friday, may 8, 1998 - richmond, va
from bob lee:
we toured the george washington memorial masonic temple today, quite a trip. the masons seem to be fixated on keeping things hidden, there are several artifacts which are obscured (the two gigantic paintings in the entrance hall are hidden behind gigantic pillars, making it impossible to take in the whole thing at once; their replica of the ark of the covenant is behind a curtain which opens for all of 15 seconds per visit). we're hooked back up with jack drag, and the opener tonight, mao tse helen, is also very impressive, twisted, angular & mondo bizarro. despite weak stage sound we pull off a good show & I meet several nice people afterwards.
from steve reed:
heavy, heavy town, north/ south split, brother against brother during the civil war. was hoping to see ron currie and tim harding from the band hotel x. surprise! ron is in the opening band, mao tse helen, I didn't know. they are very good, ron played bass, very inspiring to me. tim has relocated to baltimore so we will see him tomorrow. our show was rough, bad monitors, cd player was slow in cuing up and a couple of problems with the eq. I still think the house techs in europe did a way better job than these american techs. I guess that's because of government funding for the clubs, but the europeans just care more while these american techs don't give a fuck. so far, tommy in atlanta and dave in charlotte have been the best, thank you gentlemen. also I forgot to tell you we went to alexandria, home of george washington masonic temple. it's a very interesting part of our history that should be taught in schools. we took the tour this time and I learned a lot more about the masons than last time when mike, vince & I went here. I think I'll go there one more time, there's so much to learn about the masons. I also would like to check out the confederate museum in richmond & see what that's all about.
though the sky's real gray, the rain does take a time-out and we make our way to richmond. before we bail, I do this big two hour spiel w/some nice folks named rick and margaret from npr (national public radio) in the van in the parking lot of the mo-six. the spiel goes on and on cuz I feel a genuiness from them and when I start I just want to riff so things will just spill from me and they can get a sense of who I am and what I'm trying to do w/out looking like a cut-out from a q and a coloring book. they're going to edit it so I just give them a battery of my feelings and let them sculpt what comes to mind, from their perspective. this seems more interesting and involving than the same old anyway. they tape ambient sounds in the van too. I'm very happy to be a part of this. spiels can be like gigs.
done w/this, I gather the black gang and we head south. on the way, I ask them if they want to check out the masonic shrine to george washington since we're driving through alexandria. they say yep and we stop there. I've been there many times but have never taken the guided tour. an older man takes us up an elevator (not straight up but at a seven degree angle) to rooms I've never been too before like the yorkish rite and the knights templar rooms and even to the very top (333 feet up) where you can look out at the capitol from a balcony. there's always something to learn, huh? I have some good laughs and see a couple of cardinals on the lawn outside the pad. they are truly righteous birds to see.
the gig is at a pad called "alley katz" and is down by the river. I have a hot, sweaty sleep in the van which produces some intense and trippy dreams. I finally wake and find I've missed both the openers _mao tse helena_ and _jack drag_, damn. the house is full but there's some weird stuff in the air. some folks want just fast songs, they ain't hip to the opera and since I don't explain anything, they don't give it a chance to come on. some dicks even yell out "yankee" which is funny, all these years touring and I never heard shit like that. I'm even born in virginia (portsmouth) and lived some years there as a kid. when we get to the unconcious, dreamy part in "crossing the equator," someone hollars "what language you speaking?" how hillarious, this is too much. anyway, most the folks really dug it and I don't give a fuck if I bummed out some closed minded ones. I didn't try to but maybe they came w/some kind of agenda. this tour is about the opera and I'm committed to delivering it, no matter what the expectations. it's just something I gotta do and I've promised myself I'd do it for one year, playing it in every town and in front of every crowd that I can. I just have to.
saturday, may 9, 1998 - baltimore, md
from bob lee:
I have always enjoyed playing this town and tonight is no exception. we find a laundromat near the club, I find a used copy of beefheart's "shiny beast" on cd at the local store, some fans of mike's take me out for raw oysters (unexpectedly phlegm-like but tasty) and crab cakes (divine), and the show is killer. viva baltimore!
from steve reed:
fletcher's in baltimore and 930 in dc are connected, lisa books both places. dave did a great job on monitors. tim harding didn't show up! why?!? see you in the fall... show was great, I thought it went perfect.
haven't played baltimore in a while and it's a trip to come back. we're down on the waterfront at a place called "fletcher's" and the boss there putting on the show is lisa. she's great. I find the new james ellroy book in a store and get it. it's about his ma's murder. damn. a big surprise is seeing an old friend from pedro, craigo, who is now living in balt-o. me and him were the pushup kings of sixth grade at taper in pedro. we had this teacher named vitalich who didn't really dig our cracks and was always saying, "watt, worley - give me thirty" and me and craigo would be down on the deck, pushing it up. damn, we laughed recalling that shit. I played real hard for him. they fan forgot to get put on the stage and plugged in so watt had sweat totally filling his eyes causing joe baiza to ask me what the chinese look was all about. I tried to explain, hope he believed me. it was a trippy set but the crowd was really happening and I was happy to play for them. barbara rice came, who hasn't seen me play for years. after we're done, I try to get a whiskey but the lady at the bar tells her bar jockey no and won't even come talk to me. why are people like this? the guyis all awkward and emabarrassed. I don't need the drink but I would've dug the respect of her dealing w/me directly and not being a coward. dug playing for lisa upstairs but I'm sorry, that lady downstairs needs to learn some people skills. you just got to let it roll off your back cuz really, it's their problem and one day someone's gonna let them know it. not me though, I'm too busy working the opera. stuck-up folks sure can be funny.
sunday, may 10, 1998 - danbury, ct
from bob lee:
another town I've never been to, today is rainy & cold & the club is a bit large for us, so it sometimes feels like playing in an icebox, but we overcome. my spirits improve tenfold as joe bouchard, bassist for blue oyster cult, joins us for the encore of "the red & the black." wow! he plays direct through the pa, and mostly plays high melody lines on bass so as not to step on mike's thunder stick low end. zing bang boom! I saw boc twice as a youngster, once on a stadium bill with ac/dc, ted nugent, journey and cheap trick in 1978, and have always liked them. joe is now in the publishing industry, has a family, incl. a daughter graduating from high school this month (congratulations!), and still plays in 4 or 5 bands regularly. kind of how I imagine myself in 25 years. kick ass joe bouchard!
from steve reed:
I think it's mother's day! talked to katherine, she's overworked & stressed, but when I get home she can take a long, long rest. the show at tuxedo junction came off pretty good, house soundman mike did a great job and the promotor mike morris did a great job on lights. joe bouchard from blue oyster cult played bass on "red & black" and "big train", it was great! I loved his performance.
in a gas station north of phily on the way to danbury, I have some words w/joe baiza. some pressures are building up and now here's some venting. the details aren't important but I'm just saying this so folks don't think we're just cartoons but rather people, flesh and blood. my main goal for this band besides delivering the piece is communication, on stage and off and sometimes the ride gets bumpy. it's ok though and we work it out.
the pad in danbury (the town where thurston grew up) is called "tuxedo junction" and the boss there is mike. last time I was in town he was a dj at the college and now look, damn! a connecticut band called _farmertan_ and our buds _jack drag_ open but guess what? watt's in the back of the van, snoring away. it's raining and cold too so I've buried myself under the t-shirts. somehow I always wake in time for the gig and make my way to the stage w/my bass and a bag of shirts. the monitors are great and the team is playing great and to top it off, joe bouchard (blue oyster cult bassist from the old days) comes up to play "big train" and "the red and the black" w/us. he's really, really great. we have a lot of fun up there. I wish so bad d. boon could be there too cuz we really dug that band (boc) when we were teenagers. damn.
monday, may 11, 1998 - burlington, vt
from bob lee:
this is a pretty town, but annoying vibes are making me very annoyed. nothing big but let's take an accounting: my chinese food is over priced ($15), underspiced, dry and sticky; I go to a bar to play pinball and there are obviously magnets by the drain holes, thwarting my game; I go back to the club to relax, and our soundmen are going at dueling banjos deliverance-style (nothing against dueling banjos but I was not in the mood); I try to hang out in the dressing room but it is locked and the club lackey who has directed me there has nothing to say but "well, sorry"; forced onto the street, I pass by five bars where the pinball machines are occupied or broken; finally find an open machine but I have come to the fuckin' hippie bar where you can't smoke inside, aargh! I liked the gig itself but mike was very unhappy with it, and intense discussions follow at the moment where I am usually trying to relax & bask in my satisfaction with a fine performance (or wallow in depression after a bad one if appropriate, but I thought this one was fine). then we find out our hotel reservations have been cancelled and (following a 90 minute search) that there are no bloody motels open after 11 pm in this town, except howard johnson's, which bilks us $90 for one room. grrrrr. the zen part of my personality tells me this is no big deal, and I suppose one really catastrophic thing happening, like the van crashing or our stuff getting ripped off, would make this seem like a nice day and I should count my blessings, but nevertheless I am very, very annoyed. in hindsight, good things that happenned: got a message from my high school pal nancy draina who I haven't talked to in years, coming to the boulder gig; best show yet from jack drag; ran into maura, former spaceland bartender, now living up here & just happened to show up; finally a good pinball machine at the club itself,which had appeared to be broken earlier. hindsight makes the heart grow fonder. well, so tonight was a character builder which forced me to look at my own whinyness. I must try to be more positive.
from steve reed:
never been before at club toast, my first night mixing jack drag, they liked the sound. our set was good also, problems with mike & joe but god will bring them back together. jim & quinn the house techs were very good.
the only other time I've played this town was helping perry and perkins w/the porno for pyros last year. I really dug playing w/them cats and trying to help them realize their vision, even if I was wearing a pajama dress. it was a trip. a guy I met at that gig named terry brings me a bottle of cider he made himself tonight. what a nice man.
the pad we're playing tonight is called "club toast" and the boss there is named dennis. cool man who knows lots about the scene, came from it. spent time after college counseling kids in oakland (other side of country). it's cool when you meet cats like this, not the same ol' same ol' rock and roll shit, you know?
after doing a few interviews and some walking around the town, I go to the back of the van and sleep on the deck. I must've konked for four or five hours and wake just in time for the gig, again I miss the opener _jack drag_. they're such happening folks too - I must see their set tomorrow in portland. our set is kind of tough. I bring some anger to the table here. seems w/joe baiza amp between him and the drums, he is standing way to the starboard of us. see, my stage plan is to make it look like either we're on a little boat or the audience is looking in on these three cats in a practice pad. I want us as tight together as possible. during the gig it seems it's me and bob lee on one side and then joe baiza way to his side. of course this effects my playing of the piece and I only hope it didn't hurt it so much. it seemed the folks in the crowd dug it and asked us back for more. however, I expressed my feelings w/joe baiza when we were done and this led to other issues as well. I suggested that maybe he stand between his amp and bob lee so he could get in tighter w/us. bob lee liked that idea too cuz he said it was hard to hear the bass w/the guitar wailing. we agreed we'd try it the next gig as an experiment. the discussion went on though and even led to a re-hash of the amsterdam gig when I just had to tell joe baiza "let's stop" this talk cuz it's leading nowhere except making bad feelings feel even worse. I ask joe baiza for a truce but know he's angry. there's nothing more to say. on top of this, the ho which said they'd hold our rooms wank out and there's nothing to be found in burlington for a long while 'till finally we find refuge at a howard johnsons. oh well. maybe sleep will help. things like this happen on tour, it's a fact of life. we're not cartoons, we're real people. things are not perfect. damn, am I tired.
tuesday, may 12, 1998 - portland, me
from bob lee:
okay. a better mood today. driving out of town joe picks up a magazine called "the dating page" which includes an ad titled "meet obedient men", featuring an illustration of a dude in a dress, vacuuming. "meet men who will obey you, do housework, massage your feet etc. most men are immature and it is time for morally superior women to take charge. send two stamps for our superiority of women packet." my two stamps went in the mail that day and I cannot wait to get home & check the mail. great gig tonight and high spirits are restored. last one with jack drag, who will be missed. stonecoast brewery is a brew pub, and their home batches excellent! a great turnout (partly due to it being dollar draft night, a nice way to get a competitive edge) in spite of local gigs by so. culture on the skids and green day in town tonight. joe stopped by so culture's gig and said it was also packed, so portland is a pretty good town for live music (fewer people live there than in san pedro, and still good turnouts for weirdos like us. god bless america.
from steve reed:
last show with jack drag, I really enjoyed working with them, they're really cool people. also we ran into mike whittaker (spaceman), friend of ours from the old sst days. show went well & we had a large turnout. wally did a good job with his sound system, plenty of headroom.
we all slept in one room (me and steve reed on the deck) so in the morning I start having a discussion w/joe baiza. I tell him about my experiences w/perry as a sideman (mouse) and how it was for me to help someone realize their vision. things get sidetracked and the talk gets heated so steve reed and bob lee bolt. I want to really clear the air about all this so I sit down and have a real heart to heart w/joe baiza. after a couple of hours we agree on what's important here on this tour and what we both want to accomplish. I still feel somethings are unresolved but we got to get in order to make the next gig. in the van on the way I'm silent and then just have to pull over and make a call to nels back in l.a. I must have some hope in any kind of situation and don't want to be at the mercy of having to just ride it out. on the way back to the van, joe baiza comes up to me and tells me he loves me and we can work it all. he is a sweet man. I almost start crying and tell him I'm such a rotten leader. we get back in the van and I drive us on to portland - the one on the atlantic, not the one on the pacific. the van is quiet the whole time.
the pad is called the "stonecoast brewery" and though I've played this town a few times, I've never played here. the boss is named grant and he's a nice guy. everyone is really helpful. before I head to the van for my nap I meet mike whittaker who lives here now. he took my place as "spaceman" at sst records when I had to tour more w/the minutemen. the role of "spaceman" was to call stores and radio stations and tell them about sst records and bands. we have a good spiel about memes, paradigms and semantics. it's a funny talk. I turned him on to a lot of arcana shit he wasn't aware of. he laid some of his theories on me.
I go to the van and have a good think about what I'm going to bring to tonight's gig. I'm going to bring nothing but positive energy, I convince myself. it's a matter of what I can bring to the table and I'm committed to making it so. the recriminations I had about being a bad leader seem they can only can get resolved by what kind of spirit I can bring to the stage and serve as a good example. I even wake up in time to see _jack drag_, good thing too - it's their last gig w/us on this tour. they're really a good band, a power trio w/john on guitar and singing, joe on bass and justin on drums. they even did some two basses w/drums songs that sounded sort of like _young marble giants_, it was great! stood and really got into their gig. when it was our turn, I was primed and inspired. we try the idea about the guitar amp and it works out great. joe baiza can look now right at us and not be blasted by his amp and we can we look right back too. the crowd is very supportive and bring us back and back. I'm glad this gig was a success on many levels. I'm really trying to be a better man, in a band sense, a bass sense and just plain watt sense. it's the only way I can get the wholeness of the piece across and at the same time bring some peace to my head. keeping things dynamic, keeping the mind open and not letting bad feelings overwhelm. the struggle of my life. it's worth it though, I got to get up around that bend.
wednesday, may 13, 1998 - northampton, ma
from bob lee:
another spending spree: drum equipment (can't borrow cymbal stands from jack drag to replace my broken ones anymore), sushi dinner, and cds (big star live, black sabbath 1and another live hawkwind thing.) been pretty good about not spending everything I earn on the road, but once in a while I say "I've been good too long!" kind of my approach to dieting. what can I say, I'm an indulgent motherfucker. wank factor 7 and rising played the first of three shows with us. j mascis' involvement is the big "draw" but it seems the group is more the brainchild of the other guitarist, kurt. well, an improv band can't be just one person's creation, but just to set the record straight, it's not exactly "mascis' new band". kurt, j and keyboardist paul, who used to be in a tangerine dream cover band. wow! they are trippy, sometimes sounding spacy & dreamlike, sometimes sounding like three guys checking out effects boxes at guitar center. maybe I just need to get over the missing rhythm section. I think I like them. a good one for us too. say farewell to "team new england", two taper guys named freddy and dave who have followed us for the last few shows. see you guys, thanks for everything... and send me those tapes!
from steve reed:
first of three shows with j mascis' wank factor 7 & rising. wf7&r is a kind of experimental 2-guitar and synthesizer group, very spacy but very cool. I really like j, he's very talented and a nice guy. our set was very good and powerful. the team was tight! j played the encores with us, sounded great.
we head down the atlantic coast and on the western massachusets where "pearl street," a club I've played many times is. this area has a least five colleges around it. kim and thurston are raising coco near one called smith college. byron coley lives around here too as well as j mascis, who's in a band we're playing w/tonight. it's his friend's kurt's band and they're called _wank factor seven and rising_. kurt plays sits and plays guitar jams while a cat named john plays _tangerine dream_ and _hawkwind_ type keyboards - playing lead guitar around this the whole time is j. it's a trip. there's vocals in only one tune, I'm told. however, I go to the van to nap and the club has the wank come on early and I miss the whole thing! damn. it was really hot too in the van and I had strange, scary dreams. somewhere along the persecution angle w/lots of fear and trepidation. it's humid too so the desire for gills works into it too. damn. I get rousted by steve reed and get into the pad. we go on and play our hearts out. it's trippy to play the piece for j but in a way I'm really into laying it out for him. we get called for encores and have him play a few w/us. he really likes "drove up from pedro." he says it's like a _television_ (an early punk band from the 70s) song. it's great playing it w/him. he tells me he digs joe baiza's playing. that's great to hear, especially from a guy like j, who I have a lot of respect for.
after the gig we head for the ho in south deerfield, some town a little north of here the got started in the 1600s. damn, the shit's a lot older here in the east compared to pedro.
thursday, may 14, 1998 - boston, ma
from bob lee:
too bad you can't take the park and ride to your gigs here, driving in this town is a nightmare! but we arrive, in time for me to spend more money at the record shop (found vinyl copies of john entwistle's "whistle rhymes," his best solo effort, and the new alliance comps "chunks" and "cracks in the sidewalk", mike is quick to point out they are reissues but I dont care. also another live hawkwind thing and a live suicide thing. now if I can just find their reissued 1st album, damn!) wf7 wait until the conclusion of the disappointing final seinfeld to begin their set, which is better tonight. sparse but enthusiastic crowd for our set, which goes quite well. a lovely woman named sara is so impressed she blurts out "I love you, I think!" as she comes up to shake hands afterwards.
from steve reed:
j's wank factor 7 was very enjoyable. he's so relaxed when playing guitar, it's very moving. he's a natural. our set smoked! mike said his monitors were the best so far. great crew and club, I love the paradise. I missed working with roger, the old house sound man of eleven years. they said he was pretty tough, but he was always nice to us. wow, it's a mindblow! roger is gone after eleven years and terry pearson has left sonic youth after thirteen years! who will surprise me next?
we drive almost across the entire state of massachusettes - it takes about three hours. we take the mass pike, which we like to call the _richie blackmoore road_ cuz the highway's logo, a pilgrim hat, is what blackmoore used to wear at gigs w/the purp when I saw them in the 70s. he looked fuckin stupid but then hey, so do I, just in a different way. steve reed takes like twenty or thirty shots of the fucking pilgrim hat sign all over the freeway. we get to boston and they got like only three exits for all the city of boston and of course, we take the that's just one two far and gotta backtrack through bean town. more than fifteen years of playing this burg, sometimes twice a year and I still get screwed up on these curlicue streets, damn. one day I'll get it fucking straight. no big space-out though and we get to the pad, it's called "the paradise" and I've played here many, many times before. the boss is tim and he's a very down dude and I dig him much. always glad to see watt and he helps out big time.
tonight's a tripper of gig for j cuz it's the last show of _seinfeld_ and he watches that shit. I gotta confess I ain't seen one show and I don't care how it ends. j says he can't go on 'till it's over and that's ok w/me - longer nap on the deck in the back of the van for watt. it's kind of warm and the shvitz effect in the van gives me really weird dreams. I wake up soaked and get to the dressing room just as that show j wants to see is over. j said it was lame. now they can go on. I think the band is really good, the wank factor seven is surely rising! the motif of the club has changed from neon palm trees to ancient pharaoh's tomb and I like it much better. really fits the sound j and company is putting out. I'm very inspired. the crowd is kind of small for this room but there's not one skeptic out there so I'm shoving my all out. it's a wild opera for watt tonight! best monitors of the tour, even better than danbury and the sound out front at the paradise is always great - a really happening system there. we really have a good show and the crowd has us back and back and we play everything the black gang knows. j is all ready on his way back to west mass by the time we finish so I'll see him in nyc tomorrow. like all my gigs, I sell shirts from the stage after the show, let cats sign my hoot line and rap w/the folks. I really feel good about this gig tonight.
we go to a mo-six way out on the belt near rhode island and I konk, thoroughly drained by the gig. thank god for naps or my shit would be surely short.
read week 2 of the tour diary
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