mike watt + the secondmen
jerry trebotic - drums
pete mazich - organ, singing
watt - thud staff, spiel
(left to right)
steve kaul - the man outside the van
tuesday, april 15 - new orleans, la
popped at mike and ruthie's pad feeling decidedly shitty; I think the bushmills and lack of sleep finally let a little bug crawl in the door- the back of my throat felt raw and I had major sniffles-time to pay the piper. mike cooked us up some kind chow; eggs w/ veggies, fresh salsa and some tortillas. watt wanted to get out of dodge quick due to the fucked parking situation in new orleans, so we ate up and bid our goodbyes to everyone and we were off. much respect to mike and ruthie for letting us crash at the pad again ( the restoration work on the house is beautiful and your baby boy is an absolute doll).
we had a minimal hellride but it would be a little less than bearable for me due to my bug; I hopped in the bench seat and decided to try and get a little bit of conk in- I had gotten a new book to read in houston (idoru, by william gibson of neuromancer fame), and I tried to read myself to sleep but the bug thing was wailing heavily on my mind (we were only 15 days into the tour and the prospect of sickness was not very appealing to me), so I relegated to just close my eyes for some meditative conk ( which was counterproductive at best because all I kept thinking about was getting sick). about halfway thru, me and jer flipped and I rode shotgun for the remainder- I took some snaps and plotted our descent into new orleans on the ti book. the trip looked like and easy plot until our exit disappeared (our version of the street atlas is at least a couple of years old), and I had to do some quick figuring on the ti book ( which I'm not really good at yet). add to that the fact that there are a lot of one way streets in the big easy and you have a recipe for mass panic- mike was calling out the street names faster than I could find them on the map, while jer is in back, yelling in my fucking ear; I suddenly had a vision of myself shoving the ti book up jer's ass, but this passed quickly as we slowly found our bearings on the map and in a short while pulled up to the front of the pad (the house of blues/parish room). jer hopped out of the boat and went to go scope out the pad- in no time he had two cats helping us unload the gear and rolling it into the room; we weren't playing on the big stage but rather in the smaller room (the parish) and it was a real nice setup- EAW mains and monitors, full concert lighting- very sweet. we set everything up but the soundman wasn't arriving until six, so we had some time on our hands; I felt like total shit, exhausted and beat so I decided to do the tried and true once again; I went down to the boat and popped the back hatch, rolled out the bag, put on my jacket and got inside hoping for a brief respite from the anguish.....I conked quickly.
I was awakened by jer an undetermined time later; I was soaked in sweat and feeling a little better but still had the rawness in the back of my throat- I was feeling a little trippy as I had a dream about a cat that used to play in my wedding band, joe sindisich (watt knew him also). In the dream, we were doing a tour in vegas? and I see joe and say hi but he won't say hi to me- I ask him "what's up bro?"- he says "I have nothing to say to you", and I walk away. I see watt and tell him that joe is by the bar, so we both go over there. watt says hi and joe breaks down and starts weeping and telling us that he's going to prison and that his life is falling apart- at this point jer wakes me up (meaning? who knows-but I've always felt ditched by joe who quit the band due to old lady issues; maybe I should try to call him). I threw on another shirt and went upstairs to do the check'. everything was miked up and ready to go ; a real nice cat named brent was doing FOH while a dude named tyrone was doing the monitors. we did the "red and the black" and everything sounded cool so me and jer went on a chow search. we went down to the kitchen- it was closed for a private party but the boss lady assured us she would set us up w/ something kind. we headed on over to the green room as I had to chimp some diary; there was a shower in there so jer went in for a quick soak while I chimped. A cat from the kitchen brought us down the chow; blackened catfish, jambalaya, and chicken tenders- we dove in w/ extreme prejudice. after the feast, I decided to take advantage of the shower while jer went to go throw his money out the window at the local casino. I took a long, much needed soak, then went back to chimping diary. Jer was back within a couple of hours - much lighter in the wallet of course. I still felt the rawness in the throat so I asked jer if he would go get me some sudafed ( great stuff to knock out an oncoming cold but it heightens my anxiety and makes it real difficult to piss (like somebody clamped a hemostat on your wang), but at this point I needed to do something about the burn in the throat. he was back in no time w/ the fed' and i popped two pills along w/ the gallons of water I was consuming.
I finished the last of my diary for week two and went upstairs to go check out the opening band, rotary down. They were interesting to say the least- cool vocals, kind of gloomy and definitely different. I liked em'. they finished their last song and I went to go wake up the chief- we wanted to get on early so we could get out of dodge and go conk at rob's house (where we had also stayed last tour). we set up our tools and launched into the set; we had a great turnout for a tue. nite and the people got up real close to listen to us. around the time we went into "genius or lunatic" I heard some laughter from the middle of the crowd and the applause for this tune was tepid at best, so it threw me for a loop and I momentarily lost my confidence; I gathered up my crumbling courage and really laid into "amnesty report" - the crowd caught on and responded much better( I can't always see all the faces, as I am standing sideways and singing to watt most of the time, but I can see a few people in the front and gauge their reactions). The rest of the set went very well, my momentary lapse of confidence dissipated and I threw myself into the songs. we came out to do the encore to a thunderous reaction and ended w/ the two instrumentals, "om-om-om" and "only you will know". I was soaked in sweat, drained and happy. as we tore down the gear, many people came up offering words of encouragement and we signed many posters, so my lack of confidence was unfounded. A friend of watt's, stanislav, and his wife sara came up to me and we rapped in croatian for awhile - very nice people. I hope I see them again. we loaded the gear into the boat and followed rob back to his pad, I unrolled my bag and totally exhausted, climbed in and conked immediately........laku noc sviraci.
whoa, was that late last night - 'pert-near four or later even. still, I pop early though a little later than I have been - around 8:30 and I hose off in the shower. mike's already up and is making egg tacos for us - much respect, mike. he gives me some coff and I dash of an e on his 'puter. my guys are getting up, we gotta roll by nine cuz it's a six hour drive at least to new orleans and I have an interview w/a cat name dustin for the station at tulane, ktul. I remember playing that school w/the minutemen - there was some hassle from jock people (actually the bouncers) who didn't dig d. boon giving out stickers questioning u.s. policy at the time in central america (this was 1985). these stickers weren't even self-adhesive, you had to lick them (I guess you could've used a sponge if you didn't want to have as much fun). I was plenty ready to defend d. boon (though he could take care of himself besides being a peaceful man) and so was georgie (who could way more than take care of himself) but the bark was just that. I was glad cuz what a bunch of shit - d. boon wasn't forcing anything on anyone, just speaking his mind in a civil tone. this was not the school, just some whatevers. w/fIREHOSE, the station broadcasted some of our gigs from tipatina's when we played there. they were always supportive of us so I'm very much into getting to new orleans so we can do this even if it is a little tough. last night's gig was just so late. well, it was a good anyway. I forgot to mention what ruthie told me about her little baby, george. he was born nine months ago so she was carrying him when I played houston last year. seems he was gonna be born breach cuz he was backwards but when her and mike came and saw the gig, she says the bass (the little one I played) coaxed some behavior out him that turned him around and he was born the easier way (not breach). that's wild and I'm so glad that I guess I helped. I had a dream once a few years ago about seeing pedaling on some beach (remember, this is a dream) and this good friend was carrying a baby, close to when it was time and she was sunning out there (in a two piece bathing suit - beautiful w/the fullness of the little one), like I said I was pedaling somehow on a pedaling path that was on the beach and her guy was no where to be seen when the baby just started coming. I got off the bike and put my hands down there and helped the baby out (again, this was a dream - I don't know how the fuck I did whatever) - it was a mindblow, like a heart attack for me but it worked and the little one was born ok. I then hopped back on the bike and pedaled away. it was a weird dream but it comes to me every now and then. I sprung on me again immediately when ruthie told me this about baby george w/out trying - like it got born right out of my mind, pop! I say bye to ruthie as she heads for work - she's got a sign in her car window saying "mother against war."
mike's got a rooster and he's crowing, like saying to watt to get a move on. in fact, I heard him crowing last night maybe cuz the moon was so bright. there's some clouds up above but much blue too and the air is dry again, cali-style and not all sweaty which me and my guys dig much. wow, to think that last year it was 'pert-near a shvitz. many thanks to mike and big hugs. venceremos, hermano. we take tx-146 north - it's built now almost all the way to the I-10. damn, hard to believe I stayed here w/mike for the first time sixteen years ago, when they were starting to get that route going as a multi-lane highway. east on I-10 and through beaumont, then the last big texas town, orange and we're across the border into lousiana. lots and lots of construction on this road so we're stop and ago, especially heading into lake charles, oh boy. that's the good thing about leaving early - no stress on the gut so you just gotta stay patient and roll w/it. one thing hard to roll w/though is assholes taking really dangerous chances on the road. this guy is driving some big rig that's pulling a trailer carrying liquid oxygen - liquid oxygen, total boom-boom shit - and he just makes this plunge into the fast lane like he was working a shoehorn. damn, it was close and I pull way back and let this motherfucker out of our world - we don't need that. there's lots of trucks riding in the fast lane and speeding - really risky stuff w/all the weight they're pulling and all. I have to admit this shakes me up. jer's konked out in the back, oblivious to all this dropping bomb after bomb of fart waft on me and pete. damn, this guy has the foul wind going. probably not his fault and just bad chemistry but whoa... we pass lafayette and the across the mississippi river at baton rouge. so many times over this big muddy but it never ceases to impress me. what's really wild is all these barges lashed together and pushed by tugs - something else. my gig wheeling this boat is much easier compared to these cats. much respect. the bayous we drive through on the elevated freeway are righteous and special to the gulf coast, love it. calm weather makes it easy to enjoy their beauty too. we are blessed.
we get into new orleans around four, I guess pete didn't notice the graveyards when we came through last year cuz he's tripping hard on the crypts (remember that movie "easy rider" where they're actually tripping on l on the crypts?). he's charted a course using the mapping ware on his tibook but when the exit he's telling me to take fails to appear, it's panic time a little bit. jer is arroused and does some panic mode help and in a way it's fortunate what happened happened cuz the one-way street thing in the french quarter is a little crazy. we pull up to the where we're playing tonight, the house of blues and they have parking for us so that nightmare is taken care of - usually that's a feat in itself in these parts. waiting for me is dustin from the radio show at tulane w/a tape recorder to do some spiel. he wanted me to come to the station but there just isn't enough time for that. he's very cool people and it's a pleasure doing the rap w/him about watt and the world through watt eyes and ears w/filterations from watt's mind. when I'm doing this things, I really do hope I'm making some sort of sense though sometimes I get the feeling I'm like what tom watson likes to quote: "lost in my own indecipherable tower of babel." I really do make an attempt to get understood. dustin's a very gracious cat though and things go very smooth. he helps us load the gear into the pad too - we're playing the parish room part of this club. I've played here only once before and it was w/j mascis + the fog. I thought we were way too loud for the room so when we soundcheck w/soundman brett and monitorman tyrone, we keept things on the smaller size cuz this room is live. these two cats are very happening people and help us much - no 'tude at all and it's a pleasure working w/them. sometimes w/a fancy pad, you get scared at what might be up regarding respect and stuff like that. much respect to brett and tyrone.
after the check, kirsha and her landlady/architect friend prisca come to chow w/me. there's a sushi pad a couple doors down and they want to go there. ok, soosh twice in one tour is trippy (I had some before the boulder gig) but I usually do play intense after that stuff and that's not such a bad thing. one of kirsha's friends walks by this chow pad's window so she has this lady come in w/her english boyfriend and they start talking so me and prisca talk about esoteric/arcana stuff - she was into this as a teenager. it's pretty interesting and though she's from washington dc, she didn't know about the masonic underpinnings - the shrine to grand master george in alexandria too. I want to keep it fun so I tell her about books that have had a hoot w/it, like robert anton wilson and robert shea's "illuminatus trilogy," the one that inspired it - malaclypse the younger's "prnicpia discordia" and umberto eco's "foucault's pendulum" (she's has read this one which surprised me cuz I thought she'd much more know of the other two but didn't). I brought these after she mentoned the seemingly serious (?!) "holy blood/holy grail" by blaigent and leigh. lots and lots of talk on this and then kirsha rejoins the conversation to tell her about my sickness and how pedaling brought it on. prisca tells me her husband rides bikes but it's a rickshaw! whoa. I'm tuckered from all the spiel and go to the boat to konk.
the opening band are locals called rotaries down (I'm pretty sure anyway) and there were very nice to meet at soundcheck but I missed their set. like w/all the bands we play w/that my tired ass miss. pete comes gets me and it's gig time. one of my better new orleans turnouts, great. the sound is really good, much respect to both brett and tyrone. the folks in the crowd are so great, really - what good vibes from them! there's some dicks who must be here cuz whatever (not here to see a secondmen show, for sure) but there's only a tiny amount of them yammering away anyway and it doesn't dampen the spirit in the least. jer broke his china cymbal stand in the first song so that's on the deck but no matter cuz of that too - when a gig's going good even busted gear, loud-mouthed non-participants or whatever can't put a damper in the pamper when things are happening. that's truly a righteous thing. one of my favorite gigs up to this point of the tour though there's parts of each gig I've dug much, really an honor both to play w/pete and jer up here and for the folks too who came to check us out. many, many thanks from watt, truly. even breaking an 'a' string is no prob cuz w/out the confidence in me not be shaken out, I can change it quick and easy while spieling at the same time too. this is both a surprise and a relief.
I sling and see a lot of old friends - stanislav and serah came all the way from baton rouge (stanislav wants to talk serbo-croatian w/pete, it's a crack-up when he asks me if pete can do it - shit, pete wails on it!), nancy and a.p. (and he ain't borracho - whoa - great!), matt gives me a shot of him about to saw a tree in la grande (in oregon) w/a shirt like the one I got on (though I don't know if the back of it says "bass = love") and rob too, who once again has invited us to his pad to konk. lots and lots of warm feelings from the folks - one cat even was in a band that played that tulane gig w/the minutemen I was talking about near the beginning of today's entry. there's one man who used to see me in l.a. w/d. boon and he's kind of bogarting everyone's spiel though I don't think he realizes it much - just like the old days! some things never change. the house of blues cat is glad we played here too and has me sign a poster - that's a trip, shows to go you about pre-judging anything.
we pack up and I'm still getting the word assault from that guy I mentioned earlier - trippy, pete got the same thing talking w/stanislav (he said it was quite a struggle). I do manage to tell kirsha bye and we follow rob to his pad a little way from the first tipitina's. he's got a neat pad and it's so happening it's only one in the morning. all of us are so beat we konk quickly, 'pert-near as soon as the lights click off.
wednesday, april 16 - pensacola, fl
popped at rob's pad; I had gotten some good conk in and sweated a great deal of the bad shit out, but I still felt this bug would linger w/ me for a few days. The worst part is right after the gigs when we are soaked in sweat and are loading up the boat; you have to change shirts quick or it's definitely pneumonia time. kirsha, a friend of watt's who had been at the previous night's show had promised to go out to breakfast w/ us and she called watt in the morning to say that she would meet us at rob's pad. I splashed some cold water on my face and then went to get a cup of coffee and try and ring up my bud Tone as it was his b-day the previous day. Tone wasn't picking up, so I left him a message- Kirsha showed up so we loaded up the bags into the boat and followed her to the chow pad. Much respect to rob for letting us crash at his pad once again.
we got to the chow pad ( a place called surrey's) and met up w/ a couple of watt's friends from new orleans, quintron and miss pussy-cat (quintron does the b3 thing also w/ his band), and we sat down and munched up some very kind chow ( I had a smoked salmon foccacia) , and rapped a little about pedro and the tour. we finished up our much welcomed breakfast and said our good- byes, then kirsha led us to the freeway and we were off to our next destination. we were expecting a pretty heavy swelter once we got into florida but the trip wasn't really bad at all and me and jer both got some decent conk on the bench seat (and jer continued to foul the air w/ his noxious emissions).
we rolled into town relatively early; this pad was called the handlebar (originally it was called sluggo's, but it burned down last year in a fire), and immediately we were warmly greeted by the owners(a real nice cat named jimmy, and his mom and dad). they set up the band room for us w/ all kinds of fruits,chips, salsa and drinks- they really went out of their way to make us feel at home. we set up the gear on stage and dave, the soundman showed up and set us all up on the FOH real quick. we broke down the gear and went in search of a post office to mail our funds home.
we quickly found the P.O. and took care of business, then went for a little walk around the town; we stopped into a coffee shop and jer grabbed some quick chow while I sipped on a macchiato. I went across the street to check out a little piano store and looked around a little bit- lot of nice steinway grands in the pad, and some allen pipe organs(too rich for my blood). we headed back to the pad and I went into the band room to chimp some diary while jer conked on the couch. a couple of hours later we got some very kind vietnamese chow to eat and I downed about four spring rolls, dipping them in the tasty hot sauce that the bosses had provided for us. I continued the chimp and downed about a gallon of water while jer conked dreamily......
around nine o'clock the place really started packing up ( a sea of tatooed folks), it looked like it was going to be a sellout. we were originally scheduled to go on at 10:00, but now it was 12:00! w/ two bands opening up (simpleton, a local band , and five eight- some of watt's buddies from the firehose days). simpleton started out and I went to go listen; I really dug on these cats-very much reminded me of blue oyster cult- they had a cat playing some kind of a small two octave synth- very cool. Todd, a cat who had promoted our mobile, alabama gig last year showed up w/ his lady and a friend and we rapped about the tour a little (he had also come to our gig the nite before). I also rapped w/ another of watt's friends from mobile, joe, who had come along w/ one of his friends (this cat had been in the merchant marine for many years and had many cool stories to tell me; one of which was that he used to ferry religious icons from russia to be sold in the U.S.-real cloak and dagger shit)- joe invited us to come to dinner the next time we passed thru- very nice cats, all of them.
five eight started their set and I listened for awhile; this fully tatooed young lady w/ a shaved head and piercings came up and struck up a conversation w/ me (of course), her name was sesame (like the oil) and we rapped for awhile(she was a little borracho, as was pretty much everyone else). Five eight finished their set and it was time for us to hit the stage- we plowed thru the set and it was a hot, sweaty one. sesame flips me off before "genius or lunatic", so I flip her off-we go into "amnesty report" and she starts yelling out "this song sucks!", but is quickly dragged away.
the crowd was very boisterous (read, borracho) and they really dug on the stuff. we were all soaked in sweat after and I thought it had been a good gig. Sesame, to her credit came up and bought me a beer and we took a picture together. Me and jer broke down the gear while watt slung the merch; I went to go change my shirt, then we loaded up the boat. We sat around after and waited for the boss man jimmy, as we were staying at his pad which was thankfully a few blocks away. we finally got to jimmy's place around 3:15- it had been a long nite and we were all beat. the chief and the sailors laid out the bags and conked on the deck. solid.
pop and chimp on the 'puter some, talking to rob about things while he readies himself for work. he's a great cat - known him from his days as a dj at lsu's radio in baton rouge. speaking of baton rouge, I heard last night that the bayou burned down - a pad I played a few times in that town - damn. rob's big w/the improv music scene in new orleans here and adventurous, experimental music has always excited me - thurston's shared much knowledge (well, he has much knowledge of it) w/me - folks like thurston can make things quite exciting and build a hankering inside you for it. thurston's a kick-starter for sure and rob's one for this town here. we talk a bit about the passing of peter kowald, the german bassist, only in his fifties. he was great but at least he got to do a gig right before curtain time and his last moments were at another exceptional bassist's pad, william parker. thurston once took me to a william parker gig where he did solo standup bass and it was wild and quite inspiring. like I said, thurston's a kick-starter. rob's tub fills up slow but when it does get there, I do my first soak for the tour and it's righteous - good and hot. I 'pert-near melt into my own fluid, mixing w/the tub's water. not a long one though cuz my guys are getting up (I did help a little before starting the soak) and we're gonna chow w/kirsha. rob's off to work and we soon leave and lock up for him, what a cool cat.
we follow kirsha through the really neat streets of new orleans, what a unique town. we are blessed again w/very happening weather that's missing that humidity that can beat a cali person down easy. we park at this chow pad and look who kirsha has waiting for us: quintron and miss pussy cat - great! I played w/them in denver a number of years ago. quintron is quite an organ player so him and pete have quite a lot in common to talk about. I try to absorb as much as I can, it's all quite interesting, the hammond organ. I have some wheat grass (lots of chlorophyll here) and a po' boy sandwich that's made w/spinich and mushrooms - really good. quintron asks me about van problems, he got a ford econoline that's burning up starters. he's got a straight six instead of a v8 like me so it's a different motor but he thinks it might have an exhaust leak and that for sure can lead to problems. a v8 is better for freeway driving where as urban utility vans (such as for company repair fleets) us the straight six. I think the best for tour is a v8. however, one has to make do w/what one has and quintron says him and miss pussy cat have invested too much into their van to just let it go. I understand and wish them the best of luck. he says there's electrical problems too, oh boy. it makes me think how lucky I am to have my boat running healthy. she's worn but healthy and I maintain her much. the boat is the center of my touring universe. I was asked by my friend jason at rolling stone to write something about what they considered a "u.s. icon" - well, that was hard for to write about in that sort of context but very easy from the perspective of anyone from anywhere who wanted to play gigs in other towns. here's what I wrote:
"the center of my tour universe is the boat. I jam econo in the boat, this is how I tour. the tender name I have for my 1990 ford e-250 econoline van is "the boat." sure, it rolls on land and all but I call it "the boat" cuz tour makes me feel like a sailor, going from town to town somewhat similar to being at sea and going from port to port, your whole personal world sealed up inside and to itself as the rest of the world floats by. when I tour I don't take any days off - "when you're not playing, you're paying" (old vaudeville saying) - so the boat is the center of my touring universe, the one thing consistent, the one thing that makes it possible. you can say a lot of things about this land (the u.s.) but one thing is for sure: it is big and you need a way of getting around it if you want to work it - especially if you want to work it w/a bass and have a couple of compadres w/you (this time I've got the secondmen: pete mazich on organ and jerry trebotic on drums). the center of tour life is not "the hotel" - hell, I konk at people's pads anyway and it's not "the stage" at the gig either. I'd rather call the stage "the springboard" as a starting point to blow minds but that's another subject. the boat makes "the springboard" possible - see, what I'm talking about here is the tour womb, the wheel inside the wheel, the ark. each tour day brings new scenery, new folks, new venues but one thing you can count on being there for you: the boat. when it's been a hellride all day to get where you're going and soundcheck is done and now you're just waiting for on-stage time, where can you konk and feel totally safe: the boat. where can the joyce and dante get read, where can the dick hell and john coltrane get heard? the boat. when you got a new cat on board, what's the most prized tour item you can flow him? his very own keys to the boat. tour life swirls but the boat stays steady. each morning when we're leaving for the next gig, we pause and reflect, anoint the boat's air w/some peach-scented spray stuff and then give thanks to the boat for getting us where we need to and keeping us safe. "bless the world, bless the boat and bless its crew," this is our morning ritual. tour life springs from the boat, it is our fertile soil in which to make gig dreams grow. tour showers down unknowns and scariness - the boat floats us through these struggles. if you can imagine tour life as a mind (and I can cuz this next one I'm doing is my 50th) then the boat is the brain - one mental, one physical but both somehow connected on many seams. the boat containing the entertainers/sailors who themselves contain thoughts of what is special, what is important, what is vital? what is independent, what is autonomy, what is endeavor? - what is all this but things that very much are about why "the boat" is the crux of a tour life."
of course it'll get edited probably but this is what I intended. jason's always given me much respect so I'm confident if the scissors come, they'll be wielded w/grace.
I'm getting off on a tangent here, huh? oops - back to the tour. I do over-react to a conversation quintron and jer are having that I only hear the last part of, the part where jer says he has to go back to "a real job." I kind of spaz out and ask "why isn't this music voyage here not a real job? all these years and all this labor I put into it - why is this not considered "real" (watt kind of huffy here) - I'm not trying to say it's a better reality or people doing music are better people than people doing other things but what makes it not real? ok, it's different - right - but not a real job? sure feels like it to me and I've done all kinds of non-musical jobs. the minutemen never lived off their music and we always had other jobs going to make ends meet. remember, our folks were working people and we were not be subsidized on a trust fund or whatever. it didn't make us better than anyone else but it was what it was and in these days I'm trying as hard as I can in those same traditions I did w/d. boon. it is very real for me. at this point, I'm not really thinking and being kind of emotional about all this, how embarrassing. I don't mean to hurt my good friend and drummer jer or dear quintron who's a very nice man. I'm kind of out of line (to say the least) and figure the best way out is to get to the boat and put a cork in my fucking word hole. I say my sorrys and byes but feel like such an idiot inside. aaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhh. I can get so carried away w/myself. I will call kirsha later and ask her to pass on more apologies to quintron and miss pussy cat cuz what a goof I was in those couple of minutes. fucking watt.
we get on the I-10 and head out of town, east towards florida. I'm still talking about "real job" shit w/jer while pete is in the back, konked. pete's sickw/something. he wrapped himself w/blankies yesterday and sweated lots of out but the bugs still have him. I feel much for him - nothing worse than sickness on tour. I feel for jer too cuz I think my words were hurtful so I try and make him realize his drumming and the comradeship he brings on tour are very much "real" to me and invaluable. he's played a long time, invested much work into what he's doing so why shouldn't it be considered a "real job?" a lot of this is all my fault, just semantics kind of and what the fuck is up w/me anyway? obviously I'm sensitive about this and maybe just a little insecure inside. I apologize to jer. I know he might not get to tour w/me for a while cuz he's gotta put time in on the docks - he's got a family and I would never want him to sacrifice any of that - just the opposite, I think - the family should come first no matter what. his little girl rilei - my goddaughter - might grow up to be a righteous drummer if the family is nurtured. me, being just watt living w/watt skews my opinions and makes me thickheaded about other's perspectives. if I think about things though and consider what's important, I can see the broader truth and can back down of my high horse. man, if I could just kick myself I might end up in the middle of next week. what a goof. sorry again, jer. pete on the other hand, after eighteen years at the cat food lab on terminal island can't wait to trade that "real job" for one where he plays organ, sings and tours. it's a trippy world and I love both my guys much.
lots of gambling billboards on the roadsides. yesterday, right after I pulled the boat up to the venue, jer ran over to a casino nearby and lost a bunch of money real quick-like. today he said he got a call from his wife kel asking where two hundred dollars went from their bank account - oh oh... we pass through mississippi, alabama and onto the panhandle of florida - the gulf to our port the whole time though lots of times it's obscured by the tree line - it's all still very nice for the eyes. I see my first pelicans for the tour, jer's not in time to get a snap w/the camera but I say hi to them none the less cuz they are very inspirational creatures for me - I see them in pedro every morning when I pedal. we reach pensacola about three. the venue is called the handlebar and it's where a pad I'd played before called sluggo's was but burned down. the boss is jimmy but his ma own's the pad. his pop is there too, along w/his vietnam vet buddies and everyone's very nice to us. damn, jimmy's ma, sue, has got us all this fruit - pears, strawberries, bananas - I mean loads, whoa! so very kind. I put week tour of the tour diaries up. we do a soundcheck w/soundman dave who is also very cool and that's when the other two bands on tonight's bill show up. one is a locals simpleton and their very enthused young men that are nice and the other is 5-8 from athens in georgia and are old friends of mine. I must've first played w/them like ten or more years ago. great to see mike and dan again - there's a new guy on drums rather than tigger. they go get vietnamese chow and bring back us a ton. whoa! I have this asparagus soup that gives me the sensations of the sun warming on pansy petals - like those petals were my very face even. jimmy gives me a bottle of hot sauce that someone made special for me called "watt sauce" (the label also says "well aged" and "punk ass hot") - that's some happening shit - thank you, whoever. it's got good flavor though not the most fiery I've tried. I must say I'm getting more and more into the flavor of chili sauces cuz lots of these ones that do have heat taste too chemically - yech. I go to the boat to chimp diary and then konk.
jer gets me for the gig after midnight - damn, did watt konk hard or what? the pad is packed and we do our set. there's some yammering but then there's also lots of appreciation and dave does good on the sound. we have another good gig and I'm grateful. so late but cats want to stick around and rap while I sling - todd from mobile is here (he was at the new orleans show last night too) and it's so very happening to see him as is his friend joe - that's joe from mobile too who's older than me w/much culture from the 60s and I respect much. I love listening to joe relate me stuff and it's kind of unfortunate I only get a few sentences w/him from the stage. he brought his buddy who worked many years in a boat's engine room. turns out another engine room buddy of joe's just passed away and he says this gig we just did helped him out much. that's a sweet thing to say, joe - safe seas and calm winds. there's cats who've seen me many times and then some who have for the first time, it's a trip but all much appreciated. one lady shows me a picture of her daughter and says she named her after my bandmate in dos, kira. she keeps asking me where's my wife (k) and I keep answering her that we haven't been married for ten years but she doesn't want to hear it. oh well. I tell her we still have our band, eighteen years and still going.
damn, must be 'pert-near three in the morning when we finally follow jimmy to his pad, where's he's invited us for the night. we talk some as I lay out and drink some throat-coat tea - man, that stuff sure helps out. there's two great dogs here and one konks next to me and w/my arm hanging down from the couch, I have warmness touching me as my mind lets go the curtain that brings on sueneo.
thursday, april 17 - tallahassee, fl
woke up on jimmy's deck; nose completely stuffed, head throbbing and I'm hawking up phlegm globs the size of buicks- looks like the bug hasn't passed me by yet, but I'm not giving in. I popped two sudafed w/ much water and hoped for the best. we rolled up the bags and jimmy made us some coffee which was much needed. we loaded up the boat and hopped in and we were off once again. much respect to jimmy and his family for treating us wonderfully and giving us a place to crash.
I conked for pretty much the entire trip and when I awoke- we were there! we played the same pad last year (it was called the cow haus then), and it was called the beta bar now. prior to falling asleep, I had wailed down some great fresh strawberries and water, and we had made one gas stop where I had munched down a couple of pop tarts- now I felt as if I was going to explode- waves of nausea hit me and I felt the tell-tale curdle in the lower extremities- at this point, extreme panic set in (the club was not open yet, the shit bottle was not an option-where the fuck was I going to find a head?). thinking quickly , I remembered a small coffee pad that was just down the street; I broke into a quick run (not too quick) and got to the pad , ordered an espresso and into the head- within a few minutes, things were back to normal again. I downed the espresso and sauntered back to the boat. on the way I spotted watt in a little sandwich place and walked in and had some chow w/ him and told him of my perilous adventure; he vowed to rid us of the dubious strawberries ( even tho' he had chowed down more than I did). we walked back to the boat and hopped in; he chimped diary while I kicked it in the back- jer was at some undisclosed location. a little while passes and watt receives a call on his cell phone; it is non other than the Ig' himself, calling about the upcoming show. Ig was very concerned w/ the attire on stage (he didn't want one guy dressing in orange vinyl and another in chartreuse). one guy had to be a representation of the stooges- wearing a t-shirt that said "stooges" of course. "mike, I don't know what your feeling about jewelry is, but the studs and leather that the kids wear nowadays is cool". "Ig, I'll wear ballet shoes if you want, I'm just there to help- uh, what about the songs, should the record be a blue print for them? " "yeah mike whatever, we'll start em' and end em' however we start em ' and end em' (obviously Ig doesn't concern himself w/ superfluous matters). I listened to this conversation w/ great interest- Iggy is definitely an original; thank god for him.
the soundman, calvin showed up and we loaded out the gear; he had us set up and miked in no time- I was having a little problem w/ the chorus/vibrato unit on the hammond, so I had to do a little quick disassembly, but I couldn't solve the problem w/o a major breakdown, so I decided to go w/ it. we tried out the John Cale song "guts" at the check but watt couldn't remember all the words so we decided to shelve it til' a future show (it sounded very cool tho'). we broke the gear down and shoved it in the back and me and jer went to go hunt for chow.
after returning from the chow fest I hopped in the back of the boat for some chimping and maybe a little conk. I wrote for about an hour and then passed out; some time later, jer wakes me up and I wake up the chief , we move the gear into place and start out the set. the crowd was a little subdued but they seemed to enjoy it; I was a little burnt and my voice was a little hoarse, but I gave what I could. we finished up the set to thunderous applause and came out to do an encore; we tore thru "little doll", "sister ray" , "om-om-om", and "little johnny jewel". the crowd was very appreciative and we signed many posters. we tore down the gear, loaded up the boat and headed out to john and heather's pad (where we stayed last tour). we unrolled the bags, rapped a little, and I was out before you could say "conk".......buona notte musicanti
pop w/those dogs nuzzling on each other, like flea-bite playing - very endearing. the one giving is mainly this boston terrier while the one that kept me company is receiving. this is a sign of some good vibes in the pad. I was a meter reader in my early twenties and I saw a lot of dogs ('pert-near a hundred a day maybe). I got pretty used to sizing up the temperament of the dog by the situation he was in - the pad and the owner. I found that the breed wasn't the biggest criteria. I could tell you what the "owner" was like almost w/out ever seeing them. jimmy's roommate tiffany is bailing for work and makes me some coffee. even though I konked at like four, I still popped at like eight - so it is w/watt. jimmy gets up and so do my guys - a full blown spiel-fest breaks out w/jer on the lead yammer. it appears more good weather has my guys in good spirits, which I dig. we say our goodbyes to jimmy, give him many thanks and head east further down the panhandle on the I-10.
we cross another time line and now we're in the east coast zone, jimbo time. more fir trees line the freeway as we head for tonight's gig in tallahassee and it's only two hundred miles, which is a shorter drive for this tour. I chow almost all those strawberries jimmy's ma sue gave us yesterday, I dig them. someone left one of those tabloid rags on the boat yesterday - maybe they thought we were out of touch and needed "news" or some such. I admit I'm out of touch in this current tour mode somewhat but this crap? a leaf through shows the big story in its quality pages (between all the fucked up pictures) is about some sitcom lady in trouble for calling the guy who "won" the last election (like this bumper sticker we seen on the road today said: "it's not over until your brother counts the votes") a "f****** idiot" (those stars aren't mine but it is beyond my limited imagination to begin to wonder what they might mean) almost two years ago. think about that, why would this get attention like this now? what a pathetic trend among the would-be herders to beat questioning down, that's my guess. ooh, there was a peace sign on her dress a couple of weeks ago too - I guess this corroborates the "treason charges." what an odor from all this. it might've been an eyeopener (or earopener) to hear what this vietnam vet guy had to say about this war/loyalty coverage at the handlebar yesterday. where's the tabloid story on that? life is one funny motherfucker - me and my guys have a good laugh - thanks for the tabloid asswipe paper. a righteous eyegift for us, we're privileged to see a pelican dive down and splash into the ocean from up high for a fishing run - very, very awesome and inspiring. this world brings all kinds of trips if you got your senses aware for them.
3:30 and jer guides us into the lot of tonight's venue, the beta bar. used to be called the cowhaus (actually the second one) but now it's the same pad w/a different name. good folks work here and I dig playing for them. pete's still feeling bad and thinks maybe the strawberries have added to his illness - he says he saw little holes bored out in some of them which worries me cuz I was chowing them while driving and not looking too closely - oh oh! that's all I need, huh? jer says the worms might have protein though so I weigh that too. he's has problems of his own w/insects - he's allergic to mosquitoes and got bit a few times last night, those bites are swelling up pretty big and I'm hoping it's not too big of a problem for him. pete is convinced that mosquitoes will not touch him - the two ends of that universe, huh? I'm sending wellness wishes for both my guys. jer hoofs for parts unknown to us while me and pete go next door to this sandwich shop. I get a tuna sandwich on rye and it's good, yes. there's some books on a little shelf - this is a college town (florida state) and a government one (florida state capitol) so there should be something interesting, right? wrong - it's all lame ones except machiavelli's "the prince" and "the discourses" so I pick it up and bring it our table. what a fitting tome for our times. pete is not familiar w/it so I tell him what I know about it. I think it's good reading for anyone in the u.s. now, maybe for anyone on the planet. sure, it was written in the early 1500s but like w/dante (who wrote two hundred years before this), lots of the thoughts here are timeless. "good training for us against the forces of oppression," like someone once said. pete appears very interested - maybe I'll get a copy to have in the boat. "to learn is to yearn," I think I said that.
I get a call from iggy about the stooges reunion gig I've been asked to help him and the asheton brothers w/next week. it's great to hear from him. he has some good things to say about tallahassee when I'm telling him I'm playing here tonight - he says he likes the fir trees and thinks the town has a good name. he gives me the list of the songs we're gonna play and even the order we're going to do them in - everything is from the first two albums (I kind of knew this cuz when I played w/ron, he was very not into doing anything recorded after that). he says we're going to have two days of "rehearsal" (I like to say "practice" cuz actors "rehearse" but whatever - he is the ig) and we'll work the endings out for the tunes then cuz ron's told him we had a way of ending them w/j but he might want them different. ok w/me, I'm there to help, not make things harder. he talks about the music stuff pretty quick but what he spends more time w/is what I'm to wear. he says he'd like me to wear a t-shirt, though he knows I like flannels. I tell him that's fine and anyway, I got the flannel thing from john fogerty so it's no real blow to me personally. he's very nice about this, he makes me feel he cares a lot and explains why he'd like me in a t-shirt and I say I respect him much and really, it's no problem and I'd be honored to wear a t-shirt, especially one ig says drummer scotty is designing special for the show. I ask him if levis and chuck taylors are ok and he says those are strong. he also says jewelry is ok, like a leather wrist thing w/the silver pyramid stud stuff. wow, this has got to be one of the most unusual but special phone calls I've ever cuz he makes me feel worthy of his energy and the importance he's putting on this show. I have to say my pulse went up as he laid things out, he made it all pretty exciting and I got a righteous feeling just to be part of all this. I felt like a young watt again, hearing stooges and jamming along w/them in my head - I could never imagine this ever happening then and it's still hard too now. this call from iggy has really lit my fuse up much. man, am I gonna focus and try to deliver my best. I'm shaking like a leaf now. when the calls done, I can't help but tell pete all about it as he lays in the back of the boat here, trying to shake that sickness shit. I am one excited watt.
calvin the soundman shows up w/his van painted almost all blue - one window even painted over! he's a great cat and did our sound last year. he says there's two locals opening up, xelophane uziq and canard. the musicians in this town have always been very nice to me and it's great to share the stage w/them. I bet this bass cat named ian is in one of them, he's always in tons of bands here - great bass player too. brian, the boss shows up but he's gotta bail for band practice, he's in believe in toledo - love it when the boss of the pad you're playing is in a band too. makes shit very easy to relate too. I can't remember his partner's name now (fucking alzheimers) but he told me about these cats who played the club last night who very much disrespected everyone and strutted about like rockstars (one of those "modern rock" generic bands) and made it the worst of nights. folks who run pads I dig very much have my sympathy to have shit like this dumped on them. the state of mind of someone who's doing connect-the-dots fake sound and giving grief cuz they think they're part of some... shit, I don't want to waste any more effort on discussing this further (maybe a catchy slogan like "a tiara on every head and an mtv segment for every crib" - no)... my heart goes out to the victims, enough said.
man, some negative out of watt today, even w/the positive of the rap w/iggy - guess it's part of the universe's balancing act. I'm pretty tired though and konk after chimping diary. it's easy in the boat compared w/the same time last year when it was like a shvitz in here and I had to get naked. no problem w/the cali-like weather this time and I'm out cold cuz of the littleness of shuteye last night. pete comes and gets me when it's our turn. ok watt, try your best. tallahassee always has a smaller thing for me but the folks that come always energize me much - a big time reason to get up and play. soundman calvin has the sound dialed up great and this gig is much fun and exciting for me, really. jer's a little off but not much and pete's dealing w/his sickness admirably - you'd would not know by his playing in the least. I don't know - maybe it was iggy's phone call that's inspiring me cuz I'm having a ball on stage w/my guys and the folks here much. I really go off for the encores too and the little bass serves me well - man, I love her the spirit she shares w/me - even w/her faults - hey, and what about my faults? she is very forgiving about that too. like all the shows on this tour when they end, tons of kindness from folks as I talk and sling w/them. grateful watt, very much. hugs, pictures, good words - all that. lucky watt.
john and heather, the couple that had us over to konk last tour invite us again and we head on over. they got a righteous siamese cat that is all about loving and exploring - cuddles and cuddles and cuddles. we sit and spiel for a time - one of tonight's subjects is phillip the fair and his dealing w/vatican (seventyfive years of french popes after he moves the holy see to avingon) and the templars (had them arrested on friday the thirteenth and their grand master burned at the stake). heather's an art major at college and says he (phillip) had some consequences to this field but I'm lost to it. time for me to get some more learning. art and politics? cellini had a great autobiography dealing w/that in the renaissance - trippy how that comes up after seeing that machiavelli book earlier (same period). how did that happen? mind too tired to figure the path now, must submit to konk so I do.
friday, april 18 - ybor city, fl
awoke feeling much better at Jon and heather's; their cat, ziowa had assumed his position inside of my clothes bag (he had done the same last tour) and was quite comfy from what I could gather.
jon had woken up and was making us breakfast (eggs and bacon), while heather was doing coffee duty. the coffee machine did a reprise of the mess at nicole's house in Albuequerque; it overflowed all over the microwave and was busy weaving a tell-tale road across the floor. Heather responded w/ her characteristic mellowness, wiping up the mess and making another pot. we munched down the chow w/ much aplomb, said our goodbyes and continued onward towards our next port of call. much respect to heather and jon for the good vibes, good conversation and crash pad.
jer had snagged the bench seat so I was riding shotgun , taking the snaps and handling navigation. Me and watt rapped on the trip about music in general and the role of the sidemen as well as the boss in a band situation; we have both had the opportunity to assume both roles and agreed that both are an art in themselves. also the value of gelling personalities in a band- I didn't always love playing weddings, but I loved hanging out w/ my best bud tone (who plays guitar in the band) and all the rest of the guys (lil the kill too- she sings in the band). camraderie and friendship are just as important as what's being laid out on stage.
I pulled out the ti book and began plotting our descent into ybor city, and we steamed up in front of the club w/ no major problems. Jer immediately flew out of the boat; he was riding a major totem pole and had to find a head really quick. we were playing the Orpheum again; tony, the boss of the pad is a very nice cat, and dawn the bartender always treats us right (and is not too hard to look at either). I kicked it in the boat while watt chimped diary- in the meantime gabe, (who's house we were crashing at again), showed up to say hey and see if we were all situated yet. I wanted to go do a chop-chop on my hair at the same pad I did last tour but gabe regretfully informed me that the cat that had cut my hair the year before had died-the unfortunate victim of either a suicide or an accident. It made me very sad, he had been a really nice man. jer came back from his near-death experience and we went in search of some chow. we found a little pad down the street (the green iguana), and sat down to eat; there was a female duo playing for the happy hour and they were pretty down- very beautiful voices. we headed back to the orph' and the soundman, dave , had arrived. we pulled in the gear and set it up and I went to go call my bud steve leigh, who lives in lutz, florida (steve used to be staff keyboard player at stax records in memphis and has played on some very down soul tracks- he just recently did some gigs w/ the MG's), and is one of my consulting hammond gurus. He told me that he might possibly have leukemia, but in typical steve fashion he was taking it in stride (his wife was diagnosed w/ lung cancer some time ago also, but he tells me she is doing well). major bummer. steve has always gone out of his way to help me w/my hammond questions and problems, always w/o asking anything in return. I really hope you get healthy again , bro.
dave miked us up and we did a short soundcheck; the monitors were sounding bad (no fault of dave's as somebody had fucked w/ his gear), and I hoped everything would be copacetic by showtime.
I chimped a little diary and dawn kept the writing jones going w/ bushmills and water- jer wanted to go munch again, so I put away the ti book and off we went. In ybor they close off a four block section of the down town and it turns into this major dance party bogart- super fucking lame. we found this pad called carmine's and had probably the tastiest cuban roast pork ever (kudos to the chef). we headed back to the club and I chimped a little more diary- the first band started and they were very cool (they were called the "the boats" and had a second guitar player who also played trumpet); very nice vocal harmonies and they were very nice cats to boot. they finished up the set just as I was done chimping and I went to go wake up the chief. we set up the gear in place and launched into the set- major problems from the beginning; there was only one monitor mix and watt had the organ blaring in his wedge and could not hear his vocals (he got really pissed and was slamming his bass- I knew exactly how he felt- you just wanna kill everyone around you), but we flagged down dave and he took the organ out of the mix (bad news for me as I only had the Leslie to go by and I was distorting the old girl majorly). the crowd was very cool but they were yammering it up during the slow songs which was a bit unnerving, but they were w/ us the whole way. we came out and did the encore to thunderous applause- the crowd into it despite the yammer and much respect to them. we finished the set and watt slung the merch while me and jer disassembled the tools.
loaded up the boat in our usual scientific perfection and headed on over to gabe's pad. watt and jer conked immediately but I sat up and rapped w/ gabe and jen and their peeps and drank down mass quantities of PBR. I soon felt the sandman creeping and I crawled into my warm, welcome bag and conked on the deck.... quick.
pop and hose off - there's that siamese friend, all purrs and cuddles - righteous pouch of bones and warmness. heather has a crisis w/the coff like laura did in albuquerque and grounds flood onto the deck, oh dear. her laid-back demeanor though prevents her from hollering and instead, casual and soft cusses are let out - me and pete don't mean to laugh cuz of her misfortune but it is in a way, funny. john gets up and makes us eggs and bacon and it's good to the gut when we fill up on it. almost three hundred miles to our next stop and we want to beat the traffic that can plug central florida bad so it's time for us to say fare thee well and thank you, john and heather. hope you get a chance to read that cellini autobio...
east on I-10 and across the suwanee river (only freeway sign I've see in the u.s. for a river that has the notes to help you sing its theme song) and at lake city, we pull a starboard and head south on the I-75. I chow almost a whole bag of these tiny carrots that were taking on water - waste not, want not. the weather's still calm for us and oppressive humidity tiny - many thanks. jer is pretty hurting from those mosquito bites - they've swollen up and made his skin real tight around them and causing his joints to hurt. he soldiers through in it the back while pete up front discusses music stuff w/me - music on the personal level, in regards to making it. he's into this touring thing and playing w/me - I can't tell you how refreshing it is to hear someone excited about travelling about and working the towns instead of whining and crying about it as if it was a burden - pete sees it kind of like I do, as an opportunity. it is a trippy life but an interesting one and though we came into it from different paths, him from lessons since before his teens and me from being w/d. boon, we share a common hankering to get the sounds kicked out from a deck level and not floating in some lofty what-the-fuck-ever. he's into it, I can tell he's been bit and has the fever. his wife ljil works at starbucks now but was a big star in the old yugoslavia. however, that was through the old way of doing music w/svengallis playing puppetmaster and her fate at their whim. for pete, it was a bad experience and he tells me all about how he hated it so. it was for ljil too but pete's gonna get her back into music w/this pro tools studio he's gonna set up his pad. this new apple tibook he has is gonna be the heart of it and not just for chimping tour diary like he's doing now. I tell pete I think it'd be great if he had cds of pete mazich music to sling after the gigs when we're done, that cats would probably be interested in what he's doing outside of the watt world. I love to hear folks who make music actually sound excited about music instead of relegating it to some kind of scam to hustle cattle or whatever. it's infectious and excites me too. I tell him I think ensemble music is all about interesting conversations - the different instruments actually talking w/each other and not just goosestepping along to regimented sleepwalking shit to punch that clock. even w/motivation like what pete's firing up, it's still hard to reach down and give up your best cuz nothing's automatic and work is never done if what you're doing is a cutting new paths and I'm not just talking in the physical/material sense cuz like proust said, "the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in seeing through new eyes." tonight will turn out to be a bit of challenge for the bassman who drives the boat.
ybor city is the old historical part of tampa and that where we're playing tonight - same as last year, at a pad called the orpheum. this will be the most south of all the gigs on the tour. all locked up and no one home when we pull in at four but friend gabe is there to meet us. he offers to find some throat-coat tea for me but has some bad news for pete cuz he was going to get his hair cut a block away from here like last time but the barber died. kind of a mystery about it, either a bad reaction between different ones or maybe a suicide. that's sad, pete said he was cool people. jer's no where to be found - kind of reminds me of touring w/george hurley where he'd be out the hatch while the boat was still moving! damn, he didn't de-scroll or put down the window curtains, it must've been something intense... when he finally does come back to us, he announces he helped bring the cleveland browns to the super bowl. like georgie would say, "the mule was kicking at the barn door" - that was the reason for him having to bolt so. all is forgiven, jer! him and pete go to forge for chow while I stay w/the boat and chimp diary. it's not that humid but the sun breaks through some clouds and beats down on the boat, quickly raising the temp over ninety. fuck it, I chimp away despite that so I can have a good konk after soundcheck - it was a late one last night, maybe three bells for snoresville.
soundman dave shows up and lets us in. he's got a bunch of bananas and apples and they're real good - love the fruit. gabe returns w/no tea in hand, he can't find any so watt's out of luck there. very nice of him to try though. we load in and set up for soundcheck. this cat named steve comes and asks if he can tape the gig and I say "sure" - tapers who trade or do it for themselves aren't bootleggers in my book. another cat wants to video tape the gig and that's ok too. he gives me two books also, charles bukowski's "what matters most is how you walk through the fire" and laura lisle's biography of georgia o'keeffe - righteous. he's also doing a painting of the boat for me and when I tell him what's on bukowski's gravestone, he decides to call the painting that, which is "don't try." well, thank you! dave's a nice young man and we do a quick song w/him - man, are the monitors on the tiny side as far as loudness. oh well. "work the room" is the motto to live by and not cry by - buckle up, watt. I go to the boat to konk.
whoa, I konk hard - like three hours. I miss the openers, local cats called the boats but pete and jer tell me they're really good. I had a very strange dream during my konk, one that puts me in a weird mood, kind of beat down. I get into these feelings of worthlessness sometimes and don't exactly know what brings them on. it seems in the dream I was both at some kind of trial, defending myself and at the same time, at some social kind of thing - either at a gig or school or whatever where there's folks all around and someone I respect is really laying it into me - not w/false accusations or making shit up but being right on the money and accurate w/the criticisms which feel like blow after blow on me, pounding me tiny. cuz of my respect or even reverence for my accuser, I'm not defensive and don't try to refute any of this, it's a acceptance of my wrongness/inappropriateness which is reflected into this submission. it's all so abstract but at the same time, w/a truth and a realness that embeds itself into the center of this crazy dream. the real problem I how to deal w/it, "move on" or whatever - the legitimacy of my accuser's claim is not in doubt. this shakes me up much. maybe I can purge these feelings w/an intense gig.
lots of good folks here and they get close up on the stage - it's a low one so they're really close. unlike last time, the air conditioning is working so there's no choking lack of air like before. however, there's trouble for me right from the get-go. I bring my own mic on tour and on pete's recommendation, I got a electro-voice n/d767. it's a little fatter than the usual sure mics you find at most clubs so it has its own mic clip fro the microphone stand and I bring mine around w/the mic in a little bag (I also use this little bag to hold my glasses while I play - how many times did I have to fucking stomp on them cuz they rattled off the top of the amp before I figured this out? slow learner watt). well, this clip has been screwed on only like two-thirds of the way so the mic keeps spinning around when I try to sing in it and my lips rub up on it. the lame monitors mean I have to be really close up to anything. aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh, this is frustrating - especially when your hands are busy on the bass and can't fix this problem. the next nightmare is the organ is wailing through the monitors and ripping my head off. I can handle it for the first two songs kind of but by "burstedman," it's mowing me down - my voice is already weak and I can't get over this air raid siren going off in my head. I love pete's playing and there's nothing wrong w/that - it's the ton, the volume and the difficulty I'm having hearing anything that's coming out of my mouth. dave can't really help from where he's at cuz the monitor board is at the side of the stage so I gesture calmly (not!) for him to come help me. now shit like this is gonna come up and you would think after all these tours I've seen almost everything and believe me, I have but I can't account for this fucked-up behavior of mine at the moment and why am I not handling things better - shit. I'm really angry at myself. looking back at on it, I can kind of blame some of it on the state of mind after that wacky dream but I should be better w/this. I've had freak-outs on stage kind of before and I've really tried to make a commitment to get better at this. it's not like I start throwing ego around or shit like that but I do get super insecurities, let that eat me up and then play like shit. it's not fair to my guys and not fair to the folks who've worked hard to get the money up and come pay to see me try and do my best. this is a huge issue w/me. anyway, back to this show: I actually realize this is going on - I'm not so caught up I don't see the forest for the trees hear and try to engage some damage control but first taking a step back and just having a laugh at myself. jer's looking kind of dour, I can tell he's hurting and me and him are missing some cues - not bad but a little off. there is a lot of yammering from some of the folks but in a way, that helps out cuz it is really funny, actually. I break out of my weird mood and start playing a lot better and in turn, I'm probably a much better cat for my guys to key off of - this is an important responsibility and I have to focus hard to make sure I have that together or at least try my damndest to. the last tune of the set is "the red and the black" but I break a 'd' string about two-thirds of the way through it and instead of changing it, I got right into "sister ray" - bass solos and all. fuck it, if I can't make it work like that then what am I but just another form of a hand puppet - ok, one w/out a big machine/support system behind me but a hand puppet none the less. obviously I got something to prove (to myself) and go at it very intensely. the inspirational names I holler at times like these get their call and I improvise the best I can in such a state where I want frenzy to win out just enough to liberate me from psuedo-logic (another name for sleepwalking) - playing by rote. when we do the stooges' "little doll" and in that break down part I have us do at the end, I substitute "c'mon yammer" for "c'mon shake" - it's good fun cuz I think folks should be able to talk if they want. sure, it's a little unnerving and you might take it as an insult but don't people already have enough control put on their lives? they should get to be a little free w/their voices at a punk gig. I tell the crowd this when I thank them for all the open hearts/minds they've show for seeing me go through my crisis dance tonight.
oh boy, both audio and video tapes of this show to document my lunacy - hey, that's how the dice roll. when I sling, lots of niceness - some paintings from one cat, a bass to sign from another, some cds from others who are trying music too and casey, who helped darrin huff get measurements to make that purple plower bass for me in spokane is here and shows me the bass darrin made him. it's beautiful and a trip to see it looks kind of like a les claypool one - whoa! much respect to darrin. nancy from new orleans came to this show too and brought me some pear butter - wonder what's that like cuz I've never had it. curious though, I love pears. I settle w/the boss tony and we get to talking about that illness that almost killed me. I for the life of can't think of the kind of abscess it kind was like but I remember now as I'm chimping this diary. much apology to tony but the word I was looking for was fistula, like pete from peglegasus had but even more like a perineal cyst. disgusting shit, I can't for the life of me think of why we got into that (maybe tony asked me about it) but obviously, I can't get that shit ever out of my mind completely. fucking watt. I do feel like a great weight has been lifted when all the good spirit of these folks infects me w/good glows for the heart. sometimes I can get such heavy failure feelings. I think it's important for me to admit wrongs to myself and be put in my place in a way, submit w/a humility that in the long run will help me grow and learn. this is hard to relate to people cuz they don't want it hear it. I can imagine there are many reasons for that but really, that's out of my hands and it's not gonna help me down the road to try and play the blame game w/others. funny what my friend crane sent me in an email today, something from someone named john welwood:
"worthy opponents - so we should not romanticize this kind of connection too much, imagining that it will bring only sweetness and light. in many ways, it is more like finding a worthy opponent. we have met 'our match,' ...(a) heart connection provides gentle nurturing warmth, (a) soul connection provides a more intense, transformative fire. it often manifests in the form of friction... saying, in effect: 'why are you so stuck in your ways? I want you to open up and come fully alive... to be more present, more flexible, more real...'"
now it seems like this guy is talking about couples or something like that but this makes sense in my sturggles w/myself - maybe helping me w/understanding the nutty dreams. in fact, this spiel might've brought it on kind of, now that I think of it... should I be more careful w/what I read? I am a silly man, really. it's good to exhale these thoughts now, much like I did as we take gabe in the boat w/us to his pad. what a righteous little pekinese named luka here - a little doll of a dog. there's friends of his there and they're all very nice but I can only last a little bit (maybe minutes) before I go to konk on the deck in gabe's music room. jer was set to go here and I offer to share w/him but he says my snoring sucks the paint off the walls. another humbler for watt - it's ok, I can take it. I love jer. gabe's gotta shut the hatch cuz he says the cats will go crazy on his stuff but that's ok. w/the mask down, all the hatches seem closed. buenos noches.
saturday, april 19 - orlando, fl
popped on gabe's deck and immediately went for a soak in the shower; I really needed it and my sore back welcomed the hot water. after the nice soak I toasted up some bagels and munched out; me and jer rapped w/ gabe for awhile while watt did his morning puter' work. the chief was done quickly and yelled out "let's go sailors", so we loaded up the gear in the boat and we were off once again; gabe said that he might come to our show tonite so we told him we'd put him on the guest list. much respect to gabe and his sweet lady jen for the good vibes, PBR, and conversation; it's really nice to feel at home while you're on tour.
I conked for most of the trip to orlando; it was supposed to be a short drive (75 miles), but of course there was a major fucking plug and it took about three hours (I did get some real good conk in tho'). I was feeling much better and it seemed as if the bug was leaving my body, but I was still hawking up major loogies ( this is as much my fault as the bug's cause' I really need to stop puffing on the cigarettes- it's a nasty and expensive habit). I had a dream about my girls and my little man, tony- we were in my garage and listening to old tapes of lil the kill's band Magazin and dancing around, laughing. I really miss lil and the kids alot- they've been real supportive of the whole tour thing; I couldn't possibly have a better family even if I wished for one. I love them all very much. my older daughter, nicole (aka pickle), is taking her driving test soon! (seems like just yesterday I was wiping her butt). she was real shaky w/ the driving thing in the beginning, but I know she'll pass w/ flying colors- she's a fighter (and maybe she can shuttle her old man around a little bit now?)
we got into orlando early and parked the boat in front of the club (a pad called the social), but nobody had arrived as of yet. we pulled the boat into a side street and waited; I kicked it in the back- read some bukowski that somebody had given watt (I love the way he writes), while the chief chimped diary- jer had gone for a little walk. He came back and we went in search of some chow- we found a little pad (sports bar type of a place), and ordered up. The chow was total shit- I didn't even get halfway thru it; greasy ass turkey reuben w/ limp dick greasy fries (even the chips and salsa were crap)- a fucking culinary aberration. I reluctantly paid my share of the tab and we hoofed it back to the boat. I was kind of excited about this gig as a friend of my bud Tone's wife natalie was going to show up ( kelsey- her brother lives in orlando), and it's always cool when friends come to support the gigs- it would be her first watt show too (I wanted to play intense for them). we waited a little longer in the boat and somebody finally showed up and popped the hatch; we unloaded all the gear and set it up - the soundman showed up and got us going and we did the check. everything sounded kosher (even the monitors) , so we broke down and I went to go chimp some diary. people started showing up and I had a feeling it would be a good show (shit, it was a sat. nite!). gabe showed up w/ a couple of buds of his and jer's pillow (which he forgot on gabe's deck), I had a bushmills w/ water and continued w/ the chimp- The opening band went on (the kick ) and I listened to them while I was writing- they sounded cool; alot of energy and good rapport w/ the crowd (they kind of reminded me of the New York Dolls). They finished their set and it was time for us to do our thing(I scanned the room for any sight of kelsey but no go ). we launched into the set and our energy was good - I was facing the door of the club and I could see people passing by on the street and some of them would flash me the devil sign as they walked by (very innovative)- I saw a few people walk out as we were doing the set and somewhere in the midpoint I lost my energy and went into auto-pilot; this gig was sapping me dry and I could feel the drive leave. we finished up and did a couple of encore tunes, but all I could think about was loading up the boat and getting the fuck out of there. The people that were there were very nice and we got a lot of positive comments when we finished (signed a few posters too) but I felt I had somehow short-changed the crowd. watt pulled the boat up in front of the club; there was a fucking million people milling around in the street- damn dance club clusterfuck- we loaded up as fast as possible and hopped in (some dumbasses were banging on the back of the boat), and we got the fuck out of dodge. we were staying at a friend of watt's (jim ), and he lives close by so we didn't have a long way to go. the directions that we had were ass-backwards, so we had to pull the boat over and get our bearings w/ the ti book, but we soon pulled up in front of jim's pad w/o any problems. we unloaded our bags and went inside- jim and his lady janie were waiting and got us all settled in; jer and watt conked quickly, while I sat up for a little watching the tube and ruminating over the gig. I was feeling bummed and exhausted, so I climbed in the bag and drifted off.....no thoughts.
pop and hose off early, the little pekinese, luka, is at my feet in a love dance while I dry off. gabe is kind to make coff and toast bagels via the stove. thank you much. I let pete and jer konk 'till almost noon so they can catch up on any sleep debt while we got the chance - me, I catch up on the tour business stuff (you must realize by now I'm also the "tour manager"). some smaller drives finally after a bunch of big ones is welcomed for this kind of stuff. only seventyfive miles to orlando...
bye bye and thanks to gabe as we head east on I-4. whoa, much traffic and construction slows us down to about a wenty miles an hour average and the trip takes like three hours! if we were any homesick for this kind of shit you get in l.a., we're plenty cured of it know - yech. funny thing, it's a saturday so there's no one working and we can't really see any reason for plugs anywhere. well, sometimes you just gotta go w/the flow. not too hot or humid anyway so the drive's not torture in that respect. the stop and go sure is a pain though. this is the town near disney world and everything that goes w/that is so maybe w/were just part of a weekend tourist heard heading for the trough. whatever, we do make into town around three and head right for the downtown where the venue for tonight is, the social. it used to be called the sapphire supper club and I had palyed there many times. this will be my first time there under the new name and new owners. the doors are locked so my guys go foraging for chow while I park the boat about a block away and check out this head shop for jewelry. jewelry? remember me saying iggy thought when he called the other day that it'd be ok for me to wear a leather/stud thing? well, the one I got in texas a couple of years ago is in lame shape from my sweating it all this time (I never took it off hardly once I put it on) and now I have two-thirds of the bracelet jonathan in sacramento gave me on the first gig of this tour (two of the suede parts are there but the thin chain w/the beads broke off soon after in the northwest). this head shop has mostly hippy things - not much punk stuff but there's like a dog collar-like one I might be able to modify to make it work. the counter lady gives me a discount cuz I'll have to work on it - she's got a chicago accent - how many people here actually are from here cuz I'm always meeting transplants. I think that's ok though that folks can do it. the navy forced it on me when I was young, I kind of resisted it after that and stayed in pedro but I can respect the courage of those who can just pull up and move to another town, another state, another region - even another land. it might be good for the culture at large too. I go get a half a tuna sandwich at the subway by the club and see my guys at fancy pad across the road. I hardly eat w/my guys on tour and that's ok. I get back to the boat and pete joins me and laughs much when he sees the collar. he thinks it'll work good too for what I want - he can't get around his neck either. he tells me that chow he got w/jer cost twelve bucks and is making him sick - he threw half of it away and is kind of pissed at that pad. my 'way sandwich was good but I hate a whole bag of grapes on the drive here (seedless thompsons, really good - boss tony from the orpheum gave them to me) and I got kind of stomach ache, like the ones you get as a little kid from eating too many green apples. luckily, I got some rolaids in my 'puter bag that brings me relief pretty fast. I chimp diary while pete reads the bukowski book I got last night when rain starts coming down. yep, the sun out bright and still rain comes down which is kind of ok cuz all of the sudden all this humid shit came on us. weather can sure change fast!
load-in time so I move the boat out in front of the venue. no one's here yet, what's up? usually, this place was open during the day to yuppies who worked in the nearby office buildings cuz the pad was also a restaurant but things have probably changed w/the changes here. finally, someone does come and we bring our stuff in. a lady named josie's kind of in charge and it turns out she's a bass player too. a young man named jason who's helped me here before brings me throat-coat tea, the kind gabe couldn't find yesterday but tried hard to. thanks, jason - this stuff helps me much. he brought some pears and san pellegrino bubble water - a great combo. I chimp the rest of the diary and wait for soundman jeff to mic us up. I talk w/the guys in the opening band, locals called the kick. they're nice guys and like josie, wants to know about my old days some cuz they think all these tours I've done is a trip. I hope they all can do the same cuz it's not like I'm superman or something, it's just the way things worked out. I never ever thought you could do any of this when I was a boy or just starting out w/d. boon. it would've been a trip for us to meet someone like what I am now back then. I know we wouldv'e been fired up cuz when we eventually did get then chance, we went for it whole-hog. I like to get bands excited this way like it's a journey and an adventure instead of it just being some paint-by-numbers thing to be a rockstar or whatever. I tell them I was excited by the glam and glitter scene when I was young - I don't know, it was on my mind cuz where I got that collar was also a postcard w/the new york dolls on it and I got it to send to a dear friend. I must admit I'm kind of silly. anyway, whatever it takes to get you excited and go for it, right? for some folks it might be lots of money but I found outrageous clothes/music mixed w/creedence clearwater revival and being w/d. boon fueled my motor to get the bass going for me. I don't know if that translates but they smile back and are nice to me. maybe sometimes I get a little too carried away w/myself but I'd never want folks to think I was better than them. sometimes I think what I'm trying to do is just say it's ok to be different and maybe I might myself might come from things people might not expect cuz of what others have said or my appearance. I'm just another mind out there trying to figure things out too. I don't really have that much advantage cuz I've logged a few miles or a few gigs. you're only as decent as you were to the last cat you met or as good as the last gig you played. if you do fuck up, you gotta get back up - just like if you were riding a skateboard - and get going again. even if you're mind/brain's wrestling w/it, the fire's gotta have something to show in your actions. brave gentleness - gentle bravery, I don't know but I think it might be kind of weak to try and make yourself look good at the expense of others though it's very human to fall into that. being human's no excuse but it is a trip, living a life. figuring yourself out or letting others help you learn you? hmm... we do a song for jeff and then I go out to the boat and konk.
pete comes and gets me after a long konk, maybe three hours. I remember last year when I was naked in the boat try to konk in her as she baked like a shvitz but this year it comes really easy. I grab the sling sack and head inside. let's see, maybe the smallest gig I've ever done for this town and a saturday too. well, if you're in this long enough, there's gonna be hills and valleys that's for sure. there's folks excited for the show though, they yell nice things up to me. the gig is a trippy one in a way cuz the front hatch is open and all the hollering from the party scene on the street is pouring through, kind of distracting - maybe more for pete than me cuz the way his organ is (pointing straight at me from jer's port side - I'm to jer's starboard from where he sits at his drums), he's got full view of that mess. me, I'm looking at the folks, a couple of cats of pogoing, even to the slow numbers. pete slurs some of our tags together so I know he's a little caught up by this but he's a champ and I get him to smile w/that goofy face of mine. these secondmen are a good band, I really dig them. jer's on too. this gig is a character builder but hey, that's how the deck gets dealt sometimes and that's the hand that's to be played. this is easy to recite maybe here in a diary or in person w/someone in a spiel but to live it while the gig is going is the real test. I hope I'm getting better at this. I wanna work more on the keeping the eyes open thing. jer says something about that too and the gig's end and though I thought I had them open some, he said there were times when they weren't and it worries him cuz he gets scared too w/the "chief" ain't all the way on board (meaning no eye contact). I'm the one who's stressed this eye contact thing anyway so I gotta live up to that challenge. this is important for me.
after we do our last tune, there's the cats who come to konk and see what I'm slinging. mister hugh manatee gives me the big hug I love getting each time I see him. best to him. there's this cat name kirk who has quite a story for me. he saw me playing w/fIREHOSE at a pad in delaware ten or more years ago, there was a band called shovelhead on the bill too (the singer had shorts made of duct tape and at the end of their set, their girlfriends came out dressed like the girls from the "addicted to love" video w/a big banner they were all holding that said "throw joints"). anyway, he said he was spieling and drinking whisky w/me and the subject of children came up and I said "the nazis are having babies so other folks should have them too" or something to that effect. after he tells me this, he hugs his girl and says, "watt, this is elizabeth and I love her much" and then she shakes my hand. it was very touching for me cuz they were both so sincere and happy. that was a nice thing to be part of even w/my crazy whisky-fueled talk from those years back. I'm glad they got something positive out of it cuz that's where my hopes are anyway, even if I have a fucked-up time of expressing that right some (most?) times. there's lots of other good people to rap too also - gabe came to bring jer the pillow he almost donated from our konk at his pad last night. thanks, gabe. there's two cats who have a band playing what they call "fusion" and they were kind of bummed about what folks might think of that but were uplifted by this gig (!!!) - I know nels would've be laughing his head off to hear that! glad I could help though, glad for all these folks being able to get something out of what we're trying to get going here. one man, says he got too wasted and missed what turned out to be the only chance he had to see the minutemen and it made him determined to be stronger about that. he says his brother's been playing a fender telecaster bass for a number of years. trippy how you can come into people's lives, huh? this is fuel for me to try even harder.
the boss mike thanks me much and says the cat who used to own this pad and did all my orlando gigs before this one, jim, wants us to konk at his pad. he draws us a map but there's a right turn where there should've been a left and we're wandering for maybe fifteen minutes before pete gets out the tibook and we're soon back on course. jim's girl janie lets us in and we go to the music room (jim has a righteous music collection) where we usually konk and then jim comes out to talk a while. today's his fortysecond birthday. I'm pretty beat so I'm quick in the bag but it's good to see him again. the mask comes down and I still talk w/the eyes covered but he's gotta retire soon too. the tv has george carlin doing a standup thing from I don't when and though mister carlin goes way back w/me (the first record d. boon ever played for me - like on the first day I met him - was "class clown"), I implore pete to relent. I guess pete can get wound up after gigs but then again, so can I. he did say in the boat on the way over here he was very disappointed that people he put on the guest list and said they were gonna come, flaked. that's fucked up. pete's a good man and should get respect. maybe something came up or whatever. I just feel protective of pete and want to do everything I can for him. for sure I'm in his corner. noches, compadre.
sunday, april 20 - jacksonville, fl
popped at jim's pad hacking my guts out (keep up the puffing dumbass), so much that I was seeing stars; gotta try and give up this filthy addiction, it's stretching out this bug thing way too far and making me feel all the more crappier- I wish I'd never picked the fucking things up. Janie, jim's lady , made us up a real kind breakfast and I wolfed this down w/ a big glass of gatorade and some vitamin C tabs. we didn't have much of a hellride to jacksonville so we had some time to blow- jim has an immense collection of tapes, books, cd's and posters and I scanned thru all the shelves for any interesting tomes. I spotted one on tom waits (one of my favorites) and began to read it; it made me think of think of the band I played in w/ steve hodges for a time- bourbon jones; it was probably one of the best bands I had ever played in and one of my biggest musical disappointments (but that's another long story), I still keep in touch w/ some of the cats in the band- I do consider them my friends and it led me to another favorite band I like to play in- the busstop hurricanes. hills and valleys, positives into negatives- thats' what this thing is all about, so I've found that it pays to just be as nice as you can and go w/ the flow.
watt finished up his puter' work, we packed the bags in the boat and we were off once again.... much respect to jim and janie for the kind chow and vibes.
As we drove towards j'ville we talked about the gig that we'd had at this same pad last year (Jackrabbit's); it had turned into one of the more notorious gigs of the tour due to the presence of two borracho cats who would not relent on the heckling; they ended up bumming out the whole crowd and it was a nightmare. needless to say, we were not expecting a great gig and to top it off, it was easter sunday. we decided that if the two cats showed up again we would verbally mow em' down in three part harmony and not let it affect us- we had to play intense for the peeps- we owed it to them. we pulled up to a laundromat a block from the club as we had to do some wash- we were running out of clothes due to the swelter situation in Florida (tho' it was a lot nicer than last tour). we finished the wash, parked in back of the club and waited for the boss to arrive; I read a little and then me and jer went hoofing in search of some chow ( a futile attempt to say the least on easter sunday), the only place that was open was a barfucks, so we went in and ordered up some coffee and...coffee cake. After our modest lunch we hoofed it back to the pad; the hatch was open and we loaded the gear in. Keith, the soundman showed up and miked all the tools and we did the check'. it sounded really good and I began to feel a little less ill at ease. watt went to go crash in the boat and me and jer retired to the bosses office to chimp some diary and kick back. I checked my email on the puter' and continued the chimp. The opening band, sorry for dresden started up and I listened for a piece; nice harmonies and melodic guitar hooks. A lady named Kristy who owns a couple of local bars came in to rap w/ me and jer- we were telling her about the tour an all and she ended up offering us up her pad to crash at. very cool of her. The second band started up; they were a guitar/drums duo called "balboa" and sounded very cool- again, great chunky power chords and screaming vocals. I dug on em'.
Balboa finished up the set and it was time for us to go on- I walked out into the club and there were actually there! I felt relieved and my confidence rose. I woke up the chief and went to go move the gear in place- and we started the set... top of the second song we had a bit of a choke situation and had to start it again, three times! (not a cool way to start a gig), but we regained our footing and plowed thru the rest of the set w/ major intensity. the crowd was except for the ever present yammering during the quiet parts (why do some cats do this??). we finished the set and came up to do the encore to thunderous applause. it was totally unexpected, but it just goes to show you- it's not always good to pre-judge.
we loaded all the gear into the boat and followed kristy back to her pad; I felt real good about the gig and was glad that I had kept my confidence. much respect to the soundman, keith for the excellent sound and to tim the boss, for treating us right once again.
we got to kristy's pad (which wasn't too far away), unloaded the bags and settled in. Me and Jer were starved and kristy, god bless her soul, let us commandeer her kitchen. her pad was being renovated so there was construction going on, (only one side of her kitchen sink was working and jer did not know this and caused a minor flood). we found some tortillas, cheese,salsa, and refried beans in the fridge and made up some kind quesadillas. The cats from "balboa" showed up and we rapped til' the wee hours of the morning- I was exhausted, but in a good mood, and I conked happily in one of the upstairs bedrooms. solid.
pop and hose off early, like 8:30. out to the boat for fresh everything - might as well cuz there's a laundromat by the pad we're playing in jacksonville and all the outfits can get a cleaning there. walk outside to find righteous cali-like weather once again - this is hard to believe but really happening - I can't remember a time when I did so many florida gigs w/out any oppressively sticky and humid gigs ravaging any of them. it's a trip but I have to admit I am not bumming on it in the slightest! quite a blessing for us, really. jim's girl janie cooks us up eggs and potatoes, thank you. the dog macy, who barked heavy at last night is now used to us and quite nice. jim's trying to get guys for his sunday basketball (he's got a half court and is manic about wailing on the hoops) but it's easter and there's lots of flaking. easter sunday makes me think of being a boy and my ma taking me and my sisters to chow at this pad in long beach, the park pantry. for us it was a fancy pad to chow - we hardly ever ate out (not that I minded cuz my ma cooks like a champ). trippy how now I see that pad when I go over to raymond's where he does art - it's right near - and it looks kind of plain now, like an independently run kind of diner place but in those days, through my younger eyes, it was very much a fancy pad to chow. of course, we chowed there the way we did at home, taking like two or three hours w/talk, talk, talking... I used to think this was crazy 'till I first toured in italy and found those folks there do this big time. made perfect sense then cuz of my ma's italian roots. I'm gonna call my ma when we get to jacksonville - it's sunday anyway and that's the day I chow w/her when I'm back in pedro or call her if I'm on tour. jer finds a dennis rodman rubber mask and shots some hoops w/that on. he makes one finally after he takes the mask off. I ate dinner w/dennis rodman once in seattle, maybe eight years ago and he was a nice man. that was a trippy thing to have happen to me.
we say our byes (thanks, jim!) and roll east on the I-4 towards daytona beach and then head north on I-95. there's heavy traffic and some construction but it's much better than the crawl to orlando yesterday. jer preps up some 'dines - a new kind from a kindly recent donate - and we all chow on them. jer's quite good at getting the cracker w/the 'dines in my mouth while I keep both hands on the wheel - he times it perfect so as not get any tooth or lip contact from the watt maw. thanks, jer. looks like the tree are growing back from all those fires that had around here - you can still see scorched tree trunks and such alongside the road but lots of young firs coming up too. we head into a part of jacksonville called san marcos and over to do our wash, about a block from where we're playing tonight, the site of like my last four or five gigs here, jack rabbit's. so very calm to have the duds scrubbed in weather like this - I can very much dig it. after loading the washer, I go to use the pay phone.
I first call my ma. she was talking very soft and I could tell she was weak. two weeks of sickness now and though she says the worst is over, she says she's so tired and beat down by this shit. it worries me, damn. I told her I need her much and part of her is w/me when I play, it's not like her job is done just cuz I'm not a little boy (age-wise) any more. sometimes I think society makes mas feel like they're done w/once the kids are older. I want her to have a strong will to fight this shit so I let her know it's me being her boy and part of her life that has lead me to where I am and I'm proud she's my ma and still around so we can spiel w/each other and inspire each of our endeavors. my ma has parts in me that make me what I am, the good things (maybe some bad things too but I take responsibility for that - nature is a complicated thing). I know she's gonna have to rest easy some time but I just have to believe there's more for me to learn from her. does what I'm saying make sense? I know it might sound a little selfish (I know you can't hold on to people forever) but I hated so losing my pop (that was twelve years ago) so and it would be another hell for the same thing w/my ma. I know she wants to see more of what I have to make of myself too. maybe I'm over-reacting. my sister melinda said the doctor wants to put her in the hospital if she doesn't get better soon. I'll see her when I go back to cali this coming weekend for that stooges thing. I say many silent prayers for her and it makes me think of the other folks I know that need help too so I say some for them also. this world can get so heavy w/hurt and it weighs on me, inside/outside. I call nanny in pedro, who gets my mail when I'm gone so the box doesn't get stuffed out of control (she's also the one who draws my tour shirts). she just found out her little dog has cancer bad in the lungs. her voice is little too. this is very sad, cuz he really a little precious one - he's called dieter but his nickname is bear and nanny's had him a long, long time. a heavy easter this year.
wash done, I stuff the cleaned outfits behind the back bench seat while my guys fold and bag theirs. we pull in behind jack rabbits and I chimp diary while pete and jer forge for chow. easter sunday means they come back reporting the only thing open is starbucks. of course, jer wants to put the counter lady on the guest list even though she says she can't find anyone to go. it was like this w/tom and vince too. I hardly ever let people know why I am in their town, not enough nerve. michael preussner was even more intense about "guess who I am?" - wearing the current tour shirt. I guess we're all different about that kind of thing. pete's still kind of upset about his friends flaking on him last night - well, they weren't total strangers so I can understand. w/jer - the power the eyes have on the other parts of our bodies, intense.
boss tim and his guys show up so we quickly do a soundcheck. pete then uses tim's 'puter to send an email regarding last night's disappointment - good, this'll let him let off some steam - the magic of email. tim has some easter eggs for an hunt that'll go on during the gig - that sounds like fun. I'll probably be konked during that though and miss it. oh well. there's two bands opening, a north carolina one called sorry about dresden (great name!) and balboa, who are from here. I go to the boat to konk and do it hard, so sorry to miss both of those groups play. the middle-aged punk rocker needs to conserve his meager energies - it's definitely no disrespect to the bands.
the next thing I know, jer is shaking my foot and telling me it's show time. ok. a nice room of folks and we start our set. first song good but man, do we clam up the second one. well, I didn't come when I was supposed to but I ask my guys to keep going if that happens again and sure enough it does cuz the mic stand is all cock-eyed and I have to fix it. hmm... third try and jer loses the grove - whoa! he rarely does that. it's ok though cuz everyone (us included) is laughing good. we get it right on try four. I am determined not to let happen last year happen this year where I very much lost my nerve. sure, two drunks were spouting shit (not really that mean - you could tell they were there to see me but still pretty much out of control) but I could've got a lot more of a grip on myself. I've been having very strange dreams before the last three gigs and tonight's was the trippiest yet - I was witness to like this college classroom "lecture" that was being give by someone I respect and revere big time that was on the subject of describing ways of being artistic and getting things across in a passionate, real way w/out stooping to sentimentalism or cheap shots (what?!) - the class was full of "students" w/their eyes/ears just riveted on the gestures/words and I was watching this whole event somehow detached but w/the sense it was really for me! it was so crazy in a way but also inspiring right here on the moment w/my secondmen in front of these jacksonville folks on easter sunday. in turn, I play one of my most intense and focused gigs of the tour and I really find that a trip but that's what went down. toward the end, someone right up front asks me what I think of the war and I say I think someone on a stage w/a microphone and all the fascist trappings of a rock event is in a dangerous position to tell people what to think though I've offered up opinions before, all through my years. what I'm trying to do by saying this is not to debate this guy - I'm very glad he asked me but I want folks to look at the dialog I'm engaging him in to get people to look at what I view as what I see as people getting told how to think all through these present days. I do tell them they should know how I stand cuz I am a minuteman and always will be one. war is little boy playground stuff but w/these incredibly dangerous toys in our hands - really a way to express pride/revenge/justice? I am a minutman but the nureneberg rally setting of a rock stage? can't we get more creative than that? I hope people can pick up on what I'm trying to express by this exchange going on - just to make sure, so they know what I mean, I go into "sister ray" (jer almost comes in on the other side of the beat - actually, he does but I flip over my part to get on w/him). I do my most intense bass solos of the tour and wail all the heaviness weighing on me about all these hurts I've learned about including the ones today. I take the cues from the lecturer in my dream and pull all what I have and run it through the little bass and my body. a soft "om om om" next (no words in this one) and then a crazy "little johnny jewel" - we're done.
I have raps w/lots of the folks while I sling on the stage. I have to admit it's uncomfortable looking down on them while doing this. the cat who asked me about the war is going to be a teacher real soon and him w/his buddy, start talking about the minutemen and say some very kind things - much respect. another cat says he loves woody guthrie and is joining the merchant marine soon to see the world as a sailor. threre's these two cats who have offered up taking me fishing many times - I just gotta go one of these times, they're the greatest and I bet it would be a blast. brain hicks joins in w/the teacher guy and his friend w/more celebration of d. boon/minutemen - they start talking very practical philosophy and stuff like that too. tons of good vibes from other folks too that mean much to me and makes it so worth it do gig after gig. one lady's a pedaler and knows that cat who met me in portland who's the marathon mountain bike champ! rob from saint augustine is here too and it's so great to see him. he helps me much w/the stickers and posters - what a brother. I have much respect for him. he wants to help get this country's people thinking for themselves big time, get them to "wake the fuck up" and that's a good thing. he's the one making the stickers pete hands out after we play.
whew, thanks to tim and we load up. this lady christy, she's got a fIREHOSE shirt from thirteen years ago w/spiel written by me on it has told pete and jer that we can konk at her house in the riverside part of town. rob follows her and we follow him. once there, I'm pretty quick into my bag and out of the levi/flannel. christy's pad is very artistic, lots of toilet bowels all done up in inventive ways - the water tanks and everything, interesting pieces. the pad is very individualistic and what she calls "a work in progress." the two guys from one of the opening bands, balboa, mike and jesse plus their buddy (I'm sorry to space on his name) talk w/me a while - they're young cats w/good spirits and anxious to play. I like their fire and wish them much luck. I talk as much as I can but the mask comes down soon. I spiel a little even w/the mask down but must relent and be still. this thankfully taken for a signal that I'm done and maybe the party shifts elsewhere - it's hard for me to tell cuz sueneo is on me soon. I do remember rob telling me about ideas for art regarding this sickness piece - something spiritual and outside artist-like. konk seizes me in it's headlock, I'm out.
monday, april 21 - charleston, sc
woke up to the clydesdale-like footsteps of the chief trudging thru the bedroom into the bathroom for his morning hose-off; being that the bathroom was being renovated, there were no fixtures as of yet (just the faucet) and a bare pipe, so I imagine when he turned on the water he got hit by a good firehose gush of water. I drifted off for a little longer and then watt came to wake me- I rolled out of the bag and went to go splash a little cold water on my face, threw my clothes on and went downstairs. kristy had made us some coffee and sweet rolls and we munched down happily.
watt finished up his puter' work, we threw our stuff into the boat and took off towards charleston. much respect to kristy for the good vibes and making us feel very much at home. ther ride to charleston wasn't too long but I still needed some conk so I got dibs on the bench seat the first part of the trip. I reads some bukowski and dozed off.... woke up after a little while and flipped w/ jer in the navigator's position- took some decent snaps of the countryside and we pulled over to a way' to get some chow and some gas from a nearby station. while watt was filling the boat I cleaned the side hatch of the boat and re-greased it (one of my regular boat duties), as it gets caked up w/ dust and is hard to open. I pulled out the ti book to plot our trip into charleston- it looked like it was going to be an easy glide and I relayed the rout to the chief. we made a bit of a wrong turn and I had to plot an alternate real quick, but we rolled into town w/o any further problems. the pad we were playing was called "the cumberland" (we had played the same place last tour), and we went in to go check out the sitch- the owner was in there, a very down gentleman who originally hailed from iraq- watt asked him what his opinion was of the whole war sitch and he said that he felt it was very much bullshit- the US govt. were the ones that helped put saddam in power in the first place, then turned their heads as he slaughtered his own people, only coming back now under the auspices of "liberating" the iraqi people to complete their true agenda- getting control of the oil. me and watt both agreed that the level of arrogance within our administration was undermining the very personal freedoms that this country was founded on; it scares me to see to what lengths the media and the administration is willing to go to to quell any protest of this abomination; scary-scary times, but I'm very glad the war is over and I'm sure that after the collective adrenaline the media has stirred up wears off, the shit will float to the top of the barrel and some difficult questions will have to be answered.
I chowed on the leftovers of my way' sandwich and then went to go lay down in the boat. I rested up a bit then me and jer unloaded the gear out of the boat and set it up on stage. the soundman, brian arrived and miked us all up and we did the check'. the sound was iffy, but we figured that everything would even out once some people got in there. I went to do my chimping for the day, then me and jer decided to go scope out the town for some good seafood for dinner. we had some decent leads, but it was mostly of the fried variety, so we ended up eating at the same pad that we hit up last tour; the chow was kind (excellent crab cakes), but the service was shit (altho' we still left a tip). we hoofed it on back to the pad and there still weren't a lot of people there but I figured it would fill up soon enough. we were staying w/ the same cat that we stayed w/ last year (kevin), and his band was one of the ones opening up (I forget their name), along w/ another local band called the specs. I climbed into the back of the boat for some conk but I was a little too wound up and ended up going inside to check out the specs (i actually conked thru most of kevin's band's set but I did hear part of their first couple of songs- great vocals and fuzz bass). The specs were a very original sounding band, intense keyboard player/ front man, great drum, bass and guitar cats (one of the better bands that've opened up for us).
The specs finished up their set and it was time for us to pop out of the cake- we launched into the songs and I thought I played the first few like shit (I couldn't hear the organ in my monitor and it sounded real toy to me), but eventually I got it together and did fine on the rest of the songs. The crowd was into every note and was very boisterous; we came up to do the encore and some cat kept yelling out "play some punk rock" ( I guess we weren't sounding like green day enough), but he seemed to dig on it too and kept grabbing my arm and shaking it ( one cat even told me after the show that I had changed his life) great, great crowd. Me and jer broke down the tools as watt slang the merch and I passed out many "Bush out of the US" and "let us prey" stickers. we loaded all the gear into the boat and followed kevin back to his pad. It was pretty late when we got there (altho' it was only a short drive away), and I quickly rolled out my bag when we got to kevin's pad. me and watt rapped w/ kevin about the music scene in charleston (they're evidently very much into jam bands here), but I was exhausted, so I plopped my weary bones into my bag and conked quick on the deck. laku noc sviraci......
pop and go to dump this cup of piss I had to fill last night cuz damn if I could find the head. I dump it in the sink but it goes right on to the deck - christy's pad here is a work in progress so the drain to the sink hasn't been hooked up, at least not on this side. oh fuck, I feel like an asshole and damn if I ain't gotta piss again. luckily, there's lots of empty beer bottles around and soon, one of them isn't that empty. where is the head around here? I feel like such an idiot - I gotta make a point of finding where the head is before I konk, fuck. I clean up the best I can - it does look though like some soaked the deck already (later, pete tells me jer tried to wash the dishes last night and that's where all the water came from). I go out side to get a fresh outfit from the boat and find the weather's still righteous. pretty incredible, five florida gigs and not one is all that sweaty - very happening. the river's just a block away and I quickly write up a post card and drop it in a nearby box. I see some beautiful flowers on the way and snap them w/the digicamera. they're white w/five "spokes" of purple coming out from the center. christy's up when I return and I ask her about the flowers while she makes coffee and these little cinnamon buns. she says she can't remember the names but they're ones that only last a day - they come out in the morning and are gone by night. a little life for them. there's pictures on the wall of her daughter and she looks just like her ma. now christy let's me know where the head is - it's upstairs in between the two bedrooms so there's no hatch to the hall and that's why I couldn't find it for the life of me. she says to use the tub up there. pete and jer each have one of the beds - christy konked on the couch near the one I was on - ain't that righteous of people to offer up like that? it's speaks much of folks' capacity to be generous, a definite affirmation regarding our species. oh boy, my second soak of the tour. there's no faucet really on the tub yet so when I sit in and turn the water on - whoa! a 'pert-near one inch diameter stream of water nails me right in the chest, knocking me back. pretty trippy. the tub fills from the water drilling me solid and splashing off. I can't help but laugh - like hydraulic mining, huh? when the tub does get filled, I hit this button like christy told me to and bubbles start churning the water about me. this is kind of prophetic cuz just yesterday pete said he would love to be in a jacuzzi. when I get out, I roust my guys.
I steer the boat north on I-95, out of florida and into georgia (right before the border though, we stop and get some 'way - I get a tuna one w/pickles and jalapenos). the terrain is lots of marsh and at one point, we cross like four rivers within a couple of miles - they're all draining into these wetlands and onto the atlantic ocean. we go through savannah (haven't played there is some time - gotta do a gig there) and soon we're in south carolina. lots of form rice plantations out here, you can see the canals and all. last year we got a chance to paddle out here in canoes (well, closer to charleston at a place called caw caw) and that was a mindblow - very, very happening. anyway, we leave the interstate a little north of coosawhatchie for us-17, which is a more direct route to charleston. this puts us right in former plantation country and little towns dot the way but it's a good road and progress smooth. pete's reading the map on his tibook while jer's konked and the back and we have a little confusion on which road should be taken (the old part of charleston has got some tiny roads - it's very much like an old new england town here) and this discussion me and pete has scares the shit out of jer, who's in a semi-conscious/semi-konked state. he wakes startled in a cold sweat. sorry, jer.
we're at cumberland's again - second time after our debut here last year. the boss sinan is cool people and I'm anxious to hear what he has to say about the land he came from, iraq, w/the hell and all. his thoughts are keen and I listen close. he's glad "that guy" is gone but at what price? every ministry bombed but the oil one, some indicted embezzler guy named chilabi named new boss, looting and crazy shit. the condescending bullshitters in dc in full swagger, scary times while "here, ignorance is bliss" he says as he shows his baeball hat guys who work the tourist rickshaws the stickers saint augustine rob made that pete passes out at the gigs. sinan has four sisters, all very well educated - from like fifty, sixty years ago over there. if the war was for weapons of mass destruction... then... but... it's interesting for me to get some thoughts from someone w/blood connections, to weigh his opinions. it's school time for watt. there's this guy mocking his accent... he's laughing so maybe it's in good fun - "go back to iran" (maybe there's a difference? no?). it's hard for me to understand the dynamic here, just coming in to play like this and my hopes are for the best cuz I really like this man sinan for his courage and insights. he tells me about u.s. constitutional values and international law, stuff that makes me think and wonder. what a trip I would find this in a charleston club owner... touring sure can have you meet interesting people. thank you, sinan. he tells me, "enjoy life."
the guy who books the bands here is named tim and makes me this thing called a pimento burger. now I usually eat one piemento cheese sandwich a tour (weird things you don't mainly find in cali) but this is hamburger w/that pimento cheese melted on it. trippy taste but it lasts maybe twenty minutes in me before I have to blow it out kind of violently - what I call "short stay" in tour spiel. I eat some 'dines to calm my gut (and bowels) down after that. soundman brian does a quick soundcheck w/us, he's good peeps. I go to the boat and chimp diary before konking. I konk hard - there's some sniffles in my kind of and I just can't get sick. I think I'm just a little worn and this konk will revitalize me. I use one of the little indian blankies even - that's how calm the weather is.
the opening bands are locals mount saint stereo and the specs - all good cats. in fact, last year we stayed w/two of the mount saint stereo folks, kevin and joy - we're doing that again this time too. however, my konk is so heavy as to make me miss both of them. damn. pete and jer say both of them were good as they come to get me for our shift. a good turnout as I carry the sling sack over my shoulder and on it - rockin' rodney's here and gives me hand getting up on stage w/it. thanks much, rockin' rodney! this cat's come to many of my shows and hands my a 'gar. thanks again! we start the set. the folks have a real good spirit making it a blast to wail for them, much respect. the gate's a little hard on my mic - a gate is a device that has a threshold that must be overcome before it'll let signal through so it can keep the stage sound from the instruments out of the singing mic. w/my voice a little worn, it can narrow it down and make it lame - I ask cats to go easy on that, especially on soft tunes like "walkin' the cow" and "chinese firedrill" but even w/the thumpier ones, it can make things sound artificial and stuffed up. brian's leaning on it a little too much here w/the shape I'm in. my voice is coming back after some trouble earlier in the tour but this makes things tough for me. also, I can tell there's some trouble w/my amp - I'm losing power. before tour, when I was protecting my amp w/some more fans (more air = easier on the amp), I noticed a heatsink thank came off of one of the amp drivers and I'm wondering if that's leading to problems now. damn. I do push my stuff hard. oh well, the gig must go on and I play some very manic and go-off solos. I am inspired. there's a few guys telling me to "show me the punk, watt" - they want it, they got it. I go off.
we finish, I sling and talk w/the folks. I sign a young man's bass, "work it well, brother." I sign a lady's shirt - not exactly where she wants it but on the shoulder part instead - crimony. a lot of warm handshakes from people who are gald I came to their town - well, it's quite an honor for me. there's this lady who waits 'till things calm down and then wants to talk bass so I hand my little one to her. she plays it and a few guys start talking bass gear spiel w/me - you know, this kind of amp, this kind of instrument, this make, this model - that kind of thing, even getting into effects and all that. aja (this lady's name) says, "it's mostly about the hands" and that's so right in my mind. lots of the culture of the "player magazines" is so much about selling you equipment, you can easily forget that part. I like the laughs I get from some guys who think I play an out of fashion machine but they do think it's got its own sound. we all got our own sound inside us but sometimes the machinery gets in the way! there's a guy who builds pedal boards (combinations of effects) and I tell him the cat I really dig who can work these is nels cline but he's never heard of him - what?!?! I tell him he's got to check him out. nels is a monster w/his hands though too - much. I fell in love w/his playing when he was doing acousic guitar for charlie haden - no effects involved. we go out to the van (finally, what a doddle - damn) and I settle w/the folks at the club - too bad sinan doesn't work the gigs - that part he's pretty hands-off but these folks are cool, they want me to move here and be the house band! that's very nice but the r's a rolling stone and I'm rolling... not yet though, I show aja the purple plower darrin made me in spokane - man, is it pretty in the moonlight like this... aja thinks d. boon looks like someone name shuggy otis (?) - that's funny. the pedal board guy digs the work of the inlays - weird, I haven't really shown this bass to many folks yet except casey in ybor city. darrin really did good work, seeing it again. ok, back in the case now - we got to get going cuz I am beat. almost three on a monday night? wow, these folks are intense!
bye and safe seas, good luck on the bass - who does she remind me of? we follow kevin to his pad by the burned up house and park in the narrowest of driveways - jer and pete have to get out through the driver's door! kevin parks across the driveway to block us in for security. I'm in the bag quick once we're inside and have the mask down but pete and kevin are engaged in heavy talk about the gentrification of charleston. I guess the pad here is up for sale right now and he's gonna have to bail soon. shit. I don't have the awakeness to follow any more and submit to the konk that demands all my attention now.
read week 2 of the tour diary
read week 4 of the tour diary
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