and the Live Sex Show
Panama Red Plays Roosendaal
to Amsterdam, Buffy
BUDDY AND JACKIE
KLEIN'S 7TH ANNUAL GATHERING OF FRIENDS:
PANAMA WORKS THE ARTICULATING LOADER AND EXPERIENCES SPIRITUALITY
Dade City FL, October
I love coming to Central Florida.
Coming into Dade City,
I am immediately attracted to signs, white lettering on red background,
which are on the affluent lawns and cars, saying "Jeb!"
Meaning Jeb Bush, of course.
It's election time down here in Florida, the Governorship up for
grabs this November. Barring the old un-Constitutional in-out from
the Supremes, maybe this Florida election will actually elect someone.
Maybe not, though.
It's an interesting
drive out to Buddy and Jackie's: come off the Interstate, go east
a lttle bit, come to Dade City, an interesting artifact, a jewel
of a typical Florida farming town reaching back 80 and even 100
years from the present, a short time if you're European but pretty
damn long as Florida history as kept by the white man is counted.
On the western approach to town, and in fact since Ocala, I have
been seeing orange groves and horse ranches. Thoroughbreds, mostly.
As I come into town, pulling up at the Quaker Bar -- I couldn't
resist the name -- and coming in to call Buddy, I am taken awestruck
with the Floridana in the town's architectural presentation. It
is typical of that of small towns here on Florida's West Coast,
where the Hillsborough and other rivers provided a means of transport
for the cracker farmers up here in Pasco County to get their oranges,
beef and other commodities down to Tampa Bay.
The really interesting thing about that sentence is that, archaic
as it sounds, it represents the true state of affairs here only
about 80 years ago. Florida as white man country is really new,
I look Buddy and Jackie up in the phone book, Jackie answers, gives
Duck Lake Canal Road.
I drink a Bud draft at the Quaker, josh with the ladies who run
the joint, go get in the Volvo and head out to Duck Lake Canal Road.
Whereas the western approach to Dade City is reflective of the budgets
and tastes of the affluent, the town, on the eastside of the railroad
tracks, consists of the habitats of those who perceive a different
level of economic reality entirely. Mostly the working poor. This
is not without its compensations, however. There is the occasional
sagging trailer house, any number of misguided CBS, fer sure, but
also there are quite several gorgeous old Florida houses, right
out of Sidney Lanier,
Nonetheless the economic aura that hangs over this side of town,
occupied chiefly by poor whites, blacks and Mexicans, is that of
Now, out in the country
on this side of town are the real working agricultural enterprises
of Pasco County, though I'm not sure of their superiority at the
top of the tax structure. For Pasco County at least, this may be
one of the things this election's about. Maybe not, though. It is
out here, on the seriously productive agricultural side of town,
that Buddy Klein fetched up.
It's an interesting story...
I have come, loaded
my stuff into my car and come down here to Dade City to participate
in Buddy and Jackie Klein's 7th Annual Gathering of Friends. It
is not just another festival, because for me this gathering really
IS a gathering of friends, some of whom go back nearly forty years,
and many of whom are very familiar with skeletons in my closet.
Buddy himself, for instance.
My friend Karol C. Klein is that surprising Florida component, the
Jew cracker, a matzoh, perhaps. I first met Buddy Klein at the Beaux
Arts Coffeehouse. And then during the same period of time at Rick
Norcross's Eighteenth String Cafe in Tampa. We've shared a lot,
including, it turns out in conversation this afternoon, pussy. Was
a time when us folksingers had our own few but very dedicated and
Buddy never quit his dayjob. Today, he has an operation that supplies
a hardy native plant much-favored in the indigenous flora aspects
of building laws: the humble coontie.
The coontie is a multi-stemmed, fronded plant that is indigenous
to Florida. It stands up to 20 inches high. It is favored by landscape
architects because of the reasons mentioned above. It costs the
architects 12 dollars per plant. They use hundreds, hell, thousands,
on each project.
But I've known Buddy
since he was a middle-class Florida cracker/Jewish folksinger. I
had never been aware of the Jewish part of it, though when I think
about it, I'm not surprised I wasn't, but anyway...Buddy and his
old lady Jackie hold this gathering that began informally about
seven years ago and has become a modestly growing be-in in the years
passed. Buddy invited me down to play this year and I'm glad he
I find Buddy Klein out
in the pasture where Jackie said he'd be. He hasn't changed a bit,
really. I haven't seen Bud in more than thirty years probably. but
we recognise each other instantly. Massive manly hugs. Buddy directs
me to the Rose Cottage, where I'll be staying and wherein at this
very minute may be found one Vincent Marcellino aka my ol friend
from my Florida folkie days, Vince Martin,
Lemme tell you about Vince Martin. Way back in the mid-50s there
was a song, which, for some Jungian unconscious but otherwise inexplicable
reason, reached Number One on the Hit Parade. And hung in there
for weeks. That song was a song called "Cindy Oh Cindy",
the artist was a young man named Vince Martin. Vince never had a
charted record again. Doesn't matter, not the point.
Vince, after the heady
fifteen minutes of Cindy Oh Cindy and not much thereafter, became
a folksinger. In the process of that, he met Fred Neil and together,
as Martin and Neil they made an album called "Tear Down the
Walls", which dedicated folkies out rhere are very aware of.
Vince and I play a little
together, running through some old and some new stuff, and it is
just like we've been in daily touch instead of it having been twenty
years or so since our last meeting. Then Buddy and I head back out
to the gathering grounds.
Buddy provides firewood
to each of the campsites, and to that end he uses an articulating
loader: a giant machine with two wheels on the front and two on
the rear, hinged in the middle, with a bucket on the front, which
he uses to scoop up firewood from a pile he has gathered over the
preceding days and weeks, and then carries over to each campsite.
Seeing my fascination with this man-size Tonka toy, he invites me
up to orient and operate the behemoth. There's not much to it, and
after a couple of deliveries I am ready to turn it back over to
Bud's more skillful hands,
The first night is mostly
singing around the campfire kind of stuff, and because I have just
driven in from Nashville that day I retire early.
OCTOBER 19 - - Saturday
is the day of the actual festival. There are a whole lot of good
pickers out here under the Florida sky. I am skedded for 8 pm, just
before Vinnie. I do my little show to an appreciative audience.
Vince does his to great applause. A couple of years ago, Vince had
his hips replaced, and for the first year was using a walker, then
last year it was two canes. This year he ambulates unaided.
OCTOBER 20 - - Sunday
is mostly a repeat of Friday: campfire sings, although lots of campers,
having jobs and whatnot, are packing up and headed home. I plan
to leave Monday.
OCTOBER 21 - - Monday
I drive into town to get the Volvo aligned, as it has a habit of
eating its tires. Whilst aligning it the dudes tell me that the
left front bearing is worn and needs replacing. Buddy and I go to
the auto parts place, where I learn that it will be tomorrow before
the bearing and race and seal come in. So I can't leave until Tuesday.
We take Vince to the Tampa airport and send him on his way back
OCTOBER 22 - - I get
the bearing replaced, buy yet another tire, and head out for Fogartyville.
Thank you, Buddy and
Jackie Klein, and other old friends too numerous to mention without
leaving out at least one, for the very nice time.