Every year about this time when it’s snowing and cold as a wedge, I’m always reminded of the time that we played a show with Rose Maddox in the little mountain town of Camino, Calif. We being the Vern Wiliams Band, with our good buddy Ray Park playing the fiddle with us that nite. WOW, what a BAND! But, back to the story. Camino was a small wide spot on hiway 50 above Placerville, Ca., and at that time there was probably not more than 500 folks living around there. MOST of ’em were at that show that nite. In Camino during those day’s was a small Cafe/Bar/Dancehall named the Antler Club. It was one of those old fashioned places where you could get a cold beer on a hot summer day, or have breakfast, lunch or supper too. They had pretty good food there as well, and was a popular spot with a lot of folks in the surrounding community. It was a real old building and it was constructed without a concrete foundation, a fact that makes the story get REAL interesting later on. It was setting on what you might call “stilts” holding it up about two feet above ground level, a method of construction prevalent in the early 1900’s. NOT Earthquake proof by a long shot!
Come that January day, Vern and I left Valley Springs around noon, drove up to Pollock Pines, and got a motel room fer the nite, and got to the Antler Club around 5:00pm. The show was to start at 7:00pm and it wasn’t long till Delbert, Keith, Ray and Rose got there. We had about an hour er so to run through a few songs , and get limbered up fer the nite’s festivities. That was the first time I had ever been inside the building and it held about 100 folks in the “big room” as it was called, BUT, they had at least 150 folding chairs stuffed in there in tight rows. The Band Stand was no more than 8 foot wide by 6 foot deep, and we practically had to breathe in unison to have room to play! Small is an understatement! SO, come show time, I think every redneck in those mountains was there that nite, because the room was literally packed, and the crowd was over flowing out into the parking lot. SRO fer shore! Well we got the show off to a rollicking start as only Rose could do it, and that first set lasted an hour and a half! It was so darn hot inside there, they had to open all of the windows, even though there was about a foot of snow and it was around 30 degrees outside. We were literally wringin’ wet with sweat after that first set . So, we took a long 45 minute break between sets, and a lot of folks got to come inside fer the second set. Now, here’s where it starts gettin’ good. We were probably 2 songs into the second set when a lil gal settin’ in the first row asked Rose to sing Philadelphia Lawyer. Rose said: Honey, we already did that one. Where were you? She replied: I was probably in the Ladies Room. Rose asked her : Well, couldn’t you hear us? She replied, no I couldn’t. Rose said, we could hear you! That lil gal turned a bright red in the face , got up and run out of the room never to return. I said:ROSE! She turned to me with that devilish smile of her’s and said, aint I terrible sometimes? The audience LOVED HER!
NOW it gets real good real fast! After about 4 songs, a big ol redneck boy stood up and said; I dont know about the rest of you, but I GOT TO DANCE, folded up his chair, and it was jes like a signal was given to the rest of them folks, because inside of a minute, they had folded up all of the chairs, stacked some next to the walls and even threw some out of the windows, and they started to dance. Well everthang went prettty smooth fer about 10 minutes, and they was a dancin’ and huggin all them pretty gals real nice. THAT is until Rose asked Ray to fiddle one of his own FAST uptempo tunes called Gray Eagle. Them folks was a dancin’ and stompin in rhythm to Ray’s fiddle and that WHOLE building got to swaying back and forth on them “stilts” that it was a’settin’ on! The owner came runnin’ into the room yelling, STOP, STOP, STOP! Well, we stopped playing, and the folks stopped dancin’, and the building stopped swaying, jes like that. Rose said, Ray I always knew you could bring down the house with yer fiddlin’ but I never thought I’d live to see it almost happen, literally! Needless to say, we only played slow ones from then on.
Well, we played three sets that nite and the last one was over about 12:30 in the morning. Them folks would have stayed there till daylite if we would have kept on pickin’. Vern and Ray and I always had a good laugh about the time Ray almost fiddled down the Antler Club. Sadly, the old building is long gone and a lot of good memories went with it. I’m sure glad I was able to be a part of such good memories of such great music we were able to pick and sing fer the folks at The Antler Club that January nite, lo those 30 years ago. Folks, after all is said and done, in the end all we have is a lot of good memories . Eventually we will be a memory too, so as my Cherokee forefathers would say, that’s why you want to leave a lot of happy moccasin tracks. I pray this message makes some happy tracks in yer heart this day. Yer friend, J.D.Rhynes