tuesday, september 28 - portland, or
in portland we hit the crystal ballroom, an old spring-floored hall from the 'teens and a regular space for greatful dead gigs in the 70's. the place is a real tightly run buisiness and the people are totally cool and make us very comfortable in its enormous backstage rooms. my fever and chestcold are giving me a pain but soundcheck is quick and I dash to mom and pops market for some alka seltzer plus and kick back a spell. after a brief chilling out I try to contact some local friens and saul koll, greg o'dell and 'ol rusty jennings turn up a little later.
the first act is the drones, bass and drums from portland who are totally compelling and I recommend checking them out if you ever get lucky enough to do so. after their gig I hang out with them and realize we have many freinds and common threads. I want to play with them again. the sunset valley and the heavy johnson trio are also rocking hard on the bill and by the time we play the room is nice and warm, my sickness goes into remission for a while. we play good but I feel a little weak on drums even though the kind folks give me compliments. my highlight of the gig is when we do a final encore of sonic youths tuff gnarl, and saul, a guitar maker extrodinaire, hands me his latest work of art, a jazzmaster-like (more a jazz-bastard) guitar he had just completed for sonic lee renaldo to tryout. thanks saul (and lee, it's a killer machine), it made sense to use it on tuff gnarl.
after the load out etc. we head to 'ol rusty's pad in the downtown area and hit the sack. I sleep hard.
wow, the crystal ballroom. it's an old dance hall, built in the teens of this century. there are great paintings on the walls of jesters playing (on a bass and a mandolin - watt and d. boone!), dancers, a band wailing, cherubin, and some celestial figure, among others. we are treated great by the stage crew. they have that great and not-prevelant-enough combination of efficient professionalism and friendliness that makes the load so much lighter. there's no jaded rock n' roll cynicism here. one of the cats used to be the kolobo stage manager, and kolobo helped us out when slackjaw blues, a band I'm in, was stranded up that a way.
jimmie, the gig main-man, was in a band that played with watt in colorado springs years ago, and he gets sushi from a place that his guitar player has their in portland, so we eat great food again. I hope I/we are not accumulating karmic debt from all this. we hang in the band room with the drones, sunset valley and the heavy johnson trio.
I dig the drones, who open the show, a lot. they are a duo, drum and bass, who sound like a bigger band. the bass drummer has a great steady bell like snare like bill brufords and plays layered middle eastern sounding rhythms while the bass man uses signal processing to provide various voices for his bass patterns and melodies. he plays the bass sometimes with one hand, playing simple easter-sounding melodies on a keyboard. their groove is hypnotic but interesting.
sunset valley play a relaxed, almost psychedelic pop music, with high pitched vocals and harmonies. the guitars jangle real good. the heavy johnson trio rocks hard, with some entertaining stage business. the guitar player is on his back on the stage for the last number, twirling around in a frenzy, then the singer picks him up by the feet and drags him around as he wails on his strat. all the guys in all the bands are good cats. sounding pollyanish, am I? well, it's true. so far all comrades in arms have behaved as such.
the stage sounds better than you'd think, given the enormity of the hall and the high ceiling, but it's hard for me to here watt and tom because of amp angles. watt turns his amp, tired of our not so parallel universes and things get better. I feel that the grooves are getting more deep and the frenzies are more frenzied. clam season appears to be waning as well.
more friends are there, bill, matt, eric and sal, friends of tom's. we stay at bill's loft downtown near the bus station.
since it's only a couple hours drive to the next gig in portland, I spend the whole morning hoofing all around near the mo-six. you can see the so cal paradigm taking root all over, strip malls and track housing - echhhh. soon the roads will be too small to hold all the minivans trying to get to the costco or whatever and they'll need more and more roads which means more and more tailpipes enriching the clean air up here w/foulents and the like. what a pity.
we're playing tonight at the _crystal ballroom_, a pad hendrix played in his day. it was built in 1914 and has rollers and bearings under the dance floor, which is all eastern maple. giant circular paintings are on the wall and one w/two jesters, one playing a mandolin and one an upright bass, looks like me and d. boon! it's a trip. now the pad holds like thirteen hundred folks so maybe it's a little big for watt. the last two gigs in town I've sold out at _berbatis pan_ and we've pre-sold like three hundred but the boss here named jimi (who actually I met years ago in colorado springs when he opened up for fIREHOSE in a band called _flounder_ - goes to show you that if you hang around long enough, all kinds of things change and keep coming back around) really wanted me to do this and the pan pad has swing dance lessons on tuesdays anyways. I thought I'd give it a shot. the folks are great, each and every one. monqui's been doing watt gigs for a long time.
the bass player from jimi's old band lives in portland too and does up sushi so they send out for some of that for us to chow on. watt plays intense on the sush but I go a little overboard on the wasabi (I eat a whole tennis ball glob in one bite) and give myself gas. tom helps out w/some acidopholous (sp?) pills. thanks tom. the opening acts are _the drones_ (who are great, says vince but I miss due to the pre-gig konk), _sunset valley_ (who I played w/in june at the maritime union in s.f. but can't for the life of me remember their band name when it comes to thank them from the stage - I feel like a big fucking idiot. that reminds me about the good thing about alzheimers: you're always playing w/new bands) and the _heavy johnson trio_. I spend a bunch of time rapping w/the h.j.t., they're all down cats and eli (the bass player) has this trippy book on choas theory. I can't rap so much before gigs though cuz of having to save the throat for gig spiel but sometimes I just get carried away, especially w/interesting people.
the only band I get to see is the heavy johnsons and they are one great band. the do a knock out version of sy's "teenage riot" and eli really wails the bass up. somehow I don't remember kim playing those parts on the bass, they've re-worked the song their way which is neat. oh by the way, they have four folks in the band despite the name. the guitar player koda is something else too as is the other two cats but watt in his retardedness has forgotten their names. sorry.
our gig is good but the big pad is quite a challenge to hold focus. I can feel vince not hearing me so well so I just turn and point my amp right at him. the spiel monitors are the best yet of the tour, thanks mick. since the heavys did a sonic tune, I have us finish up w/"tuff gnarl" and give the crowd a pep talk on starting your own bands, zines, labels, radio stations w/out having your scene run by someone upstairs. keep it on the ground and keep it alive and vital. the portland folks really inspire me and I'm proud to get the chance to work for them. we do "funhouse" together w/"my favorite things" to show there's really no difference to watt between the stooges and john coltrane and especially in this day and age that we can't be scared to take chances on stage or in life. we load up the boat and I thank everyone there for helping and having us aboard. all righteous folks. good cats at the pad makes for good gigs, I believe. much respect to you jimi.
tom's friend from hermosa beach, bill, now lives in portland and we go to his pad to konk (thanks much bill). the first time I've ever stayed downtown. we barely get the boat in under the rollaway door ("pull in harder").
wednesday, september 29 - ontario, or
wake up without remembering any dreams. it's a clear morning in portland and after brief morning chat we hit the road to boise.
I get to walk around the downtown area. It's another unreal sunny day and portland looks beautiful. I buy satie's gymnopedies arranged for flute and piano. I play the flute as well and intend to get some playing in when there's time. so far there hasn't been a chance but there's more time ahead; lots. it's a day-off, a drive day, so we all relax. it's nice to have a breather. especially in such a great place.
we drive to ontario, a border town about an hour outside Boise and get lots of sleep. right on.
whoa, today is the first day off of the tour. we only got three of them. we're gonna spend this one (like the other two) driving. this pad of bill's is also his work and he runs web sites. his partner eric comes by and we start rapping. he's from florida and offers to give us numbers of friends he has there. we thank him kindly. nothing nicer than keeping monies that would have to be instead donated to mr. bodette and his mo-six chain. it's a relaxed day w/no gig so I spend the morning working the 'puter and catching up on the email. shit, even on tour I get like forty to fifty a day and I can't get online everyday to check them so they can pile up.
after it gets past noon, we load up, say bye to bill and eric and head east ('memeber that band?) down the I-84 which runs along the columbia river, one big motherfucker. they got three story tug boats pushing barges and we pass at least three dams to our port. I get my first batch of 'dines for the tour and eat up a tin. these are in spring water and I dig them. can't really handle the ones in the oil so for me it's either mustard, tomato sauce or spring water. love this shit w/crackers and hot chili sauce and horseradish. also they keep good just lying on the boat's deck, no refrigeration needed. comes the night and we're heading up to the border town of ontario (the oregon town, not the canadian province). we've crossed the time line so now it's an hour past pedro time and watt is tired. I let tom drive the second leg of today's ride and he's done a good job. he's got an econoline at home, waiting for him to do his own tour. not much to do now but konk and the team is out quick and deep. I wonder what the snoring sounds like?
thursday, september 30 - boise, id
we arrive early in boise and make a stop to do some washing. we seem to have some free time before the routine begins and vince and I head out to see the sights and have some local eats. the night falls and the weather is high and dry, but I am feeling stronger and we get up and play hard and fast. vince is really pulling it together and his sax playing is blowing the locals away, and aside from some loud talking during our soft tunes we get the full on response for more. we keep our load out as short as possible and find a nice home for the night at bart's house. gracias.
it's up for the little drive and here we are in town. I sit here and type into the lap-top in the neurolux, a cool club we'll be playing at tonight. more later, friends. some more about our drive...the anti-environmentalist sentiment is strong here in this loggin' country. although readers of my lifestyle column in earwigger magazine (out-of-print) may recognize me as an internationally celebrated bon-vivant, I've so far resisted the impulse to sample the baby harp-seal and spotted-owl jerky available at roadside stands.
highway 84, our route to boise, follows the columbia river out of portland.it's a big river - huge tugs push barges and by the time we're in about the middle of the state along the river, a guy at a gas stationwe stop at points out a three decker yacht on the river - it's big enough to be a lil' luxury liner but there'r no such markings: probably a private yacht.
we get past the blue mountains and the terrain becomes high desert - not many trees anymore, just scrub. we go by baker city near where the slackjaw blues van broke down last year. we had a gig to do the next day in salem, near portland and we were coming from twin falls, id, when the tranny blew. so there we were at the baker city truck stop trying to fenegle a ride with our gear in a trailer all the way across the state to the coast. a trucker on the way out of the truck stop liquour store (he was bedding down for the night, not prepping for a drive) overheard us and took us over to his cab, where with a 32 oz. bud in hand barked into his CB mic: "westbound 80 come back - we got a band here; musicians, gotta get to salem with their equipment".
he worked through about four of those talls that we supplied him (and some for ourselves) but the only offer we got was to have our gear halled in a sub-zero "reefer" (refrigeration) truck. we didn't want to freeze our gear, so we ended up staying the night in town, two of us at a fleabag motel and two of us in the van at the tranny shop where we'd had it towed.
many oregonians helped us that trip. the truck driver, the tranny shop owner who hooked us up with a ride to salem (towing our trailer across the state), then a band we played with in salem, kolobo, who put us up and towed us to our gig in portland after salem. we had our bacon saved and it was all from the good will of the good people of oregon of every stripe that we encountered. as it turns out, jeremiah, the stage mgr. at the crystal ballroom in portland used to work with kolobo. it makes sense. god bless y'all.
anyways, as they say, we head across this high desert for boise. well, I guess i mentioned some of that... we're in town early so we do laundry. mike agrees to throw my wash clothes in the dryer when they're done so he's at the mechanical abstractifyin' device while tom and I go chow at the koffee klatch downtown. it's a cool neo-hippie healthy food type cafe with good grub and good coffee. dan potruch from sjb turned us (sjb) on to it and thanks to dan for that! and thanks to dan, the drummer of sjb, the band as I mentioned I play blues harp, sax, flute (and sing by god!) in, for helping me out immeasureably with drum excercises and technique 411 that enabled me to knock off some of my two-years-no-playin'-drums rust quick. dan is a bad mo-fo. the rest of the sjb cats are mindblowers as well. as are my current compatriots. utterly mind-blowing. how'd I get mixed up in this? I can't think about it too much, or I mind-fuck myself..."I don't deserve it...I don't rate with these olympians...". I just have to get up there and give it all I have. but fer chrissakes look at the drummers who I'm following here: bob lee, one of my favorite drummers in the world, friggin' georgie, also in that category - how am I supposed to approach a song that georgie played on? can't think about it too much, have to do my own thing...but these cats are giants. hodges? another great one...how about perk from jane's, porno and banyan? jeez. what the hell can I do to add to the tradition of that pantheon? it can twist me up in a labarynth of self-doubt. but I can only try in the moment to play from my heart and focus with my mind and do the best job that represents me. that's how I can do it for the team and honor the great ones who've been there before.
we meet up at the mat and head to the neurolux. it's a cool little hipster pad in old downtown boise. watt sits at the door with the mechanical abstractifyin' device. I head out in search of heads - mine ring too much. I don't find heads, but there's a cool pawn shop where I get a stick holder for the cowbell-bearing sax mic.
I venture further on a bum tip and hit the local rip-off overpriced music store and have to haggle like a one-eyed horse trader to get some brushes at normal retail price.
back at the club tom and I play some ping-pong, then watt and tom play. a local artist, jill, who we meet at the club, tells tom about a co-op store where they sell good food and wine. she kindly drives us there and I get a great turkey and swiss sandwich and coffee and tom gets some pan rustic, cheese and a bottle of vino. we go back to the club where tom has his wine, bread and cheese al fresco. I'd dine al fresco but I prefer to eat outside. i join watt at a chinese restaurant across the street and get hot and sour soup - mike's having his when I sit down at the table. It's $2.50 and it's real good. we ask for hot sauce and get small paper cups of hot chili-paste in oil. the proprietor/cook comes over and tells us that people in boise don't like food hot. he says, "I like my food spicy, but not like you guys!". mike notices a thriving chili plant in the window. the man says, "those peppers are hot - they make people die!" (something like that, anyway).
they're thai-chili's, thin conical red devils that bleed oily red when you cut them. they sell them by the pound at the big asian market down the stairs from where I live. when I eat a sandwich, I like to munch a couple of them along with it to spice it up. those cute little buggers are hot.
we're cali, we've learned from our latino brothers and sisters. and from our thai, vietnamese, chinese and other asian kin. we like it hot! not everybody does...but we do!
the gig is pretty good. there's a resonant frequency my kick sets off and that gets the sub-woofers under the stage all agitated and jack some low notes up by a factor of 56.4 billion, so when we play a slower (more space between notes) lower volume tune I have to feather the kick lightly or else it'll boom like a cannon in a cave. so this wretched loop distracts me so I miss splashes in Cliffs and Cow and the Roki - well maybe I nail one...
but we rocked and are getting more dynamic. I think mike's interpreting the tunes and changing the dynamics and stresses as tom and I, the pair o' pliers, get more confident and are able to flow more with the moment.
the audience is with us - we meet lots of friendly people afterwards that enjoyed the show. very nice folk, the boisians.
we head over to bart and stephanie's to hand and sleep. bart's from caustic resin and has lots of shared history with mike and tom. he and steph are great friendly intellegent people. steph laughs easily - it's great - you feel like you're funny when you talk to her.
ontario is just west of the oregon-idaho border so it's only like an hour to boise. watt likes these kinds of drives. first thing we do is go downtown and find a laundromat and do our first stench scrub of the tour. this is a good thing. my ma is italian and vince is from armenian descent so we both sweat like motherfuckers. the shit can get ripe. I keep my soilage in a trash bag and if it goes too long, shit starts to grow. even the flannel from the first gig is still wet. good to get this done. for tour, I bring like eight levi's and maybe ten flannels and since I haven't bothered w/underwear or socks since I was kid, the shit is kept down to a minimum. the other good thing is everything's all cotton so I never futz w/ironing or much folding either. the main point is to scrub these outfits of their filth and get them ready for another round. this is the mission.
done w/that, we head over to the pad we're playing tonight, the _nuerolux_, which has been my boise gig now for the last four times. there was an all-ages pad built by paul revere (of the raiders, who were from around here) called the _crazy horse_ but that's now some burlesque pad. damn. anyway, the nuerolux is a good pad except for the fact you got be old enough to drink to get in which is fucked for the kids in the town. these laws are fucked and bigoted. baseball stadiums sell booze and there's no age-limit there, it's just not legal to sell it underagers or have them consume it. why can't a gig rate as good as a ball game? fucking bigoted pricks. I understand a cat selling booze to maybe offset the costs of taking risks of booking wild and imaginative acts. why should the kids get put out? fuck this shit.
we got all day here and it doesn't look like there's an opening band so maybe soundcheck is like whenever. ok w/me, good to have some relaxed days on the hell-ride. I get tom and vince to catch up on their diaries and put the first week up on the hoot page (http://hootpage.com). I put them up a week at a time, folks can follow the trials of the boat and her crew as we plow through the tour. doug from _built to spill_ comes by to says hi, he lives here. bart, who helped the _caustic resin_ cats when I took them out last tour comes by and invites us to stay at his pad after the gig and we accept. he says brett has got the resin going again but w/mike johnson (from j's dino) on bass and another drummer. they're gonna get back from tour as we're playing, it'll be good to see brett and mike again. bart tells me he's gonna be the new drummer, what a trip! sure is a nice cat. for chow, I'm gonna try soup again and go across the street to the chinese restaurant and have a quart of sweet and sour and add as much of their chili as they got. the mocos come flying out of the nose and this is good. vince joins me w/his own bowl and he's soon drenched in sweat. the boss there laughs. we thank him and then it's time for me to konk. that shit was good.
it's fun playing this pad cuz you play in front of a giant "great western" crown that's behind the stage and it's lit up and blinking like a blaze. the gig goes good but there's some jabbering during the quiet tunes, maybe a little hipster vibe? lots of good cats though up front in the room and I don't give a fuck about any others who got motormouth on the tip. lots of good cats throughout the pad and I'm glad we give it a good go. you can't be sidetracked or distracted by such small-minded shit. it can happen in any town or any gig and it's sort of like crummy weather, you bear down and just try to make the best and get through it. abmbrose is running the pad cuz the boss out of town and he thanks me for the gig and I say likewise back. always glad to play here. bart brings us to his pad by the oldest boneyard in town and who shows up? the resin cats! we have a good spiel and then watt is out on the deck, not even having to move an inch to pull right into sleepytown.
friday, october 1 - salt lake city, ut
after a couple hours in dense rush hour traffic we get to liquid joe's. it's kind of a sports bar with good sound and earl is a very nice guy with good folks running the place. it gets totally packed out and our playing is improving every night.
my high point is when I look across the roomful of unfamilliar faces and see a friend from home, marc sundeen (great god pan editor and writer of the soon to be released book: car camping). it was cool to be surprised like that.
our night ends at mike's friend don's house and I get to sleep on a waterbed, fun but weird dreams.
in the morning there's coffee and more hang until it's time to split. we snap some pics with the nice people and jam.
on to SLC... I've played in this town a lot with sjb. it's beautiful city cradled in the mighty wasatch mountains by the great salt lake. on the way in were slowed by traffic from the I-15 work being done prepping for the oly's to come.
we arrive at the club just in time for load in and we do the sound check thing. I hit a thrift store across the way with tom and we augment the plier uniform collection with some orange vests. there's even a pocket for my harmonica. (harmonica, you ask? haven't seen the show yet, have you?)
we stop, wearing our vests, at a chinese chow pad with a pretty good veg and seafood menu.
"have you been hunting"? asks our smiling hostess. apparently what we thought were highway worker vests was wrong. dinner is great - green beans braised with garlic and mixed vegetables including bean threads, tofu and great mushrooms.
it's a pretty cool gig, but I blow a couple clambos and it brings me down. mike catches them all usually and the look on his face will make it harder to feel like part of the cohesive rocking unit. at those moments I feel more like the waterboy who spilled the gatorade bucket on the playbook. from moments like that I can descend into negative tape loops: "when will I not fuck-up", etc. then I stop looking at the audience (something that takes iron will to do but that connects me with the crowd which helps me rock more selflessly) and then I stop looking at mike and tom and gaze at the heads and cymbals. then I miss helpful-hint nods, gestures and cues from mike and the inspirational antics of tom.
but, this time I fight that dread syndrome and don't completely suck. at least that's how I remember it. mike advises "keep a light heart" regarding the clams and that's good advice. he also advises eating lighter. apparently he felt tom and I were food-burdened, less focused and energetic. maybe so.
my friend from slc, jill, made it with a friend of hers. it is great to see my scrappy little friend with the bright impish smile and ever-present sparkle in the eye. a true friend by the great salt lake.
and charlie, sorry I missed you, brother - you're a great cat; like you a lot.
we crash at don's, an amigo of mike's. we have a big drive tomorrow so we crash without too much fraternizing.
pop, roust and we're off. the sun's shining bright, sky's blue and that's happening. the boat glides gently down the interstate through the potato fields of idaho. we pass over the snake river and then south on the I-15 into the big ut state. even though a big accident delayed us an hour (a pickup rolled and rolled but luckily no one was hurt) we still got lots of time so we stop to have a look at promontory, where they joined the first rail line from the atlantic to the pacific w/a gold spike. the story goes that none of the bosses could get the spike in so they had to have some worker do it. no shit, who built it? the "town" was actually a bunch of tents w/wooden facades set up just for the ceremony. in fact, the funny thing was that the government made both railroads link up cuz they were just gonna try to parallel each other and grab as much land as they could. fuckers. like a couple a miles for free each side of the tracks wasn't enough. a trippy thing on the way was that we passed through the morton thiokol rocket development site. this is where stuff like icbm, submarine, plane and jeep missiles were invented. all kinds of magazines, bunkers and test structures litter the landscape here and you can just feel the foulness in the land and air. we see some deers chowing near the road and pray for them. weird ghosts seem to drift about. I've been down this road before but it's good for tom and vince to see this.
the winter olympics are coming to salt lake so they're expanding the freeway to make way for the touristas. I went through this same shit w/atlanta. it takes us two hours to go twenty miles. damn. good thing w/got extra time. the pad we're playing tonight is one I've never done before called _liquid joe's_ and it's in the southwest part, a place they call "sugartown." I'm usually up by the temple. I'm always for trying out new things. this pad's got an entrance that looks like the front of a circuit city store and has the vibe of maybe one of those live bait frat/jock pick up places. I play the funniest pads sometimes but will not refuse anywhere cuz I want to reach and uplift all kinds of folks. shake things up some. plant some seeds. the soundman matt saw me when he was a kid at a pad called _the speedway_ where you had to bring your own beer in a bag w/your name on it, put it behind the bar and just drink from that. funny shit, huh? the laws are looser now.
I eat chow across the street at this chinese pad that has a buffet w/mussels. where did they get these mussels in utah? they taste great and the pad is all-you-can-eat. damn. I load up on these and soup and then head for the boat to konk. it's a deep konk and I wake just in time for the gig, missing the first band. my bud don's there (I went to school w/his bro at san pedro high) and invites us to konk at his pad after the gig. the pad is full inspite of what I thought about it before and everybody's willing to go. we play a good set and I thank both the house and my guys. we do "fear is a man's best friend," "song for igor" and "the blue mask" as one suite and I tell the crowd it's for the war that just went down in the balkans, the shit right now in timor and what might happen right here in salt lake city. after the gig while I'm slinging shirts, this lady asks me what I meant by that. I tell her that folks act funny when they get the mob brain going and don't think right and she's says "like you and me, right?" and I say no cuz when it's just you and me, at least it's still two individuals dealing each other and not going for the herd mind which allows for getting away w/much more irresponibility. not that people can't be fucked to each other one on one but it's a different thing. images making things so far away by hinting you're so close you could never know who you might be giving the ok to kill is foul. detachment through the phony intimacy of television hurts. of course we got to learn to be civil individually and that's where it probably all starts but in the nuremberg rally atmosphere of a "rock" gig, I wanted to point out the danger of crowd behavior, town behavior and nation behavior when shit starts getting sick. this to temper all the cheering that might be getting mindless. remember, I'm a minutemen and these issues are important to me. hope that lady understands. the coltrane blowing while I was packing up kind of prevented us from discussing it further cuz we were right below the speakers and she couldn't hear what I was trying to explain to her. damn.
we pack up and the boss earl gives me $250 extra cuz that was alloted to catering and we didn't use any. I never do, one meal is good enough. it's funny, young bands think that deli tray and shit like that is free when it in reality it's getting paid for somewhere. I thank earl and we bail for don's house. tom and vince konk and me and don stay up talking about the american civil war. I told him I didn't dig the south bolting and starting the war but I also didn't like the way the north fought by trying to burn them all out and not heal the wounds. it was fucked all the way around, everybody way too proud and not thinking of the kids. we start talking about core beliefs and how shit always gets twisted into making good things into clubs to beat other folks over the heads with. don's a good man w/some sharp shit on the mind and I konk deep into a pool of some heavy thinking. thanks don.
saturday, october 2 - denver, co
at 8am we wake up and head along the rockies towards denver... we pass john elway ford as we approach the bluebird theater in denver, a beautiful old place with good sound. I give my cousin buddy a call and he says he will try to make it. soundcheck, wait, blah, blah....
vince and I chill downstairs and jux county play a good set to their locals and I keepmy eyes peeled for little buddy.
by gig time my cousin is no where to be seen, to bad. we play good and find a bed at a friends place and finally get to sleep. not too much more for me to say, except tomarrows another big drive across the length of kansas. [it's hammer time!]
we get up and don makes java, bacon sandwiches and fruit. what a bro. he also gives us cd's of his band. brother don! time to drive. we are again blessed with good weather. once, with the quartet version of bazooka in '97 we traveled the I-80 and I-25 in near-blizzard conditions. we had to stop in los cruces when we were whited-out the day after our freezing denver gig. but now it's sunny on the way down to denver. we arrive at the club, actually a theater. it's a good gig - we're hitting hard when we should and playing soft when we should. things are grooving better.
we stay at laura's and critters abound. there's a great kitty-cat pablo who keeps an energetic lab-mix puppy at bay without expending too much energy - just the occasional swipe of a paw: "calm down, young doggie!". pablo beds down.
we gotta pop and bail fast cuz it's one hell-ride to denver. we gotta do the whole rocky mountains in one bound. the I-80 almost all the way through wyoming. my ma was born in wyoming so I think about her as we drive these rockies. she must think her boy's a fucking nut. I remember her telling us when me and d. boon first started that it was sort of like art. she loved d. boon and he was an artist, he could paint real well. she figured it was just something we did as being together and when we started doing w/george she dug that and him too. she still sees me play from time to time. her pop did guitar w/a duo w/this young guy who would sing during the 30s in vaudeville shows. he once told me they made like two or three dollars a show but this was the depression and you could do a big chow for thirty cents. damn. they even got to try out for a columbia records audition but the kid's voice cracked and they were scissored. trippy shit, huh?
tonight's boss is doug kaufman and he's done at least twenty gigs for me in either denver or boulder. he's a bass player from san francisco who always helped me out in the biggest ways. the best. I love having raps w/him, we relate very much on the musical line both w/notes and rhythms and w/the bidness. funny how shit goes through the changes but in a way, stays just the same. when I come off the stage, he hollers at me "cut the stallion at the mount and stuff it in his mouth!" (from lou reed's "the blue mask"). he's great. the folks at the _bluebird theatre_ are too and the pad itself is righteous, some old theatre that's small enough to sound good but have a neat vibe too, like from the old days. a full crowd w/lots of life and spirit and it's a joy to wrestle the boom tube for them. we go and go. tom and vince do a great job, much respect to them both. I never stop and start slinging shirts immediately after we finish. after that it's time to load up. whew, am I beat.
laura invites us to stay at her pad and we accept. as soon as we get there I unflurl the blankey and am down for the count. head goes to pillow in one swoop. folks are talking (it's saturday night and only one in the morning) and carrying on, vince even smokes some mota and is talking wacky but I'm beat up, fatigue-wise, to really jump in and join. spiel after the gig can be really rough on my throat and I have to watch it, careful. after a while I ask tom to pull on these roses which are connected to the light switch and it's dark. I know this might seem rude but what better way to signal the folks that sueno has descended? thanks to laura for having us over and understanding. good lady.
sunday, october 3 - salina, ks
[wednesday is a day off to drive]
up and out. the conversations on this long drive go from politics to history to routines concerning "the war hammer" and variations of farm daddy, farm boy...well, now it's peg boy - it's a long story. watt knows much history and it's always great conversation. both my compatriots are great conversationalists. and when the stream of consciousness gets going, things turn surreal. that's the way I like it, feel right at home, yessir.
we stop in salina, ks and eat some sub-standard food at a place that had some mom n' pop promise. sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. we go to the neighboring mo-6 and crash.
pop and jam to check out the van cuz where we stayed was off colfax, which is heavy hood for denver. no probs but there is a yellow streak on the side hatch. construction right near by so maybe some skip loader hit us? it's sunday and the construction site is quite still, hmmm... whatever, it's only a mark and a scratch and that won't her much. I gather the pliers and thank laura much. she directs us to a chow pad called "pete's" but when we pass it, there's some big line outside and watt hates to fucking wait so we blow by, right out of denver, east on the I-70. it's a trip how the town just ends in the east w/out any 'burbs. not used to that in this day and age.
I give thanks for the happening weather that we've had so far, especially cuz those rockies can be intense but now we're clear of them and it's all plains. today's our second day off for the tour. we got one more and that's in the last week. this is what I call the stretch, thirtyeight gigs in a row. "when you're not playing, you're paying."
we cross the border into kansas and cross another time line. two hours from pedro now. we see a sign for an "eight thousand pound prairie dog." this has got to be a fucking cement statue. one day I gotta check that out. almost do this time. after many hours, I hand the helm over to tom and it starts getting dark around salina so we dock there. some chow pad named "bayard's" serves us up some crap. I get chili and have to use pert-near a whole bottle of tabasco to get some flavor going. tabasco? where's the habanero? why are the chow pads on the I-70 in these parts crappy? same thing happen to the boat's crew last year in goodland when "mazio's" slayed us. well, it was much worse last year, this dreck at least didn't make us sick.
lights out and we're fartin' away.
monday, october 4 - lawrence, ks
our day yesterday was a long drive across the kansas prairies and resolved at a motel 6 in a town called saline. after settling in we went over to the best restaurant we could find called bayards. it was bad and mike had two bowls of their chili, I was scared.
we awoke with out any discomfarts, I went outside to take some snapshots and gather coffees from the office and I spent some time going through the pamphlets that were on display there. one promoted the prairie dog farm that we had seen on highway signs boasting the new 6 legged "live" steer. I also picked up some flyers for local historical sites and one from a railroad museum in colorado that had a lot of nice color photos of their prize steam engines. after a while I went by the covered pool and thought about home in hermosa beach, days off suck because it lets your mind wander and its easy to get homesick and lovesick. there isn't too much time though and we shove off for lawrence and navagate through some side streets and detours before finding the bottleneck club. the town of lawrence is a perfect example of main street u.s.a., and vince and I hit the local music stores for drum heads, and mike gets the van a deserving oil change. by the time the club opens we have been in town for hours and walked around quite a bit.
at the club the pool tables are packed and the locals are friendly. the two other bands on the bill are really great and I watch the whole thing just about. first were the brannock device, a minutemen-esque trio who play with spirit and fezzes on. the second band was be-non and they have a very compelling set of guitar inventions that ended with a steely dan tune for mike, the whole club dug it and I feel like I met some people that I will see and hopfully get to play with again. the club people are the real thing too, and man on tour that is so important. our playing however was a little tierd because we were, we didn't start till 12:40 and it was a monday. fun all the same. well that's what a day off can do too.
after final goodbyes we are heading over to another of mikes tour friends to crash. kevin, who had just celebrated his 36th birthday, had cake and beer for us and he warmed up some of his special birthday meal of stuffed pig stomach. I tried some, it was good, you'd like it. we sat and talked with robert from the old new alliance records days who is teaching western history (and more) in lawrence, and I remember how he was one of slovenly's only appreciators back then. also got to hang out with ol' troy who play guitar with the meat pup's during the too high too die times, man nice to see them again....
[ps: I just want to say thanks to diana for the care package and for keeping everything together at home. I love you]
I eat at denny's in the a.m. two poached eggs with hash browns and toast and the waitress even asks how I want the eggs (medium, I says). with lots of tabasco, it's good! surprise surprise.
on to lawrence, where i get some deader heads, coated pinstripes, for my toms. the cats at C and C drums are great - very helpful. the cat that helped me so much from the store shows up at the gig - brother drummer, right on!
the gig is pretty good, despite a little glitch here and there (me again - is this sounding like the diary of a fuck-up?). somebody gives mike a bag of several fresh home grown habanero's, jalapeno's and a pepper I don't know the name of. challenging but good eating ahead.
the brannock device opens the show and they are a trio who blaze a tributary from the minutemen river. they have great dynamics, spoken and sung verses like the 'men with bass melodies against jangling guitar rhythms. good work men. and be-non, the next band is beefheartian a little with some deep purple and steely-dan mixed in...they even cover a dan tune. they're really good - musical, dynamic and clever. they even give me some merch. dudes, I thank you.
we head to kevin's, another watt bro, and it's his birthday and there's great cake and some pennsylvania dutch style food, spuds and sausage in pork stomach...and it's awesome. I test the first habanero with the chow. fresh, hot, flavorful. my stomach tries to reject it, but it's to be expected. my iron will rules the day and I enjoy the experience. I meet robert, who ran new alliance in the old days, and troy from the puppets. I am lucky to be on this trip; great people, thanks to the third eye portal to the metaphysical for all this wretched goodness that falls about me.
get into lawrence early and I gotta get the boat's oil changed (every three thou) so I drop tom and vince off downtown. it's quick for me and I get back and head for the club. tonight we play _the bottleneck_, a pad w/great folks. jackie's always helped me out and it's a joy to play the pad, just gotta give her a good day next time - this is like the third monday in a row! damn. sometimes shit like that happens. only fifty two fridays and only fifty two saturdays in a year and someone has to get those other two hundred and sixty one days. damn. I get some happening noodle soup a couple blocks over, load it up w/the fried garlic they got there and chow it up good. this shit is great! thank you. I head for the boat and konk.
the first band is _brannock device_ who opened up for me last year and I hear them through the boat's walls as the konk takes me. they sound great but then I'm out. I wake in time for downbeat, grab the shirts but when I get in the pad, the other band, _be/non_ is still going. something must be running late. shit, this is a worknight too and I hate keeping folks up late when they gotta pop early the next morning. it's not anyone's fault, just hard to keep things on schedule when you're konked in the boat but damn, do I need my naps to play good. this cat john gives me a bag full of fresh habanero peppers - yes! orange righteous little gems. mucho gracias juan! the be/non cats end w/"gold teeth II" from _steely dan_ which cracks me up much and finally it's our turn. damn, it's twenty 'till one! arrrgggghhhhh! this factor plus the day off (believe it or not, when you're playing every night, a day off can really fuck w/your rhythm to do gigs) makes for the hardest gig yet of the tour. lots of clams and at one point, I just stop the band and holler "focus!" at my mates. the really dead sound of the stage doesn't help much either. the spirit of the crowd is great though and they deserve our best. it gets better near the end and we end w/"friction," the t.v. song which is a great metaphor for the set.
who do I see when we're done? robert, who used to run _new alliance_ eleven years ago after greg got it. he moved to japan a while ago and is now back in states, teaching here in town. great to see him again. andy and john, my buds from the old days who've come to all my kansas gigs going back to the minutemen are here. andy brought his brother john to pedro last february and I gave them the full tour of my town. I love playing for these cats and rapping w/them later. andy's a fireman. kevin is there too, we stayed at his pad last time and he invites us again so we accept. it's his birthday and he's made some dutch treat where you stuff a pigs gut w/sausage and veggies. I don't try it cuz I don't like chowing after gigs (along w/scissoring the whisky, this is helping watt lose weight) but tom and vince say it's good. troy, the cat who served as the second guitarist for the _meat puppets_ on some of their later tours comes by w/some friends and we have some good rap along w/kevin's bud jim (who's a grade school teacher) on some heavy subjects like the indians and how the country got going and what might could've happened if there was more of a mixing of good ideas from both worlds, old and new. this is still an important question w/how things are going now days also. can't rap too long though cuz of the gig spiel obligations and I excuse myself to konk. I'm really tired and am out quick.
read week 1 of the tour diary
read week 3 of the tour diary
loop back to mike watt's hoot page
this page created 7 oct 99