Shock, disappointment, disbelief, anger and sadness could all be used to describe the overall feeling inside of Tummy’s Roadhouse Bar and Grille last Friday night, when local cover band, Classic Hawk, inadvertently forgot to play Sweet Home Alabama.
“It was right there in the set list,” said front man Jimmy Hawk, whose real name is Gordon Stewart and whose real job is assistant manager for the local water utility, “right in between Brickhouse and Don’t Stop Believin’. I don’t know what happened. I guess we just missed it.”
Classic Hawk took the stage around eight and started the set off strong with their not so note for note, watered down version of Mississippi Queen, an off key rendition of Some Kind of Wonderful, followed up by Life in the Fast Lane, Satisfaction and that nineties tune by Lit, My Own Worst Enemy.
“We like to throw in a couple of newer tunes from the late nineties, you know, for the younger kids in the crowd,” said Rock Harder, the band’s drummer, whose real name is Dave Farmer and whose real job is sandwich engineer at the local sub shop, “People love that song. It’s so amazing when you play a song you didn’t write and hear people singing other people’s lyrics back at you. Total magic. I still can’t believe we missed Sweet Home Alabama though. Fuck.”
At nine o’clock, around the time that patrons could get a beer and a Jell-O shot for two dollars, the rocking mood inside Tummy’s was really getting going.
“I usually can’t stand them for the first hour or so,” said Fred Williamson, an unemployed railroad worker and full time alcoholic, “their timing is usually off, Jimmy can’t sing a lick and their instruments aren’t exactly in tune, but once I get a few in me, they really rock.”
Indeed, everyone at the bar knew that the section of the set that prominently featured the song, Sweet Home Alabama, was upon them. They clamored for the best spot to sing along with Classic Hawk’s sloppy, uninspired version of the American classic. As the band passed right over it without some much as missing five or six beats the mood in the bar turned sour.
“I couldn’t fucking believe they didn’t play it!” said Sally Turner, mother of seven, out with her husband Roland Turner, a local magician and face painter, on their first date night in months. “Look we don’t have cable, we don’t go to tractor pulls or gator wrestling, the radio in my car is broken and you wouldn’t catch me dead at a night club so where the hell am I going to be able to hear Sweet Home Alabama if not here? Fucking bullshit.”
“I just want to apologize, to everyone,” said Fingers, the band’s lead guitar player, whose real name is Steve Stool and whose real job is seasonal life guard at the local country club, “We didn’t mean to do it. At least we played Piano Man. That shit is hard to do on a guitar.”
Besides the hurt feelings and general mood of being let down, a missed opportunity might have been the biggest failure of the night. “I’ve been scouting Classic Hawk for at least two nights now, ever since my car broke down on my way back to Vegas,” said Paul Gilly, a slick, sophisticated community college graduate, who just happens to work in the marketing department for a medium sized Las Vegas hotel and casino, “Classic Hawk is everything we look for in a casino band. They play safe, watered down versions of the same shit you’ve heard a million fucking times and they all look like they could be your dentist, but when they didn’t play Sweet Home Alabama, well that killed it for me. If you’re a casino band and you don’t play that song, believe me, the tourists will riot. I’ve seen it and it ain’t pretty.”
“I think everyone needs to just calm down,” said Thunder Buns, the bands bassist, whose real name is Jeff Spolicky and whose real job is a dentist, “We played all the rest of the classics, including, Hey Jude, Paint it Black, Sublime’s What I Got, we even did Friend’s in Low Places, nobody seemed to be complaining about those.”
“I don’t know if I’ll invite them back after this,” said Ron Gritterman, owner of Tummy’s Roadhouse, “there’s a reason that song is played a billion fucking times a day in everything from commercials to backyard barbeques, and that’s because it rocks. In my opinion it can’t be played enough.”
“We’ll just try again tomorrow night, hopefully,” said Jimmy.
As last call was announced and the crowd shuffled out of the door, one man, while vomiting up too much beer and Jell-O shots, could be overheard in between heaves, saying, “At least they played Free Bird.”