peak, mike watt, raul morales and tom watson in the boat (left to right)
friday, april 17, 2009 - tucson, az
popped at six bells - much later than usual for me... stress on watt - always stress for me in the two weeks coming up for a tour, no matter how many I do. baka watt. I wear my blue flannel I got w/cuz brother sam in his brighton town in england last summer for luck. of course I have my john coltrane pin over right pocket.
so, this is the first mike watt u.s. tour in four and half years - damn... but it's understandable cuz I've been in the stooges classroom for the last five and half years trying to learn all I can. huge sadness in me still w/ron asheton dying back in january but he'd always tell me I was a good sailor so I gotta take this bass in hand and charge hard.
by the way, I'm using the dan bass this tour, a 1965 gibson eb-0 a cat named dan gave me after a gig in san diego at the casbah, one he put lindy fralin guitar pickups in but it sounds good. the next day very early is when I found out about ronnie from stooges tour boss henry. I'm bringing the ford "michigan truck plant 3 crew operations" jacket ronnie gave me... I miss him so much.
I'm a hour late getting out of my hatch and getting fellow pedro town man raul and getting us both up to get tom up where he lives w/his lady caroline in silver lake. I have to get the ipod loaded w/all thirty parts of the new piece, my third opera (hence the tour name) and showed tom and raul the last four last night so I had to edit the recording of what we did in the prac pad. I had to pour down a little more bourbon last night to konk cuz of wack nerves but I am good spirits (!) - good state of mind - cuz I have good men w/me. in the middle of this tour we will record the "hyphenated-man" piece (that's its title now) at bass brother tony maimone's studio g in brooklyn, ny. oh yeah, peak will join us for the first five gigs, her way of getting to new orleans but also she is righteous people and a definite asset to myself, raul and tom - she is very happening and I am great fan of hers.
there's traff in downtown l.a. so I'm an hour late getting tom and peak but get them we do. we go east on I-10 towards arizona where tuscson. it's smaller than phoenix but it's older. I got us a garmin nuvi265t gps navigation system for pretty econo and I guess I trust in enough to only check up sometimes in the atlas to make sure things are cool. it's 501 miles from pedro to tucson and the drive is beautiful cuz I love the desert and the weather very mild. we do pass the place where d. boon was killed twentyfour years ago in arizona but I don't know exactly cuz I only looked at the pictures d. boon's pop showed and wouldn't take them - too freaked out... but I did accept the two guitars and in fact wrote this whole "hyphenated-man" third opera on one of them, the black telecaster. I don't play guitar very good but I wanted to work it this way whatever. tom said it was ok for him and so did raul - much respect to both from me. I think about d. boon, I think about ronnie - I think about my pop... three men in my life I have to learn to live w/out.
in phoenix there plug w/the traff but we got time - I spot a big four-wheel drive near the center divider stopped w/only three wheels - damn, the front starboard one is rolling down the freeway, slowly making lane changes but it does it and no one's hurt - thank god.
we proceed to tucson and get to plush a half hour early. whew, my first drive is nine hours but were safe. I'm excited to start this tour w/a good gig. whoa - who's here first to meet me? jason kourkounis, who's drumming again for john reis but this time their group is called the night marchers - damn if they ain't playing tonight too but at the club congress - shit, we should be playing together! big hugs for brother jason - I first met him when he was maybe the second drummer for the burning brides... by the way, speaking of that band - dimitri just told me him and mel just had a baby! omedeto! anyway - good to see jason but back to tour world now in the moment... the soundman here is dana and he give's us a good soundcheck. david is the helperman for gig boss charlie who's moved here from tempe - I worked w/him at nita's when he ran that pad - and he's got the first box of tour shirts that came in for me. we talk about joey and calexico and matt ward - much respect to those cats. well, the shirts are a trip... nanny drew them like always (always too is a picture of the man, my cat I had for fourteen years - ten years passed on now but he's always on my tour shirts) and has me, tom and raul as heironymous bosch-type amalgamation creatures, she did great job. we chow tacos at comidas chinganos and jefe martin did great job w/his crumbly cheese and everthing.
tucson bands opening, the monitors and gabowski are real nice cats. konk was needed by watt, this boat being on her first tour (2005 ford e350 econoline w/the last one going to raul) and making like a womb for me easy. this band has a tight set of tunes we can lay back on cuz it ain't time yet to bring on the opera - we're only prac'n it like the tour title says though we have been working hard on it so the last time we worked the set was last gig, friday in long beach but that went good and damn if it don't just come to us and w/the good tucson folks urging us on w/great spirit, the gig is very happening. monitors are kind of tiny but that's not what the folks who come see the show hear and they're digging on it and we're digging on them - oh, tom and raul are smoking, great team - I hug them both together at the same time off stage-port when we finish. great cherry gig for this tour. so many nice folks after wanna talk w/me and I sling forty shirts... very kind people, thank you. they ask me things like opinions on art, opinions on bass and stuff like rememberin' - neat to be doing what I started out doing they way I did it way back then. hey, miss eva's buddy's chris is here - so good to see him better cuz I herad he was sick... man, he has the straightest brims on a baseball hat ever - I remember in the days when I was a boy you'd get a baldspot slapped on your head for that - our fasion was to crease them heavy... humans are trippy species! so good to see brother chris!
someone goofed and parked way too close behind the boat by two of the gabowski bros helped me edge it out. we load up and follow brother matthew to the pad he just moved into in the east part of town. met brother matthew doing a spiel w/him for his fluke zine - he's is very VERY happening people, much respect to him. he's got two very friendly nekos too and I hear them chow (crunching that chow down!) as I konk in just socks and chonies, wrapped w/tiny blankie his wife flowed me on couch. very grateful watt this first night of tour.
Late start outta pedro on the first day of this five week tour. Waited for watt about forty five minutes or so more than expected. No prob at all though. Gave me a bit more time to hang with kevin and paloma before i bailed town. Seems these past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic trying to get ready for this tour, more with the prac/playing gigs than sock buying. Glad the time has come, because worry or not, there's nothing i can do but do it! Before leaving pedro, one more stop at Mike's pad to get the almost left behind stickers with the boat on em'. Also, we got to make another stop off the 101 to get Tom watson and peak at Tom's place in echo park. Peak will be along with us for five gigs, then heading out on her own to shot photographs at the new orleans jazz fest next week. This will be the second time we've traveled together, the first being for three gigs up and down the cali coast in august of last year. Glad she's with us, positive attitude, and a pleasure.
Drive to Tucson is about eight hours, and we get there right on time, one half hour before load in. On the way up i got word from Chris kholer that he'll be there. Very happy to hear that. He's a good friend from way back. He was Oakland, but recently relocated to tucson to start a band with Isaac who plays sings and plays the git with shark pants. Kick ass Tucson punk rock trio. They will be recording at my pad in may, but i'll have to miss that... we'll still be on tour. On that tip, that's another reason that the past couple weeks have been a bit hectic. In between everything else, what little free time i had i spent it helping the guys get the basement converted into a home studio. They did most the work, like framing and the dry wall, but what time i could give them i did. So for me lots of sanding and sweeping. They were very understanding about me not being there to put in full days, realizing the prep going into this tour, and that it wasn't a lazy thing. For that i want to say thanks to bradley, kevin, and trev. I did get a chance to put in some time my last day in town to help lay the carpet... so maybe a little redemption.
After sound check i hung with dickie and mike of ultra maroon/shark pants. Very cool folks. They came just to say hi. Won't be able to stay for the gig unfortunately, other gigs and other folks in town. Regardless, always a pleasure to see these guys, and I'm happy that a got to spend a little time with them, tucson wouldn't be the same if i didn't. Also had the the chance to eat some local carnage asada at comidas chingano's... proper food for fuckers!
For a first gig of the tour, and without doing the set list prac for weeks, i feel that the gig was well received. Personally i felt a bit rusted, and just had the gig jitters a bit, something i'll never get over. I can't speak for the other guys, but i thought they played their balls off... lots of energy from both those dudes. A bit of what watt would call a "chin stroke" was going on at first, but what can you expect people to do, beat up there buddies while you make the sound track. I'm just glad that folks were there to see us play. Should work on getting that stuff out of the head. Because after the gig when people share their thoughts about the show, it tends to be on the positive side, so it's just in my own mind. Probably not good to have any expectations of what the crowd should or shouldn't think anyhow. Better to just be there with tom and mike, and try to do what we do regardless of outside reaction.
Through Watt doing an interview with a zine by the name of fluke, we had the opportunity to stay with the guy who does the mag by the name of matthew thompson. Very positive guy way into music and punk as a real thing and not just fashioned out culture. Came to tucson from the little rock arkansas punk scene. Remember one time playing a gig on the water front there on my first tour while on summer vacation from high school, matthew remembered the gig. Check out his mag, some personal writhing stuff, interviews with friends about little rock scene and growing up together, mixed with some comics, and other funny writings. I think he's been doing it for years now. He's now a family man and still trucking on puttin' out his mag, very respectable. Not to much going on once we get back to the house. Meet his wife sarah and she's very sweet and offers me a little soft foam pad to put between me and the floor while i sleep. After a little conversation it's hit the sack time. Everyone is way tired from the day, and the sleep comes on pretty fast.
i awake with caroline and in a groggy state i make some coffee and try to make some final packing decisions. im not good at packing and i always leave for last, just to add some extra stress to the occasion. peak and her friend jason arrive and wait outside while i get myself together. time ticks by and it becomes clear that mike and raul are running late. after awhile i invite peak and jason to wait inside. our neighbor, bob is getting ready to make a trip to phoenix to hike with a friend, i give him my contact info in case he feels like making the extra hour and half trip to tucson to see our show later. in about an hour mike and raul show up and we cram into the van for our journey. a final goodbye to caroline and we head out.
the road is familiar to us, and it only takes a moment to get into tour mode, which means our language becomes coded and perception is accordingly morphed into a surreal state. time goes by more gently this way. leaving los angeles becomes a visual transformation of geography, concrete turns to soil and strip malls become sand and eventually rolling hills and cactus. when we get to the arizona border it feels like tour.
we make a few stops, and hit some traffic in phoenix, but it's fairly smooth all the way to tucson. plush is a club in the bohemian district in tucson. we arrive during happy hour and there's a jazz band playing some cool jams in the front part of the bar. im kind of restless and call caroline to keep connected. she has a lot going on right now and i feel a little bad not to be there to help with things, but it's also good to have time to focus on our own things too. so, we sound check and go through
the motions that will soon become reflex before heading over to the mexi-joint that was suggested to us for some good food. martin there sets us up with tacos and jamaica. im stuffed and walk back to the club to sleep on the couch in the little room they have for us. i have restless hallucinations in my tortured slumber. when i come to, i try to adjust my mind with a couple beers, but i feel strange while i get ready to play. it's a good turn out, the other groups were fun to watch, and once we start i get myself into focus. it goes pretty well.
we do the post show thing and load out. we follow matt from tucson to his place to get some sleep and that's the end of day one. i put on my eye patch and everything goes black.
4am Friday April 17, I was still yet to pack for my 3 week music filled photography super trip. Never enough time for anything in my world. All I could think to repeatedly say was that "I'm not doing this. I can't do this.". But a last minute canceling on Watt seems to not be an option. I did have a serious thought on skipping out on his tour because my stake is high this time. I practically put everything I got into making this New Orleans Jazz Fest photo gig happen correctly. (Unlike shooting Watt, which I can do half-ass'dly.) This meant that I had to spend all I got, mentally, time, and resources; getting fuck load of film, another camera body (because my main one is about to crap out), and as a last minute decision - and because of jumping on board with Watt's tour warranted it - buying a little video camera as an additional arsenal of my 2009 Fuck It : Necessary Trail-blazing Trial. It was a strange mix of luck that Watt happened to be heading out on his Missingmen tour with their 5th gig being in Baton Rouge the very day I need to get there. Bumming a (hell) ride with them would add 4th, 5th, and 6th bird in my one large stone. It's never streamlining with me. My plans and projects are like Russian nested eggs, one large one with another, then another... then another.. keep topping, piling it up.
For the past few years since I met Watt, I hardly turned down any chance to hop on board with any tours he (and also Nels, whom I met through Watt) would have me on. It started out as a commitment for a year long project of documenting him. 3rd year into this, I'm still into it. It's only seems to get more interesting watching him lining up, then executing one project, gig, recording, after another. I kept looking forward to his next thing. No longer for the pure purpose of photographing, now it's also more about the hang, infiltrating into his life and his world, reluctantly - yet thankfully learning about all kinds of unexpected things. This also mean my having to be conscious about "earning my keep" when on board, for whatever that entails, friendship, boat mate, photographer, runner, contradictor, etc.
This will be about the longest range I'll be on tour with Watt. I've done little ones with his Banyan to San Francisco, Hellride to Phoenix/San Diego, and most recent was last summer (2008) Warped Tour with this Missingmen up and down their California dates. Riding with Watt, or being around him in general, eventually adapted me to a set of lingo, conversation direction, and the 'get your shit together for the team' schedule discipline. Mike hates to think that he's controlling - as he always stresses that things only need to be done in such ways for maximum efficiencies. It makes sense given his staggering touring track record and also influence of his military pop. I can only strive to put that in my conscience every second of being on board.
8am was the call time for leaving Los Angeles. Getting to Tom's place, just a few miles from my house proved to be another challenge. I lucked out on the last second, saved by my friend Jason who apparently doesn't sleep, and was able to come over about 6am on a few hours notice. Day one of the road is gig number one, destination : Tucson, Arizona, 500 miles away in 10 hours.
Apparently I "squander opportunities".... Riding on a co-pilot seat without the intention of co-piloting maybe my mistake here. My passive style should secure me a spot in the back seat, but I was denied that by Raul and Tom right at the pick up. What now I have to be is his impossible second head on the photo snapping duties of who the fuck knows. Rocks, signs, fire remnants, birds, things on the side of the road - I'm trying to remain strong here and refuse to have my photo-ego altered by this. All I can imagine doing with Mike's photos and Mike's directed photos are to making murals in a gigantic wall and call it "welcome to Watt's head".
As expected, the ride only stops for gas, 'chow'.. and 'purge'. Watt bought and installed the new navigation device and he chose for it to speak with an elf noise to .... sound the most like me, he said. That thing was ... a little ridiculous ... but it was designed to keep the driver amused (and apparently saved me from the atlas duty I hardly qualify for). First day of tour alway seems the longest. I can only imagine what the rest of their 6 week tour will be like, without me to witness. I'm sure he will continue to point things out continuously as he drives, things that seem cool/trippy, signs that are funny, things he's seen before, local histories he knows about, or something from his personal experiences. Never a dull moment. We finally arrived to Tucson around 6pm. Plush was the tour initiation venue. They had a jazz quintet playing in the lobby for their happy hour. That was sweet. Regretfully I didn't get to hear so much of them while fussing about trying to figure out where I should be at any given time.
One of the things I wanted to try to do on this trip was to continue to meet (learn about, and consequently photograph) Couchsurfers (see couchsurfing.com) in each town Missingmen are playing their gig. I put the words out for a low key hang before show. I didn't have any way to know for sure who will be showing up, if any. Nicholas, a sort of government employee showed up first and ended up hanging out the longest. Then Mike, the high school teacher - who later went to make an appearance to the prom happening concurrently, but never made it back for the show. He was actually the only Couchsurfer that wanted to see and support Watt. Then came Andrew, who came looking for me with an interest in mixed martial arts, but didn't realize that I do not live in Tucson. He showed up in time for the show but got a bit distraughted by the loudness. I supposed not everyone can know what they will in for, when taking a chance to see something new. It makes me realize what strange things I'm used to with. How I often forget what may seem crazy to most other people. The show is self was quite well attended with the right room, good sound, and good crowd. The opening bands were great and were quite nice bunch of people.
Addition to Couchsurfers, I also met a few other strangers. After about an hour nap before their 1130pm show, I walked back into the now crowded bar. I scanned the room looking for my Couchsurfers, and general Tucson faces. I paused at a smiliest face sitting where the jazz drummer had a set up earlier during the happy hour. I thought it was someone I knew. I sat and chatted to see what the story was. It didn't take me that long to get the overall story of Rob, who tagged along for the night with his roommate Nick - Watt's fan since 6th grade. The 27 year olds drove down from Scottsdale for the show. Rob, an 8th grade teacher originally from Michigan was visibly drunk. That didn't stop me from trying to see how far I can test conversations into various depth. His friend Nick was running amok on enthusiasm high gear, checked in once in awhile. By the time the show ended, Nick was lit, mostly from drinking but more from being crazed out about have "shaken hand with Watt". I made a point to get a snap of him with Watt before they leave. It's weird how I've taken Watt for granted, and never will understand fully how he may have touched and influenced so many minds. I supposed coming out with him on a tour like this helps give me the perspective of how another life like his made is is making a difference.
Worthy of note : we went to this Mexican restaurant Comida Chiagano and had the most excellent Mexican food ever. Chicken Mole Quesadilla I ordered was insane. I don't think that's a very common dish, is it? If it's not, I should start suggesting it that they should serve it everywhere.
Only day one, after it's said and done, I'm starting to feel it's problematic to mix anything random like CouchSurfing people to a specific world like small music circles, especially in the set up of a gig/concert situation. That's ok, I think - I'm learning that there are a lot of curious things that I do that are not that bad, like crashing different circles of peoples and see what happens. After all, I'm a living conflict and contradictions, and my job is to infuse that into the world.
At the end of the night, we headed 30 miles eastward to stay at Brother Matthew's house. I got to stay in their 3 year old daughter's room. It took about 10 minute after arriving to shut the light and everyone was pretty much out. It was 230am.
saturday, april 18, 2009 - albuquerque, nm
popped w/the sun at brother matthew's and he's soon getting some chow on as I hose off in his tub. his ma's here as well as his wife and little girl emma who is three years old but way intense w/awareness - much respect to her and likewise to mom and pop. I brought hashi I got from eiko-san, fancy ones w/a case even and chow the scrambled eggs and bacon w/them - then wash them like she told me to before I put them back in their case... oh I chowed something new for me w/them too - maple syrup yogurt... ain't that a trip? it was ok - I ain't much on sugar and sweet but it was ok. I am much obliged and grateful to brother matthew and his family for all the kindness and express as we shove off. this navigator gps machine making the cul-du-sac escape route an easy go to the I-10 freeway and eastward hither we go.
peak is the navigator saddle but that is superfulous cuz of the machine so she is off the hook. I've always leaned heavy on my navigators and burdened w/much responsibility but peak has no weight to bear in this regard so it's your call to decide how hard her tour life w/us really is. she does say it is her first time driving through these parts so I'm glad to hear that I can supply something unique for her. tom and raul snore silently as we roll, going different than I usually to "berkie" (phoenetic spelling for slang I've heard used for albuquerque cuz I am ignorant of how folks there actually spell this slang) - we arrive via I-25 from the south instead of west from I-40... this means we get to go through not only a town called truth or consequences but two smaller ones on the little non-interstate bit that cuts the corner between I-10 and I-25 called nutt and hatch. tour is a wonderful thing to learn shit.
hell, we make it in time - fifteen minutes in time for me to hit up skip maisel's and get a kachina like I always try to do when I'm coming through this town. I get a kachina called "left hand" and they're called that cuz all their gear is reversed. I also get a coyote and a owl one but they're not for me - I tell you later cuz I want them to get these w/out knowing they're coming, you know? I then rejoin the team and we find a pad to cut keys for the boat cuz like a dumbfuck, I forgot to take care of that before tour started. having your people who ride and live w/you in the boat w/out keys for that boat is heinous. I correct that and then we return (skip maisel's is only a block and a half from our gig at the launch pad on historical central ave - part of the old route 66) to do soundcheck. bossman joe helps us load out - it's tom's idea to do it from the front and put the boat there for the night instead of that back. it's ok. soundman jason soundchecks us and then I shovel a gyro right after from lindy's which ain't too far. then I go back to the boat to konk. oh, brother leonard came by to visit w/a fIREHOSE "engagin' the milker" tour t-shirt on - I go yammer much about how that started w/the earthquake in watsonville the first day of that tour but I won't cuz I just did w/tom and rual here.
there's two bands playing w/us - both from new mexico: venus bogardus hail from santa fe w/some of them via england and catfish hunter from this town here but I miss them cuz I was konked but it was a trippy konk in ways cuz this central avenue had cruisers blasting huge bass as they moved very slowly 'till I guess the police blocked off the street w/barricades. our turn, I got the same shirt on and I'm thinking of doing this tour but only wearing that blue flannel for the gig and then wearing the ronnie jacket w/out a shirt under when I ain't playing - what do you think? I'll wash that shirt in the flannel in the sink when possible though it gig two in it now - hey, it's for good luck. it is kind of strange sound for our gig here w/this stage but I dug the gig and even w/some clams, I thought it was happening and the berkie folks a great crowd to play for. the mic stand was stripped at the bass and by the latter part of the set, was doing major timbers so that was a little bit of challenge and I had to let go of fretting the little bass some to handhold "the stick" as raymond pettibon calls it. kind of funny. funny too was folks calling for "contemplating the engine room" as an encored cuz not only was that eleven years ago when I last played it but it's kind of long, like fifty mintues. I think I would like folks to wait for this third opera even though I'm proud of that first one. my guys did good and made me very happy and proud to get to serve w/them. the folks after talk w/me while I sling and I get to sign a bass and talk w/a father and son team from taos - hopefully one day I can play there (they're working on that) cuz I never and in my mind, really wanna. second gig of tour is very happneing for me!
my old friend nicole is here and offers a konk pad but that gets screwed up by miscommunication - even her old buddy laura is challenged by the sitch so this nice cat named jeff tells me he's house sitting a pad not too far away and it's safe for the boat so we go for that (fuck, the boat's gotta be safe - it's the center of our touring universe!). this pad's in a historic district by the railyard and in the living room is a little trip where chicks have been born and are peeping. I have a cigarette - only one today. tom konk's before me... raul konks before me... peak crawled up to the chamber tom abandoned so I don't know when she konked but after talking a little w/mister shroomin' jeff (man, he is cool people and though younger - knows all about joe baiza, jack brewer and the old days music - he also had a buddy over earlier who knew about "club wreck "which was a pad the minutemen played in this town in 1984 - blew my mind!), I konk too - this time covered w/my konk sack but not having to bundle in it cuz again the weather was righteous and calm... very grateful for everything watt is out.
i awake to the smell of bacon, one of the best things while on tour. i almost never make bacon at home, but i love the kindness and hospitality from our hosts, and that smell is something that triggers those senses. their little girl, emma is extremely cute and her laugh makes me laugh. we dont stay too long and shortly after eating we crawl back into the van for the next adventure.
our trip through arizona and into new mexico brings me nostalgic feelings from my past travels with my family, i always love that air. we pass small towns and stop for some chili in a tiny spot where a fellow named gillie takes our picture. Gilly's Chili's! we continue to albuquerque and arrive before the launch pad is open but we find things to do till we load in. after sound check i get a call from my relative, ernie watson, he's a local and it's great to hear his voice but i rarely get to meet up with him. still it makes me feel welcome to have greetings from him. maybe next time.
the night is kind of a blur for me, im still not adjusted to the tour and have fatigue. the set goes well though and we spend alot of post show time trying to sort out our destination for sleeping. it changes a couple times and we finally head over to the house of the ex of a dude named jeff. i choose not to sleep up a spiral staircase in a small sleeping chamber, i think i was scared by the claustrophobic nature of it. instead i sleep on the wood floor in the front room. a very hard wood floor. still, sleep comes quickly.
Soon as the eyes opened i was remembering the odd animal chomping sounds i heard in the wall as i tried to crash. Fuck it's early, maybe four hours sleep, so that makes a total of eight in two plus days. When it's time to rise, it's time. Don't want to start fucking up the tour already. No big hurry though, and there's time to hang with matt and figure out who we have in common over some strong coffee. He's got a little girl named emma, and while we're out back in the yard, she comes up munching on a banana and informs me that she's a monkey, cuz she's got banana in her belly, very cute kid.
Matt, along with his equally as nice mom and wife make us our first home cooked tour breakfast. Home-made cinnamon rolls, some bacon and eggs with toast, and trippy maple yogurt on the side. Thanks very much Thompsons. Now buerque bound, sound check at the launch pad at 6:30 p.m.
Last night in tucson, Tom had an idea for van prac. You see, a week and a half before we left, we made some recordings in the prac pad of all the new tunes that we''ve been working on, thirty to be exact. So His idea is to listen to them first thing in the boat to start beating it into our brains... forms and titles. Like we'll have early morning baby brain, soft and able to quickly absorb new things. So first thing in the boat what do we do, we listen to that shit like about seven times in a row. Going thru it pop quiz style with the titles. Also grunting at all the changes we know, and criticizing all the sloppy ass/poor musicianship. What does Tom do, he sleeps thru most of it. Honestly though, capital idea on his part. It did help me with putting names to tunes. Once we could take it no longer, watt put on a good mix. Roky, wire, taj mahal, and some other jams. Two stops on this drive, a semi depressing stop in a small town called bowie, and another at a small chile stand run by a dude named Gilly... gilly's chile. Very beautiful Arizona/new mexico scenery, and while we roll past, i start on a book found on the floor of the boat. And the hippos were boiled in their tanks, a split authored book by burroughs and kerouac.
Everytime i've been to albuquerque with watt, he gets very excited about the kachina doll store. This time is no exception, and I'm psyched for him that we make it fifteen minutes before closing time. I stayed with the boat to change stentch cloths, and went in after to check out some of the dolls. Suck neat works. Some are so big, maybe four feet tall, all carved out of one piece. I was into the creepy looking striped guys with the watermelon on the blade. Also, we gotta get extra keys. it's day two, and I'm already tired of having to ask for the key, and I'm sure watt tires of hearing it from the three of us one after the other. While watt and Tom get the keys made, i hang back to clean the boat a bit. Doing this, you'll never know what you'll find. This time i come across a stack of paper backs that have dried piss all over em'. Score right... wrong, smells like a hundred pairs of train hobo pants, and the stench is stuck all over my hand. Maybe karma for pissing in peaks coffee cup and then leaving it in front of her to ponder the during the drive. Sorry peak.
Show tonight was tough for me. I just did not feel sharp at all, maybe something to do with taking a nap right before the gig. I needed it, but woke up feeling kinda out of it. Not something i should do again, or at least not right before we gotta go on. Was not into the sound either, or lack of it. It just sounded very dead to me. Not one for the books. I felt i let the guys down, but they were cool about it, and reassured me it that i wasn't totally useless. That made me feel a bit better about the whole deal. Stayed close to club with a gig goer named jeff. Tripped out dude, literally.
I jumped at the first sound of movement. It was a little after 6am. Watt wants everyone up and ready to go... ish. It was fewer than 400 miles to Albuquerque, considerably shorter drive than yesterday. This time we hung out with Brother Matthew's family, meeting his wife, mother, and daughter Emma. There were 2 super friendly cats there. Emma was adorably sweet and was taken to play with Raul mostly. They made us beautiful breakfast. I was amused to watch Watt eat scrambled eggs with chop sticks. Emma followed suits with hers training pair. After much expression of gratitudes, we headed back on the road by 830am.
It's April 18, the drive itself was just hot enough to feel the burn. I glanced at the weather forecast before I left. It suggested that there won't be any rain in this trip. That's good. I only became minding of rain recently in my life, as photography became most prominence in my living. Usually I'd rather like the rain. It's freeing and refreshing. For now, I'll gladly take the sun and the heat.
I don't know if it's common in this time of year, but it seems to be a lot of motorcycles on the road. Maybe it's just me paying more attention to them. I do wish to do that trip on one sometimes soon. On this boat, since yesterday, I've been listening in to a rough song set Watt will be recording with Tom and Raul once they get to New York. I wish I was going over there but the timing didn't work out.
On personal part of this, I'm getting quite nervous about this Jazz Fest. Nels told me I'm 'over qualified' for it - which should put me a little bit at ease with my own pressure to perform. I get a little bugged with my incapability of delivering 'simple images' needed for simple usages. With that, I was still stewing over a story Ben shared regarding this type of feelings he noticed in artists. It's not so uncommon when art inclined people have reservation on creating when they are paid to do it. This has been my hang up for so long that I thought it was just the way I am, except that, at this pace, I'm heading for a complete self destruct, turning myself into living ashes from my own low grade inferno.
We arrived to Albuquerque around 5pm. The venue was Launchpad on Central in downtown. Watt hurried into town to make it in time before this Native American craft store Skip Maisel closes. He picked up a few more of those dolls he collects. Once he pointed out the jewelry part of the store, I got glued to find something I wanted. That proved to be a mild torture once finding out these things are quite expensive. I picked out some tiny earrings and had to move on with the evening.
Soundcheck was 630pm. I jacked the usage of Watt's computer during this time. It's now become more apparent that I need to have a computer of my own. More important than emailing shit, it would have been helpful to me to continue to be able to do a part of my work while I'm away from home. That way I won't get so life or death stressed the fuck out when I have to be somewhere else for whatever reasons. That stress also makes me an occasional ass, altering my otherwise a nice mooded person.
Dinner this evening was sushi with Raul and Tom. It was nothing special. Afterward, I took a walk up and then down Central trying to focus on my other photo projects. I walked by an art opening, showing 2 womens' work of photography. I noticed they did all on film, so I started asking questions about why. But when I whipped out the video camera, I soon found that I just ended that conversation. So I continued to walk back to the Launchpad. The first band originally from England soon started. I watched for a few songs, then went to take a nap. It was interesting.... I realized I was really able to dig the music more when I'm half way asleep. Hours later with naps here and there, band bodies scattered in different places. Show started at 1130 and lasted an hour. Watt had some issue with his mic stand but the audience still adored his every move. I finally experience Watt's first announcement looking for a "pad to crash for the night". To my intriguing surprise there were many offers afterward. We settled with a guy on the basis that he had a house, as opposed to a tiny apartment, and better yet, it was close enough that he walked to the show. Once the guy hopped in the van, he quickly revealed that he was on mushroom. That was interesting. What more interesting that once got to the house, he started a fire pit in the back yard , probably not realizing that we were all exhausted, not looking to party it up. I heard later that everyone just went to bed pretty soon after that with the fire still going. I climbed up the small'ish spiral stair case to the attic where it could seem to be creepy. Children play there, I was told. There was a short tail calico cat hanging out needing attention. The living room where band guys took up space, they shared with a case of little chicks chirping in the corner covered by blanket. The crash was a quick. The house was 'interesting'.
monday, april 20, 2009 - dallas, tx
sunday was no gig which is in my mind terrible for a watt tour... lots about this tour I didn't think through so much - ronnie died in january and I just thought - go tour, go play and don't go insane w/sad thoughts drowning me and making me crazy. if I would've thought good and smart, I would've contacted my buddy skitz in amarillo and got a gig happening there - even a gig at a pad in the backyard or something. fucking baka watt.
anyway, pop w/the sun at that pad brother jeff let us konk in w/out even hosing off, roust my folks and get to the boat. I don't wanna bother jeff - he's konked behind a closed hatch... I do visit a tiny time w/three white ducks in the back - or are they geese? nanny would know... she runs a little children's zoo back home in pedro. there's a trippy thing I see as I'm about to leave right by the hatch: a candle holder w/a huge magnifying glass that can be positioned to maybe make an intense light? I wonder about it... I put a thank you note to jeff on the hatch where he konked.
east on I-40, beautiful weather - wow... we see hot air balloons going up - maybe cuz it's early sunday monring? but for sure it's kind of what you've seen of some 'burque skyline w/those babies ascending. what a great bye from the town, thank you! we get gas in santa rosa and I think of richard "fuckin'" bonney cuz that's where his people are from. he's an old pedro buddy (frist met him when he was a teenager and I was scrubbing pots and pans at the hospital, the s.p.p.h. in those days - now little company of mary) but has lived in s.f. for a couple of years... hey, his cousin tony was supposed to be at the gig last night - wonder if he was? I really dig cousin tony. anyway, east ward we go and at tucumcari I get my first tuna subway sandwich of the tour - mustard, pickles, jalapenos, onions, olives and salt/pepper plus potato chips stuffed in for texture. we lose and hour cuz of central time line - hey, we lost an hour for moutain time so now we're two hours later than back in pedro. now, we are filling the boat w/sounds from the ipod but they ain't from other bands - it's raw prac versions of the third opera and all thirty parts of the big piece loop and loop - "hypenated-man" is the title and each part is a different type of hyphenated man and like I've already said, I wrote not one of them on bass - all on that balck d. boon tele. anyway, we loop the whole piece w/its parts many many times but that's ok cuz everyone's into it... maybe even peak? it's ok whatever she thinks, of course.
just outside of amarillo we stop at the "cadillac ranch" which is a first for me after many times going past. they've been painted up so thick I break off a hunk and after we hoof back after touching these old buried caddies and taking many pictures, have raul attach velcro to the back and now it's on the dash of the boat. we go continue on us-287 just east of town, cutting the corner on the way down to dallas but not getting there - why do 'pert-near six hundred miles when we don't have to? we pull off at a panhandle town called childress and stay where else but the childress inn, I smell curry of course when I go to the desk and a lady gives me a fortyfive dollar room right next to where two guys are practicing roping on a tiny semi-facsimile of a little steer - I mean it's for real... some "wide load" lead and trail vehicles show up too - this is a workingman's 'tel and most everyone's hanging out and cooking/drinking, very happening - nice atmosphere. I put up the first diaries - I chimp my outloud so my guys can hear and be inspired... I'm gonna try to be as up-to-date as poss, k? I get a sack of tiny fried chicken wings across the highway which is ok, it's enough to go w/the tecate. I konk on the deck around ten bells. hey, zero cigarettes for watt today.
monday and I'm popping w/the sun even w/the curtains drawn - how does that happen? even two time zones away! I do think I popped for a moment sometime in the rearly hours to tell peak to get konked and quit the 'puter gazing cuz what strength will she have w/no konk? I think I said something like that and that crumpled to the deck for more konk... hopefully it didn't sound too bossy... anyway, we're on the road by seven and in the town of quanah ("home of puha" a billboard reads - what?! I find out later it's about comanche power, quanah parker was the last major chief), tuna subway again - yeah! I go to get coff after gassing the boat but the urn runs out... they cat who got the last runs up later as I'm about to pull out and says he recognizes me - I mean this is a small town so maybe he was just passing through as well! nice man, put a sticker immediately on his car, whoa! says he'll see me in denver - thank you! a couple more rounds of the third opera and then I play some wipers which trips me out cuz tom is kind of unfamiliar w/them - raul knows some. we rock out to wipers!
we get into dallas at one pm and I roll the boat to dealy plaza so peak and raul can see the place where the jfk assasination happened. it's such a media image for u.s. people, you know? maybe another understanding w/the physical experience? I don't know but I try to take my bands here when I'm working the town. there's a man who says he was fifteen when it happened and was there, an eye-witness so I listen to him telling folks stuff - showing where he believes there were two shooters behind the fence behind the grassy knoll besides the sixth floor of the depository building and the roof of another one (lee harvey oswald was on the sixth floor) and his spiel is most compelling. the place here always puts weird emotions in me, untangible ones, trippy ones...
it's the first time in a long while I ain't playing the deep ellum part of dallas. rather, I'm at the granada in the greenville part. this is a great old theatre, wow. mike the boss is a great cat too, was in a band called killbilly in the older days and we talk some about those days, what an honor to work for him. I do a radio phoner w/a nice man named robert talking about how I do things econo. people like to talk about the older days but sometimes it ain't always just that alone... for example, I got flowed this youtube trip where a younger bass player is doing a take on an old minutemen song and I thought that was wild - bass connecting between the years, between the generations even... amazing! time is maybe only a thing to keep everything from happening at once and is just circumstance, I think.
whoa, I get an email from krisitn kumamoto saying she's gonna have a baby - wow! that is righteous news... and it's iggy's sixtysecond b-day today so I call him on the leash and leave good wishes greeting... I gotta play great for both of them (or all three?) tonight.
we do soundcheck and then I chow chicken w/rosemary and stir-cooked veggies made by a nice cat named jeremy who we met when we first got there and learned us about the shop across the street called condom sense, advising tom about glass marital aid that would make for easier cleaning I guess vis a vis rubber or something? I ain't hip too much to this stuff. I got more shirts - good cuz only five left! this time I'm doing all the sizes which I ain't done I don't think ever maybe or if so, maybe once or twice. seems people like choice... even though it's tough for watt who's probably a bett bassman than a shirt slinger. I chimp more diary... a cat named paul shows me this happening bass he built, a thirtytwo inch (in between my little one and a fender p) scale, I play some on it before handing it back and am very impressed - wow I hope he works it good (he's a player too).
there's two openers and both of them are from austin - everyone very VERY cool people. one band's called golden boys and one's called lions and they're great spieling w/and in fact, I get so caught up in it that I don't konk before the gig... jeremy was the man who showed us where the back hatch was and turns out he's the cook and makes up some great chicken, rice and fried vegetables - he used rosemary from a bush across the street to season the chicken, good and econo! I like putting rosemary when I cook chicken too, along w/olive olil (I cook 'pert-near everything w/olive oil!). I tell the golden boys about the song pat smear and darby crash wrote called "golden boys" - I gotta get that song to them! they've got a great sound. lions are next and I'm digging them too - wow, the bassman tells me he's been playing only six months! kind of like the old days (when I was younger) where guitarists switched to bass cuz of more opportunities! what a good thing to share the stage w/all these brothers... I'm lit for playing up a storm, thank you all!
now look, it's monday in dallas and a character-builder w/the kind of room we gotta work but that ain't any excuse for not going off and settling for a half-ass, especially after those cats from austin going off so I don't even have to tell my guys - tom says to keep in close and raul puts the fist in the air and we know what we gotta do - work the room! we charge hard and it's tough w/acoustics from another era (maybe this beautiful theatre was built in the forties, big band stuff) and it real hard to put a focus on the spiel but soundman kevin and monitorman daniel do what they can - all these granada people are so fucking happening and kind to us plus the gig-goers are lit and flesh out cave-parts of the sitch w/beaucoup spirit, you know? I'm so proud of them, proud of my men - proud of the big team effort of everyone here to make a fucking gig happen - yatta!!! the gig is tough, yeah, but so... it's so worth it to put out like that for what you think is important: all the cats there w/you - that's what I think. we get an encore - I sling much shirts, best night so far this tour... see old buddy cary jackson - "hey, brother!" - so good to see him. all the nice people... truly. lots of good vibe, thank you, people - thank you, good people! I see paul and let him check out the dan bass, he trips on how light it is!
load up the gear and a scotsman talks w/me, wants to make an art piece for me of the man, the cat I had for fourteen years - the one nanny always draws on the tour shirt. what a very very nice man - I tell him yes, what an honor. another jeremy, not the cook one but a guitar playing one offers us a pad to konk at so after many hugs, byes and thanks to everyone, we follow him to his pad. him and his wife melissa talks w/me about all kinds of things that whiskey can get me going on - my first whiskey of the tour - they sure are nice and interesting people. I think it's three bells when I konk near tom. man, what a good night for playing your brains out.
up and out at the crack of dawn, or at least that's what it feels like. my body is aching and my neck is sore. i forgot the heating pad things that caroline got for me, now would be the time for one. anyhow, we just get out of town and on our way towards dallas, but we have the night off so we'll just get as close as we can and stop for the night.
we stop at the cadillac ranch and add our markings to the sculptures. it's so nice that others leave some paint in the cans for us to use. the graffiti is promoted since it helps to preserve the structures for future generations. we keep going at a rather modest pace, since we have no reason to hurry. i correspond with caroline and send texts to steve and anna at the gallery back home, though my consciousness is fluctuating and in a moment of decision i suggest we stop in childress texas for the night. there's walmart across the street so we find refuge in their beer selection and frozen food section. it's a strange transition from dusk to night and in a cloudy minded state i fade out and drift away. i think raul puts my computer away since he has to sleep in the bed with me. this is something we are totally comfortable with by the way. mike has a computer chat with eiko in japan and i put my eye patch on again. there's alot more to the day than what i write but i guess you might get that if you read mike and rauls diaries.
i have some trouble wanting to get out of bed, it's around 8 and i'm still on california time, so that means 6. i think i'm still having some fatigue from the routine of getting out of town. one good thing though is that caroline reminds me that she put those heat pads in the front pocket of my bag. i will get into those later. i just pack it up and crawl into the van like a little animal, a dog i suppose, and try to find some peaceful space.
our drive to dallas is started off by listening to the new missingmen songs, and trying to put the titles to the tunes. i have difficulty staying awake, and the weak coffee we pick up in quana tx. doesn't do a thing to help. actually it makes me even more sleepy. the trip, however, is kind of interesting because we cut across the texas farmlands on a smaller state road, that reveals certain parts of the area that have a dreamlike quality (to me, anyway) and the mood in the air feels nostalgic for some reason. maybe from my travels with my family through new mexico and colorado, visiting my dads side of the family. (ironically, my mom's side has that connection too in the recent past). in any case, i think i nodded in and out of wake-ness during the whole trip.
dallas is a sprawling town. we stop to witness the kennedy assassination spot, i'm always amazed when i see how small the area is where the motorcade made that turn. we burn some time there talking about the event and finally head over to the greenville part of town where the granada theater is. we arrive early and i walk over to gloria's mexican restaurant to have some taco's and a negra modelo, and slowly walk back to the theater to lie down on the blacktop parking lot to rest and wait for the theater to open up.
soon the guys from the granada come and help us get inside. they have a very comfortable set up for us, and spend some time in our room catching up on emails and diary entries. the room out front is large and we all feel the fear of a cave for us on a monday night. it's usually one off the hardest nights to get people to come out to gigs, but thats okay, we learn something at every gig and we always play hard no matter what the gig situation is. in any case, the food and accommodations are very nice to have.
(the show goes well)
afterwards we follow jeremy to his home to get some sleep. i have some difficulty closing out the conversations between jeremy and mike and the bourbon. melissa, jeremy's wife, is very sweet and doesn't seem to mind our intrusion into their quiet home. i think the ear plugs help me to finally turn off.
We bailed Jeff's pad shortly after we woke. I was roasting, so i was up pretty quick. The night before, i vaguely remember jeff asking if we were cold and wanted the heater on. I politely declined, not being cold at all. Maybe he just thought i was trying not to be needy or something, he blasted it anyway. Turned this old style floor heater i was sleeping next to in to a total waffle iron. So much heat was comin out, i thought it might melt the bag i was in. Also hard wood floors, very good for the hips when you keep your belt on and all the shit is still floating around your pockets. Woke up bruised, very short of bloodied and bashed.
Day off today, but a long drive ahead. We rolled till around six or so, and got a room in childress tx. Beside the dudes doing lasso tricks on the fake bull in the parking lot, and some steak grilling going on...not much of a happening town. Plus it's sunday, so it's all shut down except the super sized mega store across the road from our place. Come to think of it, we were probably where it's at. Did not utilize the the free local calls though.
Dinner tonight comes from the mega mart. I promised my girl that i'd try to eat as healthy as i could this tour, so i got a ready made salad, a turk sami, and a sixer of shiner boch to wash it down. Two out of three ain't bad. I know beer is all full of bad shit, but with twelve hours stuck in a room in the middle of tejas, i think it's in order. Called pedro to say hi to Paloma. She was at the Wanda Jackson gig, and psyched on the new tattoo she just got. I felt really guilty for being a smart ass about her tattoo when i found out it was for someone close to her now gone. I apologized my ass off, and she wasn't sore., what a sweetheart. She was a little lonely though, and that makes me sad... don't want to think about her like that. Talked with Eiko for a bit too, very good friend of the bands from tokyo. I first met her when she came along on some of our europe gigs a couple years back. The third call was from bob stires via watt. Bob asked me if i was hittin' hard, told him i was tryin', but that i could try harder. He gave me some advice. Maybe don't try too hard, because you'll lose focus. In his words" it'd be like pete rose when he runs to first on a walk" In other words, totally useless. I like man pill, funny dude.
Shit, almost forget to mention trippy stops along the way. First being the most beat up town i've ever seen, quervo new mexico. Just a couple people more than a ghost town. Also made a stop at the cadillac ranch outside of amirillo. Ten old caddy's buried in the dirt years ago. Total old style roadside attraction. Visitors are encouraged to paint on the cars. They've been painted so much over the years, the cars are lookin psychedelic, and have a coat of paint about an inch think. We scraped of a piece for the boat.
Had a weird sleep. Dreams about cat sized bugs attacking my hands with fierce grips. Winged things with nasty claws gripping me. In another one i can remember, i was being mean to some house mate in-particular. In reality world, i got word back that one of the dudes at home is already fuckin' up while a couple of us are out of town. You know flies and ants all over unwashed dishes, toilet clogged with sick shit...fun stuff. Not what you wanna hear about when you call home to make sure the cat's are fed. I basically asked him to shape up or move out. This is not my first reaction, it's something that been awhile coming. I've tried in more positive ways in the past. I really hated to have to do it, but i don't like to think of the house abused like that while i'm gone. It's just adds to stress of tour, not needed. Plus it's someone we did a favor when they were in a bad spot. I'm starting to feel a little used by the whole sitch. So that maybe prompted those dreams. Not sure where the giant bugs fit in though. Should pick up one of those books that can supposedly interpret dreams.
Gig is in Dallas tonight, not too far from childress. I think we did it in about five hours cruising. More of the opera song learning for the lot of us in the boat. I'm still a bit overwhelmed about recording this piece, pressure from myself to make the guys happy. Promise i'll share more of those thoughts as i work em' out in the head o.k. Anyhow. More reading of the hippos during the in-betweens. Cool book, based on the murder of a mutual friend by another friend of kuroacs and burroughs way before they became popular for writing. I think they may have even had Will B. in the clink for a minute. It's during the second world war, and the two buddies are trying hard to get merchant jobs so they can ship out of town for a month... kinda like tour. Except They're are sorta sick of it all, and want to go to France and drink their guts rotten. Lots of the Wipers too. One of the first portland punk bands. Watt has the new outtkes box set, and i hear some stuff i've never heard before. Greg sage ran the show, played guitar and sang. I think maybe started to do all the recording too. From this batch of songs, you can tell. As the years go on, the guitar starts to over power the rest of the players. I like the early stuff the best. Sage rule number one of a wipers tour... no laughing in the van. Sounds like a pretty heavy dude.
Get to Dallas about four. After sound check and a great chicken dinner made by the club chef jeremy, i hoof it so i can maybe find a card reader for the camera mem card... No luck, but a had a good walk around the hood. After time spent in the van, it's sometimes good to give the other guys a break from you for a minute. I'm a firm believer in other peoples personal space.... everybody needs it no matter how well you get along. Also it's a good time to check in on pedro with a call home. It's hotter at home than Texas... damn. Mentioned roomate was found cleaning the house obsessively, but for me, too little to late. I just feel that the house has not been good for me in the past half year. I can live with people if they're courteous. But in this sitch now i worry month to month, and i can't stand it. So not cool, but also i'm to stubborn move. I contemplated it for awhile, but it's a place i can't give up. Three story houses from the eighteen hundreds are hard to come by in pedro. Plus Kevin and i work downstairs printing shirts, and now we just got the studio going. Not the right time! So sorry for getting off the subject of this tour i'm in right now, but it's been eatin' at me.
Gig was good for us tonight. All the crew helpin' out were great too, and treated us with a ton of respect. They just had a run of trouble at a few diffrent gigs. Baby bands canceling at the last minute, and just general crap attitudes. Glad we can show em' not everyone is on that trip. Way into the way the guys played tonight. Besides great playing, lots of focus on one another, and that's helps me out to not get stuck in my own world. Sometimes they got in so close, my left elbow would be hittin Tom, and the stick in my right hand would smack the Head stock on the bass. We did a good gig, and after that new mexico bummer, i was relieved. On that note though, i still sucked ass on johnny jewel. wheww!
There was not much of a hang back this morning. Raul was sent to climb up the staircase to come get me. We were out the door within 15-20 min, hitting the road at about 730am. We had to make way toward Dallas, about 600 miles away. Being a day off, one of only 2 in their entire tour, it was a less pressure drive. The plan was to stop somewhere and rest for the night before continuing the drive in the morning. Highlight had to be, first crossing New Mexico/Texas state line. There was much to say about Texas, almost like arriving to a different country. Watt told me about the giant Christian cross on coming up, but we missed it from having to turn off on a different highway. Texas is the state of mega sizes. I couldn't help it but found it funny to hear the Texas accent. I will never want to get used to going into a place that have unique ways of speaking. I remember being in Brooklyn for the first time last year and hear that Brooklyn actual accent outside of mocking. I was told by my Welsh friend that I have an L.A. accent, and recently tho, was told be an LA person that I have a British accent. I'm all over the place in every way.
8-9 hours later, we stopped at Childress, Texas - population 2000 something. It was practically a glorified truck stop with one gigantic Walmart 24 hour superstore. We stayed at a motel across the street so we ended up with several store run for beer and dinner. I don't know when was the last time I'd been in a Walmart. It was not a good feeling to be in there. Things were cheap and plentiful, but I don't know how to feel about the people working and shopping there. It's just what it is.
It seemed like a much needed break. Watt got a chance to get caught up with internet related work, plus his Japanese / English lessons he has going with Eiko via Skype. Raul got some time to get his tour diary going while Tom go caught up on sleep. I, on the other hand, got to discover my own massive fuck up, a looming catastrophe, in my photographic mis-planning for the JazzFest happening in a matter of days from now. This sent me off into a different state of near implosion, consequently ruined the idea of doing a radio show on this one chance we could do it. Chucks.
I stayed up until 4 am trying to straighten my situation by throwing more money at it and hawking on Watt's computer to do so. Tomorrow is Monday, we will head to Dallas. I should sort it out so I can put my head back into the right space and come back to the tour. I'm looking forward to see an old friends and meet some more new Couchsurfing friends in Dallas.
Only a few hundred miles to Dallas, considerably shorter drive in comparison. By 9, we were leaving Childress town behind - forever. I woke up super antsy in a bad need of exercise. Operating on a few hours of straight night sleep and intermittent van naps seem to suit me well. I feel I'm getting more out of the day along with the guys. I've been more conscious of the type of food to have. Touring in a van like this is to tempting to load up with junky snacky crunchy foods. The quick bites centered around Subways sandwich shops. Usually we stop at one per day, not on a specific time schedule. Today Watt wanted one early. The Subways sandwiches hit at 930am. Way too early for me.
I can't remember if I had been to Dallas before. Once upon a lifetime ago I flew into Texas to join up with a trio doing a few dates in Texas. I think the cities were Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Corpus Cristi, but not Dallas. We rolled into town around 2pm. First stop was at the JFK assassination landmark. By the time we pulled over, I had a sudden snap at Watt. My own unresolved tactical photo issues, foreseeing my immenent catastrophe, were getting the best of me. And having to go to the bathroom badly didn't help. All of the sudden living in his world got too overwhelming. It felt like a complete surrender of my life was needed to make his tour run smoothly, which is sort of what I usually do. But this time my shit just took over. No longer I was in the mood to jollying along with the jokester at my own expense. I thought some shit was funny for like a minute, but after days at the harmess-enough teasing, I snapped. Aside from my inability to pee in the piss bottle, I thought I was pretty good at being non demanding. Never once I asked to pull over for anything in all these miles. No special sleeping arrangement was required, any floor space would do. As I was trying remotely deal with some stupid lose ends of my own life I left behind, I was getting mocked, for doing 'girlie texts', no difference than some other dumb asses that would join the tour for some dillusional glam of it. Fucksakes.
But yeah, no, it was fine. I didn't really snap that bad, and we mended quickly. It's our dynamic.
Despite my dark mood I entered Dallas with, I started to slowly fall in love with the town. To me, a town is about the people, and the crew at the Granada Theater were the BEST. Jeremy, the venue chef didn't miss a beat in a comeback comment, as we pulled over behind the theater about an hour early, and spotted him being the first to the theatre. Each of us loiter about on the one block strip filed with various bars, restaurants, and even a sex shop. One of the first thing I spotted was a Triumph Bonneville remake flew by. I ran after it seeing that the rider just stopped down the street at a 7-11. It was a 2001 model with some slight touches of custom pieces, the exhause pipe, smaller turn lights. The British Green color I could do without. But never the less, that was ... MY bike. The older gentleman David was happy to answer my over enthusiastic (but grandly ignorant) questions. He baught it 2 years ago for $4500. I asked if he will want to sell it, knowing that I have not the money to buy. He sweetly answered no. But he did let me sit on it. I only hesitated for just 2 seconds since the skirt I was wearing wasn't made for hopping on a motorcycle. But I did, and man, that was just.... right. I was .. elated, completely.
I took a little scenic walk up and down the block, then back to the venue when they were loading in. I just couldn't help stacking up the good vibe seeing how mellow all the crew guys were. Everyone was receptive to fun, non judgemental, and very friendly faces. I love friendly faces. The venue, and old theatre was huge. It could probably hold a good 5-800 people, more? I think? But the way it was set up gave more of a club atmosphere. I met up with my friend Too, an old friend since teenager, and her boyfriend from Thailand. They are studying in a university in Denton, about 40 miles away. It was the first time I've seen her outside of Thailand. We made plans to meet up again in Florida where another one of us is living. The few dozen of us from the past were from the College of Fine Arts (Chang-sin) outskirt of Bangkok. Many of us this year have been reconnecting, thank to the popularity of social network websites, internetting back organic communities. Along with such theme, 3 Couchsurfers, Gabe, Anne and Rahul showed up for the hang.
It seemed like the band were now warmed up for the tour. The show went on in front of a good crowd. A couple of thrashers were having their time. No one got hurt.
For the stay of the night, we went to Jeremy's, a local musician. Once we got to the house, we met his wfe Melissa who came out to take care of us. The couple were more than happy to have us over. Melissa told us that she's been with Jeremy since 1999, and often he'd tell her that he will have Mike Watt come crash at their place. Finally the phone call came this night, when he called her saying "Guess what?!?!". They had a young son that was asleep. Melissa helped start some laundry, brought out plenty of blankets and pillows. Jeremy was insistence on making sure people are fed. Watt sat and chatted with him in the kitchen over a half bottle of Jack's Daniel while Tom was the first to pass out on the couch. I got to use the house computer for internet, still milling around with available options. Raul took a floow space in that office. I later took a space next to him at 3am, avoiding the living room floor where Watt could fall on me off the couch where he slept. He's dangerous unconscious, too.
tuesday, april 21, 2009 - houston, tx
pop w/the sun to find tom was konked right next to me, he's using a konkmask and it makes me think: "damn, I should've brought mine" - maybe I can find one in at a gas station (later we will find tom one of them airplane neck pillows on the way to houston). jeremy and melissa show me their new shipmate, liam and what a beautiful aka-chan (baby), he's adorabe! he came two months early - a premie - jeremy shows me pictures and it was a litte rough voyage but he made and is righteous. jeremey says he put this shot he shows me of me and him taken after a dallas gig and a shot of john coltrane he put at the incubator little liam had make the ride in for luck. much respect. melissa makes us up eggs and veggie bacon/sausage (soy kind) that I bundle w/toast slices for shovelling a good morning chow. very kind, these good folks, very kind. jeremy teaches guitar and plays solo gigs at chow pads - a music man supporting his family w/music - I can dig it.
we head south on I-45 which is a route I don't take much cuz usually the next gig's austin but no austin on this tour so it's straight to houston. nice, nice weather - some clouds but they're gone as further we get from dallas - one last pass-by for the book depository buiding, a not-on-purpose one. in the boat it's many loops of the third opera prac pad roughs - raul's pretty good w/the titles and we're both heping tom to get learn them though I wish I could shuffle when they come up cuz I'm thinking he's maybe learning the order more than the songs, you know? I like the vibe tom and raul have playing together - even w/a tiny bit of lame-ass fumbling of guitar in there... I think even w/the tiny format of the thirty different pieces (each one of them having up to four or five parts), this interaction between them two w/out the bass to hogtie and grout them out makes for a trippy dynamic w/a personaity all their own, despite me writing all of tom's guitar parts cuz I did totaly write them w/him in mind for what is my impression of his style and then us going through every piece part to work out drums for raul - sometimes I think a drummer is so acute and close to what can and can't be done on a trap set to get perspective on orchesrtating a part musically - I mean just some, not totally... what I'm trying to say is that what tom and raul are doing for my third opear is lots of them even though conceptually it's out of the watt head and really makes me happy it's truly missingmen and not rubberstamp minutemen. I'm thinking when we record in brooklyn at the beginning of may that I wanna do it this way - just tom and raul playing as missingmen and watt tripping on it... adding the spiel and bass later to how the both relate together - me and bass brother tony maimone at the knobs and staying out of the way as far as them reacting to each other in their playing dynamic. does this makes sense? first time I ever made an album this way but lots of times I've used recording for springboarding new ideas and taking chances so why stop now? I love my men.
we stop for gas and as I fill 'er up, tom goes across the street for subway sandwich time - he knows my preference and gets me number three of the tour but had to use his own money cuz the tenner (ha! england talk!) I gave him turned out to be counterfit when the counter lady put some marker on it (turning dark meant fake) - this was from last night's t-shirt slingging so I'm figuring whoever I got it from didn't know but I'm deciding I ain't gonna pass it on cuz that's fucked up karma so I will eat the loss and the sadwich too. like a baka though, I balance an ice coffee all fucked up and it topples, flooding up the forward section - luckily before re-entering the freeway river so it's many paper towels from another luckily-placed gas station (I pulled around back) and hell, maybe we even made things cleaner... nothing like a clean boat - raul already did great work collecting all the books I had strewn on the deck and organized good. we ain't really used to have four on board but peak's great to have w/us though this trip from dallas to houston has her saying about nine words the whole time - she must have stuff going on inside the head and we do what we can to joke around and lift her spirits while at the same time, working on studying the third opera. we see a jack-knifed semi and trailer on the side of the road, rolled over... I don't take pictures of this kind of thing - bad karma. we don't stop a the correctional institiution museum either. we go straight for rudyard's in the montrose part of houston, the gps navigator getting lost a little, second time this has happened but not bad - just tiny loops. maybe it's good we're not totaly beholden to the machine and still must use our minds and be aware... it has been handy though.
I think this is the third or fourth time I've played this pad and like it much. we're in at three bells and find the happening parking space right by the load hatch. no soundcheck though for here so we'll wait a bunch of hours for the heft up the stairs (happening exercise), in the meantime I chimp diary and then have a good rap w/the gig boss jagi - he's twenty years younger, lots this happens now days but I think it's very ok, I like to learn the younger perspective on music from them and not hear it "expained" but other idiots my age. I chow a "rudzburger" which is tastes and feels good in the gut.
I go konk in the boat after putting up diary and answering/sending emails by the dartboard - mister shimmy writing me about brother's sister's daughter gig in tokyo come september second - the same trip I'm gonna make a duo album w/mister jim o'rourke... lots of people come up a talk w/me, kind houston people - signing their pictures of me or hearing about them on bass or other gigs they've been to before is very kind and helps focus me on a big part of why I'm out here w/my men. I meet tiff's friend tommy, what a nice man. turns out the apartment the boat's in front of has two young people who come out front to have me sign a bass, whoa... no prob!
I do drift awake for a spell to hear some of the first opener through the bulkhead - the jonx - and they're great, third time now I've shared the stage w/them in their town, yeah! again though I konk - it's not too hot/humid like lots of times houston is and hey, it's way more happening than the weekend of rain I heard folks here got which was intense enough to do flooding (lucky touring missingmen - there's 'pert-near not even a trace that that had happened!) but konk subsides enough to hear the other band before us (both are from houston) which are called ladyheat. soundman joe gets us mic'd up and linecheck just in time for the planned 11:30 pm downbeat - great cuz a late worknight gig I feel is hard on working people. wow, the gig-goer spirit is way up there as we bring on the set and the only pause is early on when tom's gutiar's headstock gets tangled in this lady's hair who got too close - hair on the string tuners - this pad has a very low stage but it's all good vibe and my men are playing very well - tom's voice strong w/mine getting weaker... I gotta watch all the spiel in the boat - fucking baka watt. really really good gig though. man, do we work it good, I really dig it. much good spirit continues after w/talking to the peeps as I sling - on cat says he came all the way from england to see me - big hugs big hugs! lots of pictures, lots of handshakes... raul helps me sling cuz it's tough w/this differnet size thing and pluse he's got buttons scott aicher made for us missingmen (it's got both a pelican and anchor on it he drew!) to sling as well. old buddy mike mcguire here for the gig - actually I saw him earlier w/his little boy george - damn, he's grown but then it's been 'pert-near five years... mike's the man who connected me w/this club, much respect to him for that and all he's done for me over the years - it's like eighteen years now since fiREHOSE stayed at the bay house in la porte along w/his buddies peglegasus (those cats now live on block island up in rhode island, by the way).
we load out and say our byes. I tell gigboss jagi he's gotta come to cali and paddle kayak one day! we follow mike in his car on a detour route cuz I-45 has much construction. we travel though much oil refinery blight to get to the coast and the bay house. mike's got it running on sixteen golfcart batteries via trickle-charge from solar panels - much respect! pad was built in 1910 too! I have the same konk pad I've always used though now the matress is on the deck which I dig better - am scared of konking up high. first though I drink some blackberry liqueur called chambord but not too much cuz I'm not of liqueur man at all. anyway, I explain the whole third opera to him - he's a poetry man and runs a once-a-week poetry night at a pad called notsouh's - I tell him about my trip-out w/whitman's "leaves of grass" first edition last year and how profound that was on me, including its influence on my black gang autumn album I did w/nels and bob lee last year - by the way, we talked a bunch about nels and the crew of the flying saucer experience I had w/him, vince and michael back in 1995 (nels wrote an incredible diary for both the "clam blow" and "shinebox" tours you can find on the hoot page) but I digress which I guess is somewhat my nature. three bells come up and I oyasumi to brother mike mcguire and konk.
the next thing i know is i wake to the same sounds as before (minus bourbon), as well as the new sound of little liam, jeremy and melissa's son. it is a slow but relaxed morning for us, we have time to talk, shower, and have some breakfast that melissa prepares generously as we get our focus together and eventually head out again.
houston is a drive into another metropolis, it's getting humid and we pretty much go straight to rudyards bar where mike and raul have played with the secondmen before, but this is my first time here and i go into the air conditioned bar and do email, etc. i breakdown and order one of their RUDZ burgers, and a negra modelo. very tasty and i absorb the fat and protein immediately. in the time that follows, i watch some magnum p.i. and renegade on the house tv and listen to their house mix of music that seem to perfectly align in a complementary way. i tell this to mike, he has comments on magnum p.i.s masculine/feminine duality or paradox, i you will. this is quite engaging and uplifting conversation, and after a while we greet some locals and have some time to rest before our gig.
the show is fun, we play well, but a girl who had some drinks gets rowdy in front of me and after the first song falls onto my guitar and her hair gets stuck in my tuning pegs. i have to tear it out because i start the next song. that's showbiz. from there we cruise through the set and wrap things up, we have a long-ish trip to mike mcguire's house on the gulf to spend the night. ive been here a couple of times before and its always a highlight to stay there, it has a great feeling in the old rooms overlooking the water and i roll out my bed and sleep.
Playin' Rudyard's in Houston tonite. We got to the place early, and got a good park spot right next to the load hatch. Neat club, had played here four plus years ago with secondmen, also with locals the jonx opening up the gig. Very hospitable afternoon crew at rudyard's...made us some chow when we showed up. I had a shrimp sandwhich, good eats. Since we are here early and i have the time, i spend it tryin' to catch up on this here hoot page diary. Also, watt has a go trying to set up the mail application in my computer to send out emails from these clubs we've been playing. Not happening, couldn't get it to work. So i got to figure it out. Thanks much to watt fro spending that much time trying to help me. Took a really weird nap on the stage upstairs. Bizarro dreams again, it's was so hot up there. Worse than that, no air. Woke up gasping.
Playing with two local bands tonite. Lady heat, and the jonx again. Very cool. Jonx had mailed me about a month ago asking to get on the gig. That stuff is completely out of our hands. We're just coming thru town with no control of who we'll be playing with. So, since they live close, i just suggested going to the club and asking. Couldn't hurt right, and it actually worked. Met a friend of Watts too. He showed early to hang for a bit. Had us sign a picture of the now popular "directing a power trio" shot that caroline took when we played the mountain bar in china town last month.
After the jonx tore it up with a set of new tunes, Lady heat was next. Dolls style rock and roll. Oh, search out jonx and find there record, great group of musicians. The singer of lady heat was tryin' to be kinda stiv, hangin' off the rafters of the club. Both good groups, and good people. turnout was happenin' for a tuesday too, and the club is packed when we go on. I think we played a solid gig. Lots of energy from the crowd and the band. People seemed way into it, and i'm very thankful for that. One boracha up front fell froward while dancing, and got her hair tangled in the tuning pegs of Watson's guitar. Looked kinda painful when he didn't miss a beat, and yanked the thing right back. Wonder is she remembers why her head hurts so much!
After the gig we did a forty minute drive to stay with mike mcguire. He's a long time friend of mike's. Has a neat old house in la porte, right on the gulf of mexico. I had stayed here a few year's back after a rudyard's show with the secondmen. The house is being converterd to run off solar and battery power that mike is doing all himself. Some of the power isn't going yet, and the room i'm in upstairs is lit with a kerosene lamp... very fitting for this old pad. I got a little bed with a nice view of the yard out front. Very tired after the show and the drive to la porte. Sleep comes very easy. Thank so much Mr. Mcguire for the hospitality.
Morning came to us soon enough. The loveliest of all families, Jeremy and Melissa, with toddler Liam in arms, was still on duty taking care of us. I stayed up late milling around online trying to figure out still, what will have to happen to get this stupid digital camera issue sorted out. Apparently I was getting the shipping method miscalculated. Stress compounded. But the morning was refreshing with the smell ofcoffee and later breakfast. Scramble eggs, tofu bacon & sausages, are now my favorite. The guys rose one by one, always Watt first, always talking with the host.We could take our time a little bit this morning, Houston is only 240 miles away.
We rolled out about 11? First stop for gas, then Subway proved to be a mini adventure when Watt's entire cup of coffee got dumped onto the ... everything in the middle between the front seats. I actually freaked, expecting the worst - from Watt. Things like this that happens, I flinch for horrible reactions by habit. When Watt laughed, as we all tag teaming in scooping out the mess, I was hugely relieved for such grace under pressure :) The van did get overall cleaner because of it. Nice running over the curb though. "Vindictiveness", I believe, was muttered as Watt rolled up the nearest coffee place to get another cup of coffee.
I was definitely silently cranky all day. Guiltily, I was fully aware that I maybe was kinda of ruining the fun silly vibe a little bit by not participating much in conversations. Most of the drive now involves the guessing of the song titles (new song for their recording happening later in New York) and I was paying partial attention to it. I couldn't resolve my various camera b.s., so I remained quiet. I was just mostly pissed at myself for not knowing how best to function in what I do, making me question all together my purpose in life. Yes, it's a slippery slope with me. There I was, living a strange parallel life existing in someone's head. The van, the tour, the band, IS Watt. This was his world. I couldn't think.
Soon enough we arrived to Houston, around 4. We pulled up right around the corner from Rudyard's. There were plenty of time to chill. I followed inside much later to find the guys spread out in the place sitting with their respective computers catching up on electronic things. The venue was super sweet with an upstairs where the band would play. I liked the interior, wooden tables, benches, and old fashion looking bar. The food was quite good. I couldn't get enough of the tater tots. The veggie burger was ok, but I should have gone for the meat. Oh well.
Some time later my first local couchsurfer Neil arrived. The spacesuit designer/engineer, joined by his local "smarter" buddy who happened to drop in to the place. Couchsurfers AJ and Isabelle later joined in..., plus some other folks, I lost track after a couple of beers and much other distraction. Only Neil stayed to see the show with a couple of his friends. We missed the first band, they were supposed to be great. I over heard them catching up with the guys, seemed like they have played together before. The second band, however, went all out on the outrageously silly side, reminded me of some Family Force 5 I saw last year at the Warped Tour (again, I was with this Missingmen crew plus Richard Bonney then). Just started me thinking if it was a trend? Strangely, I actually liked some of their music. But the rest was a bit much for me... much more entertaining for many others.
Their gig was well received, once again. The crowd packed in front of the stage. Some drunk girls were even dancing all over the place - I wasn't a quick drawer enough to capture that girl's hair caught on Tom's guitar tuner knobs as she tripped and fell forward to the stage. Strange people were in the crowd, too. All in all was a fun night. I helped packed up some t-shirts at the end of the night. This was when I realized I haven't done much in participation of being a part of this tour. Oh well, I'm spoiled.
We rolled out at the end of the night to this much talked about house on the the gulf shore. It took awhile to get there. Once arrived to this huge place, crashing out was in a matter of minutes. Watt got an allocated place somewhere when the rest of us was lead upstairs to this one room with 2 beds and a chair. They played pretty hard tonight, so I figured the guys must have the beds so they can relax and stretch out. I was determined, as a personal challenge to sleep on the victorian'ish shaped chair. But of course, I found myself on the floor 3/4 way through the night.
wednesday, april 22, 2009 - baton rouge, la
the bay house room where I always konk now days has no curtains but plenty of mike and ruthie's little george stuff which don't keep taiyo (rising sun) out but that's ok, fuck it - I pop and take outside shower mike built here - cold, yeah but not too cold... just like they hype some tea: "brisk," you know? I feel alright! mike cooks up a great chow while I rap to him and chimp diary - he cooks eggs w/soy sorta-sausage patties and links. he's got some righteous jalapeno salsa he learned from a lady working a taco truck where he pretty much just cooks up a bunch of jalapeno peppers, some oil and lime juice... that fucking reminds me - like a stupid dumbshit, I forgot both my own-made habanero sauce and the fucking belt-holster/bottle it goes in - damn, that pisses me off at myself so much. I guess I could tell you I was a little frayed and not altogehter like I am before shoving off for most tours but there's no excuse for spacing on that. aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh! anyway, the chow mike fixes up for us is righteous and I shovel much - lots of good fresh fruit too, like pineapple - mmmm... in the bay right there in front of us are pelicans from here diving and fishing - makes me think of pedro... silly-little-bit-homesick watt. mike tells me hurricane ike got right up to the pad but didn't get it - there wasn't a lot of rain but the sea-surge was fucking intense, he relates to me in his always calm way. lucky too was his pad was in the eye so stuff a mile either side and more was blasted - very sad... he said maybe four hundred-plus are still missing which is very sad. mike shows me the solar energy panels he got cheap off of ebay/craig list sitchs and how he gets thirty to forty amps to the sixteen golf cart batteries that power his pad. he's got two little windmill-type generators too. much respect to mike! same for him getting his garden bedss going w/tomatoes, green beans, watermelons, corns, etc - very happening! big hugs for him from me and we shove off east for baton rouge in louisianna - oh yeah, I got to talk some existentialism w/miss peak - I tell her later I think that's what our talk was... man, we're all gone miss her bad - she bails tomorrow from us for jazzfest in new orleans.
great weather for us at we take texas-146 'till we hit I-10 and enter bayou country, where john fogerty was born (or wasn't that a VERY northwest bayou?) - anyway we're looking for him running through the backwoods bare but had to settle for just imganing seeing him that way... tom has great imgaination however and becomes aroused (he corrects me just now and says HIGHLY AROUSED - you gotta know I usually read out loud while I chimp so I make my spiel more conversational - even if I'm chimping alone). no subway sandwich today - we get to the spanish moon after crossing the mississippi river, it's right off the I-10 in the middle of baton rouge, not far from the big college, lsu. first time for me here but I've played many times at the bayou (since burned down - some of them folks now run here) and the varisty, right by the school. I see a lady coming out a hatch and holler from behind the wheel out the porthole her where we load in and she says: "what's that, boo? 'load in' ??? you mean that band shit? oh, that's right here" and that trips out some but hey, it is true what you hear about "southern hospitality" lots of times and it gets that casual and friendly, you know? same w/soundman jeff and gigboss aaron, great cats. also opening locals bedlamville trifles who do a good take on rockabilly - their bassman brian and his buddy who also do bass talk bass up w/me bigtime and have me sign stuff, including brian's tele bass - for the gig tonight though he thwacks a mean standup. soundcheck goes good - jeff cares which means so much and then I put up our diaries and have to apologize to peak cuz I read she might be sad from some careless thinking on my part so I let her know I am very sorry and love her much, the weird old punk rocker w/the enlightened younger artistic woman we are so fortunate to have on board w/us. tom pools our chow bones and gets pizza where I can choke down only a couple of pieces before heading to boat and konking quick - tired watt.
I get woke by good sounds coming from bedlamvile tirfles. we're fired up to go when it's our turn next - yeah, only 10:24 pm! I put the blue brighton flannel on while on stage cuz man, it is soaking from ase (sweat) and stinking bad (cusai) but shit, I wanna work w/it on every gig this tour. ok, let's bring it on and damn, if my guys don't join me in a fucking hard-charge for this gig - my voice is kind of gone and I'm kicking myself so hard for not being more careful but a look up at the bulkhead starboard (this pad was built 1926 and is three floors worth up but the half the floors cut out so the sound goes way up there) and see a great big painting of a geisha w/a samashin and I launch into a blast-off I don't even wanna put a kink in - much respect to tom and raul for helping me get that going and keeping it going the whole time. wow, what a blur in a way but also there's much focus I think and we're winding it up as tight as we can get it. I'm so proud of them and the baton rouge cats - wow, what a spirit they share w/us, what a spirit! much resepct to them... the whole trip is all fired up! you understand, this is a workingman's set - no calmness valleys but that's ok cuz I'm believing it'll help my men be more ready for recording the third opera in brooklyn.
oh, forgot to say we made up a john coltrane intro/outro cd for music before/after we get on stage - fucking spaced on that too. tom suggests "om" so that's what I did and it sounded great - only a little bit after though before a dj bogarted his own music way loud - ok, it's your town. I sling shirts and many folks share joy w/me, much respect to them. I see mister fred who got a new orleans benefit cd going w/me putting some bass solo on a tune - he asked me get some other cats so I got k, flea and tal to go along w/the main bass who I guess mister george porter laid down to start that tune off - much respect to him (watt's into giving respect)... anyway, much respect to mister fred for making the hike here - hey, theyre's another new orleans man, mister rob cambre - actually I first met him in this town at the lsu radio station twenty years ago this very month and we chowed many crawdads that day and did spiel on his show - big hugs to him. brother todd from mobile made the two hundred mile ride (twice the nawlins one) and it's big hugs for him too - damn, I am 'pert-near in tears w/giant happiness/grateful feelings.
gigboss aaron is very happy for the gig and I tell him w/us likewise - same w/soundman jeff who said he'd been waiting for this gig - I blush. a bass brother named steve invites us to his pad for konk and we follow him as he pedals his bike towards spanish town (oldest neighborhood here) but he's way ahead cuz damn if these traffic lights ain't timed for shit - and there ain't ANY cross traff so it's crazy but I should calm down cuz my head is ringing and my throat crunching (yeah, crunching - that's how it gets when I'm baka and not taking care). everything's better at brother steve's pad though - he talks calm w/me and there's a righteous neko being friendly a even washing machine for this very fouled flannel. BIG RESPECT to him for being so generous. I konk pretty quick though - only second time w/mota and it's strong like cali kind so a tiny bit wails on my and nemuru... konk.
the morning is humid but the breeze off of the gulf water is soft and cool, almost like where i come from, so i find comfort in it. our host, mike m., is making coffee downstairs in his solar-powered kitchen whilst starting some food for us. we wander about the grounds and i do some relaxing and galavanting out on the lawn in front and watch the coast guards do some kind of exercise over the murky gulf waters. time is a fleeting thing and so it passes quickly, once we sit to eat it feels like only moments till we're back in the van, waving goodbye and start on our way again. many thanks to mike mcguire, it's like visiting family, sort of.
the drive isn't a long one, but it's a hard one, in a way. maybe it's only the humidity, i do have some troubles with that. over the bayou-bridges, listening to old t-rex (right here i wish could say: "and who's next"), we eventually make it to baton rouge. it's our last gig with peak along with us cause shes heading to new orleans for the jazz fest, and to hook up with wilco and nels. she's been a trouper though, many ladies would have had some difficulty with our van behavior, i think. most of it is our own blend of hyper-insanities (brought on by something not far from cabin fever), though, and not meant to be taken so literally. so, being in that situation takes some getting used to, i imagine. in any case, i am impressed with peak's tolerance, nay, immunity. she is obviously a strong woman and doesn't take much guff from noone, holding her own throughout our bizarre journeys together.
our time in baton rouge is spent entirely at the spanish moon. a nice place with nice folks, but i feel slight sadness to not be able to see more of the town. i suppose i should have made more of an effort to at least get over to the uss kidd battleship that's housed on display nearby. that being my middle name (kidd, i mean), and a family name of mine. by the way, and just to mention, my name is made up of 3 last names: thomas being my mother's maiden name, then kidd watson. important to some, not so much for others. you?
it's again our luck to find a another cool dude named steve to stay with, he has a great house over by the capital building and i find a space to roll out my bed and fill up the bathtub. i think of it too late but i should have left my towel outside the bathroom so i could've had mike bring it to me. that may sound strange to your ear, but maybe not after a week in the van (with mike). goodnight all......
First one up this morning. Head right out back to use the shower that mike has built in his back yard. Cold shower is a good way to get the night's sleep out of the head. Once i'm out the rest of the crew is up, and mike is getting coffee and breakfast ready for everyone. Good food, soy chorizo, sausage, lots of fruit, and some heated home made jalapeno sauce. Just peppers, onions, some olive oil i think and a little lemon. Tom thought it was guac... oops. Had breafast in the back yard, beautiful morning. Talked with peak about Paloma, and her obsession with Mike Patton. After eating, Tom and i took kitchen cleaning duties.
Once in the van new tunes are played again. We finally got the names worked out. Now were talking more about the process of getting em' recordrd. Also working on some diffrent kick drum patterns, well not really working, but discussing. Watt's happy about the way the tunes were loosly recorded, and wants to try and get the same spirit for the record, I'm way down with that. My priority besides gettin' this done is making these two guys i'm with satisfied with the result too. I know that's some obvious shit to say, but i'm just saying.
Playing a place called spanish moon. Get to the gig spot a bit early, but it's open and a lady out front let's us know where to put the "band shit" as she calls it. She also refers to Watt as boo, very endearing. Place has a second floor and hugh ceilings. There's a spot in the upsatairs for the bands to hang, but it kinda looks like the results of a frat party, pizza boxes and beer cans everywhere. Plus it's got to be a hundred twenty degrees with zero air flow, so i take a seat in one of the booths in the bar and get to chimpin'.
One other band on the bill with us tonight. The bedlamville trifelers, local rockabilly guys. Very good dudes, they came and hung out with us a bit before the show. Early gig tonight too, which is cool. We got a long haul to tallasse tomorrow. Gonna play our first gig of the dino tour.
Not a total clambake on stage, but i did have a total brain-fart moment where i spaced on the intro to conspiator's oath. I don't think anyone but the band knew, but still real weird. Something not so weird was Watt's farmer blow on a girls arm in the front. He didn't notice, and it was a total accident, but this girl got a little something on the arm... mocos. She wasn't bummed though, just shocked for a sec. Good sport about it. She side glanced her friend, shrugged and got right back in the game. Positive show for me, besides oath intro space. I enjoyed both the spirit of the band and the audience.
Raul - always the first to jump up in the morning, after Watt, hopped off and got his day going. I was woken up by his running around snapping pictures around the house. I followed suit and started to photographically / video-graphically investigate this house Watt spoke much about. I first walked out to the shore, which was right at the back yard. I sat on the stepped and looked out where the water ends at infinite. This, was oddly calming. Oddly, because in theory, I don't like large body of water.... it was supposed to freak me out. Pelicans were around doing their thing. Straight ahead was a remnant of a pier, just as the ones next door to the left and right, destroyed by hurricane Ike last year. Mike, the house owner takes much pride in his off-the-grid house. There are solar panel linked to a roll of strung together batteries. It's a "poor man's way", he said. There was also a little windmill, getting some of the wind power going too.
In the backyard there was this outdoor shower stall. I examined with such an amazement. It was a G like doorless wooden little structure, with water hose. Simple. But even with such admiration for such, I didn't take the opportunity experience that cold shower - out there. Instead, I spent the time roaming the house looking at details. Things that stood for histories and memories. Old pianos, some toys, some memorabilia, sat & hung up all around. The house was huge. There were many rooms, most under construction with plans and dreams. Apparently Mike and his family don't live there. Mike just comes out to fix it up at his leisure. While I was looking around, he was making us this wonderful spread of fruits and more tofu breakfast. We sat out in the back facing the water. It was really a very pleasant morning. Tom confessed that he finally adapted to the tour routines. I later got Watt to let some guards down and talk / discussed / debated a bit, digging out some head mess before we hurried off with our drive. Baton Rouge is some several hours away.
I realized I 'donated' my phone charger, likely at Jeremy and Melissa's house. I had to shell out for a car charger one from a truck stop store. I do hate the obsolescence design of these new electronic things. It's not like I'm buying something for a long term use for anything else. This will become worthless in a year. Irritating.
The drive was getting shorter now - that I was about to get off the tour. Damn Watt for bringing up Fogerty, who, I guess was born... in the bayou - as we were crossing over the longest bridge. I couldn't get the song out of my head all day. It was quite mystifying to see the endless landscape of swamp ? It was both pretty and scary for me. I don't know why I've been so fearful of water. Maybe I was just really hoping I won't have to deal with the rain while I stay in New Orleans. I never shoot pictures in the rain, not sure if I want to try that at this moment.
It was a simple destination thank to the navigator. The van pulled up to the Spanish Moon. I hopped out and took a stroll getting on the phone to check in with home a bit. About an hour later I followed the guys inside the venue and investigate the place. A two story, I guess it's a French style? with inside balcony over looking the stage below, was true to my feeling closer to New Orleans (sorry Baton Rouge, I like you, too - but I wished I had more time.) Wooden most everything made me feel at home. The weather couldn't be nicer. There were bars both upstairs and downstairs, with a green room tugged in the back on the upstairs. It was too stuffy and hot for the guys to hang there, so they were on their computer near the pool table doing their own things.
Well, I can't let this evening go without mentioning having had a serious discussion with Watt. Finally we got into it, and filtered out some heavier thought stuff. Watt and I are too much alike. We have the same streak of self-questioning, identify/re-identifying of experiences, mirroring our thoughts freely. We also get easily excited about trivial things, wanting to share every sparks, every fascinating thoughts. Putting us together in a confined space for an extended amount of time was just as familiar as it was weird, mentally. It was actually quite good after all to have 'the talk', rare, but necessary chance to realign our friendship.
At this point I was still nervous, not decided on how to get to New Orleans. If nothing else, Watt offered to reroute the tour to drop me off there, to make sure that I get there safely. I couldn't take the offer. So I figured out the bus route, $5! for LA Swift Baton Rouge - New Orleans. I ended up 'bogarting' his laptop until it was time for them to play. Watt needed his important belongings, such as his laptop, to properly be stowed away in his backpack ON STAGE before the music can begin. I hurried it up to the stage as Watt said something on the mic I thought was mean (I didn't quite hear it). So I sat in the back steps behind the band sulking, watching them play for the last gig. In between songs at one point, Watt announced that it was Peak's last gig with the band, then they turned to me in the dark corner to wave. I decided right then that it was too much. This made me cry. All I could think of was that I'd been such an asshole. Retrospectively I don't think I would have done anything differently, but certainly my feelings and perspective could be more stabilized by having more trusts in the general good wills. Watt is out doing that with his guys in full participations. I thought I was out doing that, but it all was too much in my mind to do EVERYTHING correctly. I did feel like a major ass for not appreciating them much more in a grand scheme of things. Amazing people, doing amazing things with their amazing talents and lives. What was my problems?
After the show, another good, well attended, well responded show, the sentiments compiled when several people came up to me and asked if I still need a ride to New Orleans. It freaks me out --- that there are people who actually read this! I don't even read it. Watt made me do this! And look at how long this shit is getting. And to have some of you guys come talk to me, referring to some stuff I said on here is just way freaky. Thank you, though, for the generosities. You guys are some of the coolest people. I see another reason why Watt relentlessly goes on such hellrides to play out as much as possible.
For the night we stayed at a gorgeous apartment of the sound guy Steve. Raul and Tom shared a bed just so I can have my own room with a bed. It was too sweet. Laundry was offered and beer. We turned in after a half hour of a low key hang.
thursday, april 23, 2009 - tallahassee, fl
pop at w/the sun and hose off in righteous shower steve's got in the back of this happening pad he just moved into - I mean, it's got a least twenty minutes of hot water (like seven times what my pad in pedro has) cuz that's how long I took being in it - bitchin', truly! he makes me coff while I say final stuff to peak cuz she's bailing for the jazzfest in new orleans and doesn't wanna burden us w/hellride in all the traff so she'll take the bus - after thanking bass brother steve and shoving off, we get her to the main hub station not too faraway and say bye but parts of her remain cuz she wants us to bring her konk sack and a clothes sack back to so cal - I guess they get to do the rest of the tour w/us! sad to see peak go but more important is that she's safe so I beg her to do a leash-yank when she's ok at the dealio.
we go head east on a little interstate that bypasses new orleans called I-12 before joining up w/I-10 again at slidell. great weather, again - we're blessed. of course it's a little warm but you know you can't buy an econoline now w/out air conditioning so this 2005 e-350 ain't a kiln (hey, we pass a town today called kiln!) and we hear a bunch a times the 3rd opera - raul's got the titles now pretty cold but tom's still working on getting it. yes, third subway tuna sandwich of the tour textured w/what the sac says is "tomato spiked w/tobasco" flavor... can't tell but I do get a couple bottles of "frank's hot sauce" for some tart to go w/pickles and yellow mustard and temper that fucking mayo they cut the tuna w/if you know what I mean. this waterless cleaner w/carnauba wax I got the first day we headed out at that gas station in the inland empire back in cali is working out great for keeping the windshield easy to clean and light on the bug bodies sticking to it. raul reaplies every couple of days and it's very happening. it's a four hundred sixty mile push for us and though not much grade, it's about seven hours in the boat to cross from lousiana to mississippi to alabama on through the florida panhandle to government town tallahassee which is also home to florida state university which is how this gig's being put on at a pad called the moon. now I remember a pad in this town years ago called the moon but it was a different pad... I wonder... the last gigs I've done here not on campus were two versions of the cow haus which I heard is now gone - damn. anyway, the gigboss is a nice young cat named zak - or "a boss in training" as he says. oh - there's some old friends here on the bill: dinosaur! it's still hard for me to say "junior" at the end of their name cuz they are definitely not junior - no way! it's so good to see j, lou and murph - big hugs for them all... their soundcheck sounds so good - yeah, brother noel is doing the knobs for their sound! managerman brian is here too, much respect. a video is being filmed: bmx bicycle and skating doubles for the men in the band, wonder what it's like? looks trippy, looks interesting - alright! all I chow is some humus and crackers mister brian gives me. murph is way into hearing hardly any or no cigarettes (like last night again!) and says he thinks I look healthy but I now my voice is strained. I guess smoking would make that worse so... anyway, I'll try my best, of course - I just feel so stupid to let this happen. these nine gigs are the last nine gigs of the dinosaur tour, maybe it's good we can help some when it's tough near the end of a hellride, help w/some good spirit? we're sure excited to play w/them, big time.
we're due to go on at nine pm but it gets held back ten minutes - we got all our stuff in front of the dino setup which is intense cuz murph is pretty up front, not so trad but we want the least trouble for the change-over. shit, I start the gig w/out my john colrane on - it's in my pocket and I get it on while introducing my men, about five songs in. I keep an eye on my watch cuz I sure as hell don't wanna even get near going even a little bit over our fortyfive minute window - big respects to our firends translates for m: "play your hardest and don't dawdle or bogart" - that's what I think. my guys really play intense and tight w/me, big bow from me for them and our set I think has a good sense of wail and mindblow to it, I throw everything I got into it. some difficulty in that there's no monitors, none. oh well - no fit, just get to it! we have a lot of joy doing this gig together, us three... the audience pretty kind too, even w/most of them pretty young. we finish and fuck if I don't find one of the lenses of my glasses gone when I go to get them off the top of my amp (I never play w/them on hardly)... where are they? I crawl all over looking and looking but find nothing. shit... baka watt. I guess it's gonna be monocle man for the rest of the tour...
I go watch dinosaur and man, are they kicking up dust or what?! wow. lou plays so good w/j, so good. he knows how to make a solid but aggressive bottom that's wild and fun to both hear and watch him work it. he known totally how to move that heavy pick on the heavy strings so it don't dink or break them. he's so much better playing w/j than I ever was w/the fog, truly. murph is slamming too, wow! amazing, these three. beautiful. hey... a cat named tim is brought to see me by tom - he found my glasses lense on the deck in front of the stage, yeah! whoa, what a relief - I hug him up big time. he tells me he's the best guitarist - or he says others have told him he's the best - I just think he can be whoever cuz what a hero to find my eyeglass lense so I don't have to end up doing a fucking colonel klink and wandering around in a blur-fog.
dino tears it up tough. a lot of cats come up to me and say they liked what we did but I know playing w/our buds upped the ante - they inspired us! it's a different trip w/your buddies but I think that difference is a happening one, like we're part of a big team effort, I dig it, I really do.
gig done, I'm asked to cameo in a scene for the video so they want me sitting and talking w/murph and lou while this very skilled skatercat in a j wig wails a skateboard on the edge of table, sending chow flying. pretty trippy. such a great cherry gig for us to start these nine out togehter!
a young man named sim we met out front before the gig has invited us to konk at his pad so we follow his red pickup and he's got the most adorable little terrier named roxy - wow, what a sweetheart. his wife mikki comes by in a bit and brings some bourbon! whoa. thing is though, he ain't used the shot glass he gives me in a while and after two hits I'm choking on a bunch dust but it's ok cuz it's good talking music w/sim, he's got a great spirit and is all heart. I konk in the most puffy of chairs that allows me just to lay back in it - 'pert-near like one of those 60s beanbag trips but not exactly - but kind of. man, that was a lot of driving today and that gig was balls out... I konk pretty heavy and deep.
my sleep is shortened by mikes voice; " wake up, men", or something to that effect. i guess it could have been the entire contents of one of those gatorade coolers, so in that case, i don't mind. immediately, i remember that i have to send some more music to caroline for a video piece she needs to finish soon. this will be our first collaboration (actually, it's her art, she's using a couple drones of mine in her video) and i don't want to add any stress to her already stressful deadline with it. so, i get right on it and after coffee and some conversation, we leave steve's comfortable home in baton rouge and ship off to drop peak at the bus station and bid her farewell. we pause a moment to catch the last glimpse of her, then look away to focus on the road ahead.
from there, we jump onto the highway to get to tallahassee as quickly as possible. it's a 460 mile drive, though the visuals are nice as we return to missingmen school, then t-rex, and after awhile i get to play some jack nietzsche to help me relax in the co-pilot's seat for a little more than 4 hours. during the final leg of the trip i switch wil raul and stretch out on the seat in back, the first time for that since we started our tour. in reality the 7 hours+ drive isn't so painful, it's actually kind of nice. maybe the fact that we are traveling through 4 states gives the sense of progress and movement. so when we arrive in tallahassee, find the moon venue and see dinosaurs bus in back, we spring with with some fresh energy and load it right in. i think that it's going to be nice to play gigs with them, the dynamic changes, it could pull us together in a good way.
the backstage is stocked with refreshments of various kinds, the venue is very large, and we are greeted by brian and ryan who are touring with dinosaur and who i've had the pleasure of meeting in boulder colorado a couple of years ago. dinosaur is doing a vidoe shoot while they are here, and there are some skaters and bmx dudes contributing to the affair, so there are multiple layers, or "threads" of purpose in the pre-show community and we greet each other as best we can. i dont know the dinosaur guys so good, in fact, i would say maybe not at all. but i have been a lable-mate during the sst years, so i feel somewhat kindred to them. we soundcheck....
the show is a blast, i think our two bands fit in a way where where one ends another begins, literally and metaphorically. i mean, that our musical approach is as different as the sound and intensity, and with our set feels like physical processing of an intense breakdown of any barriers between the listeners and the players. we burn out any anxieties in the air (hopefully), and dinosaur carries them away into the ether. rather poetic, if i may.
locals, sim and his wife nikki are highly gracious, and offer their home to us for the night. i feel overwhelmed by their efforts to make us comfortable, and on the floor next to raul (on the tiny rug), i easily fall to sleep. i wake once in the night to knock over my water glass.
Rise early today, gotta get a jump on the long drive to Tallahasse. I already cleaned body and clothes filth the night before, so i'm ready to roll when the guys are. Steve gets us some coffee made to get us on our way. Cool pad we stayed at. It's a old style house in the oldest nieghborhood in baton rouge called spanish town.
Didn't sleep very good last night. Tom says i was sawing logs, but it was a long time comin'. Seemed like i layed there for hours thinking about shit before i fell asleep. Today is also our last morning on this tour with peak. She's expected in new orleans in the afternoon, and has opted to take the bus insted of having us drive her there. So we gotta take her to the depot in a little whiile. She seemed a a little upset with us the past few days, gave me a really guilty feeling because of the teasing. I really don't want to hurt anyone's feelers. I think she was in better spirits this morning though. Also felt like crap about railing into my housemate. I know the the diary is for personal shit, but some things should in my space not everyone's. So i apologize for being a dick. On the peak tip, she will be missed, she was great to have along, and i wish her total sucess on her job in New Orleans.
Drive to Tallahassee flew right by for me, i know maybe a lot diffrent for Watt, since he's handeling the hell ride, but that four hundred and sixty mile went by fast. Lots more tune learning, and more talk about execution of the tunes. In between that we hear lots more t-rex, who seem to be winning the race as tour favorites. Tom's got a good impersonation of Bolan. Also learned some new stuff about old bands, and got my first taste of tripod jimmie from clevland band fromed by Tom Herman after he left Pere Ubu . Very trippy one part song called Autumn leaves... find it! Wire too, Watt had some live gigs from cbgb's of them doing some tunes of their second album chairs missing. Awesome, unlike the record in that that's it's just the band with no crazy production. Chairs missing is a great record, so very cool to hear them do this stuff live.
First of our nine gigs with dinosur jr. is today. Looking forward to it. I've never had the oppertunity to see em' live, and now i'm lucky enough to do these shows with them. I'm very grateful for that. Meet dummer murph first. Very nice man, he's a little beat from the video shootin' they've been doing all day in the florida sun. We showed during their sound check, so i gotta get the drums up quick so we can do the same. Check is easy enough, and the gear stays on the stage in front of jr. gear since we will be the openers for the next week plus. I'm into it, earlier show times, and not as much craziness. Sometimes playing after certain bands can stink. Some have the tendancy to want to stay on stage an extra half hour just getting their things packed up. I've learned it's just easier and more considerate to take the stuff off as fast as you can, and break it down on your own time.
From the looks of the crowd at first, i thought maybe we'd be playing a character builder. The place was bigger than just your average show space, and the folks there were spread out among the tables in the back. When we walked up front though, all came up to support us, very cool. We played as hard we could for em' and i think that came across and was appreciated by them. After the set was done, Watt had realized that one of the lenses had popped out of his glasses, totally fucked. That could be a big prob seeing as how you need those things to see right. No luck finding it either. I got a little flash light and checked all over the stage, and had everyone in front checking the floor. Luckily, an hour later i dude came up to me while i was slingin' shirts, and had the little fucker in his hand. Didn't watch to much of the dinosaur gig, since i was up front with the merch. No prob, i got eight more chances. I could hear em' well though, and they sound great live. Did get a chance to catch a couple of glimpses. Mascis tripped me out with the wall of sound, and he looks kinda like a guitar wizard. He's a great player, shit they are all great players.
Enjoyed doing the merch, keeps me busy, and makes it possible to hang with the people who come see us play. Usually Watt sells from the stage, but not really possible in this situation we are in, being on and off so quick. Also sold the last of the buttons i brought along. Getting some made up though, and they should meet up with us soon.
Earlier in the day we had met a brother named sim. He must of been the first dude there. I think maybe he wanted to talk with watt early on before gig time. Good man, bass player and drummer of sixteen years, and he also invited us to come stay at his pad after the gig.. so no search for a konk pad. Thanks so much for your kindness Sim. Once back at Sim's and mikki's, i make a quick call home to let anyone who cares know that we are safe, then lights out. i honestly can't remember even gettin' the sleeping bag rolled out on the floor.
Morning started around 7am when silly Watt was talking one sided, it seemed, into the computer. He often repeated what he said, this is for the continuous, on going English / Japanese lessons with Eiko in Japan. I wonder if he speaks loudly on purpose to wake everyone up. I enjoy morning hours, so I didn't mind it. I was a little worried that our host Steve might have not expected that. We chilled back and had some coffee. Steve had to make many many many runs of the coffee since he has a 2 cup type coffee maker. It felt like we were living it up, whatever 'it' maybe. Drinking coffee on a porch with a swing, taking in the humid and pleasant air. The pause of this moment was mixed with all kinds of emotions. The feeling of my being in Louisiana, heading to my big deal New Orleans and its annual Jazz Fest, not knowing how it would all work out. The host Steve and Tom spoke at length about sound engineer people they know, studios, and that part of the music world while Raul sat on the front step. It was one of my favorite moments. I'm glad I do photography because of moments like this.
By 9 we were loaded up on the boat. Destination Tallahassee for... them. I was getting dropped off at a bus station a few miles away to go fend for myself. It was an expected departure, but the withdrawal was still dramatic, in my head .... Who will defend them for the rest of the way????
MY PART OF THIS TOUR DIARY ENDS HERE.
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