Part 3


August 1997 - I went down to the California DMV to get my license renewed so I wouldn't have to mess with that shot-out bunch back in Georgia when I had to get a new license after this one expired. I didn't get waited on the first day since I got there late but had a number they would honor the next day, so I got there early to get things taken care of.

I walked up to the counter and said I wanted to get my license renewed and handed it to the clerk. I was within a few days of being able to do it, so I had to come back the next week. Geeze I thought, this was starting to sound like Georgia. So I came back the following Monday and again slid the clerk my license, she told me the fee and the process and I got out my wallet; she was bringing stuff up on the computer, then stopped and looked at me.

"Mr. West you've got a hold on your license."

"Why is that?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said, "it's in the State Of Georgia."

"I haven't lived in Georgia in two years and got a California license when I moved here. How can they possibly have a hold?"

"I don't know Mr. West, you'll have to call them and get it straightened out. Here is their number."

"Ok. Whatever. Can I get my license back?"

"No sir I'll have to keep them. Since you've got a hold on your license there I can't give your California license back or issue you a new one till you have the issues back in Georgia straightened out."

I was dumbfounded. It wasn't her fault though, so I didn't make a scene. When I got back to the apartment I called the DMV in Georgia and they told me since I'd cancelled my SR-22 insurance in Georgia, they had revoked my license. I asked them what good was insurance in Georgia when I lived in California and had a California license? They didn't care where I lived they said, I needed to reinstate my Georgia insurance AFTER I had taken their required driving courses. I asked how this was to be done on the west coast and was told I'd have to be in Georgia to attend one of their accredited schools.

I though this was some of the stupidest fucking shit I'd ever heard of, and it sounded like State sponsored racketeering in the form of extortion. When I asked the FBI about this they told me they didn't get involved in that type of State business (that might have been true back then, but definitely isn't true now, but more on that later on). I thought about just staying in California but this license thing wasn't going to just right itself, plus I wanted and needed to spend time with my son. The whole entire situation had me incredibly pissed.

I really thought it was a bad idea to attempt to drive back. So I went up on the roof of Al's and asked God for guidance. Should I drive, or should I not? I looked to the San Gabriel mountains and a pure white cloud sat halfway down the mountains, seemingly to almost touch the side of the mountain. That's odd, I thought. It was a clear blue sky day, no clouds, and here was one lower than the tops of skyscrapers almost up against the mountain. it was almost like the city disappeared though, and only the mountain was in my line of sight. About that time a streak of lightning jetted out of the bottom of the cloud and hit the ground, making smoke rise (honestly, in my mind and on my lips I said GD at that moment). I had my answer, I would drive.

So even though the odds were against me, I packed up the Tercel, said goodbye to friends and started accross the vast US of A without a license, and no insurance either since the company had cancelled it when the license hold sprang up on their computer out of the dark a few weeks after the DMV incident. My tag had expired on my birthday too, so I'd be making my way across country about as illegal as one can be.

Driving from Los Angeles to Atlanta is a trip even with the proper credentials. In my shape it was more like do or die, because I had no doubt that even though the odds actually are in one's favor to make it; in a primed car with band stickers on it and an out of date tag, the odds kinda get reversed. I pulled out of LA on a morning and didn't look back. The old car ran better than good and we cruised across the desert sands until eastern Texas, when forests come into view again. Third night out I got stopped at 1 in the morning by the Louisiana State Patrol, by an officer who looked like a body builder with a big chaw of tobacco in his mouth. I knew the trip was over. Somehow though, while searching the car he found the Bible on the dash with my son's and dad's pictures in there. He told me against his better judgement he believed my story (I told him the facts) and that he was a born again Christian for over 15 years, and he couldn't kick a brother when he was down. He let me go, and I about passed out right there.

The next day, late September I arrived back in Georgia and no one recognized me. I had left at 240-something pounds, and the starvation diet I endured in California had me down to 168 (I weighed at my parent's house the day I got back). While I was told it looked good on me, and indeed that is a healthy weight for someone my age and height, truth is, it wasn't gotten by being healthy, it was got by being broke. That I had left with a full head of long hair and now had none, added to the concentration camp look.

There was no rushing to get the driver's license cleared up. I did get it down to where all I had to do was pay a reinstatement fee (could they not have let me have done this in California?) plus take a driver's test (?), but it would take me almost seven more years to get the money up to pay the reinstatement fee. I was back in Georgia, stuck out in the middle of nowhere, broke and with no driver's license, again. I began to hate this place.

Late 1997 - I took some riffs and worked out some songs to get Pure Leo recorded and something put out on the Underground label. I didn't have money for duplication and without a CD burner I was still using tape. Started having some tensioner problems with the old 388 so frustration, with having to deal with that and no real other way to make recordings, I quit on the record before I got started, and I had worked up quite a few good songs. I took a temp job at a carpet mill to try and pay bills.

November 1997 - In what was becomig the norm, I managed to get an open date at an Atlanta venue in which to put together a show, so I decided to do the presskits and promotions for the Atlanta Rockfest '97 as an industry showcase, again open to the public. The show featured Raze whom I had did recordings for before leaving for California, a new band I had stared working with called Laceration, and Obey Bizar. The concert took place November 13th at the Masquerade. The night of the show, as also was the norm, the friends I relied upon for a ride down to the show never showed up. When I finally did get down to the venue, driving my 64 T-bird without a license, tag or insurance (sounds familiar), the last band was doing their last few songs. Great.

Early 1998 - The new year had me thinking about putting a series of Rockfest shows together and gigging with a band at one, or all of them. There were more than enough labels and bands still in close contact thanks to the Underground Sound for some great talent to take part. I looked into corporate sponsorship because that's how the competition did it, and it kinda seemed disgusting, like a sell-out or slap in the face to the counter-culture, so I tried to find the right places to have good showcases and not have some over blown too-expensive and risky foray, because that meant other people being heavily involved, and I was tired of other people and business together.

Spring to Summer 1998 - I kept trying to recruit my neighbors to play in my band, and it was so hard it never happened! The people couldn't pay their rent in the building next door so I tried to run it as a store, and without money it's not easy. I finally found a good spot for at least one Rockfest concert. The Strand Theatre in Marietta had been the original place for the premier of Gone With The Wind. It had a large old style stage with dressing rooms underneath. When I couldn't get anything band wise going on during the summer of 98, I concentrated on doing two nights at The Strand for Rockfest 1998.

Rockfest 1998 turned out to be one of the better showcases of the series. The shows were well attended though without any resources again my ability to contact media and industry was limited to mostly emailing and local telephone calls. This time I recognized at least one promoter from the Rockfest "competitors" (his is a huge festival that draws hundreds of thousands) hangin out at the shows. I guess they had to make sure I wasn't becoming a threat to their cash flow. All I could do was give 'em hell for not coming up with their own name, which of course made me look bad to the karma folks, but I feel you need to stand up for yourself sometimes.

We also cybercast Rockfest 1998 and although we weren't the first to do it, it still was very new. It added about 1200 to the audience the first night and around 800 the second. I talked with the guys from Elastic Imaginations who did the cybercast about doing a kind of web portal w/ weekly or even nightly live cybercasts and tried to drum up support through the zine, but it never really got off the ground.

Late Fall 1998: I again became unemployed so I jumped back into trying to put a band together. I even tried to learn some cover music to be able to play nightclubs and bars and get paid, but found my attention span lasted about 2 minutes trying to learn other's music, so I went back to writing and doing a few demos to try and work something up to release as a project and get the label back up. I did take note of the amount of unfinished projects I had started and my worsening attention span and thought about what my old girlfriend had said about ADD.

Winter/Spring 1999: The new year started off good with me having auditions and writing new stuff for a new Powercock. After about a half dozen drummers I got fed up and finished the writing for that project which never got recorded. I tried to get odd jobs to pay my utilities and decided to get up enough to open a record store with maybe a listening area and cyber-cafe. A friend had a dozen old apple computers he lent me to start the cybercafe and I went to work wiring up terminals for them in the old store building. Later in the summer the project got cancelled because I could not get up the money to rent a T-1 line for the cafe.

Summer/Fall 1999: I tried to put togther a new version of System X and began having tryouts. I met a neighbor Jon "Stumpy" Hazelwood who would take on vocals. Jon is quite a character and later he'd fill me in on some of the conspiracy shit, which every bit would turn out to be true. For the remainder of the year we jammed and wrote music, then as the year 2000 came on we began to really try and find band members. Some of those songs would be some of my best and would be the mainstay of future bands and live sets well into the first decade of the new millennium.

In August 1999 I held Rockfest at Dotties near Cabbagetown in Atlanta. A deal I had with a farm owner had fell through concerning having an open-air festival when he found out I'd need more than one day to do the staging set-up and break down. Though the smaller venue was a real let down, the bands were really good and the show went well. One of the performers was a new artist named Crystal Sunshine who had a unique, gothic flavored style and I produced her first album in the week leading up to the showcase. I've always wished she'd hung around for a while.

2000: I finally took my old girfriend's advice and went to see a doctor about ADD. After tests and a history check the psychiatrist thought it was a no brainer and prescribed Ritalin, which I couldn't take because it gave me terrible dry mouth so we switched to Adderall. It worked almost immediately and I started making a to-do list and sticking to it. I concentrated on getting some kind of steady employment and taking care of loose ends. I became focused on my music and trying to get Underground Records a better website offering better focused marketing through multiple online media publications broken down by genre. A new family of webzines began to a rise.

In the spring of 2000 with a better, chemically induced focus, I got my act together on the record store. My dad had rented the store next door so it was no longer available, so I enclosed my front porch on the studio and put it there. It was very, very small, yet intimate, and it gave me the ability to try and develop Underground Records as a walk-in retail for music, which places were becoming increasingly rare. After a few months some of the locals said the law were telling people I was selling drugs out of the store, which was a fucking lie, but years later it would explain some of the weird characters and incidents that walked through the door.

I ended the spring by releasing a cassette mastered and recorded album called Crucified on Underground Records, consisting of new stuff and some older stuff yet unrecorded from the same project/album name I had started on before moving to California. Even though cassettes were outdated it was good to have something out on the label again. Most of the remaining promos I had from the WEA days I recorded over and sent the tapes out to stores with a press release. The days of the Compuserve Forum were coming to an end, but .wavs of some of the song edits were placed there and enjoyed a good many downloads. The Forum had been changing since AOL bought Compuserve and soon they did away with the little guys and focused on major label acts, which I told them was a mistake since the market was already saturated with that. No one paid that any attention. In a way it was the end of the first internet era for me.

For the rest of 2000 Jon and I jammed with others trying to complete System X. We met a great guitarist, a black guy named Earl, who actually called himself Nigger Earl. I've jammed with hundreds, and he's one of the best. Didn't work out in the band but we had some killer jam sessions. I had also been writing the soundtrack to a movie idea I had called Shortwave, and when I wasn't working on System X I was working on that and trying to get some new stuff for the store. It was a busy time.

2001: I finished the new songs for System X and started doing some demo recordings. Jon drifted off and I realized his focus was probably like mine before I started treatment. The project kind of fell apart by early summer and I started jamming with some guys who called themselves the Road Dogs. They played mostly covers which I could never learn properly but I'd play along by ear and mostly jam during their set. I did get them to work more on originals, and made some life-long friends.

For the 10th Anniversary of Rockfest in 2001 I partnered with the production guys at the Opera House in nearby Rome after a couple of places I'd thought were secured fell through. I sent out over 50 media press kits and was getting good feedback. The night of the gig the club's booking agent had actually booked another full night of bands! It was a complete mess and a couple of the bands just left when they got there. It should have taught me something about trying to do gigs in Rome, but years later again Rockfest would get caught up in the time warp that is Rome, Georgia.

Also during the late spring/early summer of 2001 I finshed the Shortwave music and started sending out 3 song demos of Freightliner, Thunderwind, and The Italian to record companies, hoping to get someone to notice I had multiple movie scripts and soundtracks besides the other music stuff to offer. I suppose by this time alot of record labels threw away or never listened to cassettes, but I didn't have a CD burner. Regardless, no responses.

I'd decided to move back to Los Angeles because the record store didn't make any money and it got irritating with undercover narcs being the majority of the foot traffic. I decided I didn't need that shit and since it was hell being stuck out here unable to go jam with others and luck having them come here wasn't too good at all, I wanted to get back on the scene out west with the great new stuff and focus I had. I packed up all my stuff in the studio, sold the last of my vintage stage gear I didn't use (including an electro-voice mixing board which I hear is priceless now), had a tearful time explaining to Raven why I needed to get on with life and if I made something of my career how it'd help us as a family. He understood and had seen me struggle to do something music wise here. He said he didn't want me to leave. It was really hard, really, but I knew and explained to him time does not play well with music careers still not off the ground. I made plans to leave out after we spent my birthday in August together.

I reconnected with west coast friends and this time had a place to stay, a drummer who had a rehearsal space and said he'd love to jam, and a bit more money than last time. I sent out an email press release that Underground Records was returning to Hollywood in August and wrapped up some recordings I wouldn't be able to take with me. I began getting everything lined up for Rockfest 2001 in LA as an open air street party in the downtown arts district with multiple stages and a fantastic lineup and things seemed to click for real. I was ready to go. Once again, crazy shit happened.

On July 5th, 2001, an incident happened at the Studio which put the brakes on many things and caused much harm to many more. The woman got arrested next door for some kind of pot smoking and since the studio is 12 feet away from the store and she had just been in here listening to some friends and I play music, the cops claimed it was coming from my place. I guess I missed that hooter but I'd had plenty to drink that night, we were kind of celebrating me leaving out soon to head back to Cali. It did not go down well.

After I got back the next day my place was completely trashed. Music gear was gone, so was the money I had saved to go back to LA I had hid in the bottom of a desk drawer. All the drawers were pulled out and their contents dumped in the floor. I couldn't say who took what because the cops left my door unlocked and all the windows wide open. Needless to say I was ready to kill someone. I had been trying to master some recordings onto DAT and had borrowed a machine from a friend to do it on. It was gone and he was livid. In fact he would never really have anything else to do with me even though I managed to repay him about half the cost of a new machine.

It wasn't just the bust. In Georgia they have laws allowing the police if they suspect you of being high they can require you to give fluids to be checked. Yes this needs to be just for people driving or under probation, but like I've said before the government in Georgia is seriously fucked up. I was threatened with having a catheter inserted in and up through my penis to get urine since I said nada to being threatened. Well I decided to stand up for supposedly what America stood up for, and for myself, and refused intimidation. I contacted my Congress people, and faxed a letter directly to the Whitehouse.

The police had also told me when I asked who was the enemy, that I was and they were the victims, and that they were the law of the land and that I was the enemy of that law and that land. Such horseshit I thought! When I was meditating up on the knoll behind my place about all this a few days later it was like God said to me "I will remove My protective Grace, from this nation, so they know who their enemy really is, and destroy the power of those who do these things. Though some things will be soon, some will take time." I took it to heart, and yeah, the next month I guess the country found out who their enemy really was, not a rock n roller. Yet the Big Man went real deep.

It was incredibly hard to have to restart trying to have a life in a place a few days before you were readying to leave. Without a vehicle and now no money at all I was again stuck, and not really in any kind of peaceful situation. I started hearing wild tales from friends and neighbors which I took as being the way gossip works in small towns. Most of it I put out of my mind and tried to find a lawyer to get this stupid mess taken care of so I could go on with life. Little did I know I had entered a place where your life can be played with and put on hold at the whim of the self-righteous. In hind sight I probably should have just taken care of business personally, but I'm not a big fan of violence.

In late summer 2001 I met some guys online who were doing the first annual Midwestern Music Festival in Missouri and we decided to network which allowed me to promote their event from my end as a Rockfest; enabling me to expand the event outside of Georgia and somewhat deflect the damage of the messed up Georgia and California events. They had their event completely ready to go in Mountain View so we agreed to make the two events one in the same, which would be great for me since I was completely broke and without any other resources or interest from others to help do an event anywhere else. I didn't have a full band but was able to get up onstage and play my guitar solo Whitespirit in front of more people than I'd ever been in front of before, like a sea of people. It gave me some confidence I could get Rockfest back on track despite of all the setbacks in recent years.

It felt good just to leave the prison for a bit, though when I got back it was obvious I was not, to some people's way of thinking, supposed to ever defy the word of the man. Tempers were now rising because I would not lay down, be quiet, and take my punishment like a good citizen. Hell I was still out rockin' and trying to have a life, writing the Senate and asking why, and trying to get some inside info on exactly what kind of bill of goods we as a nation were being sold! The audacity of it all!

So began things like, cars running through my parking lot at all hours of the night, engines revving then pulling off soon as I came out the door; harassing phone calls and stuff like porn links being put on my online bulletin boards. While some stuff was just kiddie prank stuff, things like telling my neighbors I am a drug dealer are not. My next door neighbor came by one day in the late fall of 2001 and told me:

"I know what goes on up here"

"Oh yeah? What is that Worley?" I asked him.

"The GBI's watchin' you?"

I had seen numerous vehicles sitting parked around with people sitting in them, figured it was some kind of law dogs. It was irritating, and more than a little bit threatening, not to mention harassing.

"Why do you say that?" I asked him.

"They've been sitting across from my house in that pull back off the road for three weeks, car loads full. I finally decided to ask them who the hell they were and what the hell was going on. They said they were the GBI and that they had a task force workin' you and that you were a drug dealer. Said they'd get you sooner or later."

So began a long investigation that spiralled into madness and criminal undertakings. When the drug dealer angle came up short, they attacked me however they thought they could; targeting why I didn't have a job (had to mean I was a gangster), and coming up with some absurd shit that I was a crime kingpin with loads of money I was/am hiding somehow (???WTF???), what was and how did Rockfest work, what the underground was, throwing out perhaps I was a terrorist, a leader of a huge international crimminal organization (yes, they told people this, who later told me they told them this incredible bullshit). Whatever they could think of. Since there are no controls on this outside of getting a lawyer in the land of the free, justice for all, you're basically fucked. I only had God, and yeah, he was pissed too.

I'm not afraid of anything on this little earth. I've fought the devil many times and whipped him every time. However, when you have systems that let this happen over and over but present themselves as good, it is more than a small problem. God began to send me back to work on The Word, and the locals, state, and nation, began to screw themselves ever so deeper, all because they don't like someone who stands up for themselves and they can't stand their pride being the least little bit tarnished. Yet, there is much, more. The devil was having his day, and it'd last for years.

The night I was arrested handcuffs were kept on me incorrectly turned at the wrong angle for over five hours. The days after my wrist on my left hand was incredibly sore and swollen. So were a couple of the people's arrested with me. In the coming weeks my wrist became unbearably painful and got to where I could not use it. I couldn't play music and had the "squad" around me at all times, not to mention the local "net" who joined in the party. I had never carried loaded guns but began to at all times. Being scared is different from protecting yourself, and I was a lone, one man person, against a huge well funded and equipped army. I began to lose faith in my nation.

I couldn't really go anywhere for any extended period of time, like move somewhere safer, or perhaps like I had planned back to California, not only because I now had no money, but also because sooner or later I'd have to go to court. My father and I tried to get some info from the Sheriff and DA about what happened to my stuff and money, but we were told it would all be taken care of in court. On the warrant the police left at the scene, no mention of anything removed from the house. Nice, real nice.

I put my experiences into the next few albums I wrote over the next 6 months or so, all the while being observed increasingly under a microscope. I was having trouble using my left hand to play even a little bit, so instead of experimenting with long jams while I wrote music I got straight to the point work wise. The albums I wrote in 2002 would be some of my most critical towards the world and begin a new era of reflection upon the real, hard, cold reality that struck after 911.

It was a fucked up for the situation where the sheep had not a clue, as the earth and the systems of the little animals entered a new stage of dying which wasn't good for mankind. What was really important though, was you OBEY the law. Seriously, nothing else is nearly as important, even thouse who believe themselves the law need to kill and fuck shit up sometimes, cause they're just human too, right? Na, what is important is YOU don't fuck up because other things, like others do, don't matter in the long run. What does matter is what, after decades of seriosly fucked up bullshit, sociopathic murderers can finally W.I.N.! Sounds crazy? Truth is stranger than fiction.....stay tuned, because it gets even more fucked up than anyone in their right mind could ever imagine.

Summer 2002 would see the G's ramp up their investigation to historic levels where they would stay for most of the next 18 years. During this year things like a full court press on surveillance began to unfold, which had them following me wherever I went. After they harassed me at Music Midtown, I knew the only way they could have knew I was going to that show was to have been listening in on my phone calls. I devised a plan to see if this was true.

The week after the show I told a friend not to say anything incrimminating but to agree with me on the phone and play along. So I called him and said, "Dude, be here at __ tonight, the killer bro, the killer. We're gonna rock!". An hour before that time I started watching around my place. Sure enough, car loads of people began staking out different locations, one behind the property at the entrance to the Oak Grove subdivisions (this would become a favorite landing spot for them over the years), another car load across the street where two roads meet, another car full in the pull back across from Worley's. A car load of the local boys roamed back and forth through the parking lot. They were ready to strike!

At the allotted time I stepped out on my porch and began playing a long guitar solo with it cranked wide open. This wouldn't be the only time I'd come out on the porch and jam for the civil servants. I think some folks were pissed. The big load was a big dose of rock n roll! You should have seen the looks they gave me after a while when they pulled off. Yeah, privacy for me was gone, completely, but even worse was yet to come.

My friends in California said it was still possible to do Rockfest as a street party there, so that was the plan; to have a west coast open air festival late in the summer or early fall. After many false starts here I finally settled on having Rockfest 2002 as a club showcase at the Somber Reptile in downtown Atlanta on June 22nd where I'd held it before. I hoped to make at least enough for a bus ticket to go to Los Angeles to coordinate the event there, as time to do that was approaching fast and I had absolutely no budget. In June there were huge free outdoor shows in downtown Atlanta so I collected what scrap metal I could to take to the recycler and used the money to make 6800 leaflets to pass out at the shows promoting Rockfest 2002. At the event, the bands were great at the show, but only 60 people paid at the door. I gave whatever there was to the bands, and the group Jeniforia even gave me a ride home and bought me something to eat because I was broke!

July 2002 - Start jamming on stuff from Antisocial and attempt to get a band together for live shows, maybe even do the planned Rockfest. Nothing goes.

I tried to get some interest for the west coast Rockfest event throughout the rest of the summer but came up empty. By early fall I cancelled the California event for 2002 but kept the lines open to begin planning one in Los Angeles for 2003. I would make up presskits and actively try to get some sponsors this time around. So for the rest of 2002 I concentrated on growing traffic for the zines, and trying to put a new band together. I was also again trying to get a producer interested in my movie ideas and soundtracks, actively emailing agents with links to sound files from the Angel Of War script. The stuff was different, and the response was indifferent.

In early 2003 I quit taking my ADD medication. I was I suppose society ready, doing everything on my list daily, building up my online business plan in hope of relaunching Underground Records as a network portal; actually looking daily to try and find a full time job, making my schedule work so that Raven and I had much time together, being in a relationship since God knows when. Yet I didn't play music when the feeling moved me, I scheduled it and "worked" on it, and the feeling wasn't the same. Where used to I'd drink a cup of coffee in the morning and mess around with my music when the mood was right; I now had time set aside for it and only it. Yes this was focus, but it was in a way forcing things.

I had now launched multiple genre specific webzines; besides the Underground Sound webzine and ezines, I was now developing or marking up full time Jambone (for jazz, fusion & blues), Homegrown (for country), Joint (for rap & hip hop, I'm sure the righteous soldiers of the mighty state loved this one; really it was as much a test of free speech and of the press, to see if they'd even shit on their own Bill Of Rights), Hellzine (the heavier side of heavy metal, which my brother loved), Slam (punk rock), Sermon (spiritual music centered) and Electroid (dance, ebm & industrial).

While this seperation of genre enabled me to focus on the specifics more, and draw a more diverse crowd to my websites, which were now named the Underground Records Entertainment Network, the amount of work was tremendous (I had to work on one specific zine every week to get fresh copy out in decent time) and the additional zines really didn't bring in extra income. So I thought to quit working myself to death, to hell with the "focus & concentration" and being a productive "member of society". I'd rather lounge around all day, get not much done and make music.

In 2003 I would write more than six albums of material and keep up daily or multiple time weekly jam sessions to form a new band called Rebel Messiah. I did find a good drummer, yet the bass player was a problem. Once again being in the location I was away from larger cities did not help. I kept on writing though and did a side project called Plasma which managed to do some private parties and keep the fire of creation burning. My wrist was actually getting much worse and it seemed arthritis was setting in. One of the guitar players who jammed for a while in Rebel Messiah had a girlfriend who was a registered nurse. I had no money for the doctor but she still got me some steroids and they really seemed to help the inflammation and pain. They also helped me gain over 30 new fresh pounds, like I needed that!

As summer deepened I almost had a complete stage band together called Supercell and I had set up a couple of gigs for the band when things fell apart. We practiced somewhere else besides my studio because the other guys were uneasy of the cops who had the place under 24/7 surveillance. The keyboard player came to get me for rehearsals and he quit the band after he and the drummer came to blows one night because of some stupid shit having to do with some power tools one owed the other for. After that, I didn't yet have a car so I couldn't get to practice. Just one more incident of things out of my control having a negative effect on otherwise good things. It was more than a bit frustrating, with everything else going on.

In early summer with the two year period the state had to bring the cannabis charge to court approaching and still no court date, though every else involved had been to court, I told my Dad to pull the bond that I was fed up with all the threats and constant harassment and they could just come get me or I was leaving. Since the band had busted up I was ready to go forward in life and I had waited long enough for the devil to do his deeds. My friends who had went to court had told me they said I wasn't there with them because the tests that had been forced on me were negative. Great I thought, then why was the prosecutor's office still telling me months later my court date was still coming up? I'd learn later it was to give the squads time to find something, anything, to charge me with. This was wrong, and it further pissed me off.

Regardless, when my Dad showed up to pull the bond, they told him the case had been dropped, he said February. I thought this amazing, since two weeks earlier I had again called about the court date and was assured it was near. I began serious plans to leave this redneck hellhole. First thing to make that happen would be to get a band up, record an album, and tour the hell outta here.

Fall 2003: I put an ad out on an old sign board in front of my studio looking for a metal drummer. A very old friend of mine, Ken "Bam-Bam" Story who was from the old neighborhood came by on his way to visit relatives in Rome one day and saw the sign. He was a drummer. So we started jamming and decided to call the band Bootlegger. We tried out other players, including the return of Nigger Earl, with whom we sounded as good as ANY band I've ever heard in the world. He too was impressed and said he'd come back, but we never saw him again. After a month of jamming and trying out people we called my old friend Richard "the gore" Kilgore to come play bass with us. Things seemed to click pretty easily. By the last month of the year we had most of the basic tracks to a full album completed.

As 2004 approached I looked forward to the challenges and made plans to relaunch Rockfest more as a focused business and to get back into playing live with a band. I'd been in worst spots (at least I thought), so I was guarded, yet very optimistic.

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