Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Killin' time, playing cards, shootin' dice, drankin', and other sports to kill time on the road

The life of a professional musician that is finally lucky enough to hit the big time, has a LOT of time to kill between gig's. There's the seemingly endless miles of travel between dates. Either in planes, cars or on a tour bus, with whomever you are working for, if yer jes a sideman [or gal]. Then,there's the long periods of tedium that always sets in, and makes you wonder jes WHY you chose THIS to make a living? Then you remember the first summer job you had digging ditches fer the local plumbing shop when you were a junior in high school, and suddenly those long periods of tedium, travel, lumpy, noisy bus bed's, and greasy spoon cafe's dont seem that bad and long after all! Making a perfect "G-Run" behind yer boss'es lead vocal in a high lonesome ballad is ONE HELL of a lot easier than digging in flint hard soil, with sweat drippin' off of you like yer in a shower!

All of this came back to me the morning of the 13th, when my good friend Ronnie Reno and I were discussing what we did to kill time on the road. We got to telling of how we would play cards, or shoot dice, or maybe have a little drink 'er two with the rest of the band members. I related the story of how I made at least $5,000.00 shooting dice with the members of my crew during the course of an overtime job, 30 years ago. Then, Ronnie told me of playing cards with Gordon Terry, when they were both playing in Merle Haggard's band. Ronnie said that Gordon bought him a new motorcycle, and half of a new car one summer. Ronnie told of how Gordon was wont to stay in every hand,no matter how bad it was, as long as he had money to bet. THEN, Ronnie told me of the time he and Merle were playing poker on the bus one day, heading to a gig. They had a hard and fast rule, that you couldn't "check" yer hand when you had what might prove to be the winning hand. [ 4 of a kind, full house, three of a kind, etc.] In other words, you couldn't be "a'layin' in the weed's", you HAD to bet yer hand. So, this one day, as the ol bus was a'whinin' on down the road, Ronnie sez, I had a pair of Queens in my hand after the draw, and it was Merle's turn to bet. Merle took three cards, looked 'em over and sez to Ronnie; I b'leeve I'll check. Ronnie said, I knew right then that he hadn't improved the pair he had, so I bet the "pot", which was $8,000.00. Turns out, a pair of Queen's beats a pair of 8's ever time! Ronnie said, I took that 4 grand I won off of Merle and bought me a brand new, Powder Blue Mustang, in July of 1973!

Great stories of a great time in country music history. Thanks Ronnie fer letting me be able to let others in our musical family enjoy some good "road stories".

Posted:  12/24/2009

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