tuesday, october 12 - washington dc
the last time I was here was with the red krayola about a year and a half ago in this same club. it was with goerge hurley playing drums so it's kind of interesting to be here mike this time. we fought the suburban traffic through town and got to the black cat early and sat outside in the warm fall sunlight rapping about the gigs for a while. there is a little ethiopian mart next to the club where I picked up some home made jerkey and mike got his hair cut next door to that. today is also the day that a fellow named chris is going to join us for a few days to work on a story for a virginia paper about mike having been born there.
by the time the club opens its time for the load and check ritual, which we do. we are also fed well and I choose the vegitarian lasagne from the house kitchen. its a long day into night experience but I find a little time to rest since I still feel a little ill and need to conserve precious energy. so theres a brief nap at this time but I here chris hassetts band wailing upstairs and trainwreck before them (good band who reminded me a little of early crimson/polvo) were the soundtrack to my vague dreams. afterwhich we do our thing and after meet up with chris (from the paper) and head to a mo-6 for shuteye. thanks mo-6.
roll early, 8am, for hell ride. tom starts the drive, but he's still sick and he's rubbing his neck and is fatigued, so I take over at the first gas stop.
on the drive thru ohio, pennsylvania and maryland the leaves on the trees are blazing bright yellow, magenta and purple. how dare wretched nature force it's gaudy overdone colors through the beleagured cone-pathway to burst upon my unsuspecting brain. how can I achieve the gentle calm I'm accustomed to on my beautiful 5 fwy. back home, where soot and smog obscures the distracting horizon, allowing the state of satori to gently descend while waiting hours in bumper to bumper traffic to go 3 miles crosstown?
well, no one said this would be easy.
so we get to the black cat lounge. we had to go through georgetown where rich people (ostensibly gov't bigwigs, lobbyists, lawyers, etc.) blok traffic on a two way street waiting to turn in to a private school parking lot to pick up their kids. a cop car drives by going the other way, the cops look at the snarl and laugh. if it were poor people lining up, there'd be tickets flying like leaflets at a political rally.
we're early so we sit outside the club on the sidewalk. the weather is still great. tom gets homeade jerky at an etheopian convenience store and I make copies of our set list and itinerary on their copy machine. fred from long island, a longtime watt tour taper/bro shows up and tom and I make his aquaintance. he's wearing a zildjian shirt; turns out he's a fellow drummer...allright, brother! he starts right in, helping with the gear. viva hermano fred!
the verde's aren't with us this time. so it's trainwreck and chris hackett. trainwreck sounds like crimson - like red and thrak. chris hackett is in a similar vein, but with an insistent snare backbeat - that barkin' pup really projects.
I had a bad night playing. I felt pretty good physically before we played, but as soon as we went into get gettin' down down, the first tune, my arms tightened up like steel cables. there's a small drum solo in the first part of the tune that's pretty vigorous and I felt like I was juggling sand bags.
in the red and the black I didn't get into the chorus soon enough. I got so distracted by all that crap that when the last chord/drum bit before the first verse in blue mask ame around, I thought we weren't there yet, so I kept up the requisite drum flurry. I thought mike and tom wanted to experiment with the form. but watt tipped me off and we got back fine, albeit with some extra snare/tom/kick triplets. who knows, it might have been cool to the audience.
the ride grabbed my stick in formal intro, so there was a slightly discernable clam before I got another stick.
despite all that, I think it was a good show.
there are people in the audience the little clams. they may be musicians, they may know the music being played very well, or may just be so attentive to musical detail that they hear those momentary glitches.
but most people don't notice these mistakes. what they do notice, though, is when the momentum, or the continuity, flags. and one way momentum and continuity flags is when the people playing the music hear the clams because it breaks the flow. in the spirit of the-show-must-go-on you plow through the clams, "bend into it", as mike advises. but if you're really listening and basing your performance on real time data coming from the player around you, you can't help but be effected by a clam in some way. the trick is to snap it back with the help of your comrades-in-arms so a little clam on the tracks doesn't become a train wreck. and if yoiu can do that, it's possible you can keep the continuity up and you won't be letting the audience down. and you'll be preserving the vibe of the tune rather than wrecking the boat on the rocks or turning it into a stiff, hollow pantamime.
at the gig we meet chris greer, a reporter from a big norfolk paper, who joins us for a weeks ride in the boat, to write about mike after getting a feel for the true tour life.
chris introduces himself after the show, and helps with the load out.
we pile in the van. chris is a big guy, looks like he'd give you a tough time at power forward at pick-up b-ball, but he's packed light with a canvas rucksack, so it shouldn't cramp the boat. the more the merrier.
we drive to a mo-6. d.c. is a pretty heavy place to park; lot's o' crime - the murder capital of the country, so we're over to the outskirts. four of us in the mo. chris is offered choice of either bed but says he's a floor man because of his back - like watt. me too, actually. so tom and I get the beds (mo-6 beds are firm and comfortable: my back likes them fine) and mike and chris floor it.
hell-ride ahead so we pop early and we're out the pad and into the boat quick w/good thanks to matt for his hospitality. he gives me a new batch of poems. we gotta go southeast through pittsburgh and then maryland to get to the next gig in washington dc. this pad is called the _black cat_ and I've played it a buch. we get in early before they got anyone there and soak up much sun from this righteous weather we've been blessed with. thank you! my hair is getting out of hand so I'm thinking of a haircut. haven't been to a barber in a long time, my sister does it mainly but the last one I got was from my ma and man, has the funky clip job she gave me grown out all insane. when my hair's long, I always got my fingers in it. I hate that. I've never combed my hair so the shit gets wild. keeping it kind of shorter helps. there's a hair cutting place two doors down so I go in to wait. never have seen one of these new cuts that black cats get now days done and I get to see two of them. it's a trip and I dig watching. are there barber shops for white folk's hair and ones for black folk's? does it matter if you go in the wrong one? w/my ron asheton yellow glasses and flannel, I don't what they think I might be but I do join in the discussion when they start talking about _lil' kim_ and the ice kind of breaks. when it's my turn, the lady asks me what I want her to do and I just tell her to leave like an inch and she does a great job. quick too. fixes all the fuckups my ma cut on me and some stuff she puts in my hair makes it real soft. I'm ready for the rest of the tour, thank you much!
load in, sound check and I talk to the boss here, dante, who I dig much. we catch up on news. they kitchen here cooks me up a fallafel which I dig much too. then it's the boat for the konk. I miss both opening bands, _trainwreck_ and _chris hackett_ (who used to do guitar for the _rollins band_) which is lame cuz they're all such nice cats. you get tired and the debt must be paid. I've had some great full gigs in this town over the years but tonight is kind of lean but no matter, I blast my brains out anyway. in the old days, me and d. boon always dug playing this town cuz we felt we were actually getting the chance to have our say w/the federal government right near. especially in those times when we used to play the old _930 club_, which was only a few blocks from the white house. I think of d. boon big time as we go through the set and how I miss him. still, I can't let him down and throw it all the way out. such an easy target, the buildings of the government, what's really crippling is the mentality of mersh, the razorwire of the mind. it's good thinking I'm a minutemen again, doing my first gig ever in the heart of the hearth. watt's fist is all balled-up! tom and vince play great too except we blow a verse of _the red and the black_ but recover enough not to let the tune sink in the drink. good work, pliers!
I was born in virginia near norfolk (portsmouth) so this paper from there called the _virginian pilot_ wants to send a reporter in the boat w/us for a week. the cat's name is chris and he shows up after we're done and introduces himself. I've been in contact w/him through the email route and he seems like cool peeps. I'm hoping he can just blend in and let folks know what's up w/a watt tour, sort of like this diary stuff is supposed to. I'll have him driving the boat before he's done! usually I stay up in laurel, md when I play dc - it's far away enough to avoid the donate mode and still close enough not to make the trip a hell-ride. I hate driving at night, hate it. too scary. we get to the mo-six and it's chris' first konk w/us, on the deck w/watt while tom and vince man the bunks. chris must have some notions of what I must be like. good money those ideas are gonna change, huh? one last wonder and then watt is out.
wednesday, october 13 - hoboken, nj
I wake up and fall back to sleep to construction going on outside. chris enters with brown water (coffee) and he, vince and I dash across the road to a locals bar for sandwiches and then pop back into the van towards hoboken.
my sinus pain is back again and with chris' advice we seach hoboken for some help or medicine. no luck but chris did flow me a shot of some 10 year old single malt that seemed to do the trick. this also happens to be our friend steve shelley's town (among others) and we will be beginning a few gigs with a band called nod from his label, smells like records. steve has been a good friend for a long time and s.l.r. has one of my overpass records and thus I anticipate seeing him at some point.
maxwells is one of the essential clubs for any touring band and I have always looked forward to playing there. I always remember the food which is still great. cobra verde are with us again so it will be a fun gig for sure. I find a place to watch nod play their groovy deconstuctive love songs and bump into tim from two dollar guitar and steve too. then the cobras rocked quite well to people of hoboken and then we did our thing as well. and the night goes on.
we're up. tom, chris and I head across the street for some food. all that's open is a bar, so in we go. the sandwiches are good. I get a club, tom a blt and chris gets a beer. I think he ate earlier. either way, hey, I like your style.
into the boat and on to hoboken.
new york city across the river, an utterly amazing sight every time I see her. the island bristling with buildings catching the late afternoon light, the statue of liberty, the docks and the ships.
but it's hoboken tonight. we load in - fred shows up and helps with load in. chris lends another hand. with these road friends the going is much lighter. we've lucked out with these compadres.
maxwell's provides food: burger for tom and chris, chili for watt, hummus plate for me. chris is incredulous when I pour the special edition dave's insanity sauce that fred supplied in a pool on the hummus and consume the lava flinchless.
we're still lucking out with the weather. it's still clear and sunny as evening nears.
after soundcheck, which goes easy, I walk 10 blocks down a hoboken main drag. it's a cool town, I think, old blue eyes home town. tons of people walk the streets, off work from manhattan and over from the path train, grabbing a bite, a drink, picking up drycleaning, a bottle of wine, a video, a loaf of bread, or fruit from an outdoor stall. the town is fine with me.
dave, fred's taping partner is there. another bro: welcome aboard.
the gig goes well - I thought it was rockin', with lots of energy, groove and tightness. the red and the black wa a little flaky, but I think I can get a handle on it. jimbo is there - good to see him again. steve shelley is there, but I don't talk to him yet (I met him in '95 with the crew when we were at lollapalooa with the sonics. I even got to play on stage with him once on the tour, a great moment for me). but he's busy watching nod, a band on his label, and catching up with tom (also on his label and his friend), so I don't want to intrude.
after the set, dave from the cobra's comes up to the front of the stage with his shirt off and some fake fucked-up-overbite teeth. he affects a near retarded rural tone of voice and says, "you guys were allright".
"yeah, you were allright, but you didn't play any skynard, though"
"right - can't play it all"
"that's okay, you guys were allright"
"you guys made me feel sexual (pronounced 'sexshural')"
over the river to jimbo's pad on canal. my clothes are soaked with sweat. up several flights of stairs, and there's the apt. jimbo's pad is very cool.
out comes the bong and the talk goes from politics, the nuclear navy to lou reed and many other topics, but I am so burned out that I am nodding out on the floor there as watt, chris and jimbo hold forth (tom is staying across the hudson with steve). jimbo is animated, sharp and hilarious. he has volumnuous historical, political and musical info at his fingertips, as does watt. chris is getting plenty of licks in as well. I'm dumb and dull a rock as I drift through the levels of near sleep, sleep and groginess.
I'll shut my eyes and soon the words get indescernable - I hear the sounds of the voices as one sound and I realize that I'm falling asleep, while still watching the process. If I'm going to sleep, I think, I'll go to the next room (the music room) where my sleeping bag is, so I keep waking myself up to join lamely in the discussion.
a few more dives and surfaces through consciousness, and I crawl off to my bag. as I drift off, trucks rumble across the brooklyn bridge south of canal, shaking the pad. it's a cool sound and I dig it as I slip into sleep.
one ominous note: it's raining and the wind is howling. end of good weather?
all the heavy breathing of four beat men fog the mo-six windows up like a shvitz. I pop early and walk the strip malls of laurel for a couple of hours. it's a heavy walk for me. lots of thinking and reflecting about my life. I get yanked into the real world w/a story in the paper about an army coup in pakistan. damn. it looks like it was over the prime minister pulling troops back from an intense area they have w/india called kashmir. after getting fired, the army boss took over the government. the paper said people cheered. macho pride wins out. both of them lands have nukes so the stakes are high. what a bunch of shit. what kind of world are we giving to the kids?
roust the cats and head up the baltimore-washington parkway north, headed for hoboken, nj. we pass the nsa (national security agency). funny how it ain't on the map in the rand-mcnally road atlas. they got the goddard space center and it should be right next to that. on the exit for the nsa, there's a sign for the cryptological museum. one day I gotta visit that pad, maybe the nsa too? right. we get into hoboken after a few hours and experience our first rain of the tour, a slight drizzle. boy, have we been lucky. this'll give the boat a good wash too. tonight we're playing _maxwell's_ which has as a partner, steve shelley, a very essential friend who, along w/floor boss todd, saved this pad from becoming a sports bar. good men. tonight we start a short stint w/one of steve's _smells like records_ label acts, _nod_, for some gigs on the east coast. they're from rochester, ny and are a pretty trippy power trio. welcome aboard, nodsters! the folks at this pad are real nice and fix me up some chili and black bean soup. fred, from _team new england_ (along w/dave, cats who like to travel along and tape my gigs) yesterday gave me a bottle of _dave's insanity sauce, limited edition_ and I'm pouring it in this chow. whoa, are the fluids pouring out of my face and nose! no burn, no learn! yes! dig the chilis and their effects. really powering it up! gotta take a walk so I head up washington street, the big drag in hoboken. pass by this big elks lodge and peer in the windows. a whole load of elks hands mounted on the walls. damn, twelve pointers and shit, big motherfuckers. trippy seeing them w/big glass marble eyes, presiding over what? some masonic offshoot? more bidness oriented or what? rotary? odd fellows? new wave? alternative? keep walking and see _tudino's_ and duck in there. great slices of pizza here and I get one to cap off the habanero boiler I got going on in my gut. thank you hoboken.
hit the boat and konk hard and deep. we're around the corner (parking around here is super fucked) so I can't hear any of the bands and I'm out almost four hours! damn. pop, grap the shirts and head inside. it's always great playing for the folks who come here and tonight's no different. the sails are taunt and my team steams through these waters all tightfisted and oiled. good gig. jimbo shows up and I hug him all up. love seeing jimbo. the rain came down on him hard but lets up once we finish. lots of encores, then pack up and bail. ken starkey, an old friend of mine from pedro is here. damn, he's related to todd - what a trip. he's been out of touch for years and I ask him to keep contact open. he gives me his email, the modern way it's done now. that's cool. more econo and he can get my flow when I dump it each morning too. glad I got to play for him again after all these years. I congratulate tom and vince on a job well done cuz man, did they put out. we gather jimbo, load up and we're off to his pad on canal in manhattan. thanks much jimbo.
we get to his pad and an old friend, jeff johnson's there, a temporary roomie for jimbo until he gets a new pad happening soon. good to see jeff again. he's sick as dog w/flu. damn. it's good to be konking on jimbo's deck again and my body collapses eagerly in a lump at the foot of his bed. I hear voices still but it's no matter, watt is out.
thursday, october 14 - new york city, ny
I spent the night in hobokan at steve's place and got a solid night sleep on a real bed and then went over to the smells like records headquarters and met rich there and shortly thereafter nod showed up and we all walked over to the local mexican joint called los dos, and met up with tim and margret for lunch. the enchiladas were very satisfying indeed. we then hit a nearby guitar shop and I met fred smith (television bassist) who was working there and talked about the sonics equipment theft of july 4th. then he told us about television getting their van and gear stolen before a tour in 77 even though their tour manager had pulled out all the spark plugs. I was too nearvous to mention that we were playing a couple of their songs, I just forgot, duh.
I hitched a ride into manhattan with nod but the ferry ride would have been great on such a clear day. we find the mercuray lounge convieniently located next to katz' deli on houston st. I was born here and I always get nostalgic when I come back and probobly for completely diffrent reasons from most people. I still remember it from the perspective of a 3 or 4 foot eye level since I moved to manhattan beach ca when I was 7 and a half. well the night ensues and we soon realize that someone (or something) heisted vinces flute and tape deck from the supposedly safe equipment area. we are all feeling very violated but thats how it is in the city. shit.
nod plays very well, I am learning their tunes and I hope that they would make it out west so my friends there could check them out too, I know they would be appreciated. cobra verde is completely cool and I have a blast watching them every night. soon my good friend phyllis showed up and we have a good catch-up rap and then erin from my home town hermosa beach suprises me and then another friend braden makes it too so I spend the night yackin it up with old friends. the gig goes well for us and we all head back to jimbos place after the gig to chill out to jazz and hang with the good folks of new york and eventually sleep.
it's a bright sunny ny day when I got up, but, first, the bad news...
I got burned. hard. my flute, metronome, tape recorder/player and all the watt tapes I brought were stolen from the mercury lounge where I had them all in my backpack. I had left the pack in a band equipment room between the narrow bar area and a hallway leading to an exit when I went to Katz's for a pastrami sandwich (excellent, by the way).
it was my fault. the area wasn't really secure. I knew better than to do that, but my trust/hubris has been growing in regards my cumbersome backpack, so I burned myself. it's close to a $500 loss all told, but the most fucked up thing about it is the loss of my flute, a french-key armstrong workhorse that has seen me through eighteen or more years of gigs, recordings and lots of playing at home. I used it on one of mike's tunes (played fife and brushes/kit, too) that didn't get on b-hog or t-boat. I've toured with it four or five times with slackjaw blues, playing it on several tunes. it wasn't a great flute, but I loved it. I bought it in an l.a. pawnshop almost twenty years ago and it's been a reliable old friend. I feel like it's like a loved one, a critter, a friend. I am concerned about it's welfare. I'm sorry I let it fall into a theives hands. I am sad.
when I got back from eating I found my pack in the hallway by the exit, open, with the flutecase open and empty next to it. they even took my cleaning cloth and rod. then I noticed the side pocket I kept my little metronome in was empty.
I let the bartender know what happened so the club would know that a thief knows the set-up. my bag had been in an area for band stuff, cases, etc.
I'd gotten the little metronome in northampton when I toured with mike and...saucer in '95. the tape recorder I'd had since '95 when I bought it to tape crew prac's. the little tape player, a sony, was a great work tool. it had two stereo mic's built in and a limiter so I could record loud practices with no distortion. It was god for recording tune ideas at home as well. like I said, it was an excellent tool.
I realized the tape recorder was stolen (donated) when I, resigned to the loss of the flute and 'nome, sat down with my pack to listen to a couple tunes from the set on tape, something I do as part of the warm-up process. I reached into the pack for the soft cassette carrier I kept the player and band tapes in, and, of course, it was gone. some junkie took everything he or she thought was valuable and shoved them in his or her pockets. the flute pieces were, I'm sure, clanking around in that persons pockets as they walked to their pad or over to their fences house.
I had practiced a tune on flute with the verde's during sound check that I was going to play with them on during the set, their version of "never my love". I was looking forward to playing it with them.
so, if any of you new yorkers reading this are offered an open hole armstrong flute, tarnished, or a metronome or sony mini-recorder with dented microphone screens and maybe tapes of live black gang crew encores, watt music and covers that you heard during our set, clock the motherfucker, get hold of me and I'll gladly send you a reward for the stuff/. of course, I don't expect to recover any of it, but it can't hurt to mention it.
the nod opened up. the singer/guitar player Joe had an extremely personal style of singing and playing. brian and tim, drums and bass, provide solid grooves under rock and roll tunes. the approach reminds me of jonathon richmond, the shags and creedance cleerwater. no pose, no affectation. purity of essence, as col. jack t. ripper would say. really cool.
cobra's played great. john said he thought it was rough around the edges, but I thought it was great.
my friends stephanie and her mother shirley showed up, and it wa great to see them. I hadn't seen steph, a beloved old friend, since I was at the knit with baz in '97, and hadn't seen shirley for 12, 15 years? It did my heart much good to see them. Steph is one of the most gifted and intellegent people I've ever known. I love her very much. congratulations mike and steph on your engagement...I look forward to meeting you mike!
my old girlfriend eileen and her husband ian showed up also. I played at their wedding with another band I'm proud to play in, brother weasel (cd swingin' and groovin' available on sst records). I'm glad we've been able to maintain our friendship after breaking up, and I like ian a lot. they're both great people and I'm so happy they came and that we were able to hang a little bit.
I thought the set went well, and felt proud to play well in front of my ny friends. I was nervous playing in front of them, as well as steve s. and jimbo. I am way into the sonics and when the crew...saucer did two weeks of lollapalooza in '95 I got to hear them every night and they completely blew my mind each and every night. they operate on a sublime level of artistry and rock like hell too. thank god steve's such a nice guy. he puts me very much at ease with his good nature, jimbo too.
I told steve about the rip and felt kind of stupid when I thought of how the sonics were ripped off recently. numerous treated guitars, sound gear and all kinds of stuff was stolen. very sorry, sonics, very sorry.
I thought we played good - rocking, tight, grooving, varied in moods, tone and dynamics. unfortunately my headset mic crapped out and I had to use a boomstand, but we made do.
jamie was our sound person. I knew him from having played at the bugjar in rochester with baz in '97 when he worked for "universal buzz radio", who taped our show and distributed it for radio broadcast. we played with nod that night. good to see him - he's a good guy.
back to jimbo's. good scotch flows (not for me), and the herbology begins anew. I talk to jimbo about 'trane and james moody. jims love for and knowledge of music is inspirational. I feel culpably ignorant by contrast.
I crawl off to bed. damn I'm tired. oh yeah - earlier today pre-rip i did what I love to do - walk around and take the subway in nyc. I went to manny's (chris came along), bought 4 boxes of sax reeds and bought a needed crash cymbal (mine was pretty cracked)
pop and head down the six flights of stairs down to canal street. I pause at the last flight cuz this is where jimbo last year took the fast way down and busted out three teeth and pert-near almost broke his fucking neck. thank god he had the good fortune to survive that plunge, damn. that pause to think makes me humble and I take my time going down. I go down stairs slow anyway w/these fucking knees of mine but still, I take it real careful and deliberate. out the hatch and I head straight for the _westside cafe_ which has got some righteous cubano chow. si! when I get done, I hoof and then head back to jimbo's to spend the afternoon w/him. I was supposed to come to his town three times in the last year to visit and cut each one at the last minute. damn, it's been a year since I've seen him. I'm coming after xmas cuz I don't want to be in my town for the first this coming up year, no way. nothing's gonna make me cut this trip this time - nothing, I am determined. I can't always be on the clock. I gotta take some time off for me. I gotta let go just a little. w/all the touring, I'm not that big of a vacation man (like in never) but I am driven about it this time. can't always be inhaling my whole life, gotta exhale too.
we're playing the _mercury cafe_ tonight and that ain't far from jimbo's pad at all. on the way, we pass _shimmel's_ and _katz's_, both great chow pads that have put my butt in heaven more than a few times. not tonight though, time to konk right after soundcheck. jimbo says ricki lee jones wants to talk to me about a project and this is a mindblow, damn. gotta konk now though so I hope she understands. miss _nod_ again and that makes me sorry but I understand what my body needs. it's also good not to be spieling a few hours before I holler my head off too. wish somehow I could do both.
I grab the shirts and shit and head out the boat for the pad. after seeing a friend from s.f., rachelle and talking a while, I can hear the verdes wailing through the hatch of the next room. great! I didn't miss them. johh, frank, chas, dave and mark are storming up a twister and I'm digging it, moving right up to the front of the stage. I'm not going to pound the stage again though, that fucking tiny piece of glass is still in my fucking palm! I can still feel it when we do a tune like "friction" or "intense song for madonna to sing." I wonder why? hopefully, the fucker can work itself out. damn. after c.v., it's our turn and boy does this set have a rough start. we get it going though and the nyc crowd is really great, quiet in the softer tunes and supportive w/yells in the blasters. again we blow a verse of "the red and the black" out of the water but recover, we do and I'm happy w/my team. the soundman, jamie is great and very supportive and into it. thank you, jamie. we end up doing a bunch of encores and there, when we're done, who comes up to me? ricki lee jones and she wants to talk. she's a very sweet lady and she's been waiting to talk w/me but I was konking and then she had to leave and missed the gig. she came right when we were done. I tell her about my beef w/a lot of the bullshit and phonyness of these days and ask her what she thinks and she has a lot of good words to say about it. she thinks basically it's about fear, fears from folks of her generation, fear of the kids, fear to love, shit like that. she lives in olympia now, she tells me, where she grew up. I tell her about the riot grrls there and the great labels there, _kill rock stars_ and _k_, she says she knows about them and digs it. I tell her my views on the betrayal of the 70s punk insurgency by cons like "new wave" and "alternative" and she says she understands. she wants me to call when tour's done. you know I will.
it's getting late and we gotta pack and bail. dear elizabeth has come! great. I thank the boss maggie and we all load up and head back to jimbo's pad. barre, a friend from the old days joins us too. he's works w/the _fun loving criminals_ these days and I ask him how they're doing. new drummer, guess steve is out. damn, things change. old bud don flemming and harper, a cat he's been recording w/are there waiting along w/thurston, who you know I dig seeing everytime. thurst has got a great flannel. he's tired though and soon konks on jimbo's bed. he's been curating gigs at _tonic_ and has been doing a bunch of driving. him, kim and coco now spend most of the time in western mass cuz coco's started school. he deserves to konk. I'm almost out too but barre is yammering away like a champ. it's a work night and poor elizbeth has got to pop soon so she's gotta bail. barre and jimbo are still going as I apply demos' mask and it works it's wonder. I'm guessing even if barre ran out of words he'd still be shooting out phoenetic syllables, quite a talent, that man. he makes me and tom look like trapist monks on a vow of zip-it-up. still, I'm glad to see him again and smile big time as the purr of the yammering eases me into the state of konk for which I'm heading.
friday, october 15 - providence, ri
in the morning the traffic wakes us up and chris and I head downstairs to the local cuban greasy spoon which I'm sure the other dudes wrote about too. we take a quick cruise through soho and I locate my friend friederich petzels gallery on wooster and I luckily find him there and we have our usual 10 minute reunion and then its time to head to the van for the next story in prvidence.
we spend most the day in hellish traffic, we were burnt out by the time arrive and parking was a bitch but cobra verde were there and we soon have a possitive mood swing. after the nessesities are resolved chris and I find a very nice little place to eat and we have a great meal and a fine bottle of wine that he generously treats me to.
the gig and the time after is sort of unmemorable to me at this time except that we ended up driving a ways to someones house that a tenant of his had been deported from and we were able to bed down in.
wake up at 10a. I want some more nyc vibe, so I hit the street. I get a slice for breakfast - pepperoni. it was real good - not great, but good. next, coffee. triple latte, medium. I get to a post office to send some money home to linda, but it's time to head back to jimbo's to split, so there's no time to negotiate the long p.o. line for money orders. so, hustle back and we're off.
I drive the van - driving the boat in manhattan - yeah!! I fought the cabs, trucks and crazy ny drivers - I actually dig the crazy bumper car indy 500 of nyc driving and find a hell-bent drive with a deranged cabbie to be high entertainment.
getting to the highway is ok, but the hwy. is bumper to bumper all the way to frigging providence. so it's 30 mph average, it seems, across the state of connecticut, all the while contemplating my 5 large donation to the void in nyc while me mates palaver it up about beatings about the head and neck with the shilelagh, a featured part of a show by shilelagh, a metal band mike contemplates starting.
into providence, past a nuke sub base, inlets and waterways. parking is a hassle, it takes several turns around the one-way streets of the old burg to finally double park and hustle the gear out. after a brief sound-check, strike the gear and off load, I head out looking for chow. I find a pub/grill where providencians gather in number. they have a crabcake special - I order one cake, a bowl of clam chowder and salad. the cake is good and the chowder is awesome. the broth is hardly thick at all but has good strong clam flavor. the clams are plentiful and taste fresh and the spuds are good.
I like these rhode island people - gregarious, loud, good natured smart-aleks. in this pub people are telling loud stories, laughing and shouting from one table to another or from the bar to a corner table.
the only bad thing is that the service sucks. it's getting close to time for me to split - the food's been finished for awhile, my coffee cup has sat empty and my waitress is chatting and laughing with customers, taking orders, bringing food and drinks to other tables.
I finally flag her down and ask for the check. another 10 minutes and I ask again. my waitress has a distinct sense of style. whereas each employee of the places wears a little nametag with a blinking red light, my gal has placed one over each breast as if she had a rudolph blinking red nose for each nipple. I wait longer. she brings more food out, takes more orders. she goes down to the kitchen and comes back and has found the time to transfer the blinking red lights to her swiveling ass cheeks. I get up and corner her while she's at the bar collecting more drinks to distribute to the din producing patrons.
"I like your place, and, of course, your running lights, but I really have to go", I say.
It takes her another 10 minutes to accomplish the tabulation, as if she had been asked to calibrate the speed of the moons orbit around the earth by some triangulation formula.
I finally get the hell out of there and back to the club. more routine: hydrate, warm-up. there's a 'nanner in the band-room, so I have it for potassium. I have a good hang/rap with mark from the cobra's. a solid cat and a great rockin' drummer.
I didn't really hear the local openers. the cobra's were really good.
we played well - good gig. this boom stand thing is a pain in the neck, but that's the way it goes. the r.i.'ers are outspoken about their appreciation. I meet a lot of cool people.
we stay with mark, anotherlong-time watt fan. he and his buddy joe regale us with tales of r.i. corruption - a recent governer rooting around in a dumpster for a $100,000 cash payoff accidentally thrown away in a burger joint, for example.
again the westside cafe waits for me w/some great cubano chow right after I pop and then shower. still the sun is w/us, how very much happening! I have to do some spiel for the canadian folks so it's back on the horn. big good byes to jimbo and I promise him I will not dodge this trip I'm planning for new years on his coast. no way.
our next gig is at the _met cafe_ in providence and this shouldn't be too long of a ride but what in fact happens? one big fuckin plug all the way through the entire state of connecticut. we average like twenty fucking miles an hour and it takes like seven hours. it's a friday too so all the parking is jammed up, old downtown providence is lots of tiny oneway streets so the shit is wracking the nerves of vince, who has manned the helm the whole way. we quickly soundcheck and then I'm out quick in the boat. miss all the verde's set, damn. before that john was hipping me to the idea of the political clout of the rockstar and stuff like that. says he still wants to get me in some glam clothes too. wants to drink whisky w/me too. man, if he knew! no whisky for watt this tour though so he'll have to wait. I will take these verdes on tour again though cuz I really dig them. anyway, a roust by tom and I'm up and out of the boat and over to the pad for show time. I space and leave the 'puter in the van and that lot is not together (that's why I like docking right in front of the pad we're playing) so I ask chris to go and get it and he's a champ and helps me out. having him around has been ok but I wonder what he's thinking about the whole rock and roll world compared to what we do. I guess that's why he's doing this, he probably had some other idea of what I might be and now the reality of being w/me (along w/tom and vince) has given him the "real" insight. I hope it don't freak him out. he's got a very positive attitude towards it all and is never bummed out or negative. good man, chris. glad he came aboard.
the gig has a lot of support from the crowd and though it's always been hard for me to get giant audiences here in providence, I will always come here cuz of the great feel. no jive, lots of love. my team does great from the stage and I'm proud. mike, the soundman, does a great job and we all thank him big time even if the room has a weird resonance that could make things a nightmare (in the beginning of the set, this is what happened but mike got it worked out quick and things were great). thanks big time, mike. while I'm slingging shirts after the gig, I ask if anyone's got a pad for the night and this cat mark says he's got one out in warren. seems his tenant got deported to portugal and now the pad is empty. we happily accept and follow him to his town just outside of prov, warren.
when we get to his pad, his buddy joe is w/him. joe's a personal assistant to prov's mayor. what a trip. now rhode island has a history of corruption but he lays some intense spiels on us. he talks of one governor (who's currently in jail) that was diving in a dumpster for a hundred thousand dollar bribe he mistakenly through out w/some wrapping paper from a roast beef sandwich. this wasn't a rumor but in grand jury testimony! damn. we're laughing and laughing. he said he found his boss' hair piece in some drawer and wanted to put it on but feared that cat would somehow sense he had it on and nail him later. mark told me all the cats around this mayor have been busted and now they're waiting to get him. joe defends him and says he has a seventy eight percent approval rating. we all have some good laughs about all this and sit and wonder. what a well-made world, I think as the light blinder mask goes on and sueno pulls me out of this world and into sleepytown.
saturday, october 16 - cambridge, ma
I do remember however that I awoke hearing mike say that there was an eathquake in joshua tree thats somewhere just east of l.a. and so I went to call diana to see how things were at home. she mentioned that she was awakened by thumping and it sounded like an earthquake to which I said that it was and then she said no it wasnt it was the guys who were reroofing our house. funny and a little bit of a relief. theres more to the morning but its all in the past now.
tt & the bears is a place where slovenly had played with firehose on the jame worthy tour in '88. its a basic little bar space with the stage somewhat inconvieniently put in the middle of the room making it difficult to travel from the backstage area to the bathroom and/or bar when the people are present. since they form a barrier in the narrow space given to them to watch bands play. I am not complaining because I am happy they are there its just very difficult for one to use the lavatory or to obtain a beverage before one gets called into action, or to go get mike from the van for that matter. slightly hindering. Ive always had a thing with the breakup of space in a room and placement of objects.
this gig has nod and cobra verde again and along with our band I think its a really diverse and fun show to see as a whole, but this time time we get squeezed in by a local band too so it was in wy opinion way too long of a night and unfair to our other bands. but politics are everywhere and maybe some of their friends or fans got a chance to check out some fresh alternatives like nod and cobra verde and maybe find some enlightenment. lets hope so.
wake up. chris has gone to the store and has made fried eggs, linguica and portugeuse bread/toast. there is a large portugeuse population in the area, hence the chow available at the local market. it's great - thanks chris, you're a great addition to the team!
we split to boston.
we get to cambridge early. mike sets up camp in the bar/cafe at the middle east (where baz trio played in '93) with tom and chris, and I walk to check out the town. I get to m.i.t. (chomskyville!), turn around and walk to harvard. I eat at a cool student hang where they get the food to you fast (for in-between classes?). the huge burgers with horseradish look great, but I get the hummus, tabouleh and feta plate. it's good.
back to the venue. bad start with our sound person, sandy. I ask if we can move the monitor to fit our stage set-up and she asks "move the monitor?" with a look on her face like I asked to borrow her car to drive to paraguay to deliver meth. then she let me know that "not much sound comes out of that thing anyway, the speaker is blown". I ended up moving the monitor. that kind of thing kills me: "oh, the monitor doesn't work". if it's acceptable to work without it, why have it in the first place? and if the cash register is broken, you know operations will cease until repair or replacement is complete.
throught the course of the set we feel the effects of lack of concern: mike's voice through the monitor feels like it's channeled through mississipi mud. when we start, there's no mic on tom's git amp, so he has to pull the sax mic over, sending the guitar signal through the front monitors (revealing another mistake: the sax mic was supposed to go through the disabled drum monitor only).
but at least our sound person was keeping attentive and alert by working on a crossword puzzle as we played (reported by fred, who observed this while trying to direct her attention to mike, who was on stage asking for monitor sound adjustment).
maybe she's had to deal with to many macho rockers and dudes with attitude before - but why take it out on us? we're cooperative, helpful, and always try to enlist the sound person as a member of the team.
well, that shit happens. you can't let it screw up the gig. we stayed the course and the audience helped.
nod was good - I dig them more every time I see them. their specific sensibility is cool, grooving rockwise kind of like creedance, with that honed individual approach on guitar and vocals that joe's got changing it up. folk in approach, I'd say, if not exactly in sound.
and the verde's - the verde's are our road bro's. we are in the audience digging them. john is a great front man, keeping a traditional vocabulary of stage moves alive and working his own in the mix, crooning, barking and wailing as befits the moment. frank rocks the voodoo guitar; chuck berry, keith richards, ron wood, steve marriot vibes are strong - sounds I love. mark slams the grooves, gets funky and propels the event and dave digs into the strings, rumbles and provides melodic undertow. he lifts his bass high up in the air in true verde swaggerism. these guys remind me of the things I like about the dolls, the faces, iggy and the stooges, bowie, humble pie and even roxie music.
it's a great pleasure and honor sharing stages and the road with them.
our set: no fan blowing (forgot to set it up), soaked with sweat, out of breath about to pass out up there, during sax playing on the encore an audience member, so he told me, was ready to catch me if I fell unconscious.
oh yes, a boston band, wheat played on the bill as well.
we stay with some music students from e mass, a bass player and a trombonist. they are learning the intense jazz ropes and are way into mike's music as well.
man, if this is a new school, great. young people working hard on their craft, learning the intensely articulate and powerful language of jazz, while digging the not necessarilly jazz world of (non-mannerist, non-doctrinaire) punk and other sounds in various forms.
a. ayler, b. flag, c. parker, d. ramone, e. jones. trane, plugz, pharoah, panic, dolphy, minutemen, bird, dk, rashied, ig, muhal, sonics, schepp, congress, ornette, gbt, vin golia, saccharin, nct (nelsie), mecolodiacs, arthur blythe, fibs, ronald shannon jackson, mw, billie blue, wpeet, stewbig. music that is energy, ideas, tapping the life vein. music to disentangle the plaque on the heart, the atman, the minds eye, whatever, so it can flow out, mingle with the great vibe of hope, excitement, ecstasy, spreat it around the gig and over the sound repro devices si it can synch up with the other participants, listeners, gig-goers. maybe this blast of focused energy, this ecstatic ancient wisdom through modern minds can spark others and so it goes. it's the same deal, same thing, like willie dixon says.
and these guys had a couple rambunctious kitties at their pad as well - ornge kitties, friendly, rompin' and playin'. when we hit the sack, they started using tom for a springboard. but we all fell off to sleep eventually.
short little hop to the next gig so I take a long walk this morning in mark's town of warren. it's an incredibly clear fall sky and I walk up the road under the righteous orange, yellow and red turning of the leaves to the next town of bristol. this town got started over three hundred years ago! I put my hands all over the rounded road marker at the town line. tracing my finger inside the groove where a shield used to fit. who's hand over these tons of days did the same? for europe cats it's probably not a big thing but I live in cali where hardly anything is that old so my mind is blown for a little bit just pondering it. who were the punk rockers of those days, what did that even mean? how was it co-opted and hijacked? who's boot ended up on who's throat? who went down swinging?
I meet mark's ma and all three of us have a little talk. the paper says the group, _doctors w/out borders_, has won a nobel peace prize. this is great. I did a benefit for those cats when the bombing was going down in the balkans cuz I believed in what they were doing. maybe there's a new generation of doctors coming up, huh? can only hope. much respect to these cats. mark's ma works for a non-profit medical group and we talk of the state of medicine now and the profit driving forces verses the cats who take their oath to help like they mean it, walking the walk.
get to cambridge and luckily find a spot to park right in front of tonight's gig, _t.t. the bear's_, a pad I've played a few times and dig. run by bonnie and her booker randi, they are secretly looking for the beanie babies that are sold only in england and canada, some type of bear. don't tell anyone. tonight besides our bud's the nodsters and the verdes are a local group called _wheat_. four bands, damn. these are tough on folks and we'll have to hustle to keep everything on time. of course this is kind of hard w/watt konked in the boat before he goes on. to confound this we have this soundperson who is not really into it. even at soundcheck I get this weird vibe. I want to talk about what we're like and I get this response "it's all about you, isn't it?" damn, what's this about? I just shrug it off. later, when it's show time, I pop to get things going and things are running late. there's a one o'clock curfew so we got to get going and who's moseying around? then when things finally get underway, the monitors are the worst of the tour. I even have to stop in the roky song cuz they're feeding back so bad and sounding like there's wet sleeping bags covering them. damn. I just gotta laugh. later, I find out someone was doing a crossword puzzle the whole time, guess who? it makes such a difference when the folks you need to help you are into your trip. oh well, folks can always change for the better. maybe a lot of people come in strutting like rock stars and so automatically there's a defensiveness that builds up w/some cats. this is the only incident like this of the whole tour so far. then again, it's the first tour in many years I haven't been w/my man, steve reed. lovin' that steve reed. while slingging shirts, I see kato who's brought along walter, who's brought along his ma! damn. good to see all three of them. you can't get caught up in the little details or you'll miss the big picture which is what you're trying to put on for the folks. this line between public and private keeps getting blurred when snags come up and gets your panties all bunched up (metaphorically, I don't even wear underwear). hope I didn't look like too much of a spaz in front of walter's ma. I'm starting to really feel self-conscious now. oh boy.
get invited to stay in lowell w/some cats studying music at the college. they're doing my "...engine room" piece for a recital. damn, I'm honored. much respect. hope to hear their music soon. wonder what they write like? it's like a dominoe effect, just like me and d. boon getting started. the spark gets spreading and fires start all over the land: fires in the mind, fires in the heart. I konk tripping on this. damn.
sunday, october 17 - philadelphia, pa
we hit some rain as we enter a crowded street and look for parking. the pontiac grill is a bar with two levels. thank the lord the bands play on the street level and the upstairs is another drinking bar closed circuit video feeds from the show ging on downstairs. cool. the nice folks there and the sushi restaurant around the corner made for a fine evening.
nod did maybe their best show yet which I tottaly dug. though tonight is the last gig with us and there is a sadness in my heart to see them leave. but they play an inspired and strong set that we will take with us in our minds. after we play we share info and say goodbye and go into the good night.
woke up -timeto drive to philly. thanks, dudes - play your bass, play that bone. boneman said fred wesley's his fave. right on brother - I know you got soul, if not you wouldn't be in here...
light rain in philly. narrow brick streets and great old old buildings, houses. plaques indicating historic importance everywhere. our gig is on south street, sort of a burgeoning melrose of philly. you can still get a great cheese steak there, though. we have pinks chili on our melrose. that's one of the first things I want when I get back, a pinks chili dog.
strong ron shakes our hands, welcomes us warmly, then helps us load in when we finally get the horrible parking sitch together. i remember him from when the place was j.c. doggs and bazooka played there. ron is a sci if buff, and at the time, bill, the baz baassman at the time had just sold a script he, his wife and brother wrote for deep space nine. so ron was stoked as I recall.
the club is now the ponitac grill, and mike has played there twice, I believe, doing the opera.
we meet mark, the sound man, and do quick sound check.
ron recommends a japanese place for sushi down the street that chris wants to take us to. ok, no philly steak this time. we walk down, go in and order and we chow down cold asparagus with plum sauce, pickled seaweed and gyoza.
about this time dave, one of our cobra buddies, joins us. he adds to our sushi order. a giant wooden boat and a smaller wooden plank arrive at our table with tuna, yellowtail, mackeral (my favorite), shrimp, clam, salmon and various rolls. mix up a thick admixture of wasabe and soy and the fish dissipates quickly. midway through, a waitress comes up, delivering a bottle of sake. it's from ron, who is sitting over at the small bar. we bring him over and he exudes hospitality and charm: "I was over there at the club, and I realized how rude it was for me to recommend this place without joining you.", he says. the drinkers lift their sake cups to ron, our brother. another bro smoothing out the kinks for us.
back in gigville, we stop at the table with the verde's. it's our last gig together, so I'm a little sad, as are we all. tom, mike, chris (our roving reporter companion, in case you've just started reading) and myself have really gotten to love these great guys. we help each other with loading gear, when they look into the crowd they see us a noddin' and when we look down, there they are. when something goes wrong on a verde stage, somebody from our team helps out, and vice versa.
we go up to the band room. nod is in there. I'm tired and lay down on the wood floor. chris has been enjoying brewed grain beverages and sits in a chair, smoking, cutting up with tom.
chas is sitting in there, too. we talk about a jam they do, he, jonathon and others, that starts with sampled sequences and builds into improvisations that chas says he can find no easy comparisons to. he takes the tape of it on the cleveland college radio station he has a show on (he teaches at a college there, I presume it's the same one) and on an internet radio show.
chas repairs to the bar. the situation is unraveling. tom sits, eyes barely open, legs crossed, hand holding a cigarette that hasn't moved for minutes, save for ashes falling to the floor in a grey pile by his foot. smoke rises upin a thin straight plume up to the ceiling where it hangs like a cloud of doomsday fallout. he speaks in barely audible tone, his pencil thin mustache moving only slightly. "did we play yet?...," he asks no-one in particular, "it's so comfortable in here".
I am on the wood floor. verde's stop by, survey this untoward scene. they look to chris for explanation. he shrugs his shoulders, near empty pint glass in hand.
I am mumbling on the floor: "get me a bucket of chicken. all I need is a bucket of chicken and two nembutals and I can make the set...somebody get me a bucket of chicken and some nembutals...you guys go ahead and tune up...tune up and I'll be there - you guys start, I'll be down there...bucket of chicken...couple nembutals."
I am forced to reveal this potentially damaging scenario not out of a desire for truth, but because chris, unbeknownst to me, hid a little tape recorder next to the drool puddle accumulating under my mouth.
nod was hot. red hot. these three hipcats are riding their rocket to the stars. joe, brian and tim, a show business powerhouse that is headed to the top. these kids aren't just destined for the penthouse, no, no - they're headed for the paint on top of the helipad. this is a guarantee. they sailed through a magnificent set, nary breaking a sweat, really making it look easy, friends - and let me tell you, crafting that high powered entertainment and getting it off the launch pad and orbiting ain't easy! it just ain't!
next the verde's. I'm so glad and proud for these young rockers that they've managed to balance their careers as dirigible pilots with their work as stage visionaries. because these wonderful individuals have a gift to share, a gift of love, hope and how to win at baccarat. a sharing, a warm blending,a cornucopia of scintillation. their mind bending brew of cajun ju-ju, techno dirge, bulgarian choir dissonance set to that infectioius mambo beat re defines the term swamp-swank. their fresh look at the ligeti will get the stodgiest curmudgeon's toes a' tappin'. and when they hop on the mini-bikesfor the finale, fasten your seat belts: you're in for quite a ride!
our set started off swingin' from the hip. and when we got to the selection where we channel vic damone, the audience was left in a bubbling cauldron of dionysian joy. chairs flew, firearms were discharged and secret society handshakes were exchanged. a hedonistic rutting started like some atomic reaction and the temperature in the room reached 183 degrees farenheit. we were hitting our stride. a tripod of the recoiless rifle I used in the encore slipped of the stage and cobra jonathon used his ninja training to secure it safely using one of his forearm tendons. very resourceful, jp! thank god mike and tom practiced their triple axels. I'll have to dry-clean my velour tux, but I can tell you, it was worth it.
afterwards all the bands and audience stepped into a phone booth to exchange stories about waiting in line at the dmv. someone broke out a flask of ouzo and after a short ceremony we were all declared "brothers of the lengua" which gave everyone 3 hours free at a local tanning parlor.
we repair to the rain wet street to load the gear, take pics and embrace our departing friends. they're going back to cleveland (the verde's) and we're back on the road. destination: richmond, va, with a brief stop for z's at the mo-6. farewell, verde's - see you down the road!
pop and soak for a long time in the tub here. hoof all over the hood which is by a river and has a righteous park nearby. folks are running in some kind of a run w/numbers on their chest. other folks urging them on. me, I'm tripping on the old new england houses. all of them unique, different and unto themselves. very interesting and I get lost in the layouts, paintschemes and customizations. all the lifetimes that have made up these pads. damn. like they have spirits themselves. they're holding me in wonder for the longest time but now it's time to bail for the next town, phily. for sure we ain't going down that fucking I-95 again.
instead, we take the mass pike over to the I-84 into connecticut and then through new york and over the hudson via the tappan zee bridge, through new jersey and then into philadelphia. that's when we hit rain. kind of good cuz we're playing the _pontiac grille_ on south street which is kind of phily's version of melrose avenue. of course, this street is more than a couple of hundred years old but I guess the folks here say to hell w/the culture, let's buy into a phony hollywood thing. or maybe the people never had a say and it was ordered from upstairs? the rain is kind of good cuz it clears the sidewalks some. I had chris drive so he could get a fuller tour picture for his newspaper story. hard for him to park the boat, hard to park anywhere cuz of all the jammed up parking scene. damn. I finally find a place two blocks down. damn, I hate being far from the gig and not being able to guard the boat. I will konk early and stay w/her as long as possible.
first I have a spiel w/howard (my publicity man at columbia) and tell him where I stand now w/my musical life and the next record I'm gonna record later after tour. I explain to him the sadness of losing the man this last summer and the effect it had my next record. my last one, the opera, was about my past: the minutemen seen through the metaphor of my pop's life as a sailor in the navy. the boat as the van. the lesson of losing close, close people but having the luck to still have work and a journey that goes on and on. this next record is about my in the present, not the past. a lot of the songs I wrote were for the man cuz he was a big part of my today but then the brain cancer took him and he was part of the past, I couldn't make another record about the past so I had to write a whole new one. a one for today, watt in the moment. not my beginning days, not my end days but my middle days. I'm now a middleman, a minuteman now in this instant, this second: a secondman making my middle stand. fist in the air in a non-fascist salute w/nothing to lose, everything to fight for. no objects to horde, only debts to make good on. promises to keep. an intense fire blazing in my head, a hot fire stoked from being around, walking and working these towns. learning this land. veterano w/no bitter, cynic thoughts holding sway. a curious mind opening wider w/wonder and as the view gets larger and yet closer up w/each pass of my orbit. the gigs, the boat, the land, the towns, the folks - all like a giant flannel w/trillions of threads making the pattern entirely incomprehesible cuz of the link forever loss but never in vain for not trying. the grand canyon gap between the mind and the brain, between the knowing and the grasping of the word for it - the idea and yet still the feeling still finding different angles and ways to say it to me and help me mouth it's unpronounceableness. the knowing in the doing, the work. the fucking broom in my hands, trying to make music or some such motion. the bass, the rudder - every tool I got in the box to fight my fear.
hope howard understands. back to the boat to konk. tom rousts me just before gig time and all ready I'm ready for the halfway point of this tour. mr. frank berg is doing the sound and he's very much into it and inspiration. he's gonna make a cd for me of the set and give it to me right when we're done. damn, modern tools. I give a speech on the low power fm issue and someone interrupts me w/some asshole "play music" comment. I tell him to let me have my say. it's only about five sentences anyway and it's as important to me as any song. I think he just wanted to hear his voice. I wasn't bogarting the gig w/spiel, just letting folks know where I stand on this issue w/a few sentences. he makes it a little longer by interrupting what I had to say. anyway, it's time to do the gig but you know w/watt, sometimes a little spiel is also part of the gig. the stage is way cramped but that's cool cuz it feels like we're playing on the boat and my crew does well. I know these verde cats are inspiring them as well as myself and that's why it's great to have a good team to tour with, going all the way back to those _black flag_ days w/all ten of us in that boat. not cloning each other's style but feeding on the common fire. a good thing. after we're done, john buys me a slice of pizza from across the street and talks more politics/glam rock w/me. I had a talk earlier too w/chas (verde theremin/keyboard cat), who's involved w/the subgenius folks and that's a trip too. he's a teacher too at the college and has to leave right after the gig so he can give a lecture the next day. what's the subject? tour, of course! it's a sad time as we pack up cuz it's our last gig w/them but I say I'll tour again w/them cuz they're so down. righteous folk. many, many thanks from watt.
tim offers us a pad (well, his girlfriend alli's pad) to konk at but he has to get his van or something and after waiting the longest time in wet clothes, we gotta bail so we don't get sick and head for the mo-six by the airport. sorry tim, but health counts big time on tour so thanks anyway. hope you're ok, you're a good cat. we get to the mo at three in the morning and that deck can't be far enough away not to catch this heavy w/tiredness, flannel covered bass wrestler as konk takes him down for the count.
monday, october 18 - richmond, va
we play for a cool group of locals and a swell guy named kyle. it was kyles birthday yesterday and the humphry j's bar is his. he told us about how the front window was smashed by a drunken mp from england and we shot the breeze til the pa arrived. this will be our last show with nod and were sad to have them leave too but its overshadowed by the fact that I know we will meet again and be able to play again.
it is really great to meet cool people and play with their bands for a few shows, it gives me insight into why we do this everynight and makes it all a more intense time. I guess its kind of like playing on an allstar basketball team where you come together from different places and go for it for the fun of it bringing the best out of each other. its also chris' last night with us and he and his buddy are bringing their own festive atmosphere to our evening. there are too many little points to mention but we all have a good last night and mike and I end up crashing upstairs from the club in kyles place. very eventful. lots of dogs. bye chris, I hope you get your pager I sent.
can't stop the madness...must try different medication...my shaman is not answering his pager.
old richmond...we're down by the river at fletchers. a large truck full of gear pulls up - it's a rental p.a. three big doggies wander through the bar.
chris gives me a tour of the hood - he used to live down the street. he recounts counting the cobblestones after visiting the local public houses.
we head back to the club and I order some food there. we set up and sound check. the food arrives as I'm setting up the kit, so I grab a bite in between trying to tune the ring out or my toms. the black bean cakes are good and so is the ceaser salad. they did the ceaser right, with anchovies. it ain't a caser without the 'chovies.
it's our last night with chris, so he, his old buddy dave who has driven to richmond for the show, tom and I head to a bar he is familiar with. the drinkers hoist some cubano rum concoction.
back at the club, bucket is playing. I don't get to hear much of them, but I like what I hear. real rockin'. the drummer, joe, sits really low with his left leg behind him, sort of like he's kneeling, very unusual looking. he's rocking the medium tempo as we walk in, really getting into it, blasting that tempo, grooving it. good group.
it's our last night with nod, too. the nodsters are really good, I like them a lot.
our set tests our resolve. first there's no monitor. then we start playing and the power amps go out, like a fuse is blown or something. we start up again and mike has dave, the sound man, take all of the instruments out of the p.a. except for vocals. every time the power goes down we stay ready to go so that when it's back up we can hit the next tune right away. the first time it happened, the power cut out after the furst chorus of big bang theory, so we went right into the second verse as soon as the power went up, like stopping a movie video when you have to take a leak, then resuming it.
it was a good gig, aside from the p.a. glitch and the people talking loudly throughout the set. these people, what are they thinking? we bring things down to a near whisper in some tunes and they un-self-consciously chatter on - about what? work? tv? favorite cereals? this is life right here, why not experience it? if you aren't enjoying the music enough to pay attention, why not repair to a quieter bar and discuss pivotal battles of the boer war or favorite ski waxes? watt gave 'em a few stern words, which he gave himself a hard time about afterwards. I thought he was right on the money.
there was also a good watt talk on low power radio, which we're helping spread the word on (the lprc, the low power radio coalition) which is an attempt to democratize the stultified radio scene, which, after all, exists on supposedly public airwaves. the lprc is trying to loosen the fcc grip on low power broadcasts so that low power, low cost, autonymous, individualistic radio stations can sprout that extend a block, a street, or a mile or two. SST had one going that the fcc triangulated and shut down. it was a great station, too.
it's not really the fcc that fights it so much as the big radio conglomerates who want to hog every little bit of airspace to monopolize the market and force feed everyone their focus-group flaked and formed mersh lowest common denominator explotation bullshit. the radio, and tv airwaves, for that matter, are liscensed at bargain prices to grossly megamersh megaloptopi - any real expressionof them as public utility is non-existant.
the big money has got their well rewarded proxies ensconsed in every position from which public money and resources can flow back their way. and in this case, even small grass roots autonomy must be snuffed out by the money grubbing power mad bogartmeisters. they're afraid, justifyably so, that if people get a whiff of something fresh, unique and alive, they might snap out of their autonomic stupor, shake off the leaden mantle as consumers and the biggies market share will be eroded, and, maybe, burst.
is it pie in the sky to think that the homogenizing grip on everything and everybody can dissolve that easily? maybe not - if it is, then the big corporations wouldn't feel the need for the all out hegemony they obsessively seek.
so anyway, I'm into this lprc thing, too. it'll make for a lot more enjoyable music, interesting ideas, etc., more creativity, more fun, more reality, more sanity, more insanity.
after the gig the cook, erin, made up a "habanero relish", from mashed whole habanero's, seeds included. we sat in a booth, mixing regular salsa with the bowl of magma he'd prepared, and ate tons of it.
tom and mike went over to kyle's and chris, dave and I went upstairs to crash. kevin, whose house it was, smoked us out royal. I remember seeing chris sitting there with his head in his hands, unable to speak. I was unable to stop speaking. this should surprise you after reading my non-stop drivel? Richmond hospitality, how well I know it. hail hotel-x, and hail skillet!
once again I have chris take the boat's helm. we have lots of fun cracking jokes as we make the drive to virginia, the state where watt was born. we pass the capitol on our way and trip on the washington masonic memorial which is perched on alexandria's highest hill. no time to stop there this tour. easy getting to the venue cuz chris went to school here in richmond. no prob at all as he glides the boat in, he's getting pretty good at it. much respect, chris. he said he learned driving his ma's van. whoa.
tonight we're playing for a cat who first interviewed me one tour, then the next tour cooked me chow and now on this tour has me at his bar, _humphrey j's_. his name is kyle and he's great. he's also both a professional wrestling manager and an intergender champ. I just got the news from jon kincaid that _bob mould_ has got a job booking gigs for the wcw. damn. I always knew bob dug wrestling from the old days when me and d. boon put out the first husker record, _land speed record_. congrats, bob. me and kyle trip on that and are glad for him. better than doing marlboro tours.
kyle lives above his bar and has me konk there, the boat is parked in the back so it's safe. he's got these three dogs that are total lovers and keep me all toasty. I konk hard. they truly love these puppies cuz the have thoroughly ran rip-shod over the downstairs of his pad. I think they have separation anxiety or something cuz every inch is chewed and torn, big time. I don't care, their love is bigger than that. a local band called _bucket_ open up. I hear them through the floor do their last song, a cover of "climbing," off of that _pink floyd_ album "meddle." haven't heard that in a while. our last gig w/_nod_. wake for a moment to hear them through the deck too.
the pad is packed and dave, the soundman, has got his hands full w/a weak p.a. that has zero monitors and amps that keep popping the circuit breakers. it blows the momentum pretty bad but we persevere and it ends up a good gig inspite of the technical shit. I want to do good for kyle and everyone else as does my team. some yammerin' at the bar and I holler and kyle reinterates and the crowd also comes to our defense and lets the yammerers know they're doing some fucked up shit. we all end up laughing anyway, those kind of cats are so obvious. after the gig I go in the head and I see all this "delta####" on the wall, like fucking serial numbers. this is crazy. surrender yourself to the herd. under this is "l... b....., jax" perfect. hope my bass had some effect on them. hope it sounded a little different and persuassive. what can I say at this point but to just try my hardest.
gig done, kyle's cook whip's up this good salsa and then gets a habanero relish going but he leaves in all the seeds. we don't care then but I know in the morning we'll be paying big time. I've been there before. it's a blast blasting our brains and mucos membranes w/the heat and power. whew! no burn, no learn! then it's back to kyle's pad w/me and tom to konk once again in the pad of the pups. thanks much kyle, glad I got to play your pad. wonder if I still snore? wonder if I kept up the dogs?
read week 3 of the tour diary
read week 5 of the tour diary
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this page created 28 oct 99