The following is a dream that occurred on March 20, 2014
I was having lunch with the band Nirvana at the La Font Inn in Pascagoula, Mississippi. For some reason, my friends with the Mississippi Songwriter Festival had booked them to perform a show that night at the hotel ballroom. Two key pieces of information that are important to know are: Kurt Cobain is dead and the La Font Inn was demolished over a year ago. In this dream, both were very well intact and present. I sat across from Kurt. I remember the feeling I had sitting across from a person that was famous. I was excited and I studied him as he ate and talked. He looked healthy and alert. He was eating steamed broccoli and grilled tuna and made several jokes about his new decision to live a healthy living. He had on jogging shorts and a running shirt and the impression in my dream was that he had survived his suicide attempt in 1994 to become a changed man in 2014. He talked of daughter Frances Bean and we chatted about water parks and children. He mentioned that after last weeks American Idol show, he could not get the song “pumped up kicks” out of his head and I said “me too.”
The Nirvana show that night was amazing. Nirvana played for an hour past their negotiated contract and Kurt debuted the saxophone during the show. He said he was looking to branch into jazz. At the end of the night, Kurt told me that he enjoyed playing in Mississippi for the first time and wanted to come back again and just hang out because we had all become his friends and he didn’t have many friends.
I couldn’t have been more than a couple of days into Army Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. It was 1997 and I was 19 years old. I was among a company of recruits that were beginning their careers as soldiers. At basic training, everyone is the same. You are the lowest form of life on the planet and everyone starts from scratch. Whatever your pending job in the army would be after basic training carries no meaning during basic training. You are merely a recruit. As I would later learn, there was a slight exception for recruits like me, recruits that had joined the Army Band. True enough, the drill sergeants had files on every one of us but there was no need for them to know what every recruit’s future job would be. Besides, there were more than a couple hundred of us in the company and just learning our names would be enough of a task.
On the day the Sergeants learned my name and M.O.S (military occupational specialty,) I had started the day in a really good mood. It was our first Sunday during training and we had been allowed to go to church and then had the day off…. to clean the entire barracks by hand. I was never good at operating a floor buffer so some of the other recruits handled the floor waxing and buffing. My job was to position the large box fans in the hallway so the floor would dry. As I remember it, temptation got the best of me and during one of my fan setups I started to sing into the fan. Now before you start to wonder what I’m talking about… I want you to think back to your youth. We’ve all sung into a fan as kids. The resulting sound is somewhat robotic, but mostly self-amusing. Now days we could describe the sound as techno but back then we just called it fun. Ok, back to my story. As I remember, the song I was singing was a Harry Connick Jr. tune and I was really into the moment. After watching Harry on this season of American Idol, I think he would have been proud of me too. Unfortunately, Harry wasn’t there to hear me. Instead, a Drill Sergeant with knack for sneakiness was. I never saw or heard him walkup behind me but the words that echoed off his tongue were enough to flash life before my eyes. “What are you, some kind of singer?” “What’s your m.o.s private?” said the drill sergeant. “Army Band Drill Sergeant” I replied. I must have caught him completely off guard because he walked away without saying a single word.
It wasn’t until the following Monday that I became a star. My songwriting and performing debut happened right there in the chow hall at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. From there on out, my job was to sing our company of soldiers progressed through the chow line. My first song was called “toes on the baseboard, heels together” and it was an instant hit. I made up songs about chili-macaroni, beef stroganoff and whatever else was on the menu. Once in a while, I even caught the drill sergeants laughing. Later on I performed wheels on the bus and other standard classics but they were usually followed by pushups instead of applause. Show business….even the Army has it.
I hope you enjoy the items you stole from the interior of my Mazda B2000 pickup truck. I really enjoyed them myself for a long time until you came along. Of course, a music collection like the one you now own is hard to replace and I’m just glad you were able to steal mine so you don’t have to spend years adding to it like I did. I think you will really enjoy the Jimmy Buffett collection that you got. Did you know that it includes every album he has recorded to date? By the way, that Sony Discman CD player can skip sometimes but be patient with it. Also, the Swiss-Army knife you got from my glove box was the first pocketknife I ever owned, but don’t worry I wasn’t attached to it or anything. I also hope you enjoyed the speaker you stole and the amplifier that went with it. Neither of them worked very well but I guess in your haste to get away, you didn’t have time to test them out. Thanks again and I hope you enjoy everything!
P.S. (written 30 years later)
I hope you know that I became a cop later in life partly because of what you did to me. So if you think about it, every person that I ever arrested can thank you for that experience. By the way, I’m pretty sure I know who you are. Although it’s too late for me to do anything about what you did to me, rest assured, Karma has no statute of limitations and it looks like she dealt with you pretty good.
“Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to buy chicken wings and transmission fluid.” From an interstate exit in “Somewhere” Alabama, her towering illuminated sign looked like a beacon of hope and bargains all wrapped into one. A universal symbol in the form of blue letters and a yellow spark that stands for “If we ain’t got it, you don’t need it.” I pulled into parking lot and walked inside the store for 1 thing, a pair of cheap blue jeans for the road. In order to keep myself from overspending, I used the “Bourbon Street Casino” method. I removed all the money and debit cards from my wallet except for the 20 dollars I allocated to spend. This way, an environment of spontaneous purchasing wouldn’t tempt me. I strolled to the clothing section, found the jeans I wanted and headed for the checkout isle. Why couldn’t shopping be this easy every time? I pondered. Before I made it to the checkout isle, the 5-dollar dvd box caught my eye. My jeans were on sale for 15 bucks and I had a couple of 1’s in my wallet along with the 20. What the heck? It can’t hurt to look. Nestled among a pile of cheap westerns, mafia documentaries and Treat Williams films was the movie that caught my eye. “Under Siege” starring Tommy Lee Jones and Steven Segal. I picked it up and quickly scanned the crowd to make sure someone wasn’t trying to steal my discovered treasure from my arms. Now to the checkout isle! With Steven Segal, the ex navy seal turned cook, safely in my arms it reminded me, I was going to price some kitchen knives just for curiosity sake. A trip to the kitchen section led me to the sporting goods section to price hunting knives which led me to the saltwater section to price fishing knives which led me to the frozen foods section to price frozen fish and finally the outdoor section to price kayak paddles. Along the way I picked up a buggy full of stuff ranging from Ax body spray to coat hangers, a crimson tide ball cap, a case of Gatorade, a box of .22 shells and a Timex watch. Once at the checkout isle, the reeses peanut butter cups were a no brainer at this point. Grand total was 200 dollars and some change. Good thing the “Bourbon Street Casino” method didn’t stipulate that credit cards must be removed. I swiped my visa and was out the door faster than the lady could say “Thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart.” Oh and before it was all over, I decided not to buy the jeans after all.
By: Matt Hoggatt
The 10 steps to fishing, By Matt Hoggatt:
Step 1: Load all necessary fishing tackle into your vehicle
Step 2: Load all necessary cold items into your ice chest, then place in vehicle
Step 3: Travel to fishing location and remove above-mentioned items
Step 4: Turn off cell phone and leave it in the car
Step 5: Along with cell phone, leave work stress, family drama, politics, financial problems and all other problems in car with cell phone.
Step 6: Enjoy the scenery that God has blessed you with
Step 7: Watch the waves rolling and remember that salt-water cures everything
Step 8: Start to feel better with or without the help of cold items from ice chest
Step 9: Bait hook (optional)
Step 10: Cast out a line (optional)
The area where I’m from is reeling with political stink and scandal lately. Some of you are familiar with my hometown of Pascagoula, Mississippi because of its mention in a popular Jimmy Buffett song called “Pascagoula Run.” Others may be aware of it from a popular Ray Stevens song called “Mississippi Squirrel Revival.” Either way, the sleepy little town depicted in Ray’s song has come and gone and grown more into the shady town described by Jimmy in his up-tempo, bar hopping number. Today, the news trending in Pascagoula has to do with its corrupt county Sheriff who recently pled guilty to state and federal charges relating to evidence tampering and assaulting prisoners for political gain. Meanwhile, the head knockers over at the Bureau of Marine Resources or as we used to call them, (The white perch police) have all been doing the belly chain shuffle lately after a huge conspiracy was discovered involving them in defrauding taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now their mansions are for sale and assets are sure to be liquidated. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of working my fingers to the bone for every single penny that I earn honestly while some corrupt politician or figure head is out taking advantage of the system to further themselves politically and/or financially. As an American military veteran and taxpayer, I will not stand for this. I will not support those in office who break the law and I will not support those in office who allow the law to be broken. The same goes for those who cover it up, fail to act, and for those who fail to prosecute or enforce the law against those that do. As American citizens, we deserve better. In Ray steven’s song, Pascagoula was a sleepy little town where a squirrel was allowed to run amuck during church service on a quiet Sunday morning. Today that squirrel is scandal and the implications of those involved stretch far beyond the borders of the wild meridian depicted in Jimmy’s song. I think it’s time to sweep the political floor clean around here, and its time to go fishing. At the end of the day, it’s about the only pure thing left to do around here unless the fish learned how to milk the system. -MH
By: Matt Hoggatt
The other day somebody apologized to me at a show….”I”m sorry people were so loud during your performance, but I was paying attention.” What this gentleman told me was true. The crowd was so loud that I could not hear myself singing or playing. I’ve been around the block a few times at this point as a solo performer so I’ll weigh in on my thoughts about loud crowds. Bottom line…when a performer is trying to sing a heartfelt original song and connect personally with you as an audience, the most annoying, irritating and difficult thing to deal with is a loud raucous crowd that is paying no attention to the performance. Frequently, this can drive the performers emotions up the wall, causing him/her to “deadfish perform” through the show one song after another until its time to end the show. Other times, it can cause the performer to become a real jerk to the crowd. I’ve seen people curse the audience and demand silence. I’ve also seen people beg and plead for silence to the point of almost breaking down into tears. As performers, we must remember that loud crowds are not trying to be disrespectful on purpose. More frequent than not, loud people don’t even realize they are being loud…. including ME sometimes. I was once berated by an older performer who called me “boy” after claiming I was too loud during his performance. I was simply matching the volume level everyone else was carrying on, but he singled me out and cursed the crowd for not listening. What this older performer failed to realize was that people don’t enjoy music or concerts when the performer is acting like a jerk, or when the performer constantly demands respect or belittles the crowd for not acting a certain way. As a performer, our job is to adapt to each show and provide the most entertainment possible, even in challenging situations. There is always someone at every show that IS paying attention and negative performer attitudes or lack of caring might not be noticed by the majority who are engaged in loud talking, but to the small percent that IS paying attention, they deserve your undying respect as a performer. Besides….if my job as performers is to provide a good time….loud crowds are a good sign that people are enjoying themselves. Do your job, play to your crowd and treat them with the love they deserve. After the show, you will know who you touched with your music and who you didn’t. Not every gig is going to be a listening room or a loud Bourbon Street bar, yet we must strive as performers to play every environment that we are faced with. I enjoy the challenge and look forward to every venue that I visit. To this date, I’ve only had one food item thrown at me while on stage but that was an accident and Paul Thorn later apologized, and I have yet to play Freebird. Guess I’m doing something right! -MH
By: Matt Hoggatt
During the recording process for my “Hotter Than Fishgrease “ Album, I toured several Margaritaville restaurants as well as Lulu’s Homeport Marina where we recorded live shows to be used as tracks on my album. During this tour I was accompanied by 3 people, Kyle Rife on guitar, Mic Utley (Mike Utley’s Son) was our producer and Kevin Schaub was our road manager. What an exciting time for us. We were all learning to become friends as well as a band unit at the same time. Only one week earlier, I hadn’t known Kyle or Mic but Kevin had been my friend since childhood. Excited for the journey of where my music was taking me, we set out to conquer the world as musicians. Our tour bus wasn’t a fancy one; in fact it was my wife’s 2008 dodge caravan that I had borrowed complete with the soccer-mom sticker array on the back glass. It smelled like McDonalds happy-meals and cucumber-pomegranate smelly stuff from Bath and Body Works. Our trip to Florida was almost cut short as soon as it started when Kyle lost a guitar peg in the backseat while re-stringing a seagull acoustic guitar as we drove. After we stopped at a gas station to find the peg, I had to rip half of the carpet out of the van but only found stale chicken nuggets and Nintendo DS video game cartridges. This would become a song later. A quick stop at a Guitar Center store solved our tech problem even though I faked a phone call to my wife as Kyle was returning to the van with the needed part. “I don’t know baby…He lost the guitar peg and we had to rip the carpet in your van but I can fix it…I’m Pretty pissed at this Kyle kid!” I thought Kyle was about to vomit as he heard me ranting to my wife. He started to smile again when I showed him my phone and proved that I hadn’t called anyone an was only joking. He probably thought I was crazy, and he was probably right. We never found the lost guitar peg but a new one was installed in the parking lot and we were on our way to the Panama City Margaritaville. After arriving at the restaurant, the manager directed us to park in the fire lane to unload gear, which we did. We unloaded, setup and sound checked, then grabbed a quick bite at the bar. It was the first of many bowls of gumbo for our band. It was so surreal at the time, and still is for me, when people come up to introduce themselves as a fan of my music. I was truly basking in my newfound success as a musician as well as the friendships I had just made with Kyle and Mic. I met many fans as we ate and felt like a star. As me and Kevin returned to my van for a quick trip to the hotel, we noticed a folded note underneath my windshield wiper. Excitement soon followed when I realized that I had my first piece of fan mail left on my van. This is how it was for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and now for Matt Hoggatt! Wow…what could it say? As we pulled to the first red light in town, I jumped out to retrieve the note and hopped back into the passenger seat. My excitement soon turned to disappointment then finally anger as I slowly read the words written in blue ink. “LEARN TO PARK HELEN KELER.” I guess they didn’t like that we had parked in the fire lane and thought we couldn’t read the sign? Even worse…they assumed I was a woman because of the stickers on the back glass of the van. Including a parrothead favorite that said WTB…. “Woman To Blame.” To this day I think about that note, and how it took me out of the clouds and set me back onto firm ground for the remainder of the evening. Unfortunately, it was a buzz killer for me. I’ll never know who wrote that note, but I like to think that karma will be paying them a visit one day, most likely served by the ghost of Helen Keller and a bunch of dead-and-gone musicians who know what its like to chase a dream against all odds, even if it means parking in the fire lane from time to time.
When I was a teenager, 13 to be exact, I had become “on fire” for music. It was the year of the Sony Walkman for me. It was also the year that I got a really cool birthday gift. It was a boxed set of CD’s by a guy named Jimmy Buffett entitled “Boats, Beaches, Bars and Ballads.” This sent me over the edge as a fan of his music, it put me in a whole other realm of “uber-fan,” or Parrothead as I would later learn from the booklet in the boxed set. This was also the year that my parents decided we would travel to Key West for Spring Break. We were going to Margaritaville! The look on my face as they broke the news to me about our impending trip must have been priceless. It was probably as priceless as the look on my face when a freak snow-storm hit south Mississippi on our departure date, delaying our trip by a day. I wasn’t upset though…it never snows on the gulf coast and this year I was experienced snow and in a few short days, I would be at Margaritaville in Key West. I wondered if Jimmy would be there, and I wondered if I would get to meet him. I thought about what I would say to him if I had the chance, I even wrote down a note that I would summon from my fanny-pack (they were in style at the time) if the chance arose for me to meet him.
As we began our 2-day journey we eventually made it to A1A and were heading south. I was actually listening to the A1A album when a funny thing occurred to me. I looked out my window of our Ford Aerostar Minivan and saw a bus heading north as we headed south. It was a large tour bus of sorts, with a big margarita glass spilling on the side of it. Could that be?…was that?…. yep it was. We soon heard on the radio that Jimmy was playing in north florida that day. I was excited to have passed is bus on the road, but also disappointed that I knew he would not be in Key West during my stay. Oh well.
We eventually got to key west and had a great time. We visited the Margaritaville restaurant where we were told that Jimmy had stopped by a day earlier. If it hadn’t snowed in Mississippi would I have seen him? I don’t know for sure but what I do know is that I ‘m glad our trip was delayed by a day because something else very cool was underway without me knowing.
That day at Margaritaviile we snapped a picture of me at the doorway of Margaritaville as a young fan. We later found Jimmy’s house and snapped a few pictures there as well. Little did I know that 21 years later to the exact day of my visit as a teenager, I would be there again, this time I would be playing music as an artist on Jimmy’s record label and staying at his house as a guest. I guess dreams really can come true…and its ok to enjoy the snow from time to time. Some things were just meant to be.
On September 11, 2001, I was a twenty-two year old beat cop in Pascagoula Mississippi. I had been working night shift the night before and was asleep when terrorists attacked our country. After waking up to the horrific images on TV, I knew that our world would never be the same. On September 11, 2001, terrorism stepped foot inside the home of every American in our country… and we were mad. In the days that followed, we seemed to come together. American flags flew everywhere and patriotism was in the air. On an October morning, I stood in line at a fast food restaurant on my way to National Guard Duty in Jackson Mississippi. A stranger noticed me wearing an Army uniform and struck up a conversation with me. He asked if I would be sent to the Middle East with the rest of the military. I told him, “I sure hope so.” That man paid for my breakfast that morning.
I never did get sent to war in the Middle East, but many of my friends did. All of them came back changed. We should never forget the sacrifices of our fellow Americans on September 11th, 2001 and every day since then. We should also never forget the sense of pride we briefly shared as a country. On September 11th, 2001, we all became first responders to not only a tragic event, but to unification of a country. Never forget either one.
Notes about the author: Matt Hoggatt is a former police detective turned singer/songwriter for Mailboat Records. He has been published in numerous newspapers as well as several magazines. You can visit Matt at www.matthoggatt.com or his music blog site at www.barsinger.net