is North Carolina
by Spunky Jitters
I approached the southeastern state known
Carolina, a dozen questions filled my head...
Will the NASCAR/WWE crowd warm up to our copyrighted
brand of frivolous mayhem? Will they ask us back
next year? Will my pre-arranged housing there
include a giant hole in the roof? Is the cast
made up primarily of Grateful Dead refugees? Would
I look good in dreadlocks? Will my sensitive nature
be too subtle for the rowdy crowds? Where should
I have lunch? Why am I asking myself these questions
in the first place?...So many questions, but the
answers arrived fast and furious upon my arrival.
Well, at least some of them did. I never did my
hair up in dreadlocks.
were very proud to bring The Sturdy Beggars
Mud Show to North
Carolina, a festival that is celebrating their
tenth anniversary. We were very well received,
and we have been asked back for another year or
three. This was accomplished with the very generous
push the Festival Management gave us with loads
of media opportunities. My partner, Fitzhugh Nicely,
with his many, many, (far too many to mention)
many years of experience, was the main mouthpiece
for us both. I was relegated to crazy antics and
constipated mugging, but hey – we need that
too. There is no “I” in “teamwork”
but there is one in “income.”
the new mud pit: built by none other
than Fitzhugh himself. A slight miscalculation
resulted in a mud pit that is roughly 12 times
the size of a normal mud pit, which resulted in
faster running and slower talking during the show.
It was quite an adjustment for a man of my IQ.
Also, a good dive from the upper platform is akin
to jumping out a third story window, so that frightened
look on my face before the dive is real.
then there is the “mud” in
North Carolina – it isn’t really mud
at all. It’s not like the black, gooey pure
black dirt with earthworms we have here in good
ol’ Minnesota. “Mud” in North
Carolina is red. And it isn’t mud. It is
sand with clay in it. Mix with water, and you
have wet, sandy, red clay. Not the perfect medium,
but acceptable, if you don't mind ceramics in
your shorts. We can work with darn near anything.
At least it washed off clean and didn’t
on site didn’t include a hovel
with a big hole in the roof, just a hovel with
a bunch of little ones. It was fine unless it
rained. Smack in the middle of a lush North Carolina
forest, it was simply Heaven
on Earth. And home to the biggest damn spiders
I have ever seen. Situated between an elephant
named Judy and the cacophony of the petting zoo
(12 chickens running loose 24/7), we felt as “at
home” as anywhere. It was nice
to stink less than our neighbors for a change.
the FANS! I was happy to find that the
fine folks in the south were rabid in their appreciation.
While we always work hard to whip our lovable
crowd into a frothy combustible fountain of energy,
there were times we went too far and had to actually
try to calm the crowd down for fear they would
overrun the stage and possibly influence events
so that their side would win! When it comes to
competitions, these people are serious
about coming out on top! Very often Fitzhugh
would have to withstand a chorus of boos while
I would try to reassure my side that we would
win next time. That happened after almost every
show. Not sure how it happened, but Fitzhugh won
3.9 out of 4 shows. For some reason I always seem
to lose to the veterans. I suspect some reason
is out there, but I have no proof.
were featured on a morning TV show, where
we advised the Martha Stewart-like host that the
best way to remove mud stains is with water, soap,
and most importantly, vigorous rubbing. An enthusiastic
demonstration ensued. We were even interviewed
live on WRFX 99.7, Charlotte’s home of Rock
& Roll. Fitzhugh did the talking while I scratched
my private property in a nonchalant fashion, nodded
my head in agreement for the radio audience, and
coughed at the appropriate times.
I hope I came across as alive, at least. And they
gave me the free T shirt!
newspaper media seemed to have a bit
of trouble with my name, printing it as “Monkey
Flippers”, or even “Minty Chickenlips.”
Fitzhugh seemed to take an unusual delight in
my identity crisis. The occasional “Funky
Slippers” slipped out during the
show, and in the midst of unfortunate misspellings
in the local print media, I briefly considered
changing my name to “Ken,” but it
didn’t have the right pizzaz. Newspapers
crawled over each other to get to the bottom of
“Who is this “Runty Spitters”,
and why does he love mud so much?"
Festival challenged us by locating us
at the very end of a horseshoe-shaped
site. Our purpose was to draw the crowd ALL
THE WAY to the back. It worked very well. We were
loud and boisterous enough to draw attention,
and for good measure, management put a pair of
bagpipers near our stage between shows. I feel
bad when an act has to share a stage with the
Mud Show... but I tell you, I NEVER want to hear
“Amazing Grace” EVER
two hour drive from beautiful mountains
and a two hour drive from the ocean, North Carolina
had all you could want within a two hour drive.
So in the idle hours between weekends and Mud
Shows, there was plenty to do and see. Combine
that with the finest and friendliest people that
side of the Mason-Dixie line, you could say that
North Carolina was a li'l slice of Heaven on Earth.
I look forward to being a resident again in 2004.
I sure do miss them chickens. See y’all