It was late April, early May when I landed back in Austin, and spring was in full bloom. I was able to rent the same room I had lived in before the trip to Alaska. The house was a 100-year-old, two story home with high ceilings, on the corner of 43rd and Ave H, located in Hyde Park just north of The University of Texas, a neighborhood I had lived in since the age of three.
November of 1975, Randy Dayton, a friend I had met in 1970, came to the house to visit one day, with a question for me. It turns out him and his fiance’ Treva, were getting married just before Christmas and had a large party planned at the party barn, located just outside Austin, on Bull Creek Road, also known as Ranch Road 2222.
Trevas younger brother David, had a band and wanted to play at the party but didn’t have a Bass player. The question Randy had for me would change my life for the next 20 years. He asked, would I rehearse with Davids band and play at the party? I agreed, and we rehearsed about six songs David had written, and started the party with our performance.
The wedding was a success. I say so because Treva and Randy are still married to this day and have yearly parties to celebrate that fact. The main band to play at the party was Rusty Weir’s backup band The Filler Brothers. Todd Potter was the lead guitarist, and his brother Jerry owned Lone Star Sound and was on tour with Willie Nelson. Willie just happened to be playing in Austin that night, at The Chaparral Club. The club was not large enough for the whole sound equipment, so Todd borrowed some of the equipment for the party.
The Filler Brothers played a little too long that night, and Todd had a deadline to return the equipment to the Chaparral Club. He needed someone close to sober, and had a pick-up, to haul the stuff back to the club. Jerry had to travel all night to Odessa Texas, for Willie’s show the next night. My friend Steve Fooshee, who had grown up with Todd, said I got somebody, and the next thang I knew I was loaded up and headed for the Chaparral Club.
When I arrived, I went inside the club, introduced myself to Jerry, and told him I had the equipment from the party. He had just one guy working for him, a fellow named Doug, and they were both run down and wore out from the grind of making one night stands. I told Jerry it looks like you could use some help, and offered to help unstack the speakers and load the truck. From Odessa, they were going to Wichita Falls Texas and back to Austin on Monday.
After we had loaded the truck, I offered to drive the truck to Odessa so that the both of them could get some much-needed rest. Seemed like a good idea to them.
We left my truck at a friend’s house; they crawled into the sleeper, and off we went, headed for Odessa. I just wanted to help out, but little did I know that my life was already changing in a big way.
Upon arrival at the Coliseum, I backed the truck up to the stage (24 ft bobtail), left Jerry and Doug in the sleeper, and the stagehands and I unloaded the equipment onto the stage. I remembered how the stuff stacked from the night before, so we had the equipment stacked and ready to be wired, before I woke the guys. They had been asleep about 10 hours and were quite refreshed, and also very surprised and happy to see the equipment in place.
It was a new day. Jerry and Doug were feeling much better. We ran cables; they patched in all the mic-chords; we set up the mic-line, and Jerry and I went on to the floor and set up the Front of House (FOH) equipment. While doing so I heard a very familiar voice say, how bout that Mike Inman. There he was, Scooter Franks.
We were teammates on the Austin High School football. I was the center, and Scooter was my pulling guard, the season of 19 68 and we had some fun playing and talking trash on the line. We would come up to the line of scrimmage, and I’d say Scooter I got that man there, he’d say no I got him, I’d say no you get that linebacker, no that is your man. The officials threw a flag on us two, said we can’t be reaching across the line of scrimmage like dat. No penalty, just a warning. Charlie Crenshaw, who was the Quarterback, would be laughing so hard he could barely call the signals. I’d snap the ball, Scooter would wind up pulling, and I would get his man.
I had lost touch with Scooter after high School. He went on to play college football at Texas A&I, in Kingsville, Texas and was all-conference, I joined the Navy
I had no idea Scooter and his older brother Bo, were running the t-shirt sales for Willie, and had been for a couple of years. Seeing Scooter and Bo, two of my favorite people, was special, and this trip to Odessa was getting better as the day wore on.
We were ready for Willie and the band for sound check. No Willie, no band. Turns out the new R.V., custom built for the group, complete with red and black interior, and bullet proof had broken down in Ozona, about a 150 miles to the south. Eventually, Willie and the band showed up, and I was amazed at the number of people that stepped out of the R.V. There had to be at least 15 or more and the R.V. was maybe 28 feet.
Willie and the band gave the people their money’s worth, and after the show, Willie signed autographs until the last person was gone. I stopped working to watch Willie walk off stage. At this moment I realized that the vision I had at Willies first picnic in 1973 had come to pass, and here I was on stage with Willie Nelson. The goosebumps were starting up, and as Willie went to step through the black curtain at the back of the stage, he stopped, turned and looked right at me, gave me the nod, and a wink.
The goosebumps were so strong , coming in waves, so electrical, I felt so lite, I had to look down to make sure my feet were still touching the stage. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was working in the music bid’ness, and the dreams I had in Alaska would manifest.