Latest posts by Charles Baty (see all)
- Feeling the blues: Charlie’s missing home on his Thanksgiving tour - November 24, 2016
- Traveling blues on tour: ‘Be the road,’ says Little Charlie - September 5, 2016
- ‘You don’t go to Tucson to eat pizza’ and other Baty blues wisdom - August 10, 2016
November 10. As I prepare for the last road trip of the year (and probably my last road trip for a long time), I have been spending a lot of time re-tackling the solos of Charlie Parker and trying to learn more chords, arrange Christmas tunes for the holiday season and learn a few new jazz tunes. Of course, I try to play as much as I can anytime during the year. But during certain periods I try to achieve specific goals as a personal challenge.
November 23. I wouldn’t normally start my day off eating at a place called Donut Dip, but today I had no choice. The old diner that used to be adjacent to the motel that we stayed in last night was demolished and replaced by a couple of chains, mostly featuring burgers. No breakfast options there. I risked my life and crossed the busy turnpike road with no pedestrian light and headed into this den of doughnuts.
I had been told that they made a mean breakfast sandwich so I ordered one on a bagel. The coffee seemed diluted and had no body. The bagel however was excellent. I noticed the wide array of occupations in the doughnut culture. There was an AAA driver, a school bus driver, a UPS driver, some office workers, some construction workers and an itinerant musician (me) all lingering around staring at those donuts.
I could see the doughnuts being produced by men in white outfits through the kitchen door. Then I just couldn’t stand it anymore — I broke down and ordered a chocolate cake doughnut. And it was incredible.
We left our motel at noon fearing more Thanksgiving traffic. But we were lucky today and made our brief 96-mile drive in about 2 hours, arriving in Warwick, RI, with a fair amount of free time available. So the Pup and I headed out on a walk searching for food and just out of sheer curiosity. What treasures might lie ahead in the strip mall a quarter mile away?
The Pup (i.e. Anson Funderburgh) and I ventured into a little music store. The kind of mall store that only sells off brands and has no Gibsons or Fenders and caters to beginners. Feeling the blues, I picked up a pink parlor guitar (probably a girl’s beginner guitar) and started playing Robert Johnson tunes on it. Anson played a little Lightnin’ Hopkins on it. The store clerk sensed that we weren’t the normal clientele, but he still tried to make a sale. Then we hit the Dollar Tree and an Army Navy Surplus store for giggles. I wanted to buy a box of grenades, but didn’t have enough cash (Ed. Note: Grenades? Really???). Anson tried on sailor hats. We headed back to the hotel.
Thanksgiving Eve was in a Chinese restaurant – for the food and the gig at Chan’s in Woonsocket, RI. Normally I would spend this night making dressing with my 88-year-old mother in law. I have done this for the last 11 years, and before that my deceased wife did it for decades. It is a long-standing tradition. I was sick thinking that I let her down. I chowed down on Kung Pao chicken and played some whacked out music. Anson and I went for it tune after tune. The crowd was enthusiastic, and the time flew by.
So I’m back at the hotel, feeling the blues, drinking a beer and reflecting that Thanksgiving is not a good time to be away from home. I don’t mind playing music on a holiday. I love playing music. I just dig the tradition of being around family on these special days too much to give it up, especially when the family is old. Call me old-fashioned. Call me a square. But I would have rather made dressing than played music tonight. Happy Thanksgiving.
Check out the calendar for the Golden State-Lone Star Revue this fall/winter tour. Others will continue next year albeit likely without our intrepid correspondent Charles Baty. And don’t miss Little Charlie’s new CD, “Little Charlie and the Organ Grinder Swing: Skronky Tonk”