"sticking the head out the hatch" tour diary - weeks 5 thru 7

(only period covered of the tour)

mike watt and the black gang crew

"sticking the head out the hatch" tour '97

from watt (thursday, november 14, 1997):

   well, here it is: more than five weeks into the tour (it started october 7) and these folks finally get it together enough for us to start sending them some tour spiel. last night was our 28th gig in a row (35th total), all the stories we could've told them but alas, only ten more gigs to go. I guess it's better late than never, huh? anyway, I'm performing my latest piece, "contemplating the engine room" in it's entirety the whole tour and calling this band MIKE WATT AND THE BLACK GANG CREW. it comprises of the following:

joe baiza - guitar and voice
stephen hodges - drums and bellowing
steve reed - soundman and singing
watt - thud staff and spiel

just the four of us in a 1990 ford e250 econoline van w/the equipment.

steve kaul - booking dude (the man outside the van) 212 581-3100

(this is already the fifth week of the tour!)

ok, here's the tour journals from the BLACK GANG CREW:

THE BLACK GANG CREW's "sticking the head out the hatch" '97 tour journal

friday, november 7, 1997

orlando, florida - sapphire supper club.

from stephen reed:

   well, we played gainesville last night and it was very good. tour going very well, good vibes, no stress on my part, getting along with everyone well. made a stop today in ocala, fl and went to the don garlits' drag racing museum. I think this is my second time but I would do it again. I've been on tour now for two months because I came from a previous tour with my band bazooka. I feel pretty good and I'll be home in time for thanksgiving.

   I think a lot of mike watt, we've had differences in the past but now things are good and I'm ready t keep going through next year with him and band on tour. the sound has been good and monitors good and bad, mostly weak. my experiences with devo have really helped my sound work a lot. thank you devo and allison m.

   I've been singing background vocals from the sound board. it's been real emotional for me to pull it off, but it's been working and it's been fun! thanks for the new job, mike watt, what will the l.a. dudes think? what will vince (from bazooka) think? fuck 'em all!!!!! five-eight is sound checking - bye, bye for now. the show tonight was sold out! gary, the house soundman was very helpful, the band played great and I sang pretty good.

from joe baiza:

   just got home from the gig tonight, home is the motel 6 in gainesville. it's the early morning hours of the night and the streets are wet. we just played gig number we just played gig number 29. almost two thirds of the way through the tour. I think I've now gone into functional mode. turn it on and then turn it off and let it sit 'till tomorrow night. I thought we played pretty good last night. we're honing it down a little bit here and a little bit there, every night. mike's punk rock opera is coming to life. gettin' organic, growing, like a beautiful thorny shrub. I watched watt on stage last night as we played. I copped some of his moves, sounds, and sentiment in certain areas for that extra punch - slap! it's bam! then whoosh you can here the wind blow if you want. I love it when we get real quiet even when people talk over it the quiet parts are still strong. an unflinching pianissimo. we tried piss bottle man again at sound check. I guess hodges forgot some parts and watt stopped us mid tune rune and halt. run and halt. watt cracks me up! he's frustrated that the tune isn't together yet. he tells hodges that he wish he could get inside his brain and teach him the song, he says, "man, you guys! we're forty! we should be able to play these easy three part songs no problem!" I kind of chuckle inside. cute. watt says fuck it, we're playing the tune tonight for the kids, we're playing it for the encore. I enjoy the challenge. later in the dressing room hodges and I go over his chart together. there are some fIREHOSE chicks hanging and talking to steve reed (the soundman). hodges and I are counting measures. poor hodges had that sad smile on his face earlier. he's tough though.

   at the mo-6 I have a couple bourbons with watt and the black gang crew. I decided to lurk about outside in the dark. the wet streets are beautiful and I want to snap some lights, reflections and some waffle house night life. I get the school bus in the wet mo-6 parking lot. I get a cool distant chevron, waffle house, sittin' in the dark, wet, reflective, bourbon night, here we are kind of snap. I'm walking about, thinking, snap! geometry internal. I do a little snap from a distance outside the waffle house. one group from a booth catches me and gestures in a mad youth way. a girl rubs her tough licking the glass. I miss the shot. I go back home. then it's me in the vending room convex mirror. it's getting late I should sleep.

   watt and steve reed hate the waffle house. it's morning and I decide to waffle house it; against watt's and reed's strong advice, I eat half an egg sandwich. it's shit! hodges waffles it too. he's on board ship with his sandwich! the smell drifts through out the cabin. watt's talking. he says "man, I can smell that waffle house grease from here." steve reed and I kind of grin. on our way to orlando we stop at don garlits' museum of drag racing. I'm not so interested in race cars or big engines but I go in anyway just to see what watt has to say about this stuff. they're all snapping photos and I'm snapping photos of them snapping. watt just gets in there and snaps one off, bang. no hesitation "look at that rail there!" oh shit, he's hopping over the ropes! when hodges snaps he's slow and careful. he positions himself in curious little poses, kind of like an acrobatic circus bear.

   we get to the venue, walk in, and I notice we're playing one of those kind of styler pads. it's clean. I'm sitting on the stage setting up the pedals and I don't smell any beer. watt says it's kind of yuppie. that pre-sound check kind of bad vibe is starting to creep in, like a storm on the horizon. watt's country twang is getting a little more severe. hum? I'm set up. I'm waiting. drum check is loud. I have to step outside. maybe a coffee. the store next door has magazines, all boring. I'm standing outside at the door of the club on the sidewalk. watt is spieling on a pay phone near by. boom! boom! boom! the sound floods outside the open door. my turn to check. alright. more monitor business. watt pokes his head in. they're still not ready for him. he heads back outside to do more spiel. we're finally ready. watt comes in steps up to his microphone and zap! he gets a bad ass electrical shock to his mouth. he's really pissed now. we start the sound check and I miss a few beats at the top of the tune. he starts so abruptly I'm always getting caught off guard. now he's fuckin' snappin' at me! mean mr. snap is coming out. we start to get into it a bit on stage, arguing. we exchange tense words for about a minute finally he says to me, "look you're not gonna baffle me with bullshit!" I'm a little confused what he means by that. he cools off real quick though and comes over to apologize to me. I try to forgive him but I'm still a little burned up. I get over it and everything is ok again. we're all learning. watt's learning. I'm learning. hodges is learning. steve reed is learning.

   the show begins. five-eight sound really good in this room. I watch their whole set from the bar and really enjoy it. we get upon stage and get ready to play. I notice some of the audience have brought their kids to the show. directly in front of me is a young boy and girl. I tell them to be careful and watch their ears. after the show people flood up to the stage to talk to watt and to talk to me and hodges. we shake hands and sign posters and rap with people. some girl gives me a kiss. everyone is so appreciative. nice people. the party continues at the mo-6. bourbon, mota and stoli screwdrivers. watt reads a live review from the washington post on his laptop. he's happy and we're all hanging out and having a good time. on this night watt offers me tons of support and encouragement. that's cool.

saturday, november 8, 1997

tallahassee, florida - fsu, club down under

from stephen reed:

   came here before with fIREHOSE in 1989, my first tour with them. jim provided the sound and we gave mike two mixes and four cabinets. show sounded good, fucked up with the mute on "big train" with my vocals but I thought the show sounded and performed pretty good.

from joe baiza:

   we drive up from orlando to tallahassee. we start talking about clothes. "when punk first started I kind of wore wild stuff." watt says, "but then I toned it down real quit because I'd get nothing but hassle but then I don't want to look yuppie either. I want to look like a guy who works with his hands. he kicks ass on some of that electronics shit. master of the soldering iron, the quintessential worker, ready to take care of business. even down to his keys with their little color coded rubber rings. "I word wild clothes with perry." he continues, "whew! it was fun though but I would never walk around the streets in that stuff!"

   we get to the club down under in tallahassee and I realize that I've played at this place before with the universal congress of..., probably in 1988. I walk around outside the club, which is located on the school campus and flash back to those times. the congress was then in it's classic quartet line up, as ron shneck would have put it and we were all excited about playing in that band. before the demise. ron shneck was driving our van then. we picked him up in atlanta after a considerable search. shneck was the loveable knucklehead with a sharp wit. it was at this club that when we arrived in our van we were greeted enthusiastically by two or three rather large fellows who helped us with our equipment. shneck wouldn't let it go, from here on he would tell everyone that all my fans were three hundred pound white boys.

   I walk around inside the club and I try to find a place where I can get a little peace and quiet, a little solitude. I find the perfect empty room and set up to do a little practice. very soon though people begin to flow in, oh well. I rap a bit with mike from five-eight. these five-eight guys are pretty cool. they all seem to have slightly tweaked personalities, individual of each other but yet with a kind of common thread. dan cracks me up. sean seems cool and determined. tigger has lots to say and likes to talk, as does their travelling partner, josh. mike looks like he's got some kind of deep seated plan. just my own superficial impressions, I guess but I have a good time hanging out with them and I get a little closer to their music.

   once again we set up on a small stage, so close to the audience. I squat down and set up the damn pedals. just a couple feet from me stand the audience, already pressed up to their shins against the stage. it's kind of weird. many of them stand there and stare at me as I set up. some are very observant, watching every move I make. a few ask questions. it almost feels like a pre-show mini-performance. during the show, right in the middle of a song, some guy asks, "hey man, what year's your strat?" I guess he thought I was going to stop and have a little guitar talk with him. funny.

sunday, november 9, 1997

birmingham, alabama - the nick

from stephen reed:

   I haven't been at the nick in a long time. one bathroom and one secret shitter. john strohm came and played "piss bottle man." john, the house soundman, was stoned out of his head! I pulled the mic cable out of my mic during "...engine room." a big breasted blonde stood by me during the set and wanted to sing with me! trying to stay in the groove. got on late, mike upset! I'm upset! monday 11 pm on time please five-eight - 10 pm opener, 9 pm? 9:15 pm at the latest. still had a great show.

from joe baiza:

   "bible belt!" watt says, pointing to a billboard that says, "SAFE SEX, GOD'S ORIGINAL PLAN." it has a close-up picture of a man's hand placing a wedding ring on a woman's hand. we're on our way to birmingham, alabama. steve reed is discussing sound system business. he talks about how some soundmen don't want to give the opening acts all the juice. they save the big guns of power for the headliner. steve reed is not in agreement with this kind of maneuver. neither is watt. "that's sissy that tries to make themselves look good by making others look bad" he says. "when we played with the ramones, along with black flag, we only got 25% of the p.a. black flag got 50%. that's why I say when you tour with those kind of guys you got to win the respect of the crew. that way you get to use the whole p.a." we stop for fuel. watt gargles some more hydrogen peroxide at a stop light. he spits it out the window. "helps get of the loogies," he says. we drive on. watt's full of energy this morning, making right, short observations and critiques in rapid fire. this watt's a funny man. "sunday fancy latin," he says, as we drive past a restaurant advertising on all you can eat buffet. the parking lot is packed full with cars. he says edward hated these places and georgie liked to eat at them, often. we continue to drive past all these food places: "hardly's," watt says, "cuz it's hardly food." watt keeps yackin', it's a spirited morning. hodges gets in there too. I'm not saying much myself. I just want to get the fuck out of this van. hodges almost seems as if he's trying to match watt's road travel patter. this is not possible, I think to myself. watt's from another planet. even his most mundane comments are skewed with a kind of restless insight. I sit back and start to enjoy the entertainment.

   we arrive in birmingham and pull into the parking lot of _the nick_. man, this place is a mess! the stage is fuckin' filthy. there's some broken glass and beer bottles rolling around. I'm stepping over a whole mess of cables and stuff as I try to set up. goddamnit! it kind of reminds me of my place at home. later people start to roll in. I kind of hang back and just check everyone out. it looks like it might be a cool night. I eyeball this one woman who seems to be having a good time. she's animated and friendly. she comes over and introduces herself. her name is ashley. she buys me a drink and we hang out and talk. she says her hair is red but I say it doesn't look like it is. she says in her southern accent, "well come on outside and have a look at it!" we go out onto the well-lit drinkin' porch in front of the club. "yes, it certainly is red," I say. there are a lot of other people hanging around out there drinking. ashley introduces me to her friends. we all hang out and talk and laugh and take photos of each other. ashley says I've got to see this one polaroid she found on the sidewalk when she was living in new york. she talks her friend into getting it out of his car. he comes back with an envelope. john (strohm), the guitar player with the lemonheads, joins us. ashley pulls the polaroid out of the envelope. I'm wondering what the hell can this be. it's a photo of a naked man with a big hard-on posing in front of his computer. below the photo is written something like, "to susan from sam." john says, "look, he shaved." john talks about his plan to do a solo recording, playing all the instruments himself. it sounds interesting. he tells me some funny fIREHOSE stories and what it was like when he recorded his part on "piss bottle man." later, at the end of our set, john plays "piss bottle man" with the black gang crew. it sounded pretty good. after the show we all hang out. this birmingham crowd is great. the boat pulls out and we head for the mo-6.

from stephen hodges:

   watt and baiza are in the next room discussing different liquors. watt wanted water in vodka and joe thought that was not good. he says whiskey has more body and can hold up to the water. watt cares not, he like a drink a bit diffused friendly to the system.

   car doors slam outside rooms 152, 153 at the mo 6 caflump their front door slams.

   these skinny little trees so close together miles and miles of trees deep, green and the rolling hills of the ozarks. for this time of year we have seen miles and miles of the autumn colors turning. very beautiful - but here in the south the color are green and it's a trip for a california kid to see swamps water with trees sticking out. spanish moss and ivy all over everything.

   if I had a lot of money I would buy a tree farm.

   wait stop please joe baiza is doing a dance in the room a performance art piece on popular culture. he pissed that pop culture has too many ads in the "rolling stone" and he's pissed off about it. with his black industrial type sears steel toe working man shoes he is dancing on pop culture here in the mo 6 room 152 and he is destroying pop culture. I am documenting with my camera. joe is a great dancer. I snap away from all angles and I pray that joe doesn't stop dancing. he doesn't stop he keeps on a man on a mission until the rolling stone is in about 4 or 7 hundred pieces. when he and we are finally oh I forgot during the dance joe remembers the fela kuti article in the stone. we preserve it more photos. god bless america.

   joe and I have been through a cathartic moment actually out of breath. finally. we chill joe enjoys a refreshing beverage and some junior mints. junior mints, one of his favorite please if you read this you could bring joe some junior mints he would like that thank you.

   they call the nick because it is so funky with nicotine on the walls. I was too funky like a bow legged monkey. two opening bands they started late and played too long watt likes to go on stage on time with his contract. not when the club owner wants to push the bands back to sell more drinks before we start especially on a monday night mike want to go on early and we all want the people who came to hear the punk rock opera to have fairly fresh ears. we all have paid our dues here in the black gang crew. we've in other bands opened for many people. me stephen hodges have opened for x, bo diddley and tina turner in paris and we went on time and got off on time and still won the crowd in a respectful amount of opening band time from 30 to 45 minute get on and off quickly please. a sense of style and protocol is in order here. I pray a word to the wise will be sufficient. you see we go on late watt gets upset we get upset and trickle down occurs trickle trickle trickle you can hear it can't you.

   joe baiza is sleeping and I want to talk about the trees and the ivy and the swamps and rolling hills of the ozarks. I hear foot steps outside and voices. oh my god the sounds of passion are coming through the wall. joe baiza is snoring and the mattress next door is hitting the wall lightly the girl is cooing in rythym and the tempo shifts. louder wall.

   now add some really loud sounds outside of some clicky bangy loud the being pulled.

   I want write more but I'm tired and I want a shower. more later.

monday, november 10, 1997

nashville, tennessee - exit/in

from stephen reed:

   rain! rain! rain! cold! cold! here we are in nashville. maybe holly will bring the sunshine. five-eight went on stage on time and played 40 minutes! great! we went on at 11 pm - kyle did a good job on monitors, mike was happy. after the show we gave a friend a ride home (really it was another bar) - she tricked us! holly and friend theo were following us with bad tags and one eye jack for head light. they were pulled over and given another ticket, number three for the violation! I felt bad because we went out of our way for a nut and really cool people had to take a fall for bullshit. I'm sorry holly and theo.

from joe baiza:

   before we drive on to nashville we stop at a subway sandwich place. this is almost becoming a regular thing. I'm hungry and rush in there before everyone. the guy making the sandwiches is a really big dude. he has to wet his hands every time just to get them in those plastic gloves. he kind of looks like a reformed thug. on his left forearm is a crudely scrawled tattoo, the letters "e s" above the letters "f t w", I tell him I know what "f t w" means but what does "e s" mean? slightly embarrassed and in a low voice he says "eat shit." I say, "oh, wow." he says, "but to some people I tell them it means 'every soul finds the way.' "yeah, I like that one," I tell him.

   "forty is a heavy number in the bible," watt says. "forty days from now I'll be forty." watt and I talk about our family backgrounds. he knows quite a bit about his family. I tell him I don't know very much about mine. I once told my father I thought our name might be gautemalan and he cussed me out. we talk about how people emigrated to the united states. watt says, "if you were one batch ahead you got to make fun of the batch behind you. it's like they want to slam the door after them." " yeah," I think, "that's the sad truth."

   at the club before sound check I'm so bored I actually start reading the stuff written on the dressing room walls. "only users lose drugs" and below that is written, "as if you can kill time without injuring eternity." on another wall someone has manipulated a message to read, "a peaceful train of cocks up your crusty cornholes." later, right before the show, watt comes up to me slightly distressed. he says cara's here and she's all gorda and boracha!" I think it's kind of funny. after the show cara insists on taking us to this bar or at least taking her there. I'm tired and crabby and I don't want to get lost. I keep telling watt to throw her out of the van. she calmly says, "don't be so mean, joe baiza." we drop her off but we also lose watt's friends, holly and theo.

tuesday, november 11, 1997

louisville, kentucky - phoenix hill tavern

from stephen reed:

   waiting for holly and theo at the motel 6 and then on to louisville. holly and theo made the gig plus jason lowenstien from sebadoh and it was great seeing him. good show. hanging out with holly and theo at motel 6, all right, great people. see you in saint louis.

wednesday, november 12, 1997

st. louis, missouri - the side door

from stephen reed:

   got up this morning and it's cold outside! I mean this is the coldest weather in the last month. oh well, on to saint louis. backstage: joe is working hard and hodges is warming up for dinner!!! no, working hard too. mike walked in - "hi sailors" and then walks out. joe and hodges are getting close and I'm trying to sing as high as carla bozulich (geraldine fibbers). well anyway, we did the show and chris did a good job on monitors. todd rundgren came to the show and liked it. well, it's still cold and on to columbia.

from stephen hodges:

   yes, yes, yes - it was a yoga morning. body maintenance. a tonic, grounding. I started yoga when I was 18. my dad always had a chronic bad back so I set out to find a repair method. yoga - the power of the breath. day after day - like rough rocks in a tumbler, sooner or later all that tumbling the rocks get smooth. yea, yea, yea, just like your bod. day after day of yoga, yoga, yoga. then I walked; very cold, felt good. started to snow in running through the snowy cold wind I'm exhilarated.

   last night in louisville the club called the side door. they had a resturant in the front half of the building really good looking food. the building in general seemed old in a great way - big, tall beam ceilings. by the look of the craftsmanship the place was 100 years old. lotta room in the upstairs dressing room area. plenty of room for yoga and drum sticking warm-ups.

   we had dinner with the columbia reps and local record store people. it's way to talk and get a vibe from the local folks. there was a bunch of us at dinner. actually it got a little bit strange before din din. watt wanted us to eat with the columbia guys but they came 35 minutes late and we had really been waiting to eat for an hour and a half. pre-show digestion time and all. when we go down to dinner there is nowhere for us band guys to sit. joe baiza was really mad. I tried to be a smoothing agent. it worked and joe finally came to dinner. he said nothing for half an hour. finally, he cooled down.

   then the gig. we did great. lots of talking in the back of the room - we played to the front where the listeners were. lots of cool young people really into new music. very cool ears and hearts.

   the bass player and the lead singer of the opening band helped me pack up my drum kit or should I say my sonic environment: sampler, drum kit and percussion gong, etc., etc., etc...

   we rocked, we went back to the pad: mo 6.

   more later, bye for now. rock steady.

thursday, november 13, 1997

columbia, missouri - the blue note

from stephen reed:

   starting to snow here in st. louis en route to columbia. I guess the snow finally caught us. no snow here in columbia so far. also, I forgot to say on the 11th that we stopped in bowling green, kentucky and went to the corvette museum and saw the history of corvettes. I entered a contest to win a new '98 corvette - I couldn't help myself, it was beautiful so maybe in september we'll have a new car!

   the show tonight was great all around: "on-stage sound was good," mike said. jeff the house soundman helped out with lights and monitors and he did a great job! two mixes for mike always. performance very good, group awesome. front sound powerful and clear. my voice still not loud enough in the monitors.

friday, november 14, 1997

lawrence, kansas - the bottleneck

from stephen reed:

   on to lawrence. I was just here two months ago with bazooka and we played in front of a crowd of about twenty-five people, I'm sure this show will be way different. on the way here we passed by "biffle's," which is a bar-b-cue stand where I got food poisoning a few years ago so hodges and joe took pictures of me in front of the place rubbing my stomach! great food - you guys want to try some?

   the show tonight was well received by the patrons. house soundman alex did a good job for a young nineteen year old and next time I see him he should be stronger. the only bad thing about the night was somebody took our cd's from the mixing board! our "sun ship" (coltrane) and our tosh ripped off! I can't believe it, it never happens, people stay out of the sound area and I really can't believe someone from lawrence did it - chicago or new york, maybe but not lawrence! I'll be back in the spring...

from stephen hodges:

   dead stage, in a rage, guess I'll go and burn some sage!

   sandy canyon. wagon wheel spokes...

   trumpet blows! woman screams, indians swoop - white man worried.

   I wish I had a dollar for all the toilet seats I have cleaned off on this 6 weeks of tour. don't get me wrong, please! I'm glad to have a pot to piss in, or a bottle for that matter.

   then there is the matter of those men's restrooms where the shitter in not in a stall. just out in the room with the rest of you all. I think it's more embarrassing for the guys that walk in on you than the actual shitter.

   oh well, thank god for the simple pleasures.

   off for a walk and pre-show warm-up. more later. black gang crew hodge out. peace.

saturday, november 15, 1997

springfield, missouri - juke joint

from stephen reed:

   drove into springfield, missouri and it looks like a ghost town! looks kinda depressed here. hodges just said I never help him break down his drum set. he said after shows I just want to drink and be a big shot! thanks a lot, hodge. tonight I will help you.

   I did help hodges with drums and the show went well until mike had problems with his bass rig. damn, it was totally fucked! but I was able to eq his sound and finish the show. his monitors tonight were really badly eq'd. I didn't work long enough on them. sunday I will spend more time with monitors.

sunday, november 16, 1997

oklahoma city, oklahoma - will rogers center

from stephen reed:

   loud and boomy room, I must bring the volume down for a clean, powerful sound mix. monitors sound ok so far - eq pretty good but we will really know when the show starts. sound in room fair once show begins, had problems with mike's mic input in the beginning but the show was alright. chris lausch came to the show.

monday, november 17, 1997

dallas, texas - galaxy

from stephen reed:

   I like this club, good sound and good people. john labmbert, peter steward and fireman hurley's brother mike are here.

   wow, what a gig! somebody just came up to me and said they loved the _hipnotic beat_, a band I had that toured with fIREHOSE back in '93, the final 'HOSE year. I've heard a lot of good comments about that band the last four years and that makes me feel real good - maybe a reunion tour or show? I'll think about it sometime next year after mike slows down a little. I met a guy here in dallas who came to three of the ten shows we did and he loved every one.

   the show tonight was alright but I felt very isolated from the rest of the group. I couldn't get into the groove of the show. I had the same problem last night in oklahoma city: too many distractions. will focus hard on the last five shows.

from stephen hodges:

   it has been cold.

   I like it.

   it's like my friend in the morning.

   it meets me brisk and clean provided no diesels are warming up near the van. just kidding, sorta - it's been between 19 and 30 degrees (f) somedays. fun to walk and run in. hard to sit in the cold.

   john coltrane. I'm so into our john coltrane cd's that we play before and after all our shows. "sun ship" and "a love supreme." very intense, the sound, the force, the focus and the feel. elvin jones, one of my all time favorite drummers. sunset pipeline press rolls. atomic bomb bass drum. ride snare kick hihat tom toms conversation in triplicate supreme ass for decades, kickin. now run and tell that please! you should hear him play brushes. he makes you feel like there is a snake crawlin around the room. I don't I've ever heard so much force and groove with so little actual volume. his hihat, he can play it so quietly when he wants to. thank you MR. ELVIN JONES. and happy 70th birthday. he just celebrated at the _blue note_ in new york. we were in new york with the black gang crew near that time, we left the day before he opened. my friend smokey hormel got to see the show. he called me afterwards. he was in new york working with beck. said elvin was kickin like kato! gotta go now, the band here in dallas just cranked up and they are rockin. more later. they are a bad-ass ska band.

tuesday, november 18, 1997

austin, texas - electric lounge

from stephen reed:

   I've played here before with bazooka. I like the club but I didn't like the underpowered system. I scaled down the sound and it was pretty good. you could hear the vocals and all the instruments. a lot of good people came to the show like king coffee, john & pete voskamp, berke and my cousin spot. spot played fidola on "tuff gnarl" and sounded great. then pete, john and berke played "a quick one" (the who mini-opera) with mike. they were so drunk when they got on stage they almost wrecked the song but they did ok, it wasn't too bad. the club was packed and the show was good.

from stephen hodges:

   we are on our way to austin from dallas. it's very pastel early afternoon. mute colors. mike says there is a van gough sky. we agree, some "starry night" areas. like eyes. very unique day.

   joe baiza and I had breaky at the denny's near the mo 6. watt has been servicing the van. oil every 3000 miles, new shocks and a tire rotation. solid, jackson. we ride in a solid van. I feel sorry for the bands that don't have solid transpo.

wednesday, november 19, 1997

houston, texas - urban art bar

from stephen reed:

   tonight will be our 34th gig in a row! we made it and in pretty good shape too. no stress! the place is sold out, great! just two bands tonight. we've been playing our texas shows with _helium_. pretty good, our friend ash plays bass in the group. he's also the guitarist in _polvo_. chris lausch came to the show, his third one for the tour. he's one of our amazing friends that we met on the road and have known for years. helium didn't get off the stage fast enough to suit us so from now on bands that open will play 30 minutes or start earlier! the show went pretty good, sounded powerful. went to the bay house in la porte after the show and slept there.

from stephen hodges:

   very smokey club. a friend of joe baiza's, claudia, grabbed my ass big time after our set. she laughed - I jumped a little. the opening band, helium, oh boy! way late off the stage. we are pissed off. once again, opening band fucking over the headlining band. we know the people who like us already won't leave. it's the ones that don't know us that we want to bring into the tribe. people will leave if a club is too smokey and if it's a work night.

   after the gig we went to our friend's house near galveston (la porte). mike (mcguire), arron and kyle had this big old house on the waterfront of the gulf of mexico. they are all bakers and chefs. we partied. I took some 16 second exposure photos after everybody went to bed outside on this pier that you can walk on, goes 200 yards out into the gulf. very trippy at night. mike the baker and I were going to do yoga in the morning but everybody overslept so we woke and bailed - bing, bang, boom.

thursday, november 20, 1997

texas - drive day!

from stephen reed:

   we drive from la porte to amarillo - 11 hours! will sleep here and continue to new mexico tomorrow morning. played around with a digital camera sent to us by columbia. I mean this is a hi-tech sony one. new challenge, shoot the shows! monitor looks great, looking at pictures throughout the day, my pictures were bad but just give me a little time, I'll have it down. we have shots of the all day photo session for your viewing. shots of the last weekend of this tour will also be available.

from stephen hodges:

   our third day off of the tour. really it's a night off because our days off are used for driving the long stretches that are unavoidable in these big united states.

   napping in the van. I wake up to my picture being taken by my backseat shipmate joe "the man" baiza. yes, our other piece to this reportage. our first time out as the black gang crew and that is our sony digital camera. we can all grab shots and download them to the web site. pretty cool. so anyway, I'm happy to see the camera finally. it's so cool cuz you can see your photo about ten seconds after you take it and the zoom is very far reaching. quite the photo tool. more on this later, gonna go unload with steve reed and get set up here in new mexico at the launching pad. hodge, out.

friday, november 21, 1997

albuquerque, new mexico - the launch pad

from stephen reed:

   it's a beautiful day en route to albuquerque. show sounded really good, tony ulibarri's (richard "fuckin" bonney's cousin) sister came to the show and kept bugging me about what I wanted? if I would had told her what I wanted she would had run out of there but she's very nice and beautiful. I've been taking a lot of pictures. I fucked up by erasing thirty-nine shots (accidently)!!! I'm so stupid but I'm learning. steve bonney also came to the show.

saturday, november 22, 1997

tempe, arizona - nita's hideaway

from stephen reed:

   nita's is a little bar in tempe. tony ulibarri came to the show tonight, he looked real good. the last time I saw him, it was with primus in '95 with the crew of the flying saucer. well, anyway, the show went pretty good. mike said the monitors were bad but I really worked them hard that night, they're just underpowered which is the usual story with monitors. I tried again to take pictures at the show and they just aren't coming out the way I want them too. it's a really cool camera and there's an art to working it and I don't have the art! it's time to pass it along to someone else. I wonder if chris kirkwood is okay? I would like to see him and say hi.

from stephen hodges:

   9:45 pm. distant flutes become electric guitars. I back away. I like the flute tonight. I see a shooting star cutting a wide path of glory. I miss you rick, I miss you. rick lager 1952 - 1996, flute & bass, life bro extodinare.

sunday, november 23, 1997

tucson, arizona - club congress

from stephen reed:

   this is the last show on the road for me until spring. after three months and two entirely different tours, it's almost over for a while. mike still has shows around town and so will the other projects I have: bazooka? carnage asada? but it's all worked out so there will be no conflict. we're back in our own climate again. no need for jackets. the weather is beautiful. one more show and then back home to l.a. life. I have a lot of problems back home but this tour kept me focused enough to deal with those problems when I return home. I'm back on photographic detail tonight. do a good job sailor. I really enjoyed this tour very much. no stress!! I told mike that the stone temple pilots/butthole surfers/fIREHOSE tour was my favorite tour, I was wrong. this past tour is easily my favorite tour. everybody got along well, worked together and performed to the limit every night.

from stephen hodges:

   seems a little like europe when your venue is in the same building as your lodging. when you're done with the gig, you're already home.

   tucson, the last gig on the tour - black gang crew hatch tour. no. triumphant. kind of like boot camp, kinda like group therepy and also like a mobile music conservatory with a history lesson around every curve.

   I want to thank every body on this tour. my engine room mate's stephen reed, mike watt and joe biaza. you guys are experts at getting along. each of you in your own way has been very helpful to me. thank you. much love and respect.

   and also thanks to those two young ladies who helped me pack up my drums there at the club in hotel congress (club congress). it was fun partying with you and hector (miguel) and the rest of the fine people in watt's room after our last gig. forty-five gigs in forty-eight days. quit a rhythm, what a roll we got goin'. and to all the fine people who came out to hear our performances of mike's opera, thanks. I look forward to talking to all the people that I met and maybe meeting some new folks as well. that is if I can come up with a more streamlined way to pack up my "DRUM SONIC PERCUSSION ENVIROMENT" in a quicker manner than on this first tour. I wouldn't have changed one instrument, just the amount of time it took to set up and breakdown.

monday, november 24, 1997

back home to cali - tour done!

   show went well, sound was really good and the tour is over!!! all bands played on time, I'm very happy!!!!! tour was great!!!! thank you mike watt for everything and I will see you for the next go round.

   after the show we had a party in mike's room. it was pretty cool, very nice people. well, it's over until march 11, when we start again but this time in europe. we do have shows around town but the tour is three months away. this gives me plety of time to organize.

   bye bye
   nov 24, 97
   stephen reed
   fall tour

from stephen hodges:

   this is the first entry after our last gig. I have more to say. this has been for the Levi web pages but watt has pages too (http://www.mindspring.com/~bofus/index.html - obsolete, now it's http://hootpage.com) and I will have some soon too so I'm reserving the right to write more later. love always, hodge out, peace.

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this page created 7 nov 97