<-- Back to The Rust List page        <-- Back to HyperRust Home Page
 <-- Back to Encounters Page

Backstage With Lookout Mama

Man,where to start, where to start.....

Left South Florida Sunday afternoon with Rustie Over & Over (who I hope is enjoying his camping trip). Talked and played Neil for about 6 hours driving in the rain till we stopped for the night in Georgia. Turns out this was gonna be O&O's first show. I don't think he went away disappointed....

Next morning, thru the rain again for the last 6 hours up to Raleigh. We had both watched Weather Channel the night before in our rooms and had heard that they were calling for 5 or 6 inches of rain that day in the Raleigh area. Told him not to worry - even if it poured Ark level proportions the rain would stop in time for Neil. Had a bit of trouble believing myself tho. So....

We get to Raleigh a lot earlier than we thought so on the spur of the moment O&O suggests we cruise by Walnut Creek - maybe we'll get lucky and there'll be a soundcheck. Or better yet, a bus with "Buffalo Springfield" across the back window. No such luck! Just the 2 of us and the yellow jacket security folks. We check out what we can from the car, decide Neil wasn't there yet and leave. Oh well.....

Around 3'ish, we pull into John & Linda Meckley's driveway. For those of you who have never been up that way, if the Meckley's have a fest for Neil's bd, do yourself a favor and go. Awesome area. We were the first to arrive so we just hung for about 20 minutes or so in the driveway, digging on the woods and getting wet until the next car comes up and out pop Thrasher, Shakey and Youngster. Who, as luck would have it, had keys to the house. Lots of hugs, lots of hi's and we all go inside to start the party. Good talk, good music and then John Meckley arrives. More good talk, good music and here comes Locator and SWMBO. John's wife Linda arrives and by this time we're taking the party outside to the Rusted Out Garage with Shakey threatening every five minutes to leave and see if he can catch the soundcheck. :-}

For those of you who have never attended a RustFest it's a funny thing. Basically, you're in a place with 5 or more folks who you've probably never met. You know them as names on a monitor. Maybe you've talked to a few on the phone but it's still basically strangers. That's when it gets so beautifully weird. Almost instantaneously you realize that although you've technically never met, you're all good friends. Conversation and good feelings come so easy that you'd think you all partied the night before and have been doing it for the past five years or so on a constant basis. It's the most comfortable feeling in the world!

Anyway, more Rusties keep showing up - by the time we're all ready to go I lost count. Drove over with O&O and Dave-from-Texas. Park the car, meet up with the other guys and we all go in. Security is not too tight so I was able to sneak in my camera. A big thank you to Dave for carrying in my large lens. Unfortunately, my shutter is broken so I have to do some weird gyrations to shoot so I'll know in about an hour from now if anything came out. We get in and stake out the Rustie meeting place. While we're all drifting in and out and up and down from the beer kiosk folks are coming up to us and asking if we're from Rust. Lurkers and total strangers. Apparently, the MORE BARN shirts and the RUST@DEATH shirts were a tip off. I think we made several new Rustie converts that day. Hi guys! Welcome aboard!

So, here we all are, hanging out at the Rust table getting wet and not caring when Linda M and some friends come running over to me telling me I have to give them a MORE BARN shirt cuz they told Zeke Young about it and he wants to see one. Told them that I'd do them one better - let's go over and I'll give Zeke his shirt, which Brad had provided. So we go over to the soundboard and there's this 20 something blond haired Neil semi-clone sitting there. Ladies, he definitely got the best of Dad & Mom - he's not bad!!! (taste of course being subjective) Gave him the bag and told him to grab himself a shirt. Finds his size and takes it out, gives it a good luck and starts saying "oh wow! this is really great!" and other stuff which was generally favorable to the MORE BARN shirt. We got the idea he liked it.

Unfortunately, I had put my camera strap in the bag with the shirts and he found that too. It's an old ratty strap but it sorta looks like those 1960's guitar straps that us ole hippies loved. So he picks up the strap and tells me that his dad "would love to have this". I'm like, Zeke are you nuts!!! It's a ratty ol camera strap! And, your Dad CANNOT have it! Tell him to get his own! Well, guess what? I think I left the strap in the bag when I gave it to Neil (I can't find it). So....Neil if you're out there, can I have my camera strap back, man? Please??????

OK, so we chat for a while with Zeke and then Ben Folds Five comes on. Mention that maybe we should all go to our seats and Zeke makes a face. So I say, "I gather you don't like them, huh?" His reaction was, "Yeah, they suck." Unfortunately, from what I heard of them I have to agree. I'd like to hear them in a quieter circumstance - give them another try. So, back to the Rustie table. BTW, Linda M tells us that Zeke has heard of us over on Rust.

Jewel is next and although I really wanted to see her, I missed her set waiting in line at the payphone (had to call the daughter and wish her goodnight). So, back to the RustTable, hang out, get wetter, have some iced cappucino, hang out.....NEIL TIME! And, the rain stops!

I've been going to see Neil since January, 1973. That's a lot of shows. This show definitely ranks as one of the best Neil & the Horse shows I've ever seen. From the first chords of Hey Hey My My we were all on our feet and didn't sit down for the rest of the night. Well, I did sit during Cortez. It was washing over me and I was swaying so much I almost lost my balance. So I just sat down, closed my eyes, and let Neil do his magic.

Hurricane was more than intense! As others have reported, Neil broke every string on Old Black and still got that guitar to scream. From the angle I had I could see that when Black had slipped down off Neil's shoulder and he was holding it around waist level it almost looked like he was making love to his guitar. This image was further enhanced by the fact that the strap was just bouncing up and down across his ass with total abandon.

Pocahontas was real fine as well. Sorta loped across your brain. The guys really got into Welfare Mothers. "Where's the Check??!!" I liked Slip Away - I did. The jams were great. Very easy but very intense. I woulda loved to have not heard Heart of Gold and Sugar Mountain but I understand why they must be played. Hey Neil, an idea - maybe instead of one of those 2 you could do Homefires or even Interstate? How bout acoustic Dead Man? That may sell a few copies.....

Unfortunately, it was over way too soon with the curfew. Time to head backstage with the shirts. Jim McKelvey also had a backstage pass so we went in together, along with his son. We had red passes and had to sit in the red pass area (as opposed to the green pass area). Fortunately, as it was a hot muggy nite, there was plenty of bottled water and iced sodas laid out for us.

After about 5 minutes one of the guys on the crew came out and told us that Neil would be out shortly - we were to sit around the tables and he'd come around and chat for a few minutes. Well, I was in 7th heaven since I only thought I'd be meeting Elliot since the arrangement was to present the shirts to him to give to Neil. But it also pissed me off a bit. It was almost like Neil is this trained seal to be trotted out and made to perform before being put away again. But, I suppose if Neil didn't want to do it that way he wouldn't do it at all.

We sit at our table and all of a sudden Neil, Elliot, Ralph and Billy come strolling out. I honestly don't remember what Neil had on - except for the straw hat. But he looked sooooooo good. It seems that when Neil has a good night, the years just melt off his face. He looked around 35 years old (or was that Grecian Formula?). So relaxed, and with that crooked Neil grin.

Of course everyone rushes him. Don't know why, but I decided to hang back like we were told. Almost blew my chance that way. The tour dude kept telling folks to get back and they kept crowding in closer. Jim M went off to talk to Elliot about the archives and I angled in to snap a few pix for some folks who wanted themselves posing with Neil. (I did get them back a while ago and NOTHING came out except a few dark ones of the Rustfesters at John Meckley's garage and a very ghostlike image of Neil with his back turned away). While I was snapping these pics I had to tell Neil several times to get in closer. Fortunately, it didn't annoy hiim - he thought it was a goof. Told him my camera is broken and I didn't have a short lens so he had to bear with me. He did say something back but I don't know what it was - we all laughed though.

So I take these pix and suddenly Neil starts walking away. And here am I with the shirts. Decision time - do I just give them to Elliot or try and grab Neil? Well....obvious no brainer here. I just run up to him, tap him on the shoulder (he's only about 6 feet btw - the old age shrink has started!) and say "Neil, wait a sec!" He turns around and I hold out the bag to him and say "I have something to give you on behalf of Brad Brandeau and the rest of Rust".

Neil: "Oh yeah....Rust!" (with a smile and one of those I-know-who-you-are type of nods).

Me: "Neil, this is just our way of saying thanks, man. Thanks for everything you've given to us. There's a shirt in here for you and everyone in the band, 2 for Elliot, one for Larry Cragg, and Zeke already has his so don't let him have another one <grin>. Oh yeah, shirts for Pegi, Ben and Amber are being mailed to Lookout under separate cover."

At this, he broke into the biggest grin. And his eyes literally lit up. You could see the love in his eyes and I think he's really glad we remembered the rest of his family. Neil: "Thanks!",and he turns to go.

Me: "Oh yeah Neil, one more thing! Could you sign my shirt, man?" Turn around, lift up my hair and he signs across the top. Me:" Ooh, that tickles!"

Feel the movement stop and turn around to get the pen and give him Dave Katz's pick case to autograph - he hands me the pen, turns and goes. It's over.

We pack up to leave. I break down my totally worthless camera and we head towards the door. Suddenly the "handler" comes running up to me:

"I just want to tell you that Neil is crazy about those shirts! He thinks they're great! As a matter of fact he just walked out to the bus carrying one under each arm!".
Me: "Cool! Glad he likes them. Just make sure they go to everyone else!" Handler says he will and turns to speak with somebody else. Now it's really over.

BTW, I did get a chance to speak to Elliot - introduced myself and thanked him and Lookout for what they've done for us at Rust. And told him he had a shirt too. He didn't say much - smiled a lot though. He was in a very good mood too.

So we pack it in and drive on back to the Meckley's house. Its around 11:30 when we leave Walnut Creek. It's close to 1 when we get back to the party. We got VERY lost. Oh well....there's still about 2 hours of party left. More singin', smokin', beerin', and good timin'. I had to get up early the next day so I packed it in around 2. Believe everyone else shut down within the hour as well.

Next morning it was done. We all say our goodbyes and stagger out. Some to other engagements, some to other shows (lucky guys!) and some of us to home. But we did promise to do this again for Neil's birthday.

And, a few of us ARE planning the RustFest to end all RustFests for next summer. More on that as it develops.

That's it. One helluva trip, one incredibly great buncha folks and one magic man and his band. And Zeke, if you're out there - remember that camera strap!

*** it's all illusion anyway ***

{Lookout Mama}

 <-- Back to Encounters Page
 <-- Back to The Rust List page        <-- Back to HyperRust Home Page