Stories From The Road #16

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

This is part of a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a bus full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.

RICK:

“As any road musician will tell you, you meet all kinds of strange people in your travels. There was one guy I hired in a pinch when I needed a drummer. I didn’t have any idea when I hired him just what a weirdo he was. But, he told us that he and another guy had gotten busted when they were younger for digging up corpses in the cemetery, opening the caskets, lighting candles, and reading poetry to dead people. He was only hired as a temporary fill-in, but he was damned sure more temporary than he realized when I found this out.

Anyway, me being me, I asked him, “How come you guys to do that?”

He said, “Oh, man, you can really relate to those people.”

I replied, “Oh yeah?”

He got all excited. “You know, there’s something special about that.”

I tried to keep the sarcasm out of my voice, but am sure I failed, when I said, “Yeah, I bet there is.”

He went on. “We never would have got busted if we hadn’t started digging them high bones.”

“What do you mean, high bones?” I asked.

“Oh, them rich people. As long as we were digging up poor people’s graves, nobody ever said anything about it, but we started digging up the rich people’s graves and that is when they got cops out there and started watching. That’s how they caught us.”

I said, “Okay, Okay, sure.”

This guy was obviously a little messed up in the head.

One time he was playing drums with another band and he had taken some fighting roosters in with him in a bowling bag. Then when the dance floor filled up, he opened the bag and threw out three roosters. Of course, the roosters were flapping their wings and squawking and people scrambled and hollered. The guy that owned the club came up on the bandstand and politely grabbed him by the nap of the neck out from behind the drums and threw him, not out a door, but through a wooden door out back. He then took his drums, kicked the heads out and threw them out on top of him with a warning. “Don’t ever let me see you again!”

When I fired this same guy, I handled it as delicately as I knew how. I told him I had to let him go because someone else I had promised the job to had shown up. I just wanted to break it off easy.

But, that night, he came out to the club where I was working.

He said, “I brought a pet rabbit for your girlfriend.”

The girl I was with at the time spoke up and said she didn’t want a rabbit and I told him no as well, but he wouldn’t accept that.

He said, “Well, you’ve gotta take it.”

I started to get mad then, so I said, “Man, I don’t want the damn rabbit and she don’t want the damn rabbit so the best thing you can do is take your rabbit and head on down the road.”

“Well, okay. You’re so mad at me you won’t even let me give you a gift?” He asked.

I got a little more firm and he finally left and took the bunny with him.

Another crazy stunt he pulled was in San Angelo. He went into a bar without his ID and he was pretty young back then. So, when he ordered a drink the bartender asked to see his ID. His response was, “Well, let me see your Bartender’s license.”

The bartender ran him out. He went home and came back with an old army trench coat on, an army hat, belt with a canteen and a holster that he had a 45 revolver stuck in. He walked through the door, pulled the 45 out and hollered, “This place is under Marshall Law. Don’t nobody move.”

He walked up to the bar and pointed the 45 at the bartender and said, “Now I want a drink.”

So, the bartender served him. He had a drink or two and when he left, he told everyone, “At ease, men,” saluted them, snapped his feet together and marched out the door.

The bartender turned him in and they locked him up for a few days for bringing a gun into a bar. When he got out, he put on a bikini bathing suit, a wig, lipstick, and makeup and rented a Ford tractor from the farm supply house. He drove around the parking lot at the bar holding a sign that said, “This place is unfair to women. This place is unfair to everyone.”

He pulled some more stuff and I don’t know whatever happened to him, but he had some screws loose. His tenure with me was very shortlived. But this is just an example of some of the characters I ran across over the many years I traveled the roads.”

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                                 Top Row L-R Tommy “Red” Jenkins, Rick Sikes, Clyde Graham                                                      Bottom Row L-R Mel Way, Bobby Sikes “Doc Dow

 

 

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Stories From the Road #14

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

This is part of a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a bus full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.

THE CHRISTMAS SHIRT

by Rick Sikes

“This is one of those “too-human” stories that took place in Houston in the late sixties. We had played Christmas Eve at Dancetown USA the night before. And, we were playing in Victoria on Christmas night. So, we drug ourselves out of bed and finally found a scroungy looking cafe to grab breakfast. The plan was to eat breakfast around 10 am, get to Victoria and set up at Schroeder Hall. Then we’d get a bit of supper before the gig.

But, back to the story. Being Christmas morning, there were just not any restaurants open except this one little dump. We go in and sit down. Right behind us comes in a hillbilly guy with two backwoods gals. He was puttin’ on the dog for the ol’ gals, and they were giggling and carrying on.

One of the guys in the band said, “Hey, y’all check out the Christmas shirt.”

It was one of those embroidered wagon wheel Yankee cowboy shirts with the folds from being in the package still there. He had on a pair of short-topped Sears & Roebuck boots, a small brimmed Roy Rogers type hat and some kind of cheap blue jeans. He looked at us and asked, “Y’all like my shirt?”

Everyone nodded and someone said, “Yeah man, that’s a cool shirt. Did you get it for Christmas?”

“Yep, shore did, podnuh.” He leaned back in his chair and hooked his thumbs in his belt.

Well, one of the ol’ gals with him was terribly cross-eyed and she started flirting with us…blinking and winking as only a cross-eyed gal can do. It just all came to a head at once. We were all looking at each other, then at them all grinnin’ and carrying on. The ol’ boy told the girls some jokes or riddles or something. The cross-eyed girl got tickled at one of ’em and laughed until tears rolled down both cheeks.

Being the damned fool I am, I looked over there; the ol’ boy doing all sorts of “monkey-shines,” and the gals laughing so hard, and I busted into one of my “rare” moments when I get so tickled that I laughed until my sides hurt and tears streamed down. Often I’d get down on the floor because I laughed so hard. Well, this was one of those times of great mirth. I made an ass out of myself rolling around on the floor laughing. It was just too damned human.

A poor ol’ hillbilly boy dressed to the aces charming two lovely backwoods ladies, plus entertaining a band and the people who worked in the place was just “too human.” He saw his good looks, charm and being well- dressed and dashing for these ladies pay off. And, we got to see a first class show that would have done Tennessee Williams and Erskine Caldwell proud, and supposedly “cool” musicians becoming a fool.”

I hope this brought a chuckle, as that was all Rick intended by telling the story.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Rick_Rhythm_Rebels

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I hope you've enjoyed this segment of-STORIES FROM THE ROAD-from Texas SingerSongwriterRICK SIKES

 

 

Stories From the Road – #13

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

This is part of a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a bus full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.

RICK:

“Back in the sixties, it wasn’t good enough just to be able to play great music. You had to look like a band and you had to have a little something different or extra that the next guy didn’t. So, we came up with different skits that we’d perform along with certain songs.  My brother, Bobby was always game for acting a fool.

We created this one skit for “Please Mister Custer.” I helped Bobby make a Yankee Calvary uniform he’d slip into that had a wooden block with three holes in it, in the seat of the britches. He wore horn-rimmed glasses and would be saying, “Please Mister Custer, I just don’t want to go. Those people are savages,” and so on until the end of the song. Then, while he was singing, I’d be slipping arrow shafts into the wood block so it looked like he was shot in the rear. At the end, he’d do a stumbling, falling act (Bobby was double-jointed and very agile.) He would fall off the stage and do a dying ritual out on the dance floor.  At the end, he’d lay completely still on the floor with these arrows sticking out of his butt. Then the band would play “Taps” while I pulled the arrows out.

One night we were doing this act and he fell off the stage, wiggling and squirming around like an inchworm with his butt in the air. I  go down, like normal, and start to pull the arrows out while the band plays “Taps.” This lady ran up from out of nowhere, knocked the hell out of me and said, “Get away from him, you son-of-a-bitch. You done hurt him enough already.”

That was one of the skits. We had another little gig we did that was a version of “Hello Walls #2,” that Ben Colder recorded (the old drunk). Bobby would act like he was throwing up. He’d take his hat off and pretend he was throwing up in his hat. One night he was doing that act and he deliberately fell off the edge of the stage and stumbled around on the dance floor until he fell down.

Some drunk lady came running up to him with a wet bar towel trying to wipe his face. She said, “Here, honey. Maybe this will help. I know just how you feel. I’ve been there myself.”

Bobby said, “Dammit lady, get away. Get away. You’re ruining my act.”

She didn’t give up. She said, “I’m gonna help you feel better. I know how it is. I’ve been drunk too.”

We never meant any harm doing these skits. We just wanted to entertain and do more than stand up there and plunk on guitars. It helped earn us a reputation and kept people coming back just to see what we were going to do next.

That was before laser shows and all the fancy electronics they have nowadays. We had to invent our own.”

I searched through tons of pictures looking for one of the “Please Mister Custer” act, and couldn’t find one. But, did find one of Bobby doing “Hello Walls #2.”

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Bobby Sikes doing “Hello Walls #2”

And I found another one of their popular skits where they dressed like Hippies and played rock ‘n roll.

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I hope you've enjoyed this segment of-STORIES FROM THE ROAD-from Texas SingerSongwriterRICK SIKES

 

Stories From the Road #12

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

This is part of a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a bus full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.

RICK:

“One time we had bookings out in California. We left Brownwood, Texas and made the mistake of stopping in Juarez, Mexico. We had too much fun…drank too much and hung out with too many senoritas. We didn’t really have a whole lot of money left by the time we got out of Juarez, but we had to get on to California to work. Then, the worst happened when we got into Arizona somewhere. The bus started making an engine noise. We had to stop and get it fixed. To the best of my memory, it was an oil pump. At any rate, we were sincerely broke by the time we reached California. We found a motel that rented apartment type rooms; like two bedroom motel rooms. I told the lady who managed it, “We’re musicians and we get paid next week. We get paid every week. We just blew into town from Texas and had some bus trouble so we don’t really have the money to pay you in advance, but we would like to rent the place. We’re going to be here at least six weeks.” I have no idea what possessed her to agree, but she said, “Ok. I’m going to trust you for this week.”

We settled in and had just enough money to buy a pound of bologna and a loaf of bread. We’d managed to get out of Mexico with a few cartons of Mexican cigarettes and a few bottles of Cognac. So, we drank Cognac, smoked Mexican cigarettes and ate bologna and bread for a week.

Finally, at the end of that week, we got paid. That night we went to a place down the street from the motel that advertised all the chicken you could eat for a buck. We almost wiped the poor guy out. I mean, we were hungry! I told him fair and square, “This is the first time we’ve really eaten in a week. We’ve been living off bologna and bread. I’m sorry we wiped you out.” He laughed and said, “No, no. You guys eat all you want and come back again. That is all I ask; that you come back and see me. I’ll come out in the long run.” So, we ate fried chicken there often, but we didn’t eat hardly as much as that first time.

The irony of this band business…this music business, is that I would be up on stage with a fifteen-hundred dollar suit on, high dollar boots, Stetson hat and all kind of fancy hand-made belts and guitar straps. I would be up there looking like I had a million dollars when I didn’t have fifty cents to my name. People would say to me, “Man, I wish we were like y’all are. You get up there and work only four hours a night and make a lot of money, get all the women and have all the fun. And, I would be thinking, “Man they have no idea what this is all about. No idea.” They didn’t know how many hundreds of hours of rehearsal we put in and all the money that had to be paid out. It was not as it appeared. ”

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I hope you've enjoyed this segment of-STORIES FROM THE ROAD-from Texas SingerSongwriterRICK SIKES

Stories From the Road #11

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

This is part of a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a van full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.

I’m going to switch gears and share a few of the Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels Band stories. Some of them are pretty unbelievable, but they all did happen. 🙂

Rick: 

“My brother Bobby, was a fantastic keyboard player. He played guitar too but excelled on the keyboard. He was a crazy SOB. In high school, his nickname was “Nut” Sikes. So, he was always game for a prank or skit or anything else we came up with.

We used to have what we called a “prop kit.” It had all kinds of old stuff in it like a Viking helmet, some beards, floppy hats, and raggedy Hobo clothes – all kinds of stuff, and we had a lot of fun with it. I remember one time we had stopped to eat at a fancy restaurant in Waco. We had figured out a scheme or plan that involved Bobby playing the part of a sex fiend. He didn’t care. He was a comedian anyway and he loved to be a fool.

So, I went inside the restaurant first and there was a nice elderly lady sitting behind the counter. I told her, “Ma’am, I have a band and we would like to eat, but I have a brother that is in the mental hospital most of the time. I bring him out for a couple of weeks on the road with me because our parents are both dead and we don’t have anybody. But, he’s really messed up mentally.”

She said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. What is his problem?”

I was good at keeping a straight face and playing the straight guy. “Well, he is what we call a sex fiend,” I said. “He sees women and he just gets nutty sometimes. So, if you will allow us to come in, please ask the waitresses not to get too close to him.”

She said, “Well, of course. Of course, you can come in.” I said, “We’ll hold him down and confine him, but just ask them please not to get too close.”

So, I go back out to the bus and get everyone and I’m sure she’s warning all the waitresses.

We walked inside and Bobby was slobbering and growling like an animal. A couple of the guys had him by the arms leading him in. They sat him down at the end of the table and we all sit down. A guy sat on each of Bobby and kept holding onto his arms.

The waitress came to the far end of the table away from him and asked us to pass the menus down. Everyone ordered. I ordered for Bobby.

A couple sat at the table next to ours and when their waitress brought a cart with their food on it, she got pretty close to our table. Bobby jumped up and lunged at her growling. The waitress screamed and knocked her food cart over spilling food on the couple.

I ran up front to the elderly lady and apologized. “I will pay for that couple’s food and for anything that got broken. I am so terribly sorry.”

She just shook her head and clicked her tongue. “That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

So, I went back to our table. In the meantime, the other guys had dragged Bobby back to his chair and held on to him.

When the waitress brought our food, she stayed at the far end of the table. Bobby started crawling across the table right in the middle, slobbering and making goofy noises. The guys yanked him back and that waitress screamed. She sat our food down and took off.

I don’t remember what we had ordered for Bobby, but I do remember it had mashed potatoes and gravy and Bobby started eating with his hands and getting it all down the front of his shirt.

Of course, everyone in the restaurant was watching all of this. And that just egged him on. He played it up heavy.

Finally, we got finished and washed him down the best we could. The guys escorted him out and all the while, he was still carrying on.

I went back to the lady at the front and said, “Ma’am, I want to pay for everything. Any damages or anything else he caused.”

She said, “Oh, no, no, no, no. Don’t worry about that at all. What on earth do you do with him when you go to play someplace?”

I said, “We just chain him in the bus. We have to lock him up or else he’ll get out.”

She clicked her tongue and asked, “And, you take him out two weeks every year so he can be with you?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied.

She said, “You know you are one of the most compassionate men I have ever met. You are certainly a good man and I admire you. I know it’s terribly humiliating for you.”

I played the straight guy all the way. “Yes, Ma’am. Yes, Ma’am.”

So then we all get back on the bus and everyone cracks up and has a blast.

It was a crazy stunt to pull, but it helped break up the monotony and boredom on the road…”

 

 

Rick and Bobby
L-R Bobby Sikes, Rick Sikes

 

 

I hope you've enjoyed this segment of-STORIES FROM THE ROAD-from Texas SingerSongwriterRICK SIKES