Meet Samson Ramos a bass player heard around Key West as part of a group he calls Cool Breeze.
I met him at about two in the morning in the middle of a massive thunderstorm about half a mile out of Stock Island. It was raining cats and dogs so I had decided it was wet enough to justify driving the car to work for my overtime shift. I figured I would suffer unduly if I got a wet collar or wet socks on the ride in and had to sit for eight hours in damp clothes...anyway that was why I was on Highway One in the Fusion and not on the motorcycle in the rain. And which is why I met Samson.
All I saw was a figure in white hauling a huge black guitar on the shoulder so I stopped and he piled in full of gratitude and off we went. He was going to Sarasota (!) for a gig that night and his Key West ride had let him down, no surprise there I suppose. It seemed to me, as rain lashed the car that a ride to Cudjoe wasn't much good so I figured I'd take him to Big Pine but pretty soon I realized I had to get him across the Seven Mile Bridge. Big Pine at 2:30 in the morning has nothing to offer a hitch hiker and in Marathon he had a chance of getting to Florida City to make his back up connection to Sarasota. So off we went.
It was a hell of a ride in the pouring rain, Samson filling the time with his stories of life on the road, making a living with a guitar, raising children, and grandchildren and chasing the gigs wherever they are, across the US or Europe.
Yeah man he said, as we prepared to part ways at the Tom Thumb in Marathon shortly after three in the morning. I'm going to be back at Schooner Wharf in a few days, and then the Sunset Grille in Marathon and on and on. I plan to meet up again with him in the New Year.
The ride home was an empty half hour by comparison, I listened to the BBC droning on the radio and watched lightning light up the western sky over the Seven Mile Bridge making night as day.
A gypsy, a troubadour, a dangerous independent minded man doing his thing and making the world better one song at a time. No wonder they say picking up hitch hikers is dangerous: they are full of subversive ideas.