Saturday Night at Shakespeare’s Pub – Part II

Part I  Johnny

Part II  Holland K. Smith

Part III  Black and White

Part IV  Dancing Girl

Holland K. Smith band

Holland K. Smith band

Part II

**Note: This is a fictitious story – something I made up as I was watching the show Saturday night.  Holland’s thoughts are purely from my imagination.  The words that appear in italics below are from the song “Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” by Holland K. Smith on his album Walking Heart Attack.  I did not take the black and white photo of Holland (below).  It is from his website and I claim no ownership of that photo or his lyrics or music.  Everything else came from me.**

Holland K. Smith

Holland K. Smith


Holland picks up his guitar, steps up to the microphone and calls, “Bartender! The jukebox please.  The jukebox.”

He sees her flip the tap handle back to stop the flow of Samuel Adams into the beer glass and then scurry back to turn off the classic rock background music. The air conditioning smells a little like mildew and he brushes his nose.

It’s Saturday night.  Shakespeare’s Pub in Houston.  Tired from the drive down from Ft. Worth – four hours in the van.  He figures that Shorty may have to do the driving on the way back home later.  No matter – even after almost 20 years of doing these blues joint gigs, he never gets tired of singing and playing.

First sets always make him nervous.  He can feel his heart rate coming up.  He’ll be in his groove in a few songs. He doesn’t like to think about his pulse right now or the sweat starting to form on his upper lip.  He switches thoughts.  He’ll make a little money.  Enough to make half of a car payment this month.  He glances down at the set list taped to the floor.  New songs first.  Starting off with the title track from his new cd Cobalt.  He fiddles with his volume knob, looks at his amp level, strums three quick chords to check his tuning.  He tilts the mic a little lower, pushes his black framed glasses up and steals a quick glance at the folks sitting at the table to his right.  Older crowd.

It’s showtime.

He nods to prep his band, raises the neck of his guitar and with perfect timing they nail the first note all together on the same beat.  He hints at a smile then returns to his guitar riff.  He quickly recalls his opening lyrics, ready to test his voice for the first time.  It’s good.  It’s strong.  He’s on his game.  He plays on, four songs in a row, settling in with his confidence going way up.  It’s gonna be a good night he thinks to himself as his drummer switches to mostly cymbals at this point in the song.  Keyboard solo.  He steps away from the mic stand and strums his chords.  He’s sure enough now that things are going good with the band that he can take longer looks at the people who came to hear him.  Mostly men at the bar.  Couples at the tables.  One gal in a black dress, stirring her drink, purse squeezed under her armpit.  A rough looking dude with his shirt open, leaning against the post, beer bottle held down by his side.  A black and white couple – she’s big and fat,barely fits in her dress. He’s gray, bloated too – looks like a retired engineer or office guy.  Keyboard solo finishing up.  He steps back up to the mic and belts out the next verse.  He lets the music consume his thoughts again.

In the middle of the second set, he plays the song that everybody requests, though nobody has requested it yet tonight.  Most of these folks are drinking, talking – drunk dancing a little.  But he knows his fans will immediately know that this was THE song – the song that was his big hit- the reason they all keep coming back.  This is the one that put him on the charts.  This is the one that he could get tired of playing but still never has.  It’s the one that reminds him that he’s a guitar man, still good looking even at 42 and can still sack a pool hall girl every now and then, even if it’s that crazy dancing girl in the black dress – the one who talked him up the whole break while he smoked his cigarettes.

Holland K. Smith singing Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Holland K. Smith singing Devil and the Deep Blue Sea


Ohh, gonna tell you ’bout the shape I’m in
That woman’s got the best of me
My friends all tell me I got to make my decision
Between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Another mixed-race couple. He’s black and she’s white this time.  Taking a quick look at his fingers as he bars the F chord, he realizes that this is the third mixed couple he’s seen here so far.  Drunk lady howls with laughter back in the corner somewhere.  Cue ball slams into a cluster of freshly racked balls with a loud crack.  Rough looking dude by the pole tries to sing along, sipping at his beer.  Dancing girl strides across the floor, jerking and twisting dangerously in her high heels.

Might as well drop me off the highest building
Hang me from the tallest tree
I’ve got to make a choice on down the line
Between the devil and the deep blue sea.

He used to play at Sullivan’s over on Westheimer years ago.  Better crowd. Business suits. Ladies in fine dresses who hire personal trainers.  Thick steaks and high priced drinks.  Same results, different club.  Paid a little better.  Glad to still be playing, even if it’s Miller Lite being spilled instead of Grey Goose.

He spots a goofy looking guy dancing a jig with his bar stool.  Holland smiles because the fella loves this song and dances his dance no matter what people may think.

Ohh I toss around in bed, walk the floors at night
Ohh! What a shape I’m in
Just when I think I’m startin’ to get a bit better
Here comes that old feelin’ again!

He wishes he’d brought more of his old cd’s to sell.  There’s only 2 left.  He’s got 2 boxes of the new one, and he’s sold almost 10 of those.  But the re-order for his best selling cd didn’t come in so he had to drive down with only 5 of the Walking Heart Attack cds.   He’s sold three so far which means he’ll have to plug the new ones harder.  He takes email addresses so he can mail a copy if they want to do that.

He’ll be taking a break after this song. One more set then pack up and head for home. He reminds himself to get the dancing girls phone number.

I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I just worry all the time
Ohh, what’s gonna happen to me
My friends all tell me I got to make my decision
Between the devil and the deep blue sea

[guitar solo]

(to be continued)

Part I  Johnny

Part II  Holland K. Smith

Part III  Black and White

Part IV  Dancing Girl

About Wayne to the Max

Active writer, dancer, traveler, Christian and father, aviation enthusiast, photographer, music lover and a DJ, hiker, Harley driver and fine wine drinker. My digital photo artist page:
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