- Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)


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AN OVERVIEW: A letter to the State Theater in St Petersburg

Hi Rob
Bethlehem Asylum was a Tampa Bay group that
had some success back in the late 60s early
70s...there were five of us. Of them, one,
Christian, ever a man of mystery, has
disappeared as traceless as he came to us.
Another, Jim Neiman took the easy way out a
few years back by running a hose into his
Ford Fairlane and driving around
Pinellas Park drinking Jack Daniels until
the whiskey and time ran out and his car
eased into a ditch where it and his body
were found the next day.
The surviving members have remained in the
music business over the years.

Charlie DeChant became Hall and Oates's
horn (mostly) player, a position he has
retained for the past twenty-five years.
He currently lives in Orlando in a big
house with a screened pool and a really
good piano, and tours with H&O most of the

After the Asylum disintegrated, Buddy Helm,
the drummer, became Tim Buckley's drummer
and worked for a number of other
psychotics, including Frank Zappa. He has
authored a couple of books about drumming
and does a Deep Spiritual kinda thing,
"Drumming the Spirit to Life", in various
seed and root-eater venues throughout the
world. He also has a kinda New Age-y
gallery, Seasons, in Santa Monica.

The guitar player (yours truly, Panama Red)
Danny Finley, somehow ended up in Nashville
for a number of years working as a sometime
session player and co-writer/guitar player
for Billy Joe Shaver. He also was a
founding member of the Texas Jewboys, Kinky
Friedman's outfit, and co-wrote a number of
the next governor of the Great State of
Texas's most recognizable material. He
also worked for a couple of years for Felix
Pappalardi at Criteria in Miami until
Felix's untimely murder.

A couple of years ago, planets aligned so
that the three of us came together again at
Skipper's Smokehouse. It was one of those
deja vu revue things where it seemed that
no time at all had passed and the music was
good and just the same as it had ever been.
The most diehard fan of Bethlehem Asylum in
the world, Phil Larson, whom you've talked
to, bitched about not having been informed
of the event so that he could fly in to
witness it.

So that a few days ago when Buddy and I
discovered that we'd both be in the area at
the same time and Charlie made known his
availability and interest, we thought we'd
do a repeat of the event of a couple of
years ago. This time I told Phil about it,
and that's where he came into the picture.

When we realized that the State would be
avaliable to us, I asked Ronny (Elliott), an
old friend, to co-bill with us and he
agreed. Some other Asylum and Beaux Arts
related friends will also appear.

There still remain some friends and fans of
the Asylum in the Bay area, as well as some
of the Beaux Arts freaks who were around
when we did some of our gigs there. We
plan to pull out all the stops we can to
make this event a success and we're glad to
have you aboard mentoring and liaising (I
love that non-word), as your familiarity
with the local scene as well as the State
itself will be of invaluable aid to us.

Any questions, please email me. I hope I
haven't steered too far away from the mark
when you asked for an Overview, but if I
have, that can easily be corrected via
telephone and email.
My cellphone number, which is all I ever
answer personally, is 615 482 4***.