Skip to main content

My Five-Minute Gig With “Wild Man,” and “Thunderbird Red”

Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.

In most Country Music clubs, these people are known as the House Band.

In most Country Music clubs, these people are known as the House Band.

So You've Decided to Visit

one of those back-street, smoke-filled, and clubs so loud that the windows rattle in every song . . . . yeah, those kind of bars. But the sophisticated, I say, barroom. But since this piece is very true, I choose to take a wild lunge on a limb that I’m already climbing on and see how hard the ground is when I fall.

Some years back, a very wise man, a retired Literature Professor, told me something that he said would help in my column-writing. He said: “Just don’t be too cute.” He said this without batting an eyelash. He knew what he was talking about because he wrote a very good column, for the Journal Record, Hamilton, Al., where I worked for several years.

My friend, who gave me this advice was Mr. E.A. Thompson, from Florence, Ala., and he was retired from The University of North Alabama, where he taught Literature for many years. I loved to read his first-person observations about daily life and sometimes, his columns would have a bit of sage advice for me, the unlearned, then-columnist-wannabe.

So What Does This

have to do with barroom’s, smoke, loud music and drinking, a big part of this scene that should never be neglected. What would you say if I told you, PLENTY? Or at least if was plenty for me and two of my best buddies on a lonesome, stormy Saturday evenings when it just felt right to jump into “Thunderbird Red’s” jet-black ‘79 Thunderbird along with our mutual beer-guzzling, buddy, “Wild Man Stone,”-- the first names of these two real good ole boys are not needed to make this piece complete, thank you, very much.

Okay. I truly love these two guys who have been a big part of my life over 20 years and THE one thing about them is their consistency—they are always the same in public, private, with the rich and with the poor. “Thunderbird Red,” and “Wild Man Stone” have achieved these titles because they lived-up to their nick-names years ago and after their names were established . . .they just relaxed and held onto the ride. No. Do not mistake in these two great friends I am talking about in the same breath as Tom “Maverick” Cruise and Anthony “Goose” Edwards in the total guy flick, Top Gun that was released in 1986.

Our Trip Was Planned

on-the-fly, well, at my job site at the local newspaper and I had to pull some Saturday work on a bunch of new Display Ads that the paper’s owner wanted finished so the finished work could be “Proofed” by the new advertiser.

I had finished my work and was not looking forward to rolling back home to watch wrestling, and just as I had started dreading my drive home, in rolled “Wild Man Stone,” and “Thunderbird Red” in his jet black ‘79 Thunderbird and these two were ready to roll to Tupelo, Miss., to find a bigger, louder, drunker, and more second-hand smoke than a non-smoker could inhale in a lifetime . . .so with a little talk, we decided on a place called the Shade Tree Club. Should I explain what really goes on in these joints? Naaah! In those days when we three were younger, wilder, and less wiser, and the Shade Tree was an ideal place to hang-tight, get tight and listen to a live band while yelling, “play Free Bird,” as loud as humanly-possible.

On the way to our destination, “Thunderbird” stopped so he could fill-up his “baby” the jet-black ‘79 Thunderbird. “Wildman” and I stayed in the car and went all in to making more plans to let loose in (this) party place that had a good place to go if you want to just be yourself. Oh, I need to tell you something that needs repeating: If you roll down to the Shade Tree Club and get too loud, Great, but do NOT start letting your whiskey do the walking and get your butt beat like a mangy stray dog—because I can tell you that there were three guys whose only job was to take out the trash out to the parking lot. (e.g. Patrick “Dalton” Swayze, Road House).

This is NOT "Thunderbird Red's" '79 Thunderbird, but it would pass for it.

This is NOT "Thunderbird Red's" '79 Thunderbird, but it would pass for it.

Let's Take a Breather

right here, because I have a good reason. The ending of this hub is not only a roller coaster hitting a sharp curve and should make the most barroom-born and bred people stand-up and give me a standing ovation. Because this is a TRUE episode of what three Great Friends did and why.

On “Thunderbird Red’s” cassette tape player, he stuck in one of our favorites: “Gimme Three Steps,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd; “Simple Man,” also by Lynyrd Skynyrd and the icing on the cake: “Free Bird,” and you know who by. We were rolling, shouting power to the south and go, Hank, Jr., to the top of our lungs and “Thunderbird Red” was never out of control although we three had enjoyed a few cold ones before we left—and if you are a young person who is tempted to something this ignorant, all I can say is; DON.T!!!!

A good band can make most clubs a great place to be.

A good band can make most clubs a great place to be.

© 2019 Kenneth Avery