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 25, 2000 - minneapolis, mn
it's a little drive up to minnisota and we need to make a slight detour to a town just west of minneapolis to get a replacement speaker for mike. luckily it's far outside of town. we get to the 7th st. entry a little behind schedual so we quikly load and to it. next door in the big room (the club is connected to a larger performance space called first avenue) the hip hop group jurrasic 5 are sound checking and the line is already formng outside their doors.
the two other bands on our bill show up and after the motions of set up and checking we meet the nice guys in both of the bands: the mighty mofo's and the vavoom. time goes on. vince and I find the local thai place and have a good meal and bring back some hot and sour soup to mike.......
both of the other bands an the bill are great, great guitar from both, and the mofo's remind me of early pere ubu and the who mixed. a good combination of music on this bill. we do a stong set and I feel that we are really starting get our momentum going and that makes the show way better. no broken strings!
it's a beautiful drive up to minneapolis from omaha. the sun is out and the sky is clear and blue. in omaha we were given some of the local literature and i share the gift of home grown prose with the lads. one of watt's 10-inch speakers is blown in his bottom eden cabinet, so we first head to the eden factory about 20 miles west of minneapolis in an area that rapidly turns rural in order to score a replacement speaker. the eden guy feels that all four speakers are questionable, so replaces them all, and throws in some new wiring: that's service. I find a grass field outside and lay down in the sun and rest for a bit, which refreshes me greatly. we sound check, see steve mcclellan again, always a pleasure to bask in his good vibe, then tom and I go to get dinner at an overpriced but good thai restaurant. when we get back, my old buddy kris paxton, a great soul and bass player, is there with his guitarist, josh, who I meet for the first time. we watch vavoom and the mighty mofo's and both bands are good. the mighty mofo's rock it up real good with a great lead singer and some who-like action. our set is good, like last years at 2nd ave 7th street entry, and kris digs the premiers. thanks again, moe. watt tells me that bob lee let him know that he'd played that kit before and I recall the first gig I played with slowrider filling in the spot that john wahl left, and I remember that he played the premiers on that gig. so I got not only moe's mojo, but some of bob. no wonder I feel great playing the kit.
we stay with some very nice folks from minny, and meet their dog rae and their grey and white kitty, who is very friendly, and helps me with my homesickness (my girlfriend linda and I have great cats that we love very much). steve and ann, our hosts, cook up some pizza for after gig snack and it hits the spot. we hit the sack, watt upstairs and tom and I downstairs, and the kitty comes to visit us before she heads to wherever she sleeps. it's very pleasant.
pop to find the most blue sky - yes! the rain is gone and things are bright and lit like a nothing else. air is crisp too. damn, I wish I could pedal but we gotta drive straight to that factory outside of minneapolis and get my speakers tended to. gonna be kind of a hellride, maybe seven hours. we say our thanks and we're off - over the missouri river, into iowa on the I-80 to des moines where we turn north on the I-35 to take us into minnesota. great driving day weather-wise and we have the great pleasure of vince making us laugh so big time at these stories he's reading to us from a book he got at last night. oh boy. my gut is wrangled w/the busting up. we stop at a 'way for a sandwich like usual. also like usual, I apply some dave's insanity sauce to liven it up. well, I hit a bump and the stuff goes on like a fat bead of catchup. this is shit that's burn w/one drop so you can imagine what's coming down. I sure ain't gonna waste the sandwich so I chow it down anyway. the fire comes up quick and I start to really rush w/the heat wave. all my hair is wet w/sweat in moments. I start getting visions and grip the steering wheel. skyrockets and light streaks cross in the boat's bow (so thinks my mind) and I hold on real tight to maintain. my heart is jamming like crazy, the brow is sopped. I try and drown it w/coffee, no success - I'm in it for the whole trip. vince fears the bar has now been raised. I tell him it was just an accident and he's relieved. it was even getting those words out, my mouth is all swollen. I have high tolerance to this stuff though so it's not a death sentence, just a hellride. after a halfhour, it runs out of gas and can you believe it? I'm jonesing. I resist the hankering though and drive on.
we pull into montrose, home of the eden factory and there's a cat there named gary who helps me out big time. he just doesn't replace the one buzzed speaker, he replaces all four! much respect, gary! he also puts in new wires and replaces the bulb which protects the tweeater, which was blown. he does great work and is very thorough, even checks for whistling due to any openings that might be in the cabinet. this company has always taken care of me and I just think their stuff sounds so great too. we re-pack the boat and get over to the _7th street entry_, site of tonight's throw-down. we get there a little late but not too bad and there's the folks I look forward too seeing every tour, mr. steve mcclellen and conrad, I love them so. everytime I'm out in the boat, doing the towns, I look forward to seeing these cats. I'll see them again in a month and a half too w/j. conrad's even golfed w/j, hah! conrad's a great golfer and has been doing it a long time, he's not one of these bandwagon-hoppers of this week's whatever, it's a real part of him. I dig giving him the bear hug. then steve. I think about almost being gone w/that sickness and I feel so grateful to be around to work for folks like this. it's a powerful emotion thing on me.
soundcheck quick and then upstairs for 'puter work. vince brings me so thai soup and then I'm konked in jack's office, even w/the openers _vavoom_ and _the mighty mofos_ (great bands) coming through the deck, vibrating me. I feel safe at this pad and yes, it is just a club but the people here make me feel part of a whole. it's gig time now and I go to the boat to get the shirts. _jurrasic 5_ are next door in the other room and that place is bouncing. I know chawlie 2na (spelling? sorry, bro) from the ozo's and really dig his thing, that band and this. cut chemist too. great cats to draw inspiration from. I get on the entry's stage and there's great feeling in me, this is the stage the husker's played all those years ago as well as d. boon and so many others. I still get my shot at trying to fire it up and that's so great. these folks here have much well-wishes for me that really touches me. thank you good people of minneapolis. I feel kind of weak though tonight, even more than last night and it's hard to be solid in my delivery. I'm not going to topple or anything if I just keep my balance right but I'm not the clenched wrench I want to be either. oh well. my cat's play well good, thank you tom and vince. I do wish we could get the "...madonna to sing" song more wound and frothed though and tell them so before we do the encores. they're doing so good though, believe me. when it's time to sling shit, who comes up and helps? grant hart, my old friend. wow. it's so good to see him. he asks me to bring the boat by tomorrow and I can change the oil there in south saint paul. great, thanks grant. means a lot to watt. goodbyes to folks here: nathan, betsy, mark, molly, conrad and steve and all the other wonderful cats here. as I bail and the whole crew is gathered in on the first avenue dance floor, even younger cats who are newer here and I don't know yet, give me a cheer and I feel so warm inside. thank you, thank you.
a teacher here in town, steve, has written email to me earlier offering his pad to konk at we head for there, in the lynlake part. we can even park the boat in a garage, great. the mind can rest more at ease. more hardwood floors so I'm on the couch and I talk a little bit w/steve, even w/the mask on. it's late though and I can't last long. like someone else who's put it much better, "I've run out of chugs and choos."
tuesday, september 26, 2000 - iowa city, ia
we have a long-ish drive to iowa city. our first stop though is to do an instore performance at sal's record emporium and we have some difficulty finding it. finally we get to a phone and someone comes to fetch us and show us the way. one thing you learn quickly on tour is to never hesitate to call. well the store is great and we do a very minimal set up and versions of songs, we don't want to just do the same thing that we'll be doing later in the club. all goes well but it was a challenge.
we then load up and race to the club to sound check and get things situated. food, walk, and then back to the gig. it is a good crowd for a tuesday night, a school night in a college town. mike says that gabes oasis has always been a good place for him and it certainly looks like it still is. after checking out the cool bands that played with us, speed of sauce and mr. blandy's dream house, we get into it and it goes real good. I broke a string on the last tune and that's pretty good for me.
our load out is a bit confusing and the combination of a very dark stage area, many "helping hands" and a long stairway and walk to the van where someone was getting sick near through us out of sink and that's when things go wrong. we follow a friend of mike's to his house a few miles away and I find myself putting my sleeping bag on the floor and passing out face down in seconds. I think I am a little sick and very tired and I forget to even cover mysef up. I awake at some point in the middle of the night and realize that I am freezing which is a bad thing for me to do since i am feeling on the verge of sickness. I cover up and fall back into a dark sleep till sun up.
we leave early after steve and ann fix us a great breakfast of scrambled egg and black been tortilla's. I like subway ok, which is our tour travel staple, but a home cooked breakfast is a great treat. we have to split early to get to iowa city because we're doing an early evening in-store at sal's record shop. we get there just in time to get minimal gear in (bass, guitar, guitar pedals, as watt and tom are going direct into the little p.a., and snare and hi-hat. it is weird and challenging to play the tunes low volume, and to funnel all the drum parts into snare and hi-hat, but we do ok, though it is frightening. people can hear every little thing you do, and there's no hiding behind volume. things take on a slight country/rockabilly feel, and it's fun. john english, an old fan/friend of watt's is there, and helps us hump the gear in and out of sal's, and then into the gabe's oasis, the gig-pad. at the club we meet john's brother, grape nut. he, john, tom and I go get some soup at a nearby pub. back at the club, the openers, with a name like "mr. brindle's crazy house" or something like that (see tom and watt's diary entries for correct name) do a great set - they turned our heads at sound check - though I miss a lot of it, as I have to walk down the street to find a place to change into my bathing suit. I sweat quarts, so I have to wear something other than my tour trousers when I play. I find a coffee place packed with students (it's a big college town) and am grateful for the large lockable clean bathroom to change in. back at the club, speed of sauce plays the second set, and they're great, too. they sound to me like a lot of the bands I hear out of chicago. they remind me of my buddies guns, books and tools, but with less edginess and more pop sound. it's a sound I really like. the musicianship is high. our set is good. we are gelling on a level that is very enjoyable. it is easier to lock into the moment as three people trying to create a musical event than ever before. intense song for madonna is not quite there in the jam section - the ecstatic frenzy desired is still slightly out of reach, but we discuss it after the set, while the crowd shouts for us to do an encore, and we'll get it soon. we do our encore, which is a gas to do, and pack up. while getting the van loaded up, once again with the help of john english and some participants at the show, and while we're loading up, watt points out a young lady vomiting, both hands on the nearby dumpster. after she is through, she shoves the dumpster, and it comes loose from it's mooring and slides down an incline to scrape alongside the van. mike wants to saddle up quick, so we jump in the van and head out to john's, where we hit the sack. but not before I view the milky way in the clear night starry sky. there must be a meteor shower as I see four meteors in the space of 5 minutes. I get that great mystical feeling contemplating the starts that I haven't had the opportunity to have in a long time, living in the all too well lit metropolis.
I pop and steve's ready to take me pedaling. he says he's even started doing it to get to work. I'm so glad to get a shot this morning even though time is tight cuz I gotta get the oil done on the boat. he takes me down to lake calhoun and there's a path around the whole thing and I'm have a great time pedaling my heart out on the little folder. I like getting both the blood flowing and taking in the great eye gifts. spangles are bouncing up off the water and into my eyes, light up my head. lots of trees and clean air, crisp blue sky again. lucky watt. I ride ahead of steve and just pump and pump. he probably thinks I'm insane but I just want to get in such a state where I'm kind out of the normal state of watt mind.
we get back and I gotta say bye, grant's waiting in south saint paul for us to come and change the boat's oil. I meet his pop out front, he's wearing a great flannel. grant gives me his new record and I thank him, I've always dug his stuff. he jacks up the boat, get's a tub under and I pop off the filter and drain plug. all the years that have gone by, it's so good to see him. now he's driving me around his town and we're talking about things as we go get an oil filter. he's got some happening studis and shows me one at a station. it's orange and looks righteous. there's another one in the driveway too when we get back. back on w/the plug and the filter, in w/the oil and me w/the pliers are out. tom gets a snap of me and grant and we're down the road, south to iowa city.
there's an instore waiting for us and I forgot where the pad, _sal's_ is. what an idiot, watt. I call up and john volunteers to come get us and direct us in. it's only a few block away it turns out. we get there and this cat named sam is just finishing up some songs by himself on acoustic guitar. he's good. me and tom don't even bring amps, we just plug into their little p.a. and we just go for it. vince plays just a snare and a hihat, standing up even. we play like nine songs. trippy playing this way, all little and everything. you could hear someone fart easy, not that I heard anyone do that cuz I was kind of scared shitless and self-involved. it was funny though and self-effacing so I dug it. I thank sal and chow some olives he had on a table. he gives me a beefheart cd of some bbc stuff from 1968. thanks sal.
we pack back up and go to _gabe's oasis_, downtown. those steel stairs in the back where you load in are scary when it's wet but were blessed w/the great weather - it is even cold. thank you. a quick soundcheck and then it's to the boat to konk, I'm tired. I pop to do an interview w/a cat named pete and hear one of the openers, _mr. blanding's dreamhouse_, they're really good. we go to my boat and I answer his questions and in the course talk about where I come from and why I'm playing now. this gets me thinking about things and gives me some intense inspiration to play tonight. tom and vince are set up and we're ready to go. good crowd and we go forward. good gig, we don't stop once and charge hard. "...madonna..." is still not where I want it though but that's minor. we do "piss bottle man" for the first time this tour and it's fun. better a piss bottle than a piss bag, any day. I thank the folks and after some encores, we're done. me and the boss doug have a good talk and settle up, he's glad to see I wasn't took down too. all these cat's I've played for in these town all have given me such a good word about making it through that sickness, it's really nice and warms me up on the inside.
john, the cat who guided us to sal's, offers us his cellar in west branch, about ten miles east of town, on our way. about ten people help us load out and things are chaotic. some lady is puking by a dumpster near the boat. she kind of trips out and pushes the dumpster down the alley, it slightly scrapes the boat. at least it's not bad damage. everyone's hollering and she's now contrite and sorry. what a mess, we gotta get out of dodge. pete follows us to finish the spiel we started before the set. we get to west branch and john's pad and I answer pete's final questions. he gives me his belt which is a good thing cuz I'm losing weight and the levis are falling off big time, I'm always having to be yanking them up. thanks pete. him and his friends are cool people. funny thing is that this town is the birthplace of herbert hoover and he's planted just on the other side of the backyard. I make a stupid joke about digging him up (why, to re-inact the chaindrive sticker?) and then it's mask down, lights off and I'm out. dreams of d. boon and being a minutemen swirl in my head.
wednesday, september 27, 2000 - madison, wi
the weather is beautiful and even though I am coughing it feels good to get outside and rolling. our trip to the highway is a little confusing and we take the long way but we see some nice backwoods of iowa along the way. actually just a bunch of corn fields but pertty ones at that. so then on up to madison.
we played at this place last year so it's a familiar joint and when we start to load in we realize that we spaced out and forgot mike's bass. this is a major bummer to say the least and after phone call after phone call it gets resolved, thank god. though vince and I were felt extremely shitty and it lingers for us long after we have dinner.
the opening band, transformer lucnhbox, sounds great and the club is totally packed so when it's our turn to play we give all we have to please the locals. alot of people say to me that they were at the last show we did here and really liked it so thats even more reason to deliver a good gig. unfortunately mike had to borrow a bass and it's a little awkward on him but he pulls together and plays great anyway. my pedels malfunction at the beginning of the red and the black so I plug straight into my amp and we don't miss a beat. we're getting strong and there's very lttle that can slow us down when we get started so it turns out to be one of our better shows despite the technical problems. somehow it's even more fun to get past those kinds of obsticles that happen and rise to the occasion like that. I had a great time and think mike and vince did too.
up up and away. we stop in town to go to the post office. when you get paid on the road, it's good to take your cash and put it in a money order and send it home as soon as you can. you're vulnerable on the road and don't need a wad of cash at peril. I wonder what the postal clerks think, especially in these semi-rural places, when three guys step up, one at a time, exchanging wads of twenties for money orders. we drive to madison, wisconsin. it occured to me while playing recently that what a band presents on stage is not just a linear acheivement, i.e., x much practice equals y tightness, but that what's being expressed is the sum total of every feeling and effort getting to the point where the tunes are presentable. every doubt, every knotting of the brow trying to remember structure, and every feeling of accomplishment and group excitement, often unspoken, when things start to click, is there in the moment, if you're aware and there while playing it, as apposed to fronting, playing with the body while distant in the mind. we discuss this. we arrive in madison and while loading into o'kayz corral, the venue, we see that mike's bass ain't there. somehow in the confusion of the dumpster collision rush and the poorly lit load-out, the bass was left behind. or, worse case scenario, it was stolen. we are all highly bummed. mike is distraught, but is keeping his head together. he starts making plans to buy a replacement bass, and brings up ideas on how to prevent future donations of such magnitude. once in o'kayz, mike calls the club. the guy who answers the phone can't find it. I am severely bummed. that's a bass mike has had for a long time. I dig the bass, an old eb3 that mike has jacked up with active electronics and bardolini pickups. losing your instrument, through theft or whatever, is a major blow. music is an emotional thing, and although it is probably best not to become to attached to the material end of it, you can't help but love your instruments. I know I do. an old buddy who plays bass brings his by, and so does a local bass player. a guitar dealer brings a couple by also for mike to check out and possibly buy. the phone rings a bunch of times, with messages for mike, and finally one comes from gabe's owner: the bass has been found. I had been hopeful with every call that it would turn up, and I felt that it would. thank the good Lord it did. luckily, john the sound man at gabes, has a gig in chicago tomorrow night when we'll be there, and he'll bring it to the gig. close call - disaster eluded. mike arranges to use the fender belonging to the local guy, and we're ok for the night, despite the fact that it's a longer scale neck and mike's used to his eb3 now. the show must go on, and it does. it's packed in there, not easy to get up on stage after the first band rocks well in beefhartian and minutmen fashion, but we get up there and play pretty well. we head to a fellow named rob's house to crash. he's in a surf band and knows of del noah and the mt. ararat finks, a band I play in (he asks me about the del noah shirt I'm wearing) and that surprises me. it's cool when that happens. I crash in the front room where, unbeknownst to me, three windows are opened to the cold outside. watt feels a draft from the living room where he is, and, investigating, turns on the space heater, saving me from the deep freeze.
pop to a bright blue iowa sky. happening weather again, great! I do some diary while the pliers get their morning thing together then it's goodbye and thank you to john and we head for the post office. this is a trippy little town, it's main street looks something out of that old "twilight zone" episode called "willoughby," the one where the guy who commutes on a train to a squarejohn job from the suburbs each day and experiences more and more hell at the end of each of those bookends, discovers a stop on the route where there's this town called willoughby and it's somehow the 1890s there all the time and everything's righteous. you could be a little boy forever there. sort of like those summer days you read about in some of ray bradburry's stories. finally, the pressures of the hamster-wheel life make him want to live in the willoughby town for good and he steps off, right off the train! you see the funeral service hearse and the company name is "willoughby," I think the town was only existing in his head. anyway, it looks like it sort of exists here too, I mean for an idiot from cali who remembers some old tv show. another thing that makes me think of that, there's a street called willoughby in hollywood that I passed the night d. boon got killed. I was dropping someone off from a gig before I drove back to pedro. his pop called me a few hours later w/the horrible fucking news about what happened to him. it's always stuck in my head since that. I got the strangest feeling when I passed under that sign that night going home.
after the post office stuff, we're off to madison and our next gig at _o'cayz corral_ but first I got some fucking up to do. I head west instead of east on the I-80 so I gotta turn the boat around on the next offramp. next, I observe I accidently opened the hood and it's rattling, getting ready to wrap around and hit the windshield, damn! what an idiot I am. I wonder how that happened? I take care of that real quick w/a pulloff. it pays to keep your eyes peeled and as aware as you can. I should say something about driving through this part of the county. all this: nebraska, kansas, minnesota and iowa are full of great looking corn fields, tons and tons of gold against the green - I dig it. I never get tired of it, tour after tour. it might not be as trippy as intense rock formations or gnarled and carved forests of trees but it is calming on my insane mind. it's like a hand that's put on my shoulder or my arm, it's just a hand but I like the touch, it's reassuring. I feel a connection w/something outside the head walls of fortress watt.
vince, using maps and intent reasoning, navigates me to the pad. madison is built on an isthmus and is very narrow. we're right by one of the lakes here and also some tracks, a train comes chugging by w/big blasts from it's horn. LOUD. I get a great parking thing right by the pad, I dig that. what I don't dig is when we open up the boat's back hatches and I find the little bass missing. aaaarrrrggghhhh!!! what happened? we made idiot checks after the load out last night, though it was intense w/people puking and hollering as we made our exit. was it stole? damn. I get on the horn and call for doug at the oasis, where we played last night iowa city. boy, am I feeling stupid but I ain't that crazed or even hollering, kind of resigned to this turn of life, the deck of karma has dealt me. the lame thing would to be not to learn from it. doug ain't there but I leave a message and then talk to tonight's boss, tom. the bar boss here, nicole, has called and told him. tom's been w/me many, many years and he gets on the move w/the music stores madison has to muster me up something. the big problem is that my hands got so weak during my sickness that it's hard to play the full size machines. hell, they were starting to hurt even before the sickness. I don't want to say I'm getting older but... anyway, things change so you gotta too. I dug this little bass for gigs. it was an eb-3 made by gibson and is from the middle 60s. of course I had to in a badass bridge, a dimarzio neck pickup and a bartolini preamp in it so it would sound so old-fashioned but it honked pretty good. not so much good fundamental low cuz of the short scale (30 1/2 inch) but it had a voice of it's own that could convey what I was trying to do and importantly, I got no pain in my left hand. the right hand to adjust to the narrower string spacing and not coming down so hard but I was getting that. anyway, some cat named john was sitting there at the bar and volunteered his fender jazz bass for tonight. I accepted. they got the full length scale, which would be tough but had the narrow string spacing at the nut, up by the headstock where the strings come down on. I got some calls from some music store owners and one even came down to the pad w/some basses but they were just too big of beasts for me to work now. even my old friend robin, who I go back w/since he was a roadie for the first husker tours brings his music man down but it's too wide for me. great bass though - all pink w/a white tiger strap. then doug calls from iowa, the soundman found my bass behind some speakers and as it happens, is coming thursday to chicago to do sound for an iowa city band and will bring the bass to me then. wow, this is great. his name is john. thank you john, thank you doug. just have to get through tonight. we make a list of all the gear and tape that to the inside of the boat's back hatch so we can make an itemized check before we bail out of a pad from now on.
I try to relax a little and read this great paper that comes out of this town called _the onion_ which always busts me up. they got the greatest take on all mersh things taken so serious and big fist in the air for letting the light shine while you're laughing to death. I dig it much. it's even in a few other towns now and also on the web at http://www.theonion.com - hell, I even put a button link to it on my hoot page. there are some great reads there, check it out.
into the boat to konk but first vince brings some soup to me. thanks vince. can't tell what it is though, cream of something or other. I konk hard and miss the openers, _transformer lootbag_, who have a great name that made me want to check them out. sorry folks, the stress of losing that little bass has just wrung me out. tom cracks the hatch and it's time. I thank john for letting me use his bass and then, as michael pruessner would say: "down beat time." the pad is packed and loads of good spirit but damn, is this machine hard to work. I figure he uses a pick cuz it's set up real high. not his fault my hands are so weak from the bedtime the sickness put on me this year. the notes too seem all choked up and unable to get out like the little bass, it's hard for vince and tom to play along but they work their brains out trying. they're great. the monitors are total toy. there is nothing coming out at all but I'm not going to fuck up like in vancouver and blow my voice out. I'm still getting over that shit. instead, I just imagine what it would sound like and give it my best shot. at one point, I tell the crowd: "I don't know whether that was in the key of 'e' or 'h', sorry." even in the soft tunes, where you can kind of hear it out front, it sounds way walkie-talkie. I know the soundman, john, is trying his best but damn. I just laugh though cuz I feel just lucky to be alive and play this town again, bass and p.a. are minor things in the big picture. much respect to these good folks of madison for giving us much warm feelings and thanks. we give it right back. bossman tom layton is happy too, not just for a good show but that I didn't go down and we can still do gigs together, he's been having me to his town for so many years - much respect to him.
we load up and I do an interview for championship foozball or something like that. they want me to pretend I'm a champ at that game and where would I go after winning the championship. I say I'd like to go to new york city and ride the streets on a bicycle wearing a short skirt. this trips them out, I don't think they were expecting to hear that. they're laughing though too and it's ok. I ask them if they got room for three men to konk and they volunteer their bud rob's pad. rob takes us over there and we begin that procedure. he's in a band called _knuckle drager_ (sic) and room mates darwin and chand are in _uncle eddie_, a cd of which is given to me. young men into music in an old house in madison, they're glad to have us aboard. we're very grateful. there's a little cat - I mean little, it's a year old and must only way four pounds, if that. damn. he likes checking out everything and is jamming everywhere really fast as it's time for lights and watt makes the last train to sleepytown.
thursday, september 28, 2000 - chicago, il
we wake in a house not too far from the club in madison and get ready to drive south to chicago, and I always look forward to going there. the weather is holding out for us aand it looks like it will be blue skies all the way. when we get to town and to the double door we have time to hit the music store and check out a record store and get some coffee. it's an absolutly perfect day and in a little while we load and get it going. there's a washer and dryer down in the backstage so I take advantage of it during sound check. we are still waiting on mike's bass, I leave my phone on in case john with the bass might call and sit down to do some diary entry.
still no word about the bass so vince and I find some food next door. there is alot of good food in chicago, and we are not let down. soon though we head back to the club and meet some of the other bands members and I change my strings and get reaady to play. at one point I peek upstairs and I see my friend doug who plays bass in toiroise and eleventh dream day and brokeback and a great guy, so we do a quick catch up.
the show time is getting close and still no bass so we hook up one from the other band, uponin. great band by the way, nice folks too. well the words in that the fellow bringing the bass isn't coming becaouse there was a misunderstanding and he wont be in chicago till the next day, damn. I know it's hard for mike to play other peoples basses and it has an effect on the overall gig so as we start up I am trying to be especially aware of what's going on and listen to how mike holds up. not too much problem with it though the bass has active electronics and is alot louder and brighter then normal, that makes it a little hard on the ears and I have some trouble even hearing my guitar. it's also one of the hottest stages so far and that takes alot more energy too, it's a really good show but we are totally worn out from it. a hard one for sure.
taking a shower at rob's I notice a plaque above the toilet with the image of a little yellow bear cub sitting in some flowers. there's a message, something like: "god, please wash away all the things that have gone wrong today, and help me be fresh and clean like you". I mention it and it turns out that everybody noticed it. "that's why I always take the time to listen to little bears", watt says. we head out. the drive to chicago bogs down once we get into the city outskirts. the traffic is murder. nonetheless, we get to the double door, our club, early. tom and I get coffee at a cool place next door, the earwax cafe. we get let into the double door and matt and mike, the sound crew, are there helping us in cheerfully. as we set up on stage for soundcheck they're doing a thorough job ringing out the mic's. we're still waiting for mike's bass, so there's no rush. Tom and I go down the street to reckless records where I buy a used cd's: sonny stitt, lee morgan, and some slovenly vinyl. we go back and sound check, and still no bass. mike has borrowed a bass from the guy in the firebirds, one of the bands we're playing with, so we're ok there. after sound check he heads to the van to crash and we're on alert for the arrival of the bass. it was supposed to be here between 6 and 8p, and it's getting past 8. tom goes through the local entertainment paper and can't find the listing for john's band. the gabe's oasis owner had told mike that john was coming up tonight to play in chicago in the dick prawl band, and that he'd bring it by. tom can't find the listing. i go through the paper, reading every line of the listings. I find the dick prawl band, listed as playing at the beat kitchen on friday. there's a pit in my stomach, but maybe, I think, he's playing two days in a row in chi town and the first gig isn't listed. fat chance. I figure I'll call beat kitchen, but just then a guy from double door tells me that there's a call for watt or tom. I know this has got to be about the bass. I can't find tom and mike's crashed, so I take the call. it's john, and he's in iowa city. gabe's owner had thought that he'd be in chi tonight, but, as the listing stated, john's gig isn't until tomorrow. john wasn't planning on getting into town tomorrow 'til 4p, but is willing to slide a little on that to help us out. I get his cell number, club number and tell him I'll call him back. by this time the first band, uponin, is playing, and they're a cool three-piece band playing interesting music. the bass player is setting down his fender jazz and starting to play the stand up bass as I head out to fill mike in on the sitch. I run into tom, and he agrees to make sure the bass is lined up for mike to play. he thinks the fender jazz is more in line with what mike needs, so he says he'll talk to uponin's bass player about it. I talk to mike in the van, and we'll stay in town to meet john, at the beat kitchen, as early as he's able to come down. I slide the van door shut and get to a pay phone. it takes a couple tries to get john on the phone. he's able to come down, to help us out, at 2p. done. thank God, the bass will be back. but it ain't back 'til it's back. uponin is done, and charlie comes downstairs and joins a conversation with tom and a bass player who knows me from bazooka who also plays the bass clarinet. charlie is a great positive guy who is glad to help out. he just got a tattoo of two artichokes on his forearm - from a painting by one of his favorite artists, an italian painter.
the gig is good. charlie's bass is blasting through watt's amp, so I have to listen hard for tom. we keep it together and play with some fire and the people are with us. we're still honing madonna for the proper groove and froth, and mike confers about it before we go out for encore. after the gig, an enthusiastic and friendly young lady deva shakes my hand and is complimentary. she wants to help us move the gear, but we're not ready yet. she goes and gets me a soda water. these little things that people do are such great gifts. I mean, who wants to go stand in the barline for someone they don't know after the show? she goes and gets the drum cases and hardware case. really nice. people have been doing that for me in some places, and it's such a nice gift. I don't expect it, my friends, but I sure appreciate your kindness when it happens. after the gig we head to bobby, katie and stephanie's pad. I talk to katie about bukowski, who she's really into (as am I, but I'm not as knowledgable as she is), and about the barfly movie and bukowski's book hollywood, which pilloried same. then it's crash time night night.
it's like six when I pop for a minute to slam some windows shut. seems vince konked in this little pantry room that had all three of its windows open to the freezing madison night. brrrrrrr! a wind was blow out the open door to it, making my breath fog. damn! you see, when you first konk, your blood is racing pretty much through your body cuz of the gig and you're feeling warm. as you konk and be still, that blood slows down and a draft can really wail on your ass which is what happened to me. as I shut these windows, I look down at vince, he just has his head sticking out of a sleeping bag w/one of those masks I wear but there's a coat of frost on his face, damn! I turn on a space heater that's in here and pointing at his head and hope this thaws him out. he doesn't stir 'til I wake after konking again. when I pop for the second time, I go to soak my bones in this pad's long tub. that feels good even though you can tell not many baths are taken here, it's more of a shower tub but I don't give a fuck. that's the kind of mode tour can put you in. after, I do diary and tom gets some coffee while vince completes a final primp and preening. we all complete our tasks, say thanks and goodbye to rob then we're on our way to big chi-town and hopefully to re-unite w/the little bass.
only a hundred and fifty mile drive but the shit takes forever - the I-94 is just as bad as any plugged and fucked up freeway back in los angeles. damn. in one place, we move eight miles in one hour (near the airport). aaaaarrrrgggghhh! finally, we get to the _double door_, site of tonight's gig. I get some lentil soup next door. the bass is supposed to be here between six and eight, I'm hoping but got the weirdest feeling about it. anxieties are filling me. seven comes and we gotta do soundcheck so I borrow one from one of the openers, _the firebird band_ - turns out this cat has a brand new fender p-bass, he was a guitar player they made to play bass - ain't that always the story! (no, not always, I know) we check and then it's into the boat w/me, I gotta konk bad and shake these nerves, damn. vince soon comes by and says there was a fuckup, that soundman from iowa city is doing the gig here in chicago tomorrow and that's when I can get the little bass. two p.m. at the beat kitchen. well, that's the way it goes. gotta roll w/it.
I konk for like three hours in the boat. I had the strangest dream. in the dream I was waking up on the back seat of the boat while tom and vince were driving us to this gig for their families at a picnic. weird, none of these 'family' looked like either tom or vince, they looked like squarejohns, people from early tv when I was a kid. very nice and all but I was mad. I did not want to cancel my tour gig to play for these people. I got real mad and was throwing a fucking little fit. I screamed at tom and vince and was really angry. I was even throwing my arms around and hollering, doing a fucking hitler dance, stomping around, all pissed off. the moms, aunts and grandmas were talking nice to me and trying to get me to calm down and think about just playing for everyone there but I would not settle down. I just wanted to be right. this all seemed like it had just happened and I was recalling it now and feeling like such an asshole for acting so self-important and pompous. finally, after what seemed forever, I woke up in a sweat and was so relieved, so grateful it was just a dream. I felt like I was supposed to learn something from this. I grabbed a bag of shirts and went right to the stage.
the bass player from the other opener, _uponin_, his name is charlie and he lets me use his bass, another fender jazz like last night but it's fitted w/a p-bass pickup in the front position. it's got active electronics and sounds really deep, not my sound really. I have to twirl some knobs to help out and though the action is better than john's was last night, it's still hard for my weak hands to play. the body is heavy swamp ash and it feels giant against me. aarrrrggghh, I'm getting distracted and just try my hardest to deliver this gig. I tell the folks how grateful I am to be in their town, this is the town I was conceived in and also the birthplace of someone I love dearly and I want to do well. I try playing on my toes and that helps. I can tell tom and vince are having a hard time too, they're blowing a few clams but still holding the course, I'm proud of them for making up for my lack of the little bass. I know they depend on me to have confidence and hear what I'm doing. I really do try hard, this pad is notorious for cats yammering when you're playing so when I detect some of it in the roky song, I look folks right in the eye and focus on them. I don't want to be like a television in the corner of a bar just blaring at them, even if we are at some disadvantages tonight. I'm feeling kind of weak in the body too, this stress is having its toll on me. I think of a baby being born and telling everyone, "I'm here, I awake now and I'm alive. don't ignore me." I'm drawing on energy I feel in this town that was left by events that are important in my life.
"tv eye" for a final encore and we're done. this is a good crowd and at the end lots of them tell me that they're glad I made it and am still around. it really means a lot to me. I talk this lady debbie about the power of email when I flowed that flow about the sun ra's stuff being found. turns out she worked w/this asshole who took some footage filmed of me and jack brewer for a movie by joe carducci which was a takeoff on "my dinner w/andre" and made it into some psuedo 'rockumentary' to glorify his own name. it was never finished, jack didn't like his perforance and didn't think it was going anywhere. this guy just cobbled something together from it, I don't know what - I never saw it but what a fucking dick. he never asked our permission and even stole carducci's camera. he entered the bullshit into a film festival - we would've never known if a reporter didn't call us and ask about it. can you believe some assholes? anything to further their fucking shit, they don't give a god damn.
anyway, back to good people. we get a bag of 'backwoods' and a bible. also, several bands' cds. I thank charlie big time for the use of the bass. he knows e. bloom from the blue oyster cult! damn. I ask for a pad to konk at from the stage and this cat bobby volunteers, he gave me a who pin (w/the maximum r and b poster from "live and leeds" on it) last tour. we pack up and head on over, it's close and though the garage is too small for this boat, I can fit it easy up against the door so it won't block the alley. I wash the gig pendleton in the sink w/woolite and the ready for konk. we have some good spiel, seems danny, the cat who lives here, has been reading the tour spiels and digs the phrasing, like "chimping the diaries." that cracks me up, I'm must sound insane in the way I sound when I try to relate things like tour and being watt. they get to talking about age and stuff like that - bobby just turned thirty - and I take that as a cue to konk and the sueno comes on me easy as the day's tension finally lets go.
friday, september 29, 2000 - milwaukee, wi
we shoot north to wisconsin and get to the club by 6. we load and hang out in the shank hall checking out the spinal tap memoribilia and the various press photos that they have on display there. after the check vince and I get on the free internet access at a bagel shop accross the street and do some e-mailing. after that we walk and find a great looking italian place that turned out to have some good soup and fine bread.
tonight is the first night of a ten gig leg of the tour with long beachers' baragin music, a band that mike has worked with and whom vince knows. I'm looking forward to meeting the and checking out their show. so, vince and I get back to club and that's what we do.
bargain music are totally great and they are all really fine dudes, I know we are going to have a good time touring with them. the gig is kind of mellow and people are sitting in chairs alot but soon after we get started they move up to the tage and we that helps us get into it. it's hot on up on stage, since bargain music are way more than a warm up band, so we do some heavy sweating. the sound on stage is kind of dead and it's sometimes hard to hear one another but I think it goes pretty good and the people seem to dig it so there's a good feelng afterwards. we have a short trip to matt's place and I am asleep in minutes.
wake up. watt is out pedaling with bobby. tom and I go get some breakfast at a great pad bobby suggested. great java, eggs, spuds, cakes, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, big slices of toasted sourdough. we go back to the pad, and bobby and watt get back from the ride. bobby says mike wore him out. this is the second time this has happened on the trip. keep in mind that mike's got a folding little one-speed here, and the people ridng with him have had multi-speed, like 18 or 21 speeders. mike's long fast bike-rides on the hills of pedro have evidently turned him into a darned good bicyclist. before we left for tour I'd been riding my newly purchased 21-speed, but I think I'll have to work a little harder before I bring it down to pedro to try to ride with mike. I'm stoked about my bike. I used to ride everywhere on a ten speed when I was a kid and a teenager. one summer my old buddy steve spears and I would ride our ten speeds from garden grove where we lived to huntington beach where we'd body surf damn near every day. that was a ride. I got back into it a while later when I worked in anaheim, lived in buena park (briefly, friends, briefly), and would ride my bike to work every day. I bought a memership in a gym across from work just to shower there after the ride before work. I learned quick that padded riding gloves were necessary for the inevitable spill and a patch-kit and pump were needed to asssure getting to work on time. when I moved up to l.a., my old huffy ten-speed wouldn't cut the grades or the curb jumping required, so I didn't ride for a decade. after the "searchin' the shed" tour last year I told myself I'd treat myself to one of the cool "new" rugged but light 21 speeds so I could get back into it. good old mike sessa next door happened on a great used bike place, "the used bike shop" right off of figueroa across from usc. he bought a 21-speed, a really cool black one, and had fenders installed, for less than $90. I got my bread together and bought one there, same deal. awesome. the bike is so cool, man. I take it on the elysian park hills, and up the small but steep hill where I live. I'm so into it. it's called a lahona or something like that, and I eagerly looked it up on the internet, and there were a bunch of mormon sites. I finally found the bike company, and the name of the bike is from the book of mormon. the company designed the bike for mormon missionaries so it would have the "durability of a mountain bike and the speed of a racing bike". it's a cool bike.
I dig chicago. the people I've met there are generally friendly, unpretentious and outgoing. good food is everywhere and it's urbane but down to earth. the rusting iron structures of the elevated trains over the old neighborhoods are really cool. the buildings are old, in various stages of repair, from modernized and chic to funky. there is a big time music scene up here. where our hosts are there is a great neighborhood feel, but that seems to me to exist everywhere in chicago I've been. but it's time to go, so we're out. the drive to milwuakee is a hell-ride, quite a distance, and lot's of traffic. we get to the shank hall, our destination. there are lot's of pics of people who've played there, including a sassy yngewie, in what looks like some sort of yoga pose with electric guitar. there's a lot about spinal tap, as the big auditorium they get lost in is named shank hall in the movie. sound check goes ok, with the dour steve. tom and get coffee and enjoy the free internet access across the street, then eat in an italian joint.
it's our first gig with bargain music, hometown men from long beach, my old stomping grounds. they are really good. they all play great, and josh is an unbelievably good singer. I dig that they'll ride out a medium to slow tempo groove without needing a big rave up section. they just rely on the strength of the groove and the vocals in those parts. hanging out backstage with them was fun before the show. it looks like it will be a lot of fun playing these ten gigs with them. our gig is pretty good, although it's a weird sounding stage. after the gig we crash at the pad of matt and sonia. matt plays in a band; he says the style is crack rock. I get a bed upstairs. I read some from thus spake zarathustra, a book on a shelf up there. the light doesn't work in the room, but there's a candle, so I use that light. they have incense, so what the hell, I light a stick. it smells good, it's good incense. my eyelids get heavy and I crash.
I pop and bathe quick, bobby's gonna take me to lake michigan for a big pedal. the weather is so happening, like cali on a good day: sun shining bright from a blue sky but w/no heat or humidity - perfect temp and only a tiny wind. we gotta go a way through the city and a bunch of traffic to get there but once there, it's all clear for pedaling. the water is righteous blue w/no waves, like a huge pool. there's some big boats out there too. I go south and the wind is in my face. bobby drops out and I'm pedaling alone. I'm going as fast as these legs on this little folder will take me and my heart is pumping big time. blood rushing through the watt plumbing, I dig it. even the gigs don't get me going like this cuz I have to be careful the way I'm standing w/my knees, they're so fucked up. on the bike, there's no fear for my knees, just as long as I take it easy on hills and not strain them. they feel safe twirling w/out fear of weight twisting them out of joint. also, the bike brings me to places full of eye gifts and the state of my mind is so open to these, I just let them tumble in and fill me. there's these big buildings of downton going bye as I head past this restaurant done up as a ship. a little breakwater to ride out on and back, it's rusted out light beacon creaking as I blow by squeaking - I wonder what's making this racket? don't even have to use my bell cuz folks ahead can hearing me coming a mile away. lots of folks sharing the path, you know they're digging this weather too. some are just konked on the shore, in full soak of the sun. I get to this place called the navy pier and it's a bummer, not what I thought at all. some neat sculptures outside it - like old pier pilings w/giant rusted nails in them to abstract types of sub-structures for bigger geometries kinds of stuff - but the actual "navy pier" is some fucking mersh disney kind of shit. sight seeing buses and shops full of crap and plastic. very tourist. I gotta turn around and get the hell out of this dodge, yuck. the wind is w/me this way and I'm really blazing. the only real hazard is these rollerbladers who bogart the whole path w/their swaying from one side to the other, damn. very unpredictable. I play it safe though and cut the a lot of slack and keep an open barrier in front, no tailgating from watt. I see bobby sitting there beside his bike and he said he could see the crazy man and his bright orange hat w/the spastic legs twirling miles away and he knew he just had to wait. we go north of where we first started and there's a statue of an indian w/no name, a totem pole carved w/a thunderbird then a man riding a whale on top of a sea monster and then a small boat marina. bobby drops off of this leg too and once again I'm pedaling alone. I am not a jock or an athlete but I gotta keep the pedals up to get my mind and body in that desired state of whirling. man, does it help my head too - I can just my thoughts flow while at the same time keep totally aware of the situation I'm pedaling through. my ears and eyes most focused on how I'm to fit into the exact moment of where I am. like a sailboat at sea, you do not tell the wind how to blow but rather seek to understand what's it's doing. we go back through the city and head to bucktown where the pad is. tom and vince are ready to bail so it's into the boat w/the little folder and behind the wheel w/watt - we're off!
we head over to this pad called the beat kitchen cuz that's where john, the soundman from iowa city, is supposed to have my little bass which I sorely miss. we get there and yes! john's standing there w/it in hand - I bearhug him up big time. I am so grateful. we put that baby in the back and I feel a little more whole. north now to milwaukee and to _shank hall_, our gig for tonight there.
only a hundred miles and we're there pretty quick, excellent navigating from vince. shank hall is named after the pad in the spinal tap movie and there's a whole wall in the pad dedicated to that. it's been remodeled since I've last been there. steve, the man there, is real good to us and gets some "mrs. renfro's," a great salsa for being sold in a store. it's got real habaneros and some heat, what I dig. I get some soup across the street and there's some articles about me in the papers here about my sickness. I feel very fortunate to get to sail my boat through the towns and swing the low hoe, I really do. go back and so soundcheck and then who shows up? _bargain music_, the band that's gone be w/us for the next bunch of gigs. they're from long beach and I produced their debut record. happening band and people. josh is one hell of a singer as is skelly on raps, trey on guitar, jeff on bass, phil on drums and sean on the knobs. I say hi and then into the boat to konk.
I get woke by tom and it's time. this stage here is real dead and everything sounds muffled. it's a hard one to work. I'm so glad though to be working the little bass however and these folks are great to play for. the soundman has the little bass going into some cheap direct box before the amp and the cord keeps shorting out, aaarrrggghhhhh, I gotta watch how I step. vince and tom whup it up good and I dig that even though it's hard to either of them, I'm cracking up at the looks on their faces, the gestures and such. good men, the pliers. after encores, I ask for a pad and a cat named matt offers his. this other man, a bassist from _the mahogany throttle_ offers too but I've already said yes to matt. I always feel kind of like I'm letting someone down when there's more than one option but what can I do, split the band up? can't do that. I just want to know I still appreciate it big time.
matt gets in the boat and his wife drives ahead. he plays too. I tell him I think it's very happening that a lot of the cats who come see me also play too. this makes the gap between us smaller, I think. folks can relate better if they have a hand in it. his pad has a back yard we can moor the boat in great. always dig it when I feel safe about her. the room I'm in is all lined w/cork, what a trip! there's two dogs and one of them's a malamute named tasha and very much full of love. she's great and cuddles all w/me - oh my, she's digging the smells the tour man has brought from all over. I talk w/matt about music and things for a little while but then I must let myself be dragged asunder. I pull down my mask to leave a hint and I don't even know when the lights actually go out cuz they're definitely out for this tired sailor - lighthouse lamp eyes hooded, fog horn mouth open and snoring.
saturday, september 30, 2000 - detroit, mi
we have a long ride to michigan and loose an hour to boot. during tours we spend most of our time in van and we have gotten good at entertaining ourselves, most of which would be difficult if not meaningless to convey in print. hopfully we get enough pictures to remind us of the insanity on the long roads later. it's also times like these that make me think of home. I think of my wife diana, the things that I want to do when I get home and the life that goes on while I'm away. today is aspecialy tough cause it's my brother in law jason's birthday and I am sad not to be able to be a part of it. happy birthday jason. tour can sometimes be hard on me emotionally, if you haven't figured that out yet. most of the time we're busy enough to just be so much in the present that time flys right by but the travel time in the van is when I wonder what I'm missing and if I can keep doing it....of course I love playing and I'm dedicated to it completely but I'm also very much a home type person and it's important to keep it all balanced. all I know is wouldn't ever be able to do it without diana's help, no way.
well we get into detroit right on time after a 7 hour drive and load into the shelter club. upstairs from the club is another, bigger venue called st. andrews and there's a big hip hop type show going and it's booming and rattling the raffters like crazy. we get set up and I make some calls and after checking we hit the local greek district for some food. they have some big casinos and it makes me think of diana and jay and everyone who will be partying in vagas later tonight, damn I just can't get away from the reminders. oh well, we eat and head back and wait for the bargain music guys to arrive.
people start filling up the club and still no bargain music, we just hope everything's cool with them and about nine they show up. they basially have to load, set up and play which is a lame thought after that long drive. no problem though and they deliver another great show, I advise anyone to check them out if you can. our set is good but a little bit tough again, just as far as keeping our energy up for an hour+. at the end of the set I play drums and I put the kick pedal through the bass drum head and it throws me off so I kind of choke. I also feel bad to do that to vince, I know how much those things cost and now we have to find another....oops.
we head to bob's place outside of town and I go straight to bed to keep from missing out on the fun in vegas. never the less I have an intense dream and I wake up in a delerious state but I mellow out and slip back into sleep.
I wake up and shower and smell good coffee. downstairs matt has got some good java indeed, what a treat. we leave and drive to detroit, where my dad grew up. the crew at shelter at st. andrews, a basement club beneath the big theater there is great, helping us in, and doing a pro job sound checking us. more friendly people who are extremely good at what they do. it greases the wheels, friends. two of the cats take us to greektown for dinner; I eat too much - fried smelts, some cheese on fire dish, greek chicken and rice. it's good, but I'm stuffed. bargain music does another great set. we play really well, I think. mike says afterward that he was self-conscious, and that it happens about every ten or eleven gigs. I have to fight that all the time, but this tour I've been winning, all praises to Jah or whatever you like. our buddies chris, melanie, greg and good old bob teagen are there to video tape the show and hang out. it's great to have a bunch of friends around, like family, really. we head over to bob's after the gig for a comfortable hang-out, a view of a wendy hour bob video of mudhoney and then crash.
we gotta bail right away - tonight's gig is in detroit - lose an hour for a time zone change, go around the chi-town freeway plug and do a butt-full of miles. I hose off, gotta use channel locks on this shower and roust the pliers. matt makes coffee, we throw it down, say farewell and thank you. we dodge most of the plug but skirting through the suburbs but boy, do things slow down in michigan near ann arbor. the I-94 goes down to one lane and just our luck it's football day for the wolverines and all those intellectuals yelling "go blue." it takes an hour to go three miles. we persevere though and make it to tonight's pad _the shelter_ (the basement of st. andrew's hall) only a couple minutes after load-in, barely any lateness at all. damn, that was a seven and half hellride for watt. my nerves are a little frayed. it's that backed up shit that really gets on you - you want to leave a safety cushion in front of the boat and what do peckers do? they jam right up in there, real tight, like the car in front of them had a trailer hitch and they want to get a free ride. what a bunch of dicks. the signs say the lane is closing, do we all make like a zipper and alternate one car at a time to form one lane? no, assholes charge right down the closing lane and try to force themselves into the open lane where the other one ends. it's really hard to be optimistic about the human race when you see these perversions of liberty being exercised by "us folk." I want to puke but instead laugh so I can feel better about it.
a quick soundcheck and we get to know the crew, soundman chris and these two cats, who of which, the damned alzheimer's demon has robbed me forever of their names, are very nice and talk w/me of gigs they seen me do when they were kids and I was not as old of a man. they're very nice and make me feel at home. I go get a greek salad (we are right next to greek town) and do an interview w/these two high school kids who have a radio station at their school (yes!). though only seventeen, they really got it on and ask me great stuff (except for some questions from a friend of thier's they had brought w/them, like "what's your favorite led zeppelin song?" and "who's better, chris squire or john entwhistle?"). they're curious as to what people like me think of what kids are like and what they can do. I tell them I think kids should stand up for themselves against all the labeling that gets shoved on them and be creative and really pursue the arts. the gotta really get away from being a targeted consumer market cuz that's what all the "adults" grew up to be. I don't think there is one way to be a kid, it's about being as individualistic as someone older - sure, you gotta learn about things but when should that stop for anybody? older folks need to make bridges to kids and stop being so afraid of them. that's one thing I like about gigs. I can play for kids and help fire them up maybe. I'd like to fire up people my age too. believe me - I, myself, would like to be fired up by anyone! I think we've been tricked into believing it's objects or the accumulation of objects that inspire and keep us lit.
I write some postcards, this tour w/the pliers is almost halfway done, hard to believe. I think tomorrow's gig is the midpoint. damn, does the shit sure fly when you're swimming in it. I find a dice on the ground, a detroit dice. it's green and the number facing up is two. even though it's night, the temp is nice and it's no prob hoofing around. all these old, big buildings of downtown detroit, I wish they could tell me all the stories stuffed in them. after a little bit, I go to the boat to konk. I wonder where bargain music is?
I have a weird dream sort of like some of the ones I've been having the last couple of days where I'm playing in a band I don't even know what they sound like. the other night had me walking towards this huge stage in the middle of a empty field w/some big posse w/most of them around a singer guy w/tattoos and a backward baseball cap. I got my bass and it takes forever for me to get up the stairs, like stairs on a boat from below decks, and here I am, ready to play w/a band I don't even know what they sound like and know none of their songs. that's when I popped awake. these dream is I'm w/this band that looks like steppenwolf but they're not, they're some band that had a picture on the wall at shank hall. I don't even remember them going to a stage, more like them just sitting in big padded chairs and me thinking, "when are we going to get this road on the show?" very frustrating.
tom pops the hatch and I'm down the stairs for the gig. good friend bob teagan has brought some shirts the nice folks and tannis have mailed. chris and greg are there to film and record. old bro e. wolf is there too - long time no see and I hug him hard. he's seen me many times and it's good to see him again. weird though, as soon as we get into the first song, I get self-conscious. fuck, I'm starting to get afraid. the monitors aren't on and I start talking to the soundman in a song, why? how fucking retarded, I should've waited 'til the tune was over. what is up w/me? this always happens every twelve or something gigs, why? I start blowing some parts. oh my. I want to bolt, I want to run from the stage. vince and tom are playing good but I start doubting everything I'm doing. a string breaks, the 'd' and it's in a weird place - at the nut (up by the headstock) instead of down by the bridge where it usually does. I start to talk w/the audience while I change it. some guy says "bootlicker." he didn't mean anything, he just fucked up, he meant to say "bootstrappers," a band that elliott sharp built around me and george hurley for an album we all three did in the late 80s for greg ginn. in fact, elliott has asked me about resurrecting it w/george and doing a little tour. I'd love to when I get time. anyway, back to the gig. I call this cat a motherfucker cuz I think he called me a bootlicker, I ask him why he'd say something like that and then I realize what had happened, how he screwed up. boy, do I feel real stupid now. man, what a jerk you are watt, why don't you think before you say idiotic shit like that. I'm letting the insecurity thing throw my whole focus, I wish I could get a handle on it, damn. I'm so embarrassed. finally the gig is over, thank god. I feel like giving everyone their money back but they all come up to the stage and want to get shirts, singles and stickers from me. man, there is a strange feeling in me. they're telling me all these nice things and I'm feeling like I did one shitter of a gig. damn, I wish I could come for air somehow and get over this. I just gotta be grateful and know I got another chance tomorrow night to do better. I think of strong people I know, those w/powerful inside character and try to draw on that. I'm so lucky to have people like that in my life. the cats too, right here in front of me. this is a strange life for me, I am so full of doubts.
we pack up and head to bob teagan's pad. greg, chris and melanie come too. bob fires up his giant tv, I mean this tv is big. maybe six feet square. he plays tenko, this incredible guitarist from japan. I watch this song bob shot of her playing live solo that she sings in japanese and plays the best guitar ever. I see this video every time I'm at bob's, I dig it so. after this, bob plays some new sonic youths playing in d.c. w/footage they shot of their town (nyc) being shown on a screen behind them. I see "tom violence," watching thurston twisting as he works his guitar but boy, am I beat and still feeling ridiculous after that crummy song and dance I just gave. even more like an idiot after seeing ho good theses folks are. it's a trip, there's more than just the four of them - some other cat is playing guitar too. at least kim is doing bass. "brother james," my favorite tune to see them play is next but not even that can keep the heavy lids on watt open and after a few bars, konk soon takes me into the detroit night.
sunday, october 1, 2000 - cleveland, oh
not too long to cleveland and we trverse through the old part of town that obviouosly at one time was a very wealthy neiborhood. the grog shop is a great little bar that we played last year, great people there too. the usual movement of equipment and such and waiting to play but the gig gets going with a local band called the chargers play high energy rock like the stooges used to do. they're entertaining. at the door I see john from the cleveland band, cobra verde, a fantastic band that we did some shows with last tour and who we'll be doing more with in a week or so. it's great to hang out with him again and soon chas and mark of c.v. walk in too.
after bargain play we set up and play maybe our best show yet, it just had a good flow to it and we played with heart which is how we like to do it. we spend time after the show loading out and cruising over to ray's place where we will be spending the night. needless to say I brush my teeth, make my bed on a couch and sleep. preparing for the next day's adventure.
what a nice treat - almost eight hours of sleep. bob offers up cereal with soymilk, macadamia nuts, raisins and banana's and I load up a bowl. something in it...maybe the macadamia's as I was the only one to eat them, or maybe just the rich mixture - makes me kind of sick. I have to lie down and contemplate the bowl embrace. I wander across the street with bob and tom after getting up to investigate what the little girl sitting in a lawn chair with a sign is selling. why they're "oogly dudes", designed and handcrafted by the young entrepeneur, fuzzy little creatures with google eyes with colored pipe cleaner antennae that one wears as a ring. I buy one, and so does bob and tom. we buy one for watt. melanie comes over and it is my pleasure to sponsor the design of her oogly dude. at a quarter each, they're a bargain. we split, mike and tom wearing theirs. the ring part on mine is too small for my finger, so I put it on the geek pen in my pocket. when we hit the first toll booth, we snap the reaction of the toll clerk spying the oogly dude. she's a good sport and smiles broadly. to the grog shop we go. the grog shop in cleveland is a great down club, funky and gritty, but with a really good p.a. and sound man. mike, the sound man, dials in a good monitor mix...loud and clear. I go and eat with chris, melanie, greg and mary, melanie's mom. the band that opens up is really good, with a hard driving grooving mc5 type sound. they have a ton of energy, and keep the grooves solid. bargain music plays good again. our set is good, although my drums and cymbals have migrated through my constant fussery and are akward. but I think I get by ok. my arms and hands are tensing up a lot now - the fast tempo tunes are adventures for me. but I think I'm holding on ok. I'm getting into the role of supplying the engine of drive from the drum chair, but sometimes when the tempo's are flying I'm just holding on. it's a gas having enough vocal monitor, though, and it's a gas to sing. we finish, load out, say goodbye to team michigan and head over to uncle ray's to crash. uncle ray regales us with tales of rock journalism until I have to crash, outside on the screened in porch. it's a beautiful night and sleep is welcome.
beautiful blue skies in the suburbs of detroit await watt and his little foldup bike moment after he pops. show later. pedal now. not one hill in sight. just long, wide roads w/names like 'twelve mile road,' thirteen mile road,' 'fourteen mile road'... you get the picture. I pedal my brains out. bob lives in a small burb called frazier and I ride all through that, then roseville and then warren. lots of track home and strip mall along w/the typical landscaping. no eye gifts from nature for watt. lots of tail pipe though. aaarrrggghh. it feels good to pump my legs like crazy though, I dig it much and work up into a froth. there's a college called macomb and I go into it's south campus parking lot, which is empty, and do laps upon laps, up and down the empty rows of vacant spots. half of it is bumpy and the other half, smooth. I do the smooth part many times over. no traffic, no fears. cloudless blue over me, a canopy of clear sky - weather righteous. for two hours, I lose my mind in this pedaling dance. somehow I find my way back, luckily masons built the town, no doubt. it's mason street that gets me back. never did see the lodge in frazier. did see one in roseville, happening stain glass window w/their symbols.
chris and greg bag the shirts from tannis that came to bob when I get back. an easy drive to cleveland so there's no rush. both of them guys plus melanie and bob are gonna come film tonight's show at the _grog shop_, I think my third time playing there. we pull up and get a great spot right in front, just like I dig. soundcheck then an artist named mike who was a sailor talks w/me, then uncle ray. uncle ray's pad is where we're konking tonight by his invite. next is exit stage boat, pedal boy needs to recharge the fuel cell. I'm doubling up my thoughts regarding making up for last night - no repeat on the choke mode. I try and stomp down those shame anxieties w/balled-up fists of muster, a war in the head for me. even in the dark here in the back of the boat, I'm shadowboxing the fear feelings that got me tangled up in their briars. I flop and spin, finally rescued by a curtain of konk.
it's time. kathy, the boss, is outside talking w/some folks and comes gives me a hand w/the shirts. good crowd. I see john and chaz from cobra verde, damn - I better do good. I see matt wascovich and kevin costello too, who, along w/brother matt in pedro, have done a little tag-team poetry that includes me, a four-way renga, "full service love kafka character" (you can find it at http://hootpage.com/hoot_fslkc-p1.html). I put the little bass on and hold feelings of love tight to my heart. does that sound corny? tough shit, I have to say. I was not born to play in front of folks and sometimes to do so requires me to do things like that. one thing for sure, I am determined not to falter like last night. if I'm to falter it's gonna be cuz of something else and not getting scared. I really, really try hard. I'm kind of relaxed too, seeing I just woke up about three minutes ago. I imagine I'm just popping awake at dawn and going to pedal immediately like I did this morning. thinking of good things sleep sometimes brings you. instead of pumping the legs, I'm doing it w/the fingers. no hesitation - you do that on the bike, you fall over. gotta just follow it through. the set goes good. vince and tom rally to the cause. they are not self-centered egoists and want to help me, much respect to them. we get done and I'm happy I didn't blow it again, so fucking relieved.
we pack up and I do the business w/the "bobby de niro" ($). I tell kathy hi from creighton, who asked me to do so - he's an old friend of hers who now, along w/a cat named will has asked me to score a soundtrack for this movie they're making early next year about a meth cook and some kid spinning on the shit called "spun." I've always thought of my songs as little films and dig this chance to have a shot at actually making sounds to pictures. can't wait. many thanks to the grog peoples, meet melanie's mom (chris takes our picture and asks everyone to say "cock and balls" as he snaps - damn, asking mom to say "cock and balls?") and follow uncle ray to his pad. we see like eight hombre cars on the way, uncle ray has gotten lost. he hasn't had a car since 1982 and is in a rental now. finally we make it there and he breaks out some chips and salsa. real fucking tame so we 'dave' it up w/the insanity sauce and uncle ray tells us some go stuff, he's a great spieler. w/the salsa consumed, I'm flat out on the deck, trying to cover what spilled and is probably burning holes in the carpet now. mask over the eyes, blanky over the body, I lay calm and grateful for pulling out of yet another slump. thank you d. boon for letting me be your bass player all those years ago. thanks for others too I've been lucky to have in my life. then, konk.
read week 2 of the tour diary
read week 4 of the tour diary
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this page created 4 oct 00