tuesday, november 2 - jacksonville, fl
as we pull into jacksonville for our first of five gigs detours off the freeway make it a little confusing and vince does his best to locate our street. we take it slow since we're early too, and soon we find the club. it's closed and theres no street parking till later so we hit a laundry mat around the corner and do some clothes. it's about 75 outside and humid but a nice clear fall day thats actually very comfortable to me. after an hour or so a couple guys drive up that recognize mike and i learn that they will be doing an interview for a cable show later on. after more time we get into the club and start moving in our stuff and order some grub. the interview is going on while we eat so vince and i watch mike do his spiel and try not to male too much noise till it's over.
we are playing with a local band called sam hill tonight and we hang and rap about the tour and such. they are all real good people and i check out their show and they really start to grow on me. they all can sing which is also a cool thing, and their songs have some husker du in them and I dig it. after they play we try to make the switch over as quick as possible since it's a tuesday night and get to playing as soon as possible. it's a pretty good gig but the stage was a little crowded and that is a problem during our change overs at the end of the set and at encore time. mike has a hard time getting off the stage and he and vince have a little discussion about where things should and shouldn't be placed. we get called out for more and so we play more. after the final tune we are invited to stay at rob and jeffs place who are the bass and drums from the other band and we take them up on the generous offer and i find a couch for the night and doze immediately after hitting the pillow.
I wake up early enough to go grab some breakfast with dan before he has to split to fly back to san jose. I have a bigger breakfast than usual: catfish, eggs, biscuits, spuds. we walk back to the 'mo, dan says his farewells to everybody and he cleaves from the journey. great to have you sail with us, amico mio. say hello to everyone at the mensa chapter for me.
we get to jax early enough to do laundry. I wander over to a mex joint during dry cycle, to eat some soup and coffee with my last $4.00. the "mexican soup" is really some tomato broth, some tomatoes, potatoes, and hamburger meat. it's actually better than it sounds.
we get let into the gig pad, the most low key gig pad so far...it's a store front with barely discernable lettering..."jack rabbits". but I'll take this kind of a place over a slick sports bar any day of the damn week, that's for sure. mike is our sound man and the check goes quick. watt does some tv interviews, and it's fun to watch them to on - mike is great at spreading the non-corporate, individual message, not conforming to any pigeonholed notion of the way someone is supposed to act as "an entertainer", full of plenty of real message from the heart and head. tom and I chow some very weak italian food while this is going on.
the first band is sam hill. they're cool, huskery with some neil young guitar, good rhythm section and great singing from all three, rob, jeff and matt. every one of these guys can sing their asses off, and they do. good playing all around.
we have lot's of energy and play a good gig - the stage is really low, which is cool because you're right there with the audience. we also meet gabe, who will join us in orlando as well. we head over to the sam hill house and they put us up and up with us. a great bunch of people...often great friendships are forged of the tempering stresses of the road, and our friendships with sam hill should be no different!
pop, hoof and roust - you know the drill by now. we're off. dan has to bail, his three gig tour of duty done. the paper says katrina, the tropical storm, has died and is gone. no rain ahead. damn. this after yesterday's paper said we we're gonna have a week of hell in florida. many thanks, so lucky for us this tour. we pull into the san marcos area of jacksonville and what's a block from the club? laundramat so it's time for more scrubbing of the outfits. we get to work. vince forages for chow. these cats drive down in the alley in this very obvious plain clothes narc car but they wave at me as they pass! damn. turns out they're the same cats who've interviewed me many times, they also have one of the longest running cable shows in the country (18+ years). we rap as my levis and flannels tumble in the dryer. too bad the camera ain't out for the spiel now!
the pad we're playing is a new one for me in this town and it's called _jack rabbit's_. good room for a gig, nothing bowling alley about this pad, for sure. everyone working here is great. the boss tim was in san diego for ten years and I used to see him and harlan at _the casbah_ there. pleasure to work for all these cats. the openers, _sam hill_ have already offered us their pad for the night's konk. thank you much!
at soundcheck I discover I donated my a.c. plug to the bass amp to last night's pad in columbia. don, the guitarist for the opening band just gives me one. thank you again! after our soundcheck (which is as short as possible, I hate long ones. we get some levels and eq's on the sends and then play one soft song, "walkin' the cow" and that's it, we're finished, through. why play some loud-ass shit or a million songs when everything's gonna change when folks show up, you tell me?) I do that video interview. then we order some chow and it's pretty "chef-boy-ar-dee" if you know what I mean. damn, it's weak. I blow it out quick then go to the boat and konk.
wake up to the openers kicking it up. sort of like huskers mixed w/mule, trippy sound. the bassman rob said he's been playing for only ten months. damn, he's good! I dig it. nice man too. when they're done, get out of the boat and hit the stage, let's get it going! good sounding stage and the soundman mike does great. we play good and tight. everything goes good until we're done and I can't get off the stage, it's completely blocked. damn. no water the whole set either, I'm fucking parched. I throw a little shit fit and kick my way out. vince's fan crumples and busts up. the other snare in it's case rolls too. boy, am I stupid. vince interprets this as something personal and takes it bad. I really get lit trying to tell him it was about me in a panic and it could've been my bass or something of tom's too and it had nothing to do w/him. I say some intense things. I don't want vince to feel he's a whipping boy and don't want him to be in a torturous place. we finally break through and have an understanding. things can get so misunderstood and I want him to be clear on what was going on in my head. when I explained the stage confinement thing, he got the picture. we're going to work together to make sure shit can go smoother. things can appear one way and mean a different thing entirely. damn, that's a trip. vince tells me later at least we can talk it out and get things straight.
we do the end of gig procedures and then head over the rob, the sam hill bassman's pad to konk. me and vince finish off the "shotgun willie" real hot salsa like that. not that hot, why won't they tell the truth? don asks me a bunch about my influences and where my music comes from and I tell him about the first gigs I went to in the early 70s and bands I listened to like t. rex, ccr, who, cream, alice cooper, black sabbath, blue oyster cult and stuff like that. I tell him my philosophies on why I play now and what I am trying to do w/my endeavor. of course, my talk gets intense when I get into this and I think it might've scared him. he starts to talk about why he likes steve vai and his technique and I can tell we're talking about two different things. he's a nice man though. I park on the couch and begin to pull the mask down. konking in the living room's a trip but I dig it, harder to get lost. I pull down the mask. I hear rob's girlfriend want to play music but rob says "watt's out and here he's gonna stay" and that's that. good man, rob, thanks for helping me out. I hear the spiel from my two compadres go on w/our good hosts until it's like a murky molasses in no time, the heavy konk due to the heavy throwing of bass descends on me like that and I'm done.
wednesday, november 3 - ft. lauderdale, fl
we wake and I make a quick search for some coffee only to find brown water, but the walk woke me enough to start down the long florida coast towards our next destination, the fu-bar. it's a long drive and I am happy to finally arrive but we are a little early and the bar is in a strip mall with nothing much going on except a jiffylube and mike hits it for another fresh oil change, deffinately a smart thing to do. vince and I in the meantime cross the boulevard to send off some mail to our loved ones.
when we get back to the club and van it's another couple hours til we can even get in the building, so far it has been the least welcoming gig of the tour so we just load up to the door and wait. some more time goes by and after seeing one guy go in and lock the door behind him a couple people show up for the gig and we chat a little while. finally the promoter shows up and lets us in at about a quarter to eight. we get right to work.
the other act is a nice woman named amanda green and her band of bass and drums. we hang a little but the club vibe is still very alienating and I hide in a corner talking with vince and wait to see how amanda green sounds. well I stand right in front of the stage for their entire show and they have alot of interesting things going on, I especially like her piano playing and the version of televisions "guiding light". after they are done their is still confusion about who is playing next and it turns out theres another band on the bill and the set up and get going. they have a dense sound that is sometimes broken up into some jagged guitar and off time drum fills and the bassist has a slight prog feel witch remindes me of king crimson - red era and a touch of polvo or gastr del sol. after their set I tell the drummer that I dug it alot and I mentioned john mcentire as a drummer that I think he has a similar feel to and he took that as a high compliment.
we get up and launch into our songs and it starts to feel really good once we get playing. the set is a cooker and the encores are real strong too so by the time we're done the crowd is alot more hyped than before and try to keep the good vibes going till we get out and on the road again. it was a wierd place but we turned that club into a happining place for a while. onward.
we pull up early at "the fubar", a new club for mike. there's no one there, and no posters for the gig in evidence. the club is in a strip mall which is surrounded by other strip malls across the street from more strip malls. while we wait in the van, a fan comes up and places a poster, downloaded from the watt website, in the window. tom and I take a walk across the street to buy money orders to send dough home. we get back and it's wait wait wait. a guy unlocks the front door and goes in, but tells mike "I just clean up here - I don't know anybody". we finally decide to unload the gear and keep it by the door as it's now 20 minutes past the scheduled load in time, then, after we've done that, the promoter shows up and opens the door. we load in and start to set up and meet the sound man, glenn, who lets mike know that although he searched the pollstar website to get an idea of our sound, he was unable to get any info (in other words: "who the hell are you guys, anyway?"). and nobody there seems to know how many bands there are. at one point, one of the employees tells us that as well as mike watt, a band called "the pair of pliers" will play tonight also. nonetheless, we get through sound check as amanda green, the opening band/performer shows up.
we meet watt fan barry as the show starts - it turns out that he was the fellow who put up the mw&thepliers poster while we waited. so tom, barry and I enjoy amanda green, who is a good singer with a very charming and charismatic stage and personal presence. she and her band do a very good version of a television tune, she playing piano (most of her set she played guitar). then ed matius struggle played, who I really enjoyed alot. they had some sonics sounding guitar and the drummer played some really cool syncopated beats...like my buddy brian from guns, books and tools, sacchrin trust and brother weasel. in fact, ed matius struggle sounded like they had a lot of influences in common with gbt, which is a band I love very much. like gbt, matius struggle used space and varying texture in their music alot. I told them about gbt and hope they'll somehow hook up.
when it's our turn, glen wants to do a line check. I thought that's why we did sound check? and although tom and I have talked to the dj a half a dozen times about putting on coltrane before and after we play, he doesn't seem to want to play it. we have to emphatically re-state our wish to finally get the guy to do it before we play, and afterwards, he got it off as soon as he could, and replaced it with some utterly bogus "house" electronica. when we finally start, the crowd is keeping their distance, so watt says "c'mon up and join us", and they do, making the vibe much better. he also lets the crowd know that the club vibe is reminiscent of the vibe in the old days when punk shows would be put on in rock and roll pads where the vibe of the staff was at best ignorant and at worst intolerably hostile. but the crowd is groovy - mixed ages, a lot of older fans, who can be especially great because they could give a hoot about looking cool...they are really into what they're checking out. so we hit hard and play well. mike's wailin' from the git - the get gettin' down down bass solo is rippin' it up! the monitors are loud and I can hear my vocals, which makes singing a lot of fun. we are playing sensitive, allowing several levels of dynamics, more, that is than just soft and loud. I'm having trouble with the first drum break in "fear is a man's best friend", trouble starting off with the appropriate frenzy. but it's hanging tough otherwise. my snare strainer breaks but with tom's help the changeover to the spare is really quick - it hardly bogs the set at all. so now instead of my old wooden ludwig snare I've got a more recent metal ludwig snare. watt says, between songs, "I like it better - more papery!". by the time we get to the encore, we're playing real well. when we start joe mccarthy's ghost, I look upward, like I often do, to sort of ask for d. boon's approval, or maybe just to think of him so I never take the job of singing this tune too lightly. similarly, when mike acknowledges "mr. john coltrane!" after we do my favorite things, I look up, or bow my head and think of trane, out of humility and to let the great moment sink into my head and heart and realize what an honor it is to be playing this tune with these people to the listening, open-eared crowd. we do another encore, and I am fully inspired by watt's bass groove and tom's guitar part in friction. it's a total gas.
after the set, I talk to juan from ed matius struggle, and tell him about guns, books and tools. glenn, the sound man, comes up, and says that we reminded him of his three favorite bands: primus, the who, and king crimson. wow...another convert! hey, it pays to not always preach to the choir, knowhattamean? I also get to meet tom bowder, who I've known from e-mail conversations. tom is a miami promoter, record label and recording studio owner and a drummer, and I've enjoyed lot's of on-line chats. he has great stories and knows a ton about sun ra. great to talk to you face to face, tom, look forward to it again!
but...after the gig, after the unlikely victory in rock 'n roll land, the vibe is dampened by the heavy miami vice/scarface vibe going on at the club. the proprieters of the joint never seem to leave their office, certainly not to see the show - and they have that black members only jacket look going on when you do get a quick peek. pulctritudinous blonde women in beach-bunny incognito leather jackets go in and out of the office area. the dj has a silk-like athletic warm up suit, a backwards baseball cap and a couple gold chains, as well as de rigeur expensive athletic shoes. a big bruiser guy pumped up on some chem-enhanced machismo, obviously "da muscle", walks around with his baseball cap, black sweatshirt and gold chain...he body-checks watt for no apparent reason. well, behind enemy "lines", no pun intended, we went, and we emerged victorious. on to the 'mo.
pop and do some diary. gotta keep the thoughts fresh. some weird shit is happening, I can feel a tension. tour can throw some trippy challenges your way. rob has to bail and I tell him "keep playing your bass." we gotta go and get down to ft. lauderdale, just thrity miles north of miami and it's a fair haul from here. I try driving again and maybe shake the soreness out of these hands. the sky looks great and non-threating. many thanks.
there's never been a consistent pad in south florida but I'm gonna keep trying. down the I-95 and right off the freeway in a strip mall is the next gig at the _fu-bar_. time to change the oil in the boat (was gonna do it tomorrow in orlando) and a jiffy lube is right here so voila! I get it done. good to take care of the boat. bad news is the club's locked up, even after soundcheck time. I call steve kaul, the man outside the van and ask for help. the only flaky shit of the tour, I haven't been through this since the old days. there ain't even a poster for the gig on the wall. there's one for a ____ ______ clone band, figures. I pull one of them down and make my own poster w/a marker on the back and tape on the wall next to the hatch. the promoter shows up and we get in, we both laugh about the poster. he writes on it to make the letters darker. the soundman, glen, is happening and though he's never heard of us and tried to see what I sounded like by going to the pollstar website (what!?), he at least wants to put a gig together. an old friend who's a teacher named afm comes w/his lady and they both give me fang necklaces. haven't seen him in a couple of years and it's good to see him again. love to see old buds. the openers are a lady named _amanda_ and her band plus one where I never did get their name (very embarrassing when trying to thank them from the stage) but tom and vince dug them both. I konked right through them in the boat. just tired.
our gig is a trip. the crowd has a great vibe and it could've been anywhere where we playing. the soundman glen trips on what we're like. he said he didn't expect it. I like blowing minds, not just cats in the crowd either. there was that feeling like I said about being here but maybe that made me play even more intense. the pliers were good too. vince breaks a snare and it's a quick change to his other one, first time for that this tour. I tell him I think it sounds good, hey better than the other one, what the heck! it wrecks our little violence suite but that's the way it goes. we deal w/it. after the gig I talk w/this cat who's a photographer for the miami herald and his son was in the opening band. we have a discussion on what it means to play and do music and not just act out a role but really go for it. he's a nice man, an older cat who can relate. his name is raul and I thank him much. lots of good spirit from the folks here, what a success out of potential hell. thank you good people of south florida, I will play this area more, I promise.
we pack and head for a mo-six in pompano beach and it's another road race over my face w/the little friends that have been in florida much longer than man has. I talk w/vince a little until I get the nerve to slump to the deck and let them have their way. mask down, out of sight, out of mind - then konk takes me.
thursday, november 4 - orlando, fl
the sapphire supper club is a fancy club in the center of town that is also known for organized private parties and it turns out that there is an office party going on before our show so we have to do our soundcheck early. we get through the basic set up and wait for the soundman pick up our stuff and eventually get across the street to a sushi place. a friend named gabe eats with us and asks questions for an article that he's working on while mike, vince and I stuff ourselves with an assortment of fish.
we get back to the club and rest in back and wait for the causey way to show up. they are a band from gainesville (primariy) and this is the first of 6 or 7 gigs that they're doing with us so I am curious to meet them. the office party continues out front and the people in suits are drinking martinis and getting buzzed and I wonder who will stay to hear our show.
the causey way shows up and we have a brief meeting and then it's time for them to set up and play, and their performance is immediatly converts the crowds attention from the post work blabbering to making some sense out of what the hell is going on around them. it's a strange contrast of peoples in the audience and it creates a wierd energy in the room.
when we get up to play I notice how hot it is on stage and that there is a huge spotlight beaming down on the top of my head but we jump right in and I start sweating hard. I also break a string on the first song and that always pisses me off not to mention forces me to play with a little reserve so I don't break another one. the stage is really shallow and makes you set up in a horizontal front facing configuration which I don't really like because you can't walk out in front to hear the stage mix and also makes it difficult for me to hear myself cause of the directional nature of guitar amps. all these factors make this gig hard for me but theres no quitting and we pull it all together and play from our hearts and I think some people really dig it. I think it must have been a full moon.
we arrive early at the sapphire supper club to load in and sound check because there's a lawyer office party going on late afternoon/early evening so we have to get done with that part before the suits start partying. bryce from the club is helpful on the load in. Gabe is there to see the show and interview mike. I walk around the streets and get a coffee. sound check is quick as usual with jeff turning the knobs...there'll be another sound man later so he's just setting up the sitch, but he assures us that we'll be in capable hands at down beat. I put a towel in the kick by request - it seems fine and eliminates the klicking sound my deadening-ring heads annoyingly produce along with the otherwise decent sound they provide.
jim the promoter recommends sushi at a local place, so we head over there after check and gabe continues his interview. tom and mike do most of the talking and they do a good job as I scarf the raw fish. jim shows up as we're finishing and then takes off and when we try to pay we learn that he's already taken care of it. thanks, jim for a great road meal.
I walk to the train station shopping/hang-out district and find some video games. for some reason I am weighed down with a feeling of melancholy and try to shake it with the mindless vid game pastime of my earlier years. it's kind of fun but doesn't provide the kicks it used to. I get some more java and walk back to the club.
tom and I sit in an alcove of the sort of upscale but cool club with some mike fans, one of which has a t-shirt from the '95 tour I was on (conversation starter) and they're cool people. a lawyer or paralegal looking guy comes over to our group, eyes us, and says "I don't know a single one of you". Tom's reply, "well, we're all nice people nonetheless (sic)". the guy sneers and walks away without another word. later he embarrasses himself publicly.
the causey way, who we find out will be playing several shows with us, take the stage, which is decorated with electric candles, plastic ivy on the drumset and photo's of their leader, lead singer and guitarist, scott causey. they wear all white clothes and put their instruments on purposefully. button, one of the guitarists, wears a black helmet. several of them have black armbands. they start into the set with a synth intro from helmeted button. they blast off, two synths, two guitars, bass and drums locked into an energetic riff. when the singing comes in they remind me of devo, b-52's a little (maybe because of the guy/gal vocals) and man or astroman (in that they are less robotic and more rock-driving than devo while keeping some of the devo de-evolved tech sound and group-mind appearance). a guy from the audience gets up on the stage and puts his hand on the back of anne's neck (truth causey is her causey name). anne reported later that he said to her "you suck - you should get off the stage" while gripping her neck hard. the other causey's said that they thought he was a club employee relaying some relevant info, so they didn't shoo him off. he gets off the stage - I don't know if he was assisted by a bouncer or got off himself as I was getting some agua from the bar at that point. minutes later, while I'm watching, a voice from the crowd is yelling in-between songs, "you suck, get off the stage". causey, the lankey band leader stops the action on the stage and says, "sir - get up on stage here so I can kick your ass". The guy gets up on stage, and it turns out to be the sneering fool who had visited us in the alcove. he gets close to causey strikes up a fighting stance. at this point I think the guy must be a shill because nobody would intentionally and without irony make themself look so silly and ridiculous, but then I realize that it's "that guy". he looks like he really wants to throw blows. a bouncer comes up and leads him off the stage and out the front door. "I guess you got yourself thrown out of the club, didn't you sir?" says causey from the mic. after the next tune causey says, looking out the door, "I see you there, sir - if you're willing to come up here and shake my hand, I'll let you back in to the show". the guy comes in, gets on the stage and shakes causey's hand, but draws caus close and says something into his ear. it turns out, he said "it's a good thing they took me off the stage, because I was going to kick your ass". the fool couldn't just let the thing lay with the act of causey's good will, he had to continue his foolish bluster. go back to chasing ambulances, you hack. anyway, I like these causey's and their composure right off the bat.
our set is good - with the exception maybe of my solo right off the bat in get gettin' down down. it's not easy starting off the set with a high intensity solo - sometimes I get tight or flurry more than make sense and it bugs me. but it ain't easy, and tonight it gets the better of me a little bit. my two-dollar fan bit the dust in jacksonville at the jack rabbit gig, so I'm sweating like a mofo with no directed wind to wisk away the salty rivers that run down my face and arms and everything else - so I'm trying like hell to just hold on to my sticks. also, there are microphone fluctuations - when the foam screen on my headset mic and the mic screen below gets sweated into the mic can stop working and that's what was happening. but that's one of the punches you have to roll with and so I do. but I dig the back-ups and the lead hollers I do, so it's a bit of a mind fuck. nonetheless, I think we play well and the strength of the wail overules the inconveniences.
we go to jim's pad afterwards and mike, tom and I crack up burning the cruddy movie on tv - apocolypse, I think. jim has a great collection of gig posters, cd's, vinyl and cassettes. he's got an awesome sonic youth poster and an old sonics guitar case with the sonics stencil on it. but it's time to crash and I have a bed, so it's some welcome sleep that I sink into.
pop and shower quick. light scares those cats back into hiding anyway. well, not bathroom light. hoof for a couple of hours, I got nervous energy in me and a mind full of ideas to get thought of. come back and pick my cats up (can't go back into the chamber) and we head up the florida turnpike to orlando. why was this road built? it doesn't save you that many miles. some developments w/phony names offer a clue, maybe? first the roads, then the cookie cutter houses, finally the strip malls. after that, the same thing goes for you mind. pump out the water, clear out the everglades. pour in the cement, pave over the imagination. what are we letting happen? this is progress?
pull into orlando, home of disney world. try to contain the laughter/sobs. we're playing the _sapphire supper club_, a pad I've played a bunch for transplated pittsburgher, jim faharty, one hell of a guy. big bear hugs when I see him. we gotta load in and soundcheck early cuz some yuppies have rented the pad from six to eight for a party. when we get done w/that, jim takes us down the street for some sushi, which I don't eat much but play real intense when I do. being not by the ocean, the sushi's kind of trippy, jim's gotta check out the left coast kind. much thanks though to him for being so kind. a cat named gabe is along w/us and does an interview w/me as we chow and I speak of where I am in my life now and what I'm trying to do. tom helps out too. vince chows.
we get back to the pad and a band who's gonna play w/us all next week shows up, _the causey way_ from gainesville. in fact, the keyboard player is bill, the boss of the pad we're playing tomorrow night, _the covered dish_. there's six of them, all dressed in white w/a sound kind of like _devo_ crossed w/_six finger sattelite_. the yuppies don't dig it, why are they still here? one yells "you suck" and tries to come up on stage and fight (complete w/the "put up your dukes" pose) when the main man, scott causey, pulls out a plastic gun on him. the yuppie gets thrown out by jim's folks. damn, just cuz you can buy some time at a pad for a party doesn't mean your the fucking taste monitor too. assholes. it's our turn and we set up quick.
lots of good folks come to see me here but this one cat's standing right in front yelling all kinds of shit, especially in the soft songs. aaarrrgggghhhhh. I try to let him know I know he's there but no matter. the gig is kind of tough. tom breaks a string in the first song and has to play his strat which he hates. it does sound inferior to his tele. vince, w/out a fan (due to me booting it in jascksonville, 'member? what a bozo move I made) is overheating. he even still has his sunglasses in the collar of his t-shirt. damn. I still think we play ok and connect good w/the folks. I rap a lot w/them when we finish. see hughmanatee and it's big hugs. finally we load up and follow jim to his pad where he's asked us to konk for the night.
it's a neat pad w/lots of space. he found it playing basketball across the street in the park and he'd look in the windows after games and wonder why it hadn't been sold for like seven years. found out it was the basketball courts and it's black players that were behind it so they had the hoops cut down but not after jim got the pad econo. can you believe that shit? you probably can. jim's got two friends from austria staying over and they talk w/us some but I can't stay awake anymore and crumple safe in the arms of sueno.
friday, november 5 - gainesville, fl
we wake up and clean up at the great home of an old promoter friend of mikes named jim, he is another person that I wished I had more time to talk with and maybe we will in the future. we head towards gainesville and a show at a club that bill from the causey way runs. the gig tonight is going to have three other bands opening and each group will perform one side from the minutemens double nickels on the dime record, this sound intense. as we pull into gainesville we are surrounded by the orange and blue flags and face paint of their beloved gators in celebration of their homecoming weekend. what a drag. we find the club and I clean the dirty grease out of the vans sliding door and start to load our stuff. were a little early and I do some guitar maintenence and hang out with some of the causey way.
vince and I run over to an italian place for food before the gig and walk back to the covered dish to check out the bands. everyone seems to have done their homework and the old minutemen tunes sound great after such a long time since Ive heard them played last. theres a good all around vibe in the room and we play a good set too and spend a little time hanging out with the other bands before heading off again. we make it over to bills appartment where we are sleeping tonight and I hit the sack right away, tierd from another long day and I know tomorrow will be one too.
we're in gator country. the local college team is the big news in this college town, especially on this homecoming weekend. everything in town is painted orange and blue, the team colors of the celebrated 'gators, and orange and blue balloons are everywhere as are banners of the same colors waving from ariels on suv's and cars full of ball-cap wearin' 'gator fans. watt shouts a friendly "howdy gator!" to passers by. he conjectures that we should create and drive the streets with a gator float with a lazy susan rotating a scene reminiscent of the "chain drive" sticker we saw in madison, wi, except with gators forcibly buggering a jock. the chain drive sticker was a band sticker with the chain drive name on it and a "tom of finland" gay-porn scene involving muscled leather bound police looking dudes violating a similarly muscled "victim" at nightstick-point. there never seems to be enough time to do all the things one wishes to do, eh?
we get to the covered dish, a great club there in gainesville. bill from the causey way - button causey - owns the club. he also runs a fanzine and a record label. this is an amazing individual, finding a way to do all this stuff. maybe we should build that float, damnit! I was there at the club in '95 with watt and the crew and it was one of my favorite clubs and gigs.
the gig is especially cool because the three other bands are doing sides from double nickels. three-way-tie is the first group, and they do their side a lot of justice. they are on the jazzy side, which is cool, because they are approaching the daunting material their own way. nonetheless, they don't take too many liberties - they nail it big time. they're all great musicians. in fact, the drummer is so friggin' smokin' it freaks me out - I think: what right do I have playing with watt when this guy is nailing the georgie parts so well, and adding his own adroit skills to the mix? same old mind fuck, different twist...anyway, the drummer also does a d. boon/watt puppet performance that adds some comic relief to the proceedings and at the end the guitarist and bass player both play basses with extra strings and tear it up. well done, gents. the mercury program are next, and they have another great drummer. now I'm really sweating - I have to get up there and show why I'm involved in this thing - I have to bring my own gifts to the table. hayride is next and are the most rocking of the three - the others weren't less good, they just hit it less hard. matt is the drummer of hayride, and tom and I got a chance to talk to him a bit - great guy, and one hell of a rocking drummer.
I got up there intimidated like I mentioned - hey, I'm being honest here, sorry for the sniveling. I kind of fluffed the opening get gettin' solo again - as watt says, once is a clam, twice a syndrome. but the crowd is behind us, so I am trying to shake my personal gig demons using their good will and spirit. they help me a great deal and I'm able to get out of my own head and into the moment for much of it, and the response is great. afterwards jess, a cool head from the audience, offers chow at his family restaurant. we arrange breakfast the next day...he and others help with the load out, which is much appreciated.
we head over to bill's afterwards and we, watt, josh, bill, tom and I do some herbally enhanced philosophising. tom, tired, hits the hay first. I'm tired, too, but mike is on a roll, holding forth on Tesla and whether or not nature is binary (as per 0's and 1's, computer language...on/off). it's good grist for the brain-mill, but eventurally it's time to nod...
pop and hoof around the neighborhood. the park across from jim's pad has a little league field. sort of like seabee field next to the navy housing in pedro where I played as a kid. they have a few signs on the outfield fence of business sponsors where we had the names of navy ships that were our sponsors still, it's kind of the same. makes me think of my boyhood days and all them games. I played four years in the little league. everybody in navy housing played. it was a way for us to make up for the fact our pops were all on boats over in viet nam. the couple of pops left were like shared between us all as coaches for our teams. I wonder what happened to all those cats I met over those years, sort of like tour now where you meet folks for one day and then it's the next town, the next gig, the next tour. trippy about that. I reflect.
get the paper and it looks like a federal judge is socking it to bill gates and his twisted empire. good. fucking prick. microsoft sucks shit through soda straws. imagination robbers, inovation stiflers, market controllers, you name it. if you want to use free market words: inferior products propped up by coercion and intimidation. all those years of cold war against monolithism to make way for this shit, our own homegrown version of monolithism? fuck that. another "headline" is about disney profits being down. on the front page of the paper? I guess disney does run this town. I have a talk w/the two austrian friends of jim's about my impressions regarding things worldly and come down kind of hard on some things here but also regarding their land too. and both of our histories. to point the finger and not admit your own shit is a trap that will make you forever self-important. I dig meeting interesting people, it makes life worth living. it's a journey: finding out things and suffering from this disease of curiousity. I love it. makes me think, always thinking and re-evaluating - good exercise for watt's brain (or mind?).
I drive us north to gainesville, home of the university of florida and isn't our luck that it's homecoming time. isn't this shit for high school? the roads are totally plugged, everything saying "go gators!" we have to laugh. what a way to have fun, everyone liking the same thing. gotta laugh some more. sports is about some kind of competition but they line up some weak team so they can beat the shit out of them for the "homecoming." I'm hoping big time for an upset. tom and vince marvel at the circus, what a study in herd behavior.
we soundcheck and then I finish yesterday's interview w/gabe at some pizza pad. tonight's a trippy show. we're at the _covered dish_ and three bands are going to open (_mercury program_, _hayride_ and _3-way tie_) and play most of "double nickels on the dime," a minutemen record from fifteen years ago. I go to the van and konk and wake from time to time hearing some of the tunes. I get weird feelings but gotta let them go cuz d. boon meant a bunch to a lot of folks and he's not just mine. he touched and continues to touch many hearts w/his words and playing. it would be selfish to say cuz we were close, he belongs just to me. I think it was so sweet of these cats to play for him - and for george and me too from that time when we were younger that I have to push down the feelings of loss and sadness. it's a trip for me and it's weird taking the stage after them.
but take the stage I do and play very much in the moment. the pliers play great too despite some clams. we blow the ending of "the red and the black" out of the water but that doesn't sink us, only focus more. soundman mike does a great job. the folks are great w/their vibe and I try to articulate the spirit I felt all those years ago playing as a minutemen by trying find our own sound and tell our own stories. I think they get the picture. it's about the potential, not the form. what is to be done? where are we going? why? a lady cleaning up asks me to sign her broom. lots of good feeling in the pad keeps me in the now so I don't space too hard.
bill, the boss invites us over to his pad to konk and I talk w/him and the causey way drummer josh about shvitzs and saunas. the way you can work your heart like a motherfucker w/out moving an inch. the shit is intense and takes some discipline but is way worth it. of course, the spiel diverts into other stuff too like the sins of the fathers and folks having no tolerance (josh was tripping on me telling him about sitting in this shvitz next to some old man where the steam was so thick all I could see was the camp number tattooed on his arm). mota gets you talking that way, connecting all kinds of stuff. whisky too but no whisky for watt this tour. gotta konk now, it's late.
saturday, november 6 - tallahassee, fl
up and out right quick and we try to locate a diner where a fellow had invited us to for some lunch before heading to tallahassee. we arrive at the place and no one knows anything about our arrangement but they call the dude and gets there a few minutes later and we order some food and talk about guitars and basses. soon though we have to hit it and we make our way westward to another florida gig and get to the cowhaus a little early and do a soundcheck. vince and I again head off to a thai place for another remarkable diner and try to walk it off back to the club. the caousey way are there and we hang out and get to know them a little better, they are some great people and a really fun band to play shows with, this makes all the waiting time alot more interesting.
the first group is a punk band with the clubs promoter on the drums so they have their local friends there and they play a little late so the caousey way try to cut down their set alittle so we dont get cut off by the curfew. we get up as quickly as we can but its still running late and alot of the people start tapering off before were done. I think it was kind of a younger audience and it felt like we were playing in a youth center or something. anyway we had a good time and say goodnight to the causey way as they drive off towards pensacola where scotts folks live while vince and mike and I find a little place to stay for the night.
it's a sunny day I wake into. watt is on the computer and tom is washing up. bill has left already - I think he went golfing? josh is on the floor, crashing through all our perigrinations. he's a good sleeper. eventually tom, mike and I are all in the living room, impuning each others character and speculated sexual habits, when josh raises his head up. "the way you guys are so nice to each other", he says, "makes me sick", then goes back to sleep. we head to the van and out for some chow at jess's as planned last night.
we head over to the italian place jess gave us directions to, but the folks there aren't aware of our arrangement and jess ain't there yet. tom and I walk down the street to get some java while mike calls jess. august, the manager of a cuban food place next to the coffee pad stops us and introduces himself. he saw the show and dug it and offers cuban food at la familia, the place he manages. we thank him but our chow is provided for down the street. I offer to put him on the tallahasee guest list as he says he's going...and august, I'm sorry, but I didn't! I fucked up! I didn't see you there, so I am presuming, and sort of hoping you didn't go. e-mail me, brother! if the opportunity arises again, I won't forget again...hey, I'll send you a bazooka cd gratis, because I blew it, sir! my e-mail address is: email@example.com. so anyway, then we head down to the italian place, jess shows up, and he feeds us good food - caeser salad for mike, canneloni for tom and I. soon, it's time to get in the econoline and get out of town, which, we soon find, is not so easy...because...
this town is stepford 'gator. we crawl down the main drag, the streets filled with robotic residents and nostalgic alumni in orange and blue. everything is gator. go gators is the ubiquitous cry from every mouth. we get to a busy intersection where obnoxious digital music blares from a 'gator bus. it must be the fight song. have you ever heard one of those electronic doorbells that play a couple bars of the moonlight sonata or 1812 overture with that crappy metallic digital sound? well, imagine that cranked through a marshall stack 10,000 times - that's the sound coming from the 'gator bus that buffets our boat. it's homecoming here in gatorville, when the team plays some patsy on cue so the proud orange and blue wearing throng can shout "go 'gators as the team demolishes the unworthy opponent by 130 points. we turn and the sound gets louder - like a rock concert for rusty robots. the bus is now behind us a few cars away. the bludgeoning sound of the tuneless gator anthem blasting through the speaker on the bus clashes with unctuous dj's, positioned on the street blaring their loud jive through huge portable p.a. systems. people with fistfuls of tickets on the sidewalk lean into the street and cars in front of us slow down to pluck 'game seat bargains from the benevolent scalpers. the gator bus is only two cars behind us now. I check my passenger side mirror - the driver of the bus, broad faced with graying temples and mirror shades, compressed his lips with grim purpose. he bears down on us with his hellish orange and blue rolling noise machine. mikes hands grip the boats wheel, white knuckled. tom exchange nervous glances. all our eyes dart around looking for an opportunity to escape this infernal gridlock. traffic begins to move and the grisly digital dirge receeds, if barely. and then, the idiot 'gator in the car in front of us slows to a halt to check out a dj blaring from the sidewalk. the grim faced bus driver smells his prey and inches closer, fight song screaming louder and louder. we honk at the inane 'gator in front of us and he refuses to respond, so caught up in orange and blue reverie is he. finally he inches up. we're in the left lane, which is clear for a block now in front of him. the right lane is jammed with cars. now he stops again, because he recognizes someone in the car next to him. they both get on cell phones and talk to each other, looking from one car to the other and laughing. we honk, and for some reason he finally drives forward. we make some distance from the demonic 'gator bus - the incessant fight song is only 140 db's now! all of a sudden, the cell phone talkin' 'gator cuts accross to make a right from the left lane. it looks like he's circling back for more 'gator action! so we step on it and we're outta there.
we drive to the cow haus in tallahasee. bazooka played at the old location in '93 with ultra-boy, the bass-player of which now plays in the new owners band "new you" that will open tonights show. ultra-boy was cool. I remember that the drummer reminded me of keith moon, and that's a great thing. bob lee plays like the great keith moon in my opinion as well, as well as having his own multitude of bitchen stuff. my girlfriend linda, bless her beautiful heart, still wears the ultra-boy shirt I brought home from our bazooka "spending america into prosperity" '93 tour. I donated my shine-cart, aka, equipment cart, at the old location as well. the club in the location has got new owners, as I mentioned, but there's some sort of continuity in the lineage.
after sound check tom and I walk to a thai place, get great food and walk back. unfortunately I am behind in my diary entries at this point, so I type them into the computer in the band-room while both bands, new you, and the causeys, are playing. we go on real late since new you went on late and played long. mike thought we were unfocused, but I actually thought the gig was pretty good, that we were'nt playing together. sometimes you get different impressions of the same gig that way - it ain't that weird. the crowd was estranged from the stage by some barricade arrangement that dampened the vibe, which was further hampered by the loud chatter from pool and foosball playing people in the back of the room. the tv was on, also, up at the bar, which always sucks...you're playing or singing, and your eyes meet the ever present electronic culture injector droning on with it's eye grabbers.
after we head over to ian, a bass player, amy, a cellist and their friends house. there is a lively conversation and partying going on, but I am burnt, so I pull a pillow over my face (I can't find my eyeshades...did I donate them to the abyss?) and crash out.
pop, shower and hoof. yes, sunny again! damn. roust my guys and we head for this pad that a cat we met last night named jess runs and he wants to chow us. he makes me a big ceasar salad. I cut up a few habanerso and throw them in. can't handle the seeds but you gotta use these babies up quick or they'll rot in the bag. the salad's great and I work up a good sweat and fire up the brain. funny thing, when we showed up, jess wasn't there yet and his workers thought I was some cat there to fix something. ok w/me, I don't want some look like some rock guy. I like blowing minds w/pre-conceptions. we thank jess and then head north of tallahassee, florida's capital.
the last two times I played here was at the school, florida state so this is the first "civilian" gig in a while. it's at a pad called the "cow haus" and the folks there are real nice to us. _the causey way_ will be playing w/us again plus one of the bosses of this pad's band, _the new you_. what a trip. more club bosses should be in bands! or maybe at least take turns. gotta tell you this is the time of year to play florida cuz there's not one percent of humidity that's uncomfortable and that is truly a gift. amen. I've been in this town when you needed gills to breathe. amen again. after soundcheck, I go to the boat to konk long and hard.
boy, is it long! almost one in the morning and we're still not on. damn, I hate when it's that late. only an hour to curfew. we set up fast. the causeys even cut their set for us. the combination of a barrier and a the lights in my eyes makes it hard to connect w/the cats in front and all I can see is people in the back playing foosball and pool. I feel like we're a sideshow and the energy is all diffused. me and the pliers don't play as sharp as we have, missing some nuances and such. I feel we have kind of a bad gig. diluted spirit, kind of. it's not the folks fault. I get feeling like a failure and like I fucked up again. damn, this happens every now and then, I don't know how to avoid it. seemed like we were playing a clubhouse but I've done ok in situations like that before, even in spite of myself. I don't know, it was a hard gig to work. if you're in this for the long haul, there's gonna be hills and valleys.
the soundman, will, invites us over to konk at his pad and it's a great time. I stake out the couch quick and rap w/ian and his bandmates about all kinds of things regarding a band in a van. they've done two tours and even came to l.a. to play _al's bar_. it was a trip for them, I can imagine. they go on about all the freeway and the traffic plugs and I have to laugh. it's all true. that's what touring is for, not just playing gigs but learning the land. it's a mission. tom tames a parrot of ian's that's never like people but that's tom's knack. I see a cello and want to hear it played but it must be after four and I have no choice but to pull down the mask and konk, I'm beat.
sunday, november 7 - new orleans, la
we get up early and start off to the west on a long drive to new orleans. we all take turns driving and the hours pass till we finally roll down the edge of louisiana and across their big lake into the city. its my first time here and it all looks just how I thought it would. we go through some really old neighborhoods and get to the mermaid lounge as the sun is going down. luckily there is someone in the bar when we pull up and he sets us up to wait for the club people in the garden next door since he wont be able to stay in the mean time. mo problem the weather is fine and vince and I go off in search of the local cuisine. were in luck and find a 24 hour tavern that has some great cajun food and I go for the red beans and rice with some of the best sausage that I have ever tasted. we are both totally satisfied as we make our way back to the club.
when we get back there a few people who have driven some distance to the gig in back talking with mike and finally the bar is opened and the causeys show up and the night begins. the mermaid lounge is a tiny place but it has a great feel and the folks there are some of the best. there is an opening band called novak playing and then the causeys get up and somehow fit six people and two keyboard stands on the miniature stage there. they sound great and I have a good time listening and playing in this kind of environment. the gig is blast and we have to pull ourselves away from the great folks of new orleans just to keep on track and get some sleep for tomorrow. we end up at an aquaitence of mikes place and we talk about the local music scene a little before lights out but it was overall a real fun time and I look forward to coming back as soon as I can.
we drive through and above the swamps of florida, georgia, mississipi and louisiana on our way to new orleans. sometimes the road is on solid ground in the middle of it, and sometimes Interstate 10 is a causeway riding above miles of swamps with fishing flatboats, egrets and tree knees and stumps sticking out everywhere. I dig new orleans, the gumbo, red beans and rice, po' boys, mud bugs, the decay brought on by the incessent humidity and the life it creates as well - plant life, night life - music.
we get to the club south of charles and west of the stadium. it's the mermaid lounge, a place I've heard about as a hip musician hang and a comfortable little place, and it is little. it's maybe the smallest pad we've played and has a really low stage and only monitors for tom and mike, no drum monitor. cool...it's little club style - this is going to be fun. we're there real early, so we're let into the cool garden adjacent to the club. the friendly hospitable fellow in the bar as we get there is leaving and has to lock us out of the club, but he provides negro modelo beer for tom and orangina's (a favorite of mine) for watt and I in a cooler with ice so we can hang comfortably in the garden complete with iron sculpture and various plants all over the place. tom gets an extension chord and mike plugs in the computer from an outside socket, so he's set. I snap some photo's while tom sets up horeshoe apparatus and pitches a few. eventually tom and I head over to st. charles for grub, past the confederate museum and the big statue in the traffic circle. we hit the st. charles tavern a mile or so down the street, and it's an awesome find. I get seafood gumbo, jumbalaya and red beans and rice with andouille sausage, served with some french bread. it's unbelievable and I've had a new orleans experience again. tom gets just the red beans and rice and sausage, so he gets a ton of it.
we head back to the mermaid where mike's rapping with some people who've arrived early. we load in and sound check. novak, the first band, and our buddies the causey's show up. the band room is off the stage and opens to the outside and is the storage area for gear as well, so, in true n.o. fashion, everyone is rubbing elbows, plucking beers from the ice chest, being convivial, rapping. andy from the causey's brings out a foam football and we toss it around. he's got a good arm - real good spiral. I'm a little rusty but I make a couple good catches and good throws...in between a lot more bad ones.
the show starts with novak rocking...mark, the drummer plays a cool looking clear acrylic kit. the causeys next are really good. bill (button causey) does a hilarious testimonial in between songs about his experience with the rock and roll lifestyle in the alice cooper organization and his conversion to the causey way. scott (causey) is hilarious as usual, and does a great job fronting the band and playing guitar. rain (rain causey) and anne (truth causey) are singing great, and it's a great experience to hear their beautiful voices together. anne sings by herself on a couple tunes as well and her voice is a mind blower. utterly amazing - she does one tune with these intervals where she opens her mouth wide to resonate the high note and it's humbling how good it sounds. like I said, when she and rain sing together it's great, but I look forward to hearing some of rain's solo vocals as well. andy (red causey) is great playing the keyboard with his dutiful scientist vibe and josh (j.c. causey) plays great charlie watts in a labcoat drums. I dig the causeys, and love traveling with them.
our gig is good. there's no monitor for tom or me, but we hear enough from the mains, and it's cool. mike wails the spiel night in and night out and can really use the juice from the monitors so we're glad to make it so. mikes voc's are like the soul of the tunes, so if we can hear them, we can wrap the tune around them - interpretation, right? and we can hear enough of us from the mains, like I said, so it's good. the stage was tiny and the audience tight up to the front, and it felt great. on Get Gettin' Down Down I felt like a rocked the solo pretty good. when it came time for the harp solo's, tom and I were using different key harps than usual since I'd donated mine in tallahasee somehow, so the key config felt a little weird, but it was fun for me playing the lower keyed harp and the audience seemed to get behind it as much as usual. it's always great to play the open groove of walkin' the cow, hearing mike deliver the tune great, hear tom's guitar volume-knobbed in. we were really churning in ball-buster and I was hanging on to that tempo with all I had. I love playing this great tune of tom's and dig locking in with mike in the various sections. it's a great thing also to play the glory of man, which charges ahead with internal force. it's an honor to play a minuteman tune with a minuteman, and to play georgies difficult (for me) and totally creative drum part. it's another tune that's awesome to lock with the bass on, and tom's singing is great. he sounds like d alot, I think, and puts great feeling and delivery into it. and when we explode into the chorus, man, I'm way into it. getting back after the bass break is a total gas, too. and then hold on to the floor tom beat...then it's time to "listen to the space between the notes" as mike advises on I have always been here before to get back to a relaxed groove, and it works. digging the space in the tune and just hitting the cymbals enough to get a tone is bitchen. big train is a blast. it's a blast to play the dave grohl part, a blast to holler with mike and tom and then rock the runaway train at the end. tom's guitar solo is great on the tune, as it is throughout the next tune, forever/one-reporters opinion. mike starts the tune at a challenging tempo and my job is to lock it in and play it tight with everyone and groove throughout the changing parts, and, as I see it, keep it funky. but we get the job done and I dig that tune. mike wrote a mind-blower there and he kicks ass on it tonight. it's a gas to pound and yell in rebel girl, another great tune. when I heard nels and bob yelling "she is!" on the live tape, I thought about how much fun they sounded like they were having, and now I'm lucky enough to be in on that fun. little johnny jewel is a challenge to keep the fast hat part, the rapid kick bursts and snare beat locked while keeping it somewhat down in volume, and tonight it seems to be working. the dynamic fluctuations to fit the vocals and guitar improv's is really fun and tonight it's fluid. when we hit the sort of free within structure drum part watt is banging away at the cymbals with his mitts, and that inspires me to get further out there and churn up more of a maelstrom. when we hit the bass and drum (can you say that nowadays without indicating a style of electronic dance music) groove/guitar solo, mike is playing an intervalic lick at the end of every fourth bar that blows my mind - I'm digging the groove so much I'm shouting "yeah" while tom sears over the top with some insane guitar. then it's into the red and the black, and whereas I had some trouble at times nailing the intro, I hit it right tonight. in fact, since I've taken out some fills and simplified the bell beat, the tune is less shakey where it used to be. it's a blast to charge through this tune like a heard of rhino's. fear is a man's best friend is next and it's a great john cale song arranged great by watt. sometimes my fill in the first drum/guitar break doesn't quite make it, but tonight it's on - I'm trying to play like mooney on it. I dig the drum parts on the chorus and the bridge. then it's song for igor. the tune is so stripped down, it is difficult to get right, but when it is right, it's great. confidence seems to be the crucible, the key to keeping the verses steady and grooving while still being militaristically mechanical as they need to be, then getting to the steady and dynamically changing chorus. if that all works, which it does tonight, then the jam in the middle is especially a blast. I yell "kick it homey" like on the record right before the git solo, and whereas I was yelling at tony on the record for his sax solo, tonight it's for tom and watt - we're kicking that jam out, brothers and sisters. and even the end jam is frenzied adequately tonight. then we rip into the blue mask intro - it's a blast playing all that drum stuff and tonight the band is blasting into it - it's really fun. we each sing a verse in it and it's a blast listening to mike's verse, playing the groove, then singing my part, then hearing tom, then watt again. they both sing it really great, and the groove rips, man. then we narrow the focus to the quieter, but still involved chinese firedrill. it's a bit of a breather, but requires full concentration to nail the 3 feel in the 11 part. I have to listen close to mikes three count right after hitting the last crash in mask. I scored these great pro-mark gray handled brushes that are really fun to play with, but they're losing they're bristles (analagous to my hair history). the cymbal solo is totally fun - it's great to have a part in the set requiring sensitivity after all the muscle. then, with barely enough time to put down the brushes, it's time to launch into formal introduction. the beginning georgie floor tom/snare/cymbal & kick part is so awesome and so challenging for me to play, I feel I only get it close to right on the best of nights. tonight I feel good about it. then, on the verses, we nail the martial feel just right - it's great, real up and down, inspiring mike to parodied goosestep. the drum breaks are really fun...but oops, I think I play only 4 floor tom roll sections instead of 5 after "...screw loose!" (which the audience chimes in on very loudly tonight). the ending is intense and a gas. then the bass intro to the 15th. I dig singing my part along with tom on this tune, which sets up mike's awesome vocal, and dig the groove. I was afraid of this tune in '95 but not now. the a capella part with tom (well, there's mike's bass groove there too) is totally fun. the guitar solo with mike and I blasting in the rhythm section is ecstatic when it's going right, which it most often, in my opinion, is, and tonight especially. and the toms/bass build into the final jam is too much fun, I look forward to it every night. tonight it's, like I said, ecstatic. then it's time for the cliffs thrown down. it's a great tune from a great record and I really dig the words and delivery of the spiel. the cymbal solo is a great pleasure to do, as is locking into the tick-tock beat on the "wood" block along with tom's buffalo-springfieldy guitar part. watt's helping out during the cymbal solo's, smacking cymbals with his mitts - I get over there and try to hit all the cymbals around where he's going, so we're having fun with that too. then it's the beginning of we are time. it's a fierce tempo for me to play 8ths on the hi-hat, but I hold on to it - nothin' fancy, just give 'em all I got. I'm digging listening to the watt bass riffs and the tom's guitar sounds while I'm bashing the open hats. the drum/vocal breaks are a blast, shouting along with tom after mike. tonight the end builds into a frenzy as tom and watt are shouting "we are, we are..." with me bashing the crashes.
ok, I've bogarted big time, but I wanted to give a blow-by-blow of a good gig from my point of view. I'll do the encore on another diary day, unless someone e-mails me about this telling me to just shut the hell up. after the gig, I talked to a.p., a great guy and great drummer who played in universal congress of, one of my favorite bands. a.p. is a crack up, he's got a great spirit and it's great to see him again. when bazooka played at monaco bob's in n.o. in '97 we played with a.p.'s brass band, and I got to sit in with them on tenor sax and it was a great pleasure. a.p. plays in town with rob cambre, a guitar player, gig creator and long time friend of watt's, and his house is where we're staying tonight. well, tom and I, anyway, as mike stays in the van parked outside on the street to guard the gear. rob is a great easygoing sharp as a whip hospitable guy and it's a pleasure to talk to him until it's time to turn in. a great gig, great friends to play with, a great club, a great audience, a great town and a great host and new friend. good night.
pop and do some diary. after five days of florida, we're ready to head west for the last week of tour and finish this baby up. everyone rises and I say thanks to will and ian for the niceness. I take us west on the I-10 and the crossing of time zones now will give us an hour and not take them away. we cross into alabama and my hands are hurting so I hand the wheel over to tom and he gets us into new orleans easy w/vince navigating. vince makes sure of making the route direct cuz he's gotta piss like a race horse. shit like that is a great motivator.
it's been a few years since I've played new orleans and I'm glad to be back. last year I was rained out by hurricane georges. in fact, the ride today was the same route (but going east instead of west) where we had that monstrous hell-ride that was tougher than fuck to get through. what a white-knuckler pants-shitter that was. anyway, this pad we're playing tonight is called the _mermaid lounge_ and I'm playing here on recommendation of carla and nels who say I gotta play here. it's a tiny pad w/a tiny stage but it looks like fun all ready. we get in early and this cat let's us hang in this backyard garden that has some righteous sculptures and trees. right next to the freeway too, what a contrast. I type in the duo (powerbook). tom tries to play horseshoes. vince goes looking for chow.
the boss deborah gets here and she's brought some homemade gumbo, glad I waited, this is good. the pad is small but happening w/a stage maybe half a foot high. neat art all over. only thing that needs to get a mic is the spiel, bass, guitar and kick drum. the soundman larry is very happening. a friend from past gigs, wendy, is tending bar. after soundcheck, I rap w/some young cats who've driven up from mississippi. they're a joy to talk with, I remember out loud w/them about the last time I played hattiesburg, steve reed's ma's home town. makes me think of steve and how I miss him. my memphis bud doug rockett came down and it's great to see him, hey doug! we see a karman ghia parked in front of the boat that looks like his old one. stanislav, a friend from the balkans now lives in baton rouge and has made the drive w/his girlfriend sarah for the gig. he gives me a book by danielo nis called "a tomb for boris davidovich." very nice. we have a long talk about things balkan: vlade divac and how milosevic has fucked things up for his foundation to help kids w/hoop and school, probs his pop has right now trying to get by in new croatia, and I tell him some history of slavs in my town from vis and dalmatia. his sister snez is trying to make a life in prague. I saw them both last when I did the opera in vienna in the spring of '98 and it's good to know they're ok. we laugh a lot. a.p., who drummed for joe baiza comes by w/rob, an old friend who invites us over to konk - lots of good folks to play for tonight in new orleans! local openers _novack_ go on while I'm still spieling but I go to get some rest to wrestle good later so I miss _the causey way_ who are w/us again. I wonder how they fit six cats up there on that stage?
we're going on late, maybe one in the morning but everyone is in a great mood. a great recovery from the gig last night. great, great spirit from the crowd and the whole room's w/us - no periphery. we give back hard too and there's a happening connect. much joy even w/it late on a work night and I'm very much grateful. thank you so much good folks here tonight! this is a great pad to play and the vibe is way up. gotta make it a regular stop, it's kind of like _linda's doll hut_ in anaheim back in cali. we pack up and say bye, wendy gives me a picture she has of us minutemen during our last tour in front of our van, the same van d. boon got killed in a few months after this picture was took. I think for a while as I look at his face, him so full of life and smiling and not knowing what was going to soon happen. damn. I feel a sadness pull on me so I put it back in the envelope, put it under my arm and say bye.
we follow rob to his pad and pass by _tipitina's_, a pad I've played many times. new orleans is so distinctive a town w/it's own kind of pads and layout, it's a shame when further down the street I see a strip mall w/the same old bullshit stucco crap that's being foisted all over the rest of the country. we get to rob's, a neat pad w/high ceilings and all the n.o. charm and he talks about travelling a lot for his job and how if he was parachuted into a lot places now, it would be impossible to place where you were cuz it's all getting so generic and same so. fuck that shit. first w/that, then the art, then are minds. we gotta fight back. I konk in the van to guard it cuz of a big donate that happened to chris d. years ago when they were finishing a tour. the van, the shit, everyting. chick-ching. they're gonna have to fight watt if they want this boat that bad. I konk thinking of d. boon and why I'm still playing. cuz I need to. for him.
monday, november 8 - houston, tx
rise and shine and we hit the road for another six hour drive to houston. the trip takes us through some vast oil refinery land and navy bases but much of it is kind of non-descript. its nice to finally be driving westward but as the sun goes down it starts hitting you right in the eyes and its a relief to finally arrive at the instant karma club. we load and check and vince and I head to a music store for a harmonica and some strings. after a little time we run next door for some mexican food that hits the spot and makes me a little bit homesick but as the tour comes down to the last few gigs I also really want to make these count and enjoy having this chance to play with mike and vince and all the other great people in the bands all along the way.
the causeys play another great show and are completely entertaining, scott causey has me cracking up most of the time and the rest of the crew play with such a focus that few bands come close to. we get up to play and have a real solid set, I think we are starting to play relaxed together mow and it really shows. I hope we get a chance to play more after this tour, I think we could develope our own style very easily. I have a fun time playing and then we head off to the coast to stay in another fellow house named mike and we have a little talk and then straight to bed.
up in rob's pad - rob's made java, so I do the stretches that help my back so much with some great coffee - thanks, rob. hit the tub, shave, all that, then out we go towards houston. we stop for gas a ways out of town, and at the texaco where we gas up, the clerks are selling boudin sausage from an electric skillet behind the counter - both crawdad sausage and pork. it's one of each for me and some red beans and rice and the adjacent popeye's and all I can tell you is I love new orleans and I love louisiana. mike buys a tabasco belt-holster at the same texaco. that's what I'm saying.
we drive and drive and finally get to instant kharma in houston. Sean, the sound man, helps us load in, wearing a watt t-shirt. we sound check quickly so I can get down to a nearby music store. I need to replace my donated E harp and the head on my rack tom, so I walk down the street to rockin' robin music store with tom. they give me a good deal over there. we get back and go eat at a place sean recommended for mexican food. being cali lads we are a little leary of the mex chow recommendations. but we are in tejas, and this place delivers. man - red snapper, black beans and rice, fried plaintains con crema, tortilla's, agua fresca de watermelon. thanks, sean.
the causeys are great tonight. before they go on rain is executing martial arts kicks that go over taller peoples heads. she, and the rest of the causey's, are wonderful fun people who bring you into their family right away. they're a friendly, courteous and intellegent collection of individuals. and speaking of family, mike mcguire shows up, who I met in '95 with mw and the crew of...saucer when we stayed at his pad in la porte after the show. bazooka stayed him in '97, and steve reed (God bless ya, steve!) made some double cooked 'Q and mike and his roomate made an pot of white italian beans with sausage and olive oil and brothers and sisters, we chowed mighty! there were brews and there was herbal medicine and we had a great time there. so we're staying at mike's tonight, which is great news - staying with family again!
we do a pretty good gig although I plow through the floor tom part on glory of, but we got back without damage to the set and team. I plowed through the solo in big train as well, but got back into the groove again. by the time we got to the encore, we were hitting it pretty good. the encore felt great. I had changed my worn reed earlier and it had some satchel going for it. good low notes, good strong high notes and a lot in between. my favorite things was a great pleasure to play - it always is, but with a good reed...man, it's really great. it's a great moment in my life when I look over and see mike way into favorite things and tom working really hard to nail the groove. then the bridge where I play sax in unison with mikes bass is a great moment to me. after a blistering set it's a great honor to be playing this with my comrades. when mike says "mr. john coltrane" after this part, I look up and it chokes me up. it's a great honor to be able to do this, and I can't let all the mind fucks get in the way. I look up when we go into joe mccarthy's ghost also, I might add, maybe to get d's blessing, maybe to remind myself to give it everything and get into the meaning of the words rather than just repeat them with emphasis. And, I think, to make sure I'm jumping around expressing the excitement I truly feel rather than showboating. hey, this stuff may gag you with a spoon, but it's what I think and I'm serving up the truth rather than more attractive window dressing.
so we head after the gig down the highway to la porte in the galveston bay where mike is putting us up. we hang in the living room with all the pictures of sailing ships and herbalize for a bit. the backyard faces the bay - there's long pier that goes out to the water right outside. I go out and meet cody the dog in the backyard. mike goes out to the front to let sammy the duck out of his pen, and I go to meet the boid. I have no shoes on at this point, and, just as mike warned, sammy nips at my feet with his hard strong beak. he's got me dancing, which is what mike said would happen. it's like a western where the bad guy shoots at your feet and you have no choice but to "dance". for sammy it's fun - affectionate. mike says sammy and the dog play, sammy nipping at cody and even holding onto the skin around his neck for minutes, while cody wags his tail. goodnight sammy and cody, mike, mike and tom. it's lights out and some rest.
pop in the van and then out and down the street for a morning hoof. really neat looking at the old pads close up. I get a paper and read that. louisiana's getting a project to measure gravity waves from far off space, gonna try to use that as a magnet for more scientists to come live and work. more track homes and strip malls to accommodate them? hope not. roust my cats and say bye to rob, much thanks. good luck to him too, he's got a new guitar-drummer improv duo. we head around st. charles and see what looks like world war two era cable cars w/wooden benches but they seem to work fine. damn, this makes me think of the stupid shit that went down when they tore out a thousand miles of street car rail in so cal for busses back in the early sixties. all in the name of progress, what progress? pimping individualism down to the level of polluted, jammed "free"ways, not about empowering creativity. same old memes, been w/us for a while. how much will we spend now to re-build what was so carelessly thrown away? I think about this and discuss it w/my men as I drive us out of town.
west on the I-10 through baton rouge (last time we see the mississippi river for this tour), then hand the wheel over to tom at a gas stop. also get this neat tobasco bottle holder that goes on the belt. great! tom heads us out through sulphur and he brings us into texas, past orange and beaumont, into houston. lots of freeway here, like home. plugs too. and urban sprawl. we're playing a pad I've done three times before, _instant karma_ and the bosses mitch and tine, I dig much. after saying hi and a quick soundcheck w/soundman sean, I head a couple of doors down to do my last laundry for the tour.
chris and jen, fans of the tour diaries come by and give me a cooler care package. inside is one hundred percent cranberry juice, damn! thank you much. some beers for tom too. some mota for watt even. plus bananas and sandwiches for vince. the niceness is very heartfelt, thank you again. time for pre-gig konk and I'm out fast.
I konk right through the causeys. damn. this is drummer josh's home town too. he has a band here called _japanick_ that I would love to see, he's a great cat. tom wakes me for gig time, I'm kind of groggy, end of tour fatigue. the last week is kind of hard cuz of the hands and just missing my own tub. missing my town, my bike. missing a big part that won't be filled by even getting pack, missing my man (the cat). the little girl will be there (the cat my sister got man a couple of years ago to keep the man company when I bailed on tours) and I wonder how she is. I've always been a mystery to her cuz I was gone so much when she first came to live at my pad. hope she ain't too scared.
the pliers play really well tonight even though tom breaks another string (maybe four or five gigs in a row now). it's at the end of the set so it ain't that bad. he plays great despite it anyway. vince is good too. much respect to them both. sean does a great job w/the monitors, turning muffled mud into clearness. thank you, sean. the crowd likes what we got though a lot of them want to hear the opera. I ask them to please understand I've put it to bed now. seems the karma people have opened a concert pad downtown and have called it "the engine room" in honor of the opera. thank you very much, mitch and tine. damn. lots of talking w/folks after and I get some pictures and a cigar. thanks, everyone.
mike, a friend of the peglegasus folks and mine too from the fIREHOSE days who always has me stay at his pad on the bay in la porte invites me once again for a stay there. we follow him and his bud squeaky down south of houston through the stench of the refineries in pasadena to the coast. he's turning the pad into a real art place, w/a music room, a painting room, one for poems, etc. he's says he's finding focus, sort of like I am too. damn, what a coincidence! the trip about life. he turns me onto a book by p.d. ouspensky, "a new model of the universe" and we talk about hermetic thought for a couple of hours. an intense discussion that's a lot of fun. always dig rapping ideas w/mike, he's very down peeps. I konk wondering about the stuff we try to capture w/words.
read week 6 of the tour diary
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this page created 25 nov 99