the day started out like most, totally different.
i debunked myself, slipped outa the bed clothes and into the street duds, washed up a bit and ventured forth into the blatant sun.
life on a bus is a cross between living in a submarine and a space ship. inside, the curtains are usually drawn shut and the air is on full blast and freezing. the motion of the road has its tilt effect on attempting to stand and the constant hum and vibration offers an eventual soothing lull. having a toilet is convenient. the kitchenette is very handy too. this one had flat screen and stereo, but we tend not to use it much, and instead rather the company of each other tainted with the folly of our work day to tickle the remains of the evening. but there is internet at 65 miles an hour and that tends to be the one addiction that most can’t resist or live without.
it never seems to matter when there is a mix of women and men on board, but its always better to have it that way then not. 12 bunks on this one, all filled with humans except one with juts recycling.
the most important element of bus life is the driver. in this case, earl, with his thick tennessean accent is more then a comfort, he is a source of security for a safe ride into the night and a good chuckler when you get to see him before he heads off to sleep in the morning.
we always travel at night in one of these things when it feels like a submarine, and in the light of day it feels more like the mothership on a new planet.
this will be my last moments in it as the tour ends for us tonight.
the hot texas sun is offering up a touch of home. i walk around aimlessly and settle for coffee. every now and then i find myself gravitating back to the mothership for oxygen and to disappear from the new planet’s inhabitants.
i am going to miss this posse.
they are a stellar mix of humans and i have fallen under their collective spell.
well … the art in these matters is how you let it go and say farewell.
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we have a great sound check. the crew of the venue is on top of everything and the band is smoking hot in the grooves we happen upon. a new version of ‘wolfy’ emerges but i’m gonna save it for a latter day. a powerful thrust of ‘available space’ kicks in too, saving that puppy too.
neko then comes out to go over ‘without a word’. we sound pretty good together i think, and it makes me think of john doe and exene from X, whom i cherish.
then we’re done and attempt to chill before the show time.
by the time our stage time rolls around i am a bit overcome by the voracious vibe of the clotted crowd out yonder. i just don’t have any clue what to play tonight.
so i attempt to play it by the numbers.
i wanna just stay in my slouch jeans and crumpled shirt, but then change 2 minutes before our set into something more suitable for dressing like it matters.
we head out there. the crowd welcomes us. i have never played dallas before. we start with ‘robes of bible black’ and they seem like they are checking us out and deciding which way to lean. a good applause applies itself.
i think maybe i gave ‘em ‘ paradise here abouts’, i don’t remember now, but they seemed to like it too whatever it was. no, it was ‘ballad of the tucson 2’. i wonder why i wanted to play that one. we did it solidly anyway.
then i think i might have played ‘vortexas’ which is tricky because in the middle of it i wonder if they don’t know what it is i am doing lyrically. “what does this guy mean by vor-texas ?” kind of vibe. the response is good again.
there was one heckler in the beginning … someone harmless and just exited about neko … and he was easy to handle … but i didn’t want to engage in my usual slice and dice rebuttal of such toying and instead kept focused on what music to slip into next.
and so we carried on … and then went into a stream of songs from the new record. when we got to ‘can do’ i could feel how tender the 1st line about galveston was being taken in by the collective crowd. that poor city was directly in the path of the hurricane that preceded this tour, and i know full well the effects of a home being lost by hurricane and flood when i was a kid, so i did not want that to be misunderstood either even though it’s just a sweet road song. just happens to start out in galveston and ends up in livingston, montana. but there is another livingston just down the road a spell in texas too .
and then i brought out kelly hogan for ‘stranded pearl’ and she jerked a tear from me anyway as she’s apt to do. then i did up ‘better man then me’ alone with peter and i pushed the temp up a bit as we rocked it as a 2 piece. funnily enough the drum kit that peter is playing is the kit john convertino sold to neko which means it’s the same old kick drum john and i toured with in 1989 as a 2 piece.
then i brought the divine miss case up to the podium and we pummeled through ‘without a word’, except when i got to the line about “your eyes speak to me and your lips are something to see” i went into a whisper vocal and neko looked over at me wondering what was up, and i didn’t rightly know either. so we just hung on to that song like breaking a horse and hit it again with a pulsing chorus that took it home. what’s wrong with me, i will hopefully never know, but at times something takes over from where ever these songs come from.
the crowd adored her coming out like that, and so we began to end the set with the next song and got jon rauhaus and paul rigby from her band up. we flung into ‘loving cup’ and totaled it. right at the end of the song my high E string broke, but it didn’t matter when i kicked on the distortion and amp and clobbered it home like we do. the place erupted in hollerin’ hoots of yippity.
we were done. well done.
it was such a lovely crowd again, but very different then any of the others. there is a sense i get from every crowd and each has its own vitality and origination. hard to document here, but i can feel the flavor of every audience as we commence to playing, and that’s why it never makes sense to have a set list, so as to get inspired accordingly.
gone is another tour.
me and the boys gathered in the lobby of the theater and toasted the end. a little good tequila was involved. so i went in to catch the full thrust of neko’s set and just plain enjoy it like it was the last time. folks kept coming up saying they never heard of us but were delighted. was a sweetness at this age to hear that stuff.
meanwhile, neko was glorious. her band so fine. kelly’s harmonies spine chingling. i loved it all and started taking a bunch of pictures for the heck of it. then anders notified me about a particular bar in the venue to hang out in and partake my evening’s drink in.
i could see why when i got there, the bartender was a stunning mix of different bloodlines that allowed pleasant ponder, but more effectively was the way she pored a silver patron. she iced it up in a martini shaker and then salt lipped that sucker so it flowed down the gullet like an elixir from the goddesses.
it had a clobbering effect of course. i could see it coming, but allowed myself the rare indulgence of a designated drunk night.
and so the night disappeared into the blurry memory of something resembling a good time. there is sufficient evidence in the new camera to attempt rememberence.
and those pictures show a lot of inter band hugging and mugging wherein also lies the art and allowance of disassociation.
i will miss them so.
- – - – -
i settle in to the boys ride and we scoot off to the hotel. we get there via a large plate of sushi. dallas is happening here at 3 in the morning wherever we are exactly, i don’t know, but it’s tasty. and then finally the bed. we get to stay at the hotel rooms that the bus party leave behind and it’s a pretty good ecosystem that way. and down i go. way down and deep and letting it all go.
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next morning arrives hangover free, which is a sign of a professional tequila drinking endeavor. there’s no time for even coffee because of a promised ‘in-store appearance’ at “good records”.
i don’t do in-stores anymore. just don’t see the point of em. they do not make sense to me, but opted to go ahead here because of logistics of linger prior to scheduled departure. when we get there i can see why it’s a good idea to do anything for the struggling indie-record store. it will be a sad day when they have all gone away.
so here we are, in need of coffee, and get offered apologies because of the ‘cowboys’ game that has just started here on a sunday to hopefully seal their winning streak, and the austin city limits festival (that neko has gone off for) that has limited the attendance here.
so it will be an intimate affair. there is always a kind of music that gets played during intimate affairs that never happens when the audience is in abundance. it’s something to look forward to when it applies itself.
the folks there were a fine cross section of humanity. some had come from only having heard us the night before. it was an ok closer to this run. it offered a kind of warm down after a long race. broke the low E string on the last song and that sealed the deal. a woman there named kirsten kinda smiled the smile of a gatekeeper, closing it gently on the end of it all.
we rode off into the sunset with sweet expectations of embrace getting back home. the moon rise sparkled up on the city to remind the sky in my eye how the tour had began.