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Posted: May 6, 2005 10:33 pm
 
PLEASE TUNE IN TO WFMU TOMORROW FOR A TWO HOUR TRIBUTE TO HASIL ADKINS
ON THE
FOOL'S PARADISE SHOW WITH REX AT www.wfmu.org (91.1 FM) 6-8 PM
SATURDAY MAY
7. GUEST WILL BE BILLY AND MIRIAM FROM NORTON, ARTIST JOE COLEMAN,
JESCO
WHITE, AND OTHERS.


NO MORE HOT DOGS
by Miriam Linna

Ten days ago, we lost a great one, a really great one. Hasil Adkins was
found
dead of a heart attack in his home in Madison, West Virginia on
Tuesday,
April 23, following an apparently unsolicited attack several days
earlier by a man
who drove a four wheeler into him. Billy and I, along with many friends
from
far flung places, got the call while at the Ponderosa Stomp in New
Orleans. We
were stunned, chilled and deeply saddened at the loss of a true
original, who
happened to be not only a gifted man-- a genius-- but also a guiding
light to
so many of us. Hasil was a musician, first and foremost. Music was his
calling from the time he was a child, and he lived to deliver a musical
message from
his heart to yours, to anyone's who happened into his path.

We left driving to Hasil's funeral in West Virginia as soon as we got
back to
New York from Louisiana on what would have been Hasil's 69th birthday.
Brooklyn artist Joe Coleman and his wife Whitney Ward accompanied us
for the drive.
Hasil had performed at the couple's nuptials and Hasil plays heavily
into
Joe's work, as is evident in his documentary REST IN PIECES and as the
subject of
one of his intense biographical painted portraits. The drive took us
two days,
as the weather was as dismal as our mood, and navigating (Billy did all
the
driving) the slick mountain highways and dense fog in the lesser
roadways was a
challenge. By day, we counted our progress by counting passing
billboards for
hot dogs, and semi trucks loaded with cheese, chicken and farm meats
and by
night watched tail lights and mile markers through flapping windshield
wipers.
We played Hasil's music the whole way, the happy records, the sexy
records,
the head-lopping records, and the heartfelt, sorrowful dirges that pull
at the
heartstrings with a purity and depth that few artists ever shake a
stick at.

The funeral was on April 30th, one of the rainest, foggiest, most
mournful
days on God's holy planet. I give details here now, because so many of
you have
asked. If details upset you, scroll on a couple of paragraphs.
Otherwise, bear
with me. The funeral was held at Handley Funeral Home in Danville,
close to
Hasil's home in Madison. It was attended by his sister Irene and her
four sons
and four daughters, and a couple of her grandkids. A handful of locals
and a
few fans seated themselves in the back pews. Hasil's long distance
sweetheart
Amy from Minnesota had come in with a friend, and Jim Tucci, Hasil
acolyte,
steady friend and road manager, had traveled from Georgia. Billy, Joe
and Jim
served as pallbearers, as did the dancing outlaw Jesco White and a
couple of
Irene's sons. The open casket service was met with such shock and grief
from
Irene, that she fainted several times. One of her daughters also lost
consciousne
ss. Hasil looked good, but different. A cowboy hat was leaning against
the lid
of his casket. He was wearing a new red and white striped button down
shirt and
as people filed up to pay their repects, they slipped in a rose wrapped
in
crunchy clear plastic, some CD's, and a ceramic angel figurine and one
lady
pinned a religious medal on his pocket. Hank Williams III had sent a
beautiful
floral display which featured a huge toy guitar and it was prominently
displayed.
The casket was closed when Pastor Garry Bowman, a Baptist minister,
began
the service by announcing that he didn't know Hasil, and that he only
remembers
meeting him once, in 1958. He began a brief, basic dust-to-dust sermon,
after
which the bereaved filed out through the rain into their cars, some
moving
into position for the headlights-on vehicular entourage to a remote
cemetary in
Van, WV. I could never find myself back to that location without an
Indian
guide, a compass and a divining rod. It was THAT remote. We drove at a
snail's
pace for what seemed forever, finally winding up a dirt road to a tiny
hillock
clearing, where a small tent was set up over a ten foot square of
astroturf. It
was fairly pouring as they brought the casket out once again for final
words
from the pastor. The pallbearers were signalled to carry the deceased
to the
interment site and the family and locals returned to their cars and
headed back
down the hill to their homes. We stood confused for a moment. The
pastor told
Whitney that we "didn't have to go down there" and of course she
promptly
picked up her the muddy hem of her long black skirt and went stumbling
down the
ravine with the faithful. The pallbearers were ankle deep in yellow mud
and
the rain was beating visciously against the casket by the time we all
reached
the remote woodsy vale where Hasil's grave had been prepared. No
further words
were said. Two grave diggers (is there a euphemism for this profession?
If so,
tell me) kneeled in the mud to lower the casket via alternating
squealing
manual pulleys. It took forever. Some invisible rain birds chirped
nearby, maybe
in response to the squeaking GD's. Several times, the men realigned
their
mechanism, then finally satisfied, loosened the belts, set a piece of
pine atop
the casket and stood apart from us, soaked with rain and covered in
mud,
leaning against their shovels and waiting. Nobody moved for a long
time. The rain
kept pelting, boom-ba-boom, now against the piney wood panel. Rain
gushed down
the gullies, along the path we had trod, and a heavy mist hovered
inches from
the ground with a decidedly gothic demeanor. A bit further down the
glade were
some old gravestones leaving in various directions. Someone remarked
that
Hasil's mother and father were there. The rain kept on. Eventually the
small
entourage began their way back up to the road, some dropping a flower
or a handful
of dirt onto the grave. The shovel guys looked impatient. At the top of
the
hill, I looked back and Jim was still there, head bowed. He would stay
to help
the gravediggers. The four of us scraped off mud and got back into the
car. We
rode in silence for a while. Joe spotted a KFC and suggested chicken,
so we
pulled in for a couple of king size buckets to bring to the wake at
Irene's
place, one extra crispy and one original recipe. At the wake, one of
Hasil's
four Bibles was passed around, revealing markings and notations by
Hasil
throughout. Memories were exchanged. Chicken was eaten. Tears mingled
with occasional
chirps of laughter, but only the tears relayed true feeling. Someone in
the
kitchen did the Chicken Walk and a semblance of the Hunch. The rain
kept on
coming. It got dark fast as we left the Mountain State. Whitney got
lucky and
found some commemorative hot pants in a Goodwill store located right
next door to
the local court house where Hasil had many comings and goings, and by
the
second day of driving home, midway through the Pennsylvania meat-belt,
we hit upon
what would have been Hasil's dream-- a general store stocked with every
possible variety of commodity meat in every possible configuration..
with free
samples aplenty. We bought packages of hotdogs and local cheese and
crowded back
in for the last leg of the journey. It had stopped raining by the time
we got
back home. Clean blue skies and a hint of May. I wished it had been
such a nice
day for Hasil's funeral. Then again no, Hasil would have wanted the
rain-- a
big giant, dreary, bone crunching rain with mist and clouds and fog and
flooding and gushing gullies and busted umbrellas and buckets of
chicken and hot
pants for everyone...

So then, and anyway... our Norton label started with Hasil-- OUT TO
HUNCH was
our first LP, and HAZE'S HOUSE PARTY was our first seven incher. Billy
and I
had been publishing KICKS magazine, dedicated to the great unknowns and
the
great unlauded. Hasil had been interviewed in KICKS #3 and got written
up in all
subsequent issues. We originally located Hasil with the help of a great
friend and R&B collector Donn Fileti, and immediately drove out to meet
the Haze
(as he liked to be called). We released OUT TO HUNCH, a collection of
his
original early home recordings and brought him to New York to play.
Hasil was in
prime form and wowed audiences wherever he played. Billy recorded Hasil
for the
first time in 1986 and continued recording and releasing Hasil material
over
the years. He was a very close friend and we were never out of touch
with him.
Over the years, Hasil traveled all over North America. He made plans to
tour
overseas many times but each time, when it got down to the wire, Hasil
would not
board the plane. He was, in his heart of hearts, a homeboy. Even on
relatively short out of state trips, he would become despondently
homesick. And he was
in essence a West Virginia homeboy, and even closer to the bone, a
Boone
County homeboy. Hasil lived his entire life in the house where he was
born, in the
woods, off the beaten path, nary a dot any even a local map. His
records and
stage shows were one thing, but his eccentricities no doubt expanded
his
legend. Guns and ammo, meats of all nations, crazy dames, murderous
psychopaths, and
political figures peppered the everso topical subject matter of his
songs,
alternately endearing him to a fringier element and causing the politer
country
fans to step back in confusion. Despite his ability to wear many hats-
to be
many things to many people-- he was true to his calling. He was an
enterta
Posted: May 6, 2005 11:28 pm
 
iner,
a self-made man, a gifted songwriter, a keen observer and commentator
on the
world as he knew it.

Haze's final show was at the Las Vegas Rockaround this past September,
where
he was appropriately introduced by none other than Rudy Ray Moore. Many
overseas fans were seeing Haze for the first time, and may have been
shocked,
surprised or at the very least, amazed by him. Pounding away at his
guitar and
stomping on the drums, shrieking and hollering, he may have frightened
some of the
fainter hearts, reinforced others who'd come to quaff at the well. None
of us
knew it would be the last time. No more hot dogs, or then again,
perhaps, too
many too soon.
Posted: May 7, 2005 12:20 am
 
whoah.
Posted: May 7, 2005 2:07 am
 
wow, this is an amazing write up, gave me chills
Posted: May 7, 2005 5:11 am
 
I absolutely could not agree more, underwires; it's just soo great! It's very strange how good it makes me feel; it's very special.

The WFMU show tomorrow is just gonna be SO wonderful AND guests JOE-FUCKING-COLEMAN & the dancing outlaw himself, Jesco White!? Man.

I've decided I'm gonna scare up a couple buddies (sadly, I can only think of two people I've ever really shared the Haze with) invite them over, get some buckets of chicken, get plenty of hooch and share what I believe will be a profoundly wonderful program (and an awesome way to say goodbye).

Two hours of his music and great people talking about him and his strangely wonderful life? C'mon. Perfect. And I encourage you to do the same.

Man. He so fucking deserved so much more for his lifetime contribution.

And Miriam Linna (wherever you are, wonderful lady)....thank you sooo much for sharing this experience....fucking priceless.
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