There's what we call the "dead wall" backstage at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa. All over the dressing room walls are posters and flyers of many of the acts that have passed through the beloved, ragged venue.
On one small panel as you head up the stairs to the stage you find photos and flyers of Rock Bottom, arguably the most treasured of all of the area's showmen; Diamond Teeth Mary, who left us way too early at 96; Jimmy Michaelides, the skinny, wonderful bartender, who served us with love and joy and booze. I never know whether to laugh or cry as I stand there leaning on that wall.
We used to joke that the joint would go bankrupt if Rock ever cleaned out his chest of drawers and brought in all of his drink tickets. Now, being alive and all, I've probably played on that stage more than anyone still kicking. I've done shows there with NRBQ, the Avett Brothers, Todd Snider, Paul Thorn, the Subdudes, Chuck Prophet, Jimmy LaFave and lots and lots of other folks. I developed the original noise ordinance for the County EPC which still causes nightmares for the place.
I've drunk their beer and I've eaten their hush puppies. I try not to think about that wall.
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