A Cub Koda Story
submitted by Jon McAuliffe
"No, man! I make this part o' my act. Watch this!"
Through the auspices of Baron Records President Ron Bartolucci,
it was suggested to me that I might like to meet and interview Cub for a
possible article in the magazine I was editing at the time (1981), The Music
World. Being a former Detroiter I certainly knew who Cub was. I'd enjoyed
his music from afar since the 1970s and thought an interview would be great
fun. I had no idea because it would be turn out to be a whole lot more than
Cub and I met that summer and we became fast friends pretty
quickly, probably because we'd grown up listening to the same radio stations
the same music throughout our Michiganian youth. When Cub would relate some
crazy story about putting together a band from the raw materials of a wet-behind-the-ears
group of teen idol wannabees in some far flung hick town near the UP, I knew
exactly where and what he was talking about. I remember we laughed a lot,
not only during that first meeting, but pretty much every time we ever got
together. But that's another story.
The one I'd like to tell here centers
around a gig Cub did in a joint in Cambridge, Mass. called The Inn Square
Men's Bar ("Ladies Invited"). As was his typical modus operandi,
Cub was rockin'
the joint, the drinkers were drinkin', the dancers were dancin' and I was sitting
at a table in the rear with my first wife just diggin' Cub giggin'. Suddenly,
and without warning (my apologies to Rod Serling), as Cub was ripping into
a solo in the middle of some obscure New Orleans whomp he'd learned from
some beat-to-death 45 in his magical vinyl collection, he broke a string.
You could see he was ever so slightly pissed, but being the trooper we all
know he was, he carried on till the end of the song, using other strings
to compensate. Wanting to help out, I ran up to the bandstand and motioned
for him to give me his axe so I could quickly re-string it for him. Unlike
today's guitar gods who change guitars after every song, Cub was a veteran,
card-carrying, dyed-in-the-wool, branded-on-the-road rock & roller, using
only the guitar he brought to the stage with him and possibly one other for
his entire set. The look on his face was appreciative, but he let me know
right away he had this deal covered, whispering "No, man! I make this
part o' my act. Watch this!"
With that, the band went into a slow bluesy
vamp and Cub began this unbelievable rap that sounded like he was half making
it up as he went along. Something about the little green men invading "Dee-troit" and
landing right outside his house where he and Lady J and the kids scared the
hell out of them and sent 'em packing to the Planet Mongo. All the while
he's telling this goofy story he's slowly bending, pulling and stretching
the replacement string into tune, using it as a sound effect for his story.
Space ships sounds, little green men sounds, screams and satire, all illustrated
with that one string. I think Howlin' Wolf showed up for a cameo in that
story, too, thanking Cub for making the Midwest safe against the invading
Mongo-lian hordes. "Uh di-di-dit, di-di-dit, look whacha git!"
all the hundreds of live gigs I've seen in my life, I never saw anybody do
anything like that, but as I discovered with every show I saw Cub perform,
he thrived on using whatever disparate element might appear, good or bad.
Whether it was a broken string, a bad sound system, stupid lighting or the
local drunk, Cub was a rock & roll alchemist, turning whatever common
materials were thrown his way into pure gold for the enjoyment and edification
of more than one astonished and delighted audience.
Rock on, "
Cub Coo-tay!" We miss you, man.
(If you have a story about Cub, something funny, how you met,
etc., please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
so that they can be added for others to enjoy!)