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Goin' West, Part 4: "Hi! We're The C.W. McCall Fan Club!"
The day is still Tuesday, 30 May, and the time's about 11 o'clock. T A and I are headed south on I-29. We're going to look for exit 12 on I-680, and the spot where the Smokies picked up C.W. doing 67 per through their speed trap. The exit is on the Nebraska side, so when we reach the 29/680 split we turn west for a few miles then loop through an exit and an entrance, and two miles later we're on the side of the road taking another picture of a road sign. We don't see any bears about, fortunately ("Yessir, officer, this is an emergency stop. We've got to take a picture").
T A wants to stop at the Merchant of Venus bookstore in Omaha. We exit the Interstate at US 75, and in less than a quarter mile we're going throught an intersection and I notice that the name of the street has changed: it's no longer "48th Street", it's "Mormon Bridge Road". Somehow that name seems familiar, but I can't place it. We continue south as T A gets his bearings.
About a mile and half further down, T A hails me on the CB. He's got the same thought as I did: that Mormon Bridge Road is a name that we ought to remember. Then I think about it, and wonder what's the address of American Gramaphone? We pull into the parking lot of a church and I grab the CD case, looking for The Real McCall. Sure enough, that's why we know the name of this road! American Gramaphone is located at 9130!
Now we hadn't planned on stopping at A.G., but since we seemed to be about a mile away -- having already passed it -- we decided to turn back and see if we could talk with Chip Davis, and maybe get his autograph. So we back up a mile, pull into the lot, figure out what building is 9130, and armed with a couple of CDs we approach the front door and walk inside. By the way, parked outside the building is a silver Jeep Grand Cherokee; remember that fact, because it'll be important later.
There's a lady behind from desk, name of Teshana (and I hope I've spelled that correctly), and we said, "Hi! Can we talk to Chip Davis?" Teshana says that Chip's on a conference call at the moment, and that he's late for a video shoot, but she'll ask if he can meet us for a few minutes. In the meantime, we can watch a DVD promotion on the AV demonstration system in the lobby. (If you've got a DVD player and 5.1 audio system, you ought to get American Gramaphone's videos on DVD; the sound is fantastic.) While we're watching the video, Teresa Holmes -- the head of customer service -- comes out to greet us. I mention my name, and Teresa asks "Is that spelled F-L-O-D-E-N?" I tell her that it is, and I realize that I've obviously sent too many inquiries to A.G., because they know who I am. On the other hand, this might increase our chances for meeting Chip, as long as I haven't been pegged as a security threat.
Teresa took T A and I on a tour through the studio area, where some of the sets for the videos are still standing. There's a Christmas-decorated one, and there's the "Egyptian tomb" set. But the place is quiet, because no one's working back here today (remember, yesterday was Memorial Day) and the techs that would usually be around are out on the video shoot, the one for which Chip is already late.
We also walk through the shipping department, and on the shelf we found the box that holds the copies of The Real McCall. Yes, there still are a few CDs available, so act now while operators are on duty!
Then we stopped at Teresa's desk. We'd been talking about our web sites, and T A had mentioned that my FTP site had a copy of a cover of "Convoy" by a band called Prolix, a cover which is arguably the worst rendition of "Convoy" that was ever made, and I'm counting the Shatner Priceline.com commercial. Teresa wanted to hear it, so we downloaded a copy of the MP3 file and subjected her to three minutes and forty-six seconds of relative hell. She thought that the song was "interesting", and promised to play it for Chip.
Speaking of Chip, by this time we've been at A.G. for about an hour, and it's beginning to look as if we'll not be able to meet Chip, because when he gets out of that meeting he'll need to head out to the video shoot. Teresa says that he hasn't left yet, because "his car is still in the lot." That's when I look outside and try to guess which vehicle could be Chip's. I pick the silver Jeep Grand Cherokee. Teresa refuses to verify my guess; smart lady.
I get Teresa and Teshana to sign The T-Shirt, and we gave them a t-shirt for Chip and we were about to leave when Chip walked in through the front door. Despite his schedule, and the fact that he was way behind for the day, he stopped to speak we us. We told him about Convoy 2000, which he didn't know about, and the web sites, which he did. He seemed surprised that there was a C.W. McCall Fan Club, unofficial though it was.
[A note from Ed.: Chip knows about the sites, and Bill knows about the sites, and we haven't been sued yet. This must be a good sign, as is the supposition that SESAC (the licensing agency) doesn't know about us, and they've got the lawyers.]
So we talked about Convoy 2000 and going to see Bill in Ouray, and asked Chip if the "Visions" video would be released on DVD. (That's the one with the "Comin' Back For More" video on it.) Chip said that he wasn't sure yet, but they'd be making a decision in a few months. Chip signed The T-Shirt and T A took out the two "Greatest Hits" CDs that he'd brought along and Chip signed those, too. And then Chip asked us where we had gotten the CDs, because he didn't have any copies in-house. (T A left six copies for him.) We also told Chip about the "Convoy" cover by Prolix, and he said he'd listen to it when he had a chance. There was also a discussion of why the world would probably never seen a CD release of C.W.'s original albums (PolyGram has the master tapes).
Chip was reminded that he was late for the video shoot, and with the threat of a few promises to bother him in the future, Chip and family (did I mention that his wife and daughter were there?) departed in the silver Jeep Grand Cherokee. (I'm a good guesser, aren't I?)
In all, we found Chip to be a nice guy and pretty informal, much like we expected him to be. Even though we had only ten minutes to talk, at least the existence of the Crispy Critters is now known at American Gramaphone. Now if we could just convince PolyGram of the worthiness of our cause...
Next: Red Mountain Pass and the Descent Into Ouray. Aloha!
Song A’ Th’ Week
(C.W. McCall, Bill Fries, Chip Davis)
From the album
Dum da-da-dah dum da-da-dah dum da-da-dah dum-dum
Dum da-da-dah dum da-da-dah dum da-da-dah da-da-da
Dum dum da-dum-dum-da-dum
Dum dum da-dum-dum-da-dum (dum, dum)
(Okay, you try to hum an instrumental in text. — Ed.)