A Duet with Townes Van Zandt


During one of Townes’ trips to Pittsburgh, my long-time friend the late  Rodd Willings was playing a gig with his band, The Lightning Bar Band, at a place called Manns Hotel out near McKees Rocks, PA. All I remember about Manns is that it was over 200 years old and was at one time a stagecoach stop or a Pony Express stop on the way out to the Wild West. But in 1977 when Rodd was playing there it was a biker bar. A rough place. Rodd knew I was hanging with Townes and he suggested I bring him out to the gig after Townes had finished his show at Antonino’s withTracey Nelson. (Townes was opening for her) So TVZ did his show and I told him about Manns Hotel. The first thing he wanted to know was, was it safe? (He had recently gotten rolled and had his guitar stolen) I told him I thought it would be alright and probably by the time we got there (because of the distance we had to drive and how late it would be when he finished his show) we would just make it for the tail end of the last set. TVZ agreed to go, so we hopped into Roundman’s Chevy and headed for Mann’s. It was late when we got there, and we could see by all the Harleys parked in the lot that it was a packed house. Townes was a little apprehensive about going in, but we did, and got there just in time for the last set. Rodd saw us come in and quickly asked Townes if he wanted to do a song, and Townes grabbed a guitar and lit into a rousing version of “Who Do You Love“.  Roundman was all wired up and was dancing on top of a table! After Townes finished “Who Do You Love" I joined them onstage and Townes and I went right into a duet, exchanging verses of the Hank Williams song, “Mind Your Own Business”. After doing those two songs Townes wanted to get out of there while we still could, and head back to the Webster Hall Hotel where he was staying. As we made our escape we could hear the band going into the song “Tire Iron Boogie”. We made it out of there just in time!  On the ride back Townes said it was cool and he had a good time… The next morning Townes checked out of Webster Hall and we went for breakfast at a greasy spoon (Scotty's Diner) and then Townes checked into my place until we took my VW camper bus and headed off to the next gig. But that's another story.