Showered with Pot @ Great White
4/3/2013 2:58:00 PM
It was your typical blazing hot and humid day in Florida as I received a phone call from the local concert promoter asking if my band would be available to open up for Great White at Janus Landing in St. Petersburg. I had just left the broadcast studio at 98ROCK and was walking out to my old grey Jeep CJ5 in the stations parking lot. I had been getting a lot of these types of phones calls lately, mostly from promoters trying to piggy back our crazy good draw to their events. It’s nice to be in a band like The Killer Kona Buds that gets regular airplay as a result of your own morning shows exposure. The band was going to love the news.
“We don’t have a very big budget for you guys, but I know how you can draw the crowd, and that’s just what we need for this, so I’m really hoping we can work it out” said the promoter. They never have any budget do they? Right.
As usual, the pay was pathetic for the gig, $300. I was tempted to say no. It would barely cover gas, strings, and the beer that the road crew would surely be putting away. We didn’t need the exposure or the hassle, but the guys in the band and crew would love the fun factor.. so I kept negotiating.
“Ok” I said, “We’ll take your money, although it’s pathetic, and I’ll just use it to tip my limo driver and put gas in the equipment truck. I’ll also need a case of cold beer, a bottle of Jack Daniels. Do we get a dressing room or what?”
In the end, I was promised everything I asked for, the dressing room, the case of beer, and my merchandise table allowed at the event without kickback to the promoters. That was huge, since we would probably do 1-2K in t-shirt and CD sales. Why not? Fun with a little profit. Perfect.
We now fast forward through time, past several weeks of rehearsals, to the day of the event. It’s Florida in summer man. Crazy hot. The sun in shinning like a blow torch. The pavement is sticky. I’d swear it’s melting as the road crew and I walk into Janus Landing in downtown St. Petersburg to survey the scene and get started with setup.
Janus Landing has hosted many cool concerts over the years, even though it’s really just an old school brick courtyard formed by the walls of the surrounding historic buildings. With a maximum capacity of about 2000, the place even has an old tree in the back. Christmas like lighting strings crisscross over head and give full view of the open sky above. The stage is setup against one of the walls. It’s a full size pro stage, pro lighting and sound, intimate, yet big enough to really rock. The sound slapping off the brick walls sucks and has been the downfall of many a hard rock act that couldn’t put enough warm bodies in the area to kill the feedback. We love it.
The crew huddles around me as we start taking care of business.
“Let’s put the merchandise stand over here by the door, so we can get them coming in and out” as I pointed to the gated entrance. “Bruce, check with the stage manager and see when Great White is done with their sound check and you can begin loading our gear in front.”
The crew all dressed in black Killer Kona Bud t-shrits with “ROAD CREW” spray painted in stencil on their backs ran off with smiles on their faces. They are an excellent group of guys and girls and seriously love the whole aspect of this business. I miss them all.
The crowd started to come through the iron gates at the entrance just as the sun started to set. Already a line was forming at the merchandise table. I liked that. The crew was hauling the amps and drums up on the stage. The short shaggy haired promoter walked up to me as I was watching the progress.
“Um, Jesus, I’m really sorry, ya know, but, er, um, Great White needed your dressing room and so I gave it to them” said the promoter as his eyes were shifting over the growing audience.
We were now standing in the middle of the crowd not far from the stage. People were filling in all around us. He wouldn’t look me in the eye.
“What?!” I declared, “Where are we supposed to change? Where’s my beer? Got my Jack?”
All I got was a shrug as he walked away. I wouldn’t see him again until after the show. Great. Good thing I knew how these guys operate, which is a lot like a used car salesman. We brought backup beer and whiskey. This wasn’t our first rodeo.
“Ok”, I said as he walked away “I guess I’ll just change right here. Jackass.”
With well over a thousand people all standing around me, I pulled off my shirt. Nobody noticed. I took off my boots and pulled off my pants. They were lookin now. I didn’t wear underwear. Some people started to cheer. I put on my old pair of baggy army camo pants to cover my lily white half Irish ass. Sat down on the brick ground and put my High-Tec black combat boots on. No need for a shirt. This is rock and roll after all, and Florida. My long curly hair was just blowing everywhere. I walked to the backstage area to meet up with my band that was already on stage with their instruments ready for sound check.
The Killer Kona Buds were a 3 piece band at the time - my favorite setup. Gary, all 140 pounds of him, was sitting behind is old red drum set. Raven, dressed similar to a pirate meets Motley Crue was on the other side of the stage in his leather pants with one of his iconically cool black bases in hand, long black curly hair flowing over his shoulders, and tattoos on every visible part of his body. These were my brother’s man, and this was going to be damn fun. We were ready.
My guitar tech handed me my blood red 1979 Gibson Les Paul custom. She had a wide black leather guitar strap, 3 pickups, and a sound that could take over the Middle East. Next, they pulled my hair up and began putting on my headset microphone. I had given up some sound quality from a regular mic in order to be more mobile and help front the band. People would often comment I looked a lot like Sammy Hagar at the time. That’s cool. I walked out onto the stage for sound check.
The place was packed! Filled with human heads as far back as I could see. They stood shoulder to shoulder sweating in the hot Florida evening. I could see they were super excited. I hoped some was for us.
Suddenly the events lights went dark. Wait, what about sound check? O shit. The band looked at me with a half panic half “well, here we go” look. Nothing ever goes as planned in rock and roll.
Gary began the usual cymbal crashes building up to our parody version of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. We called ours – Bar B Q Pigs, a PG rated parody version about grilling on the weekends. We play it much much heavier. The crowd loves it. The bass comes in, the guitar sounds heavy as fuck. The crowd is cheering like crazy. We are off.
Like many bands, we play a couple of songs back to back to get the crowd going. It’s working. I can see people singing our words; hand in the air, smiling, life is good. The sound is actually excellent tonight. The band is playing super tight.
It’s a great show so far as we finish out 3rd song and I begin to address the crowd. I can see a thick haze of smoke rising from the crowd as if something is on fire. The scent is undeniable. This concert crowd is all about smoking the herb, not surprising if they came to see The Killer Kona Buds. I address the crowd for the first time as the cheering and applause continue.
“What’s goin on?! I’m Bob Gnarly and we are the Killer Kona Buds”.
Bob Gnarly is the radio name I was assigned in Tampa. Crazy but true.
Huge cheers. They love us. This kicks ass.
I try to peel my hair from my eyes as it sticks to my face partially blocking my view. We are already covered completely in sweat from the heat, the crowd, moving around, and the lighting system. It feels good.
“Man” I said as the thick white plumes of smoke continue to haze up the sky, “Something smells really good out there.”
A gigantic roar commences, and then it happens… The unimaginable.
Like a tsunami and I’m NOT exaggerating, people begin to throw pot at me on the stage. Huge joints, some still burning, giant buds, small buds, hydro, dirt weed, my God, like a crazy green wave of herbal magnificence the pot begins to fill the sky and then shower down upon me. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Holy Shit!” I think, “There are cops everywhere in this place. Can I get busted for this?”
I begin to look around in a bit of a panic to see what the cops were going to do. They were staring right at me. They looked pissed. My first instinct was to pick it all up as fast as I could. But I couldn’t! There was way too much and it was still coming. Like grass clipping from my pops Toro lawn mower it was flying straight at me.
Marijuana was everywhere. All over the stage were buds and joints that didn’t quit make the distance. Like a shaggy green carpet it was growing. My body was covered in a layer of thick sweat and the falling cannabis projectiles of happiness were sticking to my skin. It was all over my chest, in my hair, on my arms, stuck to my cheek.
I looked down and in the small contour of the side of my Les Paul, right were it rested next to my waist, was a burrito of a joint. Perfectly rolled. Ridiculously huge in diameter. The creator was an artist, a genius, it was epic. I couldn’t resist to pick it up and hold it in my hand. Glory. Angels sang. I held it between my thumb and finger up before me so I could gaze at this master’s work. The crowd became hysterical. The sea of doobage raged on, continuously streaming through the red stage lighting. I’m fucked I thought.
At the time, I didn’t realize that my beautiful crack shot road crew had been running across the stage. Crouched like the ball boys at a Wimbledon tennis match, they were scowering up handfuls of the might green bounty at a time, dropping it off in guitar cases on the sides of the stage, into their pockets, and then making another pass, and another, and another. I never saw them. Briliant.
I slipped the burrito joint into my camo pants thigh pocket. I thought I was slick. I’m sure only a couple thousand people saw it. Duh.
A newly lit joint was arcing across the sky directly towards me like an ICBM. Great toss. I caught it like a pro outfielder in my left hand. Fuck it. I took a huge drag. Smiled a big cheesy rebellious smile, took another huge drag, threw it back to the crowd, and went into our next song – Hey man, Nice Fart.
We finished the 45 minute set to raging applause. It was the best show we ever did at the time. I was so winded I couldn’t breath. I sat behind the stage bent over trying to catch some air. We should bring oxygen tanks to the next show. The road crew was removing the gear and loading the truck with a precision that one must see to believe. We weren’t going to stay for Great White.
As I headed to the exit, the promoter ran up to me with his measly envelope of cash.
“Great job Bob. Holy Shit, you guys are fantastic! What a draw. Let’s do it again!” he said with honest enthusiasm. It was a sold out show. This wasn’t surprising. Screw em, we were off to the limo and Ybor City. Party Time.
I handed the cash over to our limo driver. Brother Kurt and the merchandise crew said we made some seriously good coin. Nice. As we walked through the gates to leave we noticed that tons of people were also leaving. About 1/3 to half the crowd was walking straight out the door with us. I loved that.
Like Lt. Cornel Hal Moore, my foot was the last to step off the pavement and into the long white stretch limo. Everybody was inside, drinks in hand, smiling and laughing. This was a job well done.
As I hit the intercom and told the driver to roll, my crew chief laid my old wore out Les Paul case in my lap. I looked up at him with some surprise.
“We put your guitar in the rolling road case, it wouldn’t fit back into that” said Bruce with a Grinch like smile.
That case may or may not have been filled to the rim with a cornucopia of marijuana specimens in all shapes and forms. Cause.. well.. That would be illegal. I can tell you that for years they described my opening the lid up for the first time as being like the scene in Pulp Fiction when Vincent Vega checked the briefcase and a gold glow surrounded his face. Off to Ybor City we went. I don’t remember much after that.
Being in a band is fun. Being in the Killer Kona Buds was more fun and crazier than anybody could ever understand.. well.. Without being there.
Perhaps its time to put the band back together. Who’s with me? Killer Kona Buds Rule!
aka Bob Gnarly
Ps. Oh yeah, Great White still owes me a case of beer. I haven’t forgotten that. With interest!
pss. If you would like to hear any of the old Killer Kona Buds tunes, visit http://bobnarley.com . They are free to listen and download. Enjoy!