Did I ever tell you about Alice Nutter? She was a teen witch that had lived at Manor Lane years and years previously, at least according to local legend. Supposedly, she had died mysteriously after dabbling in the black arts. Her spirit still haunted the place. A stray black cat would show up out of nowhere around the time of the full moon and disappear just as suddenly. We all thought it was all bullshit until one day a piece of mail arrived address to Alice Nutter. Manor Lane was a trip. The first couple years were great. My Grateful Dead jam band Smoking Toad practiced in the living room, legendary parties like the one where we invited Estimated Eyes, a local Dead cover band to play with us. Were were gigging in the Grove, and every week at Coaches across from the University of Miami and at all the frats. All was good but then things turned weird.
As 1993 began, I was busy playing gigs with the band and solo acoustic on campus and in the Grove. I had been doing a lot of songwriting, working with Jeff Sadowsky from M.T.A., Music Talent Associates. Jeff had been a fixture on Miami music scene since it’s heyday in the 70’s when it had been a disco mecca. He had worked for T.K. Stone Productions which had all those big hits with Wayne Casey aka K.C.of K.C.and the Sunshine Band. ( It wasn’t the last time I would cross paths with the ghosts of disco past. ) Nowadays, Jeff worked with local rock and reggae acts. M.T.A. had produced one of the first local compilation cds “ Miami Sunburn Remedy.” The local scene was heating up, acts like the Mavericks and Nil Lara were getting signed. In fact I got a good union gig in an oldies rock’n’roll cover tune band, Flashback, when the Maverick’s bassist Bobby Reynolds vacated the position. Corey the drummer hadbeen one of the original Eggs. I was finally getting good paying cover tune gigs playing at places like Firehouse Four and the hotel ballrooms on Miami Beach but I longed to get my originals heard. There was a big Billboard convention going on in Orlando so we drove up there to crash it.
It was me, Jeff from M.T.A. and Ricky Williams ( not the Miami Dolphin player. ) Ricky is a 6’2” blind, black piano player, an incredibly talented guy who was the house band at the Forge on Miami Beach for years. As you can imagine the three of us made quite a sight as we stepped out of the elevator into a swanky party going on in the penthouse, kind of hard to look inconspicuous. But to my surprise instead of being escorted out when all these music industry big wigs saw Jeff they greeted him by name. “ Hey Jeff long time, hey Jeff how’s it going? still in Miami? “ The party was a who’s who, Jon Bon Jovi and his band were there and CharlieDaniels.Ricky commandeered the grand piano in the center of the room which may or may not have been revolving ( it certainly seemed that way. ) I joined him on guitar and we had the whole place singing along, eating out of hands. We had arrived. We partied like champions and when we left in the wee hours me and Jeff decided we were too drunk to drive so we asked Ricky to ( he’s blind. )
One the way back to Miami, we kept hearing on the radio about some crazy shit going on in Waco, Texas. I was scribbling down lyrics the whole way. By the time we got there at dawn I had finished what would become my biggest hit, “ Wacko in Waco.” I had always had an element of comedy in my music but this was truly some funny shit. It was basically about how this madman in Waco had become an overnight media sensation. I must have tapped into some sort of zeitgeist because Kimba, a DJ on SHE ( WSHE ) was talking about it on her morning show so I called her up and sang it to her. She cracked up. To my surprise she played me singing “ Wacko in Waco” over the phone live on the air! By that evening we had recorded it and I had wrote a b-side “ We Ain’t Coming Out. “ The next day I frantically tracked down banjo player Vern Miller at the South Florida Bluegrass Associations monthly Ives Dairy festival and I squired him away to record it live in a friend’s bedroom. Then legendary Grove blues harpist LAW-GUYS Don dubbed his parts and within 24 hours our 45 single went to the presses. Obstensibly, we had recorded it on Jeff’s reggae label, Greenland Records but there was one small problem of actually getting the labels from the printer, a Jamaican Rasta Jeff owed money too. Oh and one minor detail later to come back to haunt us, actually mailing in the copyright forms! …classic Sadowsky.
So now we had a stack of 45’s in our trunk and we were driving around dropping them off at radio stations. They were playing it too! First Neil Rogers on WIOD talk radio and WVUM, the University of Miami Station, Kimba on the rock station WSHE, then inexplicably on the commercial station Y100! We had a crossover hit! Me and Jeff had mailed out 100’s of copies to radio and tv stations and before you know it they were playing it everywhere. I was getting mail orders from an ad I had put in Maximum Rock’n’Roll. Jeff had got it on jukeboxes ( which I didn’t learn about ‘til later… ) It was happening fast and then it was all over.
The stand off in Waco ended in a fiery blaze but before that happened I got beat up by a drunken ex Marine named Chiz. Actually I got evicted and beat up by a guy named Chiz and my car brokedown on the way home from a gig at Churchill’s all in 24 hours. I remember me and the two sisters I was with abandoning the car on US1 and putting the equipment in a grocery cart and wheeling it down the highway, back to Manor Lane. The drunk ex Marine guy had just moved into a room there. He had been up all night drinking and in the morning he fractured my skull because “ my puppy shit on his rug. “ I had found a little lost black puppy wandering the streets with his head stuck in a plastic container. I couldn’t get it off, he was really stuck and whimpering so I ended up bringing him back home with me to cut it off. He shit on the rug in the living room so this idiot hit me. He really injured me too. When I got back from hospital I was the one who got evicted. So now I was beat up and homeless. I ended up sleeping in a warehouse at Coconut Grove Marina. My friend Lancelot had a business that designed boat name logos that I worked for sometimes, McKenzie Oerting. They let me sleep on the couch upstairs. A lot of crazy shit had just happened and I need a place to recuperate. No phone, no tv, just my bike and a beautiful view of Biscayne Bay, in a week or two, I soon forgot all about it all. One day I biked up to the Tiger Tail, a seedy bar where all the dock rats hung out. They were playing mysong on the jukebox! Like every 20 minutes. “ Hey man that’s me..” “Wow, no shit free drinks all around. “ I called Jeff and he was feaking out asking where I had been. They had been playing it all over the country! both songs! ” Turn on Channel 7… ”
The show 7 at 7:30 ( the precursor to Deco Drive ) had done a story on the Waco siege and used our music. The showed the record and talked about how it was a sudden phenomenon. The host, Jessica Aguirre said we were cashing in, what cash? I was broke and sleeping in a boat warehouse! Unfortunately, the whole place burned down a day or two later and no one played it any more after that ( actually later I wrote Wacko in Waco part 2 and a few stations played that. ) I went back to my idyll at the marina nursing my wounds and sleeping on my friend’s couch & then just the other day…