I am skipping forward a bit to the next record with Cannonball. I did learn a lot from Ron Levy. I remember standing outside The Flying Saucer in Memphis in between sets I spoke of in my last blog and being so mad. I was embarrassed that I wasn’t able to come across the way I wanted to. It was like being in a dream where someone is trying to attack you but you try to hit back and it’s like you are under water. That feeling would accompany me for many years down the road. I remember Levy saying ” If it’s not going right, PRETEND like it is. Be an actor.” Right about that time Art Tipaldi walked by to say hello to Ron…Art looked at me sort of like one would look at a waiter that had just dropped a huge tray of food…Ron says: “Angry young man.”
He was right. But I was just used to having fun and the music being ‘right’ was part of that. But again, It’s my fault for allowing myself to be put in the position in the first place. Live and learn.
Fast forward about a year. I played the Chicago Blues Fest ( didn’t make a dime although I signed CD’S for about an hour afterwards…didn’t even have gas or hotel covered) and some others, had great reviews, got “out there” a little bit. ( not a great record by any means though, some ok guitar, but…ya know)…
I hadn’t heard from Levy in a while so I called him up to enquire about what we were going to do for the next record. To my surprise, I found out he wasn’t with the label anymore. He said: “It’s too bad, we could have had a good thing”…
Now I was confused. The only guy I had ever talked to with the label wasn’t there anymore and I had signed a three record deal with which they had the option. Levy told me: “You might be hearing from somebody named Scott..just don’t call him back”….I didn’t realize I was in the middle of some kind of squabble in which I had nothing to do with. I didn’t know who to believe and then wondered if I was bound legally and all other kinds of stuff I wasn’t planning on…..while trying to keep a working band and booking myself, and just really trying to learn my craft…I wasn’t a happy guy. I took it out on some undeserving folks, usually the very people that were on stage with me. Just misguided anger…
I finally spoke to Scott and he was a nice fellow. He wasn’t a musician but he wanted to make a label work and I give him credit for trying. He told me about bringing in Jim Gains to produce the next record. This sounded promising and I was relieved just to have a direction to go for the near future. Jim was great to work with and he flew down a day early to see me play at a KNON benefit that Don. O had set me up with. Unfortunately, my bass player (John Williamson) didn’t show up because there was a Dallas Cowboy playoff game, and I was a little limited but..whatever..
Jim told me he would only suggest things to me and if I like his suggestions I could take them, if not, no big deal. He was easy. I found that he brought things out of me that I didn’t know I could do, and ideas that made my half- baked songs sound better. Like ‘Come on over’, he suggested I use the little octave riff as a hook…it worked…
When it came time to packaging the finished product I asked if we could do something different with the CD case. The first release had a little plastic ball in the spine of the cd that made a noise as it rolled back and forth. The spine was clear and the ball was a representation of the ‘Cannonball’ label. The only thing is that people always thought the cd was broken, or they were irritated when they received a box of them because the noise was so loud. The jury is out as to whether or not it was a successful marketing ploy. I asked Scott if we could nix the ‘BB’ or the cannonball so to speak, on this release. He really resisted. We had an argument over the phone about it.
I said: “I don’t like the BB in the cd spine. I don’t want it on there.”
Scott says: “Why would I not put my brand on the cd?”
I raised my voice: “No you don’t understand. I don’t want the cannonball ‘thingy’on this release.”
He raised his voice: “WHY WOULD I PAY FOR A PRODUCT THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAVE MY BRAND ON IT?”
I yelled a few expletives and let’s just say the phone call ended ubruptly.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized Scott thought I meant I didn’t want the LABEL LOGO on the cover AT ALL. I was just referring to the BB. I always wondered why there was no logo on the front.
-to be continued-