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Funny How The Conversations Shift

Updated on May 12, 2011

Funny How The Conversations Shift

By Chuck RitenouR

Last night, I stopped by one of my favorite watering holes, the Lucky Star. An old friend pianist, Ricky Wilkins was playing there. After his set, he joined me and blues guitarist, Ralph Fortune at our table. I met Ricky in 1968, the same year Ralph and I started playing together. The three of us have had many a strange conversation thoughout the years clouded by smoke and alcohol. Last night Ralph was drinking a coke while Ricky and I had a glass of ice water with lemon. No one was smoking.

Our conversations used to include new guitars, amps, key boards, one night stands, girl friends, new band members, but last night was different. Ricky sat down and the conversation started. We tralked about all the clubs, casinos and tours that had at sometime or other fired us. After 40 plus years playing clubs, we had accumulated quite a list between the three of us. I haven't laughed so hard in a long, long while.

Ricky told the story of being fired from a place called Jimmy's because his drummer was too loud. The owner called him the next morning and told him not to show up the following night, but he'd pay them anyway. Ricky said,"I asked him if we could do that next week as well." I almost fell out of my chair.

Ralph told the story about our band, NODRAMA being fired at Brewbakers last winter. And likewise, we were paid not to play. Before I could add to the stories, Ralph noticed Ricky's new second hand van parked across the street. It looked to be an old conversion van. Ricky beamed as he told us about his $1000, buy."Yep, I can get the kids and wife and all my equipment in it. Hell, I can even sleep in it if needed." I told them about sleeping in my van in NewYork City for two months in the winter of 1979. and an attempted robbery while I was in the van one night. Eventually, the guys who owned the studio allowed me to sleep in there.

Next we talked about our kids. Ralph not having any of his own talked about his toy poodle, Barrack. Ricky at age 58 has a six year old girl and a six month old baby girl. Ralph and I sympathized. Ricky glowed as he spoke of them. I'm a grandfather and added a few stories about my daughters and my grand daughter.

Time seemed to runaway and before we knew it we were being chased out by the bartender so she could close. I guess its really not funny as in haha, but more curious how the conversations have shifted. I came to a curious conclusion on my way home. It is a measure of success and respect for a club owner to pay a musician not to play. I wish more club owners would fall in line.


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    • Chuck RitenouR profile image

      Chuck RitenouR 6 years ago from Front Royal, Virginia


      Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Funny how things change over time huh Chuck?

      Wish someone would pay me not to play - I'd sign up every night!