Mudlark

Great Rock and Blues since 1972

Bumpass - The Road to Nowhere

Prologue

A little ground work. The band at the time was me, Kelly, Greg, Jim, and Albert, which has since reached local legendary status. The manager of the band at the time was named Tripp. I probably don't have to say much more than that for you to know where this story is probably going. Tripp, as Jim would say, was an "operator". "You'll go far with me!" was a famous saying. Actually, my wife Linda and I went to his trailer one day for a visit. The ENTIRE floor of the trailer was covered with newspaper, which was densely covered with, how you say, dog shit! At that time, Linda and I went as far FROM Tripp as possible. Tripp had an associate, Mike, who got along with basically nobody in the band (except occasionally Kelly). It wasn't obvious to me exactly what Mike did, but he often provided a heated diversion. So let the story begin.

The Trip

I should have known it was trouble when Tripp said "Hey, I got us a band gig in Bumpass". Our collective response was something intelligent like "Why would we want to play in Bumfuck, er, Bumpass, ha, ha, ha" (we were very amusing when we were young). The answer, of course, is that it's a good gig and will result in more and better gigs (how many times have YOU been told that?). So basically, here's the logistics. Tripp and Mike travel to the club together. They are the only two people associated with the band that know where the club is, so travelling together made the most sense to them. Albert (one of the sweetest people I've ever known) and his brother Freddie loaded the world's largest HOME MADE speakers (we're talking 5 feet by 5 feet by 5 feet) into the trunk of Albert's 1963 Ford Galaxy 500. For those of you that have never seen a 1963 Ford Galaxy 500, it has a trunk that's approximately as big as a small house. The speakers barely fit. They have to be roped in. Kelly, Greg, Jim, Linda, and I were travelling in two cars. Our trip begins by getting lost on our way out of our home town. "I know a shortcut" Greg volunteers. For some reason, we believed him. I don't know why. Greg is a great musician, great friend, really laid back and we love him. He is not a navigator. After following Greg for 20 minutes, we realize that we have not yet left town. After finding our way out of Herndon, and a trip of about 90 minutes, we arrive in Bumpass. We believe the correct pronunciation is actually "bump us". Leaning on the sense of humor of the time BumpASS seemed a much more appropriate pronunciation. We're like "Who the hell would name a place BUMPASS?!!".

Bumpass

Remember, this is 1977.

Bumpass has one gas station and a phone booth.

The gas station is closed.

The phone booth has no directory.

That's it. So, being the detectives we were, we drive around the area around Bumpass, which is just as densely populated as downtown Bumpass. Basically, imagine yourself driving around on a two lane road in the middle of the darkest countryside you've ever seen, with NOTHING in sight. This is where we were looking for a night club. We were lost, so we stopped at a residence. Remember, there were no other houses even near this house. Several of us approached the house at which time the woman who was in the house immediately locked her door and looked extremely paranoid. We assured her that we were harmless, basically a rock band looking for a night club in the middle of nowhere. She promptly closed her door, offering no help whatsoever.

It's getting late now. We pass two young gentlemen (referred to as "locals") walking along the road. We slow down to ask them if they know where the club we're supposed to be playing at might be located. "Fucking Shit" is the response we receive. We take this as a "no" and leave immediately. So far, no luck finding the night club in the wilderness. Duh.

We stop back at the phone booth, we somehow find the number (probably called information, pretty damn smart, eh?). I call the club and talk to Tripp. He and Mike have been there for quite a while now and are wondering where the hell we are. Tripp tells me where the club is. It's actually about 10 miles away. Somewhere in Louisa County. In a strip mall. Not in the wilderness at all. Cool. We're late, we're in Bumpass, and the gig isn't.

The Gig

We finally arrive at the gig. Hooray. We walk in and see Albert's giant PA speakers taking up virtually the whole stage. This is more like a store front than a club. Atmosphere a la beer and cigarettes. We begin unloading equipment (about an hour and a half late). We meet the club owner, he fires us immediately.

This touches off a virtual "love fest" between band members, band members and management, band members and the audience. A little puke with a biker hat (you know, like the one Marlon Brando wore in "The Wild Ones") looks at Linda and says "Someone better move this guitar before I break it". Linda moves the guitar. I look at him and say something appropriate like "Now is not really the time to be fucking with the band". I'm sure it was more his sensitive nature than the furious band fight occurring behind me that made him go about his business.

The scene in front of the club begins to join the party. The band is now basically fighting with each other in front of the club (Tripp and Mike, having found the bar on time, are having a problem with other band members being late, even though no directions were ever given). A young couple drives up and innocently asks if there is band tonight and when it starts. Freddie steps up to their car and calmly SCREAMS: "FUCK NO, THERE IS NO BAND TONIGHT. DOES IT LOOK LIKE THERE'S GOING TO BE A FUCKING BAND TONIGHT? DO YOU THINK WE'RE STANDING OUT FRONT BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO BE PLAYING IN FRONT OF THE CLUB TONIGHT?!?!?!".

The couple takes this as a "no" and leaves immediately.

Epilogue

The equipment is packed. The evening is over. We're all still loading equipment (making us feel as good as loading equipment always makes us feel, only worse), when Albert and Freddie leave for home with the speakers. About an hour later, Linda and I leave. About an hour into our trip, we see in our headlights the rear of a '63 Ford Galaxy with giant speakers lashed in, with the back bumper approximately 6 inches off the ground travelling at approximately 30 miles per hour.

A classic sight if I have ever seen one.

We pass Albert and Freddie, checking out the speakers as we pass.

The perfect end to a perfect evening.