Archive for March, 2011

    During the four years that we ran our niteclub, the Rock Inn, we hired a lot of bands to play at our place. For a while  we had three different bands performing each week ; one on Tuesday’s Blues Night, one on Thursday’s Country Night and on the weekends we had another band playing classic rock. I came to view them as a mixed blessing. On the one hand they were entertaining and a few of them could bring a crowd and deliver the goods to them. On the other hand, they were relatively expensive and most of them thought I was in business to give them a stage to wow the world.

   I always wanted to write out a handbook entitled “What Bands Need to Know About What Bar Owners Need.”  While my points would have  been just common sense and courtesy, I’m sure it would have been a revelation to many of them, judging by the way they so often seemed to lack either one. For example, it could be 10 degrees outside when they came to load in their equipment and they would almost always prop open the side door rather than opening and shutting it as they came and went. Within 5 minutes, the entire place was so cold people were donning their coats and mittens.

     I don’t know how many times I had to go flying out from the kitchen to tell a band they could not do a full sound check during lunch. I would about come unglued and they would look at me as if I was nuts, apparently oblivious to the fact that our lunch customers enjoyed visiting with one another as they ate a relaxing meal. And then there was the way they left the stage after they left. It serve as both ashtray and garbage can for many of them. It was bad enough that bands often left their ground-out cigerettes and beer bottles strewn all over the stage, but it really amazed me when they would leave their empty whiskey or vodka bottles. I guess they figured I never cleaned the stage and would not know if it was them or a previous band that left the contraband refuse.

   Elaine even caught the great bluesman Curtis Selgado, our most famous performer, doodling with a Sharpie on a table cloth in a private banquet room while he ate the cheeseburger I cooked and Elaine served him after his concert. When he realized that he had just ruined the tablecloth and that Elaine had caught him in the act, he quickly signed it and told us to keep it for a souvenir. It was easy to laugh at that and forgive a big star like Selgado, but I thought, what is it with musicians and trashing things?

   But as I said, they were also entertaining and from Curtis to the people who came out and performed on jam nights or open mike nights, they all had talent and I always respected that. Beyond having God-given talent, the local musicians love to play and perform. They have stayed true to their talent and developed it  with years of work . Motivation has to come from more than the pay because, for the most part, they barely make more than a decent wage.

   If somebody asked me to list the 10 best bands that  played at the Rock in order by how much I liked them, I would refuse. There were too many that I really liked. By the same token, I’m still friends with many of them and we love to watch them play whenever we get the chance. While we’re fans of a lot of bands, none would claim  us as followers. Truth is that we are followers of Sammy Eubanks but it might not seem like it to him because we just follow him to the edge of our little circle. It is a rare event that we travel beyond  our zip c0de let alone distant destinations like Downtown or Hillyard. Luckily, Sammy is a hard worker and he makes it out to the Valley every so often.

    We caught him  the first time he played at the Black Diamond a few weeks ago. Elaine and I were talking to Steve, the owner, earlier in the day and he was afraid Sammy would bomb like so and so had a few weeks before. When we came back later in the night and the place was packed, Steve came up and said he wanted more bombs like this one. As time goes by and Steve hires Sammy several more times, he’ll  become a fan of Sammy’s for more than just bringing in a crowd. He’ll get used to listening to Sammy playing great  country and blues and rock and roll. He’ll be a fan like us and the rest, listening and dancing to a God-given talent every chance he gets .

   Like us and anyone who has ever hired Sammy, Steve will appreciate him  more and more for being professional, easy to work with and always a pleasure to have around. I see this out at the Sullivan Scoreboard where Sammy plays outside several times each summer. We try going often but only if we can get there early.  It is the perfect menage d’ trois involving Sammy, the crowd and the owners. Sammy because he has a place to play and a crowd that loves him. The crowd because they have a place to go and party with Sammy. And the owners because they have them both.

   Sammy has more friends on his Facebook book page than anyone I’ve seen which did not surprise me. He was performing and making friends long before we first met him 8 years ago when we started working with him at the Rock Inn. Judging by what we see in our little part of the world, he is stronger than ever and adding new friends every time he performs. The difference between Sammy’s friends and most people’s friends on Facebook is that his don’t “Like” him, they “Love” him.

Look us up Facebook, we’re not as popular as Sammy.

My Great Web page


    While I find the movie-dispensing Redbox kiosks amazing and super convenient, I also find it very easy to root against them in regards to their competing with Block Buster for Spokane Valley’s dvd rental dollar. It is a classic case of man against machine. Block Buster’s shelves are stocked with several copies of sci-fi films like the Terminator where droids and computers have taken over the world. This bleak future is nearly upon us here in the Valley as our neighborhood Block Buster at Bowdish and Sprague fights on valiantly against the circling, snarling Red Boxes that seem to be reproducing like rabbits.

    The warriors in blue shirts who man the frontlines are fighting the good fight and they are the reason I will remain faithful to the bitter end which hopefully will never come. The crew at the store has always been polite, friendly and helpful. They are like counsellors guiding us towards well-liked movies and away from the waste-of-timers. If I am not sure about a movie I always ask one of the staff and their advice is unfailingly sound which stands to reason considering they all seem to watch movies and they hear a lot of feedback from the customers. The one guy with glasses and a  goatee, named Mike, (that’s his name not the goatee’s) has been cheerfully directing our family from the days of Ninja Turtles and Disney to the Gump man and the first Potter and onto the Twilight years of today. He and the other people on the staff make renting a movie from there fun.

   Beyond being amateur movie critics with common sense and normal tastes (which is the opposite of professional critics) the staff at Block Buster have always been accommodating. For example, whenever they see someone looking through the stacks of newly returned movies, they will ask what title the customer wants and then rummage around in the drop bin and every other place the movie might be hiding.

   Just this week a gal searched high and low for the new release, “Faster,” for me but her noble quest was in vain and so I sadly shuffled off to see if I could find something to replace our beloved Rock. Just as I was getting to the last wall and hope was fading fast, I heard a sweet voice behind me say, “Sir, the movie you were looking for just came in.”  I was so impressed with her thoughtfulness and it was all the better because it was one of those rare movies that every member of the family enjoyed. So in a sense, she made our night.

    I think it costs $2 more to rent a movie from Block Buster compared to Redbox, to which I say big whoopty-do. We  rent maybe one movie a week and so for $8 a month I get the newest releases, I get expert advice, I get treated like family and I get to help keep the Matrix nothing more than a great movie and not an approaching reality.