There was this one gig we played on top of a man's grave. Probably the far-outest venue yet for us Bodarks. It was at Chelsea's Corner in Eureka Springs, Arkansas - a tavern built into the cliff with a labyrinth of stairways, balconies, and nooks as old as the Roman catacombs, it seemed. Nothing inside this place was parallel or perpendicular. Hardly a right angle anywhere. And to flatlanders like us, the load-in was a bit clumsy involving a slight altercation with the Eureka Springs police. (Story for another time.)
The stage at Chelsea's was built over the tomb of a man named Sam Smith - former owner of the place who was a jazz swinger from Chicago. He apparently also enjoyed gardening, as you can see from his photo.
Smith had played all over the world with the likes of Count Basie back in the day, then retired in Eureka Springs. So his remains were entombed there in a circular well where people would bring mementos and play music to honor his spirit. Not sure if it was a dying wish of Smith's, or a logistical choice by later owners looking to expand, but the stage was
built right on top of the shrine as the building was extended along the cliff.
Any stomping or dancing we did that night was sure to rattle the remnants of the jazz man and wake his ghost. Kevin, the seven-foot mass of hair who ran our sound, told us he'd even experienced a few late-night anomalies after the place was closed - eerie sounds that no soundboard is capable of. And there may have been a few encounters with some tie-dyed Dead Heads along the way.
I don't doubt any of the reports of paranormal shenanigans. Because during our clumsy load-out, every time I turned around, my beer glass was empty.
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