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Dixie Chicken

We have all had it happen. That song you can’t get out of your head no matter how hard you try. It just goes on and on. For me this summer it’s been Little Feat’s“Dixie Chicken”. “If you’ll be my Dixie chicken I’ll be your Tennessee Lamb. And we can walk together down in Dixieland,” One of my favorite Little Feat songs but I can’t get it out of my head.

Now let’s step back. A little over a month agoBrewer and Shipley were Just north of Woodstock at the Cripple Creek Music Camp. It was a four-day event held at the Full Moon Resort, a sprawling site with cabins, a dining hall, and various event rooms all laid out on a mixture of well-manicured Catskill lawns, outdoor gathering spots, the headwater of the Esopus river, and a couple of cool bars to boot. All in all a wonderful place to hold a music camp.

Michael and I were there to do a session on songwriting. The late Levon Helm’s band “The Weight” and the remaining members of “Little Feat” taught various aspects of musicianship. Little Feat. What a treat. I know I’m supposed to say my favorite band is the Beatles…but it’s not. From the first time I heard them, Little Feat has held the favorite band spot in my soul.

And, of course, each group got to do a concert of their own. For me, it was a special night because we were joined toward the end of our show by some of the other musicians. And, of course, at the end of the event, there was a jam with all of the bands. Some fun.

The audience consisted of music fans and up-and-coming musicians, all there to enjoy the one thing they had in common. The love of music. There were people there with guitars, banjos, fiddles, and groups of music fans there to enjoy the music and have a good time. Musicians always love a good time. There were also a couple of bars on the property which added to the enjoyment.

Jan on the road with me is something I have been looking forward to for years. And now that she’s retired, my road has become her road as well. Of course she had been out with me many times. I would sneak her away from college during her days at Mizzou before we were married and some special places we played after we were married, like St. Thomas and Alaska. But wherever we went, Monday was always waiting in the wings. Back to class or back to work. I think the upside for her was not having to hear “One Toke Over The Line,” yet one more time. Then, as often as not, I was headed to somewhere in the world, guitar in hand with my lady back at home. How sad.

But no more. Here we were on the road, at a very special camp with lots of music, people to meet and, of course, being just north of Woodstock there was only one other thing left to do. Take the girl shopping. No guy ever got in trouble taking his lady shopping save for some possible serious damage to his wallet.

After a wonderful time in the Catskills it was time to move on. The first stop was a trip to Long Island, and an old favorite in a new location. My Father’s Place, a club that we used to play back in the day, usually after a week at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village. One of the folks who we had become particularly close to was “Carbi” (Steve Carbenaro.)

He was one of a group of kids from Brooklyn who would come to see us when we played there. Jan had met Carbi back in the day when I would get her to play hooky from college and come with me to The Village. Carbi showed up and we had a chance to recount old times and catch up on the decades of our lives since the Bitter End. To understand our relationship with Carbi I will have to go back a few decades.

Michael and I were playing a concertent in Brooklyn’s Prospect  Park. “One Toke” hadn’t happened yet but we had become one of the “alternate” bands of the day and the park was packed. We were in the middle of our most beautiful love song, “Indian Summer.” Somewhere in the middle of the sweet refrain the audience started whooping and hollering. I looked at Michael in disbelief. We had never gotten that kind of response on any part of that song before. As I looked past Michael I saw one of the towers that made up the staging and there he was. A Brooklynite mooning the audience. They obviously loved it. What can I say. It was Brooklyn. In most cases it would have been a drag but it was the beginning of some long friendships. Friends that came to see us every time we played New York. Usually at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village.

But so much for memories. We were on to Beacon, NY. Pete Seeger’s home town and a club called The Towne Crier. We had been playing there for years and had become good friends with Phil, the owner. As always, the show was fun and Jan had a chance to meet the fellow she had been hearing about for years. A great way to end a tour.

And then we were off. Michael headed home and Jan and I started our own personal celebration. Jan’s retirement and our 38th wedding anniversary. A couple of weeks visiting the fun places of the Northeast and New England Jan had never seen. More about that in my next post. A full moon was trying it’s best to shine through the mist as I made my way through the grounds of our Catskill retreat when, in the distance, a sweet voice broke the silence of the evening hills singing “If you’ll be my Ozark Chicken I’ll be your Illinois lamb. And we’ll find all the good times walking hand in hand.”

5 Responses

  1. Ro Bowe
    | Reply

    Good to see ya’ll having fun.. Cindy and I aome. To roost near FOND DU LAC north of Mke…good life here. Both kids near and grandkids

  2. Michael & Barb
    | Reply

    Tom & Jan,
    Barb and I are so Happy for you both!!
    Enjoy your time together. It is precious.

  3. Larry Knight
    | Reply

    Looks like a great time!

  4. Bonnie Pierson
    | Reply

    So glad to hear your update and glad Jan gets the experience, too!

    Musicians and beekeepers live longer, hopefully, with hearts open!

  5. Donald Whetstone
    | Reply

    Love to read your stories of your travels and your life. It is a long way from B-W and the early 60’s.

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