Tuesday, July 21, 2015

REMEMBERING WOODYS 60TH

SPOONBILLS, PHATHEADS, AND THE CREEPIN' CHARLIES

Temecula, CA – Shortly before this current news cycle started, I had received a request to attend the 60th birthday party for a person mentioned somewhat in Memoirs but who enjoyed a much more behind-the-scenes role in my 'memoirs' life. As much as 'Winston' also in Memoirs became a brother to me in adventures, so Woody [his real scene name unlike 'Winston' which is totally fabricated] became a brother to me through music, aka band life and also because he was Max's brother-in-law. Winston's music broadening was more the music genre and bands; Woody's was more about band life, along with blues and some honky-tonk Rock'n'Roll as part of the band. For a time I was the Spoonbills road mgr.

In another place perhaps, the three of us would have become running buddies, but in the strangeness of Iowa, and it does have its own uniqueness, the paths of Winston and Woody rarely ever crossed, with me as the only common thread. On March 29th of this year, that thread would become common again as Woody turned 60 and the bands he spent time in were set to reunite at the Rusty Nail for the event.


Though I've been back to Iowa a number of times since I left in 94 ['Tis The Season of The Witch', Ch.18, Memoirs of Mr. Pete & Mary Jane Green], this last visit of discovery was heralded by Woody's 60th birthday celebration. To understand this, you have to know some things. The first being that Woody helped me to segue into So Cali life by his steering me to my last job in Iowa, a mini-mart job.

While we all bask in warm temps now, when I went back to Iowa for the birthday bash, temps were in the 30s there.


The 'new' Rusty Nail is a building in the same parking lot as the old Rusty Nail, which is now a different place entirely. The most recent owners have updated the venue's food to reflect the times while keeping the same tap atmosphere, a friendly homestyle bar you can bring your family to. Coming in with the band[s], I got to roadie and help set up, just like in the old days. Though it is a backdrop, a long period of my time being involved with Max [Memoirs] played to the tune of the Spoonbills on Friday and many Saturday nights through their lineup changes over the years.

When the Spoonbills reunion started, putting on the opening set, it didn't seem hardly a day had passed since I last heard Woody doing his front man thing. Except, he has gotten better at it. 


It was Woody who taught me that the only difference in bands/talent is whether roadies carry in your equipment or you do. Otherwise bands/talent are the same with the same problems, same amount of assholes, etc., same as any band. When you understand one band, you understand them all. Woody was my entrance to band life. So what I say next, understand how I mean it.



Like Sinatra in his later years, Woody has gotten to be himself as a frontman, comfortable in the spotlight. To the room, which was full by the end of the first set, Woody was the man. 


And The Spoonbills rocked it with long time original member Barry Baranek 5th right, with long time members Allen Garcia and Bill Van Atta flanking original birthday boy, Woody.


The Phatheads/Phathead Deluxe were bands that came along after The Spoonbills, and they took the stage next. This time Woody just played the drums. Andy Garcia, the young one is nephew to Allen.


Time was spent between sets as Woody acknowledged various old friends, other musicians, members wives, and long time fans and cut the cake.

Cutting the cake with wife, Cindy
In the time after the Spoonbill Family Dancers, the Spoonbills entered their last regular lineup with the late Dean, far left (killer keys and ultimate Sports Fan) and Randy, blk muscle tee (lead guitar) who I never met but had to be excellent because of the respect and fond memories Woody has talked about.


Barry Baranek, someone I knew from my original CASE days before I knew him in the Bills, has the perfect spot. It is a place called the Chicken Shack.


This is where everyone meets, greets and practices. This provided the warm-up sessions for the latest Spoonbill lineup, which was formed just for the birthday show. The Rusty Nail already asked if they could pencil in next year, just saying.

Barry on guitar and Bill on drums
The discovery to this outing was getting to know Barry a little better beyond his vintage years. Turns out the Chicken Shack is also home to Barry and Bill Van Atta's latest project of being members in The Creepin' Charlies. The band has an album out and if you like bluegrass country blues done right. I'm listening to it right now as I write this article up. It really kicks ass with some serious pickin'.

This is how my trip to Iowa started out as I went to celebrate a brother from another mother,


Woody Trauffer, a real person from the magical tale, Memoirs of Mr. Pete & Mary Jane Green, Amazon.

Photo credit - Kirk Koster, husband of Cathy Koster

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