HarpCarp Brushes With Greatness (part 1)…

In my last post I mentioned that my friend Monty and I had shared an elevator with Nick Swardsdon in Detroit over the summer, here are a few other HarpCarp brushes with (and near brushes with) greatness…

  • R.L. Burnside–Five Horse Johnson played a show with R.L. Burnside at Bells Brewery in Kalamazoo in 1998 or so. It was a great show, not only because that R.L. kicked ass as usual, but also because his amp blew up right before the show and he had to borrow our guitar player Brad’s amp–OHIO 67 license plate and all to do the gig. It was a proud moment indeed! After the show we chatted with R.L. (I had met him a few times before-but thats another story for another day) and told us of our set that we were “Hangin’ like a dirty shirt!” I’m still not sure if that is good or bad, but I think it was good, right?
  • Brian Setzer–Steve “Steve Smith” Smith, Brad and myself were walking down a busy NYC street one afternoon when I spotted Brian Setzer walking on the same sidewalk coming our way. I remember I was talking to Small Stone Recordings label chief Scott Hamilton on my cell at the time–Me: “OH SHIT,  Brian Setzer is coming our way!”  Scott: “DUDE! say something! Say hi to him!”– so as Setzer came closer I panicked and blurted out “HI, BRIAN!!” really loudly. I said it so assuredly that he looked at as if he MUST know us, but then continued on his way, a very confused Rockabilly legend.
  • James Cotton–In a magical turn of events a few years back, through a Blues Revue Magazine drawing, my Dad won an all expenses paid  trip for two to the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa and he kindly asked if I wanted to tag along. This was a killer prize that included all back stage access, a limo ride to and from the airport, and really nice hotels for us two clowns–it was pretty unbelievable.James Cotton and Buddy Guy were to the headliners of this particular festival. I was truly psyched because Cotton is one of my favorite harp players, and I would probably get a chance to meet him. James was suffering from severe throat cancer and did only minimal harp playing, leaving all of the singing duties to Buddy.Anyway…After the show I nervously walked up to JC and said “Mr. Cotton, it’s a pleasure to meet you. You are the reason I started playing harmonica and you are the King of the ‘crash and burn harp’.” With a gravely croak Cotton replied  “Man, lookit that blonde chick in the white mini-skirt, she fine.” and walked away. The End.
  • Roger Glover & Ian Pace of Deep Purple–In 2003 Five Horse Johnson was asked to fill an opening slot for Deep Purple and Lynyrd Skynyrd vacated by Ted “Sweaty Teddy” Nugent at the famed DTE Energy Theater (formerly and ALWAYS know to me as Pine Knob, dammit!) outside of Detroit, Mi. This was quite a coup that a pipsqueak level band like us would be let loose on the “big stage” to entertain the masses for 20 minutes or so (In actuality our soundcheck was far longer than our set). Also, this was a total thrill as both bands had more than a little bit to do with the formation of FHJ in the first place. I can’t speak for the other guys, but I was VERY nervous.Happily the show went off without a hitch, and we retired to our comfy, air conditioned backstage rooms. I went into the bathroom and took a shower, and when I came out of the bathroom I felt as if something odd was going on. Everybody was super quiet, and subdued. The first person I see is Steve, and he has this look on his face that said “OhShitOhShitOhShitOhShit!!”. I open the door farther, and I discover that Steve is knee-deep in a mano y mano conversation with Roger Glover! ROGER F#(&ING GLOVER IS STANDING IN OUR DRESSING ROOM! AND he’s chatting it up with Steve, Brad and our drummer Mike. RG looks at me and says “Great gig mate! I was just telling your bass player here that I watched most of the gig from right behind his Ampeg amp!” Uh…let me get this straight, while we played one of our watershed moment gigs–Roger Glover of Deep Purple peeped at us from behind Steve’s amp like a rad lecher, WTF? Right after that startling moment the door bust open and Ian Pace leaps in our room! He says: “GREAT SHOW MATE! I FELT IT IN ME BALLLLS!!”  and promptly grabs his crotch to re-enforce his point.
    Unbelievably awesome.

    After the gig there was the inevitable hollow backstage babble; the “We should totally do some more gigs, call my agent!” and “I would love to produce your next album!” et al–but I’ll never forget the day one of the best drummers in the history of Rock and Roll grabbed his junk at me!

Seriously folks, I got a million of em. Stay tuned.


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