The year was sometime in the mid to late 90's. That's as close as I can get. I was with my friends in Springfield, MO and my buddy Greg said, "Let's go down to The Bar Next Door and listen to a band I know play!"
So, we did. And for those of you non-Springfieldians, the name of the bar was in fact, The Bar Next Door.
The band playing was Big Smith and the Half Moons.
It was, to me at the time, this off the wall stripped down to the essentials kind of music experience. There was a mandolin, a stand up bass, a guitar with a rope as a strap and an old washboard. Yes, I said washboard... You know, for percussion.
Jay, Jody, Mark and Mike stood in the front of the building and played a form of hillbilly bluegrass is not yet been introduced to in my twenty some-odd years of living.
They had a lot of fun with their music but their songs also asked questions. They struggled openly, by way of their lyrics, with faith and family, politics and love. At the time they captured for me a sort of allowance to throw out all I'd been taught and see for myself whether or not any of it stuck.
Thing is, I didn't realize any of that was happening. I thought I was just memorizing words and learning how to dance with a beer in my hand and a cigarette betweenst my lips. I finally took a page out of the band and got my own rope. I punched a couple of holes into a beer coozy, tied the rope through it and voila, I was dancing hands free baby.
Back to learning from the hillbilly ninja teachers.
They dropped part of the name and just called themselves Big Smith.
They wrote smart songs with social awareness hidden in the midst of humorously structured pentameter (or whatever the smarty people call that stuff).
As I started to say earlier, I didn’t realize it at the time but they were helping me grow into the person I am today. I am so appreciative for that.
All this is just a precursor to my attempt at this year’s hashtag mutiny against the antisocial social media runnin’ rampant in our news feeds.
Today I give my #thisiscrazylove2016 to Big Smith. A band that stopped playing together a while back. A band who has a member in the hospital as we speak. So to Mark I say, take a little extra crazy love from the docs and get well. You got too much good music left in ya to stay stuck in that hospital for too long.