Picture day at a kindergarten class in eastern Washington mostly had grinning youngsters wearing buttoned-collared shirts and ties. But frowning little Bob Wayne donned a sleeveless bright pink T-shirt that read “Come On Feel The Noise; Girls Rock Your Boys.”
He looked as out of place among his classroom peers as he might be working for a corporation-owned record company. Such a notion makes Bob Wayne laugh.
“That would be hilarious,” Wayne said shortly before taking the stage at a festival called the Hippie Killer Hoedown. “I am not your GQ model-looking, country-tight-jeans-wearing guy. I don’t fit that image.”
Wayne, who writes and records his own music, plays an authentic and visceral blend of country and metal. His current tour began Feb. 2, 2014. An 11-straight day run which included Rojo’s Tavern in South Lake Tahoe on Monday, April 14 will be followed by another 11-day run. Then it’s off to Europe for a nonstop three-month tour, followed by dates in South America. He says he’d play every day if he could, investing profits into additional band members. That relentless schedule spurred a large following of fans, many who got to know Wayne after he received a big break from Hank Williams III when the grandson of country’s greatest pioneer played with the metal band Superjoint Ritual.
“Hank III also had a country band, and when his guitar tech quit, he called the guys in Zeke and I was the roadie and guitar tech for them,” Wayne told Tahoe Onstage. “They hooked me up with him, also knowing that I wrote country. They told him, ‘He loves country and he loves metal, so this guy would be perfect for you.’ He took me on.
“One thing I learned from him is to keep it real. He doesn’t do it like how the Nashville corporate guys do it. He just paves his own way. He does what he does whenever he wants to do it, kind of like how I like to do it. I can’t imagine doing it any other way, actually.”
While Hank III provided Wayne an opportunity, it was the mother of a toddler with a mullet who deserves the most credit.
A musician in a cover band, Wayne’s mother used her son’s room as rehearsal space. The preteen was awakened on numerous occasions at 2 a.m. when band members stumbled in to unload gear. Perhaps that’s why Wayne says he can fall asleep anywhere, even on a pool table, despite noise or surrounding activity. (Sleep and hydration is the formula to preserving his voice and health in order to perform every day, he says.)
“My mom’s a rocker,” Wayne said. “It wasn’t much of a step when I was a teenager to start my own band.”
The first songs Wayne’s mother taught him were Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin,’ ” and “Tear in My Beer.” He said learning those tunes gave him a songwriting foundation he has used ever since.
Wayne’s first concert was when he was 11. The artist: Johnny Cash. The stage presence alone from the Man in Black alerted the youngster that we had witnessed something very special.
“What you listen to is going to affect what comes out of you,” Wayne said. “I listened to a lot of punk and I listened to a lot of metal and I listened to a lot of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and David Allan Coe. Even in my teenage years we were rocking Johnny Cash and Slayer. Johnny Cash was always cool to me and my friends. We didn’t consider him country as far as like Toby Keith or whatever bullshit is out there.”
The bullshit. Wayne is the antithesis of today’s country music. But he has no animosity toward the genre that makes the most money in the music industry.
“A lot of my friends and fans are on this fuck-pop-country bandwagon,” Wayne said. “I’m not like that. I’ve never said that and I’ve never felt that. I personally don’t listen to it and don’t like it but I personally don’t like a lot of music. Does that matter? No. What matters is the music you do like. So I don’t focus my energy on what I don’t like. I focus my energy on what I do like. A lot of real fans of music support what they like. Who cares what some other guy likes or listens to?”
Bob Wayne & the Outlaw Carnies will follow up the 2012 album “Till the Wheels Fall Off” with “Back to the Camper,” a reference, no doubt, to the 25-foot rig that transports the six-man crew (including roadie) to gigs. The album will be available next week, he said.
Photographer’s notebook: The lighting at Rojos was very challenging. The first two bands were rockabilly punk and loud. The two-woman burlesque show (one of the Kountry Kittens) was bizarre to say the least, but the crowd loved it.
Everyone really got into it when Bob Wayne & the Outlaw Carnies came on. During the first song, it turned into a mosh pit. Then it settled down and everyone just danced normally, but it was still high spirited. Bob Way had to put his mic stand on the dance floor because one of the monitors wasn’t working, which put him up close and personal with the fans. – Kurt E. Johnson / Tahoe Onstage