mrs elizabeth is very beautiful pregnant and we catch up some cuz last time I saw her was the stooges doing the hall of lame hustle for madonna last year. catherine now can make speech but it's her own secret language... she's a little shy but let's it out when she doesn't feel on the spot, like when we get talking. I tell mrs elizabeth about kirstin's baby coming, I try to tell her about as much as can 'till we missingmen do our soundcheck w/soundman phil (so lucky every soundy so far as been very cool people) and then back talking to her up to the time the clock on red square across the street says it's time to go (the numbers on it are all fucked up!) and as I'm saying my byes - here comes my lite brothers!! I get to introduce her and catherine to them, then big hugs all around. now these are the very happening people that took me on my brother's sister's daughter japan tour of 2008 and though it was my fourth time over to that land (the first time being w/j mascis + the fog in 2001, where I met eiko-san - she had wristwatch that took digishots!), it was the first time I got to play their underground scene and smaller town - stuff other than just tokyo, osaka and nagoya and it was a blast for me, konking at folks' pads like I do here on my watt u.s. tours. anyway, it's so good to see them. actually, there's an old friends in both the other opening bands - john de vries is solo and has just made a solo album, he's poughkeepsie cat from a great band called agitpop. the band after him, the kahootz has for a drummer mister george berz who was the stickman for j mascis + the fog when I worked for j. I meet his little boy elliott - his attention can not be brought to bear on me but I'm still very glad to meet him. george now works construction and stuff on martha's vineyard. these cats in his band are from there too and they're so very kind to let kouzou in lite borrow an amp (the use all our missigmen stuff but we got only one amp that nobuyuki uses), that's so great of them. after they soundcheck, I take them a block west to katz's where there's chow I'm guessing they've never had - I get a chopped liver sandwich and they get either roast beef or corned beef and they are not used to either the size or tastes but trip on it. beautiful cali-like weather too here in this town - I'm so glad their first u.s. gig ever is tonight and I could help them make it happen. I go to the boat to konk.
I pop in time to go up on stage and introduce my buddies lite and it's so great the gig is sold out (spencer, who's making a documentary on my best friend raymond had to ask for guest list as did old pal don flemming) which is very happening cuz I want folks to see and hear them play. they do really good and the new york crowd really gives them good respects and enthusiasms - I'm so happy for them. it's our turn next and we're fired up cuz of how they lit up the stage but it's kind of tough gig a little bit - sometimes I get self-conscious sometimes and though it ain't a total wail w/that kind of lame feeling, it is kind of there and I blow some clams but my guys help me stay in the stich and be w/them. the gig-goer people are very happening and support me well too, I'm very grateful and wish I would've been a little more together but am glad I didn't really blow it. man, I really wanted to play good for brother tony and miry too - play good for everyone, tom and raul too. man, it seems like the gig is over in a flash of an eye. it's the first time my lite brothers have seen the missingmen too.
I sling shirts and meet lots of very kind cats and some old friends - my man outside the van, bookerman steve kaul (been w/him twentytwo years - we figured it out right) is there and I am so glad to hug him up and see him again, wow. megan who works w/him too is there... so is jimbo but w/out wife and daughter - he's got old friend olivia w/him who helps me much w/loading when shirts are all slung and talking w/folks is done. it's so good to rap w/brother tony one more time and though I'm kind of embarrassed I didn't do as good as I thought I could have, I am so glad he's here w/me - it's a mindblow, actually. I see evan dando for a tiny bit - wow, great surprise - he asks me to do bass on a tune when he records what he calls a "cover album" - fuck yeah I would, no prob, am into it! he has a trippy beard now. I go to get the boat for load up and I find a fucking ticket on the windshield - the lite brothers have one too... it's street cleaning time at midnight - shit! that's sixtyfive fucking clams, oh well. tom goes off w/his lady caroline and I take raul in the boat w/the lite team in their rented one in tow. fuck, there's a huge plug on the fdr going north - we're stuck in it before I can do anything about it - no fucking warning but what is even funnier (or more insane) is getting to the plug that's supposedly about construction and there's no fucking work going on! what?!!! we finally get up to jimbo's pad - I get a call from thurst who's at katz's (now three am!) and tell him, shit, I can't go turn around and chow though man, I wish I could in a big way so I tell him very sorry... we get to jimbo's and all of us lay out on the deck. I had raul get some beers as we were shoving off (downtown delis stay open, not the ones up here but they're ten bucks a six! damn). we use that same parking pad as last night, the hoof though puts a big hurt on brother jun's back - damn, I didn't know he hurt it like five years ago - he tells me it was at a gig, rocking out (he's twentyfive now, the other cats in the band about three years older than him) and I feel like such an idiot, not dropping him off and just us hoofing from the parking pad but he says it's ok - these guys are beautiful and so even w/that I feel it's a great night for me though cuz I could help my nakamas and that makes me konk real REAL lucky to be able to do that.
Got very good sleep here at jimbo's. Didn't wake till past 11 a.m. After some coffee and laundry, it's time to bail to the club. We got a 3p.m. sound check, and it will maybe take us an hour to get down to the mercury. Easy going down, lots of picture of the many bridges crossing the river. Tom's there pretty much when we are, and helps me hold a spot for the boat across the street. Not needed though, watt finds one right across the cross walk from the club. After phil does the check, i go with tom to meet with carolne and a friend of hers, maybe some lunch. I spaced back at the club though, and didn't put any of my drum cases away.... so there just sitting on the floor in front of the stage. Kinda of lame right, i hoof it back and tell Tom and co. that maybe i'll meet up with them later. On the way back saw a lady beat her dog. Very sick sight, i gave her the most disgusted look i had as turned right in the door of the merc. I could hear her curse me as i walked back inside. Fuck that lady, must suck to be her.
Once the cases were moved, which took me about two minutes, i had a big walk around the city. Man this placed is packed full of people. In all the crowd hustle and buildings though, there's community gardens every few blocks on the less major streets. Beautiful calm places in all this craziness. Also there was a silver lineing in getting split up from Tom and co. While walking i ran into an old friend dan from the milwaukee band the modern machines. He's been brooklyn for almost two years now. He's in the city to check out a band fronted by brontez from gravy train. Tis new band he's got is called the younger lovers. Man it'd be way cool to see brontez, so i get the location of the place and head over a bit before the show starts. It's at an art gallery not too far from where we'll be playing tonight so after a call home and a stop at the whole foods to grab dinner, i make the walk over. Gig is twelve bucks, but i tell the guy my situation. Basically that i want to say hi to somebody and that i'm also in town to play myself. He has no prob letting me in for free to check out the younger lovers set. He tells me most the cash goes to gallery and not the band anyhow...nice of that door guy. Youngers lovers were great, kinda like early redd kross. Lady from atlanta playing the drums, and another lady from nigeria on the bass... then brontez very open about his preference brother fronting the group on guitar and vocals. Trippy mix, punk rock. So glad i got to see em' play here in n.y.
Back track a bit. Before i had walked over to the gig, watt introduced me to the guys in lite, tokyo band. Such nice folks, and already smiles all around. We will be on tour together for the next five days, and this will be there first show in the united states. Wow, to play the first gig in new york, must be a trip for them.
I make it back just in time to check out the opener, also a friend of the other dudes, john deVries. He going solo tonight, with just the guitar. I take a seat on the floor, feeling to tired in the legs to stand right now. Great songs and voice man. He seemed so exposed up there, it made his show a bit edgy to me, seemed so genuine. Got to meet him for a sec in brooklyn when he showed up at he studio g. Tonight i had more time to talk with him after his set, pleasure to meet Mr deVries after hearing so much about him. i missed the second group though, I was with dan across the street on a stoop, got a chance to catch up while he ate some indian food, and i had indian coffee.
Another blow away was lite. I had heard a song while searching out the funanori stuff, but that was awhile ago, and i didn't remember to much about it. These guys are great players, and no words, just intricate instrumental songs. They were so together that i stared to get psyched out while they did they're set. Man were they on point...i got intimiated, not by them ofcourse, they're the sweetest dudes. I think that maybe the weird feeling came on from being around all these people, some anxiety was there about playing too. I was right in front, so with their instrument weaving and the sold out show behind me, i started to feel suffocated. I had to go out and some air... whew!
Kinda a rough one for me tonight, my head was in an odd space. Anxiety, inadequate feeling because all the other players were so on point. I was also kind of in a piss poor mood that came right before our set, and just fatigued from walking all day. I know i'm sounding pissy, but truth is truth. It was hard for to get my head in the game, i was too busy thinking about the weirdest shit and not the moment. Some how got thru it, but the night was not over. I think the people were starting to get to me. Not individual, but the crowd as a whole. Such nice people at the show though, so nothing about them, maybe the idea of all these bodies cramped together with only one way out. That trapped feeling came back. Just going back and forth from the club to van was a stress case. The place is set up kinda wacked, and the bar is right next the front door, so just getting out is a hugh hassle. Almost got hit by an asshole while getting shirts. I was so glad to get the hell out, but not before a final kick. Watt gets a ticket for parking, and we spend thirty four bucks on three six packs. Oh, also a forty five minute bumper to bumper traffic jam at two thirty in the morning...aarrggghhh!!!!! It never seems to end here in this city. Really fucked thing was that all the work trucks are taking up lanes, and there's nobody there to do any work. Very glad once us and the lite friends finally make it back to jimbo's. The day was great but the night was was just a series of suck.
i hear little feet running up and down the hall, and past the door of the tiny room that caroline and i occupy an air mattress in. it's mindy and john's little boy, jack, and i listen and think about what it would be like to have a child. after some fading in and out of wake-ness, i exit our space into the rest of the apartment in park slope and sit while caroline makes a cup of coffee for me. it's a nice feeling, though strange to be out of the tour routine for a moment. usually i hear mike talking to eiko via skype, or explaining something to some local's eager ears. the morning time crawls by as i await a load of laundry to finish. soon mindy and jack emerge from a morning nap and we hang out and i play some guitar while jack works on becoming comfortable with me. soon, however, i have to get into manhattan to go to the club where we play tonight and help load in. caroline meets up with her friend, sam. it's a very early load in, 3pm, which kind of cuts the day in half. parking is a drag in manhattan and the early load time is practical, so we do what we gotta do. after our soundcheck i meet up with caroline and sam and we walk to a couple galleries nearby, and then caroline and i grab some austrian food at a little joint and we have a nice time just sitting together. we head over to another art opening that we're meeting friends at, and bump into sam and ed on a corner in soho. kind of amazing how small things can seem sometimes. steve and sandy are at the gallery too, and we see some other friends from our los angeles world. i need to get to the club and we take a taxi over and caroline goes off to get a massage while i wait in the club. tonight is our first show with a band from tokyo that we are going to do some shows with. and john deVries (old friend & agitpop man) is opening up the show so i want to be there to catch up and hang out. john's show is amazing, i love his voice and he writes great songs and even though it's just voince and electric guitar i have the sensation that an entire band is playing. another group named, kahoots plays too, and chris brokaw joins them on guitar for their last song which is an unexpected bonus. soon LITE goes on and they are totally great. our show feels good so it turns out to be a fun night. caroline and i are really beat by the end of our time at mercury lounge and we need get to bed soon, but it takes time to get out the door because i keep bumping into people i haven't seen a long time. finally, we walk to sam's place nearby and crawl into the fold out bed he has prepared for us and that's that.
saturday, may 9, 2009 - philadelphia, pa
pop when my body says so - konk mask was on so I know it was all taiyo's fault - it's nine bells though, whoa! hose off and get things ready for shove off. jimbo comes by to get coff going w/that righteous machine of his from italy. I talk and catch up w/jimbo where I couldn't much 'till now. he's an old friend, I've known him twentysix years and he's the cat who signed me to columbia records getting me a deal w/total artist control (actually I wouldn't do it w/out that) and I've shared lots of trippy shit w/him. he got me to record w/ron asheton for the wylde ratttz along w/don fleming (who I saw last night) back in 1997, maybe the first thing that got the stooges reunion wagon rolling. I dig jimbo so much and he's very kind to my tokyo friends and always has been to all my band cats all through the years.
the sun's come out good and maybe there was't enough rain to release the moisture in the air I'm feeling - it did rain last night but I think there might be some swelter in phily. it's about hundred miles, "mister nightmare" the garmin navigator voice takes over the hudson river via the george washington bridge (whoa, twice in one tour - can't remember when that happened last!) and we stop on one of thos new jersey turnpike service area/food court trips or whatever (stocked w/only "franchise winners") and I get two nathan dogs w/akinori while his lite brothers go for the whopper greased-up heart stoppers... I tell them to be careful but they were starving and I just couldn't stop in manhattan once we got rolling cuz the parking w/these big boats in that town is fucking tough... they are beautiful cats though and never whine or complain - they are full of hustle. nobuyuki does ask me this though: "you don't hire driver?" and me and my guys bust a gut laughing - no disrespect to him, only big love but that did strike us funny. we get into phily via the ben franklin bridge after coming down I-95 about six bells which is just in time to catch two righteous parking spots (they opened up at six pm) for our two boats across the strett from the north star bar where we're playing, a new pad for me though I hear from the bossman slim it's been there a while. he's from the old days and knows about love hall and stuff like that - he says lee ving and fear are playing up at the troc, wow! I got to do some gigs w/fear at a couple warped tour! gigs last summer - so good to see him again. he fills me in about an old boss at the troc, jo nguyen, who I haven't heard of in ages... sometimes I wonder about folks in the past and wish I could make everyone all safe. he says maybe she's a waitress in london? damn...
we do soundcheck w/a great cat named mike who I learn later teaches a minutemen class at a "rock school" kind of a trip, yeah! he's good people. a local band called american speedway are very kind to lend kouzou an amp for the lite gig, thank you! I chow a sanwich they got here called "whiskey pulled pork" which I can't tell has whiskey but does have pork... pork... hmm... what happened w/that swine flu trip, anyway? I get all out of touch w/the news on tour - the politics of this life are way more acute. I go to the boat and konk, the humidity putting a swelter in my brain and many quickly forgotten dreams wail the fuck out of me. I pop w/tom grabbing my leg after popping open the hatch which is a trippy relief.
good house and great spirit and me and my missingemen do good but it is a tough one for me - like the air keeps itself from getting in my lung and keeps like a foot away, taunting me. we do have a fun time despite that hell - plenty of room behind raul so I can get good close w/my guys - it's a joy doing gigs w/them, really. the monitor are on a balcony right in front - trippy how people can look right on you like they can cuz of the layout and also the sound on stage is kind of weird it being like a tall brick-on-three-sides cube... I wish I could've heard the monitors but I'm more glad folks were into what we were doing a supported the gig much w/their spirit. a sweaty and beat watt is most happy. I sling shirts and talk w/folks - hey there's johnny for the clubber lang gang and he's got a twenty dollar subway gift certificate for me, thank you. there's strider again too (he was in bal'mor) - he thanks me for being a connect for him w/the left coast while he is here on the right one... and then - what's his name, (shit, forgot) it's the cat opening a coffe shop called "black coffee" who gies me an anchor pin that was his grandma's... whoa... much respect... outside the boat, like at front of stage when gig done - though more air for the lung - a man shouting from pad hatch for me to have bourbon he bought - not smart idea for wheelman to be whiskied up so raul takes it for me - that's a very nice man who makes strong impression on both him and tom, they tell me his "me love you long time" impersonation is immortal in their minds even w/his constant acknowledgements of maybe some of his behavior being what he describes as "annoying" - both of them I can tell have much joy - he brought them much joy, I am grateful to him - more than I think I would be for the bourbon.
timmy brought me a bottle of jim beam last gig I passed off, he's here again tonight and the last I hug before shoving off w/a cat johnny pointed our way (by way of friend dan? sorry for bad memory) named vern, who guides us to his pad in the fishtown part of phily (lite brothers behind us) - what a trip cuz last summer I first played the andy bass behind poet charley plymell for byron coley's "no more bush tour" trip. sure love charley and am so glad he made it through the heart surgery he had to have in january... this cat for me is big time sensei, much respect to him. vern's pad is a work in process like the neighborhood, a great vibe about revitalizing and renwal - his wife jess comes home from work and gets everyone situated and we all talk up a real good time 'till... well, maybe it kept going but watt had to konk cuz of tiredness the weight of yet another tour day put him. he went down glad and grateful though.
Did not sleep much last night. Not because of my body being uncomfortable though. Rain was so hard and loud, kinda like on a tin roof. It was coming in thru the a.c., and drumming right next to my head. At first neat little rain beats. Hour two though, very annoying, keeping we awake to think about the countinual suck of the night before. I love n.y., but i'm not bummed we're going to philly today. Spent the mornig talking to paloma back home, and trying to catch up on diary. Then some coffee from jimbo, and getting to know the lite guys a bit better.
Playing a place called the north star tonight. We show a little early, and Tom and i grab a beer before sound check. I don't drink much this early in the day, but a beer sounded good. I feel way better tonight. Much appreciation to paloma for being there to listen to me being a baby about my head trip the night before. Also to Tom for giving me a hug for no reason. Maybe he could see the weird feelings on my face. Made me feel a ton better... simple things right. After sound check of missingmen and lite. I had some food from the club. Tasty portobello mushroom and avacado wrap... great stuff, personally thaked the chef. So glad that shit mood is gone too.
Show was so much better for me than the night before, i felt way more together this time. Not like the pressure in n.y. were i felt like i could pop at any second. Ofcourse the lite guys tore it up, and everybody loved the tunes they played. The only words of the set are at the beginning. We're lite from tokyo, enjoy yourself. They will pick up many u.s fans during these five days, for sure. Earlier in the day i was talking to the drummer of lite. He had told me that he liked my style of playing, much spirit he said... so cool of him to go out of his way like that. He also promised that he'd try to go a little bit crazier tonight, like me he said. Damn, akinori tore it up. Shit, the whole band tore it up. Proud and privileged to be playing these gigs together.
we wake at sam's and he makes us some breakfast and caroline and i walk to st. mark's place to find some new sunglasses, then we get on the subway and immediately break them. typical. caroline is going uptown to the met, we say goodbye for a while and i continue on the subway all the way to 215th street to meet up with mike, raul and lite. we organize and start on the road to phily. on the way i by another pair of sunglasses, and we introduce lite to truck stop foods, infortunately no _subway_, so we go for nathan's hot dogs. when we get to the bar/club we meet lauren who helps us get things going, and with the time we have before the gig we order some food and beer. it's a nice old place called the north star, and the jessa the lass behind the bar is super nice and helps us with our needs. i spend some time talking with lauren about life in phily and polish cuisine, she's vegetarian, with benefits (seafood), and after explaining a family dish using turtle blood i have complete understanding. there's an opening band called american speedway, and they wail through their set at high volume. nice dudes, a little scary looking. lite have another amazing show, people love them. i have a good time playing, and try to stay connected with mike and raul on stage as we ram jam through the tunes. after the show, i order a vegetable quesadilla and drink a couple beers with locals, thank lauren for a good time and mike the sound guy for his help, jessa too, and accept the generous offer from vern to put us all up for the night. it's kind of my job to organize places to stay and now that it's 8 instead of 3 people, it's a bit tricky. however, vern hops in our van and we all head over to his place where he and his wife jesse live. i make the dash for a surface to sleep.
sunday, may 10, 2009 - pittsburgh, pa
pop on the couch at eight bells - on the nose, when I get the konk mask up and the glasses on... I see on the deck five cats in konk sacks w/their heads sticking out and all masked - like they were ready to go back to work as surgeons after a little shut-eye... pretty surreal. of course they're my nakamas, my tomodachis - the lite brothers! vern and jess get coff going for everyone and call up their buds in pittsburgh to arrange a konk pad for us tonight - what kind KIND folks... big respect to them, truly. it's mother's day - I call my ma as we head out of fishtown and into some major fucking downtown phily plug which turns into freeway phily plug - "the town that wouldn't let them leave" starts evolving itself as the next biopic for my fucking life in this moment... oh yeah, my ma - she's doing good and both my sisters melinda and marilyn are gonna take her out for chow. even though it's three hours earlier, it's ok cuz we always do our regular sunday chow at the crack of dawn but she cooks it up for us. our family is very small: just us four. when I'm done, tom calls his ma but it's way too early for them though both his parents are kind and relent. I really dig tom's ma and pop - they're very happening people and come to our gigs all the time, very supportive and always have been. raul says he's gonna call his ma later. we finally clear all the fucking plug - like two hours like I said before getting to cross 'pert-near the entire state of pennslyvania on I-76, about three hundred miles. we stop for chow at a "service center" (it's a turnpike, $19.10 road toll at the end!) and I get a tuna croissant - no subway here but I can't chow that grease crap much... those in the lite band that shoveled "booger fling" yesterday now are a little hurting. we have to wait quite a while for brother kouzou who tells me "much hard work in the benjo" (japanese for where you dump is "benjo")... aaarrrgggghhhhh, so sorry. for them to go from their genki tabimono to our gomi is pretty rough. I'm sure glad though they got to see all the pretty country around these allegheny mountains we cross (and through five tunnels).
lots of bridges in pittsburgh, beautiful this time of year - the town is where three rivers meet and so there's lots of bridges. this is a new pad for me to play in this town, club cafe which is a smaller pad that seems like most of the acts are acoustic but gigboss dave and soundman larry are great to work w/and are very kind to us. and guess who I meet coming into the pad? mister tom of tobacco - wow, I'M A HUGE STUDENT OF THIS MAN'S MUSIC - I really dig what he's doing, got to see his live band black moth super rainbow play last year at the shitting factory but this is just him and maux. they got a film going behind them, some ted nugent thing about shooting to death a keybard and it's "baby" plus parts of their videos which are so great - so much 70s source for goof and spaz. I am captivated just by their soundcheck! it's so good to talk w/mister tom and his graveface labelboss ryan too, my first time meeting him, liking him lots. these are cool people for me, reminds a lot fo the old days, the way their heads are at - what a trippy parallel cuz so many years in between! I feel that in ways w/the lite brothers too. very VERY lucky watt. this pad has chow for us so I have pulled pork sandwich (again!) which is good while I'm chimping diary - man, gotta get caught up and also gotta get the recording one up - aaahhh, well, I do what I can. I am very grateful for the soundman larry here for getting a fender twin for kouzou to use.
tobacco go on and both mister tom and maux have these trippy masks on - well, so does mister ryan but he's just sitting there watching them as they work their music.
it's a righteous set, I stand way up front and trying to take as much in as I can - so many ideas, so many levels (for me) and at the same time econo and 'pert-near elegant - damn, it's a trip - it gives me kind of the feeling of "I wanna be that" - not rip them off and copy their music (though me, flea and kira recorded last month a bass-only cover of "drippy eye") but some BE it. it's not rational, I know but that's the feeling I get. whoa, it's over before I can believe it. lite comes on and moves music in their way which is uplifting on me - I'm so glad to be w/them... I wanna take them on a left coast tour next, that would be so great. the more u.s. folks I can get to see them and make up their own minds about it, the better - something good I feel I can get happening for the kindness I've been shown in this racket. both these bands must've done something cuz I'm fired up to go - so are my guys... I even do a drum solo(kind of - spastic, palsy) along w/raul by letting go of the bass and slapping up cymbals and toms w/my bare hands from behind - I take drum stick blows (accidental) on the hands but it's ok. I'm coiming from behind - I think I'm gonna make sure I have a corridor where I can get behind the drums, not have my bass amp too close to raul. I love getting between him and tom when I don't have to man my mic. soundman larry has the monitors really good, wow - I can believe it actually cuz the season was looking a little toy when I came in but that's what stupid about being judgemental and thinking you got it all figured out - fucking baka watt. I sure wish I could've played a little better as far as blowing clams but maybe it was ok, maybe I was returning some of the righteousness I was soaking in them from these great folks sharing the stage w/us. shit, I forgot - baka watt!!! ed fROMOHIO now lives here and has spent most the night w/me, us talking about all kinds of things. I love edward. he's getting a new trio together but there out of town so he does both "fun house" and "the red and the black" w/us, what a blast! thank you so much, edward... what a brother. I sling shirts and talk w/lots of folks - so many kind people at these gigs to me and my guys - so man these gigs w/lite thank me for bringing them to the u.s. which is so fucking happening, I'm so happy to tell the lite brothers that.
mister tom offers us a konk pad - yeah, whoa... but you know, jess made the ring-ding-ding-a-ling from phily's fishtown last night to her buddy kelly here in pittsburgh for us all to konk w/her so I gotta respect that and give big hugs to the maestro, his lady and buddy, telling them I'll see the so cal gigs at the troub and detroit bar soon after this tour's done. he's asked me to jam some bass at those gigs - in fact, he's got a bass now and is learning to work it, says he's digging a pedal called "woolly mammoth" - hey, j mascis had me use one of those when I was w/him + the fog, ain't that a trip? kelly and her man bill live in an older pad but soon they're moving - shit, they tell me they're getting a pad not too far away for $2,300! that's right, about two months worth of rent for both my apartment and prac pad in pedro and that's to fucking own... whoa!!! seems this town - like lots of other u.s. rustbelt - has got the plight of flight on them heavy... many abandoned pads so cities are making them econo to try and do something about it. kelly and bill have lived all over the u.s. and now they believe this is where they can make a home happen cuz of it being econo enough. their very kind and most interesting buddy frank (the same goes for them, respect!) brings over a bottle of scotch and though I'm partial to bourbon, down it goes and up goes the spiel. my lite brothers are righteous tourmates and great to share the guest to such kind hosts such as kelly and bill or vern and jess (last night) or jimbo on friday. they got some english down and I have to tell you u.s. folks are very interested in cats from japan doing what they're doing, making expression w/art (in their case, music) and also just being authentic parallels (kind of) of maybe what's happening w/folks involved w/do-it-your-self expression - actually a contact that's w/out the gatekeeper, w/out the tollbooth or censor/decider/framer. I'm so glad this one-on-one w/different land folks is something I can help a little w/and well, to try and get happening cuz I'm glad it got happening w/me. so much is decided upon by information from images and goofy stereotype shit. fuck that. I konk when the whisky runs out.
Fuck, last one to wake up this morning. Maybe one too many cervezas the night before, a little whiskey at the north star bar too. Had much fun hanging with the lite guys. I crack the eyes, and i can hear watt saying, i guess raul wants to stay in philly... bullshit. I know it's a bluff, but it sounds like it's time to get up and get it together right. I half stumble down the stairs tossing the sleeping sack at watt. Damn, looks like everyone has been up for hours, already got food and coffee going, me looking like i was just beaten. In truth, no reason for the rush. We hit a major jam, and it takes what feels like days to get out of town.
Mother's day today. I give my mom a call once we stop for piss/food break. Some lite friends have bubble guts, and tell mike "much hard work in the benjo" Toilet in japanese. Man to be honest... me too. Great to talk with my mom. She lets me know that she's doing good, and that one of my sisters along with her family will come over later to make her a seafood dinner. I call other sis too, and leave a message of happy mothers day for her.
Playing club cafe tonight, first time at this club for us missingmen. kinda a upper crust looking dinner joint, not punk club at all. After we do the check. I hoof it around the town to see what there is to see. Don't go to far though, stopped at the beehive coffee house to get juiced. Decide to hang for a bit too. played some pinball, chimped a bit and checked the email. While walking back to the club, i got a call from the infamous jer trebotic, Drummer man for the secondmen. Jer's a riot, and always great to hear from him. Ofcourse i get the usual questions, how much sucking out loud is going on, who's reaching around who. He also ask about our studio g time. I tell him it went smooth, and came out nice. Well, he'll be thhe judge of that he tells me.
Damn, missed the opener, tobacco. Watt shows me some shots he took of there set though. Man, looks very strange. The three of them are wearing these old chinese men mask... kinda creepy looking, sucks i missed em. Lite is up next. Again these guys from tokyo do a great job. Captivating the crowd, and i'm sure gaining some new u.s fans. Our turn next. I had a rough time on this stage. The sound just seemed so small, like we were tiny guys up there. Made it hard for me to put everything into it. I gotta remember that stage sound if way diff than what folks are hearing though, and just go for it right. Best time for me was getting a chance to play with ed crawford, guitar man from fIREHOSE. He came up to do fun house and the red and black with us. I had met him once very briefly as a boy going to see fIREHOSE at the palomino in north hollywood, but this was truly treat for me to get to play and talk with him. Very nice man. He also mentioned that he's got a new trio going, the ed crawford band.
We were hooked up with a pad to stay through the nice folks we stayed with in philly. So after some photo time with tabacco, and also chris, mel and bob T who came to film the show, we follow kelly and bill to there place just a few miles away. Very nice people to do this for us. putting up eight strangers in their home. Jun, lite bass player is a hugh coffee lover, anytime day or night. So bill makes up a strong pot and some of us have coff past midnight. It's his own that he roasted when he was living in brooklyn, and he shared the last of it with us... great gesture. This is a trippy place, very thin but high, three floors up. Tom and i go all the way to the top and share a little space in the attic style bedroom/computer room/storage. He takes the bed, and i rock the floor next to it. After a quick call home to let people know that i'm thinkin' about em' sleep comes easy, regardless of the coffee.
i have a dream of me sitting on the bed where i slept, raul is still asleep. i sit there looking at my computer and watching a short film of some kind which starts off outdoors in the early morning, with a small pick up truck sitting in a desert wash looking like it is stuck on a sand bar, two people waking up not knowing how they got there. from behind some desert shrubbery, two 4X4 pick ups come charging towards the crippled vehicle in a very aggressive way and come to skidding stops on either side of it, hemming it in. the mood is tense and scary. and as the dusty sand settles around the trapped little truck, a deep male voice over comes on to say "YOU NEED A JUNIOR LAWYER". at this moment the mood is switched into a comedy or parody. it becomes clear that some sort of legal battle, or competition is going to take place. maybe the guys in the stranded pick up are layers, and the young, aggressive 4X4's represent the junior layer? or maybe holding them there till the junior lawyer arrives? whatever. now it's all surreal and the background setting opens into a fold out stage, almost like a game show, with high tech computer banks of servers. rows and rows of them, with technicians everywhere ready to operate the equipment during the lawyer vs. junior lawyer battle. at this point i hear a female voice behind me, and i feel it move around as if whoever it is moving from left right and back again. it's a creepy sensation and it wakes me out the light sleep that i'm in. it's so vivid that i run downstairs and tell mike about it right away.
monday, may 11, 2009 - cleveland, oh
pop at eight bells from the couch in the front room (watt's favorite konk choice if available on tour) and hose off in the basement - pads like these had you hose off like that in the old days cuz that's exactly what you did after working at the steel plant - first douse w/the work clothes on! we continue on w/good spiels like we did last night - minus the booze though cuz that's only for after the gig and on the way to sleepytown, to konk. we got a drive ahead of his but I small one, less than three hours to cleveland (actually the cleveland heights part on the east side) in nextdoor neighbor state ohio so we ain't gotta go for a bit... kelly and bill telling about their adventures that led them up to this point in the lives. we thank them much and shove off around noon.
it's great cali-like weather (lots of mild sun but no humidity like in phily) as we're west on I-76 and into choice parking spots in front of the grog shop, the great weather is here too. I've played this pad once before, when it just opened... it's the second one, many gigs for me at the old one not too far away. an early show will happen here first (don't know these bands but one cat steven from lydia raps w/me, a real nice man of twentytwo kind of tripping on the old punk rocker - big respect to him) so actually we don't have to be here 'till nine pm - bosslady kathy and me catch up, I have always dug her much - I get to meet her two new little shipmates, two and four, beautiful! so happy for her - and them! anyway, my buddy demos is from nearby warren, ohio but moved to cleveland after stays in arkansas and wisconsin - it was in madison when I last stayed w/him. he is very cool people and most interesting man. after doing a phoner w/a omaha writer named jesse (he tripped on the fact d. boon's pop was from nebraska!), I gather my men and the lite brothers and head over not too far away in shaker heights to demos' pad and he cooks us up some righteous pork on the grill w/veggies. the pads in tokyo are kind of tiny where my buddies live back there so I can imagine what they think of this pad. everything's relative though and much is circumstance so you make of what you can w/what you have - right? I think that's what some of "we jam econo" means to me. akinori, jun, kazuto, kouzou and nobuyuki blow me away w/their "ganbatte" ("go for it!") w/out losing their kindness, w/out being jaded or weirded out in selfish and abusive ways. they are also very much individuals w/their personalities and own ways - real good cats. you can't know how much they inspire to work and learn harder about music. such great fortune for mike-san to have met them! ganbaro ("we go for it!" in their language). demos' son christo asks me to fix the spelling of his name in the tour diary from 'pert-near eight years ago where I first talk about him - him a tiny aka-chan then, oops... thanks, christo! his pop doesn't mind his name being mispelled. watt is such a fucking baka, you know?
the early show done, about nine bells we get back to the club and are so glad soundman james found an amp for kouzou to use but even more glad the door cat found my keys - fucking baka watt was so stupid but so relieved... when kath called me at demos, I hadn't even realized the were gone! fucking baka watt! it's one reason I haven't been wearing the hot sauce holster I got in charleston earlier - tobasco fucked up and put a snap on the part the goes over the belt so I know for sure I would lose that motherfucker... I'll have my ma sew it on good, around the snap, when back in my pedro town. anyway, I gotta carry my keys around so I just have to more aware than I was today, damn it. heading to the boat, I run into kevin, former bassist for mule and the laughing hyenas - he's living here now w/a family, doing construction. whoa, so good to see him, a great cat. we speil a bunch 'till I tell him I have to konk in the boat - hey there's sue from scrawl who's another bassist - a bass three way and tiny bits of spiel w/all three but soon to the boat and w/that, weird incrimination (not kevin or sue's fault!) dreams come on me and maybe they're cuz of me be so baka w/the kagi (keys), I don't know. I do know tom wakes me w/a leg-pull after a hatch-pop and I have fucking missed lite play - aaaarrrgggghhhhh, double baka watt.
it is a tough gig for me. not only did I lose the chicken-head knob that again came off (actually in phily but I had it in a cupholder up front in the boat - it bounced somewhere on the deck when I dropped it and damn if I can't find it!) which made the third time this tour ("three strikes you're out!"), the sound on the stage is very strange, like the band is in a cotton womb all collapsed up on us. damn is everything tiny. I'm hoping it's better sound in the house though remember, we get in for free). my monitors only have squeals coming out and they're small ones at that... it's a very hard gig for me to work - for my men to work (I find out later) but like brothers, we pull in close and give it our best, go all the way. the cleveland people are very kind, much respect! bob teagan, chris and mel are here like last night, filming away - chris says he'll get an amp for kouzou tomorrow in detroit where they'll be again. oh, ryan from columbus is here, big repsects to him. tom has a huge bruise on his hip now besides the bad knee and some allergy shit fucking w/him but still he charges hard. raul has nothing wrong but remember, he's younger too - still he's w/me and tom, charging just as hard - I love my guys.
we get done and after the encore there aint' much to sling (shirt recharge batch coming to chi-town) but lots of good spiel to be had. uncle ray's here, yeah! john petkovic and his cobra verde bassist ed is here. so is stanislav zabic who moved here from his last pad in salt lake city. them three and me have a pow-wow (uncle ray will go back w/us to demos' pad) about intersting stuff like the balkans (!) but fuck, a lot of what we talk about could relate to all kinds of human conditions, it's just crazy the way of this species. man, I wish I could spend more time w/them - I will when I come back to do a proj I've had in my head a little while now: a kind of cleveland version of "ball-hog or tugboat" where john petkovic is gonna gather up a bunch of cleveland cats for me to play w/and stanislav will produce. I'll come here to do it, of course - "the watt in cleveland show!"
big hugs and byes, we get back over to demos' - he's got a hot tub on a patio in the backyard so me, tom and jun get naked and check it out - I know it's must be happening for jun cuz of his hurt back but older achers tom and me find it working pretty ok too. good spiel but for some reason different parts of that movie "the blues brothers" are on the tv and kind of laming out our spiel... I have to say I'm not into television after a gig when I'm w/friends - too much of a fucking bogart! eventually tv wins out or whatever cuz the spiel stops and everyone konks... me on the couch in the front room (surprise) - so kind of brother demos to help us all like this, that and bringing his own personal "him" - you know?
Nice morning today, Maybe a little rain during the night while we slept, but it's all done by now. I like sometimes just after a rain when the sky is a bit grey and the air has a little chill to it. Spend the first part of the morning having more coffee with jun, He tells me a bit about his father and also about his mother's job as a librarian at a university in tokyo. He has much respect for his family he tells me. Especially his dad, he trips on the fact that he's worked for the same company for most his life climbing the ladder, and is now a very well respected boss. Brother jun says he can't hold a straight job for more than months at a time. Maybe his perseverance has more to do with his music and bass than a nine to fiver.
Quick drive to clevland heights today. Once there we find out that there's a day gig going on, and we won't have to be there to play till nine or so. I'm not sure what the other dudes do, but on the suggestion of kathy the grog owner, me and the lite guys decide to check out the cemetery down the road from the club. We also hit up a toy shop on the way back, having much fun inside just goofin' off. These guys are a great group to hang with. It's still very early when we get back, the day show has not even started yet. It's decided that we will all pile in to the lite van and go to a friend of watt's place not far from the grog. Demoss is very hospitable to us, and gets the food going quick. Big pieces of pork and some veggies done up in foil on the grill. Such good food for us. We all have the dinner family style at a big table. Missingmen with lite, and demoss at the head. Thanks so much for the the great dinner. We get back to the club about nine, and the last of the day trippers are leaving from the earlier gig. Looks like a bunch of junior high kids. Before we bailed for demos' earlier, i had heard the band start the sound check, it was like the worst rave music. Most of the tunes came from a mac machine, but they did have a live drummer, but not enough for redemption. No time for a sound check for our bands, so we just load the gear in and get it set up and ready for lite to on. After dealing with drums i go down the block to grab some coffee to try and snap out of this sleepy feeling. I think the other dudes do a quick konk.
Caught the end of the lite set, and again they seem to play flawlessly. Our turn next, sound up on the stage is aweful. I don't know exactly what the deal is, but this i think may be the worst to date. Zilch for monitors, I couldn't hear singin from either of the guys or any bass. Gave me a very self conscience feeling, but i remembered my thoughts from the night before, and try my hardest to plow through it. The folks up front were way into it though, even had a little slam dance deal going on. At first i thought there may be a fight, one dude was getting pissed at the more aggro. Half way into though, they seemed like old buddies, good, i'd hate to see people fight while we played. That would truly suck.
After the gig we go back back to demos' pad. He's got a hot tub out back and a few of us hit it up for a minute. While we're tubbin', he's brings us some home brewed ale that he made in the basement. Uncle ray is with us tonight too. Good friend of watt's from way back. I had met him over four years ago when he put the secondmen up after my first gig at the grog shop. So good to see uncle ray again. Man, demos' brewed some strong beer, and it started to put me under fast. I made the call home to let paloma know that we're safe. I do vaugely remember getting into a bed that was already occupied by a couple of the lite guys...oopps. I found the empty one in the next room and crashed.
i feel like i have allergies, i didn't sleep well, maybe a slight temperature. i get up and i walk to the rite aid for some dayquil with raul and then walk back to kelley and bill's to get ourselves packed and out the door. it's another grey day, but as we head towards cleveland it starts to clear. we arrive at the grog shop early, but i'm still not feeling well so i go downstairs to rest on a bench in the dark for a couple hours. i like cleveland and i wish i had the energy to walk around, but i know that i will need to conserve energy for later. we are going to stay with a friend from many tours named dimos, i had met him before and he's been a generous host, fixing fine foods and offering his home to us sometimes weary travelers. this time it's all eight of us and before our gig we go over to his home visit with his kids and lady friend, and watch him prepare slabs of pork on his grill in the back next to the hot tub. this is paradise for us, and he is a great cook so we all just soak it up. when we head back to the club im stuffed with pork, and still a little under the weather, i decide to close my eyes backstage. when i wake i hear lite finish a song and think it's their soundcheck and then i hear clapping. i realize it's their last song and try to shake out of my fuzzy state to get ready to play. i feel really heavy and it sort of hurts to get my body going, this worries me. i see that i missed several phone calls and one is from john petkovich, and when i go out to get set up i bump into him and apologize for it. the show is hard for all of us it seems. we feel a bit sluggish, but we push through and thank everyone for coming and the people say they liked the show, so, that's a relief. we all get loaded out and back to dimos' and i immediately jump in the hot tub, followed by raul, mike and jun. four men in the tub, making a bunch of racket, it was bound to happen. i have some of dimos' home made beer and watch a few minutes of the blues brother's movie, and crawl into the goose down futon in the hall uptairs and fall to sleep.
tuesday, may 12, 2009 - detroit, mi
I had the konk mask on and was beat so eight bells is when I pop. I get to take a new picture w/christo in front of the new culpeper flag (navy jack version!) before him and little sister walk to school. man, are they both smart! tom spent much time w/them yesterday discussing all types of intense theories. papa demos had likewise spiel w/me which carries over to morning now while he cooks up some good hotcakes and bacon for me and then the guys as the wake. uncle ray has no chow but he's got great spiel and also a gift of three books for me: "suttree" by cormac mccarthy, "unassigned territory" by kem nunn and "the third policeman" by flann o'brien - I know the last one but thank him for all three, of course cuz uncle ray is uncle ray and I'm much grateful. when I was konking last night, I was wondering if I heard him holler while he was konked... it sounded like him even if it was another room he was in but I'm wondering if I dreamed that even if I wasn't in the deep six of deep konk yet... I wonder on that a little as I'm trying to describe yasanuri kawabata's "snow country" - I think he should check out some of the japan writing I've been writing or "the women in the dunes" by kobo abe that miss sakura gave me. I tell him the surreal is those books is way econo and not in the way of joyce or pynchon and I don't know if from translation stuff or what, it's just another angle I sense and think he might dig it. we talk about borges too, how we dig that cat... I gotta get into more latin american writers.
ok, we shove off w/uncle ray - big hugs for demos and before we really start wailing west towards detroit, we drop uncle ray off right ahead of the freeway onramp - so good to see him again, he leaves us w/some good peter laughner and david thomas stories while we play him our mornign ritual "autumn leaves" (tripod jimmie) and "steve canyon blues" (tom herman). it's great weather again - the spring window is still on the midwest, yatta! it's kind of sad for me cuz it's both the last drive and last gig we have w/the lite brothers - me looking in the rearview mirror and seeing kazuto-san follow the crazy ojiisan in his fune, he did such a great job of that. we stop and get subway sandwiches just inside michigan, north of toledo... man, we're gonna miss these cats much. we get to downtown detroit and right up to the river, pass the ambassador bridge that goes to canada and over to greektown where the shelter is - the pad under saint andrew's hall is. I've played here a bunch. we're early but soundman eric lets us in and we set up while gigboss mike brings on some homemade salsa his coworker tony has made - wow, best salsa on the tour, roasted peppers - great flavor and some good heat too. it's so fucking happeing that I eat one jar all myself w/chips intead of having dinner. damn, is it good. much respect to tony and his recipie! me and gigboss mike talk about the old days - he used to drum for the laughing hyenas - ain't that a trip cuz I saw kevin yesterday and tell him... they've been out of touch for a while now. man, what a trip. if you open up the paper for the box for the "we jam econo" dvd, you'll see the minutemen dodge ram van w/the three stooges poster in the back window... well, that came from the pad mike here and john brannon (hyenas singer) lived in and we stayed at - them giving us that! small world, huh? what a trip. mike sure is a good cat, much respect. he finds some "old style" beer for me after a little jibe on tom for his negro mondello order (no offense, just wondering how about some different sometime). I chimp diary while local openers downtown brown do their soundcheck and up to do doors - I see them play: good musicans who cover "the cheerleaders" a minutemen song d. boon wrote. that sure was kind.
it's lite's last gig w/us - I ask kazuto-san if I can introduce them, like I did at the first one in new york city last friday. what a great five days it's been w/them, a great five days. I love each and everyone of them so much. of course they play their hearts out and the detroit folks dig them - like at all their gigs, thank you so much u.s. people for being so kind and open-minded-hearted to my nakamas. I'm holding back tears as I set up for our gig... I wanna play my best for them in return. fuck - right before we go on I realize I don't have my coltrane button - that's in the boat... raul, like a true brother, goes out gets it... then I realize I don't have my bracelet - again spaced and in the boat! again raul helps me. I don't have the chicken-headed knob for the bass but raul can't help w/that - I can't help w/that cuz like a fucking baka, I lost it somewhere in the boat the other night. now it ain't like I really need it cuz I just use full front pickup but like w/the trane picture and the bracelet, I'm fucking superstitious. any way, I say something for the lite brothers - shit, I should've said something specail for each one individually but I didn't wanna get choked up and ramble so I tried to focus for the gig - for them, for the gig-goers. well, we do a pretty good set and soundman eric has the monitors really good, maybe the best of the tour. raul and tom are very much kicking up lots of dust, yeah! we push and push, do our best, inspired by the lite brothers - ganbaro!!! I cut one of tom's drones at the end of the last tune, just to keep us together cuz raul was losing the beat, not hearing it! it's crazy but worth it w/this band, careening away and all - I love tom and raul. I do the flail on raul's drums again in the encore but I'm working a bass from mike who had a band called the toadies (no, not the texas one - the michigan one that came before!), a 1969 gibson eb-3 he's been customizing in what he says has something to do what I do w/these basses. I like playing it but I think I was a little no thinking when I went into hands-on-raul's drums again for a little duet w/him - hope his bass didn't get hurt when it kind slid down (couldn't hold it w/the hands being busy taking blows from raul's drumsticks). it was an ok gig meaning not feeling too bad about blowing too many clams though I was a little heavy w/feeling cuz of it being the last time to play w/my tokyo brothers but I'll try hard to get us w/them again, somehow - either in thier land or ours. whew... what a workout - only five shirts left to sling and they go fast... hey, there's my old friend ewolf! been so long since I've seen him... big hugs... and more than a few bass players, whoa. big respect for everyone being so nice - that goes for mike, eric and tony here working the pad as well as the gig-goers - I appreciate it all so much. ken from reverend guitars asks me about a signature mike watt bass made by them according to my ideas... hmm... what do I think of that? I have to think about it. tina's here from being w/her pop across the border in canada. the downtown brown guys wanna talk about their econoline van and how I do what I do w/mine to have it tour-worthy. I thank gigboss mike again for the salsa, ask him to pass on the thanks to tony for making such a righteous batch!
we load up and wagon train it north to bob teagan's in frazier, around the twelve mile road. he's the best. of course he gets the tenko (her on solo guitar doing "hiroshima") going but on his 'puter and not the giant televison (it's still there but not on) though he does have the big sound system cranking it. he brought some supermarket gaijin sushit on plastic round tray (two of them) that is just the worst and it's not like I'm some sushi-any-kind-of-an-expert-at-all but this shit is terrible as just a chow item. bob means well though. the vegetables chris, mel and ryan bring are much better (chris also gives me a jar of chilies he grew himself!) and chow those plus some glasses of water and i.w. harper gut-rot that's fucking as bas as the soosh, sheesh! mazui! it's our last time w/the lite brothers and they're gonna have to bail at like five and a half am for the airport... I'm so sad inside it's hard for me to acknowledge that much cuz I don't wanna cry in front of them but I'm crying inside - I'm gonna miss them so bad. I can't even remember konking but I did - it was where I've konked at bob's for at least twenty years - on the couch in the living room... I don't think I heard bob play the gories "but for the grace of god" or did I?
Woke up in a bed a shorter than me, half my legs were hangin off the back end of it. It's usually watt who'll get me up if i'm awake already. I think he gets a kick out of it. I think i hear the words hammer to the head rigt before my eyes crack. Shit, i'm in the little girls bed, no wonder it's so short and all pink. Hope watt got a shot of that sight. Once up and showered, a grab some breakfast. Demos' is kind enough to whip up some pancakes and bacon for our crew. I chow quick, and make the rounds around the house to get the lite guys up and ready to bail. No hammers to the head though, i try to do it kind.
We're out pretty quick, also with us for this mini adventure is uncle ray. We gotta get him a place were he can catch the bus back to his pad. Great to have him along for a bit. He's got good stories about some of the old clevland bands, and his days as a writer. We talk ubu, and about the Tom herman stuff that we can't get enough of. Damn, i wish i would've thought to ask him about the elecetric eels. He ends up getting out at the last chance before the highway. Uncle ray, great to see you, and i hope you made it home safe.
We get the the shelter a little bit early. They have also changed the parking sithch here, and now it's a city lot, and we can't park by the back door, kinda lame. To pass the time until someone shows to open the door, Tom and i, plus jun and akinori hang on the front steps of st. andrews. St. andrews is the bigger club upstairs from the basement that we play called the shelter. This will be my fourth gig at this pad. Still waitin' for the man, so jun and i take a walk over to greek town to grab some coffee. No use in sittin' around right.
Playing with a band called downtown brown tonight, big band. I think six of em' all together. Drummers got like seven tom tom drums going on. damn, i barely know what to do with the two that i use. Good group, and they even do a version of the minutemen king of the hill. One of the sax players was a little dude, and his get up was a loin cloth and gullum mask. Very trippy, and when he wasn't playing horn, he would go to the front of the crowd and stare at the band... little creepy. Today also marks the end of our days with lite. Damn, these five days just flew by, i will miss the new tokyo friends. They've been such great tour mates. So considerate and ready to help, and always the best spirit doing it. Looking forward to maybe playng some tokyo gigs with them in the future.
I thought tonight was a great gig for us. All very kind people, except for one bad seed who told watt's friend to buzz off in not so kind of words. Besides that weirdness, though, all semed way into it, and i think that the guys played great. Plus coming out of the grog to a stage sound like this was refreashing, and i think we gave it our all... Tom and watt played great. After the gig we follow bob t, mel and chris back to bob's place forty minutes north to frasier. Bob's got some beers and super market sushi waitin' for us at the pad. I think maybe the stuff had been in the fridge to long, the rice was solid man. I still chowed it anyhow, just drowning it in wasabi and soy sauce. Also i hugh tray with veggies on it. Thanks so much guys.
in the morning i play with dimos' kids, christos and melina, two incredibly bright and funny kids. christos is five or six years old and read better than i can, and melina is barely four (i think), and she goes into some kind of method acting and does a hillbilly for us. shocking. we all have some breakfast, say goodbye to our host and drop off uncle ray near a bus stop by the highway entrance as we get back on the road. we are going to detroit, i've been there many times but this time i think about my brother's girlfriend brigid, who's from there. i like the ability of understanding people from the perspective of knowing where they come from. it gives me insight into how to relate in some ways. anyhow, we arrive early, find a parking spot in the lot next to the venue and wait. after loading and checking i take the lite boys over to a german/american place to eat. this is our last show together, kind of sad, but we had a great time and we look forward to the future of playing together again. i help them order burgers and i order the wiener schnitzel. soon we have to return and get ready to play. lite have another great show, everyone loves them, and so do we. our show goes well, and then we all go to bob's for the night. lite have an early flight back to tokyo and i wake at 5:30 to say goodbye to them. i say to kosudo-san (lite's road manager and driver) "are you flying the plane?", typical for me, and aki-san (lite drummer) say's "maybe." he cracks me up. soon they drive off into the dark morning and i go back to sleep.
wednesday, may 13, 2009 - grand rapids, mi
pop at seven bells and straight away (sounds like england, huh?) hose off but actually I think I popped earlier and then konked again... I'm not sure cuz I had a fucking nightmare of nightmare last night - I thought for sure I had ruined the flight for the lite brothers and fucked up them getting home. I thought brother jun was under a blankie across from where I was blankied and feeling all like there was lead all through me, couldn't roust myself to get the lite brothers awake - I somehow felt it was my mission but being lost in a fatigue-swirl mixed w/that rot-gut had me thinking I was blowing it so big time and ruining their chances of getting back home... I felt like such an asshole, such a fucking stupid person. I was confused, I couldn't tell what was happening... in a panic 'pert-near - it seemed like mel was even talking to me and then bob - it was like bob said to me "you're having a nightmare" - this is what I heard in the nightmare... I thought for sure I got up and went over to where I thought brother jun was - even got on the chair and searched under the blankie on it... I then felt so sore, like I could feel the itai (hurt) he had in his back in my hand - it was so strange. to think about it now makes me feel like I was out of my mind but at the time then too I felt out of my fucking mind, like a nut case and not together. I thought I had ruined their voyage home.
I walk to wear I thought brother jun had konked and do in fact find a blankie there. I go to the boat to go get some coff - don't think bob has means of making that here... never really did. I'm in a weird state, all shook up from that 'mare (that's what scotty-san likes to call them) and have to rally myself some to keep from tripping to hard. I get back to bob's and chimp diary before helping eiko-san prac some english-go w/the skype, bob digging on how that works - it's wowing him big time. he washes my stenched flannel and clothes of my guys... damn does that dryer of his need some grease on the bearing, it's driving us all crazy w/its "music" its making w/the squealing. pretty funny. I bust out of my funk by talking some about the 'mare but I think maybe people feel weird hearing about it? I don't know. I don't want anyone uncomfortable... I do that, I think I spread fear and people might feel like they're being used... that's just the worst thing for me thinking of myself being responsible for something like that: making anyone feel like they were being used... that's just the worst feeling for me and probably for anyone w/any kind of a conscious. being oblivous to peoples feelings and blurting out your own in 'pert-near a chokehold way, you know? like a drowning man in a frenzy, flailing and grabbing for anything - eyes all bugged out and hollering.
the sky starts turning gray as we bid farewell, great big grateful hugs for him as we roll west for grand rapids. we listen to what we listen to - still no third opera by the missingmen, that got cut when we left brother tony but we do hear mister tom herman in two of his incarnations. we also add mister devries w/his "freebase dream" - something from the new agitpop album. we stop in a town called fowlerville for gas - I remember that name cuz that reminds me of what my pop would say to me using the head (the head being the champer one puts piss and dump in)" "boy, you gonna go foul the head?" now they're different words (meanings and spellings) but they sound the same. anyway, we stop for gas and there's three guys in the store part of the station, they're waiting to use the head - one at a time. man, is it taking a long time, each cat holing up in there a while before coming out. also, it's kind of chilly - what's w/the t-shirts unless the big time aclimatized, huh? well, finally my turn and I see there's no lock on the head's hatch... also, there's two stalls and two pissers - four cats could've been pissing here (or two dumping, two pissing) at the same time - what's up? this sure seems mysterious to me and I mention it to my men soon as I roll the boat back onto the freeway. like me, they have no answers and very unsure guesses... it's way trippy.
this my fourth time playing grand rapids and it's right across the road from where the last two were at, the old intersection (my first gig here was at the reptile house - later I will meet that gig's boss dan). this pad we're playing tonight is called billy's lounge and soundman rick is real nice but the acoustics of the pad (stage in the corner) and maybe not enough in the system are gonna make it hard for him to mix but "work the room" is the best way I think to to carry through some good enthusiasm. the gigboss brad is a great cat too, much respect to him. we talk a bunch about the old days. it's a trip for me to learn number two town for michigan is grand rapids - they just were late w/coming on w/a scene. after soundcheck (there's locals drinking here during cuz it's a bar, you know - one lady tells us to stop - we do little soundchecks anyway and wanna stop as soon as we can), I go chow a gyro from sami's nearby and then chimp diary... I can get internet from in the boat right here outside billy's - there's an email from go! team bossman ian telling me him digging our tour diary and about an england radio show bbc 4 "great lives" john coltrane program and I'm digging hearing that. he's always surprising me w/trippy stuff. I write him back and thank him for both that and inspiring me and his guitarman sam to do our cuz proj. he and his lady jo just had a new shipmate franklin come into the world this last january - big respect to all three of them, a very happy thing. I chimp diary to catch up, I realize I spaced and left the ac adapter at bob teagan's like a fucking baka and can only do as much as the battery lets me, damn. what a fucking baka I am... about so many things too... I konk 'til gig time but I do catch (hear) glimpses of openers deep couch and veloras - pop in time to rap w/very nice cat brian bowe about things like ronnie asheton and d. boon. much respect to him. stooges saxman brother steve mackay is from grand rapids and it's a trip that his half-sister comes up to me to say hi - she says she can't stay to see the gig but steve wanted her to me me so I shake her hand and thank her for doing that. I love steve. I got a call from scotty-san while driving here (sorry, forgot to report that 'till now) and he said he spoke w/steve and he's doing some gigs - I heard from willie he was doing some w/him, now that I think of it... willie and brother steve, we've done that w/banyan in the bay area and I've dug it.
the pad is good and full and folks very enthusiastic - I've already had several bass cats come and talk w/me - so sad this lady was only twenty and couldn't get in (fucking bigoted age laws - I hate them) but I did sign her minuteflag record - trippy seeing that one. I have to tell you we start w/the lamest version of "surfin' w/the shah" I think I've ever done. the sound on stage is really bad but worse than that is me not having it toether. however, both my guys and the gig-goers help me rally and I get more and more in w/the moment of what we're trying to work and pull it out , get my spirit up and over into working this gig good w/my guys for the folks here. much MUCH respect for everyone helping and be patient like that - MUCH RESPECT and you couldn't ever find a more grateful watt. I mean that so much, I truly do. I can't express to you enough in strong enough words how when your guys are w/you that you can get inspired and try and yank yourself out of the lameness - I love my men so much. and these gig goers, what kind folks. people ask why I tour how I do and for me it's so clear w/what they give back when I try and get it together for them.
I talk w/many folks when we finish - oh, again I got the hand beat up w/accidental drumstick blow when I joined raul w/some "hand drum" in his wailing - we both laugh hard! so many nice people to talk w/and shit, I have to turn down an offer or us to konk by a lake where maybe I could've paddled a kayak but I just gotta make it to a pad to get a new ac adapter (hopefully this town has an apple store?) - sorry, brother bill. I see jeff - he's the one we stayed w/last time and I woke up w/his hairless egyptian cat in my konk sack! tom tells me he accepted a pad w/rick and jessica - folks should check w/tom about the konk pad cuz I lose track and feel so bad to tell kind folks we already found a pad. I talk more w/brad about old days stuff and new days stuff, hearing him speak of what a nightmare the new shift has on the federal level after the mess that got left by the last one - much like what brother demos said in cleveland, hearing lots of that lately... but if you want a view that's different but doesn't support that last gang, check w/mister petkovic and ask him to flow you some of his spiel - stanislav will tell you!
we follow rick and jessica to their pad not too far away after a very intense load up of the boat - intense cuz the rain started coming down in a motherfucking torrent! whoa, it is difficult but I get the amp stuff in... one cat who probably meant well though dropped raul's drums into the lake that formed off the side of the curb - oh no!!! people try to help and we appreciate it but we gotta be careful cuz we're econo and stuff that gets hurt really does get felt. accidents happen though, just do - aaaaarrrrrrrrggggghhhhh. we get up to our very kind hosts pad and I drink some beers and talk w/them, my men konk almost right away... rick is in mustard plug - on bass, alright!, a bass brother! he's a very nice cat, they both are and I'm on their deck in skivvies (let the wet dry)... I look at the books on their shelves and try to talk some about ones I know... I hope I don't sound too much like and idiot. I'm on fumes... I konk when their tank runs dry. yes, they're very kind - we are lucky men.
Wake up and lite friends are gone, they had to bail for the port before five a.m. this morning. Whew, i don't think we started to sleep till past three. So maybe one hour of sleep for those guys. Hardworking band. While i did some laundry, i went down to the basemant to check out bob's drum kit, but ended up going thru his record collection. Spent the morning listening to old things new to me. Live ubu from the middle to late 70's, and another dave t. proj called the pedestrians. Bob's got a bunch of neat shit like that, and also live cassettes of shows he's recorded over the years. Check out his site called the wendy hour. While Watt did the chat with eiko, i catch up on emails home, and also to work.. i go back the day after we get back from tour.
As soon as we say our goodbyes and hit the road, the rain comes and stays with us all the way to grand rapids. Talk with tiff a bit on the way, very odd, it was my first time using the ear piece phone, it's neither blue or a tooth. Playing billy's lounge tonight, never been before. After a very quick check while getting yelled by some lady suckin down drinks at the bar, Tom and head next door for some mexican food. For some reason the cook decides he's gonna make me something special, and do i want it or not. Well, if i say no who knows what i'll find in whatever else i order, so i go for it. This something special turns out to be pork, it's connected to something that Tom thinks just may be spine. Well, roll the dice, pay the price. The situation was more memorable than the food. He did flow me a taco for free though, trippy taste, it was not carne asada, it was more like a beef used for stew. Scored three homies from the machine inside this restaurant... i got the mariachi man. Watched a little bit of the wrestler with Tom, very depressing and sick flick, but at the same time laughable. Not a feel good time though. I'm still kinda full from dinner, so i went for a walk.
Got a bit lost while trying to walk off the food, so i missed the openers, deep couch. Showed up in time to catch the second band the velora's though. Garage rock from three ladies. Reminded much of the thee headcoatees, and i think they did more than one of their songs, very rockin' set. Our turn next, and i think it goes well. Really enthueastic crowd here at billy's tonight. Watt thougt it was a hard stage to work, but i got a ear full from both sides, and could hear it all loud and clear.
It's raing way hard now outside, so we decide to pack the gear up but wait for a break in the weather to load the boat. Very cool people coming to these gigs, and tonight it's more of the same. Meet lots of people who thank us for coming to play in their town. One dude even gives me the shirt off his back. He had a t with a big burger on it, i just mentioned it was funny, well... he gave it to me. Also a man had us all sign his bass even though two out of the three of dont even play bass in this band. He was a sincere man, told Tom and i how lucky we were. He's right too man, there's folks who have it lots worse. Thanks to rapid people for making this one memorable.
So the rain finally breaks and we double time it to get the stuff in the boat. When you rush, sometimes accidents happen. Well tonight they did. Door man ended up spilling the drums in the street right in a hugh puddle of rain water. I just picked em' up as fast as i could and put in the boat. He was bummed, shamed a little too... he apoligized many times over. I didn't get pissed, just a little bummed myself. Shit happens though, so i told him not to worry about it. I've done some stupid things to drums in the past, so maybe it's just that karma wheel coming around to get me. Once in the boat, we follow rick, mustard plug bass man, and his girl jessica back to their pad. They get an air mattress going for me, and the sleep comes quick. thanks so much rick and jess.
i wake and join the crew downstairs and make a call to caroline and go for a walk. there's a little drizzle and the wind is blowing, but it's nice to get outside for a bit. when i get back to the house bob makes a coffee run and we wait for some laundry to dry and talk. we load and say goodbye and split. when we get to grand rapids we load in and sound check. kind of go through the motions. raul and i get some "mexican" food next door. we buy some homies to add to our dashboard equivalent to a nativity scene. the chef brings raul a special dish which turns out to be fried pork spine, and i play it safe with cheese enchiladas. so, so. nice folks at the restaurant. the gig is enjoyable, but the skies open up after we play and we wait for a break in the rain to load out. during this time i watch the tigers loose to the twins in 13 innings from a stinging grand slam, much to the locals dismay.
thursday, may 14, 2009 - chicago, il
pop in a living room flooded w/sun - shower floods me w/hose-off, piss floods out of me. no 'puter cuz the battery is all used up... real soon others wake up - maybe they heard me run out to the boat to change skivvies (baka watt should've brought them in last night) - I thought I could do it quick w/out closing sidehatch but neighbor got weird surprise - sorry. tom cooks up coff, host rick looks up apple store on 'puter and yes, there's one in nearby mall. trippy about rick, he reminds me of todd congelliere, a great musican/label boss/former pro skater from torrance who's lived in my pedro town a long time - a cat I have much respect for, much respect! his voice, his glasses - just an uncanny likeness 'cept maybe rick's taller. I check out his basses... a u.s. fender p-bass w/really low action, he must have a light touch - maybe I should try that more. we all talk in the living room, rick and jessica telling us about the time he played in palos verdes, the hill above our pedro town. I always trip on folks from other states who visit so cal and their impressions, helps w/some perspective. we give our big thanks and shove off for the mall. we get there minutes before the apple store opens... when it does, I trade eightfour dollars for an ac adaptor. I use a 'puter there (lots on the tables for folks to check out) to write bob teagan about the donate I did at his pad - he can send it to me when tour's done, good ol' bob - already miss him... and my lite brothers! I see an email from nobuyuki telling me they got home safe, fucking right on! he said he dug how friendly u.s. people were to the band, says to give big thank yous to misters tom and raul - I feel the same! meanwhile tom is close by trading the phone he got after he accidently soaked and ruined his old leash in tallahassee w/the same model he used to have, just hated this new phone but it served as what my pop would call "a half-ass in the meantime" well. we hit up a subway sandwiches across the road and is it mystery I chow tuna one? you decide. tom's the guy who goes for variety here, sometime raul too. watt never waivers. west to lake michigan and then southwest to indiana where somehow I get off I-90 in gary cuz of some construction confusion and we do a little of that town that has some pretty heavy beatdown, whoa. not too long of a tour - oh, we gained an hour leaving eastern time. we cross into illinois and "mister nightmare" (the gps voice) guides us to the lakeview part of chicago and to a club I've never played before called schubas around three pm, we circle for parking and tom gets out to find out these blue placeholder barrier trips are the club's for touring acts - damn, how much I wish every pad we played would do this - I ask raul if that's too much to ask and he says it isn't so how do we make this so?
the gigboss matt is a nice man. I tell him I've heard this place is supposed to be like a sportsbar but I cannot fathom why after looking around... the stage is in it's own room and is sort of like a little chapel! there's a bar room (looks like this place was built in the twenties maybe?) and a chow room - outside "schlitz" beer motifs have been built into the walls. a nice man named tim helps me get internet (later he'll pedal his bike to get me some throatcoat tea - much respect to him) and finally I am caught up on the tour diary - just gotta get the recording diary together, that'll come soon as I'm able to (wanna ask brother tony a few things I spaced on noting). me and tom chow here (via a chow ticket) and I get a turkey burger and read nice things in the chicago reader and chicago time out - you know there's been a lot of positive stuff written for my guys and me this tour, here look:
I'm very grateful that people want me touring as mike watt again, I will work harder, push harder to try live up to the generous thoughts and kindness I've been shown, truly. we do soundcheck w/a great cat named joey - I tell him he's our . oh, more shirts arrived from barbara at tannis - thank you! I meet ketaro, a nice young man from moscow, idaho that helped me get a wire box set once and he's been here to absorb some chicago culture but wants to get back to where he's from and get stuff started there. I answer his questions, they're good ones. neat to meet in person cats you only know from written spiel. I then go to the boat to konk
a cat who works here has a band called the nones and they're the openers but konk puts me to deep under and I miss them. tom gets me when it's our turn - 10:15 pm start time is very happening! the gig is sold out - thank you, chciago people. I ask tom for some tea - hate doing that but it was hard wading through - should've thought of that. not as lame "...shah" as last night but pretty bad - what's up w/that? I gotta get that together. the sound on stage is really hard for me - no monitors but I'm confident knobman joey will bring it to the people. tom and raul are really good - it's stupid for me to get caught up in not hearing any montiors. the crowd is wailing w/good will while watt winds into some freak-out... not total but like bouts. it's kind of crazy, manifesting itself in a bizarre version of "fun house" and an insane talk w/tom and raul when the set gets done, I'm talking totally wack shit but my guys are truly righteous men and rally me to do what tom thinks is the best "little johnny jewel" we ever have done. man, do I love my men, just really love them. trippy gig
sling fifty shirts and talk w/cats - there's bobby, I pedaled from his pad to lake michigan once, good to see him again... snez too - great to see snez (stanislav's sister), she tried to hide it was her I think but I could tell - of course! my old doctor friend doug rockett drove up all the way from memphis, like ten hours - much respect to him. he told me about the donate work he did over in cambodia - even bigger respect. he wants to go to thailand next (he's already been to vietnam) and I tell him about peak - he know of her cuz of the diary, "yeah, the photographer" - speaking of peak, there's a cat here named steve who does monitors for wilco (nels cline sidemouses for them) who comes up to me to say he has a message to convey to me from nels: "don't soil yourself" - shit, if he only knew... I did! thank god for my missingmen! anyway, besides telling me that, he says "peak has stolen my heart" and I think this cat is smitten. I talk w/so many nice people, really. a good connection w/chicago - I was born in virginia (portsmouth) but I was conceived in chicago (my ma told me - when your my age, you learn stuff like that from your ma). there's a guy who gave me an anchor that's like four by three inches, maybe a little big but what a nice thing to do... same w/this other nice cat who gives me a jagermeistercap and hunk of epoxy for the dan bass but I'll think I'll wait to find a chicken-head know - oh, he also gave us some cigarillos. I wish I could remember to mention all the stuff I'm always getting, all the music and everything - folks are so kind. I meet the artist who made the gig poster, what a great job he did. chicago people: mike watt is very grateful to you all!
mister ryan, who was at the pittsburgh gig (both friends of mister tom and maux plus he's the boss of graveface records) lives in norwood park and has invited us to konk at his pad. great little pad there he's got and he's very happening himself - reminds me of cats you'd meet in the old days when the scene was small. eiko-san had the day off from her job selling shoes so I use skype w/her some, trippy how she can kind of be part of our little after-gig scene thirteen hours behind in time zones and many thousands miles away. mister ryan has some rum mister tom left and put that down and soon as spiel from me starts dwindling (me and my guys have a great time w/mister ryan and his madballs), I'm konked soon on the carpeted deck where I lay, using a blankie from the too-tiny couch next to me. so glad I asked tom and raul to forget everything I said in that trip-fit I had w/them earlier. lucky watt to have these men aboard, luck lucky most grateful watt.
Bailed the plug house right after coffee, gotta get to the apple store so watt can get a new plug for his machine. The other was left at bob's in frasier. Once that is done, and we eat our tuna, it's off toward chicago. I alternate between reading and sleeping in the back seat of the boat. Playing shuba's tonight, a club i've never been to. Last time i was in chicago killer dreamer played ronnie's with a good chicago band called the sass dragons, check them out. Before that it used to always be the old fireside bowl on fullerton, and once at the double door with watt and pete.
We show early, and have some time before the soundman shows. So i get the drums out to check the damage done the night before. The two toms look okay, i didn't take the heads off since i didn't have replacements. I'll do a more indepth check when i get back to pedro next week. There is visable damage to the rack tom though, the finish is all rippled, but i don't think the wood is cracked. The snare is beat to shit though, lugs and rim both very bent. Lucky for me there is a decent music store about a mile down on the same street we play, so i bus it there to get a replacement. No use in trying to shove the rim back on with a new head, it would just end up warping the wood, then it'd be useless.
Playing with a group called the nones tonight. New band, and this is the third gig for them. Very damaged sounding, like flipper but with more parts and a saxaphone. I liked em' lots. One of my favorite bands that we played with this tour, aside from the dino guys, ofcourse lite, and the jonx. Packed house tonight too. I think the band does great, but watt has a few issues with communication and volume that leads to a little argument between he and Tom after the set. Silver lining, we played one of the better versions of johnny jewel... tom was way into it, great solo from him. Plus after the gig it got us talking about the real root of the problem, and communication is always good. Me personally, i thought that both those guys did great, and it was a good stage for me. I do undestand though, that the two guys singing need to have the monitors going good to hear themselves. If there's no monitors it's just to much stress on their throats.
it's kind of dreary out and when we pass through gary indiana but before pulling into the chicago area the skies clear and it turns into an amazing spring day. we finally pull up to schubas where we play tonight. it's a nice old bar/beer hall that was built by the schlitz beer company about 100 years ago. the live room is an old beer hall that resembles a chapel. we grab some food in the adjoining cafe and set up for sound check. i find a small couch/bed downstairs to take a nap on and wait for the gig to get started. i call a couple friends in chicago to invite them to the show, but i don't think they'll make it. our show is interesting, i feel good but we have a little stage sound conflict which we try to sort out before going into little johnny jewel. it turns out to be my favorite version of the tour. sometimes tension can bring good music. sometimes. we end up at ryan's place and he make some ice cream with kahlua for me, it's good for my sore throat. i sleep on the floor in ryan's little office room next to his fender super six.
this page created 12 may 09