Stranger On A BUS

Busking Tour Fall 2001

Atlanta, Georgia

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indent spacerSuch a sweet time, Saturday night, October 13... my host in Atlanta, whom I refer to as Doo-WOP John, has lived there 20 years, taken me all over the south, and schooled me in the ways of the Tree of Life...He's seen the Olympics come and go and prices go up and up and ??? When, I told him I'd gotten the Louisville booking and would visit - we put together a small benefit for the Atlanta FOOD not Bombs effort. That story and a few more will appear here very soon!

indent spacerI got to Atlanta's Greyhound depot early in the morning of the 11th of October. My plans for the first day were greatly limited by the fact that the computer controlled lockers in the depot were not functioning...luckily, I did find a limited number that were, and stashed my one old-fashioned suitcase...the over the shoulder strap tote bag had to go with host worked until 6pm, and I'd be lugging it around all day. So, I went right to the Little Five Points area on the cross of Moreland Boulevard and Euclid. I've busked in a little park there a number of times, and knew there would be coffee houses open at 8am. I spent the morning reading local weekly newspapers. The intersection of Ponce de Leon Blvd. and Highland Avenue is near enough to Little Five Points that I could walk there. I discovered, much to my delight, the the local branch of the Atlanta Library had increased its Internet access, and so I spent time emailing friends about the tour up to that point. Finally I walked to a coffee house near my host's apartment, and settled into reading actor/sailor/schooner pilot Sterling Hayden's Wanderer, which was proving to be a wise choice of road read.

indent spacerMy friend walked by, and I grabbed my luggage and headed to his place. Actually, I had two somewhat grueling days in a row, and was greatly relieved to be in a welcome space again...We hadn't seen each other in two years, and there was catching up to do...He'd rented American Graffiti, which I'd never seen. Funny, it happened in 1962, when I was 17, and camed out in the early seventies, when my friend was 18...he had lived a youth much closer to that depicted than I had - I knew no one with a car, my brother had joined the Air Force by the time I was in high school, and I spent all my time running track, cross country, and studying for college prep courses. But, Doo-WOP John knew all the nuances of the character dynamics, and "walked" me through them. He's done that with "West Side Story" during a previous visit. I'm grateful to him for this because Rockaway, NJ in the fifties was not yet absorbed into the megalopical sprawl of suburban NYC yet....I'm a country boy at heart!

indent spacerGetting to Atlanta on Thursday gave me two nights to get rested up for the Benefit on Saturday. It was to be in a warehouse district southeast of the center of Atlanta...this kept the turn-out unfortunately low. The buses don't run through the area very late on Saturday, and people had to, the turn-out was modest, but the artists who lived there and the other people from the band playing after me were enthusiastic. I got to work with people who had a good sound system. Consequently, I could concentrate on the energy in each song and not fret about technical stuff. Mostly, I did songs that I wrote and had performed in Louisville. Here's a partial list:

From Here to Jubilee!       Everywhere You Are!        Keep It Steady        Golden Dawn

indent spacerYet, the real treat of the night was the final number! I finally had a golden opportunity to perform an old Cab Calloway song for an appreciative audience...what makes Calloway's Reefer Man song special for me is that it gives the discerning listener a chance to see what cannabis use was like before the whole Reefer Madness paranoia set in. I do call it paranoia because I had long believed the laws governing cannabis use are wrong headed. The fact that the laws are still on the books, and that billions of dollars of our tax money is being wasted on incarcerating people for smoking one joint is political at this point, involving fear, stereotyping, and a reluctance to change the status quo. For years, I have been speaking of Cannabis as if it were a special person...Mugs Muggles. One day I realized I could relate my own feelings - which led me to vote YES! on Proposition 215 in the State of California in 1996 - on Medical Marijuana. These sentiments have found their home in a bridge I made up and inserted in Cab's very humorous song:

"Say hello to old Mugs Muggles,
And his magic rug'll waft you on a sailboat
trip across the sky, to that heartful land inside your head!

But now listen to me babies,
This ain't no case of psychic rabies, leave that ole snow
To George Bush, Dan Quayle, and Capt'n Bligh!
You just might wake up with with your head...dead!"

(Then back to CAB's original)
"But if He trades you dimes for nickels
And calls watermelons pickles
You know you're talking to that reefer man!

(it turns out this verse doesn't seem to be in the original,
but, what the HEY! It's a good'n', anyway!

indent spacerWhile we're on such a touchy subject, here's how Louis Armstrong felt about it, courtesy of Country Joe McDonald...and a page full of links to organized groups seeking sensible "drug" policy instead of the scapegoating, fear-mongering mish-mash that is currently robbing our pockets of our hard earned money.

indent spacerCab Calloway played the part of the custodial superintendent in the school in the Blues Brothers movie, and sang his own legenday Minnie, the Moocher song in the Dream Concert sequence...decked out in full 3 piece tuxedo with tails! I have learned to sing WHO-O-O that Reefer Man?" Like Cab did....shake your head rapidly from side to side, making a br-r-r-r kind of sound as you say can see down your face past your nose and notice your pursed, extended lips vibrating as you do! Totally ecstatic kick!!!

indent spacerAt the same time do a hoochie-coo dance and wave you hands on extended arms fluttering your open hands rapidly as you do.

indent spacerHow did my audience respond? Why, before I knew it, two of the women who sing with the band came up to the stage, grabbed an open mike and began to wail along! Perfec-ti-men-tis-simo!!! Then, the bass player and the drummer for the band sat in and began to put a rhythm groove under it! The four of them were spontaneously doing what I'd always hoped to have happen with my rendition of Reefer Man!!!

indent spacerI figured this was a segué to end all segués... Doo-WOP John was besides himself with glee...He said, "I confess I didn't think you had it in ya...but you pulled it off...bravo!!!"

indent spacerI actually had a hard time convincing him I had not somehow willed it to happen...such is the nature of the GROOVE that groove-y people know what to do, and they don't need no rehearsing - it's called play it as lays! Sometimes it may be ragged, but it's RIGHT! Yessiree!! Thazztha ticket!!!

indent spacerSunday afternoon, October 14th, Doo-WOP John treated me to a healthy walk through Northeast Atlanta neighborhoods to the Candler Park area. In my travels about this country, I have enjoyed learning the names of the housing styles which grew out of development that was quite modern in the twenties...Craftsman for example... I saw many houses that reminded me of neighborhoods I'd just left in the college towns of Bloomington, IN, and Columbus, OH. Actually, we were headed for the Fall Festival Candler Park sponsors every year in mid-October. What I found were bands in a stage tent, balloons galore, food booths, and a goodly variety of people with crafts booths...even massage tents! Excellent! John re-introduced me to a fellow he'd given my tape of From Here to JUBILEE several years ago. So nice to get back with someone who appreciates your "craft and sullen art" - to quote a Dylan Thomas poem. What a great way to end my Atlanta visit!

indent spacerA pretty site awaited me in South Carolina, while I waited for my connection to Conway. Dawn broke an the thinnest sliver a the waning moon was closely accompanying the morning star, just before sunrise. So, by the time I would leave Conway towards Washington DC, Bloomington, IN, and the West Coast, I'd be travelling under a waxing moon. Very Nice!!

Ole Double-dy Clutch!
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