Picking up where we left off…..
I don’t remember much of the conversation in the van but I know that it was hard for me to be mad at my cousin even though I knew what he did was way wrong. Yes, Sam was being an a -hole and my cousin punched him out. The whole thing was not what I needed especially considering I was trying to be a working musician in Dallas, which was hard enough (this was about 1995).
A few days after the incident I remember speaking to Sam at Schooners again. The details are blurry as to how we were standing together but it was at a time when the club was empty and the stage was clear. I was reaching for a lighter and I looked up and Sam was holding a light for me (which surprised me) and said something to the effect of ” You and I are square and I consider you a friend… ”
The next time I saw Sam I was at The Bone jam on a Tuesday night and i asked him how he was doing. He said “I’d be doin’ a lot better if you would leave me the f$#@ alone..”
Apparently, he changed his mind about me being his friend. He suddenly despised me. I was trying to talk to him and he just got more irritated with me and told me to “Just be, mother-f%$#, Just Be!” I gave up because anything I tried to do just made it worse.
A few months went by and the Dallas Observer was doing a story on Sam and they called James Buck who was the singer for Cold Blue Steel (I played with them a short stint after Mark Pollock and then Texas Slim had ceased to be the guitar player….it was the ‘Headin’ to Memphis’ era)…They asked him (James) if I had a comment and he told them that I wanted to put it behind me and didn’t have a comment…I was unaware until James told me after the fact….I’m sure it wasn’t the kind of press James wanted anything to do with….
So, I left Sam alone.
Somewhere in the months that followed I found myself at Lakewood Bar and Grill on an off night…like a Monday or something…Jim Suhler had kind of an ‘unplugged’ gig and I came by…again , some of it is vague but Hash Brown was there…also a drum set was set up….it was a low – key kind of thing…somehow I wound up behind the drums…..I think Jim was playing guitar and Hash was playing harp….Sam was at the very end of the bar and he didn’t know I was there. He started making his way to the stage and decided he wanted to sing. I was still behind the drums…he got up to the mic and said: “Now that we have a real drummer up here…” I was really surprised and flattered he would say that….then he asks Hash Brown:
” And what is this drummers name ? ”
Obviously we were in a bit of a situation here. if Sam knew it was me behind the drums..the fun would be over and Sam would be really upset…
I froze with my jaw dropped and my eyes wide open….and Hash looked at me..his eyes widening too…
I want to freeze it right there for a second…Brian Hash Brown Calway doesn’t get the credit he deserves for as talented as he is…one of those talents is making up words on the fly…this is not easy to do…I have seen him make up verses in songs that had me in stitches… one time I knew he was making up words and it was over a fast shuffle … it was like :
” You know I love you baby, how could you do this to me?”
“You know ( he paused and you could see the wheels turning in his head )..you know you’ve got me in a real sabotage “(pronounced SAB-A-TOO-JEE) …
Back to those wheels turning in Hash Brown’s head while on the spot…trying to address Sam’s question of this mysterious drummer….
Hash continued: “This drummer’s name is…..is…. Pat….. Shramm….” (Shawn Pittman=Pat Shramm)…
Sam went on to sing some Muddy Waters and later I switched to guitar and played some more with Sam while he sang….I remember he asked me to do a ‘drop D’ a little later….
Next time I saw Hash he said that Sam was impressed with Pat Shramm. We kinda chuckled about it. I even spoke to Sam briefly as Pat another time at Lakewood Bar and Grill and Sam asked if I was gonna do a little picking with him later…
Next thing I hear is Mike Morgan asked Sam about what he (Sam) thought of Shawn Pittman.
I’m paraphrasing here but it was something to the effect of :
Mike: “What do you think about Shawn Pittman?”
Sam: “He’s (Shawn) a no playin’ mother f$%$#…”
Mike: “What do you think about Pat Schramm?”
Sam: “That Pat Schramm can play a mean guitar”
So there it was. Pat Schramm now existed.
I think Sam figured it out later on but I’m not really sure. Hash Brown would know. Sam never spoke to me again as long as he lived (He passed away in 2006) but I was just glad I got to interact with him in some form, even if it was an alias. It wasn’t intended to deceive Sam but it just kind of happened that way.
In the end, I wished that none of that would have ever happened. But it did, and that’s how it went down. For the record, my cousin changed his life after he did his time. He is happily married with three children and lives a good life these days. He is remorseful about that night but when we talk about it..we can’t help but fight off a little bit of a smile as we shake our heads…
photo courtesy of Don O.