May 24 2011

Wiki feud

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage

Published on my BLOG –
I just had an online conversation with an editor at Wiki – and she really helped. Let me describe the confusion – sounds obtuse from the git, doesn’t it – ‘describe the confusion’?!
Here’s the prob: My identity has been contested, a few people who ‘contribute’ to the Wiki entry labeled Buddy Cage see it differently than I. Now, get this, some people out there on Wikipedia feel that I have missed the beat, have argued the facts about my history. For the past year, it starts like this, Buddy Cage – An American guitarist (generally how a professional musician from the US begins), and then goes on to list my musical associations, recording sessions, various appearances and so forth.
But the ‘others’ have intervened to straighten me out as regarding, my personal and professional life. Apparently, this is the way Wiki works, at least thus far, online. Anyone can manipulate the online perception providing they have established themselves as ‘credible’ sources with other ‘credible’ authorities. Weird? Yeah, a little. Particularly in light of the fact that I am who I am and hopefully still, in a modest way possess my faculties.
So, we’re going to try a suggested tack in the endeavor as was offered by our friend, editor at Wiki. I think they all sort-of become authorities after a fashion. Our editor implies that there is no effort to have any other agenda but to ‘scrupulously’ scrub my biography! Hmmm…’for me’…
Yes, I was born in Toronto, Canada Feb. 18, 1946 – if you’re into astrology as a relatively harmless, social, parlor game you would understand I, as an Aquarian have trouble putting up with tedious horseshit.
I began to take Hawaiian guitar lessons in the Summer of 1957 in Port Credit, Ontario – some really neat people at the Conservatory who cared to give me their best through lessons on how not to suck! My life as a professional player came in 1961, I left high school in 1963 to pursue music and landed a solid gig in ’65. I never looked back or was out of work ever again.
I took most dates living in Canada in the United States – back then, there wasn’t such a closed system to traveling musicians, INS was much, much looser. No one was out there to rob someone else from their livelihood – we had a union (A.F. of M.) but they were pretty much useless except for television, radio, recordings, etc. – they didn’t have a lot of strength in area regulations - with the notable exception of Local in Chicago. You get my drift? In fact, we as musicians were considered ‘special people’ (do you know how I identified with that?). We were, and are a fairly non-combatant group.
I worked the preponderance of dates in the US. As it should be – it was fair, these were the jobs. After all I had lost most, if not all contact with Canada as regards as nationality. I was technical a Canadian citizen but I belonged to the world of musicians. The US was, and is, is where I honed my craft, lived, exercised my freedom – had my families. There is a rather unfortunate term in the Immigration game – the term Resident-Immigrant but that’s the way it is – I don’t write the terms. I work within the system.
I maintained that status as a Green Card holder ‘till 1991 where I took the offer to become a full citizen of the United States, something I’m proud of it. I was graduated from New London HS in Connecticut through the G.E.D. opportunity on a recommendation from my old friend Waylon Jennings who recently had been through that process.
However, some Wiki’s choose to identify me otherwise. They have tried to refer to me as Canadian-American, Canadian lives in New York City, ‘once-born-always-will-be’ (lol, giggle, giggle…) – this is frankly garbage. For all their alleged scrupulousness, they continually skew my Wiki introduction to the version that pleases themselves – some choose, evidently a couple Canadians, to declare me to satisfy their own selves, of their own nationality. I have zero Canadian affiliation, no Canadian tithe or pride of any kind. In the service of your own, you do a disservice to me.
I am what I am – I’m an American guitarist. My residence? None of your business, actually. In the music business, I will reside where I benefit myself, my choice and irrelevant to historical accuracy.
I left Canada permanently in 1965 when the first gigs took me to the US returning only for certain tours and to visit my parents coordinating with my tour schedules. I worked for Ian & Sylvia/Great Speckled Bird, a Canadian band. I left somewhat of a musical footprint through gigs and shows, some sessions in Canada working as a freelancing musician most notably with Anne Murray, a 2 week job playing for I&S at the Canadian Pavilion of the World Expo ’70 culminating in the Festival Express train tour across Canada – dvd available online! I ended my relationship with Ian after the train job although I kept up doing a few tv shows on his Nashville North/Ian Tyson Show.
In the Spring of 1971, I lived and worked as a New Rider (still after 40 years!) and continue to do so with a multitude of independent music jobs.
I don’t mind the scrutiny but I resent the perception that I am other than an American guitarist! Please stop insisting on your Canadian references thru my Wiki profile – it causes me damage, personally and professionally.
Buddy Cage

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Jan 10 2011

Friends and Help

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage

Monday, January 10, 2011
What a trip! New England…
The Xmas gig 2010 was swell, I reconnected with some musicians from Wachusett, MA with an imminent Nor’Easter heading up. But who better to know the possibilities than these guys to be on spot for a storm of this nature. The gig was a local bar in Worcester, a neat one on Chandler St. (the notorious area of the methadone clinic) in a improved, upgrading movement.
Mocha Java took my breath away with a hard rock tune into which I could fit and groove. I hadn’t seen them for a number of years but they were up for a session as well – the music engine can’t be stopped! They rocked. Turns out 5 of 6 of the new songs were in B major.
Quite unusual as they almost always play live in Ab or Db by tuning their instruments down a semi-tone. But on Dec. 26th, Rob felt better in his new tunes in B major. For me as an E Open player, this provided some entertainment (with pedals, or without) on the second fret giving me tons of licks involving pull-offs or mordents. Tasty. A Brand New Bag, or milieu…
Dave Smith, the great guitarist took me back to his house to sleep after Xmas where he presented a Xmas present, apparently a Santa gift for me which had been overlooked! These were the King Biscuit of snow gloves – how do these Wachusett guys know this shit? Dave knew I would soon be using these World Class gloves with which to dig myself out of the blizzard.
Actually, I was headed for Walpole on the 27th to sit with my friend Tony to work out some steel techniques – my Winter, New England nâivetė strong, my bullhead-ness – I was going to Walpole! But Mocha Java and Tony knew better. Buddy, you ain’t goin’ nowhere! I pulled out of Wachusett (Princeton), MA and got down the street in the early evening, got down to Sutton and was blocked from any further progress cause the blizzard had just got with it. I stopped at the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, called Tony who called the lesson off. With my coffee I swung down to a motel down 146 and got a room with this zero visibility and parked my ass for the night (2 nights, actually). Good advice from my MJ buddies, I was quite comfortable and watched the Weather Channel – coffee, snacks – C-O-Z-Y!
THEN – I called my old friend Herb Smokler down 395 and asked to stay over while the blizzard tore thru. I couldn’t go back to NYC as the snow had picked up – I would have had to drive thru (or try!) Manhattan, drop all my gear, find parking (impossible), get back to storage/reload and head to Reading, PA for the NYE gig with NRPS and 7 Walkers – saved!
All this help from Worcester/Walpole, MA -> CT -> NYC -> PA -> Woodstock, NY for the 1.1.11 date and all the folks in the seam, including Roger who engineered the 12.26.10 session with aplomb (!) got me to where I needed to be to complete the contract. Thanks, could not have been able to do the jobs w/o you all!!!

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Apr 18 2010

Well, as long as he gets some money back to you that’s what counts. But where to next? j.a

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage

In answer to my steel guitar friend in Denver, John Arnold:

Dunno. Talk about Horns Of The Dilemma! Remeber the last Convention I saw you? And we sat at the dinner table with Scotty and his gang? He told that racist joke to everyone’s delight? I was done with him there! But the Excel issues never got resolved - the tuning finger block was manufactured too tight - the fingers were jammed, couldn’t EVER tune. They rubbed against each other with a compression that prevented the springs from ‘returning’ the fingers back to original pitch

And all this after the initial 2.5 yrs of suffering with this guitar. Now, the builder won’t honor a refund on this lemon. The steel world should know this.

Me? I’ll survive. I’ve still got this S-10 Emmons. If you’ve heard the Where I Come From cd of ours, every lick was done on the old thing. Every nuance. And when the new one comes out next Winter, the same applies.

I couldn’t put the Excel on the steel market because of its state - but Scotty could and did, alas.

The answer was to send it back to Fujii, get the refund (which you guys put up!) and have him rebuild the finger block. Buddy

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Mar 04 2010

New Riders Tour Dates

Upcoming New Riders Northeast Tour Dates. Come on out and check out the show.




ROCHESTER ,  NY 585 325 4088




SYRACUSE,  NY  315 299  8886




RIDGEFIELD, CT  (203) 438-5795






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Jan 10 2010

an old steel friend from Ann Arbor - Mark O’Boyle

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage

Hello Buddy,
Really good to hear from you man! Would you believe my cat in the pic (almost 18 years old) is named “Buddy?”…. Now isn’t that a coincidence. BTW, I clicked on the “roadcage” and spent a good hour and then some reading and going over all the links, and reminisced… Where it all started for me too, was listening to your playing, I probably have told you that a dozen times. Anyway, I purchased “Where I Come From” and can really hear you good and your playin really cuts thru! Man, really like “Ghost Train Blues”, the effects and your playing are way ahead of the times. Nobody I know, doin that kind of stuff, it is special. I mean, it is “out there” in that play land of exploration and joy. Bet you have fun with that one. Could do it different every time you play it. Reminds me of why I liked your playing when it all started for me, was that your style is so unique, and I know it is you when I hear it!
I also really liked your playing on the REX Benefit soundcheck, “Absolutely Sweet Marie”. Very nice playing, yes yes yes….. Any chance that gig is on a CD or sumpthin?
Sure is good to hear your voice too, and the fun stories and jokes on the REX benefit. I’m still in the same trio, doin lots of our own stuff, which is so much more enjoyable, mostly play locally at Zou Zou’s in Chelsea Michigan. Gotta get back Saturday to play from 7-10pm there.
Headin to Athens Ohio for Christmas to see Sister Joan, and Bro-In-Law Dan Erlewine. Nice write-up on Flying V “Lucy” he made for Albert King, in “Vintage Guitar” June 09 issue, axe now in possession of Steven Seagal who has all Albert’s “V”’s.

Here it is in pic below getting cleaned up down in his basement in Ohio, before Seagal’s boys picked it up, two winters ago. I remember when Dan built that in his basement, I was baby sitting for them at the time! Albert played it for 20 years before he passed on.
Albert played at the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival, Dan and I were bartenders backstage, he poured em, I stocked em. (I was 16 I think). Dan was building guitars then, approached Albert and said I want to make a custom Flying V for you. He also made a custom Strat for Jerry too, I met Gar when he picked it up in St. Helena CA. That too was an interesting vacation, back in 72. Pic of it below. My oh my….
Well, today was Buddy Cage day around here! Thanks for making it a great day Buddy, I am going to listen to “Where I Come From” some more…
Always, Mark

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Dec 30 2009

So who is Rex?

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage, Road Stories

When Rex arrived in Marin mid to late 60’s, he was led over to Mickey Hart’s ranch in Novato. Mickey had this one horse with an attitude, most saw it as very dangerous, virtually un-ridable, loco…When one made the sightest attempt to approach this horse, it just went ballistic. Jackson heard about it and said, “Show me the horse.” Not well known outside of Pendleton was the fact that Rex possessed the rare quality of being a true horse whisperer. They don’t advertise.

Within minutes, he had that pony nuzzling up to him. Strange, mysterious to us but true.

THEN, we went overseas for the GD’s Europe 72 tour to open for them. The culmination was 4 days at the Lyceum theater in London. Everybody was having a ball, a celebration of our time together, sort of a milestone at that - conquering a foreign crowd and all. Backstage, there were some problems: seems like some irate Brit kids, four or five tough guys were creating a ruckus in the alley behind the stage. At certain loading docks, there are these sliding doors, they were hung on thick wire cables, steel rollers on these immense, steel doors. There were fashioned to slide sideways. Balanced, sort of… These doors were about 4 feet wide, impregnable but when banged on, they made a helluva noise! These street fucks were protesting their banishment by beating on them while the Dead were in the middle of their performance.

I was sitting on a stairway just to the left of the stage and was privy to the disturbance. Jackson jumped right into the problem, yelling through the door that if they didn’t ‘quit it’, there would be trouble. Well - so what, they must have thought - one crew guy, four of them and these HUGE fucking doors!!

Jackson stretched out his arms as if to measure the possibility of accessing these punks. His wingspan was just about the right size. He bent slightly at the knees, gripped the edges of the door and heaved! Up, and off the tracks, came that monster door. He carried the piece of steel sideways about two feet!!

The punks outside were frozen, watching this superhuman display from the other side of the door - they were speechless. Apoplexy? It might have occurred to one or two of them that given this incredible thing had just happened and now, there was nothing separating (protecting) them from the Beast who lifted this massive piece of metal! Duh…

Rex took stock of their hopeless position, stepped out into the alley and beat the living shit out of 3 of ‘em. The rest of the Lyceum security jumped into the slaughter and finished off these peckerwoods. Jackson just turned back around to the stage, sort of brushing his hands together as one would when a chore has been completed. Unforgettable…

I think I remember him almost cracking a smile.

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Dec 22 2009

Open letter to my old boss from 1967, Mickey

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage

When it snows in NYC - well, there are some complications. It usually melts, what, with the 24/7 traffic and all the rest that goes with being a metropolitan center. But man, owning a car here can really suck when it snows, major-ly!

There’s a new film out with Jeff Bridges - I’m debating whether I can handle it or not. Seems like he’s dressed up à la, Waylon! Oh dear…
So, (and I don’t want to pre-judge) I may step in and check it out, Mickey. I wouldn’t go see “Ray”, nor would I pay for “Titanic” to see some Hollywood drivel. Wouldn’t go see the Johnny Cash exploitation either.

I felt I had skin in the game with all these guys since I’d worked with some of them and had grandparents ON the Titanic, etc. I knew Cash, worked on his tv show at the Ryman in 70, met him several times with Nashville insiders (Big Jim Webb, 6’5” steeler with Del Reeves). Hated the film angle. I’ll have to blog a piece on the Cash Show, Family/cast dinner we had before the actual taping at another time! “Have the frog’s legs, Son!” The night Buddy developed two heads…

After all, they never even came close to the real reasons he wrote his stuff – “Ballad Of Ira Hayes”, and all the songs that came in about the underdog in America, the suffering, the injustice. Would they have a fucking clue as to why he recorded a Nine Inch Nails’ song? Or care? Not hardly…

Worshipped Brother Ray – couldn’t bear to see an actor portray the junkie-genius and try to get away with it, blatantly vying for an Oscar before the ink was dry on his contract.

But Waylon – that’s a whole ‘nuther deal.

When I was working for you in 67, part of 68 – I had morphed into a neo-hippie! The transformation was achieved entirely through the love of music. I swore at the time, this would be my last gig as a sidemen. I’d done ALL the yeoman work, been a good student, a dependable soldier as a Mustang. But I was reaching for another goal – a broader place to play a wider range of music styles. Rock, pop, R&B…

The Beatles had affected me tremendously, the Stones, Led Zep. The Who, Big Brother, the Grateful Dead, Donovan, Steppenwolf – DYLAN!!! Crazy shit was going down. Then, I met Charmaine at Ann Dunn’s Matador club while the Mustangs were working there as pretty much the house band. And Char changed my life! She was the Magic Carpet Ride to take me through the Looking Glass to the Other Side. And I was deeply in love with her.

One day – Waylon Jennings came to town to play a week’s stint at the Horseshoe (Tavern), two of his band guys came to see me at the Edison Hotel the night we were both playing. They were seeking pot. They had asked around at the Shoe, who in town they might approach about finding some weed and were told that well, there is this ONE hippie we know (who might have some dope!) and they were directed to the Edison…Enter Me.

I always came to work early. And there were those southern-hippie-types a-waitin’ – smilin’, grinning. Waylon’s drummer, Richie Albright and his bass player, Jimmie Gray. They broached the subject of grass and I highballed it with a quick call to Charmaine. Yeah, we could hook up after our respective shows tonight and get stoned! I was single at the time and free as the breeze. I dropped by the Matador and whisked Char away to the Holiday Inn on the Lakeshore. We commenced to par-TAY!

In those days, it was kinda like a Zap Comix cartoon, Furry Freak Bros., Mr. Natural reenactment: Is it better to have dope than food? The classic conundrum. These boneheads would argue the point ad nauseum…coming to the conclusion that with Fat Freddy, they were fucked either way. If you spent the household bread on dope, you got high AND got subsequently hungry, needing FOOD!!

I remember the interior of Richie & Jimmie’s room at the H.I. – the standard H.I. twin double layout with BLUE CURTAINS! The curtains were significant. As we smoked and got higher & higher, we cracked funnies till dawn. Char brought a lot of weed and the guys bought the large amount we didn’t smoke. As morning crept up, the curtains got bluer and bluer! Quite remarkably so, enhanced by the marijuana (a C+ at best) till they veritably glowed, became 3 dimensional, then FOUR dimensional – then 5, then 6 and so on. These were 4 pretty nice people sharing those joints for 4 hours or so. And when we had to split, we headed for the elevator.

At that time…of morning…on that very given day, there was a convention at the hotel. Not unusual. We stopped on EVERY goddamned floor to pick up more and more people. Slowest elevator any of us had ever been on. And the PEOPLE!? They were SO FUCKING STRAIGHT!!! Slacks, short-sleeve golf shirt’s, argyll socks, loafers – a complete 180° from us 4 freaks. And of course, we started to laugh. And laugh. AND LAUGH till we were falling over these creeps in the elevator.

And when the elevator finally reached the lobby, the doors opened to reveal the source of STRAIGHTNESS rampant in the hotel. It was the USGA. Golfers. Thousands of ‘em!!! It was probably the Canadian Open Golf Championship or such – and they looked at us like we were well, from another Planet.

Which, of course – we were…

A week later, I got a post card from the Waylon bus saying, “Busted At Bridge”. [Actually, at that time, they were traveling in a Cadillac limo w/a trailer for gear] Ever since that time, Ole Hoss used to view me suspiciously every time we hooked up. Like I was about to get HIM busted. Fair enough.

When old Waylon dying, I was in Nashville recording, got hold of Richie and offered my help and can I drop over to see him. Richie said, “Buddy, thanks but Ole Hoss doesn’t want anybody to see him the way he is…”

Ah, man – what a gyp! The songs he gave us, the licks, the reactionary politics. I miss him.

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Nov 22 2009

Australian Band 1988

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage

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Nov 22 2009

Something that made me alive again

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage

Bloodstream City
Part journal, part fiction.

Saturday, November 21, 2009
My Heart’s Starting to Bother Me Now (A New Base-Line Condition)
Recently I’ve been reading two things: Kerouac and a book called Obedience to Authority, and both have me thinking about fear. Fear of what others think. A fear we put in ourselves, constant, a worm bore into the brain, put in the ear with our own hands.

Obedience to Authority is about a study that was done in the fifties or sixties that tested the extent to which ordinary people will follow the orders of a superior, even in the presence of a moral dilemma, of inflicting pain on a fellow man. They used an actor and the guise of a fake study on learning in which the teacher (the mark) shocked the learner (the actor) with electric shocks at each wrong answer. But the trick was, the shocks, ever increasing in power, were fake. The learner only pretended to be in pain. The plan was to see how many people continued on with worse and worse and worse shocks, go against their own feelings and the begs of the victim (fake). It was scary and depressing to see the ratios. How many people went through with it, hurt another person, a screaming in pain person sometimes complaining of heart condition always pleading to be let out. Only because a man in a lab coat with imagined power said so. This man had no real authority. He only represented a higher order, a system, a man above. For this they threw themselves out, their humanity, their compassion. Sweating, protesting, still they went on, barely prodded by monotone phrases like “there is no permanent tissue damage.” But the ones, the few that stood up, stopped and refused to go on, I was so proud of them. A swelling in the lungs.

Jack Kerouac is a man, a poet, a writer. I read his Book of Sketches, a kind of journal of writings, a transcription of the pads he kept in his pocket over the course of several years describing scenes and moments, and it felt like writing class. I sat with it close to my face unblinking, shocked at the constant command, the honesty, thinking I wanted to soak it in, physically into my pores, the talent, the honesty, the vocabulary, the rhythm, I wanted to have that for myself. I’ve never felt more in my life after putting down a book that I knew the man who wrote it. I know his loves, his lusts, his paranoias, his surroundings, his nineteen-fifties, his cities, his equal compassions and hatreds for the Common Man. Just a journal but it held exactly the reason to write- to talk about the world, document, list what you see, try to find an order to it, say what you think of it, leave a message for after you’re dead, to say I was here, I was angry, I loved, I was here.

From his writing I feel a fearlessness. I don’t know if he displayed that in his real life- I know he traveled, he drugged, he drank, he divorced but also that he hated his life at times, became a slave to his image, his movement, became bitter with the times and fames, died of the drink. But while that means so much to me, it also means nothing. His writing life was not that. It was fearlessness. Never did I feel he held back. He talked about everything. He talked about his brother who died. His sister he disliked. He talked about wanting to be the greatest writer in the world. He talked about his disagreements. About when he thought a friend was wrong. They would all read it at some point, but still he talked. No censor. No fear. Everything he saw and felt. And I need that. I need that. I like style but I love honesty. His writing gave me, more than once, that feeling I search for. The ultimate jaw drop. The shocked eye-open. The Yes, Yes, Exactly, the something that so perfectly speaks to your heart, to your exact sensibilities, to what art can be and how it can shake you and affirm you and connect you to the person who made it in ways that are godly, soulful, impossible to replicate. I’ve gotten that from my favorite bands- Heresy by Nine Inch Nails, human screams used as an instrument while combining acoustic guitar with broken keyboards. The Great Destroyer, a song becomes an electronic cluster-crumble instrumental. Forty-Six and Two by Tool, the sound of that voice and that filter-up guitar sound as it comes back in. Bjork, buying the greatest hits after so many years of thinking about it, sitting on my bed pressing play and just being shocked and sad it had taken me so long but happy to have the short-lived honor of experiencing it for the first time, the reason I always wish I could erase my memory of an album I know too well, heard too many hundreds of times, wishing I could listen to it virgin-like. The very first and perfectly pitched still melodic effortless scream from Karen O the first time we saw the Yeah Yeah Yeahs live. Deftones, Elite, “When you’re ripe you’ll bleed out of control”, so heavy and filtered and wrenching. Portugal. The Man, a track name I can’t remember, possibly AKA M-80 Wolf, a song that sounds like Castlevania and 8-bit and southern and electronic and dark and smart and right. Muse, singing of the Apocalypse, being so falsetto calm and then suddenly Stockholm Syndrome hits. Creep by Stone Temple Pilots, the most perfect acoustic. Various moments of Radiohead and their paranoid androids, Pink Floyd and their walls and childhood fevers and numbness. Marilyn Manson when he couldn’t be stopped. Saul Williams singing U2 through Trent Reznor’s sound.

And movies. The long shots of Children of Men. Forrest Gump driven to punch by jealousy and protection. Edward Scissorhands driven to kill by the same. And books. Laughing at Fear and Loathing, smiling while reading but not a popcorn smile, not a sugar smile, a real one, a dark one. Opening House of Leaves by Danielewski and seeing what a book can be. Same for Atrocity Exhibition by Ballard. Perfect sentences of Denis Johnson in Jesus’ Son and his journalistic Seek. Simple sadness from Amy Hempel. Surreal degradation and depravity from Craig Clevenger. Jack Kerouac, of course, everything is poetry. A quote from On the Road before I even read it- the burn, burn, burn, and before that Scattered Poems and after that Sketches and just eyes open.

This is what I want. I want to leave behind fear, shake it from my fingers. I want to earn a living doing this but it would mean nothing without the other. I know I’ll probably never be one of the greats but I’ll be happy to be one of the goods trying to be one of the greats, not selling out, not giving in to the crush of the Franchise, the Pander. No hovering over keys, just saying it. No holding back for marketing. Never putting sales before anything, never becoming a cartoon, a joke, an embarrassment. I try not to be Elitist but I get honestly truly disgusted by what I see on the outside, when I read around other people outside my circle, my type, and I hear things like “Reading? Good for you!” like it’s impressive. The worst was a woman saying “I can’t stand reading,” such contempt in her voice, like “Books. Fuh.” and what I want to say is, “I appreciate your opinion but you’re the one who shit out two babies for a man you don’t even entertain the idea of marrying and actually laugh at when I bring it up. That is your life and you will die dumb.” Like Bill Hicks when he said a truck stop waitress asked him through gum, “Why you readin’? and he said “Wow, why? I never thought about why. I guess first and foremost so I don’t become a waitress in a truck stop.” And the only one who reads at work, excitedly bragging to me that she’s reading another one from The Five People You Meet in Heaven Guy, her need to impress me, sitting obviously in her car with it when I pull up and pointing to it like “see?” and this is the best of them on a scale of readers. The rest don’t have time. Don’t have time, yet “Did you catch the nine hour season finale of Dancing with Surgery Victims?” but this is also the reason to write, the signal, to find other people like me, share something with them, give them another shield for The Fight. And maybe this never works, maybe in person it will never be an honest, human connection. But if I can have one on paper at least that’s something, and it can only be had by fearlessness, an avalanche, the ability to say it all and mean it all, honesty, fearlessness, pride, and that’s what the poets and doctors are saying.

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Nov 16 2009

Kind Web Interview

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage


Q&A with Buddy Cage of the New Riders of the Purple Sage
Jud Conway 6/10/2009 | Comment on this Article | EMail This Article

KindWeb recently chatted with Buddy Cage, longtime pedal steel guitarist of the New Riders of the Purple Sage. The New Riders are currently touring in support of the critically-acclaimed Where I Come From, their first studio album in twenty years.

1. KindWeb would like to congratulate you and the rest of the band on completing the new disc. It’s a fantastic record. There is an obvious high caliber of songwriting throughout Where I Come From. Many of the David Nelson/Robert Hunter collaborations are instant classics. The additional material from other members of the band is also topnotch. What are some of your personal favorites?

Thank you… thanks very much! It’s a blast. It was as much fun to record as ANY one I’ve worked on. I like “Ghost Train Blues,” “Barracuda Moon,” “Blues Barrel,” “Carl Perkins [Wears the Crown]” a lot. I dug what I played… no more than one or two takes.

2. We understand that one of your motivations for leaving the original New Riders was the lack of new original material entering the band’s repertoire. Fast forward to the release of Where I Come From; what is Buddy Cage’s impression of having much-anticipated new NRPS songs to promote and interpret on the stage?

After eleven years…well, it’s everything for me. I’m not a songwriter like the other four guys. My original contributions come in the form of ‘serving the song’ with my steel interpretations. The interviews are driving me crazy; [Dennis] McNally has set up three, four, five of them a day. I put SO much into them [that] it really drains me after a week. But hell, Where I Come From is being played everywhere and I have received requests from SO many enthusiastic [disc jockeys], fans, writers… it’s exciting again! As to live performances, I create new stuff every night. I’m alive again!

3. Did you keep in touch with John [Dawson], David [Nelson], and other members of the original lineup after the band’s dissolution?

Of course, I call John [Dawson] every couple months down in Mexico. He doesn’t respond well to more than the occasional calls. He’s retired… he likes to keep tuned in on what we’re doing with his songs, but not an everyday thing. There are no other [surviving] members of the originals; Jerry [Garcia], Dave Torbert, and Spencer [Dryden] have picked up their hats and coats and split. They’re not with us anymore… in the corporal sense.

4. The current incarnation of the band sounds like it has been playing together for a long, long time. You guys have really gelled over the past four years. How does this lineup compare to your recollections of the ’71-’80 NRPS?

The comparison is in the CD. It’s your perception that counts. I can get to many other places with these guys. I play differently myself… with these newer situations and materials.

5. We had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Falzarano after his recent CD release and were delighted to see his name listed as both band-mate and producer on Where I Come From. What was it like working with him in the producer’s chair on the new disc?

Well, there was no such word applied as “work.’ [It] didn’t happen that way. Quick blasts in each little studio we used… one [or] two tunes… no more than one, two takes! In a matter of four or five sessions, we had ‘er done! It was fantastic! Michael is always an easy producer. He just lets the musicians take it out. “One more take? Oh, sure, just one more!”

6. Looking back over the band’s storied past to the present, who do you see as primary influences on the band as it exists today?

Everyone! …From James Brown to Bill Monroe, from Cindy Lauper to Ian Tyson, from the Tuvan Throat Singers to the Grateful Dead, from Led Zeppelin to Bukka White, from Miles Davis to Beethoven. Inspiration comes in all forms.

7. Off the top of your head, name a few of the relative newcomers on the music scene that have caught the attention of the New Riders.

Ryan Montbleau, Boris Garcia, Donna Jean [Godchauex]’s Band, Bob Dylan always… especially now with Robert Hunter co-writing.

8. Notwithstanding the cheap play on words, where do you see the New Riders heading after the Where I Come From tour?

No direction known… More shall be revealed.

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Nov 10 2009

Jamming at Festival Express on CC Rider Blues

Mr. Cage…

Correct me if I’m wrong, but having just seen the “the festival express”, that was u in one of the final jams onstage with… everybody.  I might have been 13 at the time, but we all heard about it (underground radio) and thought we could hitchhike,easily enough and catch that train from Minnesota. We were wrong. Yeah, there was no way anyone could have hitched a ride on that train - it was a private coach.

Uh, Todd - you seem to be referring to the Ian & Sylvia segment - CC Rider Blues, it’s called. Sylvia singing the lead. Tyson’s wearing the cowboy hat.

That was done at the Calgary, Alberta show. You perceived it as a ‘jam’ - okay, I guess there’s some validity to that. The personel in that shot (r. to l.) included myself, Garcia, Ian, Sylvia downstage singing lead, Delaney Bramlett, Jim Colgrove our bass player, and Amos Garrett our genius guitarist with the Strat. Onstage as well, were Danko, Bonnie Bramlett, Kreutzmann also…

As we took our stage positions, Jerry asked Ian if he could sit in  - Ian knew full-well Jerry’s relevance and warmly made room. Gar wanted to stand next to me cause he was crazy about pedal steel (obviously!) and wanted to see what I was doing. He had asked me to replace him on steel w/NRPS (relatively, newly formed at the time) back a few days at the Toronto show of the train tour and was still sizing me up. Plus he was FULLY a fan of Ian & Sylvia, knew all about the recent album we had recorded in Nashville and just wanted to be in on what we were cooking up at the time.

Btw, there’s really some neat attachments to that stage moment - you’re a writer, you should get a kick out of some of this…

Look at Gar, he starts chuckling - reason? Well, he just was hearing Amos playing the kickoff to our CC Rider (a stunning intro!) over stage-left and was looking at me like, “W-h-h-a-a-a-t the fuck???” You’ll notice me shrugging my shoulders indicating, “How the hell should I know how he does it??!”

Right after, GD played then Janis closed. I had to stay around to grok this whole production whilst Tyson was urging me to ‘get the fuck moving’ - he and Sylvia were sitting in the rent-a-short down on the tarmac beside the stage. I waived him off and said I’d take a cab back but brought my steel down and placed it in the trunk. Amazingly, he stayed! Wouldn’t leave me behind.

On the drive back, we had a formiddable crew in that car: I & S up front, me, our drummer (martial arts student) and one of the larger, meaner GD roadies Sonny Heard from Pendleton, OR. We were being dogged by a car containing 4 drunk, young Canadian cowboys making catcalls to Sylvia all the way back to the hotel (Calgary Inn). Every stoplight, these pricks pulled up besdie us and got in Tyson’s face, to which he calmly invited them to a street fight, conveniently just outside the hotel (where the cops were being summoned as we got out of the car).

As in a Hollywood script, I called to Ian as we came to a full stop, “The KEYS!” He, in SloMo tossed them over his shoulder while he was getting out, they magically sailed right into my left hand, I beat it out to get into the trunk, open my steel case and got a purchase on one of my guitar legs! One of those babies can pack more of a whallop than a skinny, 120 lb. hippie can. And when I spun over to the fight, fuck - it was over! Mere seconds. The 4 young cowpokes were unconscious, spread over the street!

Here I was, armed, full of adrenalin, blood-in-my-eyes and no place to go!! Janis had just arrived, saw my sorry state and invited me up to her room for a drink, ostensibly to settle me down and tell her what happened. It was the last I would see of her - she was gone, three months later.

Ian called me up in her room and asked me to come by his, for a moment. Seems like he had broken his hand in the fistfight - Sylvia and I had to call the house physician and get him to a hospital. The concern was that we had to shoot a pilot for an TV show in Toronto the next day! Ian’s a tough cookie…

Then they sent me back to Janis’ room…


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Oct 29 2009

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage

danke for your lines…  hey   always appreciate your stories and memories..

Buddy    danke

jimmy lived in my house for 14 days when we all were touring together

germany and england..  i still see him ride through town on my mothers bycycle, with his cane on his side, ( he had leg probs.) that time.. and his only german words were beer beer beer.. 3 words…  and … wieniesssssssss..

if you llisten to the show…  listen to the song   my baby jill… he sings there and tells all about it… smile

We were just watching Easy Rider for the millionth time and it occurred to me that one of the first songs used on the soundtrack was an instrumental version of Ray Price’s “You Done Me Wrong”. The original session had Jimmy Day playing steel. 6/8 little number - just killed me when I was a kid. I thought, “How did he get THAT stuff??”

I was rehearsing a show for the Ian Tyson Show in Toronto, Canada in early 1971 just before I left for Marin County, CA w/New Riders. Willie was the main guest and he brought Day with him (a rarity at the time). I asked Jimmy to play something for the crew - he did, and just blew them away!

Two years later, he was in Northern California, hanging around my house - drunk, totally fucked up and broke, begging for drugs and money. He ended up back in Nashville, somehow got sober a few years later, along with Paycheck and Waylon (and Jones, too!). Then, to Texas as I recall…bc

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Oct 26 2009

Best NRPS Show

That’s right, share with us your best NRPS memory and you just might win a free autographed photo or two. Its simple, register and post a comment to this post.

One response so far

Oct 26 2009

The Jordan BossTone

Published by G Man under Golden Road, Road Cage

Mess around with this link. Randy California of Spirit was the first rock guy I knew of who used one, they were made in S. California. A surf-style effect as I heard it then, then Emmons who was out with Roger Miller in CA at the time picked one up - he came back to Nashville with the idea that he could ‘build’ a string section, string-by-string with this gizmo with eyes to capture more session work in Nashville studios (!).   Weird.   Of course, I heard Surfari’s music in it and was catching onto Led Zeppelin, Ritchie Blackmore, Cream in the mid sixties, etc. so I took it there. Then, Nashville got more involved and bought it out thru Sho-Bud although Emmons was out of that company for years at that point. Then, when Sho-Bud was going under, Gibson bought them out including the Boss Tone. I had been getting endorsement comps all the time from Sho-Bud then Gibson, then it went away. Till you came along!! Check out ‘Girl In Your Eye’. This was the use of Randy playing sitar which got me headed in the direction where you now find me!

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Sep 28 2009

Kseniya Simonova - Sand Animation / Ukraine’s Got Talent

Published by G Man under Cool Shit

Kseniya Simonova - Sand Animation (Україна має талант / Ukraine’s Got Talent)

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Sep 04 2009

Meet and Greet, And the Winner is

Published by G Man under Merchandise, Road Cage

Seawench has won the 8×10 color glossy contest and 2 tickets to an upcoming New Riders Show. Congratulations Seawench

Look for more free contest down the road.  “Where I Come From” is available on itunes.  See you on the road.

Check out The New Riders of the Purple Sage 2009 Tour Dates

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Aug 31 2009

Village Gate, Gibson Maestro and the BossTone

Incidentally - I was doing my first NYC dates at the venerable, old Village Gate (Thompson & Bleecker Sts.)with Ian & Sylvia in 1969. I was tagging along behind our guitar player, the great Amos Garrett standing at those ancient cross-streets when he pointed out that we were located in what could be said to be the Epi-Center of Greenwich Village! Amos is and was infinitely more World-Wise than myself and I grooved on that remark. He said that we were a mere few steps from Dan Armstrong’s store & would I like to see it.

Sure. If Amos G. told me to walk on my hands with my pants down around my ankles, I would have tried it.

Around that time Dan was pushing the transparent, lucite/clear plastic body guitars and of course, other things, strings and so forth. I never used anything by Dan - wasn’t into anything but my trusty Jordan Boss Tone, didn’t have the inclination that many six-stringers have to get into stomp boxes. I never really experimented with such, till I inherited Jerry Garcia’s steel FX rig in 71. See, my Emmons steel was SO fucking cool sounding, so PURE (beat anything around for decades, still does!), my Twin was the best in the business - what the hell did I need FX for? It was and is a matter of pride for pro steelers to rely completely on their right and left hand techniques and pedal skills to ‘make the sound’. Kinda like a Tele player - no gimmicks, if you suck you will sound like YOU SUCK. A Gibson will make up for a lot of sloppiness - a Strat, somewhat. But only pick up a Tele when you don’t seek excuses - it’ll call you out and display your character defects VIVIDLY.
Garcia’s FX rig was set up by Healy to give him all sorts of psychedelic options: Leslie cab simulator (ho-hum), wah pedal, couple-a stomp mothers and the Granddaddy of ALL FX gizmos - a Gibson Maestro unit. This guy was set on a knee-high rack with about 12-14 different toggles much the same as the ones on a Lowrey organ.

There were the Rhythm/percussive punches, the fuzz tone buttons, some horn effects, a phase unit and VOILA an auto-wah that was JUST INCREDIBLE!!!! I used it for about a year till my technique got a tad shabby and I put it and all (including tank reverb on my Twins) away for a while so I could get my chops back. We were playing halls mostly so there was always an abundance of room ambience. There were so many 1/4 inchers going in and out that finding the ONE THAT WAS BAD became a nightmare. Add to that, we had a roadie who was a victim of too many LSD beatings when he was a kid, I guess and was prone to violent rages - a short fuse? The roadie would get all flustered, I could see the back of his neck getting red the more confused he became over which phone plug was the culprit! Benched him AND the offensive cables for awhile, put them on the Pleasure Crew till things cooled out.

We returned to the studio and I told the crew to bring out the Maestro. No such luck - it was GONE! Somebody made off with it. I asked Jerry & Healy but just got a negative.

Then, Gibson came out with the units Gar would use later on, and forever for his flange and such - the Bi-Phases?? Never got into those either. The only things I used for a long, LONG time were the Jordan and the MXR Phase 100, preferring it over the 90. That’s what got the sound on Meet Me In The Morning (BOTT/Dylan)

Hope you enjoyed Memory Lane.

I should get more of a chance to tinker with the unit you just sent me in Sept. We’re not working a hell of a lot this year due to the economy but when I get set up next week for a bunch of Master Class steel lessons I’m giving, I’ll let you know, Chris!! Thanks man…

PS/Our new cd Where I Come From has your remade BossTone ALL over it!


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Aug 25 2009

Classic Artists Today Features Buddy and the NRPS this week

Starting Monday, August 24, running through August 30, we will be airing the “Featured Artist” segment with Buddy Cage/NRPS on Classic Artists Today, syndicated radio show.
For show times and how to tune-in, check us out at

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Jul 23 2009

RIP John Dawson, Miss you Jerry


Dave Torbert, left, David Nelson, Mickey Hart, Jerry Garcia and John Dawson, circa 1970. Hart and Garcia, members of the Grateful Dead, played with the New Riders of the Purple Sage for a time.

The things I won’t get a chance to say anymore to some old pals – Wish that I could. Oh – the Things…

John Dawson died 2 weeks ago, Jerry Garcia passed through the Gate 14 yrs. ago, this week. I’ll never see them again. Guess my time’s comin’ too.

But the things I wish I could say to them right now would only SERVE ME! They’re dead. One of the items that drives me crazy! I’m fairly well balanced, for a human. I dealt with their imminent passing rather well. I got sober 20 years ago, no regrets – I’ve been able to live a reasonably happy life. I knew they were going away, it seemed only a matter of time. It’s not like they were snatched away through some tragic accident, or such. They seemed to be hell–bent for croakin’ the way they were trying to exist.

In the magical universe, I would like to tell McDuke that I loved him and Jerry, just one more time. To tell them how much their music has done for me, made a lifelong career for me. From the time Garcia asked me to BE a New Rider in 1970 on the Train, backed up by Nelson and Dawson, I’ve worked.

I’m sitting in a dorm palace at Virginia Tech w/NRPS, languishing with time off (no gigs!), backround music is Garcia – from early Dead to JGB. No use in waxing cynical, it’s Jerry Week and all the GD devotees are listening to old cuts with Jerry and pondering the moment. The Moment, and all the other moments since he left the earthly plane in 95. Too bad, so sad, really…Everyone misses him, the music he played and the way he played it, including me!

I never got to tell him how much his playing meant to me – it just kinda got lost in the business-of-Buddy-being-Buddy. Fuck. But he knew. He saw me, lots – standing behind his amp stack in the early seventies. He would finish a number, mosey on back to grab the cigarette he left burning on his Twin and see me standing there shaking my head, in utter astonishment. He’d smirk. “Smoke THAT, Nimrod!” Yeah, he knew…

Those memories count for somethin’…

He came up to me in the band office after they’d received copies of their album GD From The Mars Hotel. Excited as hell, he urged me to listen and give him some feedback. I didn’t. I let the moment pass. I did this with most of their albums after that – let it slip. I frankly wasn’t ready for what they were doing on the Cutting Edge – I didn’t deserve the ride. I caught up later on but ‘later on’ would prove to be too late.

Two guys who were of paramount importance in achieving great musician’s dreams! “I know you Rider, gonna miss me when I’m gone…”

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Jun 03 2009

The New Riders of the Purple Sage

Here are a few highlights of a recent in studio interview on Q104.3 FM New York’s Jonathon Clarke Show- “Out of the Box

The New Riders are supporting their first new Album release in 20 years - “Where I Come From” with radio interviews and special engagements such as the show at BB Kings room- Lucille’s hosted byDennis Elsas, the legendary New York disc jockey from WNEW FM. The New Riders are also appearing at BB Kings Blues Club (212) 997-4144 Thursday June 4, and the famed Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ (732) 502-0600 on June 6th. Call in advance for tickets as shows were close to being sold out as of today, 6/3. Tickets may also be available through Live Nation.

You can purchase the new album Where I Come From from itunes or at a show. After 20 years, its hard not to like the fresh but classic sounds of the New Riders of the Purple Sage aka Murdering Punks.

icon for podpress  Joining the New Riders, a long and strange trip: Play Now | Play in Popup

icon for podpress  Opportunity knocks, how I got introduced to the pedal steel guitar: Play Now | Play in Popup

icon for podpress  Where the NRPS come from : Play Now | Play in Popup

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Mar 24 2009

Concert Tickets and Autographs

Published by G Man under Merchandise, Road Cage

Still time to enter to win. All new registrations, January 2009- July 2009 on and or will be eligible to win a Free autographed 8×10 color glossy photo and 2 tickets to a New Riders Show To Be Determined- travel expenses not included, where you will meet Buddy Cage in person.

All you need to do is register on Dead Show Podcast or Buddy’s blog - Road Cage, it’s free.

Check out The New Riders of the Purple Sage 2009 Tour Dates

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Mar 23 2009

International Steel Guitar Convention

In the early 1960s a music store owner and a dyed in the wool steel guitar fan from St. Louis traveled to Nashville for the yearly Disk Jockey convention. He heard some amazing playing while there, but realized that none of that playing was to be heard on the records where, he said, “I heard only what the producers wanted me to hear. The players got to play only what the producers wanted them to play.” He told friends about the amazing music he had heard in some of the Nashville places, but many of the places were “dives” and most “tourists” didn’t feel like wandering in.

DeWitt Scott (”Scotty” to his friends) decided that the only way he could share what he heard in Nashville was to bring it to where he was. In late 1968 he brought Maurice Anderson, a steel guitar swing and jazz whiz, to St. Louis. 65 people showed up to listen. A few months later he brought the grand steel stylist Curly Chalker to St. Louis and 100 people showed up.

Over the next three years he did three more shows, with increasing attendance at each show. In 1971 he put on the “First Annual Steel Guitar Show” which played to 400 people.

When I became interested in pedal steel, I found out about the show. I was negotiating the writing of a steel guitar instruction book with Oak Publications, and I realized that one thing I must have in the book was photos of all the players. Where could I see them all in one place? At St. Louis, of course. I grabbed my Nikon and flew out for the 1974 show. It was like going to heaven.


St. Louis is an hour behind the east coast. I left Philly at about 5 p.m. and got to the Hotel by 7 p.m. local time. I heard some music in a nearby room and walked in. I was stunned. Sitting in the room playing duets were Red Rhodes and Zane Beck. Watching them was the grand old man himself, Speedy West. And there I was, one of the six people in the room– just two hours away from my regular life. It was an amazing time. Starting on Friday night, there was a different steel player on stage every half hour. And when the show stopped at about midnight, it continued in the rooms. 550 people were treated to the best in steel guitar playing. The top Nashville players were there and playing what THEY wanted– not what they were asked to play.

I also met a number of the manufacturers there. Although there have been attempts at mass production, this instrument does not lend itself to such efforts. There are not many players, and the market for pedal steels is not large. Making pedal steels in certainly a low-volume business.

Most who make the instrument are themselves players who happen to be machinists or have good friends who are. At this time (1974), the market had been cornered by the Sho-Bud, Emmons, and ZB (Zane Beck) companies, but a number of other “low production” people were starting to show their wares.

With my background in industrial design, and my access to a machine shop at the school at which I was working, I had already had built my own pedal steel. The time at St. Louis was doubly rewarding– not only was I hearing great music and meeting great players, but I was meeting a number of makers and innovators. It was grand!

I had, in my previous musical incarnations, been to large folk festivals where the audience was, essentially, kept apart from the performers. If you had a favorite performer you wanted to talk to, it was next to impossible to get through the back-stage security.

Fun at St. Louis! Jeff Newman (right) and John Hughey in their “Cream of Crap” uniforms.
Jeff Newman and John Hughey

The bluegrass festivals I went to were a bit better, but most of the “big acts” retired to their air-conditioned bus when they weren’t playing, and there was little interaction between the performers and the audience.

That was not the case in St. Louis. Everyone was accessible to everyone else. We all ate in the same restaurant. I managed to discuss my book idea with both Jeff Newman (whose instruction records I had learned from) and Lloyd Green (”Mr. Nashville Sound”) whose friendship I gained over the next few years. Want to know how Buddy Emmons did that lick on that record? Just ask him!

I came home on a cloud.

The Chase on the right, the Park Plaza on the left.
The Chase-Park Plaza

I went back the next year. It was more of the same. This time it was held at a small hotel in St. Charles where the entire hotel was, essentially, booked by the convention. At about 4 a.m. on Saturday night the police showed up. They had a complaint about noise. Scotty said, “Who can complain? I have all the rooms!” Turns out one of the guests said, “I love music, but this is too much! I need sleep!” and called the authorities.

By 1976 the convention moved to the Chase Park Plaza Hotel and had 1500 people in attendance. The Chase Park Plaza was an amazing hotel. Actually, it was two hotels, the Chase and the Park Plaza. The Chase, “one of the most expensive hotels of the time,” was opened in 1922. The story is told that shortly after its opening a businessman tried checking in to the Chase. He was turned away because he was Jewish. In 1929 he returned, built a grand 29 story hotel right next door to the 11 story Chase, drove it out of business, and bought it out. The two hotels were joined by a series of internal passages. The Chase was showing its age. The Park Plaza was also getting old, but the opulence of it could still be seen.

It was here, and later at the Clarion hotel, to which it moved in 1984, that the International Steel Guitar Convention really came into its own. Now at the same location (with a new name: “The Millennium & Four Points Sheraton Hotel”) the Convention attracts 4,000 people every Labor Day Weekend.

A panorama around the hall, with vendor’s tables along the outside wall.
Convention hall panorama

The Star Wars Bar

Since I moved to New Zealand, I haven’t been to St. Louis since 1996, but I can’t imagine that it has changed very much. I’ve often described it as akin to the “bar scene” in the first Star Wars movie– where all species congregate in a place of “neutral ground.” I’m sure some of these folks would have little in common were they to meet on the street or worse, might even see the other as “enemy” because of their dress, habits, political affiliations and/or religious convictions. But here for one weekend in St. Louis, all is calm. You can find the very clean tie-and-jacket folks who believe that the steel is an instrument of the Bible because of the Biblical reference to “an instrument of ten strings,” deep in conversation about knee lever arrangements with someone who looks like a biker and is wearing a t-shirt that says, “I fuck Armadillos.”

Only at St. Louis.

It is, generally, not a young crowd, and gets older every year as few younger players are drawn to the instrument. It is much like the crowd seen at the Grand ol’ Opry in Nashville. As a performer said one year:

“What is the difference between Jurassic Park and the Grand ol’ Opry? Well, one is like an amusement park filled with extinct species and dinosaurs, and the other is a pretty neat movie!” It did not go down well.

Buddy Cage holding forth at St. Louis. Stoney Stonecipher looking on.
Buddy Cage

Sometimes, you just can’t tell… The last time I was there I was standing in the lobby having some dealing with the hotel staff. My wife saw a guy come in and she said to herself, “This person does not look like he belongs here”– waist length hair in a pulled back pony-tail, tie-died sleeveless t-shirt, several earrings, and lots of tattoos– certainly a biker and someone to avoid. Before she could even say anything to me, he headed directly across the lobby and grabbed me in a big hug. “Great to see you, Winnie,” he said. It was Buddy Cage– who I hadn’t seen in years. Buddy started his career with Ian and Sylvia in Canada and is best known for his work with The New Riders of the Purple Sage– the country rock band that was an offshoot of the Grateful Dead. That year he began playing at about 11 p.m. with a rock and roll band bordering on heavy metal. The older audience was not appreciative and the hall emptied quickly. Those who remained were treated to over an hour of magnificent steel playing.

Buddy Charleton playing for the crowd.
Buddy Charleton

St. Louis is certainly “big hair” time. Unabashed patriotism and Christian fundamentalism shine through. Over the years several players have announced their being “born again” from the stage, and a few years ago one player played a few patriotic songs like “America the Beautiful” and urged the veterans in the audience to stand and asked the audience to pay thanks to those who have defended their country in time of need.

My wife, a born and bred New Zealander, found the patriotic and religious display amazing and a bit “over the top.” Only in America.

On another level, you have the varying likes and dislikes of the audience. “Too much country,” say those jazz aficionados. “Too much jazz,” say the died in the wool country fans. “Not enough western swing,” say others.

The guests

Lloyd Green, me, Ralph Mooney, Herb Remington. 1994.
Lloyd Green, me, Ralph Mooney, Herb Remington

Over the years a number of “guests” have appeared, and Scotty had made no effort to give them any publicity. “This is a treat for those who are here,” he told me. “I am not in business to promote them to their fans.”

One year Ray Price showed up and had Buddy Emmons (who played with him years ago) back him up. Another year Porter Wagoner came with his band and did a guest set. Once, Waylon Jennings and Jessie Coulter played an hour long set on a Sunday morning, with steel great Ralph Mooney in the band. They were on their way to an afternoon “Labor Day” show and came by to let Ralph shine.

Vince Gill and John Hughey at the Award Ceremony.
Scotty on right.
Vince Gill, John Hughey, Scotty

The year that John Hughey was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, country super star Vince Gill (who used Hughey on his records and many of his in-person shows) came to present the award, and stayed around for the afternoon, sitting on the stage playing back-up guitar for all comers.

To me, the best guest was way back at the Chase Park Plaza. I was there with my record producer, Ken Bloom, who had started off as a sax player in high school in Hollywood, and then branched into other musical idioms. He had always talked about his “idols” and one was Tex Beneke– the sax player who had taken over the Glenn Miller Band during W.W.II when Miller was killed in a plane crash. As much as Ken loved the playing of Tex Beneke, he had never seen him live, and was content to admire him via the few recordings he made.

On the Saturday evening, the old Bob Wills Western Swing Band came on, fronted by steel player Leon McAuliffe. McAuliffe announced that “a friend” was going to be playing sax with them for the set. It was Tex Beneke. Bloom was in seventh heaven!

It turns out that McAuliffe was walking though the hotel lobby when he spotted his old friend. They used to play with each other when they were in the service during the early part of the war. Beneke was visiting his in-laws and was staying at the hotel. “Have your axe?” asked McAuliffe. “Sure do,” was the reply. “Well, I’m playing tonight. Want to sit in?” And what a show it was!

The same year saw steel great Curly Chalker as the last player on Saturday night. Starting at about 11:30, Curly was well along the road of inebriation. Drinking a constant supply of “7 and 7″ he held forth for well over two hours. Some of those in the audience were upset that someone that drunk was allowed to be on stage in public. Those who were less concerned about his demeanor were treated to the most amazing music I have ever heard. All internal censoring-barriers were dropped, and whatever came into his head came out of the amp. I have never seen or heard such masterful playing of the instrument.

Jimmy Day
Jimmy Day
The “Big E”
Buddy Emmons

There was the time that Bobby Koefer played. Koeffer was a steeler who played with Bob Wills. Both Buddy Emmons and Jimmie Day were listening to Koefer in their formative years. As Koefer played both Emmons and Day were watching from the foot of the stage, grinning from ear to ear, poking each other and laughing when Koefer did something completely outrageous, and occasionally slapping their foreheads in awe. Where else can you have the “best in the business” be so thoroughly open in their admiration of another player?

And there was the time that Joaquin Murphy was lured away from his retirement in California to play a half hour to folks, many of whom had only heard of him. He was unreal. I was standing in the back of the hall listening when Lloyd Green sidled up. “Good, huh?” he said. I replied that he certainly had “that tone.” “Yes,” replied Lloyd, “you had to be there at that time to get it. It was something that happened at that time– just before the War. I learned all those tunes, and know all the notes, but could never get “that” tone. It was part of the gestalt of the pre-war times. I was a bit too late.” A most interesting observation.

The fun

Along the way, there has been a few funny moments: Jeff Newman putting a paper bag over Buddy Emmons’ head while he was playing (and Buddy just kept on… as good as ever!), Speedy West coming out and playing with a bar that was about a foot in diameter, and a number of other pranks and jokes. But there are two which do “take the cake.”

One year Jeff Newman was bragging about how “hot” he was, and he and Bobby Caldwell (the guitar player) got into a “jam” that ended in getting faster and faster. Then Jeff set off the smoke bomb under his steel, and smoke began to rise off his hand. At which point, Scotty ran out and doused it with a fire-extinguisher. But it was the wrong type of extinguisher. It wasn’t a CO2 one, but one that put out a blanket of fine powder. It got into all the speakers and into all the instruments on stage. In the end it was a real mess– little of which the audience saw.

The next year I was visiting Joe Kline on the drive out, and he said, “Look at this.” It was a beautiful Kline guitar that was made from pine and stained. It had strings, but no mechanism. The pedal rods all hooked into screw-eyes on the front apron. The fingerboard was painted on. It looked just fine– from a distance. I had an inkling that a major event was to take place.

At the convention that year Jeff played his set. He was playing a Kline. Jeff finished, carried off his steel and went back to get his pack-a-seat. At which point he was accosted by Bobby Caldwell. Bobby told him how much damage the stunt with the fire extinguisher did the year before. It got into all the controls of his guitar, as well as into the body. It was not fun. And then Bobby says, “I’m still hotter than you. I can cut you at any time. I can even do it on your own guitar.” The audience, knowing that Bobby is a closet steel player, went wild. So Jeff goes and bring his guitar out again– the pine Kline, of course. Bobby sits at it, Jeff takes up Bobby’s guitar, and the band launches into a fast number. Of course, Bobby can’t keep up. He says to Jeff, “I can still cut you,” and pulls out a snip and cuts all the strings off the guitar. Jeff is undisturbed. Bobby, exasperated, says, “I can still cut you” and goes off stage and returns with a bolt-cutter and proceeds to cut through all the pedal rods. Jeff is still undisturbed. Bobby says, “I can still cut you,” and goes off-stage– returning with a running chain saw– and proceeds to cut the Kline in half. ”

The funny part, to me was that half the audience laughed and the other half sat stunned… “He cut Jeff’s guitar in half!” It was a great little play!

So that’s St. Louis. And it all came about because of Scotty’s vision. Bless the Scott family for organizing it all.

For more information about the Convention, check Scotty’s web-site.

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Mar 06 2009

Meet and Greet with Buddy Cage Contest

Published by G Man under Merchandise, Road Cage

All new registrations, January 2009- July 2009 on and or will be eligible to win a Free autographed 8×10 color glossy photo and 2 tickets to a New Riders Show To Be Determined- travel expenses not included, where you will meet Buddy Cage in person.

All you need to do is register on Dead Show Podcast or Buddy’s blog - Road Cage, it’s free.

Check out The New Riders of the Purple Sage 2009 Tour Dates

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Jan 15 2009

Good to see the classic stuff

Published by G Man under Golden Road, Road Cage, Road Stories

The key to the whole thing was the guy playing the Strat, stage left, wearing a brown vest over a short-sleeved, yellow/white striped polo shirt! THAT - is Amos Garrett.

When Tyson asked me to come to an I&S concert in Feb. 69, he wanted me to hear this new thing he had going - new way of writing, new music. Turned out to be one of the seminal folk/rock cum country/rock bands of that period. Great Speckled Bird, he called it.

He already had a steel player, Bill Keith (yeah, Bill of the Banjo!) but they hated each other. He had heard me playing with Ronnie Hawkins, wanted me and told The Hawk (and I quote) “When you’re done with him. I want him!”

Tyson’s a cowboy - a real one. He doesn’t fuck around.

I went to the concert, took my hippie girlfriend (the very epitome of what a hippie chick should look like!), I was loaded for bear. But what I wasn’t prepared for was this guitar player. Holy fuck!!!!! Up to today, I’ve never heard anything like this guy. Now, moving up the ladder to I&S was something but man…I would have done this gig just to carry this guy’s suitcase.

Jerry knew!


PS/I was 24
PPS/Pix from the GSB album, recorded in the Fall of 69

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Aug 11 2008

Bear’s Picnic

Published by Buddy Cage under Road Cage

To answer a question regarding Bears’s Picnic: We ARE playing 8.16.08 (met with the promoter last night at Sellersville show). We want to be fair to all and didn’t press him as to whether we’d be held for the 17th - depends on his ticket sales, of course. We will work with him as far as fees go. We did hold onto the date to allow for the possibility of sticking around for the second day.

In short, I have no quality answer to the question. We’re just kind of hanging in there. Right now, it’s day to day…

We are in a recording studio right now working on tracks for new material that has entered our WORLD. Some from Hunter & Nelson; some from Falzarano; some from Johnny  - maybe Ronnie’s got some new stuff we can get to as well! bc



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