Friday, September 12, 2008
A week ago Chuck
Ahh..I remember it well, it was just last Friday. The anticipation of seeing Chuck again was bubbling in my veins all week long. Could it happen? Really? Isn’t he like a hundred and something? All day long I was getting word…”The hurricane is gonna hit at the same time Chuck is supposed to be on stage!” “I hear he’s definitely, 100% NOT gonna go on!” OK, so we (JacK, Greg, Steven (Cfam), Grace and me) are having beers in The Raleigh Times when Steven gets another call from his contact on the inside”Are you sure?” Steven asks on his cell. His shoulders slump in disappointment. NO! it can’t be! We’ve waited for months! And NOW, just as he’s scheduled to hit the stage the rug gets jerked from under us?
Meanwhile, back in room 1503 of the new Marriott Hotel connected to the new Civic Center (Civic Center? Is that really what it is? That really sounds like an Eighties term to me, sounds kinda low budget, kinda smalltown actually if you wanna say it out loud..and currently I don’t. I have no more time for this thread of the conversation.), Chuck is getting the royal treatment. “For some reason, Chuck just took a liking to Amy”, Dave Rose tells us at the Uber-exclusive-VIP-all-you-can-eat-and-drink-event that Bob Davis bullshited us into, speaking of Amy Cox (another top dog over there at Deep South). She had somehow convinced him after a BIG ‘ol rib dinner that 50 thousand to play was bigger than 40 thousand to NOT, and that the weather was gonna be fine if Chuck would make haste and git his skinny ass on the stage. Forty minutes later the girls were pulled from the audience to dance on said stage, a clear sign that Chuck had gotten up there and did the whole Chuck thing and now wanted his damn money. The drummer sucked, the piano player sucked, the bass player sucked and yes, even Chuck sucked. But we were just all excited that he sucked that bad…just for us!
Thank you, Amy!
I ran into Billy Warden after the VIP-thingy and he told me this same story that he told Menconi:
I'm checking logistics near the Cherry Bounce stage on Hargett Street when I notice a black Lincoln Town Car parked where it shouldn't be. The driver's side window rolls down and an African-American man in a white captain's hat points at me. Oh brother, I think, now what??!! I walk over, and as I get closer a thought dawns on me. When I reach the car, I ask, "Are you...you?" And the thin guy in the captain's hat answers, "I'm Chuck Berry. Get in." The closest door is the one to the back seat, so I tumble in and ask, "What are we gonna do, Chuck?" Perfectly poised, he says, "You're gonna get me to the Marriott because I'm tired of drivin' around lookin' for it." It's really not that hard to get to the Marriott, but when you're Chuck Berry and you've decided to drive yourself in from the airport and you have all those amazing rock'n'roll memories duckwalking around in your head, it might get tricky. I don't make it easier when I whip out my mobile phone and, in between instructions -- "Turn here, Chuck!" -- start calling friends and loved ones. "Honey," I yell to my wife. "I'm in Chuck Friggin' Berry's car! Say 'hi,' Chuck!" And the Architect of Rock'n'Roll obliges with a guttural, "Hey! We're heeeeeere!!" I tell him this rivals the time I had cinnamon toast with Muddy Waters. He likes that. I tell him how Keith Richards' endless plugging of Berry first made me check out "Let It Rock" and "Roll Over Beethoven." He offers an indifferent nod.