No, they are not real dogs guarding a junkyard but the name of a band I made up for Following the Lead, the next in Isabel Long Mystery Series. As I write this series, I have a great deal of fun coming up with names for the local bands who play at the Rooster Bar and Grille. That happens on Fridays, the nights Isabel tends bar because as Jack, its owner and her love interest, knows a band tends to draw a big crowd of thirsty music lovers.
The musicians are all local guys who have no serious aspirations. And as the author, I have had a great deal of fun coming up with names for their bands. Here goes: Cowlicks, Lone Sums, Potholes, Slim Jims, Hunters and Gatherers, Back Door Men, Country Bumpkins, Plowboys, Truck Stoppers, and Wild Fire.
And now we have the Junkyard Dogs, but more about that band in a bit.
Some bands that Jack hires are regulars. A few are one and done if their playing doesn’t pan out. Other times a band dissolves, one time because one band member made off with another’s girlfriend and I believe there was a chainsaw accident for one player in another.
Because this is a bar stuck practically in the middle of nowhere in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, the playlist tends to be country, rock, maybe a little blues, but frankly, most country. And the emphasis is on danceable tunes. Covers are the rule.
So, count on hearing “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Rambling Man” and “Mustang Sally.” When a band plays “Brown-Eyed Girl” or something by Patsy Cline, Jack will shut down the bar and get Isabel onto the dance floor.
And now for the Junkyard Dogs. Well, the name make sense since it’s lead singer, Annette Waters owns a junkyard. Her son, on drums, works there, and the two guitarists have their own garage. The Junkyard Dogs make their debut at the Rooster. Here, I will let Isabel tell you about them. This is a scene from Following the Lead.
“Who’s playing tonight?”
“New band. Called the Junkyard Dogs,” he says with a chuckle. “You might recognize a couple of those dogs.”
But before I can quiz Jack further, he’s striding across the room and shouting at the guy with the keyboard.
The Rooster has a band playing Friday nights, with the one exception being during the Titus Country Fair when Jack wisely figured nobody is going to pass that up to listen to music. The musicians are all local guys and gals with varying degrees of talent but an unbridled enthusiasm for playing that familiar mix of country, rock, and blues. I remember when the Plowboys attempted semi-successfully James Brown’s “Papa’s Gotta Brand New Bag.” It took a while for the dancers to catch on, but they finally did to my amusement. Anyway, Jack pays the bands what he can afford and throws in a couple of beers. One of my jobs is to keep tabs on how much more they drink, so he can deduct it from their pay. I believe one night a hard-drinking band barely got enough for gas money.
I’m on my toes and leaning forward to see what’s what or rather who’s who I will recognize coming inside. A couple of Rooster Regulars who just came through the front door are blocking my view. I raise my finger as I scoot around the bar’s corner.
“Be right back, fellas,” I say.
Jack leaves the building, and then a very recognizable person does come inside. A grinning Annette Waters carries a guitar case and gives me a wave with the hand that’s free. Now I get it. Annette owns a junkyard. Her son Abe is behind her with a drum. He’s got to be one of the Dogs, as are the two other guys who are hauling speakers. I wasn’t aware the Tough Cookie, my secret nickname for her, plays music although earlier this summer when my mother and I were at Rough Waters Garage and Junkyard to have my car serviced, we heard Annette belt out that Tammy Wynette number “Stand by Your Man” inside her garage. She had a great voice although Ma and I joked whether the Tough Cookie had a new guy or she would actually do what the song’s lyrics say.
Annette, who has dressed for the occasion with a sequined halter top, tight jeans, and a black Stetson walks toward me.
“You one of the band’s groupies?” I joke.
Annette slaps my arm, a form of endearment from the Tough Cookie, and laughs.
“Nah, this is my band. I’m the lead singer.” She tips her head toward the other side of the room.
“Abe plays the drums. Those other guys work at that garage in Rossville. Rick and Rob.
Brothers. Don’t think you know ’em.”
“No, I don’t. What kind of music do you play?”
She rolls her eyes as if I really need to ask, but she plays along.
“What kind do you think?”
She sticks out her tongue and makes a gagging noise.
“You got that right.”
I glance back at the bar. A line of thirsty customers has formed. Duty calls.
“Hey, I gotta go.”
“How about something from Patsy Cline.”
“You got it. I know just the song.”
LINK: If you pre-ordered Following the Lead, you don’t have too long to wait for its release on Amazon. That’s Kindle. Paperback will follow. Here’s the link: https://mybook.to/followingthelead
PHOTO ABOVE: A few CDs from our collection. Yes, I’m a big country fan. These are left over from pre-Spotify days.