I worked my way through High School at the Gulf Gas station on 5th and Fayette St. An old school operation. 7 bucks an hour.
I pumped gasoline and changed the plastic #'s on the marquee. I patched tires and painted the curbs industrial grey twice a year. I wore the requisite "working blue" button down gas station shirts, a big orange Gulf patch over my heart, the other side said "dave" in red cursive stitching on a white patch. A backwards Philadelphia Phillies hat.
It was a look.
I wrote "Faraway You" there. I remember playing the pulse-y bit on my banjo in the empty garage after it got dark one September evening, 3 cars up on the lifts. I listened for the kick drum pattern in the echo of the room.
The thumpy sporadic bass notes.
I played it in a circle for an hour. More. Then I suddenly heard exactly how the whole thing would go.
I had a big breakthrough on a song called "Formula, Cola Dollar Draft" there too. The words went and went pretty effortlessly there for a while but, like a lot of things, it eventually got all jammed up and wouldn't budge. Weeks passed. I remember something about a church? A line of light, I was trying to push it all out of a shadow. Bing, the bell rang as a big 87 Mercury slid up to the outside island. A $10 bill was passed through an uncaring slit, Tina Turner was singing "What's Love Got to Do With It" inside.
I returned to my song. It was so different than that one. Something about pigeons in a belfry. It was probably the next morning (a Sunday?) that it all just flopped out. I filled a mess of white sheets from a phone memo pad with the rest of the words, fast as I could write it as I remember. It was done. I felt good about that.
I used to roll tires around in a big water tub looking for bubbles, I also had a hand held metal wand thing w a funny, floppy mop on the end soaked in dish soap that I could use if the tire was still connected to a car. It would bubble up. Yup, slow leak, I'd say. Cut it hard. I can fix that.
When our band started to play shows at The Barbary and JC Dobbs on South Street a lot of times I'd still be wearing my gas station clothes. I remember someone commenting once on it like it was fashion, like it was "rockabilly" or something like that.
I started throwing different clothes into a plastic bag after that.
Super proud to have been asked to try to get a festival off the ground in my old hometown. Couldn't say no.
Could only say yes. And that doesn't happen too often.
Over the next bunch of years I'd love to play this festival every year, i hope we can.
Id like to work on it, too... Try to make it better and better, invite other cool bands that we like, make it a destination trip for tons of other people in downtown Philly or Jersey who might wanna take a summer ride. That'd make us really proud.
This SATURDAY June 24th. We begin. MARAH at the A Field. CONSHOHOCKEN
Beer, music, memories. Don't miss it.
Photo credit: Jack Coll