Before we get going, pull up your Spotify, Apple Music, or preferred streaming service, and find “Good” by the Baton Rouge power-trio Better Than Ezra. Granted, it won’t mean as much to you, but these guys were special to me. You see, I don’t know them, but I’ve met them on more than one occasion. In 1990, before they’d gained success on a national level, they were a hot four-piece band playing the college circuit in the Southeast. When they weren’t playing Lafayette’s or Sid & Harry’s in Oxford, or their home base, The Varsity in Baton Rouge, they were the band all fraternities wanted to have.
When they’d play the house of the fraternity I was pledging, I would harass them with questions about what gear they were using and why, when new songs were coming out, and what gear they wanted to have. They were forgiving of my inquiries, but most importantly, they were tangible. They were proof that guys who looked nothing like rock stars could “make it” in the rock world. But that’s a topic for another column. As far as the song goes, it’s one of their first hit and you should check out the rest of their catalog—“King of New Orleans” is a personal favorite as well.
On we go…
So, I get a text from my editor not too long ago and, I have to tell you, it put me on my heels. Now, one might say many things about Hub City Spokes Editor-Publisher, David Gustafson, but no one can ever say that he is verbose or unclear in his commentary.
Looking around the house.
Hidden behind the window
and the door.
Searching for signs of life but
there's nobody home.
Well, maybe I'm just too sure.
Maybe I'm just too frightened
by the sound of it.
Pieces of note fall down, but the letter said…
“Wes, I think it’s time for your column to go bi-weekly. You’re ready, and you have plenty to say.” Truth be told, I actually started the text message conversation with him. My intent was to find out if my column was performing well, i.e. are people reading it or am I wasting valuable real estate in his paper(s)? Now, I do not need attention and I don’t seek the spotlight although, admittedly, I am a little bit of an extrovert. Okay, I’m totally an extrovert, but I did need to hear Mr. Gustafson say that I was not, as Morrissey (The Smiths) would say, “a crashing bore.”
“Wes, so far, yours the second-most read online article in the paper this week—1,710 reads.” (Just shy of 2,000 as I write this.) Throw in the 10,000+ people who read the actual printed newspaper and those numbers are staggering – at least to me. I’ll spare you the word-for-word recap and just say that I’m still shocked. Now, I don’t think that the number of reads is a measure of whether or not my writing is good, but it sure is humbling to know that many people give a rip what this guy’s opinion on anything is.
Thank you, Pinebelt!
Sitting around the house,
watching the sun trace
shadows on the floor.
Searching for signs of life,
but there's nobody home.
Being confident in something I create is something that’s still pretty new to me, and often times still elusive. Seeking reassurance is a reflex. Disclaimer: I am by no means implying that I am putting myself in the company of the people I am about to mention. Am I a good writer? Nah, my contemporaries David Gustafson and Samantha McCain are good writers. If forced to rate myself, I think my content is okay and my grammar is, at best, mediocre. The same goes for playing the guitar. Me, not so much, but my contemporaries James Beau Edwards and Steve Rayburn are eye-poppingly good. Everything I know is by ear, i.e. asking me to play from sheet music is akin to asking me to translate Sanskrit. I only know a handful of scales, my tempo is constant struggle, and there’s zero flash in my technique. However, there is one quality in both that I hope shines through, and that’s how much I absolutely love doing both.
Well, maybe I'll call or write you a letter.
Now, maybe we'll see
on the Fourth of July.
But I'm not too sure,
and I'm not too proud.
Well, I'm not too sure
and I'm not too proud to say.
Aha… it’s good living with you.
Aha… it’s good. So good.
Thank you to David Gustafson and Hub City Spokes for giving me the platform, and to you, the reader, for your consideration. For all of you who have cheered, danced, and partied with me and The 6550’s, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I look forward to writin’ and rockin’ with all of you in 2018!
P.S. You can, of course, read David Gustafson each week in this or any of the Hub City Spokes publications.
Check out Samantha McCain’s blog at medium.com/@samemac.
Check out Meridian native, James Beau Edwards, and the Stone Senate band at www.stonesenate.com.
Check out Columbia native, Steve Rayburn, and his band, Karma, at www.neworleanskarma.com.
When he’s not rocking his socks off, Wes Brooks spends his days as the Development Coordinator at the DuBard School for Language Disorders at The University of Southern Mississippi. Brooks is a husband, a father, and a guitarist for the local band, The 6550’s.