"puttin' the opera to bed" tour diary - week 2

monday, september 28, 1998 - pensacola, fl

from bob lee:

   woulda been nice if somewhere along the road we'd gotten the info that the 10 freeway was completely shut down all the way to pensacola. we tried to go north around new orleans & pick it up in mobile but wouldn't you know it, the storm headed east and flooded out the whole south end of town, which we find out as we hit a big barrier ending the 165 south with no explanation. we manage to get around it. only to end up with water up to the hubcaps, which we thankfully make it out of and get to higher ground. there's no one on the street, even police, except for a news crew who are unable to tell us anything helpful at all. there's nothing on news radio except for lewinsky editorializing, so we trudge ever northward, eventually find a route into pensacola, too late to make the gig (we'll make it up on a scheduled day off next monday), and nels & I watch "the temp" on motel 6 tv. the film reminds me that, despite today's fear & difficulty, man am I ever grateful not to be at work right now!

from steve reed:

   In route to pensacola - ran into bad weather, floods are in our way!! Mobile flooded out!! Can't make the show on time. Will make up show next monday. Thank you Lord for protecting us. Van did great - wouldn't swtall in deep water, we are very lucky!!! Very positive vibe with group. Nothing will stop us from having a great tour, not even a hurricane!!!

from watt:

   sure wish we could've done new orleans, looks like not one gig of the opera for them and new york city got like six. there's just no justice. life deals you a hand and you gotta just play it the best you can. we plan on skirting hurricane georges (which is sitting between new orleans and biloxi right now) by heading north to the I-20 and going through shrieveport, then jackson and turning south towards mobile at meridian and then on to tonight's gig in pensacola. the ride is windy as hell once we're in mississippi but very doable. we're right on schedule. then 80 miles north of mobile on us-45, the rain starts hitting us and hitting us. I talk to steve kaul (the booker man outside the van) a couple of times but he never gets word mobile is flooded. there is no way we're getting across mobile bay on the I-10 (tunnel flooded) or us-90 (downtown mobile is a lake). it's an amazing site when we get into town - there's no warning signs anywhere and hardly any disaster teams around. there was a couple of trucks and two guys w/a flashlight on the road in a big dip as we were just coming into town. by this time, steve reed was driving and we hit the dip and a whole wave of water hit the van, went over us and then crested and the two cats out there were putting their hands down to tell us to slow down. I looked right in the face of the second guy and boy did he look pissed. I'll never forget those eyes and that expression, damn. back to our plight in mobile - we try to take the I-165 over and there's just an orange warning signing w/no writing on it on the road. we go by it and then find the whole rest of the road is a fucking ocean! the water comes up fast on the van but I get steve not to panic and just keep the boat (van) moving so as not to stall the motor and we have to come about and drive the wrong fucking way on the freeway! luckily, there's no one around at all. we've been trying to get news on the radio but all they got is talk shows bullshit about that lewinsky crap, can you fucking believe it? we get to downtown on dauphin street and see some news people down by water street. we slowly come up on them in and hear the commentator ask his camera man "what's the governor's name?" - what a god damn moron and these are the idiots people worship their t.v.'s to let them in on how to think? they are no help at all. the camera man asks me what his governor's name is! I ask what streets are open and they know fuck-all so we just turn around and head back. I decide we'll take the I-65 north on the way to montgomery and at state road 59, we'll turn south and try to get across to pensacola that way. mobile sure is eerie as we drive on through, several times fucked-up signs put us in near unescapable flooded street situations but we manage to persevere and prevail. we pass the town's mason lodge (which I've checked out on gigs here before) and I tell the team to look cuz it's got two big sphynxs and the alabaster walls are at a strange angle and the whole thing looks trippy but it's kind of a tense time to be curious about this and I don't blame them for saying "come on watt, let's move." well, the state road idea doesn't work out either cuz there's just no way of getting on I-10 either east or west of the bay so I say fuck it and we get back up into alabama and come down us-29 right down into pensacola like we should've done in the first place if we would've only known the whole situation. what a fucking hell-ride.

   I call the pad in pensacola, called "sluggo's" and tell the boss there that we can't make it in time but have a day off on the next monday and we'll make up the gig then. she says she understands. we finally get to the mo-six and I konk after some beam all sopping wet but safe and grateful. steve reed did a great job. the whole drive was like seventeen hours and I only did the first seven. a righteous man, steve reed.

tuesday, september 29, 1998 - tallahassee, fl

from nels cline:

   Jeez, so much has been happening! And that wacky Georges has been screwing up everything down south! But first, a few Houston thoughts: We ended up playing 2 gigs at Instant Karma, thanks to Georges, who decided to wail on New Orleans the day we were set to arrive. Big Fibber fan Amy came to the 2nd night in Houston and said that a part of the Mississippi River was flowing northward ! Anyway, when we arrived initially Houston was in a swelter worthy of the swelter rep that precedes it - in the 90s w/ about 102% humidity. Inside the club, however, all was dark and chilled. Had a couple of drafts and went immediately into a funk. Started to get really negative about the ROCK SCENE. Started to wish that someone would come along w/ a flamethrower and wipe out all the superhetero walletchained rodfired calftattoed and bigshorted boredom mongers. Wanted to started playing acoustic in a dress. SO TIRED of people w/ no attention span, bands w/ no dynamics and no harmonic or rhythmic singularity. Blah blah blah whine whimper... Called sweetheart and bitched, but didn't lighten up until later. It's all kind of funny - wanting some kind of music messiah to come along and shake things up so severely that we are rid of certain certainties for at least a few years. It all gets recycled eventually - faster and faster, it seems - but a little respite from... oh, FUCK IT. The big shake up was rap, and "ambient", in terms of new sounds/forms (or lack of forms). We seemingly can only recognize this shift by what pisses people - especially artists sharing a medium - off. So many people hate Rap, despite its many innovations. Even I remain suspicious of the implicit fascism of mechanized time (read: groove), yet I've been listening to it for YEARS....It's like the old we-wouldn't-recognize-Christ-even-if-he-slapped-us-upside-the-head cliche. Like Stanley Crouch saying to me in NYC in '74 (while waiting for a David Murray/Oliver Lake set) that there was "no Ornette, no Ayler on the scene" to revolutionize it - like we'd know that person if we heard him/her! Anyway, he found his Messiah in Wynton Marsalis; a glance backwards, cementing the coffin on the idea of a living, changing tradition, favoring instead the assumption of controlling the history of the music. A necessary tradeoff? What the fuck am I going on about?!?!?!

   Anyway, I snapped out of it. Watt's "opera" is effective in at least subtly fucking w/ the natural (read: stale) order of things.

   A bratty and only-occasionally engaging band called The Flamin' Hellcats played punkoid rockabilly-ish tattoo-and-walletchain power trio stuff. Latin guys, pretty funny, occasionally rocking. But they wouldn't even move their gear! Either night! Jack Drag went over better Sunday. A bit on them: John on gtr & vocal does lots of cool pedal/toggle switch textures, Joe on bass and keys lays down a very flexible and sinewy bottom, Jason on peppermint plastic drums plays well-trained standard-grip rock drums w/ much flair. They are very likeable lads, and I daresay that girls would find them cute. John is very peppy and a bit rockstar- ish on stage, and sings melodic pop/psych concoctions in a boyish alto. There's a bit of the Brit to their sound. They're REALLY NICE, too.

   Our set was pretty good on Sat., and the crowd (sold out show) got an earful - the opera plus as many encores as time would allow. One fine moment had Watt on soapbox spieling righteously about the need for pirate radio stations to combat the stupid baggy-shorts ponytail asswipe pseudo-alternative bullshit on commercial FM! YES!! Had he picked up on my big inner negfest on the ethereal plane?? Anyway, Sun. was all covers and older Watt stuff. Unveiled the Beefheart song, played the best version so far of my little ditty "This is a Prayer", played the Cale, Television songs...
Local band TKO -the Sun. regulars- came on late thanks to JackDRAG taking a bit long to set up, and to a bit of Hellcat stalling. WE HATE THIS. Played a bit short to accommodate (they're sort of session-muso-funk-latin-fusion).

   Stayed 2 nights at the "Cape House" in LaPorte. Wild scene: old furniture and family memorabilia in a summer home right on the Cape - past the miles and miles of refineries in Pasadena - more belching dino vom spew than I've ever seen! Anyway, the hose and the outdoor club swelter bestowed about 30 mosquito bites on my paltry frame! Watt and I both got NAILED - mine even swelled up. A mild allergic reaction, Watt says. A total DRAG!!! Slept OK, tho. The house, w/ residents Mike, Erin, and Squeaky, is a scene that I'll let others shed light on...Squeaky spun vinyl. Good to hear Jessamine, Stereolab, Catpower,...Became exposed to The Frogs- a very perverse combo, now added to our show in...where was it? Anyway, I daresay Wm. Faulkner would find much to absorb at the Cape House as the dust continues to collect.

   The last 48 hours were INTENSE. 17- hour drive to try to get to our gig in Pensacola, skirting the hurricane (heavy winds in Jackson, Miss.). Still missed out. Got bogged down in flooded Mobile: no police direction, no radio info, and half the town w/o electricity (almost all streetlights were out)...It was BAD, but all remained calm, Watt navigating 2 more alternate routes, and Steve cool as a cuke - even as we twice unsuspectingly drove into 2+ feet of waterlogged street! Made to Pensicola around 2AM. The gig has been rescheduled for next Mon. It became rough for me since I'd only eaten a Flying J nitrite turkeyslather sand and a bag of chips around noon, so by 2AM I was feeling the burn. Stayed up till about 5 chatting w/Bob and Watt, alternately. Woke up to screaming Mo 6 staff (a megadump Mo 6, this) and rain. The drive to Tallahassee was so rainy that Watt had to pull over twice under bridges - so bad was the visibility that Watt said, "submarine!" It was so thick that it was like driving into white glass And the van was fogging up (Watt's defroster blows!) and the some of the sparkplugs stopped firing. We chugged along, finally getting here an hour before load-in. Right now there's apparently a flood warning. But we're ready to play for the college kids of FSU.

   Talked to Carla B., who told me that the colors on the Scarnella CDs are all wrong and that Smells Like had OKed the proofs w/o ever sending them to us/her. I'm REALLY BUMMED - now there are 5,000 BROWN, MURKY-ASS covers....

   Must be remedied...Gonna go call MOM in L.A.- tell her I'm alive and check in w/ her about a nightmare I had a couple of nights ago. More later.

from bob lee:

   more storm action on the way, had to pull off to the side twice and let the worst of it pass over. scary, scary, but made it to f.s.u. just as the rain let up and dragged our soggy gear inside. spent two hours checking & sending emails in a computer lab then went downstairs to play. this was the first gig in a long time that I've played without having at least one drink, and between the unfamiliar feeling of dead sobriety and the cameraman planted right in front of me for the whole set, I felt a little distracted and stiff but loosened up as it went on. not my favorite show but not a total loss either, a lot of folks came up to thank us at the end, trying to pass pipes in the drizzle.

from steve reed:

   Florida State University - I liked the gig very much even though it rained like hell! A pretty good turn out for a flood warning city. Sound system very good by housemen Chris and Adam. JACK DRAG sounded great also and BLACK GANG played an awsome set!! Ate at Burger King on campus, had a fish sandwhich - it tasted great!! Hot and fresh, the best I ever had. Rain slowing down a bit.

from watt:

   wake up from the mildewed deck and take a walk. kind of drizzling. florida muggy. roust the team and re-enter the boat (van). we press on towards tallahassee. everything's pretty calm and then about eighty miles from our destination, the whole fucking sky opens up and dumps on us. the amount of water coming down is incredible. the boat now is more like a submarine! the water is making a opaque glass wall in front of the van, obscuring everything. it's fucking crazy. the spark plugs on the motor are starting to miss from the water flooding the motor. we're down to like almost half of them and the sputtering gets worse, slowing us down to like forty mph. I tell the cats I don't have the nerve and pull to the side under an overpass and wait for some lightness to this hell-torent. it comes and we move onward and then another wave of tsunami gush piles down and pounds us. no relenting, this shit keeps up for like an hour and again I take us to the curb under an overpass. the fucking trucks w/their twenty tons of weight on their wheels wail by at sixty, seventy miles an hour like it's nothing. this stupid shit leaves a wake that's almost as bad as the fucking storm, drenching and submerging us w/each blow-by. what a nightmare! white knuckled, I press on w/the flashers going, maybe forty mph at the most. you can't see who's ahead until the last moment so I'm keeping wide distances, big time. here comes our exit (we're playing the school, fsu and it's right by the capitol buildings) and the storm just stops. ho! anyway, thank god we made it. I feel kind of drained but relieved. damn.

   we played here during the first run of the opera last fall and it's still the same boss, adam. he's a great guy a pleasure to work with. the "club down under" is right next to the college's cafeteria in the student union. there's so much fucking grease caked on the loading dock floors you can imagine the content of the chow they shovel up there. john from jack drag slips on his ass just rolling their stuff in. it's fucking treacherous. some students are taping this gig using several television cameras and are going to later splice together a whole deal of the thing. that might be funny to watch. a trippy document for the piece. last time we played here, a man from cbs talked to me after the show saying I should do a visual version of it. too busy right now just delivering it to the folks in the form I dreamed it - three cats playing together. this is where my attention is now - I'm a focused man, an opera man.

   I go back to the van to konk before the gig. weirdly, I wake up just moments before we're supposed to go on! all bleary eyes, I get up their and man the piece. my men are w/me as we start it. it's kind of hard at first, bob lee says he can't hear me that well and has to play soft, challenging the tempos. if I turn up then it's harder to hear the spiel so we're in a dilemma. damn. still, about a third into it, we got the thing going pretty good and I'm happy. nels is ripping like a motherfucker on the six string. he is incredible. bob lee is playing great too but I can tell he's kind of disturbed by the light touch. we do lots of encores and have real fun doing them. the cats in the crowd are very down and supportive, what joy and help in making something so personal worthwhile for everyone. the grand canyon between those on stage and those in the crowd disappears. it's great to be part of.

   we get done, tear down and start to load the van. the chow got here just as we started so we'll eat when we get to the ho. after seeing a sign on the freeway for "showgoats" (sort of like "showdogs"?), I ordered goat and it tastes trippy, kind of stringy but still good. the pad that made it is west indies and there's a currie on it. some cats who ride motorcycles in competition are talking w/us while we load about past gigs, the old tallahassee scene and stanley turrentine. they're gonna come to the athens gig next week. it's great and makes all that hell-ride and scary shit well worth it. we say bye and then off to the mo-six where I fold up, one emptied and tired bass wrestler.

wednesday, september 30, 1998 - gainesville, fl

from bob lee:

   the covered dish club reminds me of the launchpad in albuquerque, so I'm happy. except that the main floor is lower than the rest of the club, so it's like playing in front of a swimming pool. john from jack drag suggests they fill it with water and have synchronized swimming. "and now... the covered dish underwater dancers!" or have the audience floating out there in inner tubes. hey, it'd keep the floor free of cigarette burns. susan, the house sound engineer, accompanies the dragsters & I to dinner at a great little cafe. she's trying to get out of town as a touring sound person & I think she will be successful, she's quite good. gig tonight is great, one of the best yet, for both bands. this is my first shot at singing backups, seems to go okay. afterwards I hang with someof the locals, chris, liz and uh... then we & the dragsters are invited to party at the home of suzanne, and hang out spieling with joaquin phoenix and antony lambert from spacehog and... shit, names escape me again, but everyone I met was totally cool. very friendly and interesting. I thought joaquin was great in "to die for" and "u-turn", he told me sean penn really did kick his ass in the ass-kicking scene, hit him so hard he passed out.

from steve reed:

   On to Gainesville, rained pretty hard the last ten miles. Susan the house soundperson did a pretty good job but I still fill that the foreign female soundperson are a lot better than our american girls. I'm only telling the truth but on the other hand, most female soundpersons usually are better than most of the men that I work with. Susan's system sounded great for the GANG and DRAG. Show was good. Talked to my mother in L.A. after show. Things are fine at my house. She was telling me about the crowds of people viewing Flo Jo's body at angeles funeral home about a mile from her house on Crenshaw. She said the lines were around the corner, hours of viewing and Mayor Bradley's funeral will be at the Convetion Center.

from watt:

   easy, short hop to a school town (uf - home of the 'gators) but just as we're about to get close (maybe ten or fifteen miles) the fucking firehoses from the sky open up again and get turned on us. this shit is completely wild! not as bad as yesterday but pretty fucking close. at least I don't have to pull over but it's like an hour of white-knuckling it. the warm moist air keeps fogging the window so I'm at it w/the fucking napkins. good thing joe baiza liked to shit-horde them in every free crevice of the van (along w/chow but I had to purge that shit quick to stave off a fucking ant invasion after last tour). they prove invaluble to clearing the fucking steambath windshield. the last mile is the worst but we make it. thank god again. I tell the van "I love you, boat - I love you, boat" over and over. she is the best.

   we're playing the "covered dish" and the boss, bill is out road managing one of the _man or astroman?_ clone projects so he's not here. the folks there are great though and it such a joy to play there. great sound lady named susan helps us big time. last gig, the ground plug got busted on my ac line so I got shocked the whole time. no worries this, time - you live and learn, right? because of the hellish heat and humidity (even after all that fucking rain) I ask the guys if we can do captain beefheart's "hothead." they say yeah and I'm off looking in lame ass chain stores for "doc at the radar station," the album it's from. none of these clowns even knows who the captain is - fucking squarejohn jive asses, staring me down and giving me total 'tude. all w/the same manicured beard/baseball hat/hoop earing look laughing at mister stupid looking watt. guess what, you look stupid too, baggy shorts xerox/rubber stamp/cookie cutter plastic toy armymen. boy am I feeling negative, this is not good. I should choke on a big humble pill right now. I gotta channel my energy down positve land, rather than "positively fourth street" - if you know what I mean. it's too easy to get ill about the whole scene. if I want a real laugh, I should just look in the mirror. I can't be taking this shit out on robots who don't even know they're all "being different the same way." more props, stilts and crutches for that big lie word _alternative_. boy, do I feel full of it. I get back to the pad, take a big walk to think of what's wrong w/me and when I'm through w/that overload, I go to the van and nap for the work that will make me feel real, delivering the piece along side my brothers: steve reed, bob lee and nels. it's so fucking sweaty here in the ark-womb but I konk anyway, waking again only moments before gig time. how do I know this in my sleep? damn, it's a trip.

   the gig tonight starts strong, really strong. it's the best yet for the tour. the kids are great and are very inspiring to play for. during "no one says old man (to the old man)," after the first yo-ho part nels comes back kind of loud for the next line "the eye at the top of the pyramid, focused on the place where it's all hid" and I signal him to come down a little for that part. something happens and his whole pedal assembly (I call it his "dachau") fails. he's nowhere for the rest of the tune and then "topsiders" but he works fast and just unplugs the dachau and goes straight into his amp and does the rest of the gig dry w/out effects. he's still great though and does a fantastic job. his playing is w/his hands and the pedals are just icing or texture. he's not like that man behind the curtain. nels is so down, I'm amazed, big time. what a champ. it still proves man can transcend machines. good lesson for us all. the crowd has us back for many encores including his piece and a long, wild version of "intense song for madonna to sing." he shines and shines. bob lee was great tonight too.

   after the gig, these two cats come up and are talking to me. one is joaquin and the other his buddy anthony and they want to talk about the ethics of the music scene and stuff like that and it gets quite interesting. after a long talk there at the club we go to a friend of his' pad and continue discussing mersh and shit like that there. it's a trip cuz these questions of mersh were coming up in my mind while I was at the fucking record chain stores. damn, talk about parallel universes and the incidences of coincidences! this lady from venezuela is telling us about cuba. she calls me comrade! we have a good time chatting up all kinds of trippy shit and finally bail late to konk, glad for the good spiel here in gainesville.

thursday, october 1, 1998 - jacksonville, fl

from bob lee:

   slept in the van almost all the way here, burnt from last night's excitement. we are greeted at the club by ed crawford's ex-girlfriend el (who I met years ago when backbiter, another band I still play in, toured with firehose in 92) and her friend autumn, go to dinner at european street, the florida idea of a euro cafe. ummm... my bratwurst is okay and they do have warsteiner on tap but overall the pad is not exactly authentic. the fat kat music hall is pretty huge so although there's a good-sized crowd in there jack drag play to a big empty space in front of the stage, even though they seem to be getting a good response from the folks crowded up at the back. our show is very good, and I meet a guy named roger who interviewed claw hammer here in 92, who recognized me on stage. nice to know we made an impression all those years ago! autumn, charmer that she is, regales us with dirty jokes out on the street until we head back to mo 6 well spent.

from steve reed:

   Jacksonville - never have been to this venue before. I thought it was pretty good. Jim the house soundman has things running fairly smooth. A monitor instead of a regular sound board but I thought it worked great! JACK DRAG did another great set and the crew was amazing as ever. I had problems with standing feedback and it was hard for me to see the CD player and the EQ on board and graphic. Our friends elen and autumn came to the show and a few BAZOOKA supporters want me to come back and do my solo project (the STEVE REED SEXTET) and play a lead role in a movie! They're very sweet people. Thank you very much.

from watt:

   easy drive today. we see john pass us by in the jack drag van. we can't see joe (bass) or jason (drums) - they must be laying down on the bench seats asleep. they were up w/us last night and they must be konked. problem is that joe's the map man and john is taking the van up the interstate to get to jacksonville. it's about a hundred miles longer that way! there's an easier route taking florida 24 east out of gainesville to us-301 north at waldo (that's right - waldo, fl) and right up to jax, much more direct and it's a 65 mph road (an orange one in the rand-mcnally). these cats are new to touring so they can't be blamed. I love them dearly and they got a great original sound and no asshole egos. my kind of tourmates. on the way we stop at a que pad called "fat boys" and the shit there is great. nothing on the bone but tasty and not fucking puke-able. lots of que is jive and really lame no matter what kind of money they spend on making the joint look rustic. beware, homies.

   jacksonville is a navy town. I've never played in the city, always on the beach so this is new for me. the minutemen played the "blighted area" in '84 and the "einstein-a-go-go" everytime after that along w/fIREHOSE. the blighted area was insane but the folks at einstein's were righteous - pops would make you fried chicken and everything, the whole family was great. now that pad is gone and we're in the city. this pad's called the "fat chance ballroom" and it's ok, still a work in project but a good feel. el cavin, ed fROMOHIO's old girlfriend and her buddy autumn come and see us and take us to get some chow. she then wants to go to her pop's house to look at some old pictures but cuz of last night's lateness I just gotta konk. it's so fucking humid - in the van during nap time is one god damn killer. I need fucking gills to breathe this wet shit, I tell you. a local band called _common thread_ opened but I was in sleepy town during their set. sorry, guys. same goes for jack drag. I just had to snore - fucking snore hard enough to suck the paint off the walls of the inside of the van when I wake up dripping w/swelter - I just gotta pop the hatch. I konk again w/it open and some slappables must've come by and tie my shoe laces together cuz I almost trip on my face. damn.

   I grab the thunderbroom and head for the stage. good vibe from the cats out there and we deliver the piece. some wasted young man choreographs each song w/a spastic dance - he should get a band! the same w/this girl name alexis that keeps jumping up on stage. these kids are funny. we have a good gig even w/some loud-ass talking in the back of the room during the quiet tunes. after the piece we do some encores and when we get done w/"little johnny jewel" I dedicate the crux of that one to them. despite them peckers, lots of cats come up at the end and want to talk and stuff so I'm spielin' w/them and then w/the folks of the pad and the opening band. they give me some beam in a plastic bottle, ha! I guess that's one of the ways it comes in now - seemed like a trip, like a mouthwash bottle. anyway, we load up, gather the team and head for the mo-six. boy am I beat, these two hour shows are intense on watt but worth it. I gotta grow and get stronger. me and steve reed have a good talk before I konk in mid-sentence.

friday, october 2, 1998 - orlando, fl

from bob lee:

   at last I find a good, cheap music store to replace all the crap I left at home. thoroughbred music is a k-mart of rock gear kinda like guitar center or mars, very good prices & lots of stuff. as we load in we run into bill & stephen from all, who are playing up the street. I would have liked to check out that show, especially to see florida locals discount, who I'm familiar with from "songs that will make you cool" (mighty idy/rockstar records), a shockingly good punk rock comp of (mostly) florida groups that my friend dave schmidt let me tape years ago. dave is at the gig with his girlfriend amber and we spend hours discussing our favorite punk bands. also present is randall, who runs the g. fibbers website, who gives me a fabulous gift, the book "dear boy", a keith moon biography recently published in the u.k. what a guy! randall I mean, though that's true of keith too. one guy who was admiring the book told me that one of his "musician" friends feels that keith was a terrible drummer whose playing "makes no sense." my instinctive response,"that guy is a fucking moron." although I think it came out as "that guy can eat my fucking shit!" (I was a bit drunk at the time.) I mean sure, no accounting for taste but who with a pair of ears and half a brain could come to that conclusion? must be a structure freak who wants parts that can be transcribed. keith moon is my hero, the elvin jones of rock, the most unpredictable, crushing, explosive.... well hopefully you know this already. if not, come to our gig and we'll duke it out. it's another fine gig, though I slop on "forever" a bit. jack drag join us for "red and the black", a pretty feedback drenched version to be sure. nels, steve and I wait around forever for mike to come out of the boss's office, then we find that he's been circling the block in the van for a half hour waiting for us. oops!

from steve reed:

   this has become another one of my favoite venues. Always lots of folks, really good sound and food. gary is the house tech and he works hard at keeping it together. I wore my all t-shirt that day and guess who we bumped into walking down the street? bill stevenson and stephen egerton from all! they're doing an early show down the street. pretty wild, huh? our show was great, both groups.

from watt:

   first full day of hot sun since texas. we get into the orlando area early and get a mo-six in the winter park part. this is a good one cuz there's a music store (very cheesy and _guitar center_ like, including staff w/mullet haircuts and wearing fucking laminates) and we got to get bob lee a headset microphone so he can both sing and look like madonna while he's wailing on his drum set. that will wait for tomorrow. as for now, I give the cats their first flow and they head off to the post office to send bones back home. the sky soon turns all clouds and then BOOM, CRASH - a torrent of rain comes down from out of nowhere. damn. drops as big as grapefruits beating the ground like fists. it calms just before we gotta bail for soundcheck. what a trip.

   tonight's pad is called "the sapphire supper" club and it's a good one to play. the boss who puts me in there is named jim and he's great guy and has been doing my gigs for years. he's got a company that builds lighting fixtures so the music thing is his love, not his hustle. he's from pittsburgh but moved here in the early 80s, he is not of the mersh mindset even after promoting shows from '79. he's a down man, a true find in this vocation. this pad itself is a bar that has a happy hour and they got all this chow laid out for the after work drinkers. have to say, more young folks and less shirt and tie yups than last time so the vibe is more easy going. nothing like cellphone jocks on the shit telling each other how righteously they got the world by the balls on a friday evening. we can all get by easier w/out that. I eat only collared green but do a ton cuz I dig them. the turds are sure gonna be green tomorrow.

   before I go to the van to do the nap I do some spiels. renee at columbia has me doing these most everyday so I can let folks know I'm coming to their town and what I'm doing. the cat who spiels w/me this time was in a band called _circle of shit_ and they played w/minutemen and husker du at love hall, philadelphia in '83. damn! his name is ed and we talk about all kinds of shit including the opera. it's a trip how some folks are still around. after the call I thought a little about bob, grant and sportin' greg norton. what a team were those huskers.

   the van is super hot and sweaty but I'm tired and somehow (I don't know how) konk and wake up after a few hours drenched fully wet. I gotta get out of the van. I want to walk around but this pad is on orange street in orlando which is like frat boulevard w/all sorts of whatever plugging the streets w/khaki shorts and the same cologne. makes me crazy so I just sit in front of the van (which is in a parking lot behind the pad) and wait, sitting there on the ground w/a bag of t-shirts getting ready to go. eleven o'clock finally comes and I go in and the pad is packed. I plug the bass in and we start the piece. about a third of the way through I realize none of us has any water and the place is a fucking shvitz! I soak my entire get-up: flannel, levi and c-taylors thourougly. so thoroughly that I get a fuck rash immediately! inspite of this, the gig is really good and they keep having us back and back - we play two hours and some thirty fucking songs and I am beat. since there's only one more gig after this w/jack drag, we get them on stage to play "the red and the black" w/us. both john and joe play bass and jason does tambourine. they do great and I am big time drained and say thank you to the folks. however, the adrenalin kicks in and while I go see jim to "share his burden" (get paid), we spiel for like an hour about all kinds of shit. it's great and I laugh my fucking head off. working w/good folks on the other side of the country, having a great team on stage delivering the piece - I feel so genuinely grateful. damn.

saturday, october 3, 1998 - st. petersburg, fl

from bob lee:

   today is one of the big highlights of the trip for me, as we visit the dali museum here in st pete, the biggest dali collection outside of spain. I'm not the biggest visual art guy but dali is one of my favorites and to see the full size originals is a mind blow. I also see his holograms, one of himself painting his wife gala, the other of alice cooper sitting on a stool with a shish-ke-babbed venus de milo in hand, singing into it like a mic (or preparing to take a bite?), with his brain floating on a table behind him. dali said he chose cooper because he was the foremost symbol of confusion in the mass media of the time (1972). wish now that I'd bought some books instead of just postcards.

from steve reed:

   state theater, the last show with jack drag. I realy enjoyed working with them. they are a great band and hopefully we will work again one day. I did 14 shows with them beginning in l.a. at the whiskey. as a present for doing their sound, jason gave me a really good drum pedal. thank you very much! john from jack drag's grandparents came to the show, enjoyed their grandson's band very much. the crew was in fine form and the show came off great.

from watt:

   wake up to sounds of some lady screaming the fuck out at some kids. it's driving me crazy. why do we yell at younger folks like that? no wonder they grow up the way the do. I couldn't believe it. my ma used to holler too, it must be hard raising kids, I can imagine trying to raise watt, damn. here I am, almost forty-one and have never raised kids, only have done gigs for them. where can I really be speaking from? I gotta cut folks more slack and laugh at myslef a little more. it'll help the mental health of my mission, too. the screaming though, is upsetting. luckily, it's time to bail soon and we get bob lee that headset microphone. I get nels a tuner also so he doesn't have to put the headstock of the guitar up against his temple to tune during the gigs. I get some strings too. gone are the days when I was breaking a few of them a night - I've been on the same set for like ten gigs but they are all dented up where they get fretted on the neck and sounding a little dead from all the sweat I've been soaking them in w/my body.

   we drive through tampa down to st. petersburg and head straight for the dali museum. nels and bob lee have never been there. it's my fourth time. I dig it, I'm seeing something a little different and for me new every time I go. I really take the time to check out "the hallucinagenic toreador" (sp?) and trip on it. all the venus di milos remind me of that _television_ song where tom verlaine talks about "falling into the arms of venus di milo" but her arms are cut off (if you remember the famous statue)! talk about surreal. I get a good laugh out of the whole thing. the "lobster telephone" too. funny thing, someone gave us a plastic lobster last tour and we got it on the dash of the van so every once in a while I pick it up like a phone and say into it "hello." tour can make you sometimes retarded.

   the gig is at an old theatre in the middle of town called strangely "the state theatre." the boss is a cat of english origin named tony who I worked w/before - he also did the porno for pyros show I helped them with too. he's a good cat. it's the last gig for _jack drag_ w/us this tour so it's kind of sad. last night I made them just get up and play "the red and the black" w/us cuz it just had to get done. we always play some kind of tune together w/the bands we tour w/sooner or later. they were geat w/john's grandparents in the crowd and everything. john moved around a lot more (not a pete townshend yet but getting there) and the crowd picked up on it and I thought it was there best show of the ones they did w/us. really sounded good and connected well. we will see them at the boston show later this month (that's where they live).

   our gig goes really well, nels is smoking big time as is bob lee. one lame thing is bob lee forgets plug the headset in so the first test of that machine is a no go. oh well, on tomorrow... after the piece we start do encores and before "friction" (a television song) I give this big rant about how lame one certain style of music is (alternative) and name a band (such a stupid thing to do, I'm not going to say their name here - I should've never said it period) and talk about how punk's not alternative and how I don't what the fuck got in me. man, has this shit been bothering me. I don't know why cuz in the big scheme of things it mean fuck-all. I guess it like having those nightmares I did in the first week but they're in public. I think it's from insecurities, big time. good thing I say nothing during the piece cuz that would surely ruin it. I gotta channel my fucking dialog in another way about this shit. I do think I'm over it now cuz I've really been analyzing the obsession I've been having about that stupid shit for the last couple of days. I'm trying to see my life as a movie and watch that fucking nut "doing the nurenberg rally" inbetween telling folks thanks for being open minded and accepting the piece.

   this cat named steve has been travelling around to our florida shows, taping the gigs and we stay at his pad in st. pete tonight. tony, the boss gave us some black label beam (seven years old) and the stuff is good so we start drinking and spieling. in comes a buddy of steve's and what does he want to talk about? the band I mentioned during my rant! argghhhhhh! the consequences of my behavior are now here to haunt me! he seems really nice though but in a way wants to pick a fight so I tell him I've been thinking about how stupid it is for me to say shit like that and explain my being afraid of my own lameness. we're all just folks. in a karma way this is good cuz I need some kind of potion to cure me of this shit. I hate it. I'm a bass wrestler from pedro who spiels stories - no more, no less. here to learn. from EVERYBODY. must thwart the insular tendencies. he then puts on a jimi hendrix bootleg and says "see, jimi would've been like (the band I said) if he still would've lived." I look at steve reed and we both gotta laugh and let it go. luckily I konk soon after that.

sunday, october 4, 1998 - west palm beach, fl

from bob lee:

   wow. this is like playing on rodeo drive. gotta be one of the top ten affluent downtowns in the u.s. nevertheless there is a good young punker/old rocker turnout for our show, and I enjoy it quite a bit. opening band, the mute-ants, are okay, fast angry samoans style punk, kinda repetitive and predictable but much more fun and spirited than any of the post-alternative set. we seem to confuse a good part of the crowd during the opera after which mike announces "you see, this is how I'm punk after 18 years. so if it's little weird... good."

from steve reed:

   I thought the waitresses were very pretty and ray's toy sound system and monitors worked much better than I'd thought. there are portraits and photos of great blues legends throughout the club. I liked his place. good italian food next door and our show came off good.

from watt:

   get up, say thanks to steve and we head off for the other coast of florida. never played this town, west palm beach. we hear it's bourgeois but who knows - sometimes some kick-ass gigs can come from pads located in those parts too. randall told steve reed to head south to fort meyers and then across, just south of lake ocachobee but we nix that plan in favor of heading towards orlando and then swinging down to the florida turnpike and hitting our target from there. of course the perfect plan has some blow-bys and we have to loop it back a little but after some tiny delays, we make it. finding the club is another thing. we were wondering why it's called "west" palm beach when the town is on the east coast of florida. well, they got like a lagoon and then beaches joined by causeways and draw bridges and like miami beach. that's why. oh, the wonder. we drive all over this area, giant yachts, giant pads, foo-foo stores. sort of like a rodeo drive next to the water. finally, we break down and ask somebody and we get there. it's "ray's underground" and the boss there is a cat named ray who blows a mean blues harp and saw the minutemen way back. he's from new jersey and you can tell, the street smart kind of jersey. he's been around music a long time too, you can tell that also. his pad has great pictures of blues cats all over the walls, nels is playing in front of muddy waters. steve snaps the whole place up w/the digital camera. lots of cool pics everywhere.

   it is sweaty (surprise) but luckily ray's got a room across the street that's got a whining air conditioner putting some cool damp and the air and I can do the pre-gig nap there. after some hours of well-needed sueneo, a cat comes to tell me the opening band is up and to check it out. it's a local band called _the mute-ants_ and they sound sort of like the adolescents or early o.c. hardcore. kind of hook-up-the-dots. I wish folks would take the punk thing and trip it out a step further and make it more their own. it can be more than a style - it can be a fucking state of mind. or even a state of blowing minds. they're nice cats though and want to talk to an old nut like me before we go on, especially the drum roadie. he's good peeps.

   we're set up and start the piece. folks are tripping on it - it seems they don't get a lot of different acts out here and they have certainly haven't heard something like this. by the night time sequences of the opera, there is loads (and I mean loads) of talking going on, especially to the starboard (my side) but I hold focus and keep w/the piece. nels and bob lee play fanatastic. sure, we got monitor problems but ray jumps on stage and fixes that (the monitor board is on the stage, remember this is sort of a tiny pad - we're like playing in stage in a store window). the encores get folks wailing and soon enough we're finished. lots of young cats who never knew my sound are talking to me while I'm slinging shirts from the stage. some promoter from miami came all the way up and wants to do gigs w/me down there. good folks all over. I spiel for a while w/ray and he tells me some funny-ass buddy miles stories. the ho is a mo-six in fort pierce about sixty miles north so we gotta pack up and move. we make the ride and get to the pad just in time for watt to make a heavy konk and get ready for the hell-ride tomorrow.

read week 1 of the tour diary

read week 3 of the tour diary

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this page created 6 oct 98