Rogue’s Gallery

In which we share amusing (mostly true) anecdotes about the colorful characters and great friends we have met along the way…….

CHUCK JOHNSON

Holy Crap, what can you say about THE Chuck Johnson? This man is one of the all time characters that has ever walked the earth. To quote Hunter Thompson, Chuck is “Too weird to live, too rare to die”. This guy is both the sweetest man you will ever meet, and a total animal. He would roar down the dead-end driveway at Indigo ranch at 70MPH, about a half hour late every day, and stop on a dime, bound into the studio  combing his hair with a big yellow plastic comb that he always kept in his back pocket, drop a huge sack of candy on the console, and laugh his ass off just because he felt like laughing his ass off right then. Chuck gave Krevis his nickname because he couldn’t remember if his name was Travis or Kevin, so he just combined the two and it stuck. His favorite song is “All Right Now” by Free! Chuck is a self-described “Vibe Guy”, but his engineering skills, particularly with the vintage gear at Indigo ranch are legendary. Dude told us about how he had to record Neil Young without using any EQ, because Neil felt that EQ was only for fixing mistakes, so if the EQ was on, he was doin’ it wrong! So chuck did it Neil’s way, no problem! We still quote chuck in every session….He would say to us, “Hey, whaddaya got there? What is that? A FUCKIN’ C12?!! Are you putting a C12 on the SNARE?!!  You guys are crazy! That’s fuckin’ Killer!!!” We learned so much just by watching Chuck work…We owe the guy. He is and will always be our dear friend and a tremendous mentor, and to say that we miss those times working with him at Indigo Ranch would be a horrible understatement. We would give anything to hear him say “Well, fuck me in the goat-ass! That’s fuckin’ KILLER!Just one more time. Huge respect for a monster engineer, and a great human being. We love you, Chuck!

ASH, HAMMERIN’ HANK, AND UNCLE JOHN


left to right: Uncle John, Ash and Hammerin’ Hank

Talk about a “rogue’s gallery”! These three fellas are not to be trifled with. They are the triumvirate of terror in Virginia City. These three were responsible for getting us into Piper’s opera House to record “When the Silver’s Gone” by Buster Blue. They are such a triad of bad that we felt compelled to put ’em on the album cover so we could get a little bit of their mojo on the dang thing.

We have to begin with Hammerin’ Hank. He’s the young man on the right workin’ the squeezebox. Lady killer. While Zak was waiting in the Corner Bar downstairs in the Opera House to work out the contract for the recording, a cowboy walked up and said “watch out for Hank. He’s tougher than a woodpecker’s lips.” That actually happened. Then hank showed up, went over the contract lickety-split, whiped out a gleaming, razor sharp 9 inch bowie knife, sliced his right palm open with a flick, flipped it in the air, caught it by the the blade, pushed the elkhorn handle toward Zak and mumbled “well, do you want to seal the deal or not?” Zak and Hammerin’ Hank became blood brothers on that day.

Next up is Ash. He’s the real friendly lookin’ kid in the middle. This guy is the reason we got our foot in the door at Pipers. he set the whole thing up, put us in touch with Hank. Ash is another tough sumbitch. He has spent most of his life in the hills and deserts of Nevada, mining silver, copper, lead, zinc, mercury, tungsten, and iron, roughneckin’ on oil rigs, and wrangling the wild mustangs that run around free out there. He also did quite a bit of stunt work for just about every film and TV show ever shot in Virginia City.  And you thought you were pretty cool, didn’t you? well, not compared to Ash, you aint. He was tending bar downstairs while we worked, keeping us supplied with all the  “Toooolamoore Doooooo” we could handle, and we handled plenty. As long as he was open, we were buyin’. We didnt want any trouble with HIM.

Finally, the caretaker, pump organ and player piano mechanic, tour guide, and pianist extraordinaire, “Uncle” John Curran. He’s the gentleman on the left in the fetching straw chapeau. This dude would blow your feeble mind with the information he has packed under that goddam hat. He could tell you so much about that Opera House and everything in it, that you would be listening for about 3 weeks, and you would enjoy every second of it, Jack! The cadence of his speech is reminiscent of the “Golden Age of Radio”, and he plays Irving Berlin jams on the piano like he wrote them himself. A supremely intelligent and talented Yegg. He whipped out one of his Irving Berlin fantasias on us for the outro to the Buster Blue record on an old piano he hadn’t gotten around to tuning up yet, and that business sounds exactly like 100 years ago. No wonder all the ghosts in that joint dig him so much. The man is Priceless.

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