I find myself at shows regularly thinking Rod would really enjoy / not enjoy a particular experience. An example: Rod would not have been thrilled that Shawn Colvin was the opener for Jason Isbell when the pandemic-postponed show finally came to fruition at the Warfield in February. Another example: Rod would have loved Lauren Morrow, especially because of her ‘I’m only nice when I’m high’ song and merch. He also would have thoroughly enjoyed the drama at Sarah Shook and the Disarmers at BoTH in late March. He maybe, might have even participated in it a little bit. That was his way and it was a drunk woman, having a good time; he seemed to find that difficult to resist. He would have, however, kept her away from me because he would have also known that I found her annoying and was not appreciating her. I’m not sure who was enjoying her besides the clear enjoyment she was deriving from her own drunken antics. Clearly BotH wasn’t enjoying her because she got yanked out of the show. But I digress.
I knew my life would be forever changed with Rod’s death. I guess I didn’t realize that every show would be another part of the mourning process. I can’t go to a show without thinking of Rod – whether he would have been there or not. Walking through the GrossOut parking lot, I see ‘his’ spot and I think about his Ford Focus and how he had just been working on his passenger side window and had finally ‘fixed’ it not long before he died.
Sometimes I just feel sorry for myself. I want to text him something but there’s no one to text. I mean I have people that I can text different things to but it’s not the same. The texts require too much of an explanation for anyone except Rod. I’ve started writing some of them down for myself. Andee thinks I should write a book ‘Texts to Rod’ with all my random thoughts. I think it would likely only be entertaining to me (and Rod).
And no more drunken texts from Rod that he would send to remind himself of a band or a song or a story. Some days I go back through our text chain and re-watch the videos and re-read the texts and they make me smile. I found a gem recently. It was from when we saw Dustbowl Revival at the Hopmonk in Novato this past fall. I had sent him a video of some audience members dancing because I loved them and I had typed ‘for the dancing’ in my text message. Later he sent me a video of the band performing ‘Call My Name’, the video was most specifically of the trombone player, Ulf Bjorlin, who we both love. He typed ‘for the Ulf!’ when he sent it. I remember it made me laugh then. When I was watching it later, I realized that he was on the opposite side of the stage than me when he took the video and so I was in the background of his video. I went back through my own videos and found that I had taken video of that song as well and Rod is in my video too. I don’t know why, but it made me so happy to have his video with me in the background and my video with him in the background and to know that they were ‘for the Ulf!’.
I hadn’t been alone at a show since he died until Elle King and I couldn’t help but think that Rod would have been at the show with me. Me and all the young girls with their moms and dads. He would have been laughing at Elle King smoking weed on stage — asking if she was supposed to rub sticks together to light the joint that an audience member gave her — and then going off stage to get the joint lit. Rod would have thoroughly enjoyed that and would have been hitting his vape in support, and offering it to me.
Last night at Yola was hard. I kept thinking about her show at the Great American in February 2020 with Amythyst Kiah opening and how thoroughly Rod and I had enjoyed that show. They are both the real deal from Rod’s perspective and I completely agree. I think he would have loved her story last night, introducing ‘Diamond Studded Shoes’, especially when she yelled ‘Hold my beer!’. I really wanted him to be there with me and Pat, and I guess he was because we were both wearing our Rod t-shirts and we told our new friends, Coco and Mike, about him. But I continue to digress, so back to Rod’s celebration(s) of life….
On March 16th, we had a tribute to Rod at a Willy Tea Taylor show at Bottom of the Hill. KC Turner helped to get it started by contacting Willy who was more than happy to toast and talk about Rod. KC also connected me with Sam Chase who created a design for me to have beer koozies made. (Rod loved the merch! He really loved supporting artists!) Independently from my beer koozie production, Brian had t-shirts made that are awesome as you can see; so awesome that he had a second batch made based on all the requests we received.
Willy opened his show with a tribute to Rod and to another friend’s sister who had just passed. The tribute is linked below.
I have to confess that I was not super familiar with Willy prior to the show. Rod had definitely played him on some of our drives and I liked what I heard. I also liked The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit the one time that I saw them, but I only saw them once because I think it was their last show as a band (or thereabouts). Since I wasn’t that familiar, I didn’t really realize that Willy was changing the lyrics to some of his songs, specifically ‘Cattleman’ changed to ‘Showman’ to reference Rod and Los Banos and Rod’s driving. The link will take you to Willy’s initial tribute and first song (Showman) from BotH. I couldn’t have asked for more and I felt like Rod was there.
Even if Willy hadn’t been such a cool guy, I would be planning to see him again when I have the chance; I absolutely loved him, his songs and his dancing. And also the way his audience loved him.
He toasted Rod at the end of the show with the following and it melted me.
The show was great. We had a crew. We had t-shirts and koozies and it felt good. It went too fast and I wanted to rewind and do it all again. After the show was over, Crystelle gave me and Teri a ride home which was also lovely and as I got out of the car, I thought about Rod and how we ended each night out with a ‘We’ll talk.’ as he dropped me at my door.
Today, Rod’s sister Joyce sent the flyer above, inviting all of us to a celebration of life. Pat, Teri and I are planning to attend; maybe Crystelle as well. I believe that Brian and Drew will be there too. Brian and Drew are headed to Bakersfield that evening for a (sold out) Charley Crockett show. Our crew are also trying to score tickets for that show because we definitely feel like Rod would have supported that.
In the meantime, I keep going to shows. Sometimes (like at the Drive-By Truckers), I really do feel like Rod is there with me. When they played ‘Gravity’s Gone’, I totally felt like he was there / he made that happen. When Aoife O’Donovan sold out before I bought a ticket, I also felt like that was Rod looking out for me. He knows that I love her conceptually but that in practice, I find her boring as a solo performer. He knew that I would have bought a ticket and gone because I would want to support her for his sake. He made it so that I didn’t have to go and I didn’t have to feel badly for not going. Okay, maybe both of those are stretches — maybe all the times that I think that’s Rod looking out for me are stretches, but I still think it. From what I’ve been told, DBT usually plays ‘Gravity’s Gone’ and I, apparently, was just unlucky enough to have not seen them perform it at the specific shows that I attended. Not so much Rod as probability and statistics. 😂
Sometimes I miss Rod more than other times, but I pretty much miss him everyday. I do find myself making decisions now based on what Rod would have done. So tonight, I’m going to see The Dirty Knobs because I know Rod would have gone to this show. He probably has a ticket for tonight or tomorrow’s performance (maybe even both). Tomorrow if I can work it into my schedule, I’ll go see the Rainbow Girls at the Pickin’ on the Polk festival. I’d go see Cryin’ Uncle too, but I don’t think my schedule will accommodate their set time.
I know I’ll see some of you in Selma next Saturday and I truly look forward to it. Please share the information about this event. For the Rod!
4 thoughts on “Rod’s celebration(s) of life”
I admire your heart and love Jenn! – for your valued memories with Rod, and your appreciation of him, music, art, honesty, and the depth of shared experiences with Rod and beyond.
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Can’t wait to celebrate Rod next Saturday 🤘
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Great to meet you Jenn! Our dear friend is greatly missed and admired daily. “We’ll talk” and “It’ll be fine” will always be words so well spoken. Those phases carried weight of monument with short jab. On our short side of the hill Rod was referred to as RodMonster (usually sang in an jingle). This was an admiring name that was given to him by our friend Duke (Hazard) Hass. Stuck like glue! My kids referred to Rod as uncle Rod Monster. Rod was a blessing every time we were able to enjoy his company. Dearly missed every day. Rod loved his family, music, fishing,
camping, race cars, every dog and cat he ever encountered, and friends. If you knew Rod, you were truly privileged.
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If you knew RodMonster, you were truly privileged.