Forget the Madonna headset, David Allan Coe is a badass.Wayne Newcome now leads the local rock band Problem Stick but 25 years ago he was driving a delivery truck in San Francisco and hating nearly every song he heard on the radio. It was around this time that he bought the 45 single of David Allan Coe's "Willie, Waylon and Me." Now, a quarter of a century later, Newcome and Problem Stick take the stage in an opening slot for Coe's Midtown Ballroom performance.
"When all those stupid hair bands came out, I couldn't stand all that shit. So I started listening to country music and that's when I bought my first David Allan Coe 45," Newcome says.
Today Newcome is living in Bend, DJing his "Onslaught" radio show on KPOV (under the name Morgan P. Salvo) and leading what very well might be one of the city's strangest bands. Problem Stick's sound is intentionally "wrecked," as Newcome likes to describe the band's deliberately messy blend of downright garage rock laced with Sonic Youth style soundscapes. ("I always wanted to play music that I would go see," offers Newcome.) His mix-and-match flannels and layered T-shirts give him an appearance as intentionally "wrecked" as his music but is perfectly in line with his giggling personality and wide-reaching wealth of knowledge - most of which is centered on obscure music factoids and the idiosyncrasies of D-grade horror films.
Newcome points out that his Silver Moon Brewing solo show on September 6 took place on David Allan Coe's 69th birthday. Is this a sign that Newcome and the legendary country rocker are meant to share a stage? Nope. But Newcome is pumped to share a stage with the rebellious and often contentious Coe.
"David Allan Coe to me really is a living legend and I was just glad to have a chance to play with him. I don't know, maybe everyone else was too scared," he says laughing for what is probably the 45th time in the last five minutes.
Wayne Newcome - guitarist, singer, director of "Brainman No Die"Why in the hell would anyone be scared of a 69-year-old whose handlers declined a telephone interview with our paper (or any paper for that matter) on account that he is "close to deaf" and has penned songs with titles like "Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile?" Well, that's because Coe also has an entire record (Nothing Sacred) of tracks with titles so foul we can't even print them, has done some serious time in prison and recorded a project called Rebel Meets Rebel-a surprisingly good metal-in-cowboy-hats collaboration with the late Dimebag Darrel and other members of Pantera.
"He's not going to let anyone forget that he's been in prison and that he's a badass dude," Newcome says. "He's got a real you-wanna-mess-with-me-then-go-ahead thing going on. Man, I wouldn't mess with him."
But Coe's badassedness hasn't kept him from rubbing elbows with the greats of country music. Strangely, you don't hear his name as often as the giants of classic country music, even if Coe does everything within his power to equate himself with more well-known heroes through an impossibly persistent habit of name dropping.
"He's kind of a mystery and here's why," Newcome says, "He always seems to be name dropping. But I never hear Kris Kristofferson or Waylon or Willie dropping David Allan Coe's name, ya know?"
But one place you do hear Coe's name is in his own songs - he drops his own name, all three words of it, in a good number of his tunes. It's sort of like station identification, reminding you exactly which artist you're listening to.
Newcome won't be dropping his own name or anyone else's name when he and the Stick warm up the Midtown stage on Wednesday night, but he will be playing songs that he's amassed through a career that spans three decades, back to his San Francisco days of his band Ugly Stick, the music of which he accurately describes as "timeless" and akin to certain aspects of the Velvet Underground. This is the same band that Newcome took into a deaf club that was literally a place for deaf people to "feel music." Newcome has an endless amount of stories like this, including but absolutely not limited to the production of his two-and-a-half-hour-long horror flick, Brainman No Die. After Wednesday night, he'll have another story, and it's called "The Time I Opened for David Allan Coe."
David Allan Coe, Problem Stick
7pm doors, 8pm show Wednesday, September 17. Midtown Ballroom, 51 NW Greenwood Ave. $23/advance, $25/door.Tickets at Ranch Records and ticketswest.com.