Destin, FL – “Folking Memorial Day” – Harbor Docks – May 28, 1999

BOILED PEANUTS SUCK!!!! But we had to try them. The road that runs through Dothan, Alabama, the proclaimed Peanut Capital of the U.S., is lined with vendors flashing loud Neon, Vegas-worthy signs, each with an invitation to try their nuts:
“Boiled Peanuts!”
“Fried Peanuts!!”
“Green Peanuts!!!”
“Get ’em now!”
“Taste Them! Wow!”

Always up for an adventure, Dellucci pulled onto a grassy shoulder and we poured ourselves from the blissfully airconditioned cabin into the soupy southern humidity. We copped a sandwich bag of boiled nuts from a wiry-haired woman who’d just dropped her dentures in a plastic cup full of coke when we approached.
“Takes the rot off’um better than Listerine,” she laughed when we declined her offer of beverages with our order. Off to the side, in a gravely patch, Soucy insisted we film everyone’s first experience with boiled peanuts and giddily handed each of us a shelled nut from our newly acquired stash. The normally dry husk I’d grown attached to belonging to my peanut experience was soggy and slimy. It didn’t make for a great first impression.

Kenny went first, not that we were going in any specific order, he just got to the nut before the rest of us. He popped the rubbery, albino nut in his mouth and his face wrenched into a scowel of cartoonish proportions. You’d think the rest of us would’ve heeded his reaction, but like anything disgusting, one needs to try it first hand.

The peanut was a slug in my mouth, deceptively tolerable, before its flavor kicked in; a combo of something rotten crossed with an oil refinery. I swallowed as fast as I could to get the foul flavor out of my mouth. The consensus was immediate—boiled peanuts were an acquired taste we hadn’t quite acquired. I approached our toothless vendor again. She laughed like a banshee when I told her I’d take her up on that beverage after all. But all the orange soda in the world wouldn’t erase the taste in my mouth.

“How do these peanut galleries have enough fans to survive?” I wondered aloud as we drove away.
“Maybe they make their living off ignorant, curious tourists like us driving through their nutty capital,” suggested Kenny.

A ½ mile later my mouth still tasted skunked so I insisted we stop at a supermarket to find something to de-funkify our tastebuds. My cell phone rang in the middle of the store. It’s always embarrassing to have an alarm-like ring go off in a public place but how extraordinary to be able to wirelessly communicate almost anywhere?!?! It was my friend Jayson from Chicago who said he might come to the show in St. Louis. I was overjoyed. We chatted as I perused endless isles of processed food. In the end, I settled on some loose carrots and a squeeze bottle of honey mustard. Back in the van, I used a dull-bladed carrot peeler to scrape the carrot skin into an empty coffee mug. I should have gone on vocal rest after our last show, I reflected. I’m starting to get horse and, what the band calls ‘krevelly,’ a mixture of gravely and straight-up crappy. It started to rain, that Florida-style fat droplet rain, and I sat shotgun, peeling carrots, doing vocal exercises hoping my voice would de-krevel by the time we got to the gig.

By the time we showed up in Destin, the weather cleared. Thankfully too, because Harbor Dock’s stage is a pier… not on a pier folks…but, a literal pier.

Eric (our favorite bubble machine opener) drove down from Mobile to see us. In our days apart, he’d written and recorded a tribute to our time together in NOLA when he had to sleep with six strangers. The song was genius.

As a massive crowd filed into Harbor Docks, it suddenly occurred to us it was Memorial Day weekend! Shit!!! How was this huge, extremely drunk, youthful crowd going to react to our folking music?!?! As I’d predicted, our first set was…. eh hem…difficult. We had about 50 people up front who were diligently listening and growing increasingly annoyed with the drunken bantering the rest of the crowd was doing. Halfway through the set, a very drunk pair of brothers in cargo shorts started heckling us, so I grabbed one of them up on stage and told the audience he was going to do a modern dance interpretation of the next song. The guy proved hysterical! He danced offbeat and flapped his arms like a mating ostrich. At the end of the song, he decided he didn’t want to leave. In fact, he wanted to sing a Johnny Cash song and called his brother up on stage to join him.

In drunk-eese, he shouted into the mic, “We’re gonna sing, we’re gonna sing…..shhhhhh… We’re gonna sing a REEEEEAL song now. ‘Walk the Line.’ Hit it boys!” The band looked at me and I shrugged and suggested we play along. Promptly, the pair forgot all the words to their song. They spit ropey saliva all over my mic and treated us like their private karaoke party.

“All Southerners aren’t rednecks,” a clean-cut gent near the front yelled apologetically as we took our set brake early. The harbor was directly behind us and a crowd of respectful pelicans watched, flapped and dried their feathers atop barnacled pilings. Soucy suggested we skip the rest of the gig and just play for the birds.

We decided to kick the second set off with “If I Had a Million Dollars” by The Bare Naked Ladies. Eric joined us, lifting our spirits significantly. If only he’d brought his bubble machine for this crowd. Uninspired to play our songs to a Memorial Day crowd that preferred to sing Johnny Cash songs they didn’t know the words to, we riffed on a funky made-up song that got people on the dance floor. Since we were making the song up as we went, we didn’t know exactly how to end it, and, like Chevy Chase, unable to get of the roundabout in National Lampoons European Vacation, we wound up playing the same song for an hour. I even took a break to get a drink at one point and no one in the crowd was any the wiser.

Harbor Dock’s may not have been my favorite gig but the venue did hook us up with 3 (not 2 but 3) rooms at the Best Rest Inn and I got my own room!!! I love my guys but man, it was nice to be lonely for a night. The room looked like an old shoe, not because of it’s size so much but because it felt so worn in. It looked like it’d walked through puddles and grown fungus and lost a chunk of its sole but I got some dreaming done and to sleep alone so I can’t complain.

Cheers to the adventures that await, to the friends along the way, and yes, even to the peculiar tastes we brave. After all, doesn’t every memorable tale deserve a flavor all its own?

Reader interactions

4 Replies to “Destin, FL – “Folking Memorial Day” – Harbor Docks – May 28, 1999”

  1. Wow – the boiled peanut experience foretold the rest of the gig. I guess there are always a few bad days to make you appreciate the good ones

    Your comment, “It’s always embarrassing to have an alarm-like ring go off in a public place but how extraordinary to be able to wirelessly communicate almost anywhere?!” was a reminder that it USED TO BE TABOO to take calls in public. I kinda miss those days

    1. It’s amazing to recall (no pun intended) the early days of cell phones when those 5 lb things would be sticking out of your pocket with a giant antena and a ringer that couldn’t be switched to silent. People would stare at you like you were talking to yourself and might be crazy and there were more dead spots than live ones all around the country. Those were the days sister!

  2. such fun reading these memories of yours!!! and the peanuts… omg the peanuts.. every month when I would go with the Animal Aid USA caravan to rescue dogs and cats— my dad, still alive and in his shitkickin 80’s, would say, “You know what I want from Georgia, right, daughter?” and I’d have to endure the “not so in jest” ridicule from my van mates for buying those nasty things– Fresh and Hot at the gas station.. woohoo… But it made the old man happy!!

    1. I will never understand the pallet required to enjoy, let alone, accomodate those nasty little “nut” critters. Blech!

Comments are closed.