Monday, July 25, 2011

rrRoad Trip: Diner

Our stomaches are growling and this roadside diner beckons...

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by Michael Scott Miller
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Bert Ingram and the six members of The Redeemers squeezed into the corner booth at the Sagebrush Diner, just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, along fabled Route 66.

“Oof. Quit squeezing,” Abe growled. The hulking, blind lead singer of the band liked his space and everyone in the band knew it. “Maybe I’ll just get my own table.”

The restaurant was vibrant with its lunchtime crowd, perhaps even more so with the summer music festival in town. The Redeemers would be kicking things off there later that afternoon.

“Nah, Abe, you look so nice and cozy there. We couldn’t let you do that,” responded Charlie, enjoying a laugh at Abe’s expense. The saxophonist had a nice seat at the edge of the blue plastic upholstered booth where he was able to keep one leg over the edge. He stretched out exaggeratedly. Abe grunted in reply.

The waitress came over. With the excitement of a child, Aaron, the exuberant drummer, placed his order for a black-and-white milkshake and a burger.

The waitress continued around the table, taking orders from Ethan, the guitarist and UC Berkeley student; Gene, the aged studio bassist; Dave, the pianist and sometime music school teacher; Bert, the band’s manager; and Abe and Charlie.

“Bongo Joe,” Bert said suddenly, calling the drummer by the nickname from back when Charlie and he had discovered him down on the wharf in San Francisco. “This restaurant could use some tunes. How about seeing what that jukebox has for us. Plus it’ll give Abe a little more room for a few minutes so we don’t have to listen to his whining.” Bert handed Aaron a single.

Standing by the chrome-and-glass Wurlitzer, a couple tables down from the rest of the band, Aaron shouted, “Check it out! They’ve got ‘One Way Out’ by the Allman Brothers! Remember when we played ‘Whipping Post’ in the subway?”

“Oh, yeaaahh,” said Charlie, “we really nailed that one.”

“Every last note seemed like it was bouncing off those subway tiles,” Dave reminisced.

“And Abe’s ‘sometimes I feeeel…’ That was vintage,” joined in Ethan. “Hey Gene, think you could lay down the baseline for ‘One Way Out’?”

Gene, the normally reserved bassist began chanting the song’s baseline.

“Bum buh-duh-duh-dum bum buh-duh-dum.
Bum-buh-duh-duh dum.
Bum buh-duh-duh-dum bum buh-duh-dum.
Bum-buh-duh-duh dum.”

Aaron extracted his ubiquitous drum sticks from his back pocket and began rapping them on an empty table.

Abe joined in loudly:

“Ain't but one way out baby, Lord I just can't go out the door.
Ain't but one way out baby, and Lord I just can't go out the door.
Cause there's a man down there,
might be your man I don't know.”

The restaurant had gotten quiet, all eyes now focused on the table in the corner. Bert looked around, smiling at the attention like a proud father.

“Whoa. Here’s another classic, dudes. Nick Lowe’s ‘I Knew the Bride’,” continued Aaron, poring over the jukebox.

“I don’t think I know that one,” said Dave.

“Me neither,” Abe seconded. Gene and Charlie looked at one another and shrugged their shoulders.

“Come on,” Ethan jumped in. “It’s similar to Otis Blackwell’s ‘Paralyzed.’ You know that one we played at the UC Berkeley show?”

Ethan started singing and Aaron quickly accompanied him:

“Well I can see her now in the tight blue jeans
Pumpin' all the money in the record machine
Spinnin' like a top, you shoulda seen her go
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll.
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll.”

Bert looked at the two. “Maybe you guys should leave the singing to Abe.”

“Seriously,” agreed Abe. “Aaron, you know I’m all about jazz, funk, blues, Motown. What have you got for me?”

“They’ve got some Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, B. B. King. You’re covered.”

“It sure would be cool if The Redeemers were on this jukebox one day. Maybe ‘Shadows’ or ‘Streets of Shame’,” mused Bert, the dreamer. Then he stood and addressed the diner full of onlookers.

“Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers
will be performing this afternoon,
three o’clock sharp on the main stage
at the summer music festival.
We hope to see you there.”

Bert was never one to miss a promo opp.

Just then the waitress showed up with the tray of food and began distributing it.

Aaron pumped the dollar into the jukebox and made his selections. “I think I got a little something for each of us,” he announced as he returned to the table.

The men gobbled down their food while the jukebox pounded out Aaron’s selections. As they paid their bill at the counter and headed for the door, the men listened to the strains of a song selected by another of the diner’s many patrons:

If you ever plan to motor west,
travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six...


Guest post created for rrRoad Trip event by Michael Scott Miller, author of Ladies and Gentlemen...The Redeemers
© 2011. All rights reserved.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Michael Scott Miller
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Read more about Bert and The Reedemers...

--~ Book Giveaway courtesy of author ~--

Ladies and Gentlemen...The Redeemers
by Michael Scott Miller

Win a copy of this book!

Open to US and Canada only.

Offer ends: July 31, 2011 -->extended to Aug 14

READ an interview with Michael at A Word Please and tell me something interesting you learned.

AND, leave your email (if I don't already have it)


Contest has ended - winner is here



* image source albuquereque diner

~===~ rrRoad trip schedule ~===~


  1. Great post! I enjoy books involving music.

  2. I like that he got his idea for his book from the street musicians he saw while riding the train.

  3. I thought it was interesting that he first got his idea for his book ten years ago when he saw some musicians performing in the Suburban Station.

  4. At first he only released it digitally and then he released it paperback.


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