Two Low Cut Connie alums reflect on touring with the band
After touring with Low Cut Connie, a darling band of many music critics, late night TV, and a favorite of Elton John, Delaware-bred musicians James Everhart and Larry Scotton can now reflect on their road experiences and rediscover themselves in the shadow of the limelight.
On a recent night at the Jackson Inn, Everhart is tuning his guitar. It’s the pre-show rustle, those anticipatory moments before amps are cranked up, when it’s still possible to half yell a conversation. The Jackson Inn, chronicled more than once on these pages, is a true dive bar that is devoid of both pretension and a cover charge. It’s incongruously located across the street from Charter School of Wilmington, it would be more suited to a back road in Texas.
I came here to see Scantron, a garage-rock band composed of former members of Low Cut Connie.
“I went to high school across the street,” says Everhart, the lead singer and songwriter for Scantron, “but this is the first time I’ve been in this building.”
The five members of Scantron are energetic in the way all garage rockers should be—wound up, wild, with guitars and sweat, and words moaning and slurring their way out. Their set kicks off with a high-volume rip titled “Please Do Not Come Home.” It’s got the muck of The Growlers but the edge of JEFF the Brotherhood. The lyrics—“How many times must I tell you my dear / I won’t be gone for long……” are about being away from home, far from the ones you love, out pursuing something. “I’m tired / I want to go home / I want to be there with you.” It channels a yearning to return home, maybe to a morning spent in bed with a partner, breathing slowly, relaxing.
“That’s probably my favorite song by them,” says Danielle Johnson, the lead singer of Hoochi Coochi. Johnson played with Scantron and Low Cut Connie two years ago at the Arden Gild Hall. Hoochi Coochi was the opening act.
“One of my favorite memories ever, as far as being a performer, going to other people’s shows, was watching [Everhart] bust out his solos and at the end of the night when they had a bunch of confetti come down,” Johnson says.
“He grabbed the Delaware flag and was swinging it back and forth,” she remembers. “It was so iconic for me as a Delaware human being and as a musician who doesn’t have a lot of people to look up to necessarily. To see him do that, it was so emotional. I’ll never forget that.”
At the time, Everhart had been touring with Low Cut Connie for four years, often traveling weeks on end in a van with leather seats and no air conditioning, through the steamy South, in the summer heat of Houston and New Orleans. After that, it was across the Atlantic to Europe.
But he first fell in love with playing music at the legendary Kahunaville, on Wilmington’s waterfront, when he was 15 years old. He remembers wearing a sequin-covered cowboy shirt with leather tassels.
“It probably took me a few years to get my hands to stop shaking,” he says. But now he gets more nervous going to the dentist. “I could get on a stage in front of 10,000 people, I could give a shit. That’s just like my living room,” he tells me.
Touring with Low Cut Connie is tough. It’s nonstop driving, sound checks, alcohol, moving a 400-pound piano on stage and moving it off in the middle of the night as the bar closes. Every day starts at 9 a.m. and ends flopped on a hotel bed at 3:30 a.m., that surreal hour when even cities seem to sleep.
When you get back from tour, he explains, “you cry in a fetal position in the shower for three days. You kiss your wife and then you call the bar that you work at and ask them if you have any shifts. I’m not even kidding. It’s just, you don’t have privacy for a month-and-a-half. Not a single moment to yourself.”
He decided in April of 2018 to make a change. “I turned 30 years old and I wanted something for my life,” he says. “Adjusting isn’t easy,[but] I’m not going to say that it’s over either.”
Another Alum: Larry Scotton
It’s what fellow Connie veteran Larry Scotton is going through as well. I meet Scotton at another classic Wilmington bar, Gallucio’s, at a Tuesday open mic night.
Scotton speaks carefully, each word landing softly. “My grandfather sang for James Brown,” he says, his arms propped on a table, his hands cupped, fingers interlaced. On a shoestring around his neck is a quarter-inch jack, the thing that connects an instrument to an amplifier.
“Before I went on tour with Low Cut Connie,” Scotton says, “my grandmother warned me, ‘Your grandfather used to do this, don’t get caught up…’ I took heed to all that, man.”
He first became involved with Low Cut Connie in 2014, after a night at Wilmington’s Oddity Bar, where he was a utility musician in a jam band, able to play drums, keys, and bass. Will Donnelly, rhythm guitarist for Low Cut Connie, did a shot with Scotton.
“He was like, let me talk to you outside real quick,” Scotton says. Donnelly asked him if he was interested in touring. Scotton, excited, accepted, borrowed a bass from a friend, and auditioned for a spot in the band.
“Right away I was hooked with the music,” he says. “Adam [Hill, a founding member of Low Cut Connie] is one of the most amazing songwriters. It’s really refreshing—being a musician. It broke that fuzzy feeling for me. This is great rock and roll right here.”
Scotton, an African-American, had difficulties with his identity within the band. “Not really to bring race up, but it was weird that I was the only black guy with four white guys,” he says. “My ethnicity was different. Eventually it wasn’t about fitting in, it was about standing out. I learned that very quick.”
After four years of touring, he decided it was time to return home. In August of 2018, he came back to Wilmington to start fresh. Since then he’s been producing—as Another Hit Love Larry. “I want to make my music to be able to help somebody do something, whether it’s washing dishes, folding clothes, driving, to touch you in some type of way,” Scotton says.
Tonight he’s filling in on drums, accompanying those who perform for the open mic. He walks up to the tiny bandstand, sits down, and places himself at the center of a blues explosion, occasionally gliding into effortless drum solos that leave eyes wide, jaws on the table.
A man next to me, Mark Schilling, a member of the Delaware Veterans Post #1, a Low Cut Connie fan and blues fanatic, a few empty beer bottles in front of him on the table, leans in and says, “He looks real relaxed.”