My standard line, usually delivered to the hotel guys who are helping us schlep equipment, is, "When you're over 50 and still playing rock n' roll, you've long since given up on the hit record. You don't even care so much about the groupies. What you really wish you had were roadies."
It's a lot of work, and it amazes me that we're still doing it -- the gig in Honolulu was the sixth year in a row that we've done the Sunday night thing as the Bearded Pigs. It's taken on a life of its own.
This year we were "an enucleated band" -- so said the legend that TG put on the shirts. The past several years SG, Duke and Russell had worked up a mini-set as a power trio -- we called them The Nucleus. But SG retired from the band after the Chicago gig and Duke, Russell and Cogman weren't able to make it to Hawaii -- hence, we were "enucleated." Did that slow us down? Of course not. We had Boutch filling in on drums and Fearless Frank on harmonica. We even had Sparky running sound (which was a tremendous help since we couldn't hear a damn thing on stage -- I really screwed up with how we arranged the amps).
Little Lulu joined us on tambourine, as she has the last few years, and we even got the Princess Josphine up for a few tunes before she announced that it was time for her to go to bed (she'd just flown in that afternoon).
Count the Memphis weekends, Atlanta, Savannah, Chapel Hill, Edinburgh, London, the Presidents' party in Philadelphia, a couple of North Carolina Pigs gigs, along with the two or three "proto-pigs" performances and some version of the band has played nearly twenty times or so since 2002. Mister TomCat and I were talking about it and we're pretty sure that we've never had exactly the same lineup twice.
Never could've happened without The Thicket Society. It still astonishes me that so many people are willing to put up $40 apiece to make it possible for us to play every year (and to get the t-shirt, of course!) When we put The Thicket Society together I thought we'd get maybe ten of our crazy friends to put up a few bucks to help us out. This year we ended up with 65. (Good thing, too, 'cause Hawaii was expensive!) Can't possibly thank them all enough.
When I started playing music again, back in '92 in St. Louis, after a hiatus of a dozen years, I took it as a life lesson about never saying never and seizing crazy opportunities when they come your way. What we love most about being The Bearded Pigs is that we're playing without a net. Give it everything you've got and make a glorious noise.
That's rock n' roll.