Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Hillbilly Hangout

Continuing from yesterday’s story about the Hillbilly Hangout… I was never a sports nut as a kid. I was into music though I had only seen music performed live in church or at weddings.

I felt a sincere joy and excitement one afternoon when I arrived at the girl’s house. Their father was a drummer and he and his group was having a session in their kitchen. I could hear the music as I rode my bike down the street. It was loud but really good.

I entered the screen door where others were hanging out listening. Ronnie, the girls father had a remarkable skill on the drums. There was Roger who played a Gibson Firebird through an Ampeg amp with a fifteen inch speaker. This was the first Firebird I had ever seen or played. It was an amazing guitar. He let me play it during a break and it was an effortless instrument with a flat fast action on the fret board. They also had a keyboardist with an enormous Leslie Speaker which is a speaker that has this spinning device that utilizes the Doppler Effect on sound.

The music was the likes of nothing I had ever heard before. It could best be described as Road House music. Extreme Rhythm and Blues with funky back beats and a twang that would make your skull resonate. It was raw, it was powerful and it was good and it almost felt dirty. It was music that was meant to accompany alcohol and tobacco use.

Other friends parents I knew had groups and bands that did wedding music, polka music and one even had a Barber Shop Quartet. None of the other parents’ music interested me all that much, but this sound was special. I tried to make it over for every session at the Hillbilly Hangout after that.

There was something remarkable about how the floor vibrated and the windows shook with every note and beat. It was music that you felt in every bone and cell in your body. One could work up a sweat just listening to it and watching the band members work their magic.

It may have been a Hillbilly Hangout, but it became a temple of sorts to me.

Sadly, Roger was a petty criminal. He got arrested for breaking into neighborhood cars and I think he was run out of town. Eventually the entire family picked up and moved away one night and I never saw any of them again. I did hear through a grape vine that Roger married the daughter with the red hair. There was a 15 year age difference. Roger later died of some disease in Florida.

When ever I passed that house for years after, I'd slow down as sigh. It was a sigh for an amazing turning point in my life. A turning point that made things just a little more interesting after that. It was also a sigh of the inability to ever return to those days and that I'd have to rely on my fond memories to carry me through. I still think of those days when ever I hear Road House music. I remember opening the screen door and walking into that room where the music changed my life forty years ago.


Blogger Trish said...

What a great memory.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous colonel panic said...

I was kind of surprised. I thought something bad would happen.

But it turned out ok. Except for Roger who died. But he married the red-haired "girl" so maybe he got what he wanted.

Cool story.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Chantel said...

Now I know where your love for good hard rock comes from.

My house was one of those hillbilly hangouts. Except we didn't have musicians. We had everything else and no one makes a cocktail like me.

6:26 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Trish, it was a good and interesting time.

CP, Oddly I've had very few bad things ever happen to me. BTW Roger looked like Ginger Baker.

Chantel, I came in on the ground floor as far as music. It's amazing I never made a career of it. I do have a passion for it.

5:57 AM  

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