Charlie Stonecypher and Rik Cribbs at Songwriter’s Soap Box, Chico Feo, 23 November 2020

Rik Cribb

The festivities ran from six to ten, but in this “edition,” I’m only featuring two performances.* First, Folly Beach’s own Renaissance man, Charlie Stonecypher, bassist, uke thrasher, newspaper columnist, and for the seventh straight year, South Carolina’s Body Board Champion. Hit it, Charlie.

Next, Rik Cribbs, a Charleston legend, taking time out from his Honeymoon to perform.

Happy Thanksgiving, and this year I’m very thankful for George Alan Fox for doing such an excellent job of putting the show together each week. Bravo, George.


*It takes literally hours to upload these videos, hence the brevity. Youtube and I have had a falling out.

Thanksgiving 2020, Let’s Make a Joyful Sigh

Rudy and Sidney serving up a real turkey

Another Thanksgiving is about to roll on past, this one in a year whose repetitious digits have come to represent calamity.

Google 2020 memes if you’re in the mood for some sardonic humor.

Q. If 2020 were a cocktail, what would it be?

A. Colonoscopy prep.

Still, we still have things to be thankful for, right?[1]

I’m thankful I retired when I did so I didn’t have to dismember my Brit Lit survey course, deep-sixing the Wife of Bath, giving Alexander his walking papers, lecturing remotely to the adolescent equivalents of Jeffrey Toobin.[2]

I’m also thankful that even though I was reared in close proximity of Birchers who compiled lists of “card-carrying communists” that included Lucille Ball, I’m not batshit crazy enough to believe that George Soros teamed up with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez (who has been dead for seven years) to create an algorithm that via a software firm called Smartmatic switched Trump votes to Biden votes from headquarters in Spain and Germany.[3]

I’m thankful it was I, the incredible rubber man, who stepped out on the deck that collapsed instead of other less-Buster-Keaton like loved ones. 

I’m thankful that this pandemic is not as deadly as the Ebola or the Bubonic Plague or Brady Bunch re-runs.

Yes, go ahead and call me Mr. Pollyanna. I’ve earned it.


[1] That is, if you’re not John Prine or Herman Cain.

[2] “The New Yorker has suspended reporter Jeffrey Toobin for masturbating on a Zoom video chat between members of the New Yorker and WNYC radio last week. Toobin says he did not realize his video was on.”  In fact, I’m thankful that I’m not Jeffrey Toobin.

[3] The tediousness of that sentence of explanation speaks volumes. Too bad they failed to switch those Senate votes while they were at it.

A Paean to Warren Zevon, Hivah!

I went home with a waitress the way I always do
How was I to know she was with the Russians, too?

I was gambling in Havana, I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns, and money
Dad, get me out of this, hiyah!

An innocent bystander,
Somehow I got stuck between a rock and a hard place,
And I’m down on my luck.
Yes, I’m down on my luck.
Well, I’m down on my luck.

I’m hiding in Honduras, I’m a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns, and money
The shit has hit the fan.

                                                “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”

image from Britannica

I miss Warren Zevon, his catchy tunes, his erudite cynicism, his geo-political obsessions. The first Zevon song I heard came blasting from an AM/FM radio in my cramped three-brother bedroom in 1977 when I had moved back home as a place to crash before getting married. I had just dropped out of grad school, didn’t have a job, and even though my wife-to-be was relatively wealthy, my mother insisted that every day I drive fifteen miles to the Temp Agency on Rivers Avenue to see if I could cop some sort of stopgap gig in construction, a trade I had never plied. It was, in a word, depressing.

And, of course, no one ever chose me, lacking both construction boots and biceps.[1]  

The song blasting from that radio on that autumn evening was “Werewolves of London,” a joyous, literate, tongue-in-cheek send-up celebrity society.

Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen
Doing the Werewolves of London
I saw Lon Chaney, Jr. walking with the Queen
Doing the Werewolves of London
I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic’s
And his hair was perfect.

Those lyrics are perfect – slyly allusive, absurd, funny, like the howling ah-hoos of the chorus. With Warren I had a pal, someone I could relate to, a hip, literate compadre who employed humor to keep chase away the darkness that stalked him like an obsessive spurned lover.[2]

The majority of my hometown Summerville pals had moved on, and most of the ones who had stayed fell into the demographic of “white males without a college degree,” hard drinkers and pot smokers who wouldn’t know Lon Chaney, Jr. from Zeno of Elea.[3]

And as the years passed, I continued to follow Warren’s career and was lucky enough to see him twice, once in a bar called the Music Farm with a Canadian backup band in 1992 and a couple of years later in a solo acoustic show at Mynskens on Market Street. 

Although we would never have a conversation, he would continue to be my pal up to the very end when he accepted his death sentence of Mesothelioma with characteristic good humor. 

Warren Zevon is sitting at a table in a Hollywood hotel cafe, patiently waiting for someone to bring him a menu. Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes seep by. “At a time like this,” he says with an arched eyebrow and a low, rumbling laugh, “you really get the feeling of time marching on.”

David Fricke, “Warren Zevon and the Art of Dying”

I’m writing this on 15 November 2020 in the interregnum between Trump’s concession and Biden’s inauguration and could use a new Zevon name-dropping record to drop, something rhyming “Kayleigh” and “Tiffany,” “Giuliani” and “Proud Boy Army,” something with a resonant bass line, emphatic drumming, and lively guitar licks that would provide me the opportunity to show off my gold-capped molars in a wide ass sardonic grin.

Guess I’ll just have to settle for “Boom Boom Mancini,” “Desperado’s Under the Eaves,” and “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.”


[1] I did do some substitute teaching, though it was more like babysitting than pedagogy, and eventually through a set of divine missteps seemingly ordained by Tyche herself, landed a job at a community college teaching in one semester English 101, Technical Report Writing, and Business English. Obviously, they were as desperate as I was.

[2] In fact, a hade-sporting skull bogarting a cigarette became Zevon’s trademark. 

[3] Yes, I am a card-carrying elitist. Check this out: 


O, Donny Boy, Your Gripes, Your Gripes Are Galling

I’m really not a fan of slam poetry, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway, something to do to while away the interregnum. 

Look up at your TV screens, it’s a turd, it’s a pain, it’s Donald Trump, reality TV star President who has lowered the bar on truth, justice, the American way, a fat-ass Superman wannabe, who can’t stand up straight, much less fly, doesn’t care if we live or die, calls the pandemic a gimmick, has updated the leech with bleach, this snake oil salesman extraordinaire (who claims to be a billionaire, but is drowning in debt way over his head while flooding the nation in blood red ink). Think, he can’t even drink a glass of water with one hand, shuffles down that ramp like a senile Diogenes without a lamp, spreading the seeds of dishonesty, a living embodiment of depravity, in a gaslit nation in need of a vacation. His. It’s way past time to concede.

Return of the Singer/Songwriter Soapbox

Image by George Alan Fox

After a week off, Chico Feo’s Songwriter’s Soapbox returned in fine fashion. George Alan Fox, our inimitable host, bookended the extravaganza with a sampling of original tunes. This one’s my favorite, the brilliant “Figurin’ It Out,” performed at the end of the evening.

Pernell McDaniel laid down some country tunes he had recently written:

Alas, I didn’t get to record an outstanding set by Captain Philip Frandino, whose song “Compromise” speaks to our times. I promise to get him next time he performs.

Here’s a second or to of my occasional poem on Georgia flipping Democratic:

What an easy act to follow, especially for a talented songwriter like Gracie Trice, who, believe it or not, just started writing songs last month.

OMG, as the young people say, get a load of these spoken words by Brianna Stello:

Brother Fleming Moore did a set ending with a gospel tune.

Alas, I also failed to record Jeff Lowry, whom I also promise to video next time he performs, and, even though I did video Jason Chambers, I did so on his phone and don’t have access. It’s a big ass file, and I’ll add it if he can transport it. Lastly, several other performers were outstanding, but I didn’t catch some of their names.

What fun, y’all. Whitney Wienmann was there, celebrating her birthday, along with Caroline Tigner Moore. In addition, a Who’s Who of Folly illuminati made the scene: Surfer Phil, Tyler, Greg, Jesse, Matthew, Dan and Becca (who did a duet early in the evening with Becca on banjo) – the list goes on and on.

A shoutout to bartenders Rachelle, Katie, and Gavin. I also believe I saw a hatless Solly lurking on the periphery.

So if you’re in town, next Monday, head out to Chico Feo. Open Mike starts at 6PM.

Cheers!

Post-Election Electrification

Post-Election Electrification

For Stacey Abrams

There’s a chain gang on the highway
I can hear them rebels yell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Bob Dylan, “Blind Willie McTell”

Back in my wilder days of manic
Boppa-bop-a-bebop – PAR-DEE,
I’ll admit I got arrested a couple of times,

blinded by them PO-lice lights
swirling and stuttering blue
in the nightscape like a UFO landing.

I’ve survived slope driving in suburban Atlanta,
not looking both ways before crossing streets,
trafficking in whatever to make ends meet,

have tossed and turned a couple of nights in jail,
which amounted ultimately to next to nothing,
except for experience to cross reference and relate.


I once told my late wife’s oncologist,
“Doc, I guess you’ve never spent a night in the clink.”

His blank stare a tacit no-he-hadn’t.

“But that’s what it’s like in the middle of the night,
when you’re waiting for the biopsy
to drop the next day.”

Experience to cross reference and relate.


Nowadays the Boppa-bop-a-Bebop – PAR-DEE,
rarely sparks in my nervous system circuitry –
except it actually did yesterday –
when James Brown’s Georgia,
when Otis’s Redding’s Georgia,
when Little Richard’s Georgia,
when Ray Charles’s Georgia,
when Ma Rainey’s Georgia turned a very light shade of blue.

Blind Willie McTell himself
Had limped past the President.

So I stepped outside on the deck,
took in a deep breath,
opened my mouth,
and scat-bellowed at the top of my lungs into the wild blue yonder:

Geetchie geetchie yappa yappa – woo!

On the Corner of Skid Row and Main

Painting by Ben Barker

On the Corner of Skid Row and Main

And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.

AE Houseman “Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff”

The cost of trying to make it go away
Is the post beer binge sour bloated belly.
Pushing my cart along Savannah Highway,
It feels as if my heart is pumping jelly,

Not blood, thick sludge. Dehydrated, ever thirsty,
Broke and broken, palsied, badly in need of a drink,
I have my cardboard sign at the ready,
“HOMELESS VETEREN BEYOND THE BRINK.”

Acid reflux, crackers for lunch. How about a handout?
Unfriendly faces roll on by. If stopped by a light,
Most avoid eye contact, though occasionally they shout
Obscenities at me, cursing the depressing shambling sorry sight.

Marvelous Night for a Moon Dance

brought to you by Foxy G’s Smoky Goodness!!

Here are some brief videos chronicling a bit of what went down at the Songwriter Soap Box last night on the Edge of America.

The first clip features singer/songwriter Fleming Moore accompanied by bluesman Robert Lighthouse on guitar and an unnamed percussionist.

Next, Robert Lighthouse solo, laying down some blues.

Here’s an excerpt of Jason Chambers reading one of his poems.

Too, too short of a clip of the incomparable Danielle Howle.

Sorry, I couldn’t provide videos for all of the performers who included George Alan Fox, Pernell McDaniel, Toomey Tucker, Charlie Stonecypher, Pete Burbage, Eric Barnett, Jeff Lowry, Jamime Crisp, George Honeycutt and Bobby Sutton, Eliza Novella, and Leon David.