From the album ‘Vaudeville Routine - http://dbrouse.bandcamp.com/album/vaudeville-routine
Video by Harry L-B of www.brainlessarts.com
The Gas Prices Don’t Scare Me Wisc-igan-sota (or Mich-con-sota) Tri-State Tour
5/26/13 Sol Blu- Iron Mountain, Michigan
5/30/13 The Acoustic Cafe- Eau Claire, Wisconsin
6/7/13 The Nova- Hudson, Wisconsin
6/13/13 The Backyard Bar- Milwaukee, WI
6/14/13 Annie’s Trading Post- Florence, WI
6/26/13 Greenville Grange- Greenville, WI
6/27/13 The Backyard Bar- Milwaukee, WI
6/30/13 Bremen Cafe- Milwaukee, WI
7/6/13 Annie’s Trading Post (Buckfever Open) - Florence, WI
7/11/13 The Backyard Bar- Milwaukee, WI
7/12/13 Annie’s Trading Post- Florence, WI
7/13/13 Sol Blu- Iron Mountain, Michigan
7/20/13 Sol Blu- Iron Mountain, Michigan
7/26/13 Aloft Hotel Bar- Minneapolis, MN
7/28/13 Bremen Cafe- Milwaukee, WI!
New album due out July 2nd. Take a listen to the sneak peak! http://dbrouse.bandcamp.com/album/west-via-east-pre-release-single It was recorded in Hollywood as well as in the hotel across the street from the hotel gram parsons died in.
The book has been completed! Perfect companion to the music! http://www.amazon.com/Busker-D-B-Rouse/dp/1481199838/
New album done: http://dbrouse.bandcamp.com/album/vaudeville-routine Book soon to follow.
The studio project has just been finished. It’s called ‘Meal-Ticket’ and free samples and listens are available at: http://dbrouse.bandcamp.com/
D.B. has released a kid’s music EP for children of all ages called ‘Songs From the Song Shack’. Free samples at: http://dbrouse.bandcamp.com/album/songs-from-the-song-shack
Happy Holidays From The D.B. Rouse Crew!
The Happy Horse Campfire Band CD has pressed their debut album! It features some of Austin’s best musicians singing and playing classic cowboy songs. D.B. is on guitar and background vocals for Hollis Wayne, Beaux Graham, and John Dunn. See www.happyhorsehotel.com
D.B. has been featured in a short Austin music documentary by Jillian Glantz. www.vimeo.com/18695934
a job your job
Happy Horse Hotel. Bastrop, TX
Driving tractor and scooping horse poop. Trail maintenance.
Mountain Farm, Burnsville, NC
Milked goats. Made Cheese.
Carnival Cruise Lines, Miami, FL/ New York, NY
Sang and played guitar for tourists 5 hours per night, 6 nights per week on the Carnival Triumph (the insult boat).
White Gull Inn, Fish Creek, WI
Worked as a bartender and bussed tables. Ate White Fish and potatoes.
Tide Mill Farms, Edmunds, ME
Harvested blueberries with hand-rakes at an organic farm
C and C Pawn Eau Claire,WI
Wheeled and dealed as a pawn shop cashier.
Skil-Tech, Eau Claire, WI
Worked light construction. Wore a hard hat.
Leader Creek Fisheries, Naknek, AK
Packaged Sockeye Salmon for 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Rode frozen
headless King Salmon around the plant like a horse.
Hunter S. Thompson
Excerpt From ‘Busker’ by D.B. Rouse
Out now in physical format ( http://www.amazon.com/Busker-D-B-Rouse/dp/1481199838/ ) and e-book format( http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AL4LLJ4 ), ‘Busker’ tells of life on the road as a dirty broke musician, as well as working a checkered series of jobs. Some of which include work in an Alaskan Salmon plant, harvesting blueberries in Maine, and working as a lounge singer on a cruise ship.
“….The following is based on true events that occurred between 2007 and 2012. At times, for the sake of the text, I combined a few people or locations into one person or place. At times, I’ve told my imagination where to begin then allowed it to run wild. Librarians should file this work under partial-fiction. The names of certain people, places, and companies have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty. Except my name; that one stayed the same, and you can be the judge of my innocence.
I was dreaming I was on a boat — a boat on the salty lukewarm stew of the Atlantic — busily doing absolutely nothing. I could hear the waves gently pounding the side of the boat. It was as though I had stuck my head inside a seashell and fell asleep. The ocean slowly rocked me awake, and I found I was not in a boat, but actually stretched out awkwardly across the front seats of my minivan.
For the last couple days I had been sleeping there, at a rest stop forty miles west of Nashville. The sun was just starting to rise over the hood of the van. Oddly enough, I could still hear ocean waves gently swishing against the vehicle. As my vision came into focus, I saw that it wasn’t ocean waves at all. It was in fact a raggedy homeless man wiping down my windshield. I scowled at him, and shook my head ‘No. No business here, buddy.’
He moved on to the next parked vehicle. Maybe he was hard up for money to put toward his first drink of the day; maybe he just liked watching people sleep. Either way, I passed out again. I needed rest. Besides, I had a boat I wanted to get back to.
I had gotten into Nashville a few days earlier. I was thinking about moving there eventually but wanted to get to know the place before I made any plans. All I was certain of at that point was that I was very uncertain about Nashville. I wandered around downtown aimlessly for several days. I took in the lights, the crowds, the vibe. I meandered through ancient libraries and played open mics.
Nashville was a lot like how I pictured L.A., except that instead of everyone in town being an aspiring or burnt out actor, people here were all burnt out or aspiring musicians, like me. For instance, I traded CDs with the security guard at the bank.
After another day and another round of open mics among musicians who were trying to be pop star stereotypes, I gave up the ghost and decided that my heart wasn’t in Nashville. That I should try to peddle my talents, or delusions of talent, elsewhere. But my feet were dragging. I had really been hoping this would be the place for me, that I would feel at home here, that I would be discovered overnight without putting any effort into it and start a rigorous national tour schedule. Honestly, I still hope for overnight success, even if that night is actually thirty or forty years of hard work.
So my big clumsy feet were dragging and would not let me leave town. Instead, they brought me downtown to Broadway, where I opened my guitar case and started to busk for bread.
I started at 10 AM that day. Almost immediately I became something of a tourist attraction. Maybe my look had a bit to do with it. This was my first music-hobo trip and I had weird hygiene rules. I thought I would somehow be more marketable as a street musician if I was clean-shaven, had short hair, and wore a dress jacket and a nice shirt. I looked like an illegitimate son of Hank Williams.
People would crowd around me while I was playing and get their pictures taken. I couldn’t help laughing as I pictured myself in all these strangers’ pictures, projected life-size up on a wall of some family’s Nashville slideshow.
“This one was taken on Broadway downtown. In Nashville, the natives play music on the street corners!” the narrator would say, while audience members were falling asleep or plotting an exit.
It really did wonders for my ego, like I was on my way to becoming a star or something. They’d drop a dollar into my guitar case and then inevitably ask me a question that would shatter the illusion.
“Where’s the Country Music Hall of Fame from here?”
“I don’t know. I just got into town a few days ago.”
“Oh. Where are you from?”
“Wisconsin,” I’d reply, and they would all walk away, probably feeling they had been conned out of a dollar and a photo by a fast-talking Yankee.
A little girl of about three or four walked by, stopped, and listened to me in an entranced state for two entire songs. Her parents cooed and took photos the whole time. By the end of the second song I had attracted a full mob of grandmothers, like they had all formed a gang and started roaming the streets in search of babies and soft food. After I had lost the little girl’s attention and she went off with her family, the whole cheek-pinching bunch pinched their purses and tipped me, generously. I put serious thought into running after that little girl, giving her a cut of the money, and setting up a deal with her in which she would stop by every few hours and listen to a couple songs. Maybe I could make it in this town yet.
Shortly after that, a Willie Nelson look-a-like walked by. He led a different walking tour past every hour or so. He would stop the tours right next to me as I played and tell people, “Here in Nashville there is an old tradition of musicians busking on Broadway. Oftentimes they play here for sixteen hours a day, as it is their only source of income.” He then led the tourists past single file; some of his clients even tipped.
Financially speaking, Willie’s look-a-like had me pegged. Busking had become my sole income source. I had quit my job, my life, and taken to the road to make music: a romantic-sounding suicide and rebirth. It would become a lot less romantic and wonderfully, terribly real before too long. But it sure didn’t feel real here. That’s because Nashville isn’t a town, it’s an amusement park. On that day I was just an old-fashioned carnie, juggling reality and illusion for tourists who preferred the illusion.
There was a twenty-something hobo type who passed my corner sidewalk stage every once in a while. He was a larger fellow, with a long dreadlock mullet and a giant rucksack on his back. He had slightly sunken, lively eyes framed by a stubbly face and short bangs. Every time he passed he would stop and sing along to whatever I was playing.
He was passing me for the fifth time at about 2 PM that day. I had just finished a song and was thinking about calling it quits when he asked, “You want a beer?”
Hell yes I did. “Hell yes,” I said.
“Cool. I’ll go grab some and come back in a few.”
Off he went. I continued busking, figuring he’d be back shortly. After a parched hour, he made it back and said, ”I got kicked out of Coyote’s, but I got two twenty-four-ounce cans of Ice House from the store next to them.”
I paused. Were we going to drink these in public, right there on Broadway? And who was this guy anyway? Why should I even trust him?
Because he had beer, that’s why. He raised the bag with the beverages up and said, “We should drink these over in the park at the end of the street.”
“Okay,” I replied.
“My name is John the Firetruck,” he said as I put my guitar away.
“Nice to meet you Mr. Firetruck. I’m D.B. Rouse.”
We set off walking toward the park wedged between the end of Broadway and the Cumberland River. “How long you been here, D.B.?” he drawled.
“About a week. You?”
“Well I got here yesterday morning. I was trying to get to Alabama. Turns out the train I hopped was going here instead.”
We were weaving in and out of tourist traps. Get your “old-timey” photo taken. Get your Nashville shot glass, thimble, or spoon. Have a caricature of yourself drawn. Ahead of us I saw a bald man sitting on the sidewalk with a live monkey on his shoulder. For a little cash, you could get your picture taken with it. Nothing says Nashville like this man’s monkey.
When John saw the Monkey Man he turned to me, dreadlocked mullet swinging in the wind, and said excitedly, “You gotta meet this guy. He is so cool.”
When we got close to the Monkey Man he jumped to his feet, pointed at John, and screamed, “The cops!”
John and I stopped in our tracks. The monkey darted behind his owner’s giant, bald head in search of cover.
“The cops are looking for you, you son of a bitch!” the Monkey Man continued yelling at John. He was beginning to draw in tourists. ”I don’t know what you were on last night, but people had to hold me back. I was going to strangle you. You don’t go around saying shit like that here … not in Nashville.”
John the Firetruck calmly walked over to him, looked him square in the eyes and said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged. Condemn not, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Luke six, thirty-seven.”
Then John walked on past him, and I quickly followed. The Monkey Man’s eyes burned a hole in John’s dreadlocks, and the confused tourists scattered.
“I see you’ve gotten to know the locals,” I said to him after walking in silence for a while.
“Yeah.” He looked into space thoughtfully. “I don’t remember what he’s talking about. I woke up under a bridge at three o’clock this morning, stone-cold sober.”
We ducked behind a wall in the park and cracked open our beer. About forty yards to the left of us, the shadiest, most desperate and lowdown-looking group of street people I had ever seen milled about in a circle. They were skinny as rails and caked in grime. Their eyes were sunken and had dark circles around them, like they were looking out of a cave. Their clothing was in tatters and gave them the general appearance of medieval peasants with the Black Plague.
“Steer clear of them,” John said nodding in their direction. “They drink Listerine. I tried it with them once, but never again. I’m a bit of a drunk, but give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty. Proverbs thirty-one, six.”
I got the feeling that he used some of these Bible passages a lot. I also had the feeling that he was just making things up and attributing them to the Bible.
“John!” a gruff voice shouted from down a ways. I turned and saw two more hobos sitting against the wall. They seemed closer to the John variety than the Listerine-drinking kind. The fellow yelling at John had about half of a skinny joint in his hand and was waving us over with it. We got up, toting guitar and beer, walked around some tourists, and followed the pungent smell to its source.
“Hey John, how are you?” said the older hobo, passing him the joint.
“Better now,” John replied.
The two hobos looked up at me, sizing me and my suit up.
“Hi. I’m D.B. I just hit the road the other day, and I’ve decided to be a hobo,” I explained.
The older one, who looked a lot like a philosophy professor I had in a past life, chuckled and said to himself, “A self-made hobo …”
The younger one, who seemed about John’s age, said, “Well, hi D.B. I’m Dan. You know where I can find some crack?”
“No. I uhh … just got here a few days ago.”
He grinned an unshaven grin at me. “So you want to be a hobo? What train did you come into town on?”
“Actually, I drove here. I have a van.”
“Then you’re not a hobo at all,” Dan said. “You’re what they call a tire tramp. Mind if I pluck your guitar?”
I popped open my guitar case and pulled out my Taylor. “Now Dan,” I said, still holding the guitar, “this guitar is my one and only. I’ve named her Meal-ticket …”
“I get it, I get it. I’ll be gentle with her.” Dan said and grabbed Meal-ticket out of my hands.
We all sat around listening as he busted out a handful of hard-drinking, curse-filled, drugged-out Hank III songs.
The Professor turned to me. “So you’ve decided to be a hobo? I don’t know anyone who would choose to live like this.”
I thought about this for a moment. “Well it seems like a kind of simple and carefree way to go about life,” I said, with Woody Guthrie and Jack Kerouac ideals rattling around loosely in my head.
“Kid,” Professor started, with Dan singing a song about crack in the background. “I’m fifty-seven years old. Most days I’m lucky to get a good meal if I ain’t sifting through garbage. I once had a great job, a wife, and a family. I see them everywhere I go. I’m from Nevada, see,” he took an expired Nevada license out of his pocket. ”And I’m actually slowly making my way back there. I woke up one morning in Reno, deathly hungover, penniless after a night of gambling. My life’s savings, my family’s well-being thrown away like so much Monopoly money in the wind. I couldn’t go back to my family. I couldn’t face them like that. So here I am, four years later.”
Dan had stopped playing and he handed Meal-ticket back to me. He scratched the side of his head vigorously, raising a small cloud of dust. “Is anyone else here literally itching for crack?” he asked.
I strummed my guitar gently as John offered Dan a cigarette. He offered me and the Professor one as well, but I passed.
“I’m trying to kick the habit too,” John said, lighting one. “I’m just waiting on that ten-day sentence so I can come out clean.”
The Professor lit his cigarette and asked, “Mind if I play a few songs on your Meal-ticket there?”
“Sure,” I said and handed it to him.
The Professor played ‘Stairway’ and ‘Turn the Page’ before handing me back my guitar.
“I’m sorry I bled all over your guitar, man,” he said. His strumming thumb had ripped open at some point. His splattered blood was drying on Meal-ticket as I put it away.
John crushed his empty beer can. “I think we need more beer,” he said.
“Should we vote to see who makes the next beer run?” Dan asked, looking directly at me.
“No. I’ll take care of this round,” the Professor said.
I split when the Professor did, us going opposite ways. I found my van and drove forty miles west to my parking spot at the rest stop. It’s the space right in front of the “No Overnight Parking” sign.
I woke up from a bad dream that I immediately forgot. That morning brought no strange visitors to clean my windshield. Through the smudges and dead bugs on the glass, I could see an overcast summer day beginning.
I drove back into Nashville and busked at my corner. Things were slow. People passed by quickly. I barely had any money in my case when he came along.
I could smell him before I saw him. He smelled like Everclear and moonshine stills exploding in the Tennessee hills. He was a grizzled old man wearing a cowboy hat and leather vest, and he was stumbling towards me.
I remember thinking to myself ‘This guy seems awfully drunk for 11 AM. Maybe I should play him a drinking song.’
I was about to play ‘Tear in my Beer’ when he stopped two feet in front of me and asked, “Are you an angel, son?”
He took a step forward, bloodshot eyes burning into mine. “You look like an angel, son. Are you an angel?”
“No. No, no,” I said, shaking my head and taking a step back. “I’m real and alive. I’m also a black belt in Karate,” I lied.
He took another step closer. “It’s just … I heard you singing. And then I saw you, and you gotta be an angel.”
I tried to take another step back, but was blocked by a building. “Nope. You are mistaken.” I was looking for an escape route. I knew I could dash either left or right, but the guitar would be an issue, and I’d have to leave the case.
’Wait — there is nothing to worry about here,’ I rationalized to myself. ‘It’s downtown Nashville, bustling with people in broad daylight. He’s not going to try to pull anything. Stay calm.’
He took another big step toward me, our faces almost touching. “You must be an angel,” he insisted. His moonshine-soaked words brushed the skin of my cheek. I could see every horrible syllable before it came out of his scattered yellow teeth.
‘Shit,’ I thought. ‘So this is how it ends.’ He was going to pull a knife and make an angel out of me yet.
He continued, “See, I had a son ‘bout your age, ‘bout your height. Had your eyes and big nose too.”
“Well I’m not him. I’m D.B. Rouse, from Wisconsin.”
“My son,” he went on without blinking, “just died in Iraq.”
“I’m terribly sorry to hear that, sir,” I said.
He stuck his hand out to shake mine. He had a grip like a vise. “My son played music too. Now you play.”
I broke into a shaky version of ‘On the Road Again’ as the old man took a welcome step back. He started hitting his leg in time, and then pulled a harmonica out of his vest. We weren’t in the same key but he kept squealing away on it, stopping every so often to mutter something about angels.
After I finished that song, he snatched my guitar pick from my hand and tossed it into the street. Then he pulled out a thin wallet, found something in it and pressed it into my palm.
“There. That’s better,” he said.
I looked into my hand and saw a black guitar pick with a silver, glittery crucifix painted on its side.
At this point, another busker who had been watching us from the safety of a few blocks walked over. “Hey old man,” he said to the drunk cowboy.
“What do you want?”
“Was wondering if you wanted to go get a drink with me,” he said to the grizzled drunk.
They started walking away. The busker turned around after a few steps and said, “On a side note, buddy, you are playing in my spot, and if you know what’s best, you’ll vacate A-S-A-P.”
Then they disappeared into the nearest bar. I closed the guitar case and wandered to my van, put the seat back, and closed my eyes.
I had that bad dream again. There was a big electric cowboy picking up buses like toys, singing karaoke with Jesus’ voice and telling me I’d burn on a cross for sins I never pulled off in Nashville. When I woke up, I was driving toward Memphis.”