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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why MR. David Allan Coe?

  Ol' Skydog noticed an interesting thing while checking the listener ratings today: the songs from David Allan Coe's early albums had very quickly become favorites; most are rating 4 or 5 stars (out of a possible 5).

   Since adding these tunes, I've received several messages from listeners asking "Why so many DAC songs? He's not Red Dirt, not Southern Rock, but play more!" 

   My answer is: David Allan Coe IS what Skydog's Red Dirt Radio AND Red Dirt Music is all about: REALITY. His public image, at times, has been his downfall...made the "straight and narrow" folks a little uncomfortable...maybe this guy really is an Outlaw. And, YES he is; if that's what never compromising his music for "public opinion" constitutes. 
   If you really listen to Red Dirt Music, there's DAC influences everywhere: Maybe it's in the attitude, maybe in the way the song "flows", maybe in the subject matter...but it's there. His "I Still Sing The Old Songs" from 1974 could sum up the whole Red Dirt scene today!

   Ol' Skydog has had the interesting experience of having known David since the mid-1980's. I'd discovered his songs in the late 70's, as the "disco" crap of the time was watering down Southern Rock and the "Outlaw" movement in Country music was on the rise and by the 80's, I was several years into my career as a paramedic. Even though upstate South Carolina wasn't exactly a stopping place for the music "superstars" of the day, our town had a civic center that attracted some pretty cool bands...Alabama (who really rocked live), Molly Hatchet (the Original band!), Waylon Jennings, etc. When David Allan Coe rolled into town, I was working the volunteer "first aid" squad for the show.  The best part of the job was that we had free range of the building...including back stage. This show was the first time I'd meet Warren Haynes, a new member of the DAC Band. During those years I was able to meet, and in some cases, become acquainted with lifelong friends in many bands; I treasure each and every one.  
   David Allan Coe was one of them. Prior to David going on stage, there was a minor emergency with one of the band members (no details; HIPPA laws!) . As he was getting fixed up (certainly to play again!!), I was suddenly covered with hair! I  looked up to see David bending over my shoulder (I was kneeling, by the way) and glaring at me. "Fix him up right, he's the fuckin' best guitar player I've ever heard. If he don't play, I'll kick both your asses." was all he said...thanks, pressure there! A couple of bandaids and some super glue later, the show rocked on...
   After the show and hand shakes and hugs all around, David and the band hit the road again...
    The next time our paths crossed was in 2001. Same civic center, but this time my ass was on the line. Still a paramedic, I'd decided to take a chance with my lifelong passion with live music and get into the "concert production" biz. After forming Skydog Music with my wife, Sherri, we hooked up with a production company out of Florida and had done a concert at the civic center that was a bust (we won't say which bands). We mortgaged the house to try again...
   Here it was, twenty years later...and both David and I had been over a lot of road miles, but we'd take a shot with him. I'd seen him a couple of times since the 80's, but we hadn't had a chance to visit much. Rented the civic center again, signed all the contracts, got the tickets printed and distributed, started the advertising going...and AC/DC announced that they would be at a much larger venue 50 miles away on that same date. We'd already sunk a huge chunk of money into our DAC show that couldn't be refunded and the date was Coe's only one left open for the next the show went on....
   Showtime in South Carolina was cold, rainy and not too pleasant on the financial front either. I picked up David at the local airport, after he flew in from Atlantic City. His band was set up and waiting; the opening band was already on stage...and this (my first impression, later proven very wrong) old guy, sort of tottering down the steps of the jet, was my last chance.
   We all piled in the Jeep for the ride to the civic center. He hadn't said much (the young lady who was his fiancee/manager was chattering the whole time anyway). He just lit up a Marlboro and coughed like a lung was on the way out. After a couple of miles, Dave looked over and grinned...and said "Hope you're still a medic! And, by the way, I was right about Warren." He remembered after all this time...We caught up a little and he asked how the crowd looked. Told him the whole deal with AC/DC..."We'll kick their ass, don't give up" was all he said...but he MEANT IT. We hit the civic center bus parking area and he disappeared into his bus. A few minutes later, The Outlaw stepped out, handed me a handful of beard beads (his style at the time) and said "It ain't over yet. I'll give you a show to remember!" The "old" guy from a few minutes ago was gone. And he did give us a show...the few folks who declined a dose of AC/DC got their asses rocked! After the show, a sweaty hug said it all...he'd done his best.
   And the David Allan Coe Show hit the road again....
   As we feared, the show was a financial bust for Skydog Music...the foray into "concert production" was over (at least for the time being; later to re-surface for the Jam For George McCorkle in 2007)...the house was later sold...and life moved on.
   David Allan Coe's words to me in 2001 formed the basis for starting the radio station in 2005 - "It ain't over yet, I'll give you a show!" 
 Skydog and David Allan Coe damn sure will!!!
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