mike watt and the jom & terry show
watt - thud staff, spiel
jerry trebotic - drums
tom watson - guitar, singing
(left to right)
steve kaul - the man outside the van
tuesday, october 23 - saint petersburg, fl
I wake up early and hear mike walking around and decide to move onto the floor and get a little more sleep and have a crazy dream, I always have strange dreams if I wake and go back to sleep. in another hour or so I get up and take a shower and have a cup of coffee and pack up and get back into the van. I remember last year almost to the day this was our last show with mike because he was meeting up with j and the fog and vince and I began our four day drive back to l.a. from here. I'm glad I'm not doing that again. the weather is humid and very warm and we get on the highway to go further south to our most southern show of the tour, st. petersberg. I've never been here before and we arrive early enough for jerry and I to walk to the savador dali museum near the bay. the walk is less than a mile but it's so humid that I'm sweating like crazy and I feel like all my energy is being sucked out of me. another example of how spoiled I am from the climate back in hermosa beach. we get to the museum and it's air conditioned so it's a relief to go in. the exibit shows all of his different styles through his life from the impressionist early work to cubism and classical paintings as well as his most famous surreal works. it's really great to see so many of his paintings in on place and we have to kind of hurry to get through it all by 5:30 when the place closes, but it's a nice break from the tour. we walk back to the state theater where we're playing tonight. as we get to the theater I see mike talking to chris grier, a guy who came in the van once on the first pliers tour when he was writing a story on watt for a paper in norfolk,va. he's a great guy and we spend a little time talking before we go in and set up our stuf to soundcheck. the burning brides show up and load and we do our check and then jerry and I go with chris to his house across the bridge in bradenton for some food. he makes us some steak burritos and meet his sweet wife kelly and we stay till it's time to get back to the club. when we get back the brides are about to go on and we watch them rock out to the crowd that seems a little tiny in this 565 person capacity room, but they do a great job anyway. at the end we go on and get ready to play. when we start the people come to the front of the stage which makes it feel not so empty anymore and that helps the show a lot for us. it's so much better to have some contact with the people when we play. we play well but I can tell mike is struggling with his voice a little and I'm sure that's frustrating for him. over all it's a good show and dimitri and mike join us again on a couple tunes so it's a fun time. at the end of the show we get packed and talk to some nice local people and then all of us head over to gabe's place in tampa. everyone finds some space on the livingroom floor and I put my mat on gabe's bedroom floor and fall asleep immediately.
pop and make coffee. space and forget to hose off. get right to chimpin' diary for yesterday and code up the last week, then upload it to the web. looks like jer is twelve days behind. oh well, I brought him to do drums anyway, the tour diary thing is just an "elective." jim gets up to go to work and we say our byes and I give him my thanks - love this man. he's got two righteous cats - one's hurt w/tail missing, some motherfucker pulled it off. can you believe that shit? the violence is everywhere and insane. tom and jer rise and soon we're out to the boat to roll on to saint pete. what do we find as we board? stupid fucking idiot watt left the driver side window rolled down overnight! damn, are we lucky things weren't a major donate. like tom says, "at least they didn't take the chips." aahh, I feel like such a 'tard. well, sometimes I fuckup and luckily the fates preserved the boat and its precious contents. man, do I feel like a major doof.
we roll on the I-4 southwest. we stop for gas and I get a horrible microwave sandwich, a "cuban." I never chow these things but some reason, I went for it today. what a mouthful of crap. we stop by a music store nearby and get a volume and tone control for tom. now all we need is some wire and a capacitor but no radio shack is in sight. it'll have to wait. I know tom wants to play his old tele bad but the howling it makes is a nightmare. when we get the new parts in it, things might be fixed. hoping so. the air is really thick w/moisture and the sky cloudy big time. we even get some rain, coming in to tampa. it stops pretty quick though. no relief from the sweaty heat though. man, usually it's very nice this time of year here in florida but for some reason, summer is still hanging on. summers in florida are tough, you 'pert near need gills to breathe - the air is so soaked w/humidity. we get to the _state theatre_, where we're playing tonight about four and I tell jer to go check out the dali museum by the water - I've been there at least five times. him and tom go. I chimp accounting in the boat w/the flannel off and sweating like a pig. load in time comes and I do it myself in the alley. no prob, I really wanted jer to check that pad out. I talk to the bosses, dave and tony. they're nice guys to me always and we rap about the current shit. they got _the damned_ in here sunday, alright! wonder what they're like now? this theatre holds almost six hundred - wrong pad for watt to work on a tuesday night in saint petersburg. no matter, I'll still play my brains out. it's the last webcast of the tour too so I'll be playing for cats not even there. my newspaper friend, chris grier shows up. he's living in sarasota now. good to see him again. he has some trippy news for me: my good friend jimbo is getting married! whoa. jimbo always is kind of quiet w/me about girl things, most my friends are and that's quite alright. something things are ok to be personal. I ain't much of a tabloid minded person anyway. alright, jimbo. I'll have to ask him myself though, I'll write him an email tomorrow. a quick soundcheck w/don and I'm down the street for some real chow. that shit sandwich is still sitting lame on my tummy. I need to purge it quick. I'm on central avenue which is where there's a bunch of antique shops. neat looking at all the old shit, dig it. an old book store too or rather, a store w/old books. way too pricey for me though. I continue on and find a thai/japanese chow pad. I get some spicey salad thing and a soup w/tons of veggies and pork. this goes down really good. I get back to the boat and climb in the aft. damn, another shvitz session. I get naked and konk.
the openers are again _sunset valley_ and the brides (called on the flyers here, "the dying brides") but I miss both their sets. earlier before, the guitarist of the valley band had me put a small dot on the back of his guitar's headstock. that's a trip. there was another small dot too so maybe I'm the second cat to do that. the time has come for me to dress and go do the gig. jer comes and I give him a handful of the shirts rob made us to throw out to the folks during "the product" - we ran out of the stickers. thanks again for everything, rob. I put the sling shit in a new sack - the old one was w/holes and dropping shit. things are moving slow on stage, I hurry things up - this is a webcast. I notice no coltrane playing like I ask to have done each night before and after the set. what's up w/that? I ask from the stage. damn, if my voice ain't all tore. shit. the gig starts. the sound is a din though we try to keep things calm on stage and small so the soundcat don will have something to work w/though I have to say there is no bass from the bass! hope there is out front, that's what really counts. jer seems distracted and not making good eye contact w/me. in "the big bang theory," he repeats the clams he did last night, rushing on two quick in the flurries and getting out of sync. I have a little talk w/him after the tune and someone in the crowd yells out, "give him a break, watt." I tell that guy, "thank you for coming tonight." the end part of a tour can get kind of dangerous. the songs are more familiar, fatigue is setting in and the tendency to go into "autopilot" is very easy. I really don't want that to happen. I like it when were locked in like one organism on stage w/playing tight together and w/an acute sense of dynamics. this is what brings out the "conversations" between the instruments I dig so much. this is what I'm working for, not having three guys just execute parts in their own world but "really play together." I don't mind tempos even fluctuating as long as we fluctuate together. this is my aim - to use my bass like glue and bind us into a whole, make the machine talk, laugh and cry w/each other as one totality w/different dimensions of a living, breathing entity. I know we can do it. just takes some effort and want of trying. you really gotta reach down at the end of a tour to make this work. dimitri and mike from the brides come on for "the red and the black" and we all do it pretty good. the one thing really frustrating me is my voice, whole bunches of notes are missing no matter how hard I try. aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh, this infuriates me so! I want the instruments playing to be even tighter to compensate for this shortcoming I'm now suffering through. we get and encore and do "...tweeter" w/bride mike and "...streets" w/both him and dimitri. lots of fun. we're done and I thank john coltrane but no trane follows - what's up? later I'll find out the cd player wouldn't "read" the cd. we gotta test that out beforehand during soundcheck. I dig having him and his sounds wrap the set in love like bookends. I do say something to the crowd about giving me a break and letting me talk things out w/my drummer if I want to. I tell them jer is a great drummer and no one is putting him down, especially me - I'm just trying to give a little direction. tom's great too and tonight he was very key w/the visual contact. I, myself, play so much better when he helps me this way. jer's the new guy and it's kind of tough getting used to this method. most bands never do this, so I don't blame him about being unfamiliar w/it. I also ask the crowd if they know what was on the buckles of nazi soldiers during the second war. it was "got mit uns" which translates to "god's w/us." something to think about, huh? I thank them very much for coming out on a work night like this and being open minded enough to see what I got going this tour. lots of good vibes from them, one cat has me sign his fretless bass, looks like the wood is from a coffee table, whoa. lots of nice people, I feel very fortunate and wish my voice could get back to it's ok state. I see dave and tony and we do the settle thing, I cut them a break cuz of the cave thing and the show just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. you can't put good promoters out just for short-time gain cuz you'll have nobody good to go back to next time. the thinking has to be kept long term in my mind. I'm in this for the long haul.
we load up and it's a caravan following gabe to his pad in tampa. all of us are konking there through his invitation. chris even comes. on the ride there, I explain to jer where I'm coming from w/this visual contact thing. I tell him I'm really adamant about it, that's where I'm at w/my music these days. he's really quiet and acting like I'm scolding him but I'm not, I'm just making myself. damn, that was the 41st gig of the tour and I still gotta ask him to do this. I know I explained why I'm asking him to do this before but I guess I gotta do it again. I remain calm though and choose my words careful, I want no doubts in him why I want this. I say not all bands are like this, this is not the only way to play music but it's the way I want to go for it. I've tried the other way, still do w/some units I'm involved in but I have to say personally, I don't dig it - it's not for me. it's too machine like and almost like punching a clock at a job you don't like. not my thing. I ask him to please think about what I'm saying. aaaaarrrrrrggghhhhhh, people politics, it's just a reality of the world. no way around it. tom gets what I mean and that feels good. the only trouble I've had w/tom this way is when I'm spieling in a soft tune, he's a little too loud and I get his attention cuz he's not looking over. we worked this out though. I must seem like some taskmaster, huh? it's sort of like the conductor thing in a classical orchestra. it's not really anything new under the sun. a lot of words here to explain this simple thing, huh? anyway, you can tell it really bothers me to have to battle over this. we get to gabe's pad and I tell jer not to be so down, he should think about having his own band and what that would be like. he says he did have a band called _linus_ and it was basically people getting up and jamming w/him, they had no songs. well, I don't if that can help identify w/what I'm trying to do here so maybe it won't help. whatever, speil done.
everyone lays out on gabe's deck so I'm up on a couch, kind of sitting up, jefferson style on one end. mask on. chris takes this as a cue to bail. I'm really spent so konk comes swift.
wednesday, october 24 - tallahassee, fl
I wake on gabe's floor and join the others in the front room for some tea. after mike does a phone interview we head out and drop gabe off at his mechanics place where his truck is and he directs us to a nearby radio shack so I can get some stuff to rewire my guitar. after that we get on the road to tallahassee. it's still hot and sweaty and is rains a couple times by the time we get to florida state university where we are playing in the on campus club called the underground. the burning brides are already loading in as we pull up and we have to wait to get our van to the loading dock to get our stuff inside. it starts to rain while we load and it's still very warm so it's a relief to go in the airconditioned club space. it's strange to play on campus and I wonder what kind of turnout we'll have and I remember the last time I played here was with the pair of pliers at a place called the cow haus and that was a good show. we set up and soundcheck and we do a soft one cause of the cafeteria-like room we're playing in. then the brides do theirs and we all order some take out chinese food for dinner. tonight's an early show and it's just the two bands so we should be on by 10:30. it's kind of thin when the brides start and stand in front and watch them try to get the people that came early into it and little by little more people show up and they get better as they do. it's a little hard to hear the vocals and I think they are too loud for this room but they sound great and the people that see them get into it. when we go on we try our best to listen to each other and focus and we do pretty well but kind of lose a some focus near the end. it's alright though and we pull the show back on track and try our best to play well for the few people that could make it out tonight. by the end of the gig we're all pretty beat and we end up going over to ian's pad for the night. I bring my bedroll in and fall asleep on the livingroom floor.
pop and hose off. go outside for air and find the humidity starting up early - ugh, what a bane. I have to admit I'm weak against this kind of attack. it just saps all my strength and makes me more insane. well, that's the luck of the tour weather dice. better than a hurricane so I should be grateful! I see a lizard on a fence and he lingers long enough for me to approach and say hi. one of gabe's roommates comes out to leave for work and we talk a little, he's a nice man. back in gabe's pad, I chimp diary. everyone starts to rouse afer a while and gabe makes tea and cuts fruit for everyone. I have two spiels to do over the phone w/albuquerque papers and say to my guys we should roll right when I'm done cuz it's five hours to tallahassee and we gotta first both drop gabe off to get his truck and then get tom the rest of the stuff he needs for his tele. I do the spiels - they're good ones cuz the cats ask me good things and then I'm ready to go and let tom and jer know. a little wait in the boat and I have to go back in to find jer sitting on the rug there. I am very short w/him, in front of the brides and gabe and everything. this makes me feel small but damn it, I mean what I say. the end of the tour can get like this, folks lose focus and fatigue sets in but I just can't let that happen w/me, I have priorities and there's no one to take care of me if things don't get done. someone w/out that responsibility probably can't feel the same way. I explain this to jer after we drop gabe off (his truck is in an area w/the most porno pads per square inch in the country, he says) and head to a radio shack. this hurts me to make him feel scolded but damn, can't he for a moment just place himself in my shoes and understand where I'm coming from? he can cuz he's a good man. I just got a short fuse sometimes and all that u.s. navy chief fallout from my upbringing in military housing gets the best of me. it's much easier to be mean to someone rather than to inspire them to do what you would wish or want. this kind of seems to me like an extension of last night, this kind of shit can build up its own momentum. it can get poisonous if not checked.
we take the I-75 north up through ocala and gainesville (where that great pad run by bill bryson, _the covered dish_, is now closed - damn) and turn west at the I-10. we stop for gas and get subway sandwiches, tom gets me a tuna one and I try one w/pickles for the first time - it's good! the temp is in the high eighties and you all know I have no air conditioning in the boat - right? the humidity must be in the eighty or ninety percent range - it's almost fucking unbearable. all we can do is laugh from time to time at the outrageousness of it all. life is funny. jer is real quiet and the worries me. I've hurt his feelings I know and I hate that. I just wanted him to know where I was coming from and that I'm not picking on him - I just want him to help here, especially when I'm a little weak right now. end of tour can be like this, we just gotta hold focus a little longer. I am not the strongest person in this world, I will and do need his support very much now. we've had several intermittent rainfalls but nothing to break this fucking swelter. I'm barechested w/my flannel off and the grease is building up on me as if someone was going to fit a gasket on fuel pump flange. damn. just west of the suwannee river, the temp drops like ten degrees but the humidity is still way up there. I get us into to town and tom guides into the school, florida state university and I remember where the loading dock where we bring the gear in - this'll be my third time at the _club downunder_, where we're playing tonight. the boss, a nice young man named noah, comes out to greet us and has everything ready - a dressing room full of carbohydrates in different shapes and forms and even a lava lamp performing it's goopy dance. there's a package waiting for me from his boss, mister striff, and it's full of really good things: a jar of jalapenos and long john peppers pickled in vinegar, a bottle of bill wharton's "liquid summer" datil pepper sauce, a container of fresh habaneros, tabascos and jalapenos, a jar of red savina habanero sauce and a jar of those same chllies w/a touch of marjoram. damn, what kindness! thank you much, bro. I make some tea for my throat. we do a quick soundcheck w/soundlady hope. very live room w/all the sheer surface so we're going to have to play kind of soft. you work the room, right? either that or it'll work you. it's ok, I believe we're up to it. we order from a menu and I get some chinese soup w/pork and noodles in it. goes down good. then I head for the back of the boat for konk.
a fucking swelter in the back here yet again so I in turn have to get naked and just lie very still. I can't konk. fuck. I can get some sort of rest just not moving - that's better than nothing. only one opener, the brides, so I don't have to wait long. jer comes out to get me and is disgusted to find me the way I am. I laugh and say, "shit, jer - we're both boys." jer responds w/"boys can do very bad things." that's funny. I'm glad he's feeling better now, it makes me feel much better. we start the set. we're doing really well w/the situation and I'm really proud of us three, things are going good. the b.o.c. tune comes and we have dimitri and mike from the brides join us. dimitri plays really loud. jer told me earlier, during the brides set, you couldn't hearing any singing cuz of the intruments' volume. we're careful of that and work the dynamics good. for some reason though, after this tune, when we go into "guts," things fall apart. by the time we're doing "venus," it's horrible. we have no focus between us. my voice has given out too and my confidence is down to the floor. on top of this, there's yammering in the crowd during the soft tunes, like "...cow." my insecurity overwhelms and I fall apart. I do something I've never done before, I play shitty on purpose. I do the last tune, the butthole surfers one so lame it makes me ashamed. I run off stage. in the backroom, I storm at my guys about what's up - this is the 42nd gig and we're playing like this? total buddy fucking rich, what an uncalled for over-reaction. the fact is I let my guys down instead of getting us back sharp. I let the rope slip out of my hands. damn. it wasn't them, it wasn't the yammering in the crowd, it was me falling apart and fucking blowing it. aaaaaaarrrrrrrrggggggghhhhh! this all suddenly becomes obvious to me and I catch myself. I gather my guys and ask them to come w/me back out there and play this encore good. I apologize to the folks. I let them know how I crumbled and lost my nerve and now am very sorry. we do "...tweeter" and "...bass" and I again say I take responsibility for that stupid shit w/that butthole song. I realize how fragile my mental state is at this point, especially w/my voice not being able to project what I want. this frustration is manifesting itself in some really lame ways. tonight it snapped me and I buckled. my guys have such good hearts though - I am so very lucky. jer lets me talk to him about it on the loading dock and I thank him much. even noah - I'm twice as old as him says it just means I'm human when I tell him I'm sorry. w/dimitri, it's a little different. he said he had a bad gig too cuz he thought his two bandmates weren't giving it all and were just going through the motions. he tells me this thing he read in henry rollins' "get in the van" book where early on, when hank just joined flag, there was this gig w/only like five people and henry said he gave only like a fifty percent try. greg was really mad after the gig and told him to never, ever do that again and it stuck w/him - he never gave less than his all every gig, no matter how full the pad was. this is trippy for me to hear cuz I cannot blame my guys - it was me who crumbled and let everyone down, the crowd too. at least I mustered the nerve to go and finish it up strong and try to explain myself, apologize really after realizing what a dope I had been. the man w/his hand on the rudder has to inspire people, not blame them and make them feel bad. I get lot of nice words from the audience when we're done, much heart from them and I feel very grateful for this. no one needs fascist tantrums from anyone and they are very kind to find it to forgive me. truly.
this bass cat, ian, who's let me stay at another pad here in town before w/the pliers, invites us over to where he's staying at now. he hops in the boat and we go over there, not too far away. I go to a couch right away and deploy the mask. no bag, I just crumple in my outfit, my uniform. I feel terrible and very, very sorry for what happened. I wrench and wrench, recalling all the stupid shit I seem to be always doing. guilt is too calm a word for what torques me. I am an emotional wreck and fall asleep crying. wetness under the mask.
thursday, october 25 - birmingham, al
in the morning I get up and wait to get into the bathroom and shave, and then we we load up and get rolling to birmingham alabama. as we go northward the weather gets milder and more comfortable. we get an early start so we stop at a roadside b.b.q. and eat as we drive and pull into town at around 2:30 and park the van in the club parking lot. no one is here yet so we just look around and take some pictures of the outside of the nick club where mike has played a few times before. in a hlf an hour or so the afternoon bartender bonnie shows up and lets us in. we have some time to kill and a few locals come by the bar for drinks and I sit and talk to them for a while. jerry is sleeping in the van and mike is makeing some calls and doing e-mail stuff. after a little while the burnings brides call the club and say that they had a blow out somewhere outside of tallahassee and would be a little late, we're just glad nothing worse than that happened. when the soundman richard shows up he has to do some work on the monitors and that worries me a little cause that's always the weakest link for us and is wearing our voices out. when the sun goes down we load in and get set up to check and run through a quick one. when the brides arrive they show us their blown out tire and load in, it was a long day on the road for them but they seem fine. it's just us and them tonight so they load onstage and get set up to play. at this point I go in the van to get some rest before the show. when I go back in the club I catch the end of the brides set and I wish I saw the whole thing cause it sounded good. we do our stage switch over and leave melanie's amp up so she can join us too on down on the street. soon we kick into the set and plow through the songs and it feels pretty good. there's a bigger crowd than last night and it feels better to play when there's a crowd. we have good contact onstage and I turn down a little at one point in venus de milo to balance our sound. when we do the red and the black dimitri and mike come on to play with us again and tonight dimitri and I lock in with the unison guitar leads and it sounds great. mike kicks ass too on the floor to and cow bell. there's a good energy going and when we play down on the street with all three of the brides it's a deffinate high point, it's a real blast to play with them. at the end of the show mike does his thing with the shirts and jerry and I talk to some nice people here at the nick and we meet miles who says we can stay at his place tonight so we accept the offer and pack and load then make it to his place by 1: 30 or so. tonight I get a couch to sleep on and go to sleep.
pop and go to the head to hose off. w/that done, I drip-dry cuz there's no folded towels about - hence, probably no clean ones. no prob, I'm used to it w/the many tours behind me. go back into the room where I konked - there's two other cats out on couches too. one wakes and I ask him where I can get cof. he tells me he doesn't really know, he's "floating around, if you know what I mean." I ask "couch tour?" and he says, "yeah, actually I'm hiding from the cops cuz I was in a knife fight - I love this beautiful girl." whoa, such a young man too. time for us to bail. I rouse jer and he tells me he had the strangest dream where some police were trying to read him his rights and he was saying them right back on them to prove he already knew that stuff. trippy. I get tom and we're down the road. ian was nowhere to be found so I didn't get to thank him. I will now: thanks, ian.
onto the I-10 and we head west along the panhandle. we cross a time zone line into central time and gain an hour (clock goes back one). at the us-231, we go north into alabama. state road but four lane w/a median and a recent pave - smooth sailing. sixtyfive speed limit too. we pass a pad called "bbq 231" and I flip a louie and we stop for some shovelling ingredients. I get half a slab of pork ribs, a pork sandwich and a pint of beans. this'll last me all day. it ain't "brother-in-laws #2" (in s.f.) but it's still ok. I chow both the sandwich and all the ribs. I'll leave the beans for birmingham. easy going along this highway - man, have we been blessed w/righteous weather. absolutely no more humidity and temp at seventy. thank you! like cali - very much so. we see something pretty funny: this cat, kind of a big bubba, riding in the back of a pickup truck. not in the bed but actually sitting on the fucking lip of it. damn! the truck's going pretty fast too. this cat must have balls like church bells - the look on his face shows he doesn't seem to pay any mind. a funny world, let me tell you. wonder if he's got kids or a wife? talk about rolling the fucking dice w/your life. we definitely take a snap of this w/the digicamera. at montgomery, we jump on the I-65 north. another eighty miles and we're in birmingham and dock right at the loading hatch of _the nick_ around three, where the gig is tonight. I've played here a bunch, since _mintuemen_ days. I like it here, good pad to play. I chimp diary.
this lady bonnie opens up the pad after a while and I check email and she gets some throatcoat tea going for me. thank you, bonnie. soundman richard shows up and we load in. damn, does he have lots of wrinkles for a young man, what's that about? he's a floor man by day and does sound here on weekends though he's got us tonight. I explain to him what I tell each sound cat: we point our amps at each other so all we need is singing in the monitors (well, a little kick drum for jer), we got our own sure beta 58s for me and tom's voices, please keep the singing out front and not muddy and make sure tom's guitar is there - bring it a little for his solos. that's it, after that they can creative though I ask them not to get too "roller rink" w/the effects. also, we got this cd I burned of john coltrane's "expression" album (his last session) I like played before and after we go on. he says he understands. thank you, richard. bonnie makes me some throatcoat tea and I chow my beans. really good - chunks of pork in this too. damn, that pad is into pork! well, so is what - thank you. this a local bar too so we gotta wait 'til like seven to make noise. we do "the red and the black" for check tonight instead of the usual "all sexed up" cuz I've been hearing it slipping around the last few gigs. maybe that's because dimitri and mike's been jamming it w/us but I want to make sure we got it good ourselves. I dearly want to make up for the poor showing I made at the end of last night's gig. I then do a spiel w/this lady alice and she asks some funny things. she's older than me which is a change and appears to be someone who talks to a lot of the current "alternative" bands like _creed_, _stone temple pilots_ and stuff like that. she calls me an anti-rock star. shit, I'm a man in the van w/the bass in his hand - that's good enough for me. she asks me if I was a rebel when I was young. I tell her I grew up in navy housings and she said those are usually filled w/"conventional type people." well, I am what I am. a what that was was lots of young guys w/there pops gone at sea during the viet nam war. I told her music was a personal thing for me to be w/d. boon. I didn't "buy a guitar to punish my ma" (corny _pink floyd_ lyric), I tried to make bass to go along w/d. boon's guitar. I did tell some teachers at school thought I was always secretly laughing at them behind their back but that was there head trips. I actually has some teachers that quite inspired me and I can still remember them to this day. they didn't seem to judge me cuz I was from navy or lower class (all my jeans had holes, 'pert near) and wanted me somehow to try and find myself. they took a personal liking to me and thought I was kind of a trip. some seemed scared of me, I don't know why but I never got in anyone's face. I tried to avoid confrontation. I didn't blend in too well and frankly, didn't really try too. I was pretty private but dug people who were interesting and infos and stuff to feed my curiosity. I was very curious about shit - starting w/dinosaurs and space exploration, then w/d. boon I got into history and music. I remember this history teacher, mister karg, telling me and d. boon to rent a volkswagon, like he did when he was young and just see and learn the country. we kind of ended up doing that w/touring, huh? she asks some more funny questions (though she's serious) like, "why do way more boys know who you are than girls?" and "why are there so many kinds of emotions coming out of your bass when you play?" how do you answer stuff like this? "what is rock like today?" well, I have an idea of that. to me, the true spirit will awlays be about a dishwasher from mississippi wanting to put on a dress and holler "tutti frutti!" she says, "rock is back." I tell her I think what most of what is called that today is plastic, fascist and shallow. I feel no human spirit from any of it, all cliches and marketing scams. a boot stomping on a human face forever, a drugged up sheep dance. herds stampedeing by rote and command. corporate pawns, corporate shills, empty people, empty dreams. and then there's the "senstive" flipside w/their beige (or hip black clothes) version of the same cop-out "but we're in a different asile at the gap" pose brigade. I don't feel part of any of it. don't want to. why? to help w/the fraud? feed folks more lies, more "lifestyle," more one-deminsionalism? they don't need an idiot like me anyway, piping up w/his fist in the air. I'm a kink in their feed tube. man, this lady has brought out some angry stuff in me. I have to laugh a bunch to reassure her (and myself too). maybe I'm much more of a rebel now as someone who's almost fortyfour than I was as a kid. is that wrong?
wendy takes over for bonnie at the bar and makes me more throatcoat tea. this is good. the brides finally show up - they had a blowout soon out of tallahassee. so glad they're ok. I tell them never to skimp on either tires or breaks - just not smart. dimitri asks for other advices and I tell them I never drive at night unless absolutely necessary and I never go over the speed limit. I tell him about leaving plenty of vacancy between you and the next vehicle too - tailgating is one of the most retarded behaviors I've ever witnessed. what is to be gained by such stupid shit and w/so much that could be lost, like your life or someone elses? funny, he next gives me a little pep talk about singing. seems he went to julliard for acting and they gave him coaching in this, he tells me how he warms up really hardcore. I tell bro, wait 'til you do fortythree gigs in fortyfour days (like tonight) and see what your vocal chords are like! the shit gets beat up - they thump against each other 'til they get callouses, like the ones on your fingers from working bass. this is how all the notes get missing - they're hurt! it'll get better when tour's done. I just gotta hold on. I go to the boat to konk and boy are things wonderful! no sweatyness at all - in fact, I have to use the bag a little on top of me for kind of a blanky. I konk easy and long. very happening. at the nick, you play late so jer shakes me up at like ten of midnight. only one opener, the brides, but I missed them. whoa, I see gracie's brother stephen and his wife andrea but I don't think they see me notice them. oh well, time to get the gig on. the monitors are very toy and terrible, the sound on stage awful but even still, we do a great gig. really good. the crowd helped and the way the room is, it's easy for the energy to get channeled in the right way. the right pad is so important for a happening gig, I have to tell you. a simple truth. dimitri and mike help us w/the b.o.c. tune again and dimitri really rips a great solo - intense! the band is playing great. the trouble tom had at soundcheck w/his amp (forgot to mention that) is gone and his playing sounds good. jer's right in there w/me too and I really dig that. mike joins us on floor tom and cowbell for "...tweeter" and then the whole of the brides get on stage for "down on the streets" - mel too on bass. a cookin' last tune for a happening night. lots of good word from the folks. I meet one kid who turned twentyone tonight - so glad to play for him on the only birthday maybe worth being happy about (cuz of the bigoted nature of drinking laws keeping younger peeps out of music pads).
I settle w/wendy and she has me sign a poster for her. the owner, pam, personally thanks me for playing and I feel honored, big time. thank you for having us aboard. I don't get to talk to gracie's brother stephen but look who's here? the little bro, abe! wow. I haven't seen him since he was a teenager and now he's a grown-up man, damn! after load up, we sit down together and he discusses his musical theories w/him. very interesting to listen too and really enlightening. he tells me his reasons for like bass and the interactions it has w/drums - how they relate on a visceral level and affect us humans in a hypnotic way. he gives me two pages of scales that he says all the tonality of western music derives from in his opinion. he says he digs bass cuz of the role in plays in harmony, the command it has of inversion. this intense musical talk for a thud staff wrestler like myself, crude and crusted. much respect to him for taking the time and firing up my mind. I think he's gonna have quite a future, the possibilities he embodies to me are quite inspiring. music is truly a special thing and magical. thank you much, abe and good luck. one thing that really struck me too about him is all the mannerisms he shares in his speech w/his sister grace. much more than his bro stephen. not that he's effeminate or anything like that but the wordings and inflections. ain't that a trip about family?
this nice cat, miles, invites us to konk w/him and his wife south in the birmingham 'burbs. we follow him there and I stake out a konkspace on a futon couch in the cellar, where his mountain bikes are. reminds me of all the pedaling I've missed while I've been out here on this tour. can't wait to get back to pedro for that! I discuss some bike issues w/miles before getting into the sack for sleepytown. I konk grateful for small mercies.
friday, october 26 - mobile, al
we wake at gabe's place and have some coffee and then he takes us to his favorite local diner, lags, and we have some greasy breakfast and then get on the road to mo'bile. tonights show is the last with the burning brides and we're going to miss them. we pull into mobile and find our way through the old one-way streets to the splah where we are playing tonight and park around the corner to wait till load in. jerry and I walk by the club and talk to bob the club owner/soundman and then we go around the corner to get something to eat. mobile deffinately has a small new orleans feel with the architecture and little streets but without the commercial element. I hear that the mari gras actually originated here before new orleans. we find a better parking spot next to the club and load our stuff. it's a tiny stage but it looks like it will be a good sounding room. we do a quick soundcheck and I'm a little worried about the monitors but we'll just make do like usual. thebrides show up and we hang with them and talk to todd who put the show together and also who's band, supreme dispassion, is opening the show. before the show starts jerry and I and todd, steven and denis from mobile and the burning brides walk around the corner to a nice thai reataurant for some dinner. I get some soup and spring rolls and tea and I feel just right to play afterwards. when we get back to splash there are people in line to get in and looks like it will be a good crowd tonight. supreme dispassion play an intense 10 or 15 minute set, kind of punk zappa-like and really good. then the brides do a highly charged set of songs and the crowd loves them. it's a young scene here wish is cool cause they have a lot of energy and it feeds the band to play harder. we get set up and possition the bride stuff onstage so they can join us. we power into our set and we play hard even though our voices are a little lost in the monitors. we cope with it and play with good spirit and then dimitri and mike come on to play the red and the black and at the end melanie comes on too to play down on the street. it's a cool final show with them and it was deffinately a great time to have them on these last few shows and to get to know know them. at the end of the noght we follow todd over to dennis' house and go up to the loft above the garage and sleep on the floor.
pop and notice the walls of this basement here. whoa, miles was in a frat and his wife was in a sor. I real stupid w/my bigoted prejudices about these kind of things, these sweet people are nothing like the stereotypes I've fitted in my head. it's narrow-minded thinking like that that's the source of a lot of problems, I think - judging people before you know them, like that. turns out that miles went to alabama in tuscaloosa ("roll tide") and even played w/an old friend of mine who lived there, earthdog. damn, that's a trip. he said he did none of the conformity thing w/that frat and was his own man. his wife is a teacher now. both great folks. miles makes me some grits and I use this new tabasco I've never seen, a garlic one, on them. tom and jer wake up we follow miles to a pad called "lag's" and chow there. I get more grits and some eggs w/italian sausage.
we say bye to miles and roll south on the I-65. it heads straight into mobile after four hours of driving. the weather is truly righteous - again, not a cloud in the sky, no humidity and the temp around seventy. damn, this what I dig a bunch - thank you! jer was a little sick last night from some chow he got and now I think the "lag's" is wailing on him too. I got the last of the grits so he had to get a hashbrown puck and that was soaked sponge-like w/grease. it's a bomb that went off in his gullet now. sorry, jer.
we got right in to the heart of the old downtown to find _splash_, the pad we're playing tonight. my mobile friend todd, who's also in the opening band, _supreme dispasionance_, is putting on the gig to get us into town. I've played mobile a couple times before and am glad at the chance to do it again especially for him. he's a great cat. we're here early, so I go w/the ibook 'puter to a little park next to an old cathedral. mobile and other gulf towns are trippy for the south, they got lots of catholic cuz of the spanish and french influence in their histories. most of the south is pretty much babtist or some other type of protestant. I'm in the same little park where I was at last time I played this city, I layed right in the middle after soundcheck and watched the most amazing electrical storm take place over my head. a pitch black sky w/lightning so intense, you wouldn't believe. chain-lightning, making huge rings in the sky and exploding lightning balls exploding in back of clouds, illuminating them from behind. the sound of tearing fabric everywhere. I watched for like almost two hours. now there's a fountain built w/columns and such so it looks smaller. I chimp diary on a bench. a squirrel comes to say hi and is very friendly, big peanut in his paws. he digs me clicking soft w/my mouth at him. I really feel thankful for the kind weather and us making it safe so far.
go to the pad and move the boat closer for loadin. the owner, bob and linda, are great folks. bob's even got a little 'puter based studio. he used to build television stations across the country for people besides also being a fireman. linda makes me some great slippery elm tea right from the raw - much different than w/bags. a pizza cat comes and gives me a free pizza cuz he says he grew up w/my music and thinks I should have it - that's real nice. a cat named stacy brings me some salsa he made and it's good. todd gets me some thai soup and I'm real surprised to find it acutally hot w/spice - pretty intense! you know, most pads who say that got stuff hot can't even warm me up but this soup's got some kick - thank you! stacy dumped some dave's into his so there's some wail there too. dennis, the cat we're staying w/tonight, gives me a bag w/a half-pint of "southern comfort" in it but I return it to him, saying thank you but I don't really drink now days. "southern comfort" too? that's a liqueur, liquor w/sugar in it. I remember it in the 70s - that's what girls liked cuz, well, I guess the sweet taste. makes me gag, always had. anyway, thanks dennis but I gotta be healthier mostly these days cuz I'm just not as strong as before when my body could kind of take it.
an bud of todd's, a cat named joe in his late fifties, has a good rap w/me. joe was in the hippy days and had quite an interesting life. he did the road for twelve years in a van, so he can relate to the sailor spirit in me. he spent a lot of time in the ozarks, in arkansas. he said he'd get out in all these space (lack of people, not nature though) and "just be." I get feeling like that. that's why I love pedaling every morning along the cliffs and by the water. I pull my bike over at the royal palms part of pedro, get off, sit on the rocks in front of the waves and "just be." my mind starts to soar w/the pelicans - lucky watt to watch them most gracefully live and love their life. the skim inches above the surface, no wing flapping, confident in their strength and beauty. trippy, I've never known them to have a song. there's some birds at the club here - one's a big blue and gold mccaw and he talks too, reminds me of george hurley cuz he has one named jasper - he's on the back of the cover of "three-way tie (for last)" w/georgie. back to joe: he's telling me the most interesting things - things only a life of getting around can show you. he wants tood to get out on the road w/his band and learn things you can't learn in your town and according to joe, especially this town. he tells me about john wesley harding living here and the old money, the old families digging him like he was there own. life can be very comfortable, like a forever mardi gras, joe says. he can't get your mind to find out other things though if it's always in "the womb life." it's righteous talking w/joe. he's very hopeful too w/the young generation in town - he says it ain't like when he was a kid in the 50s and 60s where you said "whatever" to the older ones. he says these kids are really curious about the older times. he thinks younger peeps (well, some of them) really want to get adventurous w/finding out things. joe did work w/todd in some pad, just them two working alone together for hours each day. he says he got to know todd well. joe was enlightened in the 60s via l experiences but says he senses the same kind of awareness in todd even w/todd never having his mind altered in any way w/chemicals of any type. he thinks all todd needs is to get out and sail some seas, get down the road. this will help even more see through the daydream most of the herd takes as fact and find the real truth. it's a trip, generations reaching out like that. I can dig it.
stacy, the cat w/the salsa, gives me some jalapeno jelly he got a some place. his girlfriend laura overhears me and joe's spiel and jumps in w/some bogart of a sort. it seems she's trying to get joe to make a statement about his purpose in life, religious or anti-religious prerogatives - a sort of all-around confrontation kind of thing. I'm silent for a bit and then ask her how she feels about using word games to find the truth. I quickly turn things to the heart of semantics - such as maybe, like wittgenstein said, maybe you "believe" much more than you "know" and so maybe the word game thing is always gonna leave you coming up short. I mention umberto eco's semiotic idea of exploring the feasibility of a one-to-one scale map and where would such a map exist? self-inclusive paradoxes, you know, something to get folks laughing at the idea of maybe their "entrenched positions" being really more like "entrenched ambiguities." I think she doesn't see the humor and is offended. this is sad, I never meant that and her boyfriend is such a sweet man to me for making that salsa in my honor. she just went after joe so, it was hard not to call her on it. I really like joe. I wish she'd realize that doesn't mean I don't like her joe - I just wanted her to think about what she was saying. one funny thing is stacy, trying one final attempt to diffuse things saying, "I contradict myself all the time." of course, if you take him at his word, he's really meaning quite the contrary. aahh, words...
todd wants to talk w/jer so I go out to the boat to get him. I sit in the back a moment to rest and whoa, jer wakes me almost three hours later to play our set. I miss todd's band, I miss the brides' last set w/us. oh well. I go into the pad and it's packed, a lot of young people too. in mobile, you can be a "membership club" and serve liquor around the clock. in fact, the place on the corner doesn't even have a door knob - they're open twentyfour-seven, damn. the p.a. system here is toy and the monitors even more wind-up. no matter, you work the room. no mics on the amps even and only two for the drums. whatever, it's a happening gig - the vibe from the folks is invigorating. earthdog is here and he's right in the front. that's right, miles told me he was from here. we do real good, even w/feedbacks and low-mid rings. tom's singing drops out of the monitors altogether yet he's still in the ring, grapple for grapple. very admirable and inspiring on me - thank you, tom. we have dimitri and mike one more time w/us for "the red and the black." there's spiel during the quieter tunes but that doesn't effect me cuz I have my nerve up and can hold focus. we finish the gig strong. we come back w/mike for "...tweeter." then I tell people I'll be still w/the mouth and just work the little thumper for "down w/the bass." we then do one I've cut out for the last week, "what gets heard?" one more tune w/all the brides on this tiny stage w/us, the stooges one ("down on the streets") and the gigs over. real fun show. thank you, good cats of mobile.
I sling and get many kind thoughts from these folks - all different types - I like this kind of diversity. makes things real for me and makes more sense, less of a marketed hustle. it's something I've always been after in my shtick: to reach w/out pandering and to make sense to somebody naturally. I don't know how to put exactly, it's just something I feel deep down. I settle w/todd, who's new at putting on shows. I tell him not worry cuz I think he did great and made things very much possible for us in his town. we load up and follow him to dennis' pad, where we've been asked to konk. jer almost puked between the set and the encore backstage and is really worn out. I stupidly take this as a sign of low moral and say some stupid stuff I'll be sorry for later after thinking about it a bit. stupid fucking watt. everyone lays out to konk in a room upstairs from the garage. I'm in a little office room w/the ibook 'puter and dimitri comes in to have a talk w/me about touring and playing. he's says I'm a force. I try to qualify that thinking w/what I know is going on inside me, whether it shows or not (must not to him to say something like that). I tell him I have to work very hard at what I do, it doesn't come so naturally. I am very much fraught w/fear and insecurity. the self-doubts I have to confront and get over to get what I want to do somehow out are huge and so intimidating. it takes a hankering for structure that's almost prayer-like. what do I mean? it is prayer-like! I have the force myself very much into a driven state, 'pert near a frenzy. I have to laugh too, really big time at my absurdness. this is where I am. at the same time, I want to be open enough to soak up as much as I can to know. I want to be self-contained and yet absorb everything. I wish I could feel natural rhythms and hear the billions of inner songs. I want to learn from them. I want to keep learning and learning. I wish I could get the fuck beyond words. I want to get where john coltrane's music is when I feel it w/out thinking regular but thinking really special and it's sending me beyond, beyond, beyonder. bye dimitri, have a good rest of tour for you and your peeps. be safe.
into the other room - onto the deck, next to tom. I feel the tiny mike watt that I am, a man who is named and yes, a man of construction. I see in his walls and see broken beams: some snapped, some just nailed wrong. many holes have his roof leak. maybe thogh, maybe they can let sunshine in when it stops raining. maybe cool breeze can blow soft and relax him, cool off his attic.
I know it was sometime after four though I can't remember how I seemed to konk.
saturday, october 27 - new orleans, la
when I wake up the brides are gone and mike is out changing the oil and I go downstairs and talk to dennis while he makes more coffee. he says that the brides left 5 minutes before I got up and I'm sad I didn't get to say goodbye, so if any of the brides read this it was great playing with you and keep in touch. desnnis' friend steven gets up and we sit and talk about mobile and the show. when mike gets back we load up and roll for new orleans. it's beautiful weather outside and it's a nice drive through the bottom edge of the south along the gulf and through mississippi and into louisiana. when we cross the causeway into new orleans from the east we see the city on the horizon and pull into town and manouver through the narrow streets of the french quarter. we have to avoid the oblivious tourists when we cross bourbon street and find the shim sham club and park. tonight is our first night with the houston band called gone blind and meet a couple members inside the club. jerry and I sit inside and order some food to be delivered to the club and mike sits in the van on the computer till 6 and then we load in. it's saturday night before holloween and I guess a lot of people will be dressing up and partying even though it's the wrong day. but I guess it's always like this here, people come to party and drink. the shim sham room is an old theater and the stage is cool looking with curtains and an indoor/outdoor decor on the walls.gone blind have already set up their massive backline of amps onstage and we put our things in front to soundcheck. eddie the soundperson wires us up and we do our one tune to checkthen goes off to eat with some friends and jerry and I go out for a walk. we walk up to bourbon street and see all the partiers out for a good time. everyone's drinking in the street and there's music coming out of all the bars and jerry and I feel a little bit alien being sober in this environment. we end up just walking back to the club and then going to the hard rock cafe around the corner to eat because the club has an arrangement there. it's a lot like disneyland here and the vegibuger is so so. we head back to the shim sham and watch gone blind play their set. as I'm sitting there I look up and see elose and bob lee from l.a. and it blows my mind. I gues they came out for the halloween week and a couple other reasons and saw that we were playing so they came by. bo is a fantastic drummer who's played with mike on a few tours and I've played with him too. he wants to surprise mike so we go out to the van and I let him wake him up. it's about time to set up to play so I go in and get my stuff together. it's a good crowd but there a bunch of people in costumes so I don't know if they're here for the show or the party that will proboly go on afterward. we start and people come up to the stage and it's fun to see elise and bob in the crowd. mike breaks a string on the second song but we keep the momentum and move on. I throw out shirts during the middle part of the product and I throw my thumb pick goes flying off with them so I finish the song with my finger and try to get another between the half second break. the show goes well and we get bob to play bongos on the red and the black which is totally fun, it's great to look back and see him wailing on them and singing too. the sound is good on stage and we can hear each other pretty good but fo the encore jerry punches me out of the monitors for mosquitos tweeter and I look over the monitor board to punch me back in before the next song and I don't know which channel to punch so I sing the last couple tunes with screaming my head off with no monitors. no big deal though, I'm pretty used to it by now.
after our pack up and poad out we follow rob to his house a little ways outside of the center of town. I've stayed here before with watt and rob is a guitarist too and I remember talking with him last time the more experimental stuff that we're both into. as usual I'm beat and I put my mat on the floor and go right to sleep.
pop and check email - boy, am I glad I did! I have all those confirmation letters that have been sent to me regarding subscriptions to sights involving adult incest, porn, etc... what? there's my credit card info in the letters too - damn! I have only one credit card, one w/the musicians' union (I'm a.f.m., local 47 for more than ten years now) and I rarely use it. I have bought some 'puter parts online w/it though - maybe someone hacked a site I bought from and stole my identity. I immediately write these people who sent me the emails back saying I never purchased any of this porn stuff and then call the number on the back of the credit card. the lady there says nine purchases were just made w/it, like almost three hundred dollars worth! I tell her, I never made any of these and have my card cancelled and have been out on tour for almost two months. she says they'll send me a new one when I get back home. luckily, none of these charges have been posted yet and I'm supposed to call in three working days to make sure none of them have. if there are any, a fraud case will be opened up. can you believe this shit? a lesson for watt and privacy, that's for sure.
dennis greets me and says he'll cook up some chow. he gets the grill out in the backyard happening and starts q-ing up some conecuh sausage. he fries me up some eggs in the kitchen and makes some biscuits too. all good stuff when shoveled. the brides have an eight hour hellride to memphis and I plot them a route on the ibook 'puter street atlas. they gotta leave now so I say bye to them all for both me and my guys, who are still konked. good luck and safe seas. I ask dennis where the nearest lube pad is - three thousand miles is 'pert near here for her and take the boat to get the fluids revived. nice folks there. the weather is too - sunny, cloudless and no swelter - thank you. there's an old lady waiting for her car as I sit in the waiting room w/her, chimping diary. she talks to me about her car, how there's no more parts made for it. this leads to her talking about her life, how she's only had two doctors and now both they're dead. age and time taking the toll. you go on and you gotta learn more and more the lessons of having to lose people. it's a real tough lesson. you have to soldier on, more and more alone. she has a humor about it though and I take it as an inspiration. you can't give into despair, just can't - even w/the heavy weight of such thoughts. I think you have to feel them and learn from them but not give in. somehow, let hope win out. what other way to keep on keepin' on? I have to keep strong on such matters.
I get back and my guys are up. I hug jer hard and say I'm sorry for the comments I made to him last night. I wish he could know that I'm just trying to communicate what I feel and am not picking on him like a little brother or something. I know it's in my wording, my emotions can get the best of me and I get all fouled up w/the way I put things and this makes him kind of go into victim mode and he feels persecuted. this is not my intention at all, I'm just trying to relay what's in my head. I always apologize later if I feel I've hurt him. jer has a good heart. I meet dennis' pop, larry - he was a flyerman w/the airforce. I tell him a little about my pop's time in the navy and he recalls to me going on nuke boats and being amazed and all the heat generated there - even w/out being in the waters off viet nam. since basically it's hot rocks (nuke material) boiling water, everything is run on steam. that means this plumbing and pipes everywhere. the boats are like giant radiators w/heat being dissipated throughout. a real shvitz. he's a nice man and I give thanks for him and his son putting us up. thank you. we pile in the boat and head west on the I-10. we're out of alabama pretty quick and into mississippi. we stop for gas and I get some 'dines and crackers - great boat chow. jer's kind of hurting w/all kinds of pains from bad chow and a wrist hurting from all the drumming. he's broken it a few times before and it's weak. he konks on the back bench. he does a lot of that when we roll. that's great cuz a lot of cats, especially on their first tours can't konk cuz of the motion. they can't even read a book! you have to learn to kind of bounce alone w/the moves of the boat so you don't get sick to your stomach. the motions really get really intense inside louisianna where the interstate is one bumpy mother. the boat bobs and bounces. there's bayou all around us now. we cross lake pontchartrain and into new orleans. this club we're playing, _shim sham_, is a new for me and in the french quarter. this is total tourist area and it's a saturday. also, halloween is coming up and it being the weekend before, people are celebrating it. hence, there's tons of tourists everywhere and driving is a nightmare. so is parking. we make it to the pad I got the boat across the street but halfway in a loading zone (the pole marking the zone cuts us in two) so I stay inside in case of el hombre wanting to grace us w/a ticket or a tow (we see some cat having to pay an officer w/cash to keep his vehicle). I chimp and chow 'dines - good ones w/mustard, I don't dig the ones in soy oil. my friend kirsha comes by w/her boyfriend matt and she has a shirt for me. nice red, white and blue plaid w/those pearl snaps I like. kind of trippy cuz it's shortsleeve. not flannel either but it looks like one. thank you, kirsha - I'll wear it tonight so I put it on. six o'clock rolls around and the boat is in the clear. we do a quick soundcheck w/soundman eddie. this pad is a former theatre from the old days but the sound is surprisingly good. there's a good sound system and enough stuff to deaden natural reverb. happening monitors and I'm happy for this. we get done and I go w/kirsha and matt to go chow. they know of a earthy place (very rare in these part of town), staffed by mainly latinos. I get some grilled pork chops and a baked potato and it's great chow. love it. I'm really tired and tell them I have to konk bad so it's back to the boat and into the back w/me.
I'm out for hours and jer wakes me to say it's time. look who's behind him: bob lee and alis! wow, what a mindblow, so great! I ask him if he'll play the bongos w/the sticks w/us for the b.o.c. tune. he's into it - great. I tell him about staying in lambertsville, new jersey and staying at the farm where some of the urchins live and mention bill, one of the guitar players. the first band bob lee was ever in was w/this cat, wow. so good to see him. the cat who owns the _engine room_ in houston, mitch, is in this band opening for us for the next seven gigs, _gone blind_, but I missed them. we start our set. in "ex-lion tamer," I break an 'e' string. aaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhh! this is a sign to change all of them - seems a set is lasting a little over week this tour, not bad for watt. the pick is heavy on that heavy string and the tune I broke it in is one I use it on (I play w/a pick for the first three of the songs in the set - in honor of j getting me back into it). while I change the string (and I do it quick, I'm not so nervous for some reason), I explain why I think you should celebrate halloween on the actual day it falls on so it'll fuck w/what's "normal." I explain also why I think it's ok to change a string in front of them too, it's not a sign of weakness but of being able to overcome adversity. it's funny to see some bozo scramble like that too. some cats in the crowd really dig me stretching the string so it'll stay in tune, I guess it looks pretty funny. we start the tune over and plow on. good set. my voice is still rough but at least something's coming out. damn, I wish I could get all the way back. it just needs some rest. we lose a little focus at the end of "...cow" - tom ain't looking and doesn't hit the last chord w/us. aaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhh, you gotta double up at the end of a tour cuz that's the toughest time to keep things channeled tight. even still, my guys play great - how does tom keep his voice (well he does sing only between a fourth and a third of the tunes I do)? he's an inspiration to me. the crowd is really great and gives us good energy back. we do every song we know but "big train" (damn, been weeks since we did that one). I sling and then go into the crowd. look who's here: good buddy stanislav and his girl sarah from baton rouge! well, stanislav is actually from the former yugoslavia. he lives here now. he's brought some chow for me, a dip called ajvar w/pita bread. says stanislav, "...a 'national' food from balkans. nobody really knows where it comes from, hungary, serbia, croatia, bulgaria... but everybody's eating it." thank you, stanislav and sarah!
the club is turned into a dance thing called "glitter" and a dj plays great music from my younger years: johnny thunders, t. rex, iggy, etc... I love it. it's really hard to load out though w/the curtains closed up and folks in the way. hard to get paid too. this promoter cat (didn't get his name) just keeps counting the money over and over. guess there's a problem w/what the openers get. why is this a problem for me? you only work for a shitty boss once, I hope this cat knows this. when we got here this afternoon, there wasn't even a poster in the window for our show - I had to make one myself. the bartender lady, deeda, was so embarrassed but I told her it wasn't her fault. this used to happen a lot in the old days but I don't have to really put up w/it as much now days - having to deal w/people who don't give a fuck about your show, even though they have a stake in it (you would think). complete surprise might've worked for the pearl harbor attack in 1941 but it's not happening for tour. you do not want to come into a town and achieve "complete surprise." that's why a good promoter is so important. they're your presence in town before you get there. being taken for granted is so lame. this young man is nice and smiles but come on, actions speak louder. maybe it was some situation, I don't know. it's not enough for me to get too pissed at. I'm just glad to be loaded up and rolling. rob's w/us. he's very into the improv scene in town and has invited us over to his pad in the more real part of town. the french quarter part is like a disneyland where folks come to misbehave - thrash and bail. I wonder if they wonder about the folks who actually live in this town and call it home? pretty lameass. it is quite a unique town and I dig it. so many things make it different than anywhere else in the country. that playpen shit though is not one of them that's happening.
anyway, we get to rob's pad - it's by the old _tipitina's_ on tchoupitoulas, the road by the water and it's one of those kinds you find a lot of here: nice high ceilings and old style design. lots of character. daylight savings time is over so we gain an hour. me and rob talk a bit about things. he gives me a bottle of this righteous pear juice from belgium, "looza." damn, is it fucking good! pure nectar sliding down my throat. thanks, rob. then it's time for watt to turn his light own out. click.
sunday, october 28 - houston, tx
in the morning we have coffee and talk with rob about guitar stuff and music. we have some toast and rob opens a jar of some habanero jelly and I have a cup of tea and we talk some more till it's time to leave and then we are on the road to houston. it's a medium drive of about six hours and with a couple stops on the way we arrive in houston at 5 o'clock. mike's friend mike mcguire is in the parking lot and we say hello and then load into the engine room club. mitch fom gone blind is the club owner so he's inside getting things together for the show. kelly and baby rilei show up to visit jerry for tonight and tomorrow night, and jerry hasn't seen his baby since we left on tour so he spends time playing with her. mike and I go in the backstage room and pull apart my telecaster again to rewire it on hopes of fixing the horrible squeal it's making. in between our soundcheck and getting back to the guitar we see the dudes from hella who we played our first show with in sacramento. it's a great surprise to see them and I can't wait to hear them play again. at this point mike's doing an interview while he's working on my guitar. after mike finishes his interview and we close up my guitar we try it out and it still squeals. shit! oh well, I'm glad that my other tele is working good and I restring it for tonights show. after that I order some soup at a chinese place across the street and make calls and then hang with the hella dudes before they have to go on. a lot of people have asked us which bands we've liked on this tour and I always say hella from sacramento. hella goes on and they start to wail, just guitar and drums but totally intense. they play a great set and it's cool to hear them on this big rock stage. gone blind gets set up to play and then kelly and jerry and a couple of their friends show up and I talk with them for a while during the gone blind show. the engine room is a big box and a huge capacity so the few people in the club seems even smaller in contrast. I watch some of the last tunes from gone blinds rockin set and then get ready to play. we go on and things go pretty well, I think. somewhere in the middle of the set jerry breaks his kick pedal and zach from hella lends us his and then we move on. by the end of the set mikes voice is pretty worked and after our last song we wait to see if they want to hear more. finally mike goes up to the microphone and asks if they want more, the say yeah so we do a couple more and then that's it. after the break down and load out jerry goes off with kelly for the night and mike and I follow mike mcguire to his house out on morgans point near la porte on the galveston bay. I have stayed here with watt before and I look forward to getting up and walking out on the little pier in front of the house, but for now I just have some juice and hit the sack.
pop and soak in rob's old tub. regular length but real deep, takes a while to fill. I float w/the water level as it rises. I think of leopold bloom in "ulysses" taking that hot soak in that turkish bath - "limp, languid flower - father of thousands." I make cof in the kitchen when I get done and then chimp diary. six hour roll to houston so we gotta head out. first, rob makes us toast w/this righteous hard bread. I use the "jelly from hell" (w/habaneros) stacy in mobile gave me yesterday. I check email. my good pal in pedro, brother matt sends me a note w/this in it:
native american story
a native american grandfather
was talking to his grandson
about how he felt.
"I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart.
one wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one.
the other wolf is the loving, compassionate one."
the grandson asked him,
"which wolf will win the fight in your heart?"
the grandfather answered:
"the one I feed."
I like this much. brother matt is very good peeps. he just got a new bike and we can pedal together when I get back. can't wait. I also do my "watt from pedro show" w/him and can't wait go again w/that too. I send this story he sent off to my flow list. thank you much, brother matt.
good, the sun is alone in a bright field of blue sky - no clouds. we drive through the real part of new orleans - the place where folks live - and see something pretty neat for cats from l.a.: a happening transit system. funny too, the cars are like from the 40s w/wood benches and stuff but they seem to work great. you don't need state of the art to get your town happening w/reducing traffic plugs and tailpipe donates to the air. to think l.a. had the biggest system in the world, over a thousand miles - then sold it all for buses! what a fucking jive hustle. sure, some folks made some bucks but our town lost out bad - real bad. pricks. people w/their platitudes love to talk about "...for the children" but do they ever REALLY THINK about what kind of future they're creating by indulging in their material lusts of the present?
we get on the I-10 and take it west through some intense bayou. this time of year w/the cali-like weather gives you no sense of the swelter that can cook your brain here. neat scenes out the boat's windows - primordial looking even. we pass over the mississippi just past baton rouge. last time over that big muddy this tour. we stop for gas and damn if it ain't the same station where I got the tabasco holster I wear on my belt to hold my own blend of habanero and chilies sauce. whoa. I get some quail eggs pickled in cayenne. I get some boudin too - one pork and one crawfish. good chow. I let jer have some - his first time w/the boudin. georgie loved this stuff. I dig it too. makes me happy but not happy enough to do a little hollering at jer. I mean, discuss some things. kirsha told me last night he told her I was picking on him. shit, I ain't picking on him - just trying to communicate things inside my head. I ask him to confront me directly if he thinks I'm picking on him and I'll apologize and make it right cuz I am definitely not into that. what started this all off today was kind of funny to begin w/in fact. I'm gonna pull off cuz I gotta piss bad and the wind has picked up so I can't really use a pissbottle and drive good. I take an offramp but the station must be miles and miles away cuz we can't see it down the road and it's pretty straight on. I turn on to a road to turn around but it's too narrow so I gotta follow it down. some lady turns after us. we find out it's a dead end road leading to a graveyard and who's at the end of the road? a louisianna state trooper car parked facing right at us w/two big hombres sitting in it. one of them opens his door and steps to get out. damn, this cat is big and his face is looking pretty hard. luckily there's a loop path and I can get around the lady following right on us - she must be bringing flowers for a grave or something. she kind of gets in the way of the patrol car and we get down the road and back on the interstate. damn, we are all pretty relieved - tom cracks some pretty good jokes about it. anyway, the next exit w/a piss stop is what we need - it's getting intense for watt and I let us all know. we find one and I pull in and start the gas fill thing for tom to finish. jer runs out and bogarts the fucking head! he finally gets out after I'm doing a fucking rain dance in outside the locked hatch, even pissing my fucking levis. turns out the head had a pisser and a shitter - what the fuck is up w/jer? when we're back on the road, I call him on this bogart behavior. why didn't he tell me in the boat he had to go and I would've pissed in a cup in the door well while the tank filled w/gas? see, end of tour time can be tough and little shit like this can snap some camel back easy. I tell him these things so they won't fucking stew and ferment into a hellrage later. it's not to pick on him. looking back on this it's much funnier now to me. time can do that sometimes. I love jer.
tom guides us into the downtown of houston where the _engine room_ is. this is one tough house to play. a big cinderblock blimp hanger. well, not that big but it seems that way. the bass player of _gone blind_, mitch, owns this pad. that's a trip - don't think I ever played w/a cat that owned the pad he was playing at. maybe I have but can't remember now. jer's girl kel has come to town w/their baby rilei - she's adorable. I ask her how she likes texas but can't answer too well. even though she's advanced according to the doctor, she is only six months old. maybe she's ready to start the bass? jer is definitely in a better mood now and so is watt. baby brings love to men flooded w/tour. me and tom re-wire his old tele and put new volume and tone controls in but there's still howling. damn. we gotta try something else later. I do a spiel w/a cat named dave for a couple of zines he writes for. lots of minutemen talk, he's into that even though he's more from the hardcore scene and has just interviewed ian about the _minor threat_ and early dischord days. he asks some good things and I go to some length to describe the kind of punk rock that blew my mind back in the 70s, the kind of experience I try to pass on to others somehow w/what I do now. that's one of my intentions: blow minds. I spiel too much though and I an feel my voice tired. damn. quick soundcheck w/the blind soundie, shawn, and then me and tom chow soup from a chinese food pad. sweet and sour for me w/pork in it. ok, time to konk. I call my ma first since a couple of calls this morning only got machine. turns out she was in fact at my pad w/a rug she got me. she hates the carpet I got. ain't ma's like that? she tells me doctors found the first stage of breast cancer in my aunt (her sister) and there's gotta be surgery quick. got it in the first stage though so things look the best they can be. cancer wails in my family. I've lost my pop and all four grandparents to it. shivers down watt's back. I tell my ma I love her and my sisters, then it's to the boat for pre-gig konk.
jer gets me up for the show. there was an opener before the blind guys, _hella_, a band that opened for us at the beginning of the tour in sacramento. I miss both bands though. even more amazing (surely, I jest) is damn, this one hell of a cave! smaller crowd than the jacksonville one (tiniest of the tour) and the room (valhalla-like) is at leasat twenty times bigger. definite "character builder" gig tonight. wonder what's up - I've never had this piddling a response. oh well, these can be very good - keep a runaway ego in check, right? life deals you a hand and you gotta play that hand - if you're for real. that's what I think. my guys focus good though and we're a tight ship w/an inspired crew - the way I really dig it. in "conspirator's oath," jer breaks the chaindrive to his kickdrum pedal. he kind of panics but maintains good. the drummie cat for the blind guys steps up and loans jer his - thank you! jer soldiers on. for me, my voice is really strangled up, just beat but I go for it anyway - I just try my best and try to get through the feelings and emotion. what a test! I think we did good as a band though, really. I'm very proud of us. only one encore tune: "...tweeter." I'm glad kel got to see jer w/me for both a packed house and a cave. she can be very proud of her man doing good and helping watt out big time. tom was great too, both my guys - champs. there's nice words from the folks when the gigs done and one cat (damn, can't think of his name now) brings me a righteous care package of reed's ginger beer (j turned me onto this and it's very happening - no, it ain't got alcohol but then it doesn't have sugar either), 'gars, pear juice and habaneros - both regular and the real jamming "red savina" kind. hoo-ee! thank you! another cat has me sign a cd insert from the new _gov't mule_ cd where I did that _ccr_ song w/matt and warren. wow, they got a shot of me puffing a 'gar and shit while we were recording that. thanks guys, they were sure fun to work w/and do that. much respect.
old houston buddy mike mcguire has us follow him down to le porte, on the gulf coast, southwest of houston. there's a great bayhouse there I've stayed at over the years - it was built many years ago and has a great vibe. mike does too, he's a really smart cat that's got an open mind about a lot of stuff and I'm always learning things from him. he's got a poetry show on an internet radio station now too, that's interesting. I'm really beat though and gotta konk. he takes me to the room I always go and some troubling thoughts come for a little bit but are smothered pretty quick but the tiredness running all through me. I never even got out of my outfit.
monday, october 29 - austin, tx
I wake up in a little front room facing the bay and get up and have some coffee. mike m. made some migas (eggs and tortilla chips) and potatoes for breakfast so I eat too. after that i take the camera out on the pier onto a little landing thats about 75 yards out and take some pictures. the walkway is kind of narrow and it twists in the middle so it makes me kind of weak in the knees when I look down and see the water moving underneath. I make it back to shore and pack up and shave and then mike and I get in the van and start off to austin. it's oly about a three hour trip on the 290 but we hit some construction on the way and it slows us down a little bit. with a little navagation we pull into stubbs dirt parking lot at about 3'oclock and mike does some computer stuff and I make some calls. stubbs is known for it's bar-b-q but infortunately the kitchen is closed on monday now and we wont have that luxury today. after a while jerry,kelly and baby relei pull in too in a rental car and then they leave again to find some parts for jerry's bass drum pedal that he broke last night. I meet mike's friend peter who plays drums for the austin band, peglegasus and we load our stuff in and set up to check. the gone blinders show up about this time and after we do soundcheck I go with pete to guaro's mexican place to eat and the whole beans are great, just how I like them. after we eat we walk a block down the street to a hotel where jerry's friends are staying and jerry and kelly are there too so we talk for a minute and then walk back to get petes car and head back to the club. the doors aren't open yet and I take the chance to nap in the van before the show starts.
I fall asleep for a little while and when I wake up I hear gone blind playing so I go in to check them out and I see our friend spot who lives here and we talk about things for a while. then I go in and catch the last few songs of gone blind and they sound good in this smaller room, the drums are more present and there are a lot more people here than the last couple shows so it just sounds better. when they're done we get our stuff moved in place and before we start I puncture my thumb on my left hand with a screwdriver and it's right where I press against the back of the neck so the first couple songs hurt to play and I feel the blood on the neck as I slide up and down. after a few songs though it starts to feel better and stops bleeding and I don't think anyone knew. we have some monitor feedback but overall we play really well and the crowd has us come back for two encores, so it's a great show. after I pack up I talk to some locals lana and lauren and spot and I walk across the street to the club de ville and wait jerry and mike to come by a few minutes later and then we folloe spot back to his place for the night.
pop and soak in mike's old tub. great, second morning soak in a row. good on my bones and joints. I scour for cof in the kitchen and find none. outside to the boat and right there at the door of the pad here there's a bike, an old ten speed. whoa, my first pedal for the tour! even w/it late in the game, I still feel blessed. I pedal towards the town here (la porte). trippy to move the legs like this, it's been a little while. I dig it though. the low curled handlebars hurt a little bit too but that's ok. I put little girl bike "ape-hanger" stingray handlebars on my blue bike at home so the weight is shifted off my wrists and onto my ass. helps me sit upright too and that's good for the back. yes, I do cut a bigger profile in the wind and am not as aerodynamic but what the fuck? I am not a "bike jock" andyway and don't care about speed. I get done w/my pedaling when I get done. usually takes me two hours to do twenty miles and I go for that each morning around the crack of dawn through my town. back to texas: as I pedal, a big yellow and green dragonfly flies along w/me - what a trippy escort! no attack mode, just checking me out and I do likewise. beautiful creature. none of these in pedro! it's sunny and the sky boldly blue, a little wind but not bad. this bike ain't got much brakes but I'm calm w/the speed anyway. I find a chow pad called "la ranchera" and have a mexican style pork chop and eggs. there beans and tortillas too. really good. I go by a little store and get some razors (that's trippy for me on tour), toothepaste and some ibuprofen. then I pedal back to mike's pad. what a righteous ride, maybe an hour all together. thank you!
everyone's up when I get back and mike's making chow. this pad is right on the shore of the gulf and has a little wooden pier going out to a little roofed porch deal, sitting out maybe a hundred yards from the land. you can feel the narror path wobble w/the wind and water current as you hoof, so I'm real careful like, don't want to spill into the drink. I get out to the little roofed porch thing and sit. I survey the panorama, very pretty. whoa, what's this? a pelican, righteous! I love these birds. he's by himself, kind of rare in my town cuz they like company and have these happening formations - either in a line or a big 'v' shape. he skims the water then ends up perched on a piling. I call out thoughts to him w/my mind. I'm telling him hi and thanking him much for making a presence to me. I've never heard sounds from them, I don't know if they have a song but I feel very much intuned w/them. even though the kind of look like pterodactyls (ancient dinosaur sort-of birds) there meaning to me is sort of one of the future. I always think of things to come when I see them, like they're leading me into the future times. trippy about them and me. I dearly love them.
mike's friend ruthie plays cello and thinks rock and roll is pretty plastic (I have to admit I agree w/a lot of that). she went to the gig last night and mike says she told him that I showed some "soul." that was very nice - thank you, ruthie. mike gives me a poem he wrote:
for a moment
disappears and reappears
on old values
renewing and reviewing
new and renewed conclusions
- mike mcguire
thanks, mike. I gave him a _dos_ cd ("justamente tres") last night and he played it for the first time on his poetry internet radio show. he told me he dug it and was surprised at the clearness/warmness of the sound. thanks again, mike. kira would dig hearing that too. I gather tom and we head back up to huston, around the belt and northwest on us-290 towards austin. wow, some superplugs - lots of construction has us crawling a few times. at least it's not from wrecks and cuz of this investment, the road will be better next time. remember, I'm in this for the long haul. need good roads. need good weather. need to keep my head fucking together. need to keep the eyes way down the road and get the big picture. both hands on the wheel too. need to be safe. about halfway there, we pass the road heading south to la grange - yep, that la grange. one trippy road sign on our way: "indian paint brush road." I like that one. we get into austin about four. pull into _stubbs'_ and say hi to the boss, dirk. he gives me a phone line and I check the e. wow, an e from e! she lived here many years and graduated from the university so I feel a lot of her spirit here. great, I have my blue flannel I got last spring at that salvation army in nyc. that was such a trip for me, finding one of those in that town - one just like one you'd find in my town. maybe salvation army thrift stores are the great common denominator for our land? it'd be a good one! got an e from richard hell too, he's got a book coming out next week, I wish I could go to his thing where they celebrate it coming out, maybe elizabeth can go for me. I also get emails from several people worrying about my mental condition. they read the diaries and worry for me. well, what can I say for this? I am what I am but I do continue on and am quite driven, even w/the voiced doubts. I have many deep-rooted drives to go and go so I wish I could reassure folks that even though I think out loud and appear maybe insane, it is still forward and onward for me. this is what I do. I won't buckle even though I might have to bend some heavy weights - either real or imagined.
me and tom unload. jer arrives w/baby rilei and kel - me and tom have lots of fun visiting w/the trio. proud poppa - it'll be baby's first time being at one of his gigs! jer goes to find a screw to fix that busted kick drum pedal and when he gets back, we do soundcheck w/chris, who's cool peeps. like a man who works w/out the bullshit airs, much respect. this is a good pad w/good folks and a good feel - I dig playing here. much. old _peglegasus_ drummer pete shows and we share one of the red savina chillies I got last night. pete's pretty busted up by it and gasps much. well, no burn - no learn. I eat 'dines w/my, that's my chow for tonight. I go to the boat for konk, I'm spent.
the gone guys open but I miss them. they're very nice cats. tom gets me for our turn. the pad is packed. kel's got the digicamera and will take shots. great, cuz we have only the providence gig shot and that was kind of lame - it was her first time w/the camera. I know she'll do great this time. her buddy has the baby in another room, she'll hear her pop w/us through the wall. it's a really good gig for us, we're playing good though kind of beat through from tour wear - one big reason is help from the folks, who have a great vibe. lots of feedback in the monitors. it's hard for soundman chris cuz the mixing desk is behind some stairs in the back and on the side. I don't know about that concept. still, things go really good. I dedicate a song to e cuz the time she spent here - roky's "sweet honey pie." I kind of fucked up and said it too early - the tune before it ("she don't know why I'm here") but apologized and corrected myself before we did the one I intended. my voice holds up ok for this stage in the game. thank whoever. I can't understand why that either happens or doesn't this late in the tour. we do all the songs we've played this tour but "big train" - I spaced and forgot that one. lots of love after when I sling. mike naylor from pedro is here - great to see him. old texas fried cary is here too and gives me some texas salsa and texas-shaped chips. thank you! an english cat named dee who runs fringecore comes up to say hi and gives me some _black pig liberation front_ cds, me and kira gave those cats a tune for them to spiel on plus some _banyan_ too. I sign a bass pickguard. in fact, I have a lot of cats tell me about playing bass cuz of me and this makes me blush. austin is a music town and there is a lot of cats playing here. glad I can help out somehow. one man has me sign richard mckenna's "the sand pebbles," one of my favorite books ever and a big part of some of the thinking that went into my opera ("contemplating the engine room"). I discuss w/him for a bit my feelings about what's in that book and why it's so important to me. heavy book for watt, written by a machinist mate chief in the navy, same kind of sailor my pop was. he retired to chapel hill and my pop retired to clovis, outside of fresno. both towns are nowhere by the ocean, maybe there's something to be said of the navy in that. whatever, I think I'll always live near the sea. it means much to me. finally, things wind up and it's time to load up the boat.
old bud spot's here, we're konking at his pad. well, me and tom are - jer's spending one more night w/his girl kel and baby rilei. tom gets taken by some people to a bar across the street and when I go to fetch him, the bartender really wants to get me a drink. ok, my fist alcohol of the tour - I have ONE jim beam and soda water. tastes kind of weird for me as I throw it down. jer holds up and a finger and mouths "just one" and I follow his direction obediently. straight out the door for me and back to the boat. tom arrives soon and we follow spot to his pad off of ben white. he goes to chow, spot usually doesn't konk 'til like five or six - he tends bar these days besides playing. he has an irish dancer coming to stay this week w/her band ("aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!" says spot) and he's kind of foaming it up on this. down, spot! he's a dear man and I've had many, many great years w/him - he recorded our first _minutemen_ records. on the deck next to tom, I pull the mask down. last thoughts are "one week left" and that train to sleepytown takes me on board quick.
read week 6 of the tour diary
read week 8 of the tour diary
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