I loved playing bluegrass with the Slash Gospel Grass, but about ’91 I was restless. Nashville was having its “authenticity crisis” and the music was fresh, reminding me of the music I loved in the 70s. Yet I had no electric guitar for band work (sold my Gibson Firebird for gas money when I moved from Seattle in ’87). A neighbor had a ’77 blonde hardtail Strat for sell, and I got it when I came into extra money via the day job. Another neighbor intrigued me as he sat on his front porch thumping his Rickenbacker bass. Skip and I met, hit it off, and he called in some locals to band up: Tripp, Mike and Larry.
Tripp Vaughn – vocals, guitar
Skip Andrews – bass, vocals
Larry Wood – drums
Mike – lead vocals
Tim Elliott – vocals, guitar, mandolin
Right away we meshed; we had similar tastes all around. We tried to rehearse weekly (in Larry’s basement in the true West End of Richmond). Soon we had a gig at a party playing on the back of flatbed truck after the Camptown Races (a great gig we’d play again and record). We worked in some original songs, and the positive response was wonderful.
Two highlights came in ’92: Playing a Halloween party in the basement of a large row house in the heart of the Fan District (other than that I have no idea where we were), and playing a Christmas party in the Fan (videos are provided below. We had a wide range of material (you'll see in the clips) and we worked in original songs (including a couple of mine you'll find on my original music page). Tripp was a bit of a Deadhead and he taught me "Women are Smarter" from a bootleg (and later that turned up on our Sandspurs CD!).
Skip was an incredible bass player. Larry was solid and he was the chief diplomat in negotiating tensions. Tripp was more than a tasteful guitarist: he was a songwriter and a musician who knew how to move a song, how to jam and improvise. Fact is, he also introduced me to Evan Williams 10-year old bourbon (which has fortified many a flask at numerous gigs over the ensuing years). That's great chemistry.
In '93 the day job gave me a great opportunity back in Alabama. I teared up when I broke the news to the band. We had a great farewell gig before I left. Luckily, Tripp and I kept in touch over the years. He’s still playing up in the Richmond area. I’ve also heard Skip’s been playing a stand-up bass in a bluegrass band.
Our cover of the muy cool Los Lobos number
Playin' the mandolin intro and then switchin' to guitar. Great song from Steve Earle. Really captured that time and place for us.
Really loved the strat on this one.
Gettin' some Lowell George in there
Gettin' a southern rock jam on! Always loved Toy Caldwell and the MTB. Saw them jam on this back in '76 and it never left me.
Loved this Radiators number. Poor video quality, I know, but damn this was a cool song to cover.