Saturday, August 20, 2005

Doc Holt

Pat “Doc” Holt was the bandleader/musical director at Dirty Jack’s Theater in the years I worked there. He was a very interesting guy.

Doc was older than the rest of us, maybe in his forties, a bit portly, with long brown hair slicked back behind his ears and a ruddy complexion. He had a raspy voice and a backslapping demeanor. I suspected he was a heavy drinker.

Every night during the curtain call Jon Stainbrook would introduce Doc as “the doctor of musicology, Pat Holt!” I never knew what he meant by that, except that Doc was good at rinky-tink barrel-house piano, and he managed the music side of the show pretty well.

Doc had it goin’ on. Every night he dressed in a black gunfighter’s outfit, complete with vest, boots, hat, a black two-gun belt, and two loaded Ruger revolvers that looked like either .38s or 357s. I could see the butt ends of the bullets shining from the revolver as he sat at his piano to my right, the gold color of the brass and the silver of the center-fire primer gleaming in the lights. On rare occasions Doc would pull his guns and fire them at the ceiling for affect. All the other guns were stage props firing loud blanks. Doc’s pistols fired live rounds, leaving bullet holes in the roof of Dirty Jack’s theater. He was a bit of a legend among the band members for this.

One night after the show in 1976 Doc invited the band guys over to his condo to play poker, which sounded like fun. We played cards, drank Irish coffee, and smoked weed far into the night. I got home at about 5:00 am, and endured one of the most miserable mornings of my life. All that Irish whiskey and weed (and the late hour) made me really sleepy, but all that coffee made me WIDE FUCKING AWAKE!!!!! The coffee won, and I was worthless the next day. Doc seemed fine.

I am told that Doc Holt died in 1986. Nancy Stainbrook is gone, and Jon Stainbrook lives out his days in a nursing home, robbed of his memories by his MS. Even the theater is gone. The only thing left is the memories of those to whom Dirty Jack’s theater meant so much.

So long, Doc. We sure did have some fun…