After the OAKTeam uncharacteristically left Raleigh 2 hours late we had had to bust ass to get to Knoxville on time for soundcheck. But bust ass we did and actually pulled up a few minutes early. We loaded our gear (including our heavy ass new big road case that includes our mixer and stuff for our in-ear monitors) up the flight of stairs (I think I counted 26) to the stage area at Patrick Sullivan’s. The soundman wasn’t there yet so after setting up we dined and some of us had a Guinness or 2. The gig is always the easy part, just getting there and setting up is what we get paid for. We had a BLAST playing. It had been almost a month and we had hardly seen each in that time, no
practice…nothing. We show up and rock like ass though, never missing a beat. But it was only a warm-up cuz Chattanooga was waiting and we drove on down after the show since it was just a little over an hour.
We got to Chattanooga about 3:30AM and passed out like old worn out dogs. We woke to a misty rain around 11 and got our butts in gear for the in-store over at Cat’s Music. That was fine but we had to stop and buy some mike cables and stands that we had forgotten to bring for the thing. Of course, no one showed up but us but we rocked through about 6 songs anyway for the hell of it…cuz we said we would and we just love to play. Jumped back in the van after reloading and it was still sprinkling. We wondered if the weather was gonna hold up for us to play that evening. Every other “Nightfall” event had had some kind of precipitation.
We dashed to the radio station at UTC and did a 30 minute interview complete with 3 songs from the record. When we came in and told them who we were they said, “You’re not going to say ASS on the radio are you?” “Of course not, for the purposes of this visit we are the OAKTeam”. The thing went off without a hitch and our British interviewer, Richard asked really great questions and actually pulled out some thoughtful responses. He slipped and called us the ASS-kicking Team though and joked about how he liked the job he USED to have. We never said it though….well, until we were walking out. As we left we laughed about the song playing, “Thunderbird”….”and you can stay at home and KISS MY ASS!” blasted in the van as we got in to go to soundcheck.
Stage manager, John and the guys down at the outdoor stage in downtown Chattanooga couldn’t have been nicer. Catering to our every whim, they took us down to a restaurant that catered to the bands, a place called Caffeine down the street. Kelly and her husband wanted to do something to support the music downtown so they offered up their delicious menu. It was great and in another attempt to regain the 50 pounds that I had lost back in ’97 I had a piece of chocolate pecan pie and a latte afterwards. After dinner Big Daddy hopped a trolley to the ballpark (Chattanooga Lookouts) to get his baseball fix for a minute or two before the gig while the rest of us went back and hung out backstage, listening to the opener, Uncle Lightning.
Like I said in an earlier blog, the gig itself was one of the most satisfying of my life. We kicked their asses up and down the sidewalks of Chattanooga We rocked’m for 90 minutes straight and did 2 encores, all 3000 of them lining the streets.
But!...still basking in our glory we had work to do, get the van loaded and go to Macon. I had a quick shower in our plush dressing room and got to it. We rolled up to our ghetto HoJo in Macon about 2:30 and when I tried to get in my room there was a latch on it from inside. “Uuhhhh! I think someone’s in there” “No, we’ll send someone up to open it for you” they say. About 5 minutes later a guy not unlike Bill Murry’s character in “Caddyshack” (but with arm in cast) shows up mumbling. He’s got a stick in his hand that he’s just broken off of a tree. I have since tried to open the door again and someone slammed the door back so I KNOW someone is in there. So they say “Y’all go over to 212, we’ll meet you over there with the key”. They open that door and it’s one king size bed. OK, let’s see 3 of us…uuummmm….”NO”. “OK, try 208” Mind you, it’s after 3 in the morning and we are beat, but we haul all of our shit up the stairs and finally lay down despite the nastiness and stench.
Getting to sleep was a little tough after that experience but we did and woke to a beautiful, albeit sticky day in Macon. We had a nice swim and a game of pool wiffleball first before hitting the Awful House and then going on down to the Hummingbird to do soundcheck. On the way back to the Ghetto HoJo we stop by and say “Hey” to the Otis statue on the river and then head over to Rose Hill to hang out with Duane Allman and Berry Oakley.
The gig was cool. We played flawlessly again, splitting the show into 2 one hour sets. Newton Collier, the horn arranger on all of the Stax/Volt stuff, played with Otis and Sam and Dave and Joe Tex, loved us. We had him bowing to us, arms outstretched and giving us his every blessing. What a cool guy. He’s had it a little rough since those days though. He got shot in the face coming out of a nightclub in Detroit so he can’t play anymore.
But we had great fun and The Hummingbird remains one of our most “favoritist” places to play. The room is cool and so is our man, Vic who owns and runs it.
It was a typical drive back on a beautiful sunny Sunday, we stop at South of the Border and buy the loved ones trinkets, mementos from another ass-kickin’ in the South.