started.  The only thing was, the fuel line stuck or the gas pedal stuck or some other weird thing fuckin’ happened because the engine revved up to it’s maximum capacity like I had floored the gas pedal.  It didn’t rev down at all.  It freaked me out.  I didn’t know what to do.  In retrospect, I’m guessing I could have probably drove it and the engine would have eventually slowed down.  But as a young ignoramus, I visualized Bob and I flying down frozen streets at full throttle on New Year’s Eve--the one night the cops are out in force looking for drunk idiots like myself.

Therefore, Bob and I went back into the bar.  On that night, Wilebski’s offered a free shuttle ride home so we saw that as our way out.  The thing was, there was only one shuttle servicing the entire Twin Cities Metro area.  The van could have been in Coon Rapids forty-five minutes away for all we knew.   Bob and I sat waiting and waiting.  Eventually, we went back outside and tried it again.  It was the same thing--maximum RPMs.

It finally got to be around 1AM when the bar stopped serving liquor.  Bob and I had to wait and wait and wait and couldn’t get a drink.  That, friends, is my personal definition of Hell.

We ventured back out into the frozen abyss around 3 A.M.  It was even colder now.  But this time, the Horizon started and then throttled down to a normal speed.  Finally we could go home.

I love Lurrie and Carey Bell.  Their album “Son of a Gun” is one of the best Blues albums of all time (in my humble opinion).  But that New Year’s Eve night, they cut me.  They hurt me with their incessant slow Blues music.

To commemorate that night, I offer up a tune that has a little more pepper in it.    Click here to link to it