It is kind of amazing that on a night in which Air Traffic Controllers drummer JJ Ruiz — a man whose talents have been also been displayed during tenures with Wild America, the Teeners and Philip Sambol’s terrific new band — performed for free in order to boost the take for The Scoot Inn’s owners and bar staff, he’d find himself banned from the venue.

That JJ ended up behind the bar at some point in the evening is not under dispute, but much like Nolan Rylan’s DEATHTRAP of a ballpark in Arlington, TX, can Mr. Ruiz really be held accountable for the lack of a high enough railing? It’s sad enough they’d seek to blame the victim in this instance, but performers and patrons alike need to ask themselves, “what’s with the crazy hostility”?

Though I’d hoped to enlist Eddie Vedder and my close personal friend Natalie Maines in a fund-raising effort to get JJ’s ban lifted, they don’t seem to be returning my phone calls. So in the meantime, we’ve got the above widget (please feel free to place it on your own site or blog), counting down the days, hours and minutes until JJ is once again allowed to set foot in the glittering confines of the Scoot Inn, and is granted the privilege of purchasing drinks and leaving tip money for persons who viciously insult him.

There was a modest crowd in attendance at August 17’s free show, and while some might assume the assembled drinkers were there to witness performances by Rhett & Dean, the Zoltars, Nazi Gold or Air Traffic Controllers, I think that’s a slightly naive conclusion. Every single person was there to see the bartender — he’s the real draw. Bands are a fuckin’ dime a dozen in this town (especially those who can’t play for shit). Surly guys who pour $5 drinks, however, are a treasured commodity.