Tales From the Road: One time I had to kill the band

Tales From the RoadOne time I had to kill the band
    I’m out of town with the band, in some city that I don’t know (could be anywhere, really).  It’s a big festival kind of thing, and there are a bunch of bands on the bill.  We are there early.
    We’re at somebody’s house, where we are sleeping the night.  People are partying and turning into zombies.  They keep trying to touch us, or give us drinks- these two things will turn us into zombies.  I’m not sure how or why I know these truths, but I do.
    It’s easy to avoid these zombies.  They have a mark.  A dull grey circle forms on their foreheads, roughly the size of a silver dollar. They’re also kinda slow.
    These zombies do crazy things- like walking straight into walls, or into the enveloping sink hole spiral things that are forming outside, swallowing up the ground all around them.  We really should leave, but we want to have a few drinks (zombie-virus-free drinks) before the show, so we just avoid the zombie people.
    Eventually we pack some bottles into bags and split up, planning to rendezvous at the venue.  I suppose we’ve already dropped our instruments at the venue.
     On my walk, the roads are lined with these enveloping sink hole spiral things.  They are like big, slow moving, spinning, quicksand circles.  These people (zombies) are just walking right in, driving cars and trucks and fixed gear bicycles right into them, as if they are being magnetically pulled.  They become enveloped and disappear, for what I can only assume is forever.  They don’t even scream when they get taken under, which freaks me out even more.
     Making my way to the venue, I am slowly becoming convinced that everyone is a zombie, including the band, an ex girlfriend of mine, and a photographer from Greensboro who is on the road with us.
     At the venue, we are backstage in some kind of green room.  We have some time to kill, so we start running through one of our songs.  Our photographer friend enters the room with drinks as we continue to play and sing.  Two other gentlemen follow the photographer in, all three are dressed in black, all three have dull grey circles on their foreheads, roughly the size of a silver dollar.
    I keep moving around the room to avoid contact with them.  We’re still playing.  I start sweating a little bit, and suddenly it occurs to me that we might be in Charleston, South Carolina.  As I move around the room I get closer to each of my band mates and I notice they have now definitely been turned into zombies.  I wonder how or why they can still play the song.
     I get cornered as they all slowly move towards me.  I kick zombie photographer in the face as he scoots close and kneels down to snap a picture of me. The kick demolishes his face, and I had to really pull to get my foot back out of his skull.
     As everyone else gets closer to me, I just start smashing all of them with my guitar.  It’s my favorite acoustic guitar that I’ve had for years, the wood sounds just right. BAM BAM BAM…
     In disbelief, I stand there and soak it in.  We are, of course, not playing anymore, but I can still hear the song loud and clear, like I was in a video for the song somehow.  A terribly gross and inappropriate video.
     I glance at my reflection in the mirror across the room, across the dead bodies.  I have a silver dollar sized grey circle on my forehead.  I move my head to the side to make sure I’m not seeing some smudge on the mirror, and not actually on my forehead.
     It’s on my forehead alright.
     I wake up sweaty and fumble for a pen.

I can’t believe I just said that

It started off just like a normal ride. I called Uber to go to rehearsal. I was riding with a guy who lives in my neighborhood. He’s really nice and I have a lot of respect for him. We just instantly bonded. He’s one of those guys, you know? Sometimes I meet someone and we’re instant friends. More about instant friends another time. Let’s get back to the Uber driver.

It’s that time of year, and we quickly got to the “How were your holidays?” and “Happy new year, indeed!” Then for some inexplicable reason I felt this connection to him, and to everything. I felt similar when I was opening up about myself on the Guided B.S. podcast. We started talking about everything, but mostly my things. And it felt so good.

So here I am, telling a stranger that I’ve recently been diagnosed with M.S. Telling him that I’m staying positive, still playing music as much as I can. Enjoying edible treats in a way I never understood was possible. I tell him that this is making me kinder person, and it might make me a better musician.

I’m listening to myself saying that, saying that all this may make me better. I can’t believe I just said that. I can’t believe I thought that, and then vocalized it to a stranger. Do I believe that? Am I going to be better because of this?

I really don’t want to second guess myself on this. Let’s go with it.

Storytelling at the bar

“Of course, I wasn’t sober” he says to me while describing the time he saw Stevie Ray Vaughan – a month before he died in a plane crash. When I first got there, to order my salad with salmon steak, he asked to bum a smoke. Yes, salmon steak. It just sounds so much meatier that way. I told him I only had a couple cigarettes- which was true, kind of. I had four and a half.

Then I thought of those long bus rides, stopping at bus stations in the middle of nowhere. No gas stations in sight. Out of cigarettes myself. I thought of the older African American woman who bummed me a smoke when I really needed one.

I looked over to the door, and saw this guy frantically searching the park for anyone who might be smoking, anyone who even looks like they might be a smoker. I took two cigarettes out of my pack, grabbed my coffee with my other hand, and walked out the front door. “Here you go, man. I had more than I thought” I tell him.  His eyes lit up and he thanked me profusely.

We talked about music, and shows we’ve seen- actually just shows that he’s seen, I was just enjoying listening to the stories. I let the fact that I am a musician come out, and his eyes widened and lit up all over again.

I went back inside and he followed closely, pumping me for more information about playing music. I gave him my number and told him I would be happy to help him out with some guitar lessons. I haven’t heard from him yet, and I doubt I ever will, but the way he treated the bartender makes me happy about that. She is a friend of mine, and he was doing that thing that a lot of men do to women they don’t know. Just can’t get past the fact that she is beautiful.  Just can’t respect her for who she is- another human being.

After I ate, I took my last two cigarettes and left.



Waiting for the medicine to kick in

I started on my medicine this morning. I’m nervous. Also, the fundraiser goes up today, with the video attached to it. I’m nervous about that too.

Why am I nervous about taking medicine that is supposed to make me feel better? I’m also nervous about asking for help, and my friends have done all the work.

I saw the video that Donna made for the fundraiser. I thought it was gonna make me uncomfortable, everyone talking about me and stuff- but it made me immensely proud. Proud of my life, proud of myself, proud of my friends that I love so much. I couldn’t wait to send it to my mother and make her proud.

The fundraiser is already taking off marvelously. I had to turn my phone off for a little while- it was just too many notifications. Too many emotions. I am humbled and so so so grateful.

Here’s the fundraiser https://www.youcaring.com/mattysheets-734356

And the video from Crossover Productions

Foggy Glasses 

It’s the second day of the new year and it’s another early morning. We got up around 7:30 to clear out of the house. The pest control person was gonna be here at 8:00 to kill bugs.

Turns out we didn’t even have to leave the house this time, and it was very fast, and we bonded with the bug killer over having a mutual respect for all people, and hating fascists. It’s tough living in North Carolina sometimes- a lot of the time.

I listened to some great podcasts while I worked from home. After work I moved to sad songs and missing her. Then I exchanged some text messages with her as I continued listening to sad songs. I was very happy to hear that she misses me too, but there may have been a tear or two. It was the first time I wanted a drink since I quit two weeks ago. Having a drink would have been worse.

When you’re hard on yourself and just think you suck, that’s one thing. When you’re hard on yourself, and think you’re gonna get better, because you don’t suck, then you’re on to something. I’m trying to do the second thing.


Last night I spent New Years Eve doing what I love. Missing friends and sleeping. It was the first New Years Eve I can remember that I was asleep before midnight.

I thought of my friends that live in other cities. I thought of my friends here who were gathering together to celebrate. I thought of my love, gathering with friends in the city she lives in.

Then I woke up. I woke up to many people shooting their guns. In the air, I’m assuming, and hoping. I looked at my phone and saw that it was after midnight.

I fell back asleep thinking of everyone again, but mostly you.

2017: Day One

It’s 2017. I woke up to a very gray morning, pretty early, 8 AM. I lit a cigarette although I should be quitting smoking today.

You never know what someone else is going through. Just that one simple truth is a such a great reason to treat everyone with remarkable respect. Today my friends are making a video for a certain fundraiser that is going up next week. More about that another time.

Mo told me I should just pretend that my life is a play within a play within a play. That made me feel great. “Act 2 is gonna be sooo funny” I said. She laughed and said “In Act 3 there’s a twist!”

Donna is setting up her camera and Frog is howling at the door to the porch, hoping we will let him out. “Nah, Frog, you don’t want to go out there- it’s a really gray day out there, and it’s all rainy” I tell him. Frog is my new cat buddy.

I had a fun time telling stories to Donna and her camera. We went through my musical history, and all the bands I’ve played with, and the history of the open mic I have been hosting for 14 years now, and people, and times changing, and transitions, and life.

Kit Dean met us at the house when we finished. We found an open restaurant, and ordered some food. Donna reminisced about playing paper football and pencil fighting back in elementary school.

She recalled how boys would always smack her fingers instead of the pencil they were trying to break. “Boys are stupid” I told her.

Donna and Kit were nursing a bit of a hangover after their New Years Eve festivities at the studio last night. I thought about all of them a lot last night, but I was very tired and fell asleep before midnight, for the first time on a New Years Eve that I can remember. I awakened to people shooting their guns in the air, and looked at my phone.


We made it through 2016.

I went back to sleep.

Happy New Year, and I miss you.

Bye 2016. Bye.
Here’s the most beautiful version of Auld Lang Syne by my friends Lil P (Jessica Pennell) and JMO (Marshall Owen). This gets me every time. I’ve been very close with both of them, and these days we all live far away from each other. I enjoy spending time with them by watching this video over and over as the big ol’ crap of a year draws to an end.  I love you.

New Years Eve, Guided Bullshit

What a great New Years Eve so far. I was a guest on the Guided Bullshit podcast this morning. I think I met Tara a few months ago, and she told me about her podcast with her friend Jess. It sounded really cool, and we talked about me being a guest sometime.

Turns out I met Jess a while ago, but we never really talked. I got coffee from her at the little bakery downtown sometimes.

I’ve listened to a few of the podcasts now, and really enjoyed it. They’re funny. They obviously love each other, it’s apparent when they give each other shit- and impart wisdom.

So it was exciting to stop by the house and talk with two folks that I don’t really know, early morning, on the last day of 2016. Not my favorite year, by far, but this last day feels inspiring.

We talked about so much stuff, I really can’t paraphrase, nor should I. We covered a lot, and I really opened up about some things that have been going on with me over the past few months. I thought about it a lot, and decided I would be remarkably honest if I felt good about it at the time. I did. They were very nice, very understanding, and we had a real good conversation over coffee and cigarettes.

The episode will be posted on January 12th. You’ll have to wait until then for all the gory details.

Thanks again for having me. Much fun.