Monday, July 30, 2012

That's Bill Wharton and Pat Buchanan.
They played at the American Legion Hall last night in Tallahassee which is probably the best room in town to go hear music.
There is a disco ball.
That hat and horn belonged to Geoff Ridner, old friend, bandmate, sweet soul who died July 8.
He was fifty-eight.


Well, it sure was a good night at the Legion Hall. I haven't heard music like that since I don't even know when. We walked in and there was a lineup on stage doing Wharton's Let The Big Dog Eat
and it was about as deep funky as it gets, cooking, smoking, you had to dance and Jessie and I did. Walk in, start dancing. It was that kind of a night.

I could write an entire novel and maybe someday I will about the days when those men up there were boys and I was married to my ex and they all played music together and Geoff played too and it was so long ago and some of us were having babies and some of us were not and we were literally dealing in birth and in death, too, because some of us didn't even make into our thirties, tragedy and glory and there was always the music, there was always the deep, hot, wet Tallahassee air and last night a lot of us gathered, the survivors, if you will, and some of our kids too. Hank was born in the middle of all of that, May right on the outside edge of it and they were there last night. They sure were.

Last night brought back all of the memories and all of the stories and I laid in bed after it was all over, thinking about all those stories and wondering what I'd write today and I was wondering what it all meant and the immortal words of Mr. Natural came to me- Don't mean shit- and he was right and of course, it ALL means shit so none of it is special or unique or holding any great bowl of real meaning, and yet, at the same time, all of it is.

This path leads to this road, this road leads to that highway, some people make and play the music that sets us dancing along the path, opens doors to consciousness and people and then more consciousness and more people and last night a lot of it was right there. The people, and the consciousness of what it had all meant and not meant and I am not the one to say.
I only have my stories, my memories, and there sure were a lot of smiles.

I saw so many people there I know and have known. Some I adore, some I never cared for at all, but it was good to see them. It was good to dance with my kids and my husband and friends. It was something to hug folks from those old days. We shake our heads, say, "How you doin'?" we say, "It's so sad that it takes something like this to bring us together," and we hug again.

Well, it is fucking sad but that's the way it is and we're all gonna die, might as well get those boys back up on stage. They sure sounded fine. That's the thing about musicians. They're not like athletes, playing their best licks when they're young. They just get better.

There was tenderness there last night. Real tenderness. A death reminds us that we have to love one another, as corny as that sounds but it's true. Love each other with tenderness and dance with each other with abandonment, shake those titties, swing those hips, twirl that skirt, stomp that floor, yell out the words. That disco ball has some some things. Oh yeah.

We danced. We sure did.

And then we get up the next day and we go on because that's life.

Jessie and I might go to the beach today. We might even spend the night. We're not sure. We're just getting ourselves together here. I took my walk and I deserve a damn crown set with rubies for that. It's steamy hot, literally, yesterday's rain steaming up off the pavement and the leaves and the whole earth is breathing its hot breath, each step a special sort of torture but each one taken with the knowledge that I can take it, I'm alive. I'm here.

I feel like I've lived three months worth of activities in the last three days.

Last night I felt like I was tripping through three decades of time, finding myself back at the beginning of something that hasn't ended yet. And isn't that something? I wish I had the words to tell it all but it would take a powerful lot of them and now it's time to get this day going because the past is back there, waiting for me any time but this day is ready to give me what it has to offer and that's a gift too and one I'd be a fool to refuse.

Good-bye, Geoff. Thanks for all the sweet music, the sweet smiles, the sweetness that was you. You had a real good send-off last night. Wish you could have been there but you were there when it was most important.

And thanks to Ruthie Wharton for the picture I stole off Facebook and for telling me I HAD to go and for being here all these years and for all the dancing we've done together.



  1. Oh, I just love Bill Wharton AND his gumbo. He is a showman and great blues player.

    Tenderness abounds when you get to be our age, doesn't it? I've witnessed many births and deaths in the 32+ years I've lived in my little town and each of those memories holds a special place in my heart.

    What a busy weekend you've had ~ Hope you and Jessie have a great time together, wherever you end up!

  2. This was so beautifully written, I don't even have a comment for it.
    But I sure wish I could hang out with you for a couple of days.
    What a life you have been blessed with!

  3. Wow. I went to high school with a Jeff Ridner (his name might have been spelled 'Geoff'), and he was exactly my age (we had the same birthday), and I remember he was a musician. His band back then was called Buster Hymen. (Cue sound of crickets chirping.)

    His mom was one of my teachers at Amos P. Godby High School.

    Ms. Moon, please write your novel about Tally in the '70s. I intend to do one in tnat setting sometime, too. Maybe we could compare notes at some point?

    Anyway, sorry to hear about Geoff.

    Live and be well...

  4. Lulumarie- Bill is something of a guru to my mind. He's just amazing. We HAVE had a good time with our Jessie. And tender. And exhausting.

    Michelle- Girl, that would be a blast.

    Anon- Yep. That's our Geoff. Same guy. He died quick from what I hear and if you have to go early, I guess that's the way.

  5. Nice to go back in time to visit old friends and to remember those who aren't around in body anymore. Sadly, if we live long enough, there will be fewer who are here in body.


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