I went out for my daily afternoon walk yesterday in the cold and the wind. I wore my loudest, tackiest Hawaiian shirt, initially out of ironic defiance of the elements I supposed. But not long after I got home from that miserable trek, I learned the true reason for my fashion choice:
Mojo -- real name Neill Kirby McMillan, Jr. -- died after a heart attack while aboard the annual Outlaw Country Cruise, where he's participated as a performer and emcee for years. He was 66.
I think fellow Mojo fans will appreciate that the first thought to pop into my head after reading this sad news about Mojo dying on a cruise ship was "Elvis needs boats, Elvis needs boats ..."
Like most of his fans, I suppose, I first became a Nixon devotee after seeing the insane video of his signature song, "Elvis is Everywhere."
Not long after seeing that landmark video in the '80s, Mojo and his washboard rubbing partner Skip Roper came to Albuquerque, the EL Rey Theater I think, so I got to see him live. One outstanding memory from that show: Mojo at one point went out went out into the crowd (the first time I'd ever seen slam-dancing to acoustic music!) and stood on a table or chair to serenade the revelers below. I was standing right behind him. During the song he turned around and spoke directly to me:
"Stop lookin' at my butt!"
I saw him again a couple of years later inn Santa Fe, when he performed with his super group, The Pleasure Barons, which included Dave Alvin, John Doe, Rosie Flores, Katy Moffatt and a tall, gangly deep-voiced maniac called Country Dick Montana, who Mojo often referred to as his "de-mentor."
And a few years after that, during one of my first South by Southwests, I saw a brief afternoon Exhibition Hall Mojo performance.
That was the last time I ever got to see him. I'm really kicking myself now for somehow never making it to one of Mojo's notorious SXSW parties at the Continental Club.
But like Celine Dion's heart, Mojo's music will go on. As I've seen all over various social-media posts since yesterday "Mojo is Everywhere!" So here are some of my favorite Mojo tunes.
This one is on the very first Mojo album I ever bought. It's called "I'm Gonna Dig Up Howlin' Wolf":
Here's a video that MTV did NOT want you to see, starring Mojo with Wynona Ryder as Debbie Gibson:
Speaking of The Pleasure Barons, here's a track from that band's only album, Live from Las Vegas, with Mojo covering Jerry Reed:
And here's one from Prairie Home Invasion, Mojo's album with Jello Biafra:
Finally, here's the song that made us all fall in love.
Don't cry. Mojo's with Elvis now.