Friday, November 04, 2005

It Has To Be Said 2


The marquee is lit up and proclaiming a double feature that we can't quite see. A trickle of cars pull up to the ticket booth where E-Z DANIELS collects money from each one. Most of the cars are full of teens, but one car has a mid-thirty-ish couple in it. DARRIN HUNTER is a fairly clean-cut man while his lady friend ABBY LANG is a bit on the Riot Grrl side.

DARRIN: Wow. Simply and incredibly, wow. [laughs] That's a Mike Gilroy mural.

ABBY: Gilroy was here.

DARRIN: Yeah, Gilroy was here. Wow.

ABBY: Is this the place with the stage?


ABBY: Nice!


A tall, skinny man is behind the counter, his almost waist-length hair tucked back behind a backwards baseball cap. HIPPIE goes about the business of running the snack bar. A middle-aged man wearing a John Deere jacket and suede boots grasps a tray of popcorn, drinks and cotton candy as he steps away from the counter. JOHN SEAVER and DARK almost collide and they look up at each other.

Hurricane Brett was storming towards Corpus Christi, Texas just as we got into San Antonio, so we didn't stay long. Getting back to Orlando on this day was out of the question, so a more realistic goal of Houston was set. By the time we got home, there had been seven songs written on the road, "Interstate 10 Blues" being one of them, and for damn good reason, too.

I made demos of the songs with just voice and dulcimer, put them on cassettes for Mike and McGyver, asked David Schweizer if I could bring two friends along for my already-scheduled slot on August 31st at the House Of Blues, and we rehearsed for two hours before playing that show.

It was nuts. Nuts, so you would not believe.

And we started working pretty often. Very next year, The Orlando Weekly nominates us for an Orlando Music Award in the "World" category along with Seven Nations and Umoja. To be in such company! Umoja deservedly won.

During this time, the whole Mohave thing started laying voodoo on me unsuspectingly. Songs tying together, personalities extending outside of single songs, images of a tangible place with a tangible spirit and energy, yet remaining intangible. The town Nowhere surfaced out of the boggy depths of one of those plastic snowglobes, only instead of shimmering white and silver bits of confetti, it's filled with washed out rusty oranges and browns, the faded golds of yesterday's glory veins. Murky, rolling clouds that begin to settle and reveal this dried-up old prune of a town sitting there.

Like picking up a crystal ball caked with mud. Not just any mud. That good old, clay-thick, red stuff that comes from the floor of the southwestern desert, like natural warpaint. And you rub that crystal ball in various places, you rub to beat all hell, and it still takes an unusual amount of energy, and your sleeve, to clear away enough to see what's inside. I work on polishing the ball a little every day, and what I've been blessed enough to see so far has been wild.

Okay, This Is Just Spooky

This is the legend of the Haunted Shack.
Around about the time of the big silver strike in Nevada,
seems a prospector called Slanty Sam and his wife, Shaky Sadie
lived and eventually died in this old shack.

Strange stories are told and re-told about fantastic goings-on around the old place.
Some say the shack rested directly over the center of gravity.
Folks near and far came to believe that the place was truly haunted by the ghosts of Sam and Sadie.

The Haunted Shack stood there, spooks and all, in Esmerelda County, Nevada. Until we brought it to Ghost Town in 1954.

Lurking there are mysteries that are amazing, amusing and confusing.
You will doubtless remember your experience in the Haunted Shack for a long, long time.

The Haunted Shack at Knott's Berry Farm theme park in California was one of those gravity-houses where water runs uphill and people walk on the walls. As a tour guide there in 1986, I had easily memorized the pre-tour recording, intoned by a somewhat bored-sounding announcer, and routinely use it for sound checks at Mohave shows. I never really made a connection with Nowhere. That is, until the day that I discovered Goldfield.

Nowhere had begun to show up like magically reappearing ink blotches on a tattered canvas. It wasn't until early this year that I finally plumbed the depths of what happened with the town. It was similar to what happened to the town of Goldfield, Nevada. Was once a booming town fueled by the local discovery of gold, then quickly abandoned when the mines went bust. A few descendants of hold-outs remain, but they're not even sure why they're there. With no industry in town and the closest larger town more than an hour in each direction, there's not much to do there except drink and think about drinking.

Goldfield had gotten decidely more upscale than Nowhere ever aspired to be. Tourists don't even go to Nowhere. They just stop in the bar and have a drink, maybe two. Maybe three if they've got something to get off their chests, and then they leave, always to return. There's just something about the place that's polarizing in that regard.

While looking at the page, I noticed that Goldfield, Nevada was in Esmerelda County.

The Haunted Shack is now but a concrete slab at an ever-modernizing amusement park that's all but forgotten its rich history. But in this case - a sense of crazy completion and connection was another cactus rose and a bit of the crystal ball allowed a clearer peek inside.

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