If you Want To Be The Quarter Back, Own The Football

If you Want To Be The Quarter Back, Own The Football

Which Way Is Left In Canada ?

by Chuck RitenouR

Chapter Four

If you Want To Be The Quarter Back, Own The Football

There was never any doubt, Chuck was the leader of the Cash Brothers Band. While playing with Bobby Watt and Mama's Pride, Chuck squirreled away all the money he made selling cheap Mexican weed and as much of his band pay as possible. After the band disintegrated, I spent a few months playing with Bobby. We were a very strong duo both musically and vocally. We played many of Bobby's original songs and a few of my early compositions. We also played a lot of the same songs our band had played. Bobby Watt and Mama's Pride was an extremely popular band in Tallahassee and we rode that popularity to death. About three months later, the band came together for a reunion gig. During the show, Bobby had put his Herringbone Martin acoustic guitar on its stand. The stage was not as stable as we had thought. While Bobby was doing his rendition of a buck dance, the guitar fell neck first and snapped completely off. Bobby was heartbroken. The show went on, but the duo did not.

I spent that night at Chuck and Penny's house. He said, "Charlie, I got something to show you. It's in my garage." I stared in disbelief at a huge Peavey sound system and a new Ford van. Chuck said," I'm putting a band together to go on the road. I've got an agent and two other pickers, but I really need you to sing and play lead guitar. We're rehearsing tomorrow. Why not stick around and jam? Just see what you think. You owe me that."

I owed him that and more. When Bean and I moved to Tallahassee. we camped in bass player, Bob's yard. It was February and the nights had turned very cold. So, Bob and his wife, Linda invited us to sleep on their couch. Linda told us she had once been buried alive trying to beat the world's record. The entire stunt was part of a radio station promo in her hometown in Texas. I wondered silently why they ever dug her back up. During our first night, Bean woke everyone in the house. A huge bug had crawled on her while she was asleep and she screamed. When the lights came on, thousands of bugs, all shapes and sizes scurried in all directions. We spent the rest of the night in the van awake and freezing our asses off. At our next rehearsal, Bean told Penny about the bugs. Chuck and Penny asked us to stay with them in their spare bedroom. We stayed sharing meals and utilities for several months. Bean got a job at the Ramada Inn West and money started coming in. Damn right, I owed Chuck, but at the end of this road trip I felt everything was paid in full.

The Cash Brothers' first rehearsal went smooth as silk. This band sounded better than our previous band and we had made scandalous money with it. I have to admit that I was seeing dollar signs floating in the air. After our second rehearsal, I told Chuck that I was in. I found out later that he had told Hollywood and Mike I was in the band right from the start to get them to sign on.

Mike and Hollywood told Chuck they wanted me to be the band leader. Chuck reasoned that he owned the sound system at a considerable investment and he had the agency contact. Thus, he should be the band leader. When they came to me privately, I said, "look fellas, Chuck owns the p.a. system, the microphones, the van to haul it all in and has an agent in his hip pocket. Everyone on the playground knows if you want to be the quarter back, you have to own the football." I didn't realize then that it would become a reoccurring pattern. When any of the other musicians on the road got to know Chuck and Penny, they would turn to me and Bean.

The others didn't know the things that I knew. Chuck's step-father had committed suicide. He came home from work while Chuck's older sister's and a couple of friends were getting things ready for her fourteenth birthday party. He pulled a pistol from his pocket and shot her and two of her friends point blank. Then, he walked out into the back yard and shot himself in the head. Her two friends recovered, but Chuck's sister was paralyzed and never walked again. Penny's father had also committed suicide. Her mother was a very wealthy and in real estate sales and her step-father was a regional vice president with Anaconda Wire.

Chuck quit school during his sophomore year. His real father had little or nothing to do with him. I met him once at the Ramada Inn. I guess curiosity got the best of him. I don't know if he told Chuck, but I could tell he was proud. Penny was knowledgable on many subjects and when she didn't know something she just made it up. Chuck relied on her. During our many conversations, Penny acted as an English interpreter for Chuck. Chuck's ten and a half years in Florida's public school system had netted him a solid fourth grade education.

After dropping out of school, Chuck ran drugs for organized crime thugs in the streets of Tallahassee. One of the other runners got busted. The thugs got him out of jail on bail and took him and several other runners into the pine forest that surrounded Tallahassee. They took them to the top of a deserted fire tower and made Chuck and the others watch as they threw him to his death. Chuck said he never told anyone, but one of the others got busted and fearing for his life cut a deal with the police. The thugs were all in prison now for murder and conspiracy to traffic illegal drugs. Chuck was playing in his first road band in Alabama during the trial and did not testify.

Chuck had originally started the Silver Dollar Band. He found a homeless old fiddler playing on the streets of Tallahassee. Jesse had left a wife and five kids somewhere in Kentucky and changed his name. Jesse was thin and about five foot ten inches tall. He had long hair on the sides and was bald on top. He always wore his Bill Monroe Stetson. If you wanted to piss Jesse off, just touch his hat. To this day, I don't know if Jesse was his real name, but I think he made it up. When I auditioned Chuck, Bobby, Jesse and a bass player named Bob were the band. Jesse played fiddle, banjo and a bit of guitar, but did not sing. Bobby played his Martin with a removable electric pickup and sang his ass off. Bobby had written some songs and had two albums to his credit which he sold at his gigs. He looked and acted like a cowboy. Bobby had moved to Tallahassee from Scotts Bluff, Nebraska. He owned a thirty-nine foot yawl, "The Wings Of Morning" which was docked in a marina not too far from Tallahassee. When he wasn't playing, Bobby was on his sailboat somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. He also a owned a van and a very nice sound system. The bass guitarist, Bob was the weakest link. Bob was about four foot ten inches tall. He played an old beat up copy of the Paul McCartney hollow body bass. He was dark skinned and had a face only a mother and Linda could love. Chuck was very competent drummer though he didn't add any vocals. The audition was in Chuck's music room. We ran through a couple country standards. I played lead guitar, sang harmony. I could imitate several popular rock singers. Bean's dad, Wade sat there listening. After about an hour, we took a break. I went outside for some fresh air. When I returned, Chuck told me I was hired. Our first job was in two weeks at the Holiday Inn. I would be paid three hundred dollars. I took Wade back to New Smyrna Beach and stayed a few days before coming back. Bean came with me.

Bobby had a closed door meeting with each of us seperately after our second gig. Things changed. Bobby had all the contacts and was already a very popular solo act. He didn't need us. We needed him, his contacts, his van and his sound system. Bobby owned the football and he wanted to be quarterback. He even wanted to change the band's name, but was open to suggestions. He was willing to let everyone throw in their ideas. I wanted to work. That was the reason I sold everything I could do without and came to Tallahassee. I suggested Bobby Watt and Mama's Pride. Everyone like it. Oh yeah, I also changed my name from Chuck to Charlie to eliminate confusion.

I learned many lessons from my years with Bobby and Chuck. "If you want to be the quarter back, own the football" was just one of them.

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