Welcome to the End
RUMBELLY: WELCOME TO THE END My friend Captain Rumbelly was going through some serious changes. Recently he had gotten his third DUI on his Harley and had lost his driver's license for three years. He was a manic-depressive to begin with, but he was becoming more and more pensive and morose. Gone was the outgoing, fun-loving party animal - perhaps he simply removed the mask. In the last seven years he had lost his twenty-three-year-old son; lost three members of the now defunct Panhead Pirates; left his wife of twenty-four years; declared bankruptcy; did time in jail; sold his home in Colorado and moved to Santa Fe where he entered into a blue funk fueled by sex, drugs and alcohol. The latest DUI, apparently, was the straw that broke the camel's back. Early one morning I was sipping coffee on my deck while admiring the breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains when I heard the throaty sound of a Harley putting up the hill. In a few moments Rumbelly rumbled onto my property and joined me. It had been a while. I shook his hand and offered him some java. He cut to the quick suggesting that we write another album: tunes that accurately reflected his innermost feelings about his troubled life experiences. He insisted that the new album would not be bawdy and ribald like the last, and implied that, perhaps, the party was over. I was beginning to worry about my old friend but agreed to help him write and produce these strange, heart-felt songs to the best of my meager abilities. Rumbelly allowed me to glimpse briefly into his troubled soul - and I must say that it was a phantasmagoria of melancholy madness! Within two hours we had written 'Trial & Tribulation.' That night we had a few drinks. My friend was telling me about a woman he had not seen in decades - his first love. Rumbelly looked at me through teary eyes and exclaimed, 'It's been 10,000 nights without her!' I simply jotted down his forlorn ramblings and the following day turned them into a song. Over the next two months Rumbelly stayed with me at my mountain home. Every night, all night long, we sat out on the deck drinking rum and watching shooting stars fall from the Milky Way - Colorado nights. One night he was gazing at the moon when he suddenly began whistling a beautiful, sad melody. It reverberated through the Ponderosa pines and seemed to harmonize with the crickets. He took a deep breath and exhaled: 'The night air has the fragrance of Shalimar.' He bowed his head and wept, recalling bittersweet memories. Shalimar is the purest of human pleasures - it is also his ex-wife's perfume. Night after night he recalled intriguing stories. He told me about being in the Army; about serving time in a dungeon-like prison in Panama; about motorcycle road trips; crazy rum-soaked adventures from Hawaii to the Virgin Islands and south to Old Mexico; he longed for Dallas and the good old days of his topsy-turvy youth; he lamented his long-lost convicted brother; he mourned the passing of his son and his youngest brother; he also mourned his lost loves, missed opportunities and broken dreams. Some of the nights were almost unbearable for me. My friend was causing me to question my own sanity. I began to realize what Rumbelly was - and that Rumbelly was a part of me! Rumbelly and I formed a band with Stephen Tholberg and John June in early 2004 and, with the help of many talented musicians, recorded this album. Rumbelly was a meticulous taskmaster in the studio, but a real terror. More than once his drug- and alcohol-induced rages threatened to shut down the whole project. The boys and I somehow endured his mood swings and dangerous temper tantrums. Luckily the Captain's irrepressible sense of humor always prevailed and saved the day just in the nick of time. The album was near completion. Rumbelly was singing the last song - the title track. Those of us who were there that night were dumbfounded by his emotional rendering of this haunting piece of music. We sat in the dimly lit control room watching him through the glass while he sang. The song faded out and Rumbelly stood motionless in the soft-colored light as the last notes evaporated into the atmosphere. We silently watched him seeming to slowly disappear along with the fading strains. Most of the songs on this CD represent some form of redemption (as if an apologetic Captain Rumbelly could actually be redeemed by our music), but the title track seems to be the acceptance of an inevitable retribution. It was pay-back time. Rumbelly finished his drink, put on his black leather jacket and sunglasses, and walked through the control room without saying a word. He left the building and stumbled over to his old Harley, cranked it up and, without looking back, sped off into the empty darkness. That was the last time I saw my old friend. An hour later he deliberately rode off a cliff on Wolf Creek Pass to his death. With heart and humor this collection of introspective songs tells the story of a troubled soul. The music has been called 'Retro Rockin' Rhythm & Blues', but in the final analysis it is the individual listener who determines genre. It is eclectic without being schizophrenic and somewhat sophisticated without being esoteric. It weaves poignant lyrical refrains into a variety of rhythms and styles, but never belies the intent of the album or the integrity of the music. One does not merely listen to this music - one experiences it! It is a trip through the weird, inexplicable territories of the mind of a madman. But wait! All of us are capable of slipping into madness and you will find yourself empathizing. Captain Rumbelly is gone but RUMBELLY, the band, will rock on. Welcome to the end! ---------- DC Duncan.