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Hizzoner Saves the Day - Baron Von Rumblebuss, Chatham Community LIbrary, 6/17/16

The Baron and his Barbie fans
Want to hear a good story?

On Friday, I had a gig with Baron Von Rumblebuss at the Chatham Community Library. BVR is a kids rock band (music for kids, not by them) started by Tray Batson some years ago. Tray is a music therapist at Duke hospital, and BVR is a logical extension of his work as well as his love of good power pop music. The Baron writes the tunes and sings lead on most, with capable backing from his cohorts Princess Lulu La Li (Kathleen Batson on vocals, keys and wind instruments), Pofus Fimonfen (Mark Simonsen on drums) and yours truly, The Black Hole (on Fender bass).


Recently, I've been having issues of soreness in my left hand and arm.
Comparative sizes
of P-Bass (L)
and Mustang Bass (R)
Tray, who moonlights as a bassist, offered me the use of his Fender Mustang Bass which is far lighter and shorter than my own Precision Bass. So that was the plan going into the library show.

I drove out to Pittsboro and got to the library around 4:15, forty-five minutes before our show was scheduled to start. Tray and Kathleen were already setting up the PA, and Mark had pulled up to unload his kit. I looked around for the Mustang case. Tray realized he had forgotten to bring it and looked stricken. We were bassless, in a manner of speaking.

We began looking for possible options. I said, "well, I can use your twelve-string and fudge the low stuff on that" which was met with blank stares. That conjured up images of the Cramps, sort of. We also started trying to think of anyone in a nearby radius that might be in possession of a Fender bass. Former BVR lead guitar whiz Peebo Flash (noted high-end amp builder Steve Carr) got a call and a text message, as did Beth Turner who was BVR's original bassist; I even tried Jeff Crawford from Arbor Ridge Studio, about 8 miles back up the road. Nothing.

As we cogitated our next move, a tall bearded man entered the room and walked toward the stage area.

I'm not the kind of guy who does this ordinarily, but I looked up at him and said, "Do you have a bass?"

He paused, looked at me and said, "Well, actually I do have a bass."

"Where is it?"

"At home."

"How far away is home?"

"About five minutes away."

"Let's go."

We began walking toward his car and continued our conversation along the way to his house. 

He was apparently aware of who I was and had seen me play a number of times and guises. I asked him his name and what he did.

"Actually, I do have a bass."
His name was Randolph "Randy" Voller, and his prior occupations were Mayor of Pittsboro NC for four terms, after which he became chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party. I was fairly stunned by this, but Randy and I talked easily of many things like different eras of Kinks fans, state politics, and his radio program and house concerts. 

We swung by his lovely home, and he let me borrow his 'house bass.' I met his wife Lesley who rode back with us to the library. Randy and Lesley let me off out front, and I raced in to join the band, about five minutes before the show was scheduled to start.

So it began.
We rocked the kids, the show was saved, but the story is not over.

At the end of the show, Beth Turner came up to me and said, "That's my bass." I said, no, it belonged to the mayor as I'd just gotten it from him. Beth said, "No, it actually belongs to my husband. Randy's brother." I said, "oh," and she continued "And don't call him 'the mayor,'" rolling her eyes. "He's not the mayor anymore."

After all was said and done, Beth very kindly returned the bass, her bass, to her brother-in-law, Hizzoner, the former mayor of Pittsboro and head of the NC Democratic Party. I drove home to Durham, shaking my head at the circumstances and grateful to have made several new friends out of a case of the direst necessity. 

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