For a history geek and a student of what Greil Marcus called “the old, weird America,” the History Channel’s American Pickers is one of the best shows on television, though only rarely does it intersect with the music world: Say, when hosts and expert antiques scavengers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz find an old National Steel Guitar rusting away in a rural barn, or they go picking in the store room of Mickey Gilley’s famous Texas roadhouse.
Last night, though, in one of the series’ best exchanges ever, the dynamic duo engaged in an epic swap with rock giant Jack White at his new recording studio and record label headquarters in Nashville (where the pickers recently opened the second of their two stores; the other is at home in LeClaire, Iowa).
Mike and Frank had scored a huge, pre-poaching laws stuffed elephant’s head during a visit to a taxidermist in New England, and then were faced with the challenge of how to unload their $9,500 purchase. Enter White, a dedicated collector of esoterica, as well as a musical genius. But the Detroit native and former leader of the White Stripes didn’t make it easy for the boys.
In the grand tradition of American Pickers deal-making, White balked at paying a flat fee for the piece of pachyderm. Instead, he traded Mike and Frank the black-and-white photo booth where the Dead Weather filmed its “Hang You From the Heavens” video, plus a vintage jukebox, on top of six grand. As always, both sides parted with a smile and plenty of kind words for the other, while the viewer was left wishing he could hang out with all of them.
Here’s a link to some video of the scene on HuffPost TV; here’s a great article on Mike Wolfe at home from The New York Times last August, and here is a fun chat with the third member of the Pickers team Danielle Colby Cushman from YuppiePunk.