"puttin' the opera to bed" tour diary - week 6

monday, october 26, 1998 - birmingham, al

from bob lee:

   great to see hiro and (?) mike from athens again, generous hiro has come with copies of a king crimson video for me (great footage of the band from 73 I've never sen before plus their fridays appearance from 81 and an officially released vid from france in 82 and a bil bruford drum instruction tape), and the monkees' "33 1/3 revolutions per monkee" for nels cline. what a great guy. now I know what you're thinking, "how can a fan of the 80's crimson give shit to anyone else for their musical taste?" well, bear with me, alright? i'm on this side of the keyboard and I am right motherfucker! anyone wants to prove wrong I'll break out that etch-a-sketch. played some great games of pinball tonight.

from steve reed:

   the smokiest club in the world!!! I hated being inside!!! it was terrible!! my eyes were tearing up badly!! the gang went on stage late, 12:40 am!! too late on a work night.

from watt:

   do the pop, do the walk, pile in the van, stop at the subway and chow, head south, cross into alabama, pass huntsville (rocketville), then pull into birmingham and head straight for the laundrymat. we all are very low on the clean outfit scene and this has to get taken care of. we call it stench. gigs stench outfits. my mother is italian and I sweat like a motherfucker. it's just the way it is. in fact, my pop sweated like a motherfucker too (must've been great deep down in the engine room of a nuke cruiser or aircraft carrier, where he served) and his ma was from denmark. anyway, this shit that comes through my pores is almost like solvent. rots holes in levis. damn. it's a great thing when you're pulling clean outfits out of the dryer, all done and warm. I dig it.

   after scrubbing outfits, we head over to tonight's gig which is at "the nick," a pad I've played many times before. it's like a shoebox design: stage at one end, bar next to the wall on the long side in the middle and pool tables at the other end. I should say both pool tables. soundcheck at this pad is like nine at night cuz you don't go on until like midnight and this is a monday! damn. that's the way they do things here. what does this mean? watt's got one long konk coming after soundcheck and that's what I do. I miss the local openers _couch fort_ and _gaunt_ (once again) and get it going for show time - twenty minutes before fucking one in the morning, aaaarrrrggggghhhhh!

   the monitors are beat to hell and utter shite so it looks like a re-run of the mime show I did last night in nashville, stage-wise. nels tumbles from the stage a couple of times, causing injury to those battered ankles. his legs are skinny as pipe cleaners but now they will seriously feel the puff of swolleness. poor nels. he plays his heart out anyways cuz that's the way he is. what a mensch. love that man. bob lee's pumping the thumps too. boy, is this crowd loud for the quiet ones but I hold focus anyway. don't know what they're thinking, I don't explain any of the piece - I just hold tight w/my cats and deliver it. this is the way it's gotta be: I want to blow minds _not_ connect the dots. we finish it up and get to the ecnores - it's fucking two thirty in the morning on a work night - damn! I sling shirts after and get good words from the folks so it's all worth it. the mo-six is west in bessemer so we load up and head over there. four in the fucking morning and finally I get to shut my motor down.

tuesday, october 27, 1998 - memphis, tn

from bob lee:

   nels & I found a great little coffee shop, the map room, around the corner from the venue, and had a very nice, relaxed, mellow gig prep. not to be a prima donna but I sometimes realy wish for a quiet space to chill before gigs, and most of the pads for the last week have not had one. unfortunately in the interest of our own ears we skipped the opener, which steve & mike are claiming as one of the best ever: k-9 arts. oh well. gaunt sound especially good tonight. they've been very cool this whole trip, very consistent, though their response has really varied. tonight seems very good for them. our set goes quite well, but I have a very annoying run in afterwards. I had left the drum cases sitting out in the crowd and at pack-up time, a guy was sitting on them. these are fiber cases, not anvils or anything, and I have to be protective of my own stuff right? so I go up to the guy to get them and say, "excuse me I need that", and as he gets up I grumpily remind him, "this is not a chair." I hear some murmurs of "wow, what a dick!" big deal, I pack everything up, and as I'm finishing I see a couple with a shredded drumstick in hand approaching me. sam from gaunt sees em coming and goes, "oooh, I'm gonna get my drumstick autographed!" and the woman responds, "no I'm giving it back to him, he's a fucking asshole!" great. so she comes up to me and says "you know you're a total asshole. you hit me with this during the show," and hands me the broken stick. I say, "oh sorry about that, " "no that's not why you're an asshole. my friend was sitting on your stuff over there and you told him 'this is not a chair.'" "yeah, well it's not. if those things buckle under his weight is he gonna give me $400 to replace them all?" dude answes "that guy's an engineer, he makes more money than you!" I wish I has a photo of my facial response to this. best translated into words as "what on god's green earth does that have to do with anything, you idiot?" but what I actually say is "good for him! if he's an engineer he should understand simple physics! a 10 pound fiber case is not built to hold the weight of a 150 pound guy." I am already grumpy so I am ready to read them the riot act but I realize dude may rush to defend his girlfriend who thinks I'm an asshole already so I mutter something like "Look I don't wanna bum anyone out or be rude but I'm protective of my stuff because I'm not a rich engineer, people always use those cases as ashtrays, drink tables...." he says, "don't worry about it dude you're playing with the best player in the business!" great, I feel so much better now. thanks for your fucking support. whatever, maybe mr. genius rich engineer will think twice about plopping his ass down on other peoples' property next time. then again, maybe the couple went and told him about defending his honor and he bouhgt them both fur coats. well if I see them in those coats I'm gonna be sure to sit on them. maybe even spill my drink a little. then they'll know. bloody fucking hissing prigs. not everyone in memphis is a dork, I met some very nice folks tonight, not the least of whom is mr doug rockett, who takes us to his lovely home for a good night's sleep.

from steve reed:

   walked around beale street with adam and took in the sights. it's kinda like new orleans - french quarters or even hollywood. I enjoyed the sights and took a few pictures. mason was the house soundman and he was very helpful and knew his system and room very well. thank you mason for a job well done. the sound board was placed at the side of the stage instead of the front but it wasn't hard to mix because of the way the system was set up. thanks again barrister for a good show. gaunt got a good response tonight.

from watt:

   take a big walk after popping and am digging the southern morning sun. so much different from a month ago when _hurricane georges_ was raising hell down here. the air is so crisp and the blues and oranges in the sky are so live, it's righteous and I take time to take it in and trip on it. damn. fuck going back to birmingham and taking the route most cats take to memphis from here, us-78. we're going west to tuscaloosa, take us-82 then us-45 up to tupelo and then over tho memphis. way less towns and traffic I figure. I guess right and it's a great ride through some alabama and mississippi backwoods and on pretty good roads too - mostly sixtfive mph'ers and just a few towns. in mississippi, we pass lots of cotton fields and there's cotton all over the side of the road. we pull over for a minute and me and steve reed pick up some and bring it into the van (boat). his ma grew up in this state. I watch his face as we pass these fields and can feel what he's thinking. I love this man, steve reed.

   we cross into tennessee and pull into memphis. the pad we're playing is called "barristers" and it's downtown almost by the river ("big mud," the mississippi river). it's part owned by a policeman who comes up in his car (the entrance to the pad is in an alley and the pad itself is in the bottom of a parking structure!) while I'm sitting outside the door after soundcheck and says "mr. watt, I've got a warrant here for you on a pornography charge" then he starts laughing. I go whoa and then start laughing too. he's got the duty tonight but says he wants to come see the opera. what a trip. a local community station I did an interview for brings us some que (bar-b), I have some righteous cornish hen. damn, they're trippy little birds w/tiny-ass bones. tasty as hell though.

   I go to konk in the van when these trippy sounds wake me up. I run into the pad and the opening band, _k-9 arts_ is tearing the shit up, big time! this band is great. they got jim duckworth (who did time w/the _gun club_)o n guitar along w/a drummer and a bassist - reminds me of nels clines own stuff w/his former _nels cline trio_, all improv but w/tons of feeling and shit plus much invention. I really, really dig it. the bass player has a whammy bar! I feel truly inspired and go back to the van and konk so I can play good when it's our turn. this means I again miss _gaunt_ - damn, when am I gonna see these guys? I forgot to say but last night I kind of forced them to get on stage and play "the red and the black" w/us on stage. that's what happens when you tour w/watt. tonight we'll get them up there too.

   it's gig time and we start the piece. it's a trip for steve reed cuz he's gotta mix from the side but this lets him check out the monitors too so it's cool. the monitors are great. in fact, the room is great to play, not too live and not to dead - perfect. we do a really good take on the piece and the crowd is righteous. quiet like that brussles gig last spring w/everyone paying attention to everything we do. so much respect from these cats, I am so honored and grateful. we play our fucking hearts out. my good, good friend doug rockett is here (where he grew up and is living now for a while), in fact, his sister is too and her boyfriend was the whammybar bassist from the opening band, damn! his name is craig and he is very moved by the opera and hugs me and gives me his bass to take on the rest of the tour. not "gives" but "loans" me it. he is a very sweet man.

   we pack up and tell the folks at the gig thanks cuz they made it great for us. we follow doug rockett to germantown and stay w/him at his ma's house. boy, am I sore. I konk in the hall at the head of the stairs. I hope no one has to piss and stumble over me getting to the head. if they did, I never knew it cuz I konked fucking hard.

wednesday, october 28, 1998 - fayetteville, ar

from bob lee:

   reached the upsetting conclusion of "black dahlia" today, jeus fuck. the burn hits me very hard tonight, despite the fact that jr's dickson st ballroom is a plushy venue with a nice backstage including a tv and satellite dish and I get to watch "simpsons" and "south park" for the first time in weeks. the show is probably okay, and jeffrey gives me the neil young tape I advertised interest in. my spirit is elsewhere tonight. our show is technically accurate but for me, lacking in fire. I call my friend jennifer at the end of it and whine, "I'd give anything to just hop in my car right now and put on the silver apples and drive home and smoke a bong and go to bed." my mood is not improved by the 19 year old bouncers who are trading stories of kicking ass and how they love it, while I break down my gear. the highlight of this conversation is one guy bragging about how he can puke into a beer bottle and drink it back down and hold it. I'm sure the other dipshits in fayettevile are very impressed with that. luckily though we are invited to the home of some local guys, one of whom works at the club, and the party scene that ensues lifts my spirits considerably. I crash on the floor much more pleased with my fate than I had been hours earlier.

from steve reed:

   here we are back in the ozarks. we haven't been here in seven or eight years. sound system is powerful and the dressing room (backstage) is very comfortable: telephone, tv, radio and nice couches. gig was good.

from watt:

   morning comes and doug rockett's got two bikes so we can go riding around his ma's hood. damn, my first time on a bike in over five weeks - yes! this is great even if it's one of them bikes w/the fucking shoehorn seat that has you fucking riding on your tailbone and real low straight handlebars that put you at a downward angle and puts almost all your weight on your wrists. this is a racing bike, much different than the one watt's got in pedro but it's still good to pump the legs and peddle around. I dig it much. thank you, doug rockett the foot doctor - you are the best.

   we head west from his ma's pad over the mississippi river and into arkansas (my pop's pop's people were from this area, eastern arkansas, by the river) to play tonight's gig in their big college town, fayetteville, up in the ozarks north of fort smith on the other side of the state. haven't played this town in about five years. the pad tonight is called "jr's dickson street ballroom" and it's a pretty big concert pad, all new and done up. maybe too big for watt and his opera. whatever, I'll play my heart out. there's a great used book store up the street and I spend almost all my free time in there. I find a trippy book on the _skull and bones_ society and buy that. they got all kinds of old tomes there and I just browse and browse. time to soundcheck and I'm back at the pad. great cat working the monitors named eric, good folks at the venue except for like four security idiots who keep talking about how they're gonna be ready to fight and shit like that - at a watt gig too, damn! assholes. I go to the van to konk and hear one of them in the alley tell another one about if the fight gets dragged from the pad to the alley then you grab one of the empty beer kegs and start throwing blows w/that. too many movies for these boys. put them on the _jerry springer show_ and have some women guests kick their bullshit ass. I put them out of my mind quick and konk.

   opera time and I pop but leave the shirts in the van (boat). the venue wants twenty percent and I'll just sell them out of the boat (van) when I'm done. no offense to jr's dickson street people (except those dickhead bouncers). I get up there ready to start the piece and the mic don't work! I say nothing and just wait for like five minutes while the monitor cat eric tries his best to figure out the hell. beer spilled on a cable connection is the guess and proves right and gets corrected so we get the opera underway. the crowd is very attentive and w/very much respect and I'm very honored by them. a genuine interest and good feeling in the room. I invite everyone out to the van (boat) in the alley when we're done w/the piece and the encores and there's a big gathering around the boat (van) while I sling shirts, spiel and answer questions. these cats are great and I really feel good about doing this gig even if it wasn't the most giant of crowds. this is real and why I'm wrestling the boom stick and travelling the towns.

   we get invited to a pad to konk and we go there w/the cats in _gaunt_, who we had again on stage to play the b.o.c. song. the beam gets flowing and someone there makes some soup so I run out to the van (boat) and get the dave's. add this to the scene and the faces are soon red and eyes are watering! brains are sliding out the ears and noses are running! yes! the cook gets insulted and goes to bed. sorry, soldier - I'm just a sailor from pedro and wanted to show you a little taste of our life. you can go back to your way tomorrow. his room mates (the ones who invited us over) aren't bummed though and we have a great time until sueno calls and I konk right there on their deck w/blankies from the boat (van). so do the gaunt cats but I don't think they're used to that. oh well, as long as you're still alive, you still got the chance to learn things. I konk happy knowing that.

thursday, october 29, 1998 - st. louis, mo

from bob lee:

   great to see my friend roger ward, ex-tommyknockers drummer, now a st louis resident, drummer for thee lordly serpents and a father-to-be. the side door club is attached to a very fancy restaurant and I have a fantastic yellowfin steak for dinner. seems to be just what the doctor ordered, to quote mr. roth, as we play one of our best and longest gigs yet. it's also the last with gaunt and we have a fond farewell to them. admittedly it took me a little while to warm up to them, but tonight I quite enjoyed them, epsecially the last song which featured mr. steve reed on bass! a really good night, thanks and see you next time.

from steve reed:

   it's rainy but not cold like the last time we were here in st. louis. marshall was the houseman with size 18 feet!! and 6 foot 7, 8 or 9 inches in height. he was fairly helpful but left the monitor board unattended thoughout most of the show!!! mike needed low mids out and he wasn't there. so mike soldiered through the show. maybe some place else next time? I was asked to play bass on one song with gaunt. that was real cool. bret here (bass player) was having problems with the song titled "jim" so they asked me to play it. I learned it at soundcheck with two run-throughs. I hadn't played fast music since my days in legal weapon four years ago. so it was a real trip to play fast again but fun for me. gaunt, I'm honored to play with you. see you again some day and thanks for the t-shirt and cds.

from watt:

   up w/the sun and wipe the dust bunnies from the side of the head and the mouth. we head north into missouri and on to saint louis. after only one day shy of two weeks of total sunshine, the rain starts to make a show. not too bad though and it's an easy drive into town. the pad we're playing here is one I played last fall called the "side door." the boss here is pablo and he's a trip, very funny and nice. he has the cook rustle me up some habanero chicken wings and some great mahi mahi w/coriander - damn, what a chow! thank you pablo. other cats at the pad are great too, one's a teacher when he's not part of this pad's security (see, all bouncers are not the same - this cat's a complete opposite from the idiots talking that shit last night) named derek and we talk all about his mission w/the kids at school. it's great to see a cat from the punk scene w/such a sense of purpose. it's not how you look or act, it's how you think - that's the core of what I dig about punk and think is important. he's up to getting shit going and not giving up on the future generations and that's where I'm at too. amen, derek.

   steve reed has to come out to the van (boat) and roust me cuz I spieled too long and the pre-gig konk was too deep for me to come out of on my own. I take the stage and we do the do. lots of yapping by the bar - a complete opposite to last night but still, there's lots of cats giving us the go ahead and along w/nels and bob lee, we work out our little drama. lots of drunks yelling weird-ass shit but for everyone of them, there's a quiet one w/the eyes wanting you to give it your best. so we do and I'm happy w/my team. we bring _gaunt_ up w/us - it's their last gig w/the black gang and they got to go back to ohio. so it's big sweaty bear hugs all around when we're done. much luck to all of you, hope we lit your shit a little bit. you all were a joy to tour w/and I hope I didn't seem too insane. we wave bye to them and then head to north saint louis near alton, where miles davis was born. I remember going there w/ed fROMHOHIO tours past to these folks named the hopper's back yard where they had a little music store called "hopper's hobby." I also remember seeing a statue of the world's tallest boy scout there in the middle of town. what big fucking shoes he had I remember as the ropes of konk coil up and bind me down to the deck w/sueno.

friday, october 30, 1998 - chicago, il

from bob lee:

   okay, best record score of the journey tonight: the dicks' "kill from the heart", unavailable for 13 years, has been reissued! I was almost ready to shell out fifty big ones for the original if I ever turned one up, which I haven't in two years of frantic searching. (I still need "live at raul's" on vinyl tho, once again that address is bobzilla77@mindspring.com if you can help.) also got a reissue of the deviants' "ptoof!", this is the band that led to the pink fairies in 1967, a heavy 60's classic from what I'm told, well worth ten bucks to check out if my instincts are correct. mark from mudhoney (who we are playing with tonight) tells me the dicks album is a semi-official bootleg, put out by the two srviving members after singer gary floyd kept all the money from the "official" dicks comp put out an alternative tentacles last year. I have no way to verify this but my copy certainly looks like a bootleg, no label listed, no back cover printed, just a couple xeroxed inserts with the relevant data and lyrics. well I feel all the luckier for being at this store the week they got em in cos who knows if I'l ever see it again. eh also verifies that "ptoof" is a great record. now I really can't wait to get home! melanie and dennis (tapers mentioned in cleveland/ detroit episodes) are here, I dine with them and play pinball with melanie prior to our show. in the process I miss the opening set by kent 3, who impressed me a lot in seattle last year when they opened for a "secret" mudhoney gig at club moe. our show is good, only the opera due to opening. I pack up instantly and catch most of the mudhoney set which is excellent. claw hammer toured with them twice so I have lots of experience with them, seems to me they're playing as intensely as ever and the new songs are real good. we split for motel 6 early to get as much rest as possible before the slog to minneapolis tomorrow.

from steve reed:

   haven't been here in years but still one of my favorite venues throughout the world. opening for mudhoney. I've only met them before but never have seen them perform. what I saw of their show was very good. wish I could have stayed for entire set but we had to drive to rockford, illinois to sleep. our set was good and well received by the packed house. I met a young woman (lisa) who has been reading our journals and praises me highly for quitting smoking and drinking. she also had a battle with the same problem and its been five years dry for her, only three months for me. thank you lisa for the words of encouragement and god bless you.

from watt:

   pop and roust the crew, we got a hellride to chi-town. we're told there's a kid show before ours so soundcheck is early. this is not our gig - this is one of the two gigs on the tour (the other is eugene, or) where we open for somebody. tonight we open for our buds in _mudhoney_.. no worries, they're gonna let us play the whole opera. they're good cats. a while ago I recorded some tunes w/their singer, mark arm for a group called the _wylde ratttz_. that was fun. it'll be good to see him tonight too.

   lots of drizzle as we make the trek and we get into town just as all the freeways are really plugged. I don't think l.a. is the only town w/lame traffic, huh? we're going like five mph for at least an hour but one thing for sure, we're gonna get to this pad w/out the wander and why not? it's the "cabaret metro" and I've played here like at least fifteen times! me and the reedster should know the way like the back of our fucking hand but let me tell you, we've loused it up many a time and it's right near wrigley field, damn. this time we're determined and mr. reed is manning the map. he's getting really good at it now. navigator reed, I love this man. we get close - maybe twenty blocks south. one day we're going to find the offramp that puts us on a street the closest you can get to the metro on clarke, you'll see. this time was pretty good. the surface streets in chicago can be really fucked - no left turn lanes and lights every other block, shit like that. anyway, we make it there and guess what? the kid show is cut and soundcheck isn't for a couple of more hours! oh well, better early than late. we all split up and walk this town.

   the boss here is joe shannahan and I dig him much. he's done my gigs for years and years. much respect to him. he's got a good crew too and they give us real nice treatment, no 'tude or dis. the sound system is real nice and the monitors smoke. tonight's gig goes out over the web but it's over rollingstone.com so I wonder how that'll go? whatever, I'm giving it my best throw no matter - we're w/mudhoney tonight, damn straight! the opening act is friends of theirs called _kent 3_ and they seem like cool peeps too. well, all right!

   shirts come in from north carolina so I bag them. my eden amp is finally fixed and comes too so I hook that up. then me and steve reed get some hot dogs across the street (me and him call it "geeting some snap") and then do soundcheck. next, it's into the van w/watt so I can get a good konk and later play my brains out. it's getting cold as a motherfuck so I bundle up tight in all three blankies. damn. then I'm out like a light until steve reed pounds on the hatch and requests my presence.

   I throw on the bass, throw off my hat and then wail into the intro. the pad is packed. we're tripping them out w/the piece, I can tell lots have never seen it but then lots have cuz they're singing along and shit. my cats seem a little shy so I urge them forward w/some hollering. it works and nels bursts big time w/the whisker for "liberthy..." me and bob lee pull in tight than let it snap and taunt it up again - the flow in the dream segues during the "...equator" motifs are really down and I know the cats out there are picking up on it if they're willing. I focus tight on my black gang and hold fast. it's a good feel when we play the coda and I see my pop, d. boon and k in my mind as the piece does the wind up. damn. I come off stage and give mark arm the big sweaty bear hug and tell him "that's for you." then I'm off to the hallway to sling shirts. now this pad has a percentage on shirts but the shirt dude todd was not at the venue before I had to konk so I just start slinging. todd comes racing up all panic-like but I say, "don't worry, I'll keep all the t-shirt bones in my front pocket and you can stand right there and I'll get you your percentage when I get done." he says ok and I sling thirty-four shirts and he works out the pad's cut. it works out smooth and he's happy. I just don't have time to sell them all night. I gotta konk, play, then bail. it's like that.

   we see some mudhoney and their kicking major ass but we gotta bail cuz the next gig's in minneapolis and that's a hellride so it's adios. before we bail, I see scott burns who's always geat to see and I get shout outs from all kinds of cats who've followed me through the years. a cat named chef gives me a bow for my stand-up bass. well, thank you! I'm feeling good. this is the town where my ma met my pop and I was probably conceived here - maybe I said that before on in another diary on another tour, I can't remember. I just think of that now and am glad this gig went off the way it did.

   we batten the boat and we're off. we drive to rockford to escape morning chicago traffic hell and get a little closer to the twin cities. I am one beat motherfucker as my body tumbles into a crumbling sand pillar onto the deck. my last words? I can't remember.

saturday, october 31, 1998 - minneapolis, mn

from bob lee:

   thank the good lord for steven reed, who brought two sailor suits along on this trip and saved my butt. all tour, I've been hearing "don't pull a hodges on halloween bob lee!" meaning, don't wuss out on getting a sailor suit and do the gig in civvies. well heck, I tried, all the sailor suits disappear the month before halloween I'm told. I did find a sailor hat, however, and if I do say so myself, we all looked pretty sharp. good gig too. I was bummed I had to miss the kiss halloween special on fox, but my pal jonathan told me it was unspeakably lame, only two kiss songs, one of which is on their shitty new album. so no biggie. stayed with kraig johnson & jessy greene from opening act viovoom (not to be confused with amazing canadian speed-progsters voivod.) and watched the king crimson vid that hiro from athens gave me. great footage of the 73-74 band, about 1/2 hour, most of which I'd never seen. hiro you are my hero.

from steve reed:

   still another one of my favorite gigs in the world. great sound and staff and I love coming to this beautiful city. caustic resin and jesse's group opened our halloween show and of course we dressed up as sailors. it was a great show and a good night at the first avenue. dan, who runs the sound in the 7th street entry did a great job running the show and keeping the sound system and monitors working good. thank you dan for all your help, you're the best.

from watt:

   roust the team early and head north into wisconsin and then crossover into minnesota towards the twin cities. it's a hellride so no walk this morning. this little tick-tick-tick in the engine that's been growing all tour is now a roaring grating sound and it's got me shook. it sounds like it's in the pulley train and since this motor's got a serpentine belt, it's either the water pump, a tensioner or the alternator. we're in town two days so monday morning for sure I'm taking the van (boat) into a auto pad for a look-see. we did this last tour, play minneapolis two days in a row (sure is trippy for watt w/my history of touring) but it will definitely help me w/the engine problem cuz no pad would be open on a sunday. we're lucky sailors. I try to put my mind at rest and just deal w/this monday morning. it does weigh on me though.

   tonight it's halloween and I'm playing one of the pads you can play and have a real good time, the "seventh street entry." we're dressing as sailors. I've played many, many halloweens (at least twenty) in costume and this will be no different. in the "first avenue" part of the pad the crew here is doing up the decorations big time. everyone of them is in costume too. can't wait to see the boss, steve mcclellan but he's got baby watch until like ten tonight so I'm gonna konk on the deck of one of the offices upstairs. the deck here even has a rug. I'm out.

   I get the tap and it's down the stairs to the entry. I've missed the opening acts, jesse greene's _viavoom_ (which is _so so_ backing her up along side kraig johnson) and _caustic resin_, who have rejoined us for the rest of the tour but this motherfucker watt was tired (I do all the driving unless the hellride is such that I gotta share the helm w/mr. reed). the pad is packed. I get on stage and there's like four cat's dressed as pirates right in front of me going "aaaaarrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhh," you know, patches on the eye, beards, hats - the whole bit. I got to hold tight to keep focus, this shit is funny. we go into the piece and it's a real good take, the spirit of the room and the vibe on stage where the black gang is working is great - nels and bob lee are meshing w/me right on the money. nels is very inspired and plays like one possessed motherfucker, let me tell you! jesse greene played w/nels in the _geraldine fibbers_ and there's some issues there and nels is exorcising these out via both his body and machine. it's something to watch, I'm blown away. when nels gets going and forgets where he is, it is truly a revelation to witness. fingers, faces, flits and prances emote from the man and it's a vision. the way I got us set up on stage for the piece is like this: bob lee up front as much as he can and at an angle w/his kick drum pointing at my leg where I'm just starboard of him. his timbali becomes our bow. nels is right across from me to bob lee's port. I have my mic pointed right at nels and he has his the same for me. we can all look each other right in the eye. the eye contact thing is something I learned from playing w/porno and it's a great technique - I dig it. keeps us in the moment and bonded. we finish it up and do the encores. nels is incredible in our take on madonna's "secret garden" and removes his shirt and sings the tune bare-chested. damn, he's great! I do a big whuppin' bass solo at the end fired up by him and we go tune after tune and have a great old time and my sailor hat only fell off once! once, that's all! we get done and there's much frenzy. we thank dan, the houseman who helped steve reed big time and steve mcclellan for supporting me all these years. of course like every night at the end, I thank mr. john coltrane for the inspiration he lights watt up with.

   since we're playing here tomorrow (still hard to get used to that), we leave the shit at the pad and head over to the johnson brothers, where we're gonna konk tonight. they're real close and the have a righteous pad. lots of kurt's art everywhere, he's great. their native american room mate is away so me and bob lee konk in his space. it's intense cuz he's covered one wall w/all these advertising and media related references to native americans. one whole big long fucking wall! kraig says it's gonna be shown at a museum soon. it's quite a work, let me tell you. I dig it. bob lee puts on some _king crimson_ video taped in the early 70s that hiro gave him in athens and I'm totalling busting up inside. just like _black flag_ was, bob lee is totally slayed by someone on a stool playing math boogie w/a pretty boy on bass in a tight shirt singing "but the bastard wouldn't budge" (this is the cat who ended up singing for _asia_) along w/two other prog-rockers working their sliderules on drums and violin. this puts me to sleep quick, sorry bob lee.

sunday, november 1, 1998 - minneapolis, mn

from bob lee:

   day 2 in the twin cities, watched the vikings blow their 7-0 streak and played a pretty terrible show. sorry everyone.

from steve reed:

   night two at the first avenue wasn't so eventful. somebody stole nels' ray guns!! they were left packed away with his amp and pedals on stage after the show saturday night. we can't figure out what happened. the set had problems, it just wasn't smooth and tight like the saturday nigh show. oh well, they all can't be great!!! earlier that day we went to conrad''s and watched two football games: vikings vs. tampa bay and 49ers vs. packers and we ate chili and bratwurst sausages. it was great!! well anyway, bye-bye minneapolis. we roomed with the johnson brothers. that was real cool.

from watt:

   early rise for watt and I'm out the hatch and walking down 22nd street in the johnson brother's hood. I come up on some churches and this one's got all these bells out front w/folks names being put on them. maybe fourteen of them, some of them big as a liberty bell too. it's a trip to look at them, they're all fastened down to pallets and shit but you can still rap on them w/your knuckles. trippy tones. I walk for like three hours just thinking about my life, passing some lakes that have all kinds of life: geese, ducks, squirrels - none of them and just coming right up to you. I feel connected to this planet for a moment by them. the sky is sonic blue and cloudless. the air is crisp but clean. the sun is a righteous spigot, soaking me w/waves of rays. what lucky weather here in minneapolis on an all saints day sunday morning. I have a fucking good think. it's kind of sobering, I assess what has been accrued and what I feel has to be done and what I've got to be responsible for. I go over my post-tour plans in my head and size up the sitch. like hodge says "being a little bit scared is like being a little bit excited" - I take them words to heart. I get back to the johnson's pad and it's time to head over to conrads, he's got a que (bar-b) waiting for us.

   there's chili, chicken, brats, kielbasa, oysters, salad and all kinds of chow. some off the q, some from the pot on the stove. all the chow tastes oh so good. looking out from conrad's balcony, where the q is, you an see downtown minneapolis from like half a mile. the sky is cystaline clear and in the high 60s, it's an amazing site. no smog when you breathe down deep too. what a lucky day to be in their town. I get the dave's. dude's sweat their brains out on the shit. good to see the steam coming out the ears, the mouth parts swell. on the tv the vikes are trying to stay undefeated. tampa bay denies them. I think they peaked to early, choked on their own smoke. I stay out on the balc looking, listening to it on the radio. spieling too. we have a great time at conrad's pad and thank him much.

   no souncheck cuz of just playing here last night, I nap early and wake up before I usually do. instead of heading right to the stage, the other two acts are coming on. I'm talking to the pad's crew in the disco room and never make it to the entry. instead I have a few beams while I'm talking. this break in the routine turns into a break in the number of good shows on the tour. no opera tonight, just the encore tunes and there's several problems. my "just fixed" amp is not just fixed - it's cutting out. sometimes half the song I'm just miming it w/nothing coming out the amp. damn. another thing is the set list, only other time on tour we used a set list was houston for the second show which happened cuz of hurricane georges. bob lee wrote the set list in regular hand writing size and could set it from the floor for shit. damn. I couldn't get any flow from not seeing what the next tune was gonna be so I could either ramp it up or ramp it down or maybe just give a spiel. it was fucked up. I was too unfocused by this stuff. the beam had some bearing it too. not a good one. will double my efforts for the next one. back to the back-up randall amp. next set list will be written big (there's an acoustic in-store in iowa city before soundcheck tomorrow). will keep focus beam-wise too. I feel lame about my part in tonight's show. I feel I've soiled bob lee and nels. steve reed too, damn.

   we get back to the johnson bro's pad and I konk by the window so the rising sun in the morning will yank my ass quick at daybreak and I can get this van (boat) in for a repair of that screaching in the engine room. last night's boss and great man, steve mcclellan will go w/me at the crack to assist w/a ride back. what a mensch. I think he was dressed as a pirate maybe. aarrgghhh...

read week 5 of the tour diary

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this page created 3 nov 98