Line Out Music & the City at Night

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo: Road Diary: Death of a Salesman

Posted by on Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 8:47 AM


This week’s blog was written by Tiny Dancer with photos by Sugar McGuinn and Brent Amaker

Touring during the early weekdays (Mon. Tues. Wed.) reminds me of the Maysles Brothers’ late 60’s documentary Salesman. The film documents the day-to-day activities of four traveling bible salesman who are the last of a dying breed. They try to stay positive recalling the good-old-days when business was good and life was easy. Playing on a weekday night in No-where-ville, USA can require the same sort of positive thinking.


On Wednesday we rolled into Kansas City for a gig we picked up the night before from a PBR rep. It turned out to be a rockabilly night with the band The Unkool Hillbillies from Sweden, who were great musicians and nice guys. We set out a tip jar and collected $12 each, which needless to say, didn’t even cover the night’s drinks, but we were still grateful all the same. We hung with some of the locals and had a few laughs. We’re here strictly for kicks folks. If I put as much energy into a respectable job as I do in music, hell, I might be an assistant manager at Blockbuster Video or something by now!


The next day we had a fantastic Salvadoran breakfast and learned that Sugar made out his will before leaving on tour with the stipulation that Brent gets his ashes should he perish on one of our misadventures. I can just see the canister on Brent’s mantle emblazed with Sugar McGuinn’s handlebar mustache and cop shades!

Rolling into Tulsa in 2010 doesn’t seem too much different from the desolate Tulsa portrayed in Rumble Fish in the mid 80s with half finished freeway on-ramps overgrown with 20 years of weeds. I love it. It’s an indication of a city having good thrift stores and tacos, which was confirmed in the next couple of hours.

The Crystal Pistol is a great place. We played here last tour and made friends with the owners, and had a great time. At 8 o’clock the bar was literally empty as people queued up outside to see Aaron something-or-other from Staind do an acoustic performance at the legendary Cain’s Ballroom next door. If you thought Staind was bad, you should hear it stripped down and performed by a single guy. It’s so fucking bad it’s mind-boggling. We live in a country where some thick-necked, chubby jock motherfucker can strum sub dorm-room quality songs about being “insane” and fill an auditorium. Benny and I took turns walking into the lobby and catching snippets of his set. At one point Benny heard him say, “You know, it’s just me and a guitar up here. So if you could keep conversations to a minimum…” At this point the appropriate action for us, had we been in the auditorium, would be to walk onstage next to him, slowly peel off a black leather glove finger by finger, strike him with it and say “Good day sir!” and calmly exit the stage. That’s what Vince Taylor would have done.

The hour for us to play rapidly approached and there was still not a solitary soul in the bar. The only thing you can do is laugh about it. After some conversations with some folks in the bar next door, and some clowning around, people started to trickle into the Crystal Pistol.

Homemade grape jelly for Tiny Dancer courtesy of Mrs. Amaker
  • Homemade grape jelly for Tiny Dancer courtesy of Mrs. Amaker

When the bar finally amassed a crowd of about 15 people, we decided it was time to play. Sometimes these situations cause you to perform with a sort of carefree abandon that can really win over an audience. After the first couple of numbers the people were hooting and hollering!! We ended up selling over $150 in merchandise, and had a great night!


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