Over my long and varied career as a traveling music performer my band was known to many people and assigned many labels.
Of course, we were Blues, but also very different, with our funk, jazz and rock influences, rhythm section solos and showmanship, etc. Folks couldn’t exactly peg us, but they tried, LOL.
At the shore resorts, Ocean City, Md., Rehoboth and Lewes, De., Virginia Beach, Va., and Cape May, Nj., we were that Beach Band.
At the Univ. of Delaware, Washington College, Univ. of Va., and many other campuses we were that Frat Band.
And in several Mid-Atlantic states, Md. and Pa. in particular, we were that Biker Gang Band.The next two stories will focus on that chapter of our lives.
The York, Pa. area has a Harley (Davidson) plant, and has always been a region with a lot of bikers.
Somebody must’ve seen us at the beach and steered me into getting some gigs up there.
I got us booked at a Sheraton-type place and we did ok, but somehow I got the name of a place called Finley’s Tavern, in Seven Valleys.
A biker told me about the place and said they would love us, BUT….. the place was kinda rough.
I just chuckled; wait ’til they see MY ass!
Well, I got up with them, they had heard our name and I got us a gig.
We rolled up and started loading the gear in. Lots and LOTS of motorcycles outside. As we walked in we went past the bar with our gear so as to get set up on the little stage area.
The place went very silent, and you could just feel the tension mounting. Oops, I guess they hadn’t heard we were, uh, racially diverse?
I had one of the best rhythm sections I ever had with me, Big John Postley and Killer Keith Brooks. Both are African American, and we could feel that this place didn’t normally have Black folk.
My guys walked down past the bar and nervously noticed that almost every single guy in there had an obvious pistol. Sheesh, what did Tom get us into THIS TIME??!!??
I scoped out the situation and did what I always do, just act like you know what you’re doing and kick as much ass as you possibly can.
Finally, facing a noticeably skeptical crowd, it was show time!
In typical cocky fashion, I decided to make a statement about just who the fuk they were dealing with here.
The first song up was: “I’m a Bad Motherfu#ker”, where I talk about cops giving us a wide berth, the Lord not wanting us, and the devil being afraid of us. It also has a bass guitar solo spot where Postley showed them some shit they had never dreamed of from a bass guitar! Brooks was being his normal, brutal self back there on the drums, and the effect was jaw dropping to our bewildered audience.
Next song on tap was “Lookin’ for Trouble,” which is as much about being a bad-ass as Bad MF is. It’s a classic anthem to troublemakers everywhere. Sketching out quite the position paper, we were.
And the third tune was one of the rowdiest partying songs I ever wrote, called “Goin’ Out Drinkin.” This one involves partying SO hard that a riot starts!!
Well, after that musical assault the ice was broken. Every mean, bad MF in the place came up, shook our hands, hugged us and gushed about us.
That group of outlaws recognized us as fellow rebel misfits and embraced us as family.
I got some great compliments, like “I hate Blues, but you guys are great!” And, “Introduce me to your band, they are cool!”
That last one is kinda watered down; they didn’t have Black customers, Black friends and usually didn’t want any.
By just going about our bidness and doing what we do, minds were opened and attitudes changed. They opened up their homes and gave us places to crash and looked out for us.
We had found a home, and friends for life.
How’s that for the first day of Black History month?
There it is. Feb. 1, 2021