Back in the early 1970s, there was a show on TV called “That’s Incredible”. It was sort of the first of the reality type shows that seem to inundate our media today. There was a cowboy on there that had set off on horseback from British Colombia to Miami with his wife and 12 year old son. Everything they owned in the world was tied to their saddles or on one of the three pack horses they had. They would play music at camp grounds and roadside cafes to supplement their supplies; sometimes they would stop and mend fences for a week or two before traveling on. I answered an add in the Jacksonville Newspaper years ago looking for musicians for a new project. I was tired of commercial diving and wanting some time to heal. I walked into the Bluebird and introduced myself and was amazed to find out that they were one of the few people that not only remembered me from a couple of old records that I had recorded years ago, but in fact, even had the records. They handed me a guitar and pointed me to the stage and five or six hours later, still swapping tales and songs, I found myself employed in the lowest paid job that I had ever taken (sometimes went into negative numbers). The bluebird had three unique features, no…it had four: 1. A really great menu 2. The best stage you could possibly ask for. 3. A full scale music store at the other end that kept musicians hours. 4. And Chuck and Diane Romans. I hosted a song writers night there on Wednesday nights for next year that drew some of the best writers from a five state area. We produced a live radio broadcast on Friday nights called “Live at the Bluebird” that I also hosted and as a result, got to perform in concert with folks like John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Guy Clark, Steve Forbert, Roseann Cash, Dicky Betts, Don Oija Dunaway, Iann Tyson and a ton of others that only my scrapbook remembers. The Bluebird became a North Florida Mecca for musicians but unfortunately musicians, however good they are, never seem to have much money and the café did not prosper on the sales of a bottomless cup of coffee that got nursed all night. The joke was that a musician without a girlfriend was called “Homeless”. But they had a home at the Bluebird. They could always get a quality instrument from Chuck and pay for it when they could afford to, which was seldom. If their guitar was broken, Chuck was a master luthier and would repair them, sometimes working a through the entire night and you would hardly recognize your old guitar when he was done. You would swear that someone had stolen your broken down old piece of crap and replaced it with a disguised Stratavarious. One of the many songs that Chuck had written over the years, a Tom T. Hall song called “The Fastest Rabbit Dog in Carter County” always amused me. I would argue with him and tell him that he didn’t know shit about hunting rabbits with dogs…a fast dog would run the rabbit to ground; that’s why beagles are the most popular breed for rabbit hunting, because their legs a too short and they can chase the rabbit by you several times affording an opportunity to get a good shot. Apparently Tom T. Hall didn’t know that either but he was amused when Chuck called him at 3:00 in the morning to tell him. That was the kind of man Chuck Romans was; he didn’t even own a watch, much less, give a damn about time. That’s why I walked off from a job at Kenneddy Space Center years later when he called to ask if I could go them to play a show or two at the Olympic games in Atlanta and there I was on stage dressed like a cowboy playing my hot pink stratacaster in front of thousands of people with the Romans Family Band when Richard Jewel got blamed for setting that bomb off and screwed the rest of the engagement. Chuck was a dreamer, if their ever was one. Me and many others always bought into his dreams, schemes, and wild-assed ideas and always lost every dime and I don’t know a one of us that if given the opportunity, wouldn’t do the same damned thing again. If Chuck showed up on my door step tomorrow morning and said “let’s build a chuck-wagon and go to the Calgary Stampede” we’d forget all about next months mortgage payment and start looking for wagon wheels. He is the only man I ever knew that would invite you to come up and rob trains on horseback all day and play bluegrass all night back at the depot. People like Peter Rowan, David Grissman, Jerry Garcia, Johnny Cash, Stephan Garfield, Joe Walsh, and myself would always answer the phone from a sound sleep and be glad to hear from Chuck and what ever scheme he was planning when he looked at his bare wrist and called at three in the morning. You learned never to admire any of the fine instruments he always seemed to have. If you did, a box would arrive on your doorstep and it would contain something like the beautiful eight string Gretch Sho-bro, the guitar Guy Clark gave him, the pearl handled .45 colt revolver, or the ugly hot pink fender strat that had the note on it saying “It’s the ugliest, sissyist guitar I ever seen but it plays real good; try the out of phase switch on the break in “If I believed in Angels” when you record it. Reese and CJ called last night to tell me that Chuck had died. Me and Ms. Jimi went to the Pelican Reef last night and listened to some good bluegrass with a hint of Bob Wells that gave it a certain unique flavor. I called Stephan this morning and we sang an old Ian Tyson song together over the phone; The sighing in the pines, up here in the timber line, Makes me wish I’d done things different, but wishin don’t make it so. Times got too short, the years all run together now, Did I hold Juanita yesterday, or was it fifty years ago? Diane, we were all a little richer.