Thursday, December 10, 2009

Moccasin Joe

My wife Janie asked me about this a couple of days ago, so I thought I’d write it out. A lot of you have already heard this story of my unexpected evening hanging out with Moccasin Joe, but for those who haven’t here it is.

The year was 2003. It was approximately 2 in the morning of the day of KROQ’s Inland Invasion, which featured The Cure and Duran Duran. I hadn’t been to a rock festival in a while, and was excited about going to this one later that day.

I was on the 10 fwy driving back home to Los Feliz from Covina, when all of a sudden I heard a flip, flip, flip, flip…coming from my driver’s side rear tire. So, I exited the freeway on San Gabriel Blvd in the heart of the Barrio and turned into the nearest side street to pull over and fix my tire.

I got out of my car to assess the situation. I ran over a key, and it was sticking out of my tire. As I popped the trunk to get the little jack and the donut out, I heard a voice come out of the sky and say, “Hey man, do you need a jack?” I looked up and all around as if I heard God speaking to me. Then it spoke again, “Up here bro!” My eyes followed a wooden stair way up the duplex in front of me and I saw a long haired figure. “Do you need a jack?” he repeated.

I said, “Yeah, sure. That would be great.” The long haired dude casually walked down the stairs of the duplex, went into the alley behind it and opened a garage door. He went in and pulled out a professional sized floor jack. He then rolled it over to me, and placed it under my car. With about two pumps, the car was high enough to take the tire off. I switched out the tires, and then he put the car back down. That was the quickest change of a flat that I had ever preformed.

After that I asked if I could use his sink to wash my hands. He said, “Go for it bro!” So I did. As I entered his apartment, I noticed all sorts of beautifully taken care of musical instruments, mostly conga drums. After I washed my hands I made a comment about all of the instruments, and we ended up hanging out and talking about music till about 6 in the morning.

He played a lot of his own stuff for me too, and it was damn good. It was very much influenced by his Native American culture, but it didn’t sound all that tribal. He mixed the procession so well with the melodies. One song in particular was about a journey to the after life, in which the spirit takes a canoe from this world to the next. It was amazing.

Apparently he used to play as a hired musician with an old Native American 60’s/70s band called Redbone. Their big hit was “Come and Get Your Love.” He was very proud of that. If you’ve ever heard their music, you’d understand why. It’s really good.

Sadly, I never kept in touch with him. He gave me his card, but I believe I lost it at the Inland Invasion. All I remember was that his name was Moccasin Joe, and he turned a flat tire into a great evening or morning.

You never know when events like this are going to happen. So enjoy them when they do.