Here's the way Jerry "Crabmeat" Thompson's mind works south of that boldly
bald dome and somewhat north of the devilish goatee.
The singer-songwriter is invited to perform at this summer's annual Delmarva Chicken Festival. He wants to write a song for the occasion.
He gets to thinking about chickens, which leads him not to eggs or drumsticks but to the Guatemalan truck drivers who will deliver poultry to the event in Millsboro.
"I think I've realized one of my life's goals," he said happily. "I was able to put 'Chichicastenango' in a song." (more of this in the “Press” section)
That's the Guatemalan town many of the truck drivers come from. "I put the whole word in there," he pointed out. Chickens themselves do have a role in the song. "They fall off the truck and have a romance," Thompson said.
He is known to most of his fans simply as Crabmeat. He says he got the name as a teenager when he was designated by his friends to toss three paper bags filled with scraps from a seafood meal into a roadside dumpster in Dewey Beach.
The waterlogged paper gave way, "coating me with the juice of many pounds of seafood and beer." With only one set of clothes for the weekend, "I toughed it out, to the jeers of my peers, who stuck me with the handle 'Crabmeat.' "
He has been setting his funny, clever lyrics to his good-time, folk-country-rock music since the early 1970s. He has opened for the likes of John Sebastian, Steve Forbert and Norman Blake.
He has performed lately in his native Delaware. He got it going, though, when he lived in San Francisco in the early 1970s. There, he hung out at the boho City Lights bookstore, opened for cranky post-Beat poet Charles Bukowski at a reading, gave a party where he did a juggling act with two other jugglers on his shoulders and learned some of the mysteries of life from a San Francisco State University professor he refers to simply as "Wong."
"We drank some of Bukowski's Heinekens backstage," Thompson said of his brush with the man who eventually became one of the most popular poets in America. "He had a contract that they had to have Heineken for him in a case of ice. I didn't talk to him. He would have said, 'Get the heck out of the way. Where are the women and booze?' "
Thompson has lived mostly in Delaware the past two decades. He also performs in other states, including Florida, where he lived for a few years in the 1980s.
He keeps going back to Florida to perform songs that remind audiences of another good-time singer with a penchant for Hawaiian shirts - even if he sometimes wishes they didn't. "I played in Florida twice last year and nobody requested any Jimmy Buffett songs," he said. "I think I've turned a corner."
He recently was a guest on a radio gardening show in Birmingham, Ala., where his version of "One Ton Tomato" is played between segments. "They want to get me down there for Tomato Day at the state fair. I told them my bags were packed."