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by Matthew Licht

Some cynical impresario invited an Alabama dirt farmer to play at the Death Rock Cafè.

The clumsy hick mounted the stage and sat down on a folding chair. His guitar was a wreck. He kept time with tambourine rings around his ankles. His songs were wild hog-calls, gas chamber laments. His music was primordial ooze, but the kids dressed in black didn’t want it. They showed their scorn with phlegm.

When his set was over, he looked like he’d just lost an oyster-shucking contest. I followed him to the bathroom.

“Well I tried and done my best,” he said.

He cleaned up at the sink, looked at himself in the mirror. “Got no stardust on me after all.” He dreamt his sound of the earth would be a hit, in the big insomniac city. He and his boots and his cardboard guitar case would be on a southbound bus in the morning. He could return to his pig farm or bean fields with a clear conscience.

How I envied him.

Matthew Licht writes the weekly bilingual Hotel Kranepool column for Stanza 251.