Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Watershed and Kamakaze's

another Watershed road story, for a full intro see Colin and the Stairwell.....

First off, let me set the scene and make a statement: Only Watershed could have two gigs spaced a distance of an hour and a half apart, allow six hours for the drive, AND STILL BE LATE! How, you might ask? I’ll tell ya.

It was 2005, Watershed was on a short run of shows opening for The Clarks, a popular Midwest band that hails from Pittsburgh, Pa. After a killer show the night before, we left the hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia, at noon. (That was a minor miracle in itself, since a noon checkout time to Watershed generally means sometime vaguely before 3 pm.) It was an unseasonably warm 69 degree November afternoon so we decided to hang around and explore downtown Morgantown since we couldn’t imagine that Chester, West Virginia, our destination for that night’s show, was going to be a thriving metropolis. In that we were correct.

Everybody scattered, I found a really great comic book store where I killed a couple of hours. I also ran across a passable used CD store in the back room of a neighborhood bodega, but managed to not spend any of my tour money. We all met back up at 3 o’clock, and a back road "scenic route" was mapped out to take full advantage of the fall foliage. (I realize that makes us sound like hippies, but we’re just Midwest boys with a Kinks-inspired songwriter’s respect and ache for autumn.)

Van discussions/arguments for the day included Pooch seeing Ted Nugent on T.V., talking about surviving after Armageddon and whether we thought we could kill a deer for food. Pooch expressed profound doubts about our city-boy capabilities in that field. That was when Biggie pointed out the fifth roadkill dead deer we had passed that day and said, "There you go, Pooch, I have to go out of my way NOT to kill a deer on this road and you think we’d have trouble hunting one down?"

Anyway, after meandering through several tiny West Virginia hamlets (which seemed to consist almost entirely of churches, bars, and cigarette stores) we were within one mile of that night’s club when there was a traffic accident that culminated in a pickup truck resting on its roof on our left and a couple of cars in the ditch on our right.

Six or seven police cars, ambulances and fire trucks converged on the scene and we came to a stop right outside of a bar called Kamakaze’s. (For all of my fellow World War II Japanese Divine Wind suicide pilot buffs out there, I fully recognize and acknowledge the misspelling. It was a bar on the outskirts of Chester, West Virginia, after all.)

A large sign outside Kamakaze’s advertised "exotic bartenders." That sign launched a full 10 minute discussion as to what constituted an "exotic bartender." Were the bartenders topless? Were they dressed in Playboy bunny outfits? Were they women dressed as birds like in that old Goldie Hawn movie Protocol? Indeed, were they women at all?

Finally, as befitted their position as leaders of the band, Colin and Joe asked Biggie’s permission to get out of the van and explore the bar. We were now almost late for load-in, but it was painfully clear we weren’t going anywhere soon, so Biggie grudgingly granted permission.

Joe and Colin walked across the parking lot, entered the bar and not two minutes later Colin returned breathlessly to the van and proclaimed, "The bartenders are TOTALLY NUDE. They’re hot chicks and they are TOTALLY NAKED." Many, many doubts were expressed about this fact and Dave, Pooch and I were given leave to confirm said report.

Sonofabitch if Colin wasn’t right on the money. The bartenders at Kamakaze’s were, in fact, totally naked. Wait, let me correct myself – the girls were, to be 100% accurate, wearing flip flops, so as to not stick to the floor I would presume. And let me say this, these girls were not middle-aged present or former crack whores, my friends, they were really fairly attractive young women in their mid-twenties. Let’s say they were cuter than girls you see working in WalMart, but not as cute as the girls pole-dancing topless at your local strip joint. Imagine the West Virginia cousins of Miley Cyrus’ or Lindsay Lohan’s entourages/posses, and you kinda get the picture.

Anyway, not unexpectedly, the bar was packed, and not just with local working-class joes. (Though, to be fair, there were a fair amount of tractor-ad baseball caps in evidence on the clientele.) There were probably as many women as there were men in Kamakaze’s and nobody, other than probably the Watershed crew, was openly gaping at the nude bartenders. It seemed like everybody in the town had come to a kind of accommodation with the nudity factor and the atmosphere was fairly light. There was certainly no heavy-duty strip-club vibe.

After about ten minutes my inherent Catholic-boy "I must be doing something wrong" guilt kicked in and I walked back out to where Biggie was sitting in the van on the road outside the bar. I filled him in on the nudity factor, we ascertained the cops were making no headway in clearing the road, so Biggie pulled the van in the parking lot and checked Kamakaze’s out for himself. At some point we realized the drummer of The Clarks was also inside the dimly-lit bar, which took a lot of the pressure off being on time for soundcheck. (In point of fact, it was not said drummer’s first visit to Kamakaze’s. He wasn’t a regular, exactly, but he sure seemed to know his way around the place.) I walked back out to the van, settled in with my book, and after about an hour the police finally cleared one lane for traffic. Biggie and I collected the band from bartender-ogling and we drove the remaining one mile up the road to the club. We were then almost two hours late for load-in after leaving six hours early. Just another afternoon on the town with Watershed. Just another day on the road.

postscript; A couple of weeks later I was at a party at our friends Danya & Mike’s house telling the Kamakaze’s story when a drummer friend of ours (who shall remain nameless) walked in on the tail end of the story. Drummer-guy was pretty smashed, possibly as drunk as I’ve ever seen him, and he seized on the "nude female bartender" part of the story, seized hard. He started asking/demanding/slurring, "WHERE IS THIS PLACE? HOW CAN THE GIRLS BE TOTALLY NUDE IF THEY’RE SERVING ALCOHOL? "WHERE IS THIS PLACE!?!" I tried to explain that it’s in West Virginia, I don’t think Ohio topless bar laws apply there, and our drummer buddy did everything short of grabbing my lapels and shaking me, saying "WHERE IS THIS PLACE, EXACTLY? I expected him to grab a pen & paper, write down the name of the town, jump in the car and light out right that moment for the Ohio/West Virginia border. The entire time his immensely patient wife was sitting right next to him, just kinda sighing. Another Saturday night. Another party.

© 2012 Ricki C.

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