mike watt and the pair of pliers
vince meghrouni - drums
tom watson - guitar
watt - thud staff, spiel
(left to right)
steve kaul - the man outside the van
monday, september 18, 2000 - boise, id
monday, september 18, 2000 - los angeles, ca
(I had to go home this day)
I walk to the river, after trey from the house tells me how to get there. I meet the worlds friendliest cat there. he runs up to me from about 15 yards away, meowing and with his tail up in greeting. he is a huge orange and white cat with an angular face. he talks and rolls around, until I continue my walk. on the way back, he runs along side me until he's at the end of his yard. watt, back form the airport, rides his bike all over town. I sit in the backyard and talk to trey and josh. chris has gone to school. a garden spider subdues a struggling fly caught in it's net and prepares to eat it - actually trey and I were observing that when josh came outside, ran into the net and ruined the spiders meal. watt gets back and we take off. he asks for a route and I suggest the 20/126/242/126/84 route straight across the interior of oregon. this cuts of over 200 miles from the 5/84 route that requires going back up to portland, across the state and down, but, as it turns out, it takes the same amount of time. this is because we have to climb the cascades in 15 and 20 mph switchbacks. it takes a long time, but it is a beautiful drive, going through 100-150 foot tall tree packed forests through what seem like tree caves (canopies of green) and then an unreal volcanic landscape.
no trip through there is complete without dinner at the starlight cafe, mine consisting of a beef noodle soup seemingly prepared using seawater. watt drives 90% of the way, I take the wheel in after the starlight cuisine. I drive to mo-6 in boise, and we crash.
tom's father-in-law died and the funeral's today, I'm gonna take him now to the airport so he can make it. five in the morning and his alarm goes off. I'm up and roust him. trey, one of the sprout cats, comes along to guide me to the airport and back. that's great of him, thanks trey. I get tom there fortyfive minutes before the flight so it's fine. back to the pad, pull the mask over the eyes and I'm out.
pop for the second time and shower, trippy smelling soap. you can see through it, like translucent blue. time to pedal. we're right next to the williamette river and as luck has it, there's a park w/bike paths on both banks. I pedal big time going across two bridges to do all the paths I can find. it's great, hardly anyone this early on a monday out now. the water burbleling by puts a calmness on my intense thoughts gathering momentum w/each stroke of the leg. the outside is like a hand on your brow when it's steady compared to an eruptive state inside. following the scenery and the lay of the route, the discovery and wonder that falls into the eyes and the ears, the heart spun w/the wheels spinning - I dig it. besides gigs, this is how I get myself thumpin these days. I can't be all in the head, there has to be some connection to the world that can be touched where I feel really alive, in a physical sense.
me and vince are doing the ride to boise alone. flea wants me to come see him and his band cuz they're playing boise tonight but I don't know if we're going to make it. we're taking oregon 126 to us 20, the "oregon scenic by-way." it's a great drive, trees making a canopy over the road. through the mckenzie pass the road gets like a foot path, we can't believe how small it is. no shoulders at all and the curves so sharp, the signs have you slow down to fifteen miles an hour. it's wild ride. all these trees and flora, incredible then when you get past the pass, it's full on high desert. sagebrush, the whole deal. complete contrast to west of these cascades. on to bend and then burns. righteous sunset w/purple and blue in the sky bright as blacklight-lit poster paint. then it's all prairie. then were in a huge gorge, running along the river. hardly any traffic and I dig that. at vale (the oregon one, not the colorado one - maybe seventy miles west of boise), we chow at the "starlight diner." good tuna salad - not a ton of mayo in it. I chow it w/like ten packs of crackers and vince trips on that. tiny sandwiches, I'm into it. vince drives the last hour to boise, I'm beat - we past the time zone into mountain time so we lose and hour but that's still nine hours on the wheel. vince is sick and I didn't want to pile any more on him than I had to. as it is we blow by into the wrong exit and what the fuck, the mo-six is full on a monday night in boise?! I'm an idiot and didn't call ahead but I never would've figured. stupid watt. we go to the rip-off fucking super-eight shit pad down the street and konk swift once the boat is docked. trippy, it didn't seem like there was no gig tonight. the second and last "day off" for the tour.
tuesday, september 19, 2000 - boise, id
I'm sitting in L.A. airport at 2:00 pm waiting for my commuter flight into boise. I had some family buisiness to attend to and it has been all I have been able to think about lately but now it's back into the tour and I must focus. still I sit and think about leaving my home again, and how I really do get homesick when I go on tour. soon as I board the plane it seems to arrive in idaho where I see watt waiting at the gate. I know that the drive from eugene wasn't too short and to have one less driver makes it harder on them, so I really appreciate all their help at this time.
the neurolux is a cool little bar that's in the center of town and we spend our time writing diaries and keeping up on correspondence. mike checks some i.d.s at the door for some locals thinking he must be the door man. this is truly a never ending adventure. vince is in the van trying to get some rest since he's not feeling kind of ill, I hope he starts feeling better soon cause I know how much it sucks to be sick on tour.
on the bill with us is a local band called clock, three guys with a sound that has it's roots drawing from the same well of influence of many bands that I am fond of. very nice dudes too. our set was a test of technical obsticles and vaudville stage improv. our vocal mics were going crazy and we had to hand them back and forth or sing into any mic we could find. we pulled it off somehow and we're stronger now for it too. of course it helps when the crowd is pulling for you.
the gig ends, we move or stuff and brett and steff show us their hospitality again like last year, and in the morning we talk and eat and hit the road by 11. next stop salt lake.
drive into town, to the laundromat. get the laundry going, look for a mailbox. ain't too many in this town, it seems like. takes me awhile to find one. bundle the clothes and head to the club. set up. bind snake carcass to bumper: see watt's entry re: snake. I am sick, sickest yet. hankerchiefs are soaked. I go get spicy chinese noodle soup across the way. I come back. watt has retrieved tom from the airport. I am typing, then suddenly, finish. begin again. sick sick sick. hot with fever, nose stuffed and running, sneezing and hacking from lung depths. sound check wrings me out. a man in the audience with a pony-tail and ubiquitous ballcap stops me. he thanks me for the music, praises my drumming, mentions the great white drum icon buddy rich. I politely beg off after answering a few questions, but a minute later tom asks me to join him at the man's table. tom agreed to the gentleman's request that we chat with him a bit. the fellow offered us our choice of drink, which we decline. he asks us questions, and relates leo fender stories (he was his neighbor or something). he talks about when he was a stage hand or something in the country music scene during the 70's and 80's, "the cocaine years", as he put it, and how he's lost touch with the music scene, and hence, apologetically doesn't know of us. he is very complimentary throughout. he begins to praise tom's hands and my "style" - not drumming, but personal. this sort pushes the conversation into embarrassed silence, and fortuitously clock, the opener, start up. the man, who moments before was talking about calling lots of his friends to relay his discovery and bring them all to hear us slips quietly away. clock turns out to be a good band of earnest young men who can work their instruments and play with origionality and spirit. jason, the drummer is clocklike in his precision, and swings and lays into it as well. he's got great independence, laying down polyrhthymic grooves, making them swing. the whole band is good, and are very personable people. after the show, jason gives us another tour totem to adorn the dash. during our set the p.a. snake (the bundled cables that convey signal from the mic's on stage to the mixing board, mixed signal back to the power amps and speakers) blows out, leaving only the headset mic on, which mike dons after trying tom's mic. the mic dangled down so he had to sing into his shoulder the way secret service agents do in the movies. the headset is doctored up with athletic bandage so it will stay on my head and the little foam ball on the microphone part is a germ sponge. uh oh, I think, mike will get this bug. finally a front mic got working and I got the headset back, but not before realizing how ridiculous I must look with it on. we vaudevilled it out with true show must go on spirit, and I think the audience dug our scrappy approach. it brought our spirits up. I guess I'm changing tenses here...bear with me, will you? feverish and sick, I was operating in a sort of surreal detached mode. after the gig, we headed over to bart and stephanie's, who offered us sandwiches and me cold medicine so I could sleep and sleep I did.
whoa, eight hour sleep for watt and at 8:30, I'm pedaling the little folder up to the airport. I explore around there a little but then get frustrated w/the cars and choking fumes - both from them, the trucks and the planes - it's killing me. I head straight south on this road that takes me way out into the open, easy to do in this part of the country. hardly any traffic on this one and no intersections, I can go and go and go I do. finally, after a few miles, it runs out into this road called gowen and I turn west on it. it goes and goes too. goes past a military base and guess what it's callled? gowen. all kinds of army crap: trucks, jeeps, tanks, etc. tanks still in desert paint (hasn't that been almost ten years ago?), other ones in green being worked on - like in auto shop garages. planes (warthogs) flying overhead, signs warning "only one military vehicle on the hill at a time," shit like that. I want to get out of here. I turn north and I'm around the far side of the airport and you can smell that the planes take off over here. damn, I wonder about the folks back home living near lax - they must get a shitload rained over on them. for every convenience, there's a price. you just don't think about it unless you're living there or pedaling through it. pedaling makes you breathe harder and so that shit goes even deeper in. aarrrgggghhh. I turn it around cuz the traffic's getting heavy and re-trace the route 'til I get to a side road where it says "bmx track - four miles" - I head for that. it goes by a farm w/cows, sheep and horses. I ring the bell on the little folder and they all look up and some of them come over. it's a trip. I say hi but don't stop long to rap w/them, they give some good faces, however. there's signs like "no shooting - no hunt" (sic) and little private roads called "hollyann" and stuff like that. maybe this is where the potatoes are grown?! I climb a big hill and it's tough w/this pedaler, your weight is so much on the tiny handlebars cuz they're low but I make it. they're digging and building here, all noisy. I can look down the hill though and see all of boise up against the mountains. you can see the whole town's layout, even the capitol building. a trip, looks like an island in the middle of all this field and prairie. I ride back and see a snake all squished on the road. maybe a gopher snake? I rap it around the rack on back and pedal back to the mo and get vince. we take the boat into town and do wash at a laundromat, first stench scrub of the tour. I got only one shirt and three levi, plus those fucking pieces of "the little white suit," sock and underwear. fuck that shit, really. anyway, since I'm wearing the same shirt every gig, there ain't shit hardly to wash - I dig that!
get on over to the pad we're palying, _the nuerolux_ over on eleventh, maybe five blocks away in the old downtown. alan, the boss is there and he's tripping on how early we are. I go to get some string, we can't keep this snake in the boat. what I plan to do is lash it to the bumper, vince helps out. I go get tom from the airport after and then we got soundcheck. across the street later, I'm chowing some hot and sour soup and the chinese chow pad. it's real good, damn. then I go get the first week of diaries ready to post up on the hoot page. then it's time to konk before the gig.
this time I do pop in time to see the openers, a local band called _clock_ and they're good. our turn is next and boy do we get problems. all three singing mics go out right away. the sound cat, adam, who is very happening, tries his hardest but line is fucked. vince gives me his headset and I do a "garthian" thing for a few songs. I can't handle it. there are no monitors - har! luckily, tom's mic starts to work and I use his but that leaves him w/out one, damn! we switch things around and just flow w/it and not get hung up on the hell and it's a fun gig. not so fun for vince, he's sick as a dog and struggling big time but he keeps his spirit up. I can tell he feels embarrassed for blowing a lot of clams but I try to reassure him. I tell him just keep eye contact and don't worry, it's ok. he tells me he feels ashamed but I tell him he's doing great, especially for what he's up against. it's real tough playing sick, real tough. we gather momentum and these boise folks are great, they rally w/us and makes us feel good despite all the health and technical problems. I tell adam, hey, it's ok, don't worry, you're doing great. we get encores and play w/some kick in us, we have overcome what could've easily been a shit gig. that's what it's about w/tour or just gigs period. you gotta just pull yourself up from the bootstraps and do it. overcome your fears. this has always been hard for me but I have people who have so inspired me and I want so dearly to learn from them. not just foam on them (which I do) but also take their cue and give it my best shot. I get so scared inside. during the encore, I tell the audience about living in idaho as a boy and where my pop was schooled in the nuke arts for engine room work and the accident that went down there and how there was a little bit of idaho in me. then I started to think to myself, there's a little bit of all these towns in me from touring, not just living there as a boy - tour puts parts in me cuz I want to learn about them - not just float by and be oblivious. lots of folks talk to me after the gig. one cat tells me about his pop who really likes two things: painting and guns. he puts my hand on his head and I can feel a gully there, above his right eye, behind the hairline. you can't see it cuz of the hair but you can feel it, it's weird to feel. it's trippy too, his looks are kind of like spike jonez, the "being john malkovich" director. by the way, tom has memorized every line in that film and can re-inact each scene really good. my favorite is when cusack is being shown the company orientation movie on why they work on the seventh and half floor: "...sthat story touched me like no other, I'll make ye my wife. and I'll build ye a floor between the seventh and the eighth where ye and your cursed kind can live in peace." it's a really good movie, I think - spike and the folks who made it did a great job.
bart and steph, folks who had us over last time, invite us again and after we pack the boat and we bail for there. it's right next to an old boneyard. must be military graves cuz the headstones are all identical looking. there's two righteous dogs at the pad, bud (short for peghead) and g (short for girlfriend). I think bud was g's son. sweethearts even though g is a pit bull. they are not pre-ordained to be mean, that's from assholes who make them that way. big warmness from them feels good to the touch for watt. I konk happy.
wednesday, september 20, 2000 - salt lake city, ut
the road into salt lake city has been under construction for the olympics for a long time so we are prepared for a delayed entry. fortunately though it turns out to be a smooth trip and we get in and ready to sound check right on time. after our work is complete vince and I head to the vegi house, a chinese restaurant that we ate at last year when we came through. we had some cold garlic seaweed salad and shrimp noodle soup, a good meal for the hot dry climate outside. we walked back to liquid joe's where we're playing and hit the thrift town across the street which is where we had picked up our orange vests for last years tour. this time vince gets a bright orange sweatshirt and I get a bight orange sweatjacket. they will be our warm up uniforms on this tour.
don is friend of mike's from old pedro days and a friend to vince and I since meeting him last year, he lives here in salt lake and put us up last time and he shows up to the gig early and spend some time catching up. the first act opens up the night with some motorhead flavoured rock and we hang out for a while before ducking in the back room for some quiet. when it's time for us we struggle with the stage sound a little and have trouble here and there but we compensate with feeling and I think it turned out pretty well. especially since mike and vince are both pretty ill. after the show mike handles the shirts and handshakes and don helps vince and I load out. then off to don's for a good night sleep to prepare for the next days long drive to denver.
before shoving off we get fed by don and check out his pet salimanders and notice that it's starting to rain as we hit the highway through the rockies....
bart n' steph make breakfast, i.e., no subway today. first eggs, juice, toast and spuds of the tour and I dig it, being a breakfast guy. we drive along the snake river as we did last year and as I have many times with slackjaw blues on our frequent western u.s. tours. this time I lay on the bench seat, eyeshades on, sleep med working, dozing, waking up to fill my hankerchief with vanquished microbes and their delivering eflluent. we get to liquid joe's in salt lake city. after eating and delivering hot and sour soup to mike from the decent chinese place down the street, tom and I go to the thrift store where we got our official pair of pliers bright orange vests last year. this time we get official bright orange sweatshirts. tom gets a cool hooded one, mine is a pullover. it's a good gig. mike's voice is still somewhat blown out from no monitor night in vancouver, but there are signs of recovery. mine is all distortion, vocal chords inflamed and encrusted, and I have no high notes available. my part in "All Hands on the Bad One" is performed thru bluff and courage. I clam from illness space out here and there, but it's a good gig, I think. the people are into it. we play behind a weird barrier that causes a little more separation from the audience than we'd prefer, but them's the breaks. our friend don is at the gig, and we head over to his place after. I get a waterbed...lights out...crash.
damn, the window next to me was open all night and some draft came through and shivered me a little. I pop and shower but can't pedal cuz bart wants to cook chow for us and we gotta bail soon for salt lake city, last time there was so much traffic cuz of them getting ready for the olympics. it's good chow, many thanks to bart and also to him and steph for the niceness in letting us konk there. they give us a tape of their band, _hot dog sandwich_ and we say bye and bail. it's a happening drive through idaho, we still got good weather (knock on my fucking wooden head) and the snake river runs along a lot of the I-84 here in idaho, giving us lots of good vistas. vince is still sick and konked in the back, me at the wheel and tom at shotgun - us front seat guys are smoking down those weird "backwoods" type of funky 'gars. tom's got his bro will's duo and is chimping diary in that (chimping is slang for typing shit into the 'puter). we cross the border into utah and then jump on the I-15. some real empty parts out here but that's ok by me. just open is great on the eyes for city weary brains like the one trapped in my head sometimes. just to hold it all in awe can give us (the humans) a little in perspective and think about things outside of target markets and shit like that. I like the way nature fills the windshield and windows w/it's big real-life paintings.
we're lucky and the traffic is pretty calm 'til maybe five or six miles to go. this pad we're playing tonight, _liquid joes_ is in the sugar house part of salt lake city, which is in the southeast. we get there and do a quick soundcheck. I chimp some of my diary and then bail for the boat to konk. right before, vince brings me some hot and sour soup and I chow that quick. I bring the container in the boat cuz I'm gonna need that to piss the soup out when I pop for the gig. I love being in the boat, in the back and on the bench, laid out w/the curtains unscrolled. I feel safe and womblike and it's easy for sueno to come on me.
tom knocks on the hatch and it's time. I grab the little bass and go. nice words to the crowd for being there and we begin. I got a head full of mocos (nasal congestion) now, damn. gotta fight these fucking sickness bugs. I blow a big clam in the first tune cuz I can't hear tom, my head is starting to clog up and it's hard to hear. I almost panic but then think of some good things, waves and water and I start to laugh to myself and then out loud, I'm reminded to not be so heavy and let joy in, especially at a time like this. being self-conscious will not help me here. letting good feelings flow through me and those waves and water washing over me absolutely will, even if it's in my head. I can almost see it - I can see it and it helps me immensely. I get out of the panic mode and into the moment w/my guys and we pull together tight. I even feel some fever but chase it out. the crowd is very nice and flows much support. I do get feeling weak in the middle, like where a puppet might get tied together if it's built that way. it really starts to show about two thirds the way through the set and I plod on anyway. we start "walkin' the cow" too fast but the band is in real time and we adjust easy. I dig it when there's good communication between folks on stage and there's a live dynamic going down. playing together in real time, it's a joy - a living organism I love taking part in. there's problems w/the snare mic and I look up and there's no one at the sound board! the soundman matt is a good cat but he's missing in action. I make the call over the mic. matt comes through and he's embarrassed. I feel for him cuz I like him and I know this is so awkward. why do I do this to people? damn. I apologize for that and then I apologize for all the clams I blew and then thank tom and vince like I do every night for all the help they give me and finally I thank the crowd for all they've done by having open minds and good spirit.
we get done and I sling shit from the stage. this cat who's seen me a bunch of times thanks me for "the red and the black" once again like he always does. he's a nice man. this lady he's w/who's never seen me before likes this anchor I got around my neck and wants it for a souvenir. she offers me twenty dollars. why? I tell her I can't sell something like that cuz it was given to me right after playing the opera in cambridge and it's got sentimental value to me. the guy laughs, he understands. I hope that lady wasn't insulted. I didn't mean to do anything like that, I just didn't want to sell it.
I talk to the boss earl and take care of the "bobby dinero." he tells me he's been through eight months of hell w/the prostrate and doctors giving him tons of antibiotics. he's sick of that shit and is trying eastern medicine w/a lady he calls his "witch doctor." he says it's working. trippy about the whole fucking medical thing, huh? I hear story after story w/the same kinds of things from all kinds of people. makes me think about it all.
my friend don, who's got family in pedro and lived there but now lives here in salt lake, has us over to his pad to konk. it's late and the sinuses are clogged but we talk a little about some of his travels. he's been to mali and tells me about that land. very interesting and it sounds like a place I'd really like to visit. I like talking to don about stuff like this and hearing about his "tours." we discuss some tragedies of history too but I'm exhausted, plugged in the head and just have to konk. I think for a moment about tomorrow's big hellride and that's enough to shut my motor off.
thursday, september 21, 2000 - denver, co
we head over the great divide through wyoming and drop into colorado arriving in denver at about rush hour but it's not too hard to find the blubird theater. we played here last year too, most of these gig are like that, and the people are all familiar faces which is always nice to come home to. our time is spent in the usual ways, and after some food we hang downstairs in a little band room working out the set for the night. we have some visitors and I sense mike getting restless so it's nice to hear that the local band, the hellmen, are a pretty adventurous combo of psychedelic and bluse rock with a little cabaret twist here and there, keeping it interesting till it's time for us to do it again.
the show moves along good and the sound system might be the best of the tour so far, it makes it easier for us to control dynamics and communicate on stage. we're getting stronger and the people are getting into it real hard. that makes all the more fun and after the show there are many thanks and nice words from those who know mikes music as well as those who are new to it, that makes me happy.
the rain had stopped and our load out is smooth and we find shelter with carrie (sp?) who is gracious to share her pad for the night. coffee and then on to the i-25.
don makes us breakfast, so we eat waffles, eggs and herdez chiles. don loads us up with peaches, apples and oranges. don is a great guy to hang out with and makes us feel very much at home at his pad. it's lightly raining as we head over the I-80 out of utah, through wyoming and down to colorado, outrunning the advancing storm.
I sleep during the drive, but notice that I'm feeling better. fever is intermittent, but less frequent than before. we get to the bluebird theater in denver, and chris and dewey, the sound crew, help make sound check easy. we go down to hang in the band room where there are grapes, apples banana's, water and tea. we're making our set lists out and in walks a guy with a big grin. I am the first person he sees. "mike!", he says loudly, ready to extend his hand. I say no and point to mike on my right. the guy makes a 90 degree turn and I instantly no longer exist. He repeats grin and "mike!" and commences to fill the room with the type of music-biz talk that I imagine is usually heard over the chopping of lines of blow during a limo ride to see the next big thing at SXSW or something. there's big corn being shucked: big numbers, names dropped, attempts at homespun ingratiation, toadying to moloch, it's all there. I feelthat perhaps I'm being naive with my mixed feelings of amusement and disgust, biting my lip so stifle laughter when he mentions some artist who is "still pulling down 10K a show doing strictly corporate parties, like the one last week for amway", but after he leaves I find out that the feeling was unanymous. it's a very good show. the audience is there with us every step of the way, dancing, shouting, and being quiet during the quiet parts. mike apologizes to the crowd for being a little weak from this point of recovery from his sickness, but I think he is sounding great. the eb3 is not the birdbroom, but, especially with the way mike has jacked it up, I dig the way it sounds. it has it's own personality which I think is cool. we meet some nice people after the show that put us up. there's a doggly-woggly and a kittums there and I dig meeting the critters and the great warm people that house us.
pop at eight and no time to pedal, we have to make like shepherds and get the flock out of here. don cooks us up some eggs and waffles plus has some fresh blackberries that are just so good in the mouth. I eat them w/the eggs plus jalapenos - what a combo, works great! I do my morning email while I chow and then we're gone. first we say bye to the salamanders though, two big ones that live in an aquarium in his kitchen. they're righteous. then it's bye to don too and we're off for denver.
through the valley of the lamb on the I-80, through most of southern wyoming, east to west. going through rock springs, I think of my ma cuz she was born and raised as a girl here in a now-gone coal town called dines. she used to dig seeing what she called "the purple mountains" and I know why, they're beautiful. even emptier than either idaho or utah, this is still a great land and holds a wonder for me. I'm sneezing a lot now but am still holding this cold shit at bay. the sky has got a blanket of heavy clouds, the blue has finally been covered but we don't get rain. we cross the continental divide and we're seven thousand feet up. then rawlins. the wind jams up here. we see some windmills for electric power like on the I-580 going to san francisco. smart idea. we go through laramie and I think of joe carducci cuz that's where he lives. he wanted us to stop and visit but we just ain't got the time. sorry joe. we take the cut-off to fort collins via the us-287. when we reach the border w/colorado, it's a trip how the land changes. from rocky mountain barren to evergreen trees and red clay cliffs, wow.
at fort collins and after seven hours at the wheel, I hand it over to tom and get the little bass. time to practice some j tuneage. trippy to be doing this riding shotgun in the boat. I gotta hold the little bass up at an angle so as not to jar helmsman tom but it's very doable. vince is konked on the bench in the back. we pull into town and up to the _bluebird theater_ right on time. everyone who works here gives me good greetings, I always get treated special by the team working here. much respect to them. the boss, doug kaufman, who's done my gig all these years for denver and boulder will be by later. everyone jokes he's part of the loadout crew but the truth is, it's not a joke - he always does help out w/that and he's helped me in other ways so many times over all the years of sailing the boat to this town and boulder, I dig him much. he's a bass cat too so we always talk about that stuff, in particular, james jamerson and his righteous way w/the machine. all of us bottom folks owe that cat so much, he set us all up in so many ways, even if we don't know it. his bass is all over those motown records in the 60s, listen again and ask yourself if that groovin ain't just moving you so. he was something else, much respect to him.
it's cold out and raining a little. damn. I think I'll stay in the room under the stage and chimp and not risk aggravating this assault the cold is trying to put on me. tom and vince go somewhere to chow. vince brings back some kind of lame chicken soup for me. better than nothing but why do folks have to use so much salt? it's beyond me. a cat named soren comes and shows me some pictures he took last year. I look like an idiot. I mostly do when I see myself. I am a living comedy, sort of. I check the email in the office and in one letter, a friend tells me how maybe someone should make a watt puppet. this strikes me really funny especially after seeing those pictures. maybe I would make a better doll. well, maybe not, you couldn't have as much fun having me acting out a gig, huh? you could only just dress me up in different flannels, have me strike ridiculous poses and mimic the goofy spiel I do in real life. let's see, maybe it's easier for a puppet to be a doll rather than the other way around. if you think about it, a puppet is a doll w/strings or a hole it to fit around your hand. at some point, maybe you become an effigy - to be burnt or lynched! now I'm thinking of that roxy music tune, "in every dreamhouse, a heartache" - a blow-up doll fitted w/orifices so you can be fucked. oh no! what's wrong w/me? weird how my mind is stuck on this. I think I just want to write tunes, sail the boat around the land and play bass for folks. I guess there's alwayswow, I just thought of a book someone put on the hood of the boat in eugene - "women" by charles bukowski. I wonder why I thought of that now? that was a great gift, thank you to whoever you were.
the opening band is a local band called _the hellmen_ and I hear their whole set. they're good and pretty exploratory w/different things. their own sound, I like that. we're next and it's a good feel in the pad, always good emotion in denver here for me when I play. I feel very grateful to them. the pliers are playing good and I'm trying really hard to make this bass sing for the bluebird tonight. I'm still heavy w/the fucking sinus congestion and this is a strain on me but I ain't hoarse like in olympia. god, was that hard. eugene too even. all those months in bed have made me weak and I'm not the same watt. I will get stronger though, I know it. I'm trying hard but not too much so as to blow everything out and have nothing left. sometimes it's even hard for me to keep my balance. it's that feeling of looseness where I'm tied together. there is so much great support from the cats who came to the show, I can feel it like they're something to steady myself on if I feel I'm about to topple over. I want to do good for them though. I want to be sure and confident even though my nerve is obviously shaky. oh well, there's hopes and then there's reality. I skip "...cow" and do "little johnny jewel" instead. I'm thinking like I'm laying there on the ground at the end of the runway and letting those jet airplanes take off over me, swallowing me in the roar of their engines and engulfing my view full w/their hugeness. I'm pressed hard to the ground. I snap out of it and am back on stage w/vince and tom. they're playing great. sure, we blow some clams but it's ok. we finish up. there is so much feeling from these folks, I can't talk really and I'm even crying. it's so loud w/them all hollering and telling me things. this is hard for me to write about, I feel so much like I could be more for them. much love from watt for these folks of denver. I really feel a debt to them. I'm feeling weak, vince says I look pretty white. we do a few more and then I sling merch. it's tough to relate these thoughts w/out me thinking myself so self-centered. it's their niceness, their grace, I wish I could tell each one "thank you" personally so they could know I really mean it. this is a pretty total flood on me of emotion and I'm just, well, I don't know.
it's a slow wrap up and doug comes by and we talk. he's gonna do j in november and I tell him about the pick and the marshall and he laughs and he says "what would jamerson say, remember the hook" (jamerson used just one finger to pluck w/and called it 'the hook'). we both laugh together. he wanted to do denver w/him but "the astrologer" says boulder. what? all the folks working there give their best, one cat is starting w/bass and wants some advice. I say "you look good on bass by making other folks look good." it's strange that way but I believe it. I get a blue rabbit's foot from another for luck. good feelings here so much, so much - thank you bluebird.
we get offered a pad by these three folks at a house in south denver. there's a young guy who does bass too and we talk about little ones, he's got little hands. he's also got bad knees too and we talk about that. osgood-schlauter or something like that. he was in pre-med but then quit when his pop was mis-diagnosed and died of brain cancer. damn. I get asked to share a bed but I'm better on the deck. I have adrenalin rushing inside me but stuff it down somehow and force the konk. gotta keep up this fight against these germs so I can give it my all when it's bass wrestling time. "everything during tour is dedicated towards the gig." this mantra becomes sheep jumping that fence in my mind, convincing the body, somehow, to relent and allow me a deep konk in which to sink into.
friday, september 22, 2000 - kearney, ne
as soon as we pull into town we sense a stillness despite the strong winds blowing down the main steet by the cunninghams journal bar where we will be playing tonight. a local man mike meets us to help load and we move into the 100+ year old building that used to house a printing press during the early 1900's. eventually vince and I find the local french restaurant and amidst the red clad husker fans and locals we sit and wait for the to go order to come up. outside the air temp is about 45 and crisp confirming that we are now in fall season.
after the other group plays we set up to the smallest crowd thus far, and most of which are at the pool tables. it's alot more difficult to play when you can't see the people's faces. the laghts in our faces only made it worse. mike broke two stings and I broke one too. it was a test on our focus but the folks who finally approached the stage said that they dug it and that's all that really matters. ....
later on we find refuge at mike's house, the same guy who helped us load in, and after the congenial hang out and rap session with him and a couple of his friends we slip downstairs to sleep in the rumpus room where vince and I share a heated waterbed! ....nothing happend.
carrie, our host in denver, makes us coffee, which wakes me up real good, and we head for kearney, nebraska, a town that mike has never played before.
kearney; pronounced carny. sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you. we get to the club, cunningham's journal. there's no one around. the main street is empty. it's cold. the gig: the bright lights sear our eyes. sweat drips down the forehead, becomes cold with the chill of the nearly empty cave-like room. the recurrent feedback fills the brooding silence as mike ducks behind his amp looking for a string to replace the one he just broke. I tap the rack tom nervously and it gives a feedback howl, being pumped through the monitor louder than anything else. later I notice that the mic has slipped down and rest on the drumhead: no wonder. in front of us sit five or ten audience members, silent and veiled in the darkness like hooded judges at a peruvian military trial. in this naked moment the eyes and ears from beneath ballcaps and behind burning cigarettes record every gesture, every tense whisper from the stage. "end it with blue mask," says mike. I relay it to tom. he doesn't start. he doesn't know if that means do the sequence that includes blue mask and end it on that or just do blue mask and out. mike means mask then out, starts it himself and I join in with appropriate flurry. we grind out the tune, summoning from our reserves of ancient showbiz credo to end with a band and mask blasts with good desperate throw-weight. but after the hard fast finish, there is no sound, save for the crack of the ball at the foosball table in the back, followed by the victors taunting cackle. in this vacuum of reaction, that cackle mocks us. we the big california rock and roll band, for whom hardee's wasn't good enough. who would order soup at the local restaurant rather than t-bone.
it turns out that the crowd is a little intimidated and distant because they don't know how to react to us, never having seen us before. after a little give and take over the mic, mike let's them know that they're in it with us and we could use some reaction. react they do, and some good old middle america good natured heckling and banter comes from the audience, and some of the dudes get close to the stage. they shout encouragement, want more, and so we do more tunes and rally somewhat from our funk. the people are appreciative, and a very helpful fellow named mike who works at the bar but who took the night off to watch us, is way into it, as is nick the soundman and guys from apostrophe, the opening band. sometimes one can be ones own worst enemy, and tonight we met the enemy and it was us. mike takes us over to his folks pad to crash, and we hang out with some very nice people with lots of personality before crashing out. this gig was a test of our mettle, and whether we received passing marks will have to be for history tojudge. I will say that we went in as a team, and came out of it as a team, with no recrimination or internecene blame. nice to meet you mike, rex and company.
I pop and take a bath. I can't risk pedaling this morning cuz the weather has the town cold w/rain threatening. damn. I will try to ride when we get to where we're playing tonight - a first time town for me - kearney, nebraska. the bath is happening cuz the tub is good and long. I can stretch out these legs and fully soak the casaba melons I got for knees. I dig making them straight w/no bend at all, w/the water all over them, making for a total soak. this pad we stayed at belongs to kerry and she makes us some coffee while I do 'puter shit and the tom/vince tagteam do their roust. the cup I'm drinking from must hold a pint or two and that stuff works on me hard. I gotta chase tom out of the head for a moment so I can blow it out quick. damn.
we say bye and head northeast towards nebraska. the sky is an gray blanket that softly glows over us. some rain too. hardly any towns out here, lots of empty. minimal terrain - flat and sagebrush, wind howling. I get us into nebraska and to north platte, then hand the helm to vince. he's feeling better and that's great news. sickness on tour is real lame shit. I'm doing better two w/the mocos assault on my sinuses as well. the left ear is a little tender (that tube that connects it w/the throat) but I'm holding on. I have to say that I've lost some of the tour strength I've built up over the years cuz of that fucking illness. I am determined to rebuild it though. I'm really trying hard to take care of myself.
d. boon's pop is from nebraska. I've konked out in the back on the bench seat and as we pull into kearney I wake from a dream where d. boon was in it. we were playing a new town as mintemen and he wasn't scared in the least, he was being that hard-charger I always knew him to be. it was amazing to watch him - I was watching him in the dream and it was weird, I wasn't hardly playing - just standing, holding the boom broom and gaping at him, mouth hung open. he was dancing, playing and singing - all very focused but crazy and fun. this was very trippy for me. kearney is in the south part of nebraska, just off the I-80 and the pad is _cunningham's_ where we're playing tonight. this young cat named mike helps us unload and stuff. heath is the boss and he's very nice. nick is the soundman and he starts getting things up. in the meantime, I'm going to pedal cuz even though it's mostly gray and windy, I just gotta do it. I mean, it's more than a hankering - it's been two fucking days! I put on my pea coat and unfold the little bike. the pad is in back of the town's masonic lodge and I wheel around that and down their main street, central. this town is old. the street is made of brick. the wind is at my back so things are quiet and the pedal is easy even though I'm flying. I take it down to it's end, right up to the freeway and then turn west cuz I see this sign for the "platte river road archway monument" and want to see it. there's been this arch over the I-80 for a while now they've been building on and this is what it's become. it's like a big ol' covered bridge w/a blockhouse like structure on the south end. there's a stainless steel sculpture of a horse on one end of the roof trailed by these bones-like fence-looking ending up like a eagle-winged horse tail thing on the other side of the freeway. it was a long ride there, miles and miles. I didn't go in, just rode around and looked at it. there was some teepees nearby. those looked neat, the wind was rippling through them. I turned around to get back for soundcheck and that's when the wind got in my face. I rode right into it, had to pump hard on the pedals. the sky was real heavy and gray, hanging so low. it was swirling too, all fast. you could see it tearing into pieces in layers on top of each other, blending together and apart, never breaking the overall gray. the whole above me seemed to circle a certain point, a rotating around an invisible axis or pole. I was watching it as I pedaled the little bike madly and furiously. then, that center started to open up. whoa! it came undone and I could see the blue pour through, shaped like a mouth. all the gray was swirling around it. what a show! it only lasted a few minutes before it got swallowed and buried. lucky watt to get such a show. it seem like the sky mouth was trying to say something to me even. I turn off the arch parkway and head back up central. the wind is hollering in my head, wailing. I have to really lean into to it to make any headway. the roar made me think of the ocean, back on my coast. in my mind, I was ocean - no body or form, just energy of waves, bubbles and push-pull current. I was the sand too getting pounded by this ocean that was also me. it was strange. I hollered loud and my voice was lost in the blasting of this wind. my heart was thumping, my brain fully abstract and away from linear word description. finally, maybe a block from the pad, my rear tire goes flat. aaarrrrgggghhh! I see a thorn in it, right by the valve, damn. well, I should feel lucky this didn't happen miles away where I had been and then have to hoof it back.
I go upstairs after soundcheck and do diary. vince brings me some soup but it's too starchy, aaarrggghhh. it's our turn after the opening act. what a trip, second gig in a row where I haven't konked before but I don't want to take a chance getting too cold in the boat and letting this sickness win. we set up and the lights are right in my eyes real bright. all I can see is guys going at it w/a foozball game in the back. it feels like a cave though. this set will be a test. you can tell folks are scared at their tables too. I tell them I'm glad to be there and I launch us into our gig. I can see vince is shook, even tom is looking down and is kind of intimidated. it's these kind of gigs where you gotta really pull together as a team, pool the confidence into one yank. I can tell folks are tripping on what were doing, it's easy to see they've never really heard or seen stuff like this. I have to admit I'm really scared too and I break a 'g' string just cuz of that. we do as many as we can w/the bass like that and I say thanks. there's some comments finally from the folks and we get a little interaction. I ask them to give us something back, just don't be completely passive. they want more songs. god, I miss d. boon and his courage. he would've took it right to them. not to put them down or try to make them feel little or stupid but to show it's ok to be different. I tell them some nervous spiel, cuz I don't have that nerve I was saying d. boon had but I do make some headway w/some communication. I tell them we really are glad to be here and that it's important that I'm going through this, especially after all the good things about last night. I think it's right to be subjected to humbling experiences to keep yourself from getting full of yourself. it just is even if it hurts. I say we'll play some more songs. tom has to run to the boat to get me a new one cuz I was an idiot and forgot to have them in my case. stupid watt. we do a few more and I break an 'e' string. what is up? what is up, I'm scared - that's why. it's funny now thinking about it cuz some songs I actually focused really hard and drove them home but overall, the only thing that seems to work is to constantly laugh. laugh to myself, laugh out loud - laugh to my guys. they're scared though and both looking pale. oh dear. I'm still real glad we did this. I don't have the nerve to sling merch and we pack up quick. a lot of folks tell me they like it though, coming up by themselves. heath, the boss, asks me to come back. he really wants to build something here in town. this is very nice. so small but maybe it's a start. thank you for having me, kearney.
mike, that young guy who helped us and had me sign his bass has over his parents pad to konk. they're out of town for a few more days. one room is decorated for year-round chistmas, whoa! that's a trip. his neighbor matt has me sign his guitar and another cat, rex, tells us about his big move to kansas city. they're all nice and now I'm really glad I came to this town. that mouth in the sky, the intense pedaling and wind/wave dreaming plus that learning experience of a gig. I think of all this while I become one w/the deck and fall into sueno.
saturday, september 23, 2000 - lawrence, ks
the ride into kansas is cold and grey, it seems like we are right on the edge of a big cold front and it's starting to catch up to us and when we get into town there's a little time to walk around a bit. the bottleneck is a club near the city center's main drag, and we pick up some coffee and check out a couple music stores while mike gets a tire fixed on his bicycle. soon though it's back to work.
the rains continue and I write a couple postcards and hunt outside for a mail box but I return to the club wet and defeated. there are people showing up now but the band called brannock device hasn't arrived yet. we playedwith them last year when we were here and I remember really liking them so I hope they make it.
...they do and we catch up with them briefly before they hit the stage and kick into their own brand of prower trio rock that's not too much different from what we do, or at least like firehose/minutemen did. they're still great, I hope they make it out to california sometime so I can turn on my friend to them. anyway, you should try to find their music on record at least. after they finish another band comes up and then it's us. we play strong and I have a good time even thoough I break two strings. we do a long set, an hour and a half, and the crowd is great. our friend robert v. is there, an old friend from l.a. who work at new alliance records when slovenly was still playing. he's been in lawrence a few years teaching and a couple students are with him, tyko and atsko, he's teaching them english and later they teach me how to say "the cat likes me" and "I like the cat", something that will come in very handy the next time I am in japan.
kevin is a cool dude here in lawrence and he's been mike's place to stay when he comes through in the past. I remember staying with him last year and sampling his homemade stuffed pig stomach, how could I forget? we make it over to his place and sit and chat with some of his friends who came by after the show along with robert v. and the students. it gets late and we say our goodnights and hit the hay.
kearney mike makes coffee for us and we head to lawrence. dave and mary sue meet us as we pull up. mike and dave go to a bike shop to get a patchkit and pump for mike's fold-a-bike, which got a flat in kearney. mary sue, tom and I go to the local coffee shop for some java. I go to the CC drum and guitar down the street, and am happy that they'll sell me a top high hat with out the bottom - a zildjian "k", which is my favorite hat. it replaces the used paiste I bought from black market in l.a. for $29 the week before which cracked two days previous. I meet a fellow in the drum shop who plays in sturgeon mill, a band playing on the bill with us. he's a nice guy. sound check is quick and easy thanks a lot to steve, the bottleneck sound man, who fits in well with our no-frills appoach. tom and I eat vietnamese soup, he heads back to the club and I go to kinko's to check my e-mail. back at the club, I talk to skunk, a local carpenter/philospher, then to bern from brannock device about vintage drums. he's got a million great old kits. then brannock device kicks butt. then sturgeon general gets up and does a sort of fratrock version of styx. I didn't know there were bands like that around. our set is good. we charge through it, punching hard and swinging loose. the crowd is with us. after the show our buddy kevin is there, as is robert. we go to kevin's to hang out and crash and meet lot's of great people - kelly, terry, jj, taiko, atsko, kelly, jj's dad and a couple other folks, who's names I don't remember. kev had great sandwich stuff which I ate. he has a great friendly cat named mildred who flopped in my lap and a dog named nut. then time to crash.
pop and have a shower, damn - fuck this underwear shit. guess I'll change them. I am not used to this, like they're fucking confining me and getting me all stifled. hard to get used to. same w/these socks, aaarrggghhh...
no time to pedal (it's wet anyway), we got a six hour drive to lawrence so it's time to go. say bye to mike and we're out. farewell kearney (by the way, you say it "carny," like in "carnival." don't ask me why, maybe it's like we say pedro as "pee-dro" back home - you have to live there to know). we gotta drop down from the I-80 to the I-70, which parallels it to the south. we do that via the us- and link up at salina in kansas. we cross the saline river, vince is reminded of that beef noodle soup in vale, oregon. lots of corn growing in these parts, it's just not along the freeway. going north to south, nothing but corn fields. sometimes some wheat and sometimes some sunflowers but mainly corn. it's raining the whole way, the sunflowers are bowed down, their flower faces finding their beloved sunship hidden in the overcast. on the good side, these parts really need the rain, it's been such an intense drought this year. we pass junction city and vince wants to know about my visit from the fbi due to me staying thre one night. seems it was the same time the truck used to bomb the federal building in oklahoma city was rented here and they wanted know what I knew. they came to my pad in pedro about a year after to ask questions, they must've followed up on all the town's hotel registers for that night. I was on tour, the "ring spiel" tour '95 where my band was cats from _hovercraft_ (ed) and _foo fighters_ (dave, pat and william) so only a shirt guy, eric, was riding w/me. that was a trippy tour. anyway, it was a weird q and a but the agents left after a while and I never heard from them again. I showed them my receipts and answered everything they asked me. I think they still thought I was insane. oh well, I told them the truth - I had nothing to do w/any bombing. I said I thought it was fucked and the dicks behind it were assholes. I still believe that.
lawrence is an old town that has the university of kansas, the school wilt chamberlin went to. it's a nice town and I like playing where we're playing tonight, _the bottleneck_ a bunch. good folks there. as soon as I park the boat in front, there's a cat there getting tickets and he says a bike shop is a block away. great! I take the little folder right over. there's folks there who recognize me and work on it right away. I also get a pump, an extra inner tube and some new grips that are softer for me. great fortune. we go over and do soundcheck, soundman steve is a very nice cat and makes things go by smooth. he tells me about sicknesses he's had. the local weeklies have run stories on me and everyone knows of "the illness." it's ok, I'm just so glad to be out of that bed and given the chance to still take the boat out and wrestle bottom oar in the different towns. they had some really happening homemade salsa w/habaneros for us and chowed a bunch of that then I go out and get some soup. after that, I do some diary and some cats from one of the opening bands, a local one called _sturgeon mill_, talk a little w/me. seems their bass guy, who's only twentysix, has prostrate problems. damn. I try to tell him all I learned from my hell down there: go to another doc if you don't think the one you got is doing anything for you.
time to konk in the boat and as I'm slipping into that state, I hear the sounds of _the brannock device_, who've opened up for me a few times now in this town. they have a great sound. I have a weird dream about being a bike chain that turns things, spinning things away from me while I spin myself - the weirdness of affecting things by just doing what you think is your own thing. that was strange. I pop pondering this and it's almost our time, I write out the set lists. many nice things said to me as we start the set and it's a good show. I have always had a hard time, kind of, on this stage but tonight it sounds great and the pliers are playing great. there's some clams but I dig our set. one thing though is that I want tom to get it more together for his big solo during our "intense song for madonna to sing." I want him to paint a landscape me and vince can lay foundation to, like leaves under a tree during fall. tom can be all those branches and we can be a mat of those neat colors you see out here when the seasons change. I tell him it's a point where he can help define himself and be his own man. we'll get better at it. vince is trying also w/his drum solo in the urinals' "surfing w/the shah." it's important to me that the crowd knows these pliers have their own voice too. like if you were sitting in the boat w/us and hearing the spiel as we drive. it's a hand-off of different perspectives, keeps things interesting - even if it's just talking about some scenery, a road sign or one of the countless running jokes we have going. this is a good team.
we finish and it's late but people want to give me good wishes and get stuff. only two _dos_ cds left now, already sold all of them - have to email tina at kill rock stars. I see john from kansas city, his bro frank, who always sees me here, couldn't come cuz it's their parents' 50th anniversary - congratulations! a big bear-hug to john. this lady wants one too so that her boyfriend can see that I can give them to girls also. this makes me laugh. she's get a big sweaty one. there's so many good things from all these good folks here, very nice words and feelings - it means a lot for me. robert, the cat who ran new alliance when it went to sst is here, he's teaching english to japanese students and has even brought two of them. I'll see him later at kevin's, where we konked last year. as for bottleneck folks, jackie's here too as is amanda but al is in denver where it's snowing! damn, already - so glad we got out of there when we did - made it by just two days!
it's raining as we head over to kevin's and there's a bunch of folks there to talk. it is saturday night. I speak a little about the illness w/kevin and others who are nice but I can't recall their names now. fucking memory, I'm sorry. I'm tired as hell also. one cat kept saying "some things should not be shared" but he never bails, just sits there and listens. I feel self-conscious and stupid and excuse myself to konk. for some reason I become a little restless and just before I think I'm pulling into sleepytown, I pop up and remember that kevin took my flannel to wash. arrrgggghhh, it's all wool and if he dries it in the dryer, it'll be small enough for a g.i. joe doll to wear! I run out and warn him. a man has gotta have priorities. my conscience now relieved, sleepytown is an easy one stop away.
sunday, september 24, 2000 - omaha, ne
the skies are still dark and the rain is still falling but after eating the food that kevin has prepared for us it's back on the road again. it's about a four hour ride to omaha and the ranch bowl is still catering to their sunday bowlers as we load in. it's cold out, at least by my standards, and I look at the sand filled volleyball courts that they have outside and wonder if anyone would actually play on such a bitter afternoon. the folks in the club area help us do our check and a little 4 year old girl, katie, who's there with her mother watches me change my strings and I try to explain what I'm doing. after a usual wait time and diary entry we find out that there wont be an opening band and we'll be going on at 10, so we prepare a set and mike konks out in the van. later, as I walk outside to wake mike I notice that there are three different volleyball games going on and I'm so blown away that I take some snaps to prove it.
the show goes pretty well and many folks who're obviously watt fans pack the place and our set of about an hour and a half seems to satisfy their appetite. our load is a process but we finally get out and on the road to susan and dougs' place, a really nice brick house from the 30's, and I fall quickly and deaply to sleep when my head hits the couchs' pillow. [I have a dream of diana]
wake up in the cave, a room where kevin has blacked light from the windows with towels so sleep can be had when the sun is up. I sleep well, if not long enough, since I went to bed so late. watt opens the door, flips light on and off, saying: "you must rise". "like bread," I say as he goes to repeat the morning greeting at the door behind which tom sleeps. kevin and kelly have made eggs benedict and home fries, and it's great. I have sri racha on my spuds. kevin does it again - last year it was the pigs stomach, stuffed with potatoes, onions and ground pork and roasted. I ate a lot of it. big surprise.
we drive up to the ranch bowl in omaha, ne. I dig the ranch bowl. they have a pretty good sized stage and room for the rock entertainment, but I dig the recreational aspect of the place. aside from bowling, they have volleyball outside on sand, and, although it was 40 degrees and raining, people were out there playing. the recurring stages (and fermented beer scented stage rugs), dark interiors, cigarette machines, bars, p.a. systems, mic stands, mixing boards, stage lights, etc., can occasionally get monotonous, so it feels good to me to come out of the rock room, make a right turn and be amidst folk of all stripe bowling away and having fun. after sound check, which is casual and relaxed with aaron manning the knobs, we hang out in the little band room, reading the band names on the bumper stickers stuck on the bathroom door and the grafitti beyond it. one bit of grafitti cracks us up. I forget the name of the band, but it read something like, and this is my made up band name here, "crow's nest hell tour 2000 - 'stolen guitars, busted-up amps, and psycho guitar techs couldn't keep us away". and someone responded with poetic economy as to what they could not be kept away from, which cracked us up. and the thought of these poor fellows enduring psycho guitar techs - techs...plural. what soldiers. we speculated on whatever tortures these tough rockers may also have had to endure: noisy tour bus, inconsistent catering, uninspired groupies. the gig is pretty good. ok, one or two clams, but that's mentioned for accuracy in reporting. it felt pretty good, although the stage sounded sort of weird and we weren't in top synch perhaps. my snare hand thumb was pretty weak and sore, so I was worried about dropping sticks, but it didn't happen but once, I swear. my drums and cymbals felt out of place from being adjusted from gig to gig, and the heads are getting a little worn. so things are ringing annoyingly a little more, and require a little more impact to sound good. and tonight I wasn't really getting much tom-toms in the monitors, and the stage was pretty loud (we play with tom's and mike's amps pointing at me), so I had to really wail. so I had physical challenges that I was fighting through, which messed with my "in the moment" experience of playing the music. and that's extremely important. nonetheless, I think it was pretty cool.
we were using the way out the front door of the club part to duck out after playing, and that's where we huddled while the crowd agitated for encore. we did one or maybe two, and then after our last one, tom and I were there as the crowd streamed out, and it was like a receiving line, everybody shaking our hands and talking to us. after the show we try to get packed up as fast as we can, and I was trying to break off to do so, as I've got the most crap to take apart, tend to, pack and move, but it was hard because, I have to admit, it bolsters me to get the positive reinforcement, hearing that people dug what we did, and that they are into my contribution. it gives me a perspective that helps my spirit when i'm worried about clams or whatever. and then, another spirit booster happens when I see my great pal matt from the band think from lincoln, who's there with some pals. bazooka played with think at knickerbockers in lincoln when we were there, twice. I love the band and the people in it, matt, eric and jay. they put us up and hung out with us and are some of the best company you could hope to have. they even came to l.a. and played at latona and hung out. I met matt for the first time when we stood in the same place when bazooka opened up for firehose in '93 - the first gig of our 5 gig run with them, which was a great blast of an experience. after we'd played our set, we were selling a bunch of cd's and t's and matt and his pals were there, buying some. we got paired up them in '97 at the knick, and here was matt again.
I remember that first time at the ranch bowl well. bazooka had missed our first gig that we were supposed to open up for firehose at the bottleneck, lawrence, ks, because our flywheel'd stopped doing what it was supposed to do, and as we pulled up at the ranch bowl parking lot, mike welcomed us warmly, happy that we'd overcome our obstacle to make it. steve reed, who I met for the first time there (well maybe once at bogart's in long beach before that), richard bonney, georgie and ed were all cool to us. however, when they first saw us drive in they yelled "beauville" and belly-laughed. our tour-van was a decrepit chevy beauville, and they'd toured along with bands that had used the dreaded vehicles. tom's band slovenly even had a beauville, but does not curse his old vehicle as I always will ours and their kind. advice to those who would tour: do not chose beauville. anyway, we ripped it up pretty good, and that started a five day run with 'hose that was a total blast. we were inspired by their sets and played hard. can you imagine a sax/bass/drum instrumental trio having to open for firehose? but we rose to the occasion and the shows were very intense. we got to go up and play with them on the red and the black, and, for the last show in chicago, had all the guys up when we played crossroads. it seemed like both bands fed on each others energy big time, and when our brief gig run together ended too soon. we went on to have more van breakdowns and strandings, but had a great tour nonetheless. that was with tony atherton and bill crawford, and we three had one hell of a time.
after the gig we (watt and pliers) stayed at a cool house with some very nice people. I slept about as fast as I hit the pillow.
by the way, if anybody out there has an apple mac powerbook with a modem you're interested in selling pretty cheap, bring it to the show for me to check out. thanks.
there's a long tub waiting for a me and I'm straight into it as I popped. it was great, kevin led me to this room while the party was going cuz I had to konk last night and when I wake up, it's his bedroom and him and his girlfriend are sleeping nearby, how neighborly! I must put folks at ease sometimes. it's raining outside and no chance for a pedal, I am finally free of the clogged sinuses and don't want to do something stupid to bring it back. too bad too cuz it looks like great territory on the university campus to ride. next time I'm in town. kevin cooks up some chow, eggs benedict, says vince and tom when I ask them what it was later. I check the 'puter and there's something from my ma, she's got email now and is reading the diaries. I have a mail from a sick friend too so I make a letter back and concentrate my healing powers. there's a cat on the counter here who digs me pecking on the keyboard and is purring like the boat on the freeway. good kitty. we say our fare-thee-wells and are off. east to kansas city, north to council bluffs and then west across the missouri river into omaha. it's still all gray and cold but somewhere near iowa, the rain stopped. I think the storm is behind us. when we left we hear that the I-80 all through wyoming is closed. whoa, just missed that misery, many thanks to the weather spirits for sparing us. when you're on tour in the boat, weather takes on a whole other character, believe me.
tonight we're at the _ranch bowl_, where I've been many times. it's a bowling alley, snooker room bar and music venue. there's even sand in the backyard for cali-like volleyball! at soundcheck I find one of my speakers is rattled - aaarrggghhhh! luckily, I'm in minneapolis tomorrow and the makers of my speaker boxes (eden) are in a town thirty miles west called montrose. maybe I can get it replaced when we get there. maybe it's lucky it happened here. I think I was hearing it last night now that I think of it. oh well. I gotta get the oil changed in the boat too, it's time. love that boat and want her treated right.
ok, time now to konk. it's cold but I got the blankies going and of course, my pea coat. I have a strange dream about waking up in a pad where I don't anyone there and I'm trying to figure it out, figure where I am and how I got there. I can't find either of my guys and it's scary. just unknown faces wherever I look. I snap out of it and pop to see my breath in a cloud in front of my face. I don't grab the shit to sling, they want a percentage here of what gets took so I'll just do it out the back of the boat when the gig's over. I go into the pad and it's a good crowd - great, on a sunday night too.
the stage here is a trip, you're kind of high up on everyone and there's no sides - like the proverbial coming out of the cake thing. we get going and it's a kind of hard gig for me - I feel a little worn in the middle. I am a little more afraid than usual too, I don't why. the folks are very good to us, I just wish I could focus on them more and get out of my own fucking head. shit gets like this sometimes. I take us through the tunes relentlessly and forget to make time to tune so by the end of the set I'm like almost a step down - really have to chuck on those strings to be in w/tom. I kind of hate having cat's faces right at my feet, makes me feel weird. hard to look folks in the eye w/out looking down on them but I don't why this should bother me tonight cuz I've done lots of these kind of gigs before. I'm just feeling self-conscious, I guess. in my mind, I'm wondering what we sound like to them on a fidelity level too. it sure is scary being w/out steve reed, that essential man, doing the knobs w/me. I wish cats in the crowd could give some feedback like, "hey wattt, the guitar's too thin," "you're bogarting the whole fucking band," "I can't hear the splash cymbal" or "everything's blury - it sounds like a fucking roller rink." you're just up they're praying it's coming out ok. we get asked back a few times though and that's great. much respect to these omaha peeps.
I ask for a pad when we're done and this cat doug volunteers his friend's susan's pad. great! thank you. I go out and sling from the back of the boat and a big crowd of folks gather and we have some good spiel. I get asked about "corona" being used for my friend spike jonez' new show "jackass" and I say that yes, I've let him use it. I really dig him and his work and here's a way too for d. boon to help his pop even w/himself gone. I got to see spike right before tour w/sof at raymond's (pettibon) show. that was such a great thing for raymond, it was really a great thing - he integrated his drawings w/stuff he painted on the wall too - like it was one whole device and piece. I really felt proud for him. he's worked all these years and has never compromised, just stuck to his craft and his vision. he's still the same raymond, a man who's given me more insights than probably anyone alive. I'm missing him right now on tour. god, do I get awkward when I play for him. like later that night right before tour, after that show, I played the troubador w/banyan and felt so self-conscious, much more than tonight at the ranch bowl. I was so scared I never even faced the crowd and was turned around the whole time, what a disaster I am. nels was kick up so much dust too as was perk. it was way better the next night in long beach but I know that was my fault. it's hard for me to play in front of people I really like where out worrying what they think. it's a huge problem for me. back to omaha: I finish w/slinging and spieling and we head to susan's pad.
it's a great pad, built in 1934 and I really dig. all individual and unique in it's construction plus really solid. trippy halls and nooks in the rooms plus she has this trippy furniture and everything. doug is a cat who can play a right-handed guitar upside down (he's left-handed) and he starts playing "walking the cow," which he picked up just watching us play - even the bass line! much respect to you, doug. he's a soundman and has a great knowledge of such things musical but is not full of himself and pleasantly reserved. no badge buff or hot air wail out of this guy. I can't say anything musical w/out him know what I'm talking about but he's not trying to impress of wear the fucking ears/mind out, he's just connected w/that world. even been to so cal (glendale) to engineer some stuff too. it's great to meet him. tom and vince are already out now so I guess it's my turn to yank down the freak flag and retire my worn out self, get a cap screwed on that jug of adrenalin that's foamed up in me. it takes a couple of minutes, I gotta even get naked under these blankies cuz the whole outfit got sweated down the final fiber at the gig. this is the way I'm used to, before the era of the "little white suit" fascist tyranny that began a few months ago. I use one blanky to wrap myself and then the other to drape. hardware floors so I'm on this couch w/a back to my side in which to confine the spinning to an in-place motion. the river sueno pulls me easily into her as I slip from the awaken shore.
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this page created 27 sep 00