The Fillmore

Around the time that I was recording my second album I struck up a friendship with Susan Tedeschi. Susan was starting to get some real momentum behind her “Just Won’t Burn” release. As far as career goes, she had everything I could dream of…She was opening for big acts and getting major air play and for some reason she was interested in me. I kind of took advantage of that, and I shouldn’t have. The lifestyle she lived was very seductive to me…Everybody loved her and she liked me, so hey, I guess that makes ME ok then? Right? I was living on East Side Avenue in East Dallas and she was calling me from Buddy Guy’s tour bus…I thought that was great!

Well my record label (Cannonball) or ‘cannon-ball- and- chain’ as I called it was not so keen on me hangin’ around with her. I think it was because I could see how something was done right when I viewed how her label and management worked for her, and how I got the opposite from my label. I had no management, and no agent, and sort of wanted out of my life suddenly. More about that later.

Susan had some West Coast dates that she had talked her management into letting me open up for her. One of those dates was the Fillmore in San Francisco. I was trying to get the budget together and realized I wasn’t going to be able to pay for such a trip and bring even a trio along. I asked my label for help. They declined. I was getting an opportunity to play at The Fillmore opening for a Grammy nominated artist and my label didn’t see the benefit.

The temporary label manager was named Terry and she was Scott’s secretary. She said in these words “We don’t think that’s a good career move for you to do this gig given the expenses that we will incur.”

I told this to S.T. over the phone and she relayed what my label had said to the Mercury rep (I think Mercury was the parent company of Tone-Cool…I could be wrong on that..) that was in the car with her (I can’t remember where they were) and the Mercury rep said “What Career?”…He was right on many levels.

Somehow I talked them into helping me with it after more exhausting arguments and I was set to open the show at The Fillmore. I remember the show was awesome…I even got an encore as an opening act…

But it wasn’t without a little drama. My bass player John Williamson missed his flight. Dirk Cordes and I were there but we were a little worried about Williamson making it. He showed up right on time for sound check which was amazing…we did the show … and after the show we were relaxing in the dressing room listening to John Williamson tell stories.

Williamson was/is a prolific story teller. I mean he is a natural entertainer with some of the coolest stories I have ever heard about blues legends and all kinds of lore. And he gets animated too with his deep Texan drawl. After the show we are sitting at a table in our dressing room and Williamson has a live audience with Dirk and I and a few others. These tables had memorabilia like ticket stubs of past shows and pictures of past performers and such underneath a layer of glass. Williamson is standing and has a Budweiser bottle in his right hand, he gets to the end of his story and somehow slams his beer on the table in just the most perfect way that the entire table top shatters into thousands of small shards of glass! We look for a broom and dust pan and frantically start cleaning up before someone peeks there head in…

The rest of the night I don’t remember. But the next day we get a call from the cleaning crew at The Fillmore.

“We have your bass player here and he said he doesn’t know where the hotel is.” Then it dawned on me that because Williamson flew straight in and went directly to the venue, he hadn’t had a chance to go to the hotel. I can’t remember how we picked him up, but when we did he was stompin’ mad, holding his bass, duffle bag, and a large pot that looked like he had gotten from a dollar store or something.

I asked: “What’s with the pot?”

He said he had slept on the street that night and he had to buy it off a homeless guy because he was scared the man was going to steal his bass. Made sense to me. And back to Texas we went.

Note to the Fillmore: I make a great second impression:)

Pic of John Williamson (right) with Erkan Ozdemir (left)
Pic of John Williamson (right) with Erkan Ozdemir (left)

-to be continued-

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