The very first week of my very first (and only full) year in college I went to see a three night show at some crappy little club in Chapel Hill. It was the Sleazefest, and I think it was the third year they held it. Lots of great bands. The Hate Bombs, the Woggles, Southern Culture on the Skids, Two Dollar Pistols, Man or… Astroman?, Whiskeytown. All those bands were great (especially Whiskeytown… I’d never been impressed with them before, but they were pissed that night because they had to play second to last when they were supposed to close, and it showed in the music. When they were done with their set everyone unplugged in a huff except for Ryan Adams (heard of him?). He fell on his back and launched into the opening chords of “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. The rest of the band kinda shrugged and plugged back in). But the last night was the real treat.
Hazil Adkins is a legend that you’ve never heard of. He recorded a bunch of solo backwoods hillbilly blues in the seventies, I think. I can’t remember what his big song was, and you’ll never recognize it anyway. Anyway, he was and probably is a God to all the people at this show. Everyone was out to see him, all the bands (who were hanging out outside for every other set) and all the fans. Then he proceeded to tune his guitar for about fifteen minutes. He’d tune and tune and tune, then he’d start to play. Now playing was a bit difficult for a man this drunk. Obviously you do NOT get Hazil to close a show. There he was, on his stool, with his kick drum. He’d play a couple of chords, kick the drum out of rhythm, sing a line, then say, “Sonofabitch. Fuck. Gotta tune up.” We thought we’d stick around because there was a really big guy who was obviously a huge fan right near us, and we didn’t want to get our asses kicked for walking out. When he started to cover his face and shake his head, that was our cue.