Some people you just know you are going to click with right away. That’s how I felt about Jamie and Carl from Tinkertin Trailer Co. Reid and I attended the first Tinker Tin Trailer Prom two years ago. It was a daze of BarrelHouse beer and dancing to Monty Mills, who sang all the country greats.
Aside from their cute-as-heck vintage trailers and their obviously killer work ethic, I just had a feeling. Who were these people? Where did they come from? Last year, we took home the coveted PROM KING AND QUEEN SPARKLE PONY (I largely credit Reid’s creepy wig found in Bakersfield for this win). Better yet, we got to know Jamie and Carl a bit better. Of course, they are surfers...which immediately endeared Reid to their fucking fantastic love story. They are truly meant to be. I also know this: They know how to laugh and have a good time, but they are also dedicated to realizing a life they’ve created for themselves. Like the old adage says, these are the insane people that would rather work a zillion hours for themselves rather than 40 hours for someone else. I was happy with my sparkle pony and this new friendship and the promise of a surf trip up the coast with one of those nifty trailers. What more could a girl want?
Well, there was something I had wanted, that I had been actually searching for since 2011. That was the year I started playing my bandmate Katelen’s standup bass for Hayburner’s regular set at Sidecar. It was just for one or two songs and I wasn’t thumping the strings like a pro. I knew “Jolene” by Dolly Parton and an original that Katelen wrote with this awesome part that went “And the coyotes waiiiiiiil.” I was keeping up with the music, hitting my spots, and reveling in the amazing vibrations of this big, hollow instrument. I loved watching Jamie Mather play when he was a member of Red Eye Junction and Tarweed Two, but I had no idea just how fun it was to actually play the damn thing. I thought, “If we ever get a standup bass, a killer country bassist will come into our lives.”
At the very least, I could start messing around with it. That was enough for me. BUT - Anyone who has dabbled in the world of standup bass knows that there are a few barriers for “stumbling across one,” as you might do with a guitar or whatever. No one’s older sister or brother just leaves you the standup bass they were going to learn one summer, but didn’t because they found pot instead.
First off, they’re massive. So big you need a truck or a van or a trailer to carry one. They are expensive as hell (you can’t find a used one for under a grand). Their upkeep is equally expensive: strings, pickups, setup etc. cost an arm and a leg. So, Reid and I had basically resigned ourselves to the fact that we’ll get a bass when, and only when, the stars are aligned. Oh hey! Is that a bass in the dumpster? Oh hey! That music store is going out of business! Oh hey, look what was left on our doorstep in the middle of the night! Aint nobody got money to spend on a bass just for kicks. If you do, you probably have “real” jobs. Needless to say, when, I got an Instagram message from Jamie’s Tinkertin account the other day, I was floored.
It had come in a few days prior...I don’t really know how to direct message on Instagram. I know. Sad. When I finally saw the message, however, it was ridiculously awesome: a picture of a big red standup bass she had been storing in the barn for years. On the face of it: a Budweiser emblem. Apparently the band was sponsored by Budweiser. Did I want the bass, she asked? Would I use it, she asked? Um. I did not have to hesitate. Yes, we need this bass. I was ready to shell out whatever meager means I could to get my hands on this thing. It needed to be part of the family.
Flash forward a few weeks later and we’re all having dinner at our house. I’m enjoying myself so much I almost forget about the bass. Maybe some people would think it’s weird to serve new friends Yellow Tail ceviche you made in your kitchen caught by your stepdad, but they were into it. Plus, they brought glazed donuts, Reid’s spirit animal. Eventually, the time comes. THE BASS. Carl drags in this elephant-sized lump in a green soft case. The moment of truth. Although this bad boy has a lot of work in its future, I was in love with it the moment I laid eyes on it. Yes, Dale Earnhardt No. 8 is emblazoned on the back. I’m not into Nascar, but I find this hilarious and wonderful. LEE ROCKER signed the bass, too. The story goes like this, although Carl can tell it better: The bass belonged to the Saddle Tramps out of Sparks Nevada, who one time played a casino gig with Lee Rocker. They weren’t on the same bill, but playing separate concerts at the same casino. Lee signed the bass, adding “rockabilly rules, ok!” What a nice flourish that is. It’s also go an interesting industrial metal handle and metal peg at the bottom—making it feel like a real workhorse. I could probably throw this sucker down a flight of stairs and it would just look cooler.
As of now, it needs its bridge aligned, strings put on, and pickups. Who knows...maybe more? I'm excited to find out. NOTE! I don’t want to get Jamie and Carl into trouble for gifting us this glorious bass. They loved it and used it in photoshoots, but they don’t play music...yet, anyway. : ) They loved it as long as they could until it needed more space to sprawl out. This bass needs WIDE OPEN SPACES, right?
I feel honored that this piece of American music history has made a home here at the Cain compound. Both Eric of Turkey Buzzards and Jamie Mather have said to give Ron Saul a call, resident bass guru of the Central Coast. I’m going to do that. We plan to record and gig with it, especially since there is a new REJ record in the works, and yes...we are looking for a regular bassist. If you have suggestions, please drop me a line! The journey will continue. BLESS THIS BUDWEISER BASS and The Saddle Tramps. Bless the truly amazing people who brought it into our lives. Finally, an instrument I literally cannot destroy!