Hayes Carll and Corb Lund at Cain’s Ballroom
It was standing room only. A loosely disorganized mix of chairs, tables, and floorspace. There was a small no-man’s-land in front of the stage where a few people tried half-heartedly to dance from time to time. Most of the crowd was there for Hayes Carll, but to my great satisfaction, there was a vocal contingent of Corb Lund fans present as well. He’s never played in Oklahoma before so we all considered it an opportunity. The Lund fans were definitely cowboy-culture types. When Corb first came in the front door wearing a t-shirt which read “WHERE THE FUCK AM I?”, a table of fans waylaid him to shake hands and pose for pictures –profane t-shirt and all. He disappeared in the general direction of the green room and emerged soon after wearing a plain black t and a cowboy hat that seemed to have been recently sat on. For quite a while. Like all the way from Wichita, maybe. Physically, he was different than I expected. He was taller, leaner, and more muscular, to be exact. Square jaw, big button eyes, dimples, biceps. All the women in the room got that look on their faces that women get sometimes without realizing it. A kind of a dazed smile that says they are happy to be there, and open for suggestions. I almost began to hate him. Then he and the boys began to sing and play. You can’t hate the guy. I knew most of the songs, and his between- song patter was just as unassuming, good natured and authentic as the songs themselves. I leaned against the bar and drank two whiskeys, tapping my foot and looking around. ‘Twas fine.
Before too long, I saw Scott, and a little later he saw me. He was there for Hayes Carll. Corb Lund ended his set to a raucous Cain’s Ballroom applause. I went over to shake his hand, and shake him down for cds (for the show, you know), but missed him. However, when I saw the Corb Lund t-shirt with the sergeant’s stripes I knew it was a must-have. I forced Scott to lend me twenty U. S. dollars with which to buy it. It’s the dumbest t-shirt I’ve ever seen, and the pride of my wardrobe.
While Carll was setting up, Scott and I sat on a bench outside, with the smokers. We struck up a conversation with a Corb Lund fan, and I asked her where she’d even heard of him. “Sattelite Radio,” she explained. I see. It made me think Radio is passing me by on the way to the future.
We heard a roar from the crowd inside. Hayes had taken the stage and everyone was crowded around it whooping and hollering. I stayed for half a song. I could see his face in the spotlight above the bobbing heads. He looked like a man who could use some time off. Might have been the lighting, but I thought he looked really tired. I wrote him a mental prescription: six weeks with no obligations, no booze, no smokes, no dope, a little pocket money, and lots of fresh air –somewhere above 8,000 feet. I bet he’d feel like a new man. Then again, maybe I was the one who was tired, boozed, smoked, doped. I stepped outside and walked past Corb’s drummer who was standing in the street taking pictures of their van in front of the legendary Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I went home to a quiet house and a sleeping wife, made a pallet on the sofa and called it a night.