nels cline's tour spiel

mike watt and the crew of the flying saucer

"clam blow" tour '95

august 6 - 19, 1995

Sunday 8/6: Raleigh MR

It's after the lst Lollapolooza experience. But first, Dewey Beach. The gig was a real freakout for me. Kids who thought EDDIE was going to be there. Old Watt fans.., and a slew of those fat types. It was unbearably hot on stage. Kids were taking my stuff (egg-wisk, spring..) as souvenirs. The wish, my primary one -- is gone, taken by some girl named Danya. Her friends are in the Army, but they worshipped us. It was weird. The gig: my equipment wouldn't work at first. The speakers had gotten unplugged! The sound guy fixed it, so I think he'd futzed with the junction box behind my amp -- by the time the set started my guitar was completely out of tune. Watt's voice in the monitor was deafening. It was all confusion. I got it together mid-set, but I was thrown overall. Pedal trauma, Watt was unhappy with that. I've never sweat like that -- soaked from head to toe. Watt & me in full leg pants! Got an encore. Did 'Tuff Gnarl'. I muffed the ending. I wanted to die. (The audience didn't give a damn). When we were done, a torrential thunderstorm hit. Pretty dramatic, but we were already wet enough!

The people who run the Cork & Bottle, including security, were cool. I bought some Ben & Jerry's for the guy who guarded the mercifully, yet troublesome, air-conditioned upstairs dressing room area. (Troublesome because my guitar got used to coolness up there).

We stayed half a block away. People do time-share things with houses in summer. Since it had become unbearably hot, many had fled (hard to imagine this place anymore overrun with college revelers). A fellow named Chris, with a punk band in Baltimore, and a woman named Carolyn, both exceptionally cool, invited us over because the usual 16 (!) people weren't all there. Jeez-- this whole scene will always stay in my memory like a fever dream. But it was a privelege to meet a serious punker and Watt fan, Chris. (Black Flag shirt, chin beard, cigar) and Carolyn (dark-haired, slight, ex-English teacher, now with Delaware Historical Research Society type deal). Steve, Michael, Vince and I went to get pizza at about 1:30 am and the street was a river of wobbly revelers. This doesn't seem fun to me..

Slept in my own dank stench and got up, put on moist clothes, and left at 7 am for Raleigh. Maybe 3 hours of sleep. Then the real drama continued: The Prayer. As Watt noticed its inability to keep speed, he decided to have Michael pile in with us and have Vince try to meet us, 'cause at the Prayer's speed we'd never get there on time. First day, first impressions, red tape. Punctuality is a must, 7 hours plus to get there.

Made it to site, took forever to get in. Played after an interesting couple of bands: Versus and Spin something or other ( BUILT TO ).

Had a good crowd. Rain clouds produced no rain. I broke a D string on the 2nd song. Smashed, wailed, sweat -- as a trio. Vince never made it. He broke down just after crossing the (massive and fascinating) Chesapeake Bridge. The van is screwed. The rebuild is so wrong that it's just eating up distributors. It turns out he found a good mechanic but tonight he's sleeping in the van! We don't know how he's going to make it back west at all (at which time we'll take my car). We're all freaked -- poor Vince. This is such a nightmare. God, those guys really reamed him. We need to get the car to L.A. just to get justice. What to do...?

Lollapalooza's not unlike the big radio fests we're played. A million teens barely dressed milling about in sweltering heat. Heard a bit of Pavement (very lovably odd), and Hole (tawdry histrionics from Ms. Love, but the band really sounds good..) Hung at dinner a bit (and after) with Steve Shelley and later Kim, + Terry & Peter from Sonic staff -- all so nice (met them before). Met some acquaintances of Lee's. This woman Ivy thought I was weird, but she liked my nail polish (later she got tipsy and was a little too nice -- then she spotted the ring -- heh heh).

Missed Superchunk in favor of dinner -- nothing but chips all day.

Sonic Youth played. Their sound/light show, songs, beautiful. What a light design job! Really!) While they played, half the audience left. It was so weird to see them in such a great sounding place (in spite of the seating) as headliners & have this drib of audience. God, they were great. Thurston was hiding 'cause he has serious flu, but he raged. Sang great. I love the new songs. Old ones like PCH, Eric's Trip, Intro, Teenage Riot, really sounded fresh and rocking. Skink, well... anyway. Their concluding song Diamond See? Scene? Sea?, which I'd heard with Michael and Vince in NYC in March, it's just too beautiful... and those lights! Now I'm (finally) showered. Gotta get up and go to Atlanta to begin hellride of hellrides - Austin. Half the country! 2 1/2 days. Praying for Vince.

Monday 8/7 In Raleigh (am)

Thoughts: Watt's worried that my effects pedals are taking up too much attention. Must connect with him and audience. It's true I'm a bit psyched out by Watt's worries about noises, etc., so I'm too cautious. Got to simplify ... Also MUST change strings every other gig. Not just because of caustic body emissions, but because I pound, they weaken. Every time I ignore this, I break a string on stage.

My fetish/totem necklaces are breaking on me: my most-cherished OM that Alex gave me years ago (and which I wear at every gig I do) finally bit it. These things... well, this one lasted a long time. The necklace w/little beads, that the girl in Cleveland threw to me, bit it right away. Now I'm left w/Chains: Nancy's, PGC i.d., the little heart and the little flower ring that Joyce (college rep) gave me in Cleveland. Must get them all firing at once.

Watt has his totems, too, significantly. After being on the east coast and seeing all those sick crown air fresheners, he surprised us all by getting one. It's hard to explain, but I really dug this. The crown goes with an orange plastic Mohican that a girl from some band sent to Watt along with a letter all wrapped in her used red panties.

Vince just called. He's going to try to make Dallas. Has what he thinks is a good mechanic, but he got no one to spell him. Shit! Must think positive. Watt wants to get his lawyer to sock it to the scumbags that "rebuilt" the poor heap. Prayin'...

Day Off -- maybe to Birmingham. Tomorrow an early rise, fix Watt's tire, then 12 hours to ? (Driving) Watt's fans are generally sweet, smart, forward-looking regular folks. Some showed up yesterday @ Raleigh. Katie (with her Dud Girl Tape called UMA -- a fixation of her roommate/music partner. She was super sweet and enjoyed my Kristen thing greatly. Will send her a CD), Abe (the "Frodky" bass player we met at the Birmingham Street Fair earlier this summer) and his whole family, a guy named Date (the Daces & Mikes & Chrism's are getting confusing!). A bunch of guys were really into Watt's set and dug my playing lot -- they came up to me all day & eve. This helps me not to feel too pressured by the D. Boon / Edward legacy. I get self-conscious sometimes and think all the real Watt fans will hate me. These teens don't know any better...

Fired off a few postcards today. Everyone seems so far away...

Tuesday 8/8 MO 6 - (outside Birmingham)

The good news is that Vince has been taken in by the folks in Norfolk who are fixing his car. This saves him $ and some grief. The bad news is that he may not make Dallas now. If necessary, Watt will cover him to rent a little truck w/hitch to pull the damn thing back to L.A. I must remember to call D.D. to have her take my car in for full tune-up, etc., for the big switch next Monday. (Talked to D.D. twice before the Delaware gig. I was flipping a bit. She really sounds great. This really makes me happy...).

Drive yesterday was about 8 hours with the 4 of us. Pretty cool -- the Watt/Michael chemistry was operating on a good wavelength with endless wisecracking, greasing the usual dry friction. Stopped at a buffet place in Georgia that was really quite good (a busboy there, real straight-looking, recognized Watt. He was a huge Funkadelic fan. Michael was wearing his Clam Blow shirt and Watt gave them tons of grief...)

Did some laundry last night. Michael got a ride from 2 kids who also turned out to be huge Watt fans -- Hayden & Emily. Sweet college kids. Michael brought them to the Mo' to see if Watt would meet them. Dumb move, but Watt took it in his stride. Michael's going to learn -- eventually.

Long drive today into Texas. Watt got the tire fixed, oil & lube. It's hot as hell. The Carolina's & Georgia were beautiful yesterday. The lush green foliage, thunderstorms (a perennial on this trek), the dark sunset, the rising steamclouds -- wondrous.

Interesting Mo' 6: 3 sheriffs hanging outside the office while brothers in different rooms all around the Mo' "met" -- drugville, lowriding cars cruised around periodically. Guy at the gas station told Michael that walking a mile to market would be unwise Crackers and crackheads looking for..

 Van selections: Watt: Dinosaur Jr (where ya been?)
      new Mule E.P

  Me: Geraldine Fibbers
   and we heard Katie's UMA tape (really primitive & endearing).
   + Mommy w/Beck's bass player (really sincere neo-Queen nightmare rock).

Poor Michael was cringing at volume level at times, but at least he didn't talk. (I do love him).

600 miles, Birmingham to Waco in the Econoline. Through Mississippi, Louisiana, into the flat expanse of Texas.

In van listening: Sentridoh
      Charlie Parker
      Guy from the Dicks
      Butthole Surfers

Drive, drive -- eat bad food.

Watt & Michael tiffed a bit, but it seemed to end with a new awareness and the rest of the ride was hi-jinx, one-upmanship on one-liners, wordplay. Pretty funny, actually.

Tomorrow should be pretty insane, except Vince is still gone -- the latest: the van is running, it cost $20!! The people who fixed it took him in for 2 1/2 days! and charged him $20! I must send them something. I dunno... maybe, he'll make Dallas -- what a drag. A nightmare. Watt's been stressed, but we're trying to think miracle.

Anyway, tomorrow will be wild. We'll be at the site all day -- Blonde Redhead, Dirty 3, S.Y. and an acoustic Porno for Pyros set that Watt's playing on. The there's a huge party in Austin proper at some club all night!

Better shave...

Talked to D.D. Gonna call Greg now -- Everything's fine. Praise be!

Today's fave roadsigns: Boo's Beverage Center (Louisiana)
      Health Farm -- Burgers, Shakes (Waco, TX)

Wed 8/9

was Lollapalooza .

Report 8/10 (Before Dallas).

Almost more than I can comprehend.

Heard: Blonde Redhead
      Dirty 3
      bits of Pavement & Hole
      Sonic Youth

Our set seemed pretty good. I felt stiff , not as hyper as I needed to be. Probably hanging out in 95 degrees-plus weather had a bit of an effect. Watt has a short in his bass. Some cutting in & out. Thurston tried to sing "Tuff Gnarl" -- too fast and couldn't remember the lyrics so he jumped around going "scooby dooby doo..." etc. Later apologized (says today will be okay). Steve sat in on drums & came in w/loud part too soon. Kim was there listening. Spot sat in on "Porno" & "Coincidence" (mandolin & fiddle). Listening: Blonde Redheads, Gibby (!), Bob Mould, God knows who else. Big kudos for yours truly from Gibby. (Watt said he later said on his radio show that I "flung a big bucket of corn".

Met Zach's old friend, Julie, at the Insomnia newsstand. ("Hey, didn't you used to work at Rhino?") Amazing. She gave me a bunch of mags and I bought an "Alien is beautiful" sticker. It's a trip going around with so much happening. So many significant artists milling about. I know the Watt set went over pretty well, but I can't really estimate what the audience motivations for attendance are. But meeting all the different players and techs just re-inforces my feeling that positivity is the over-riding thing going on (at least to me). It just seems so positive, and kind of free.

The guy who signed Hum is thinking of signing Jeremy to back -- he knew who I was and was very nice albeit a totally familiar industry type. The Hum guys are really nice, sincere. Some good, thick guitar moments. (Vocal thing a bit weak).

Versus have same cool songs (the one's that aren't straight rockers). Kind of 4 AD -ish, or maybe a little S.Y. here and there. Dirty Three are odd. Folkloric pub music cranked up and feeding back. The violinist goes nuts, but hardly ever faces the crowd. Guitarist hardly does anything but hold down chord/riff things. Drummer's really good -- reminded me of Billy Mintz a bit(!).

Dinner table: Michael, Steve, Watt, Thurston, Lee, Kim, Coco, Bob Mould, Spot.


Talked with Suzanne Sasic (S.Y. light person since day 1) -- she's cool and so beautiful! Her light design rules (I told her). Terry, Peter, Luke -- all S.Y. cats 'r swell.

Blonde Redhead: Bill from Pier Platters is road managing them! And what a task that must be! These fragile flowers take mondo babysitting. But I must say that they're really nice, sweet (Kazu's out there -- and I think she's beginning to find me interesting. Hmm...) Maki was not feeling well (Sun? PMS?) -- She's so beautiful, so thin and fragile looking. Simone & Amadeo are really normal, cool guys with songs that are really cool, natural extension of previous stuff -- Kazu/Amadeo vocal exchanges. Simone's a hell of a drummer. Kazu (in little shorts and orange crocheted bikini top) is pretty arresting on stage. She barely has it together and its great -- needed edge. Bought a couple of Ts from Bill and he floated me a tape of their new album (!). Will see them again today.

Kazu said (about hearing Watt's set): "I was not prepared for it. I must hear you again!" ?? Don't know what that means (she's weird).

Heard S.Y.'s set right on stage next to the monitor board. Eric from Hole was taping them with his camcorder (lots of lingering on Kim, I noticed). What a great experience! Man! It was loud, resonant, raggedy but totally rocking. I love the new songs. "Washing Machine" is a total groove. They played "Tom Violence", "White Cross", "Brother James", "Mate" and others played last time: "100%", "Teenage Riot" (God, it rocks!...), Bull in the Heather, Diamond Sea (orgasm).. Kim bounced like a go go girl on "100%". It's hard to believe how BITCHIN' she is. Thurston at her side. He was wild -- some real arena moves -- totally cool, ok? Lee: Lose the fan! He has a fan! Blowing his hair!...

I am blessed with inspiration and beauty in my weird life. I said to Thurston earlier "my life is totally weird" -- he laughed and said that would be a great name for a single.

Jerry Garcia died yesterday. So Captain Trips takes the big one. I didn't even know that his moniker for the last few years was "the fat man" ... ouch. He died in detox. Bob Weir says "the $how must go on". Weird.

Today I must kick serious ass. Spot's coming to Dallas today. More. More. God.

Must hear the Jesus Lizard today... It's supposed to be 99 degrees.
When S.Y. hit that thing (intro to "Teenage Riot", "Brother James", "White Cross", "Diamond Sea") my whole body goes electric. Hair stands up. I want to dissolve. Life is beautiful. I must live up to my inner potential. I am thankful. I am in love.

(Driving). Spot has just pulled up alongside us on Interstate 35. He is a ruling individual -- privelege to know him.

Noticed at the swelter site yesterday, one of the hugest and most exotic (and threatening) spiders (hanging in a web) I'll ever see... at least I hope...

The Lolla staff people are really nice. Kristen (yes, I talked to her) and Nancy especially. Let me phone L.A. where I find out I'm one of Buzz mag's 100 "coolest" people. Invited to party "where all these cool people can meet each other". That I'll miss 'cause I'll be on tour. Thank God. Unless Anjelica Huston or somebody was there, you'd have to pay me...

Vince is on his way to Dallas. Will he make it?? (Pray).

Watt got a hat or cap today. Got a solid red Blonde Redhead stripe going on my neck to left shoulder and a pretty ruddy nez -- sunscreen not sufficient. That's what I get for insisting on gawking up close...

Poor Michael. He's doing everything he can to keep from letting Watt's erratic gas foot make him instantly carsick. Soon he'll be able to helm the Prayer -- what a tradeoff!

On the way to Austin yesterday a.m. Watt cranked the Dinosaur. He loves Mascis so much.

After S.Y. set last night, Michael (who just loved their set) said, "I sure see Thurston's stamp on you". Yup. Like a big Frankenstein boot smashed in the solar plexus - credit where credit is due.

Puffed boo w/some guys in evening (Mel, the newly moth-melded Bob Mould). Late departure for Mo' 6 in Austin. But who should show up around 1 am but Spot. Watt stayed awake as long as he could (while on- line, of course), post boo, Spot is the best -- funny, insightful, a real natural Dadaistic head. Steve knows tons of folks, he knows, because they're from the same neighborhood, but Spot went renegade. Hung in Redondo, Hermosa, got into punk rock, etc. -- & lived a life none of his family ever know about. Watt just this year found out his real name (don't remember it) and his family and friends just found out this year from Steve that he's called Spot to many and that he's actually quite legendary. What a trip!

Spot & I briefly talked about WEIRDOS (as in Big Daddy Ed Roth - type) -- something we were really into. He said when he finally perfected his own design, his Dad looked at it & said "You could do better next time" and threw it in the trash. He never forgave him, went his own way, away from his immediate family and surroundings.

It's just been fully realized that we have to drive 1,100 miles to Phoenix -- by tomorrow!!! So we're leaving right after the set. No S.Y. for us tonight. Insane! This also means that poor Vince (if he even makes it here is looking at ANOTHER hellride. This time thru desert! As Watt so sagely put it, "Boy, Vince will never forget this tour!". Total hell. From Phoenix, it's back to L.A. Watt will want to stay w/the Kirkwoods. Michael & Steve want to blast straight back to L.A. -- Michael to get laid & smoke pot, Steve to work/ resume his gardening/landscaping business. I guess that means it's me 'n Watt across the desert.

Blonde Redhead & Versus just played. B.R. did the same set as yesterday only much better (& better balance). New songs & I Don't Want U, Astro Boy, a-side of latest 7" (can never remember the title).

Versus played more up stuff, which is more generic. Actually, they remind me at times of the Pale Saints when they play more straight. Fontaine & I earlier exchanged nail polish - mine 'Wicked', hers white, & had a pleasant morning polish pow-wow. She's originally from Texas, now living in Brooklyn. A very nice and talented woman. I like it when she rips into her bass w/fuzz. She's got that pick bass note thing.

B.R. are about to bail for Phoenix. Poor Bill -- I'll bet he drives the whole way. What a den mother. He's got to be! But in spite of how spoiled the band seem, it doesn't diminish their swellness -- the really do some beautiful songs. But will they ever play "Jet Star"?...

The Dirty Three are about to hit. A very insular & perhaps overly-serious combo. I thank guitarist Mick is either a bit insecure or he's just remote permanently. But they certainly have a single sound/aesthetic.

It's about 95 degrees in a cement wilderness. Periodic breeze. Not enough to assuage the wilt factor. Shade is paramount to survive. Poor Maki is just wilting under her straw hat and towel. Like a tender reed in an inappropriate hothouse.

Upon returning to the van to put this book away, I see our thermo says 127 degrees...

8/11 - LUBBOCK MO 6

Amazing -- right as I was setting up my last bit of gear in Dallas, VINCE walked on stage! Boy did he look drained. He only had time to set up his saxophone and a floor tom, cymbals & cowbells, but he was there!

The set was a shambles.. Watt actually left songs off the set list -- just skipped over "Makin' the Freeway" & "The Big Bang Theory". He had just pulled his bass strings off to fix his bass and change strings and he kept going way out of tune. Called "Piss Bottle Man" out of nowhere except even looking at him I didn't know what song he meant so I missed the intro -- waited till I could recognize it, but man he was almost a full half step flat. That made singing my little boy harmony pretty hard. I broke and 'E' string right at the top of "Intense Song" -- played it out of tune and tried to wail. Michael had to set up in the sun and tried to play the whole set with a towel on his head (what a dork). Watt kept barking at him to take it off which he finally did on "The Red & the Black" (last song). A mess.

Kids afterwards loved it -- I signed stuff, including a program for Dennis Gonzalez' son Aaron, who walked up to me and asked "is your name Nels Cline? You played with my Dad". A nice girl named Melissa (kept me going during set) w/silver bikini top), her friend Tina -- guy named John - gave them some water, let Melissa use my nail clips. Blew out almost right away to as far as we could get: Lubbock.

Watt was all intense, hollerin' at end of gig. I was steeled for a blowout (my shit went off -- Vince pulled my A.C. while jumping around and I was sure I'd get shit until the facts were out). But he was cool. Even funny. Watt's big V.P. Fletcher was at gig and asked me if I was doing the fall tour. When I said yes he seemed somehow relieved and gave me the upraised thumb. He loves Watt -- was sitting there in the roasting 2nd stage tent helping him change strings. Later he helped him sell T-shirts!

The Prayer okay -- made decent time to Lubbock (home of Joe Foxy, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, & of course, the Dead Guy) -- in at just after 1 a.m.. Steve drove. It 2:30 a.m. now & we're going to go for Arizona. 500 miles, & see if we can get to the Kirkwood's. It's going to be blazing hot. The oil/gas smell in some of these towns is truly nauseous.

Fave Turnoffs: Stink Creek Road
   Noodle Dome Road

Fave Signs: Quick Lay Pipe Co

In van listening: Last night (late drive)
   Geraldine Fibbers (still gives me a chill)
   Screaming Trees

We're waiting for Vince now. Watt described to Michael Vince's desire to jabber last night. Had to tell him "lights out". Said "Jeez, I'm a motor mouth. You're a motor mouth - shit we're all motor mouths, except for Trappist Nels here!" But we agreed that even Steve & I can rev it up.

We're off. Can we do 800 miles?

(On the move). The drum van in reinstated.

Lubbock -- jeez, it's tiny, bleak and I can't believe it. Those guys are all from this wasteland? Found Maraa on the map (Donald Woo town) -- man, it's way south -- almost in Mexico. Watt says it's rough as hell down there. Drugs, "coyotes" & lots of psycho cops and good ol' boys. Alistair, I'm thinking of you as we traverse this expanse, you Scottish desert rat! It's deceptively cool in the morning in West Texas. Gassing up. I've done my non-customary window duty. I'm wearing my new T for Versus. ('Versus -- New York City "Done Life & Mets" logo) -- it's really soft, good quality (Fontaine wanted to give it to me, but I refused -- $5).

Thinking of the four most fabulous young women I know: D.D., Wendy, Knansie & Carole. How I love you all. The warmth I feel (not desire -- at least not now, or not usually) informs my life. It's forever.

A crazy lady in Lubbock in the MO 6 lot tried to latch on to us. Talked about her being related to The Steve Miller Band, wanted to set us up with her millionaire uncle for a good meal, was comparing my nail polish to hers... My favorite thing she said was "Good luck to you boys. I know you'll make it some day. What you need is a major agent", in her drawl. She latched on to Vince, I think. Vince & Michael should perhaps be a little more circumspect in their jabber. I love people, too, but time, security and anonymity go hand-in-hand sometimes ... and Michael's gotta quit whining. It surprises me a bit what a whiner he is -- "I hate this kind of shit" (rap groups) .. "Fuck, he said 9!" (getting awakened early). "Vince ..." Endless. The sun, the bugs (he IS a bug magnet). This a.m. when he complained about having to get up at "5:30 - 6:30 every morning". (He refuses to think in anything but L.A. time!). I just said, "Get to work, you're working!" He laughed and said "Yeah, first time in years". More like first time since school... Sheesh.

God, my arms are fucking TAN! the hairs are all bleached out ...Yuk!

In Austin it was a full moon. As I watched Sonic Youth from on stage you could see the moon above and in front of the stage. The sight of Thurston wailing under that moon -- his tremendous height, his jeans in "no butt" mode, earlobes flashing -- this is an image that will stay with me. Kim on "Skunk" -- staring to the side drum. The drone before the "Kiss me on... kiss me on the lips" part, too.

"The Goddess of Rock", I said in 1985. Everyone laughed ... then.

Carla Bozulich - wherever you are right now I kiss your curly hair, I smooth your skirt, I salute you in every way and wish you the happiness you deserve after all the shit you've been thru -- I blow kisses to your downcast eyes.

8/12 IN PHOENIX (on site)

I'm on stage while the little lost lambs soundcheck (Blonde Redhead getting less lost, actually).

I must recount yesterday's 14-hour hellride (14 hours because The Prayer can't even go the speed limit, most of the time). Watt, Steve and I each drove about 5-6 hours. Going out of Texas was unbelievably hot -- total broist. Stopped at a Shell truck stop and ate while Watt nutted out about Vince & Michael taking on too many hours of driving. Trying to discourage macho antics, overly concerned (D.Boon...). Bought a chili recipe postcard and sent a tour report to Susan. Bought a Route 66 trucker's cap w/ a Chevy Bel Air on it and drove my shift into Albuquerque. Then it got amazing: just outside of Albuquerque we hit a sudden thunderstorm which became hail (small) suddenly. Nil visibility at one point, so we had to pull over. (Later learned that The Prayer's visibility in a storm is next to non-existent). From there into Arizona and on to Phoenix was a non-stop light show of truly awesome proportions. Beautiful and fearsome.

As sundown approached in New Mexico (near Gallup) at one point, as black skies stormed and lightning constantly flashed all around, a ray of sunlight illuminated a mesa, a rainbow glistened next to it.

A bolt of lightning hit right next to the Freeway -- we felt the ionization, the explosion was almost immediate, so you know it was close.

Come sundown, the sun appeared right on the horizon below a sea of black & lightning bolts. As it fell it left a fiery glow on the horizon. Very ominous and beautiful. Rain on and off, heavy at times, but never really prolonged scariness. From 5 or so until we arrived in Phoenix at 1:15 am there was constant lightning, either distant or right in our faces. We drove right into a storm center around Flagstaff -- lightning every 3 seconds, at least. Sometimes so bright it was blinding.

We saw another bout hit right near us, next to the road. Not as close as the other one, but we could follow the bout all the way to where it hit the ground until an orange explosion. Whoa!....ok? Got to Cris & Michelle Kirkwood's pad around 1:30 and almost immediately got into a boo-inspired eastern groove jam w/Watt on banjo, Vince on flute, Steve on bass, me on guitar & bells, Cris on drum machine (Michael wouldn't participate). A light floor sleep and today, here I am. We've decide to leave right after our set to monitor the Prayer's progress in the semi-cool darkness.

Cris & Michele are really swell. So's their dog, Rosie (bassett hound) & Fred (Mercury), their aid-inflicted kitty (sad...).

Called Darling Wife -- I'll be in around 2 or 3 a.m. (Prayer Time) -- in my own bed with D.D.!! Amazing, a day off, too!

It's fucking hot -- but it's apparently cooled off to a mild 105 degrees (yesterday was reportedly 115 degrees).

Tiny crowd so far .. going to watch B.R. from the stage. Just gave Bill directions to Yohan in L.A. so they can get Japanese supplies.. so lucky all the Nippon enterprises are so close to the Alligator...

This is apparently the lowest sales Lollapalooza of the tour. I guess kids don't want to bake like tender muffins. Our traveling M.C., Foley, is about to begin his singing contest -- better bail.

No S.Y. tonight (again) nor in L.A ,(since I'm playing Mon & Tues). Well it's S.F. and so long. Too much of a good thing? etc. etc. They've got the 2nd stage way the hell out in a parking lot. Sheesh!

John Rosenfelder is here...

Blonde Redheads have me in their shirt (red one). Kazu didn't recognize it at first and liked it as is -- then realized it was theirs and got all giggly and pointed it out to the band. They are all sweet -- drove same time as us yesterday. We talked lightning...

Fuck. Unbelievable...

Driving back to L.A. now. It's 7:30 pm and 98 degrees in the van. During our set it must have been 110 degrees in full sunlight. My guitar was actually burning my fingers! Watt's bass input was going out. My pedals went off -- still don't know why. Possible short (tons of water spilled on stage). But I went for it. Figured passing out might help the set. I made it. We all did. Warren, violinist in the Dirty Three, held nothing back during his set -- in fact, he hurled more than once! Who planned this?!? It was absurd, but we made it.

On to L.A. in a picturesque sunset. AC blazing hot air blasting us. I've got my shirt off, my pants open and I'm drying off.

Thurston, Lee and Steve all came to hear us (last set in Dallas, Steve, Lee and Eric E. showed up apparently. Eric had his camcorder going .. oh, God, the shambles -- but Steve said he really liked it). Gave Thurston a ride to his bus. Gave him my Dina-Soar pedal to give to Kim (Watt signed it for some reason). Wrote "thank you Kim for all the great music (heart) N" on it. So there.

On to L.A., to D.D., to my bed, to my shower, to my laundry room... shit, it's hot.

Just spotted John Rosenfelder in his truck -- gave him a ride to his truck too. He held up his pipe -- boo puffed! Wish I had some right now... Homeward bound!

Monday 8/14

Drove to Lollapalooza (Irvine). Breezed down (70 mph mostly). Got in and had foods w/Kazu & Amadeo. Very nice. Asked Kazu about Arto. We chatted about his new trio ("Funky" was Kazu's answer to "What do they sound like?). These guys are really different. Can't quite figure them. They are learning, though. Dirty Three in the Dirt. The 2nd stage was in an elevated dirt plot. Sun. Dirt. The Dirty Three played to a handful and sounded pretty raging. (Kazu seems mesmerized by them, especially Warren, Mr. Psychodrunk Aussie fiddler, a genuine smasher). B.R. played a splintery set -- kind of spazzed, ok. Versus... Walked around... Watt: Big crowd (for the Sandbox Ghetto). I was wondering if my gear would work since it had shut down ("crutches") in Phoenix & I had no time to check it. (It was in the van, after all). It worked. Great crowd, decent set. Dez, Markey, Kim White, Sean de Lear (Sp?), kids from the Palace, even Doug Lunn & his daughter were there!! (Doug's such a sweetheart). (Couldn't really chat w/Sean -- saw him afterwards -- we love -- something besides Carl..) It was weird at one point to spot Dez smiling in the crowd & then not see him -- gone. Brooke and Nathan (the teenage fans of yours truly and Watt) were right up front - Wow! (Wow?). Set over.. pack up and go to the Alligator. Well, home, actually to get my rack, Jag and food. Overpass, Dirty Three, Blonde Redhead, N.C.T.!!

8:40 Got to 'Gator in a frenzy -- still not too crowded. Set up shop as if on speed. List in order. Knansie's here! Lynn, Joey, Owen, Michael Davis, -- they've moved the mixing desk...

Overpass: The perfect warm up, twangy twists on the familiar. Tom's really got the gnarl when it's needed.

A fellow named Tim tried to interview me while I tried to show Kazu what to do to fix her Jaguar Bride (trashed! - as with rafe I decided then and there to go out in the morning & get her a hex key set). I'm loving Kazu about now. She almost seems in the same sphere as me. Tim's a great young super-fan. Good questions. (Though long).

Dirty Three played in the distance. Came in and Warren kicked over the monitors -- John was freaked! Thought he'd blown the 15s (fixed wiring and they were okay - he was all apologetic for having panicked...). Knansie (with Theresa at this point) was screaming & driving everyone nuts -- esp. Francis (it meant she liked the Dirty 3's set). The placed was PACKED, well it looked that way, anyway.

Blonde Redhead played a really rocking set - good set list. Played that slower song for the lst time and they played Jetstar for me! Amadeo on my Hagstrom. It was beautiful! And the crowd response was great (they've since added it to their set!).

Encore: Song from the E.P. w/screaming at the end. Good night for B.R. Trio set. What a struggle! On "Pants" my pedals crapped out right at the big ending (no orgasm for Nels). "The Gamine", Clams. Michael seemed tired. Probably stoned & fucked out. I was pissed, but the next day I bought him a gift (Jackie Chan fan mag) to assuage my rampant disappointment in his sloppy shit. He spazzed on the big Gamine ending. -- No orgasm for Nels. Crowd was into it, tho'. We went on @ 12:30 & played (w/encore "The Rite") till 1:30.

Total physical exhaustion followed. My knees were killing me. Asleep by 3:15.

Next day - 8/15

Early (10 am) strings and bank and hex key. Went to site w/ D.D. in tow. Breakfast @ Rae's. After hassling to get her pass & ticket (under "Cline") we got in (tense moment).

In attendance: Markey (w/camera), Jeremy T, Jeremy K, Woody (spotted him w/shades grinning during our set!), Brian Cristopherson, Thurston, Steve Shelley, Richard Bonney (both days), Joni, Midori (B.R. played Jetstar again).

Gave Kazu her hex key -- Amadeo & K were blown. Talked w/Amadeo about fave guitarists (he studied w/Jim Hall!). They all loved the Trio. Really listened. They like real music. Instrumental ok, y'know!). Not surprised.

Our set was pretty rocking. Big crowd, Photogs. D.D. & Midori were right on-stage as we raged. (I was INTO it). Drummers sounded pretty on (really). Sunscreen stinging Watt's eyes. Heard that Thurston was way into it. Steve played on end of "Tuff Gnarl". I never even saw him! I was rapt/wrapped.

Afterwards headed on to "The Lab" for Pyros with Watt. Perry's quite the entertainer. No songs, though, really. But what a singular presence.

Left after in intense manner of my Trooper through buses & a trailer. We were stoned. It was tense! Nancy in Prod. Office (Kristen & Nancy - angels!). Helped me get out by inches. Food to go, shower, on to SPACELAND for Crib set w/ B.R. and Versus.

Got there at the last sec., set up, wailed, broke down, then B.R. in an okay set. Amadeo forgot his chords and effects and used mine and my jag for "Jetstar" & "I don't want u". Good crowd (left for Versus). Bill thinks I'm their angel. He loves me! and I'm the bands directions dispenser. Saw Craig Grady, Lake, Joe and Kirt, Whitmore (P.A. mixer??), Mary Ellen, Knansie, Boss Foxes and trendoids.

Crib set good, sick. B.R. + Fontaine loved it. Versus - a weak set list. Fontaine rocks. All their tunes are same tempo....

Home (tired) by 2 or so. Feel asleep w/TV on & half finished bohemia ... we had fun. Brian even showed up w /CD's!

Today I got up & packed, bought motor oil. Saw Mom (with D.D.), put away shirts, re-packed gear, ate grease, & left. 5 drive in the Trooper with Vince & Linda AOK. Verbal Vince -- a real thinker (calm it down -- I'm as bad as you but I've surrendered). After grease & beer + boo, its 2:25 am & I've been jotting here for an hour? So many fragments -- they'll have to be inserted 'cause it's late. I'm alone in a room (a rare event in tour mode) & the big Sept. Harper's Bazaar came today & it's here.! Tomorrow we wail. Must change strings. I'm a bit anxious but peace fills the Dome.

(This is a dump Mo' 6).

Knansie & D.D. drank gin martinis @ Spaceland -- Knansie got pretty high, I think, & D.D. was really holding her own! D.D. in black w/slicked hair & specs + Knansie w/little tiger backpack & 'Sonic the Hedgehog T'. What a pair!

Option Mag send stuff to my PO Box. for some reason (to get me to advertise). How do they do it? Anyway, they sent me the new V.H.F. & WENDY's in it. Called her. She said she thinks the pic is kind of "pointy & witchy" as opposed to soft & 'pudgy' like she'd prefer (she's right about the pointy/witchy thing, but hell, now I'm stoked 'cause her pic is w/me in my bag with the mag. She may still come to L.A.

After their (her) set at Spaceland 2 nights ago, Kazu was all apologetic -- "we were no good. Did you promote this show, too? I hope ... no? Oh good ...", as she dug her nose into her wrist. I just reassured her a bit, grasped her arm lightly. She looked straight at me for a moment and I still have no idea what she was thinking/saying with her eyes -- an odd combination of gratitude, momentary relief, & some kind of fear or anguish. I think she's very interesting. There's a lot that's different about these kiddies (they're not kiddies). More background, more disparate info. (Aside: D.D. @ Lolla apparently had a whole conversation w/Simone before realizing that he wasn't Amadeo, the one she had met - they look so much alike!).

Later L.A. Times reviewed Lolla -- pic of Watt under (of course, Hilburn's Boner edit) Justine & Courtney!
Watt: Punk Icon, played "Jazzy Punk Jams". Lorraine Ali totally dissed B.R. as "faceless" Sonic Youth clones. Didn't dig Versus. No mention of the Roots (the Tokens) or Hum. Liked the Dirty Three. Hilburn came all over Hole & even suggested that they outshowed S.Y. What a dope...

On to the Sacramento venue. It's almost noon -- time for Vince, Linda & I to land in and scarf some cuisine. It's cool & sunny -- what a nice change.

Wednesday 8/16

Tons has happened. Where to begin.. It's Wednesday, Vince & Linda are on their way over to go w/me to Sacramento, where we'll stay in a Mo 6, before tomorrow's Lollapalooza event. Thus begins my driving stint.

What happened since last entry?

Driving back to L.A., Watt went w/Rosenfelder in his little red Nissan truck. Vince & Michael sped away. (later I heard that Vince nutted out and told Michael he was "shilling for the man" by reacting positively to Watt's suggestion that he & Michael should get together to play after the tour to get the flam quotient down. Vince then didn't speak for the rest of the trip!) This left me with Steve in Watt's van for the drive back. Cool...

We got pulled over by two cop cars outside of Blythe. They checked us out as Watt & John went by. Later learned they were looking for a white van trafficking in Meth. Hmm..

That over, we eventually passed Watt & John and yelled to Watt that all was AOK. "Heart Attack!" he yelled, and on we went into town to Steve's pad to wait for Watt to come by, reclaim his van and take me home.

I met Steve's Mom, Cat, his girlfriend (the Heal Weapon singer) plus his dogs and cats. Very cool. Where was Watt? He finally showed up about 45 minutes later because for some reason he'd gone to my house! Blow by! Anyway, this gave Steve a chance to ride in his & Cat's new truck for their gardening business that he knew nothing about! A beaut. Toyota T-100, red, stick... nice! Anyway, he ended up driving me home in his Mom's car 'cause Watt was tired and still had to go to Pedro. (Linda's here -- more later...)

8/17 11:30 am (in West Sacramento MO 6)

OK... continuation up to Sacramento. So Steve took me home. He had to get up the next day and do gardening. Woke up D.D. (didn't have my keys w/me for tour). It was sweet! Home... the living room all straightened up. My mags @ Mom's thanks to D.D. & Christine + Mom.

The next day was a day off (Sunday). Only 5 hours of afternoon phone. Greg, Alex, Mom, Carole, plus some Gator/Trio biz. (minimal). Returned phone calls, etc.

Same evening, Christine came by and we drank some beers (D.D. wine). D.D. got pretty sauced and tried to cook rice -- burned it. Went for Chinese delivery -- pleasant, indeed. D.D. & I were sort of getting blissed out & irritable alternatively most of the stay. Quite illuminating, actually (now). Anyway, a pleasant day leading up to...

8/19 Cal Expo, Sacramento

Just had whizz w/ Blonde Redheads. Asked Amadeo about Jim Hall, Berklee, his path. It all changed when he met Kazu. Simone has hives. Bill's phone book is in some post office. We talked about Alex (twin topic), Mike Watt (Kazu: "He is totally alien to me"), my trio (they love us). I think it's a budding alliance, friendship. I told them that I don't think many folks really hear what they're doing in terms of the music, but that when Steve S gave me their disc last summer I heard it right away -- beauty. I said that when I hear that, it's love and that the purveyor of beauty is forever doomed -- they'll never get rid of me! This got smiles & laughs. They asked about Primus. The tour, their sound. I said "Lots of boys".

Steve just flew in. Watt's here somewhere but I haven't seen him yet. This place is a literal county fair. The 2nd stage is lame. It's facing gross cement right at "the lab", & in between is one of those blasting FM rock station booths. Totally Ives-ian. The Dirty Three are wailing, but if you stand too far away you get 3 different sound sources. Tasty. Watt's here, looking rested & and very bearded. He seems very relaxed. Wants to tour Australia in January w/D.3. -- hmmm. More Warren running amok!

Rumor Mill: In L.A. Richard Bonney told me that at dinner Mon. eve all guitarist talk was about yours truly. Thurston: "Nels is the shit". Very humbling, embarrassing, encouraging. My life is really weird

Golden Moment: Tues. afternoon in L.A. Lollapalooza: While Blonde Redhead played I sat on the stage with Fontaine & put on her nail polish (I had forgotten mine). B.R. were wailing, D.D. was behind me, Fontaine next to me -- it was heaven. Today B.R. members told me that while they were playing they smelled paint and looked around & voila - there I was applying "Vixen".

Jeremy T. left me a message in L.A. saying that he had stayed to hear S.Y. (his first S.Y. set) & now he "Understands. It was art". He was inspired. Wanted me to call -- later, Jeremy. Let it simmer, soak in. I'm glad now you'll not think me daft for this aspect of divine love that I purport. "Peace ...(your expo.).

Bought a painfully cute "Hello Kitty" pillow for the trip in my car. Linda loves it. Broke it in yesterday. Little nap. Happiness.

It's 6:50 -- I'm drunk on beer. Our set was somnambulent. Watt was displeased w/me earlier, then he said I played really good. We talked about the set. "70's" was like a fucking dirge it was so slow. "maybe the drummers are getting laid", sez Watt. It actually occurred to me, I hate to say. Give it some juice!

Gary Young (ex Pavement drummer w/serious burnout vibe) is playing now. Kim, Thurston & Steve are checking it out (Thurston w/camcorder) -- I thought it would suck. But it's super cool, quirky & fascinating. Pavement guy is here, too. (the cute singer/guitarist whose name I don't know).. Kim came up & thanked me for the Fuzz. (I had totally forgotten about it). She's already using it!! She loves it!! She was sweet -- I'm about to cry. Kazu is here -- she thought they sucked. I told her that the physical feel was on. Everyone peripheral to the stage thought so. (Michael, Midori, Dirty Three). I kissed her hand and told her how "Jetstar" makes me go electric & want to cry. She understood (I was, as a tipsy idiot, already starting to cry, when I described this, seeing as I was re-experiencing it as I described it...) Love is everything.

Steve. Kim. Thurston. I'm flipping out. I told Kim how good the band is sounding. "It gives me hope". (Also told her that for the first time on the tour, I'm pretty drunk. Drunk = maudlin & seriously sentimental.

Gary Young has a cool retro/psych element. Why do I like this??? Met Brian, Chris & ?, who book Watt (abstract) in this area -- really cool people. I told them how lucky I feel. They're really nice. Like many in the Watt Land, they understand the SOUL ingredient.

Michael played like a slug. Too much brain, not enough crotch. "E-Ticket Ride" sounded fucking collegiate ... gotta give BLOOD to this saucer...

Praise God.

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this page created 22 jul 97