Joey Huffman is going to be regaling the readers of The Backstage Beat with his first person perspective about the  chaos and adventures he encounters while out on the road with Hank Williams, Jr., Burns & Poe, Drivin n’ Cryin and whomever else can handle all that is “TL” (THE LEGEND)!   This is the first installment, which chronicles the misadventures of all that was…BAMAJAM 2010!

F*ck!!!!  I’ve got to be in the shower by 5:15 a.m. in order to be at Ange’s house at 7:00 a.m., so we can get ourselves on the road toward the BamaJam  in Enterprise, Alabama.  It’s 4:30 a.m.,  so I’ve got 45 minutes to dick around.  You see, I’ve been recording and editing a song that is a work in progress all night.  I was blasting it through my speakers louder than God for most of the night.

I showered, packed and was off right on time. I made it to Ange’s at 6:58 a.m.. In your face, Val…I made it before you did!   Joey Huffman is early for an event for the first time in twenty years.  So I was feeling good about myself.  Then to my horror, I realized that I left the bag full of cables and foot pedals for my piano and organ sitting in my bedroom.  So I start stressing out the way I do when I do something stupid (like the time I got thrown in jail for not having an ID on me. But I digress, that’s another story for another time).   To my dismay, I realize that I’ve got to go back to “the compound” and grab the bag.

I made it in record time, grab the bag and rush back over to Ange’s.  By the time I get there the ladies were back from getting some coffee.  Rob (Ange’s babies daddy/husband) and I unloaded my Leslie Speaker (an organ speaker with a spinning horn and spinning lower rotor that creates a Doppler effect which I’m sure you’ve heard on records a hundred times) from my car and transfer it to Val’s Jeep… and we were off.  The time was 9:20 a.m. which, to me, begs the question why did we have to leave before the crack of dawn in the first place?   Girls!

We drove seventy to seventy five miles per hour, stopped to relieve ourselves regularly (Val!), drove through storms and still arrived at the venue at 3:00 p.m..  Hank doesn’t hit the stage until 10:30 p.m., but I decided to stay at the gig and hang out.  The dilemma with this scenario is how to stay sober for six hours.  Ange fixed me a show drink and I did a video interview with Val and Ange.

It was hotter than two rats f*cking in a wool sock but at least the rain stayed away.  I saw Blackberry Smoke who were excellent as usual. They took the stage at 4:30 p.m., and the house was ¾ of the way full.  The crowd was with them from the first note.  It makes me happy to see my buddies play their hearts out to a receptive crowd.  They are the hardest working band on tour at this moment, if not ever.  They deserve everything they get and have worked hard for everything they’ve got.  I just dig them.

Val and Ange were working so I fixed another drink and wandered around backstage a while.  I was glad I stayed at the venue.  I saw some old friends and met some new ones.  You know who you are.  The next band I watched was Jamie Johnson.  He’s opened for Hank Jr. on some shows earlier this year.  He was particularly in his element tonight.  He was on fire!   He’s a great singer and a great songwriter.  He’s the real deal….anew Steve Earle if you will.  I watched his whole set and thought when it was over, ”How in the hell are we going to follow that?”

Travis Tritt was on next and to be honest I had already seen him and besides it was time to go to the dressing room and get another show drink.  I hadn’t seen my buddies in a couple of weeks so it was good to catch up.  It’s part of the process of the pre-show ritual.  We were loose and in good spirits.  We were ready to “Rock the Party” by the time we hit the stage.  Hank had a good show and was in a good mood.  He was louder than a freight train, wild as a bucking bronco and as subtle as a flying brick.  It was classic Hank.  The band played well , and I felt satisfied but drained after the show.

We drank show drinks on the bus after the show and visited with guests and friends.  The bus pulled out at 2:00 a.m. and we had to get in Val’s car and find the hotel.  Lance  (our cameraman from Visual Rythym), was the designated driver. We had no idea where we were going and just took off in a random direction.  It was something Lewis and Clarke would have done.  But we were no pioneers.  We had to turn around a couple of miles down the road when we realized that we were traveling in the exact opposite direction we needed to be traveling in.  We drove around for thirty minutes looking for the Hampton Inn.  Stopped twice for directions and still didn’t find it until Ange  spotted it nestled behind a Holiday Inn Express about 300 yards from the highway.  For some reason we carried every bag we had into the hotel.  You would have thought we were with Lady Gaga’s entourage.  We finally got the room situation sorted and went to our respective rooms.  Sleep took me as soon as my head hit the pillow.  It was a fitting end to a long but gratifying day.  That’s all for now.  Cheers, J~

By the way I mentioned “Show Drinks” in this missive.  This is an old tradition in the band’s history.  I’ll recruit Tony Bowles, Hank’s guitar player for 19 years, to explain the Show drink.  He inherited the secret of the Show Drink from Animal, Hanks prior guitar player and road warrior extraordinaire.  Animal once fell on his back during a show and just lay there passed out while under the influence of Show Drinks.  And he didn’t even get reprimanded let alone fired.  That was Hank in the eighties.  It must have been fun.