Saturday, 21 September 2013

Stray Cat Strut



I saw his boots first, since I was staring at the ground beside my bar stool. The detritus on the floor of any Andalucian bar is always fascinating. His crocodile botas de vaquero seemed just right among the peanut shells and paper napkins, that day.  He had his jeans 50’s cuffed, it must have taken him ages to pull them down over the boots. The leather waistcoat over his western shirt had seen too much sun. I almost laughed at the bootlace tie. My neck hurt as I craned it up to look at the man’s face. He looked like Tom Waits would - if he had never touched a drop -  and less interesting thereby. The clothes were fun though, I thought he might burst into an impromptu rendition of ‘Do the Hucklebuck’.

He gave a smile that spoke American although his accent was pure Dudley , ‘You speak English?’

‘You can always tell, can’t you?’ I said.

He looked put out, a little. I suppose he thought he looked like Carl Perkins.

‘They have bands here? Saw the stage in back.’

I supposed if you sang enough American songs your vocabulary would change, even if your accent didn’t.

‘At the back? Sometimes.’

‘Think they’d be interested?’

‘In what?’

‘Three piece. Drums, guitar and vocal, bass. Double bass that is.’

‘Could be. Why don’t you ask the owner?’ I nodded over at the woman behind the bar.

He held out a hand to me, ‘Bill, Bill Perks.’

We shook, I don’t think my name registered with him; so I did him the favour of not laughing at his. Maybe he didn’t know the real name of the Stones’ original bass man.

‘That’s the owner?’ He whispered it, but he’d spent too much time on stage – and it came out too loud.

The owner looked up and she didn’t look pleased.

Bill Perks moved smoothly over to the end of the bar and spoke the best Spanish I’d ever heard come out of a Guiri mouth. It must have been good, it won a smile from the bar owner. The musician had a coffee, but he paid for it, despite protests. They came to an arrangement for when spring returned next year.

‘What kind of music do you play, Bill?’ I asked.

He looked at me, took in my clothes. ‘You wouldn’t like it, I reckon.’

‘Try me,’ I said.

‘Bill Swing, The Collins Kids, Charlie Feathers.’

‘Rockabilly your thing then?’

The look on his face said appointment or disamazement or some mixture of the two,

‘Yeah, yeah it is.’

‘The Andalucians like it?’

‘Seem to,’ he said.

‘What’s your encore, then?’


He didn’t seem too put out, when I laughed