Excerpts from The Sackbut Tapes to Tape #19: The Akron Mob

TAPE #4: Ira Fails His CaptainHarry Buys a HammerThe Cretin Takes a Piss at
the Peabody

SACKBUT: I got kind of frustrated with that
fucking Ira. I never seriously expected the
Captain Sackbut Show to come off, but we
took some wonderful pictures and that fucker
never even developed them. Incredible pic-
tures, with Buzz standing there holding a musi-
cal note, made of cardboard, coming out of
my mouth, and me holding a record player,
with the plug coming out of the hole in my
knee, and me holding my finger on the rec-
ord, like it was the needle.

BUMPPO: Now, that’s the kind of shit we
need to illustrate this book.

SACKBUT: Well, that’s why I got so angry
at Ira. I could have cared less whether there
was ever a Captain Sackbut Show, but I
really wanted to make those pilot tapes. It
would be a wonderful thing to have, to look at,
10 years from today, 20 years from today. . . .

Did the Cretin tell you how we figured out

that he and I must have been at the same hotel,
at the same time, like three years before we’d
ever met?

It was in Omaha, Nebraska, and I was with
Russ Carlisle; we played at Peony Park. And
the Cretin was with a fucking circus band.
And there were midgets and all that.

And Harry Pendleton, who was that crazy
drummer with Russ Carlisle; that mother-fuck-
er had long hair way before any of the hippies.
That day we were in Omaha, our entertain-
ment for the afternoon was to first go to a
hardware store, where Harry walked in there
and said he wanted to buy a hammer. And

they had a whole binful. And Harry said to
the clerk, “Well, I want to try these out. I’m
not going to buy a hammer without trying one

And the counter had just brown paper on
it. And Harry pulled a pencil out of his pocket
and drew a little circle on the counter. And he
reached in the bin and took the hammers, one
by one, to take a whack at the little circle.
And if he hit the circle, he’d say, “That’s a
good one,” and toss it in one pile; and if he
missed the circle, he’d say, “That’s no good,”
and toss it in the other pile.

In the meantime the clerk stood there look-

ing at us as if to say, “What in the fuck is all of

And Harry finally got down to where he
finally decided one hammer was the best one
of all, and he bought the hammer! And walk-
ed out of the store.

ESME: How big was the circle?

SACKBUT: We spent a half-hour in that

The next thing we did was to go into a gro-
cery store, and Harry bought a package of
those plastic baggies – fairly large ones – and

Harry stuck one in the inside pocket of his
jacket; and we went into a soda shop, and
he ordered a malt. And the waitress brought
the malt, and Harry said, “Aw, come on! I
said, ‘To go!’”

She said, “Well, I don t remember your
asking for it to go, sir,” and he said, “Well,
I did!”

Then he said, “Well, look; I’ll tell you what
I’m going to do. I’ll just drink some of it here,
and I’ll take the rest of it with me anyway.

She said, “OK, I’ll get you a paper cup.
He said, “Hell, I don’t need a paper cup,”

and he poured the rest of the malt into his

ELLA: Did he stick the straw in his pocket?

SACKBUT: Well, one of the things we did
was to go into a fucking department store –
this was around Easter – and we bought a
dozen baby chickens, dyed different colors,
and we went into the hotel. And there was a
circus checked into the hotel at the same time
we were, OK?

So we took the baby chicks and left a
couple of them off on each floor. And then
we sat down in the lobby, and, sure enough,

about five or six minutes later, the phone rang
at the desk, and the clerk picked it up and
said, “Chickens?!”

So I told this story to the Cretin one time,
and the Cretin said, “Jesus Christ, I think I
was there!”

It was the Rome Hotel – the Rome Hotel in
Omaha, Nebraska. The Cretin said, “I think I
was in that hotel then, because I was playing
with a fucking circus there then!”

ELLA: The Peabody Hotel, in Memphis, had
some ducks, or swans, swimming in the foun-

BUMPPO: Is that the fountain that the
Cretin pissed in?

ELLA: No, he didn’t piss in the fountain. It
was some kind of a plant pot.

BUMPPO: At the Peabody.

ELLA: At the Peabody, at about 6 or 7 in
the morning, just about the time the musicians
were getting ready to get on the buses. . . .

The Cretin

TAPE #19: The Akron Mob

CRETIN: Something I heard on the radio
just now said to me: Mob. My old man
used to work in a hotel that was run by the
Mob. I’ve worked too many of these places,
man, seen too many of these fucking people.
It’s true. It’s all true. Especially in Chicago.
I’ve worked in bands that were owned by
these guys – not that I suspected, that I knew.
It was blatant. They have a band; they have
a place to hang out in. They eat there; they
drink there; they bring people there, say, “Hey,
that’s my band.

Bands are great for laundering money;
they’ve been doing it forever. It’s been a

pattern for a long time. It’s great; it’s a play-
thing, it gets them around all these things they
seem to dig, and they can always put their
money in a singer, man. I mean, who ever
checks their money? Then they own the
dude; and if he gets somewhere, he’s used,
they’re extracting favors from him.

Like when we did the Italian Boys Town
gig when I was with Sergio. It’s true, man;
I was driven around by those fuckers. I was
driven around by the Don of Akron, Ohio.
They had guns; they had all that shit. It was
absurd. These guys were running the Italian
Boys Town – or, they were the Boys! Ha!

These were “benefits,” and Sergio would do
several of them a year. He’d pay us, normal-
ly, out of his pocket, and he’d go sing for free,
and they’d get a bunch of bread.

They’d do it in a place where, where those
cats are from there’s sure to be an Italian area.
That’s where they came out of; that’s where
they had their power base; that’s where they
continue to have a power base. I ate at hous-
es where these guys’ wives cooked all this shit.
Ever had ricotta cheesecake?


CRETIN: It’s unbelievable. One of their

mothers made it. We were in this big, ramb-
ling house, and there were all these Italian guys
and gals, middle-aged; and the wives were do-
ing all the wife stuff, and all these guys were
mobsters, and their kids, you know? And our
conductor, Wayne, was always asking about
their guns, he wanted to know whether you
could carry a gun in that town; he’d engage
these guys in that conversation. And he’d
show them his piece, and they’d say no, you
couldn’t have a gun in this town, couldn’t get
a permit. The only people who could, they
said, were law enforcement, sheriff’s deputies.

“Who’s that?” he’d say. They’d say,
“That’s us. I’m a deputy sheriff; he’s a

deputy sheriff; we’re deputy sheriffs.

We had to split. We were eating at one of
their restaurants; we were always being taken
to their restaurants, they’d open them up just
for us, not let anyone else in. They insisted
that we have lunch before we got on the plane,
the next day, and Sergio didn’t want to fluff
them off. And we really didn’t have time; you
couldn’t just have a half-an-hour breakfast;
you’ve got to have the full course. They bring
out all this crap, and everybody’s got to be
seen with them, they take pictures, you know;
there are moron’s sons around. It’s absurd.
And they insisted we have all this food; and we
were waiting for something, somebody’s mom

had fixed something and they were bringing it.

And we were going to miss the fucking
plane in Cleveland, which was 50 miles away
or so.

So we finally got out of there, and there
really wasn’t enough time. And these cats
drove us. The expressway all the way to
Cleveland at 90 fucking miles an hour.
And somebody says the police will get us,
and these guys say, “We’ll get there. And
we’re in a 90-mile-an-hour caravan of black
! Pulling around other cars. This
guy kept saying, “Nah, it’s OK, man. They
know who we are.

And we didn’t get stopped.

It’s truly Dark Ages shit, man. And they’re
really into that thing about family. They’ll talk
just really scuzzy about chicks – murder, rape,
anything, it’s all cool, that’s something you can
laugh about. But don’t ever link that with

their families. They just don’t understand
the double standard involved.

Akron. One of those secondary Ohio
towns. It’s horrible. Those first Ohio
towns are ridiculous enough. . . .

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“Over hamburgers sold!”