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Tony Beasley – Interview

Kidney Stones, Sumo Wrestling Contests, and Terrible Willie Nelson Impersonations

Photo by Valentin Sivyakov

Tony Beasley spent nearly sixteen years behind the bar at the legendary Jinx in Savannah. Over the years, he saw amazing shows, performed himself, participated in roasts, and made many lifelong friends along the way.

Here, he talks about how he started working at the Jinx, the worst performance he ever witnessed there, his dice making ideas, and much more.

I showed her some kidney stones I had just passed, then despite her being grossed out, she offered me a job at her new bar she was opening where the Velvet had been

What are some of your earliest musical memories?

I have a lot of fond early memories of music. My mom would play acoustic guitar, and sing songs to me every day as a child. She sounds a lot like Loretta Lynn, and she never uses a pick. However in the Sixties she did have a job picking cotton and tobacco on a family farm. She sang the Creedence version of “Cotton Fields” it was one of my favorites as a small child. We had a big console record player and a few records, mostly gospel, but I found Johnny Cash at San Quintin, Waylon Jennings Greatest Hits, the one with him on the cover smoking in that black gamblers hat. There was a gold covered Elvis record, probably a greatest hits, and the Eagles greatest hits record with the skull on the cover. Those were my favorite to play. I’d grab my mom’s upright vacuum cleaner, and dance, and sing into the handle like a microphone. I was probably around 6 years old then.

Who are some of your musical influences?

All the above mentioned, plus the Drive-by-Truckers are big for me. The Judge and Jury, Aaron Parrett, Star room boys. John Neff played in all those bands now that I think about it. Of course all the country music outlaws. Just to name a few.

How did you get started at the Jinx?

It was the Velvet Elvis 19 years ago when I started on the door. I was 22, and loved going in the bar to drink with my friends, and hear live music. I was 6’3 and close to 300 lbs at the time, I was a good fit to work the door. I got hired because I broke some guys arm at a party In a sumo wrestling contest. Eoin (the manager)told me in his Irish accent” Ya broke tha fuckers arm last night,”I want ta hire ya, but do nae break any fuckers arms again unless I tell ya to!” At least that’s how he sounds in my memory. I agreed.

Every night around closing time, I would always ask all the bartenders any question that I could about what it took to do their job. I would come in on my nights off, drink, and just watch them work. I really wanted to be behind that bar, this is the job for me! It took about a year to get back behind there. I worked tending bar, at the door, and in the sound booth for two years before the Velvet was shut down. The revenuer came in to shut us down for the second time, I was the only one there both times, and he took pity when I asked if I could have one last drink. I poured a 16oz to-go cup of Wild Turkey 101, then drank it in the ten mins he gave me to get my shit out of the building.

After that I got a job at Ibiza literally as I stumbled out of the front door into their manager. Susanne saw me one day a few months later on my BMX and asked me what I was up to. I showed her some kidney stones I had just passed, then despite her being grossed out, she offered me a job at her new bar she was opening where the Velvet had been. I worked the whole (just short of) 16 years with her.

You can drink through the pain, and in some rare cases travel through time itself to the end of the night. Then you realize you made it through another one

What were some of the best performances you ever witnessed at the Jinx?

Murder By Death, High on Fire, Damad, Billy Jo Shaver, Charles Bradley, The Rounders, Lucero, Tim Barry … Too many … 16 years man.

What were some of the worst performances you ever witnessed at the Jinx?

Hands down Damon Mailand’s Willie Nelson impersonation, and don’t get me wrong, I love the guy. So when Damon would cruelly butcher his voice, I would have to stop serving drinks to hold onto the bar because I would become dizzy from the sonic assault. Damon is able to weaponize the great Willie Nelson’s voice in the the most terribly offensive way, such that even the memory of this travesty makes me feel ill recalling it. I miss playing with those guys, and by that I miss when he would just leave the stage, and let me play a song. (I was saving that for his 40th birthday roast) I’ll just say that even on the worst band nights, we (or at least I) never ran out of Wild Turkey. You can drink through the pain, and in some rare cases travel through time itself to the end of the night. Then you realize you made it through another one.

Tell us a great celebrity story about the Jinx …

I can’t recall any now, not with “On tHE rOaD aGAiN!” stuck in my head. Most celebrities are assholes anyway. Oh wait, one time a famous asshole came into the bar once a week on Saturday from 6 til 8, who very incorrectly thought he could sing Willie Nelson.

Jinx was a lot of things to many people, much more than just a bar

What do you think is the legacy of the Jinx?

The Jinx, and I think that The Jinx WAS it’s staff, it’s owner, it’s hip hop night, it’s bingo, it’s wide and varied band list, and it’s family of regulars have left an indelible mark on Savannah that won’t be soon forgotten. I’d like people to know it’s been my pleasure to come and work with my best friends, to serve, and enjoy a drink with people that I met there. You know, some are now life long friends. Just think about all the great bands that have graced the stage … I’ll wait. Jinx was a lot of things to many people, much more than just a bar. For me it will always be linked to friendships, and loss, to live music and that energy, the best job you could have or ask for.

How did you get into metal working, specifically, die making?

My dad is a machinist so I grew up around metal work, but my fascination with fantasy RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons specifically turned me on to blacksmithing and dice. When you roll a steel d6 you can hear the sound of fate. I used to (20 years ago)go once a week to the Historic Railroad Roundhouse and learn blacksmithing from John Roberson and the Hammered Smiths. We would drink and “get shit hot”. I made a forge at my dads shop from a big rig brake drum and started making things in my spare time. Now I want to turn it into a side business if I can find the time to put out enough cool products.

Reach deep in those tight pockets and shell out a cover charge once in a while to keep bands being able to tour, and struggling venues open

What are your thoughts on the current state of the Savannah music scene?

Currently it seems to me a few guys trying to make their living, and not get sick. I see a lot of people out there trying to make it better. Quarantine concerts, and watch parties on Facebook. After working in bars, and music for so long it’s been good for me to get a change of pace. Hopefully most people will react as I have and miss live music at small venues, and reach deep in those tight pockets and shell out a cover charge once in a while to keep bands being able to tour, and struggling venues open. Or you could use that $7 bucks on a cold sixer of bud light, crank up 106.1 and get your own damn beer. It’s the same as seeing a great band live at a bar right?

Any upcoming projects or plans?

I’ve literally got a few irons in the fire. Hand forged Dice, milled and hand polished dice, gonna try some resin, and also brass casting, carving bone knives, reptile leather tanning, Quimbanda ferrementas out of welding rods, dice towers from boar skulls, meat tenderizer rings, wooden “magic” wands, etc.

QUIZ: Quarantine Concerts

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