Monday, December 10, 2012

It's a Good Life Damn Right

Tipitina's Empty

That's a basketball hoop right in front of you.

Stay Gold Pony Boy

I watched this guy spraying himself with gold paint while smoking a cigarette. Presumably getting ready to go to work.

When Wussy Went to New Orleans Part 2

It’s been a month since these shows. I’m pissed that I’m writing after the moment. Steinbeck wrote, “Travels With Charley” long after he got back but I’m pretty sure that has no relevance here. Regardless, I’m realizing what a luxury our summer tour was. And for the record everything, except Lisa and Rene seeing a roadrunner, that pissed me off has faded and I have only romantic, epic memories left. All that time to write and no real life to intrude. As soon as I got back from this one I was sick for the requisite week, and then back to keeping my head above water. I guess it just proves how little time we allow ourselves. Anyway now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast. I will finish this tour, it just may take awhile.

Tipitinas is a flat out legendary club in a warehouse district right within view of the dike separating us from the Mississippi. This kind of tour was a new experience for the band, if not Chuck and John exactly. (Throwing Muses tour in the ‘90s) When we got there the Whigs were done with their soundcheck, so we could load-in and head up onstage. It was a pretty small stage all told, and here’s the thing about being an opening band: all their gear is still onstage except maybe the pedals that might line the front of the stage. It’s kind of like sneaking your girlfriend into your buddies house because his parents are out for the evening watching Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” (with Justine Bateman and Lorenzo Llamas in the lead) and you want to be impressive in the hopes of boob touching but in no way fuck anything up in the house so you don’t get busted. I’m going to spend this tour stage left right next to the Whigs keyboard set-up, and I live in fear of messing up any of the million pedals and cables snaking everywhere. Add to this their tour manager spends the night yelling at us. (By the end of the tour we will be BFF’s and all, but tonight we’re new to the pack and it is necessary to let us know who gets to sniff whose butt and who had better like it) It’s also the first night where we get to have a rider. (the wish list you give to clubs) Our rider has things like towels (for Chuck), tea (for Lisa), beer (for Joe, me, and Rene), and a fresh fleshlight for John. And tonight we got it! Well except they put all our stuff into the Whigs dressing room. The Whigs don’t really use their dressing rooms much, (they have a bus) but people wander in and out. They also had bags of PopChips, which I love, and chocolate. Thus began the fine tradition of sneaking into their dressing room and helping ourselves to our things, and maybe a few of theirs, but once again not enough to get busted. We would offer up a prayer to Anne Frank and go once more unto the breach, only occasionally having to shove a whole handful of chips into our mouths and look casual.

We played OK. No one was particularly nervous, but as the tour went on we definitely got looser. Seems to take a few shows no matter what before we feel like we’re ourselves. The awesome thing about these shows was that very little of their audience knew who we were. So after the first song maybe some polite applause, a little more after the second, and slowly but surely you could feel the audience swinging around to our side, giving us a pretty good shout by the end. It’s an amazing feeling I tell you; didn’t happen every night of course but often enough to be encouraging. I mean really, the Whigs audience treated us great the whole time.

Now I haven’t seen the Afghan Whigs since back in the day and since I am not a born and bred Cincinnatian I didn’t even see them until the “Gentleman” tour. They were always good but nothing prepared me for how much better they are now. I stood off to the side and stared slack-jawed the whole show. Greg has never sounded better. I think he’s finally singing like he always thought he was. Listening to Curley night after night was like going to school. I should’ve gotten continuing ed. credits.  He somehow manages to keep driving the groove while still being very melodic. Just a joy to listen to every night. I watched most of every show on the tour and I wasn’t even close to tired of it by the end.  I’ll talk about the rest of the band later.

And that was it. First show over. We got yelled at some more, (“You need to not park behind the bus ever again.”) and loaded out. Then we sat in the van (hence all the quotes from around the van) for around an hour and a half waiting to get paid and watching our shot at a decent nights sleep slip away like sands through the hourglass these are days of our lives.*  Ask Rene sometime about why it took so long to get paid, not my story tell but a good one.  We get back to the hotel and configure ourselves for the night. It was a tiny room being an old hotel right in the Quarter. We had three people in the king sized bed and one on the rollaway. Chuck and Lisa had bought two blow up mattresses that day and Lisa had wedged hers in the little foyer next to the door. Chuck was wedged between the bed and the air conditioner. John however is not a late sleeper and gets squirrelly in the morning. So he tried very gently to open the door and escape. Lisa said she felt her mattress rise up in air on one side until she rolled up against the wall. When the door closed the mattress quickly began losing air until she was on the floor. The son of a bitch had a hole, lasted less than 24 hours in Wussy world. Then it was time to get up and bust ass to Atlanta.

* My grandmother’s favorite “story.” It was a good time to visit because she’d be on the couch with her notebook that had the weather and any visitors for that day written down going back for time immemorial. Ah, I miss them so much.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Better Than Sun Studios*

The hat and the studio. (It's a very nice hat)

*Well I won't go that far. Didn't see no Rattle and Hum sessions here know what I'm sayin'?

Omnia Ab Uno*

Nicholas Cage's tomb.The only thing he didn't have to sell in New Orleans.

*translates to "No Accounting for Taste."

Better than Graceland

Maria Levaeu's tomb with offerings. You tap on the tomb three times, spin three times, make your wish, trace three x's on the tomb, leave an offering, and then your wish comes true. Tour guide said that last year somebody left a $50 bill there and nobody touched it for months because you do not want to piss off a voodoo queen.

When Wussy Went to New Orleans (part1)

New Orleans – w/ Afghan Whigs at Tipitinas


“665 – the neighbor of the beast.” – My son. I had texted him that we were in room 665 and that the devil was next door. That was his response. He’s already smarter than me.

“Mom he has a flesh moustache.”  - Chuck telling his mother as a child why he didn’t like Bob Braun (local Cincinnati celebrity with his own show. I still don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Apparently Lisa thinks William H. Macy has one too.)

(quick aside – all the remaining quotes are from random people who just came up to us in New Orleans. I’ve never been anywhere like where this happened as much. I’m just sharing the memorable ones but this happened all day; people randomly walking up to one of us, saying something strange and walking off. None of them became a nuisance or asked for anything. Awesome in a disconcerting way.)

“Can I fit a car battery into a pipe?” - Man at Coop’s Place Restaurant
“ It would have to be a big pipe.” Rene (tour manager)
“Yeah. (pause) That’s something I’ll have to consider.”

He was at a table with a group of about 6. He got up from the table, walked over to Rene, asked the question and then went and sat back down with no fanfare or response from his group.

“We’re assholes, and when you act like assholes you’re going to have asshole things happen.” Nice Biologist lady
(Maybe my favorite post show conversation ever. A former Cincinnati native who is a marine biologist working on the gulf coast. This statement was her assessment of humanity. It is obviously a dire, if not entirely accurate view and one shared by every biologist I know. They know first hand exactly how bad we’ve screwed the earth and they all say it’s not going to get better. Habitat is going to continue to shrink or be fouled. Species are going to continue to be marginalized and die off. The earth will bounce back just fine. You know, after we’re gone. Her specialty is mercury poisoning being transferred to birds via fish. She works on oil spills as well of course. She also told me that pelicans do not go blind after a lifetime of diving into the ocean after fish. Those urban myths are pernicious things.)

“Well both bands are from Ohio and there’s nothing to do there so everyone’s in bands.” Two woman overheard smoking (cigarettes) (they were hideous) (hence the caveat in case you got the wrong impression) outside the van.

(I’ll paraphrase these next two the best I can. Just assume that both stories rambled on in the same vein for much longer. Because they did.)

“I’m from Buffalo I know what you mean.” Woman at the merch table referring to my “Ohio Against the World” shirt.

“Oh yeah, Buffalo and Ohio are a lot alike.”

“All snow and cold. Miserable.”

"I’m from northern Ohio, I get it. Always gray…”

“Yeah, but you can get out. My sister has a daughter who was born with a really big head. I mean abnormally large. She’s a great kid but she has a really big head. “


“People were worried that there was something wrong. But she won. My sister won. She found a doctor who said everything fine. You know, there’s nothing wrong with her, she just has a big head.”

“Well, nothing wrong with a big head…..”

We stare at each other a bit.

“Ummm…. So what does that have to do with Buffalo?”

“She lives in Tallahassee.”

“So she got out.”


Next story. I’ll paraphrase the best I can. He talked fast and in the cadence of a wack-a-mole.

We were sitting in the van waiting to get paid. Well after 2 in the morning. Guy walks up to the window and motions for John to roll the window down.

“Did you see the show? Wasn’t it fucking great?”

“Uh, yeah.” – John

“The Afghan Whigs saved my life man.”

“Oh yeah?” (said in a way that to the skilled interpreter of social skills would obviously indicate no interest whatsoever in pursuing this conversation)

“The last time I was at Tipitinas was in ’91 to see Primus. “


“So there was this time where I was suicidal. Long time ago and the Afghan Whigs saved my life. My girlfriend had broken up with me, like standing on a bridge suicidal and I went to a therapist and he said I was full of shit so I went to the Carmelite nuns and they gave me holy water. So it was like two years later and my girlfriend was dying of cancer. I mean she’d had two or three boyfriends since but I was shaking the holy water on her and she was like, “What the fuck are you doing?” And I said, “I’m doing what the nuns told me!!”  

The whole time Joe had been laying down out of sight on the first bench in the van giggling. At this stage of the game he shouted out, “I did that too.”

The dude, with no transition stopped talking and walked away. He never said in particular how the Whigs had saved his life. I'm assuming John gave him the Heimlich. Man's a master at the maneuver.

I woke up kinda early because basically I could get a whole day in New Orleans before we had to be at Tipitinas. Started out at Café Beignet because I’m not coming all this way and not getting beignets and hot chocolate. I love this place. It’s right next to the police station and has a nice patio. A bunch of cats wander around and birds fly in and about. Lovely. Next up was a cemetery tour. Kind of expensive but I wanted to go on one with a real historian or at least not one of the many cheesebag tours. It was awesome. I went to the St. Louis Cemetery #1. If you know all about this skip ahead but if not, it’s really cool. So people are buried above ground in New Orleans because, as the tour guide put it, the water table is so high the grave holes fill up with water. You plunk the body in, huck dirt on it and hope it doesn’t rain or else you’re gonna see grandma floating down the river. (to quote the tour guide) Because it’s a Catholic town though everyone needs to be buried for at least a year and a day or they wont ascend to heaven. The solution of course is to bury everyone above ground in tombs. (a generous reading of the word bury I feel but moot in the end) Here’s the cool thing though, they stick the casket in the tomb on a shelf and it’s so hot that after the requisite year and a day the body has practically been cremated in the oven like heat. They then take the casket out, dump the remains (ceremoniously I’m sure) back onto the shelf and push them back until they fall off the end and onto a pile of relatives. Some of these caskets have people going back to 1790 in them. And if the family is still around they’re still getting buried there.

The cemetery has the second most visited gravesite in the country. (Elvis is #1) Maria Levaeu (and her daughter) is famous for being I guess what you would call the first celebrity voodoo queen. You can look her up on Wikipedia, I’m not fucking Rick Steve’s here. (although I assume he would be gentle) Anyway, people believe if you do a series of rituals at her tomb (bring your own kitten, they cost an arm and a leg outside the cemetery) your wish will be granted.  Let’s see, Nicholas Cage’s tomb is in here, (presumably his dignity, hair, and career are already buried) and it’s a beautiful, if completely sore-thumbish pyramid.

After the tour I ate a French fry po’boy. Have I mentioned New Orleans might just be the worst town in the country for vegetarians? It is. When I came down last time I still ate seafood so I got a taste of the amazing things they do down here. Still, they give Pittsburgh a run for their money in the dubious honor of putting French fries in a sandwich.

I bought a vastly overpriced hat from a beautiful goth woman whose name I’ve now forgotten. It was a cool name and I swore I'd never forget but there you are. I've also forgotten #3 Dale Earnhardt, 9/11, and where I was when Kennedy died.  I went to the site of the former J&W Studios where Fats Domino, Little Richard and a bunch of others did their early recordings. (it’s a laundromat now) I then walked across the street into Louis Armstrong Park and stumbled onto a talk being given by a priest, a rabbi, and a minster, (what is this, a joke?) (actually I don’t know their denominations but there were three holy people on a stage) about the history of the Treme’ neighborhood and singing acapella renditions of old soul songs that got turned into religious songs. This was just happening in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday. What an amazing town.

*She didn't buy anything

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Intro to Fall Tour 101 - No Audits No Credit

Beginning of Fall Tour: En route to New Orleans

It’s been awhile seems like. Can’t remember when we did those east coast dates but I guess I could look it up. We haven’t been exactly idle eric though have we now? We played some shows I didn’t write about because they didn’t feel like tour shows. A nice show in Chicago at the Bucktown Arts Festival where we drove up and back the same day, (5.5 hours each way) which is the first time we’ve done that. Economy has probably never been more pressing than these days. That’s not a bad thing, in many ways it’s the result of having maybe the best year we’ve ever had. Regardless, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, as the compromises and costs of being in a band after the bloom has come off is what’s on my mind this trip. We played some swell local shows, including one on Fountain Square in front of several thousand (i.e. around 2,000) people and got to chat with the charming Kelley Deal. (formerly of the Kelley Deal 6000) After that Chuck and Lisa spent a good hunk of September touring England in support of a compilation of our first 4 records that Damnably Records put out called "Buckeye." It’s weird to have a record out and feel so disconnected from it.  Other than Lisa doing the artwork we didn’t really have a damn thing to do with it. Anyway, the tour went pretty well I guess. They said everyone was ridiculously nice. One night the former sound guy for Gary Numan did their sound. Most of their stories revolved around the shitty food and shit-filled toilets. I won’t share those here though as I’m still getting yelled at by the squeamish about how poop-centric the summer tour posts were. Harumph, I say; the human body is beautiful and I won’t be held in thrall by all you shame-filled puritans.

I have to admit I’ve been looking forward to these Afghan Whigs shows for months. We all love John Curley. He’s produced pretty much all our records. I love the Whigs. Most of the shows are sold out and we’re going to get to play some venues that are legendary. It’s just really exciting. There’s always a balance to things though and touring in the fall is complicated for me. I’m the only one in the band with kids at home and I’m a single dad. I love my kids more than anything and I’m not complaining, I have a great life, but I’m a school teacher too and I have to keep the mortgage paid until/if music pays the bills. I’m also not saying I have it harder than the rest of the band. They may have more flexibility but also they’re practically starving by not being able to work. My schedule for the Whigs tour goes like this: Work Thursday, fly down to New Orleans, (the band is driving the van down) play the shows, fly out of Raleigh Monday morning early and work. Wednesday, drive up to Detroit after teaching, play show, drive back that night. Work, play Cincinnati. Work, fly to Chicago. Play those shows and then fly out of Minneapolis early Monday morning and hope to make it back in time to work that day. Again, none of this is by way of complaining. On the contrary, I feel ridiculously lucky that I get to do this tour.

So this blog is going to lag behind the tour more than usual. We averaged four hours sleep this first weekend and spare time is spent sleeping.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mercury Lounge Merch Table

Mercury Lounge Merch table. So cute I could die.

The loneliness of Kiss

For years Paul tried to hide the empty darkness behind the make-up, but when the janitor of his soul propped the door open with a scum filled bucket he could deny it no longer.

The Man with the Yellow Van

This is the van of legend. While we were playing in Wilmington some enterprising entrepreneur stuck this magnet on it. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wilmington, Phili, and New York

Wilmington, Philadelphia, and NYC


Chuck’s Daughter: “Wussy were here this morning.” (we had stopped by on the way out)
Chuck’s Son-In-Law: “Oh is that why the door is off.” (Lisa completely pulled the back screen door off)

“Alanis Morrisette has dope titties” – Can’t remember but not me because I didn’t know there was such a thing

“You lied, she’s only missing her front teeth”  - We saw an old friend of Chucks at a gas station.
“It’s a gaping maw.” – Chuck’s response

“It’s either drug addled hillbillies or church goers” – Technically Bethel, Ohio but really that seems to needlessly narrow the range.

“Numbat and Scunch” – Ask Chuck

“ I want the American Dream burger – hold the hope.”

Fauna: Women in Philadelphia really favor leg tattoos. They were everywhere. One woman in nice workout clothes in the fitness center of the downtown Sheraton had tattooed on each upper back thigh respectively, “Remember the Struggle” and “Remember the Street.” Uh huh.

Women in NYC favor dark bras under see through T-shirts. Seems kind of played. I expect more from New York

Day 1

Here’s a difference between the West and East. There’s not enough time in the van to write between cities in the east. So I’m just gonna cover all three in one post. Here’s a summary for those who don’t want to read the rest: The shows were completely wonderful but the actual travelling was snake bit from the get go.

We were renting a van from a guy we know. A big scraped up bright-yellow thing that we took out once before. Dude swore he’d fixed everything that had made us swear we’d never take it again. Joe picks up the van and Oh Hell yes, the A/C is not working. (“Really? It worked yesterday”) It wasn’t too bad as long as we were on the highway with the windows down. Of course that meant we got to have 10 hours of what my kids call a “hurricane ride.” On a personal note I hate having lots of wind blowing on me. Drives me fucking crazy, but since that position is already filled in this band I have to lump it. We flirted with a hail and lightning storm through the Appalachian Mountains, but to the hopeful surprise of us all by the time we were an hour away from Wilmington we were actually on time. Which is of course the point in the movie where the psycho turns out to have survived and hacks off the head of the teenager performing conciliatory cunnilingus on the other grief-stricken survivor, proving once again that sex is dirty and bad and should only be done after funerals and in cases where the act will cause grievous emotional damage to your ex. In our case it was the point where the mot^er-fu%^ing, co%k-suc$#ing, douche-licking, Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority shut down the entire east-bound Turnpike to do construction, thus diverting all the rush hour traffic to another much smaller highway. Now this next part was probably, by which I mean entirely, our fault. We were below E on the gas gauge. So an hour into sitting in traffic waiting for the van to sputter and fail while limping towards the exit is when John exclaims something about the brake pedal sinking to the floor. Something had clunked and from this point on stopping was more akin to throwing an anchor out the back than actual braking. This lovely development was accompanied by an equally lovely smell of smoky metallic death. We finally get off the highway and as John is flipping a U-Turn to get us to a gas station the thing in the center of the steering wheel that you press for the horn (I’m sure it has a name) pops off. Much swearing and grappling later we get to the gas station but now the horn doesn’t and never again works. As we’re doing our best roadside mechanic imitations Chuck for some random reason starts singing like Leon Redbone. This is almost as annoying as actually listening to Leon Redbone. But then what to my wondering eye should appear? A guy yelling at us from the next pump over, “Leon Redbone? He made the best Christmas album ever! (begins to sing, mercifully stops) Did you see him on Carson? He was in a sleigh and had confetti coming down and everything. My wife wont listen to it, but I tell ya it’s the best Christmas album ever recorded (begins to sing the same snippet, mercifully stops) This entire exchange takes place with his voice booming like he works in a home for the hard of hearing, but he was nice and gave us a “God Bless You,” on the way out.

We decided to take state roads the rest of the way. It was beautiful but slow going.  We got there about 15 minutes before we could potentially have had to go on, but they were running a little behind. It had already been a long damn day so we’re looking forward to a little food at the club after we loaded in when John, who was parking the van,  calls and says the driver’s side window wont go up. By the time Chuck and I get out there the window is completely off the track and flopping around in the door like a condom on Flacid the Clown. It’s safe to say the security of the van and our equipment is compromised by this development. However, with the art of an embittered middle-aged Fonzi Chuck pulls pounds and swears it back into place.

After eating (just because you call it Risotto doesn’t mean it’s not just rice from a box) we played a show without a set-list, making it up as we went. We were playing at the World Café Live and the stage sound was great, people were into it, and I thought we played well. After the show people were so sweet, buying a bunch of merch and just kind of overwhelming us with kindness. We drove to Phili that night and even got to bed at a reasonable time.

Damn we need our own van.

Day 2

The club we were playing was only 1.7 miles from the hotel and the hotel is right downtown in the museum district. You know what this means? It means awesome, that’s what it means. Joe and I walked up 16th street, had some organic, locally sourced stir fry and then began walking towards the Museum of Art. We went into the St. Paul Cathedral, which was gorgeous and had great air conditioning. We walked up the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Rodin museum, communed with some pretty great sculptures and then continued on to the Art Museum. There was a line of people waiting to get their picture taken with the Rocky statue, even though it isn’t even at the top of the stairs. I’m not going to go through the whole experience but museums are my happy place. They had a great modern wing with a whole room of cubist era Piccaso and one for Du Champ. A whole badass section of armor and a few J.F. Millets I’d never seen. I was as happy as a Mennonite in a Pizza Hut.

The club we were playing was called the Northstar Bar. This show and the next one were set up by the band Low Cut Connie, who are a Philly band and have a really good following. The thing is, we’ve tried to get into the Northstar before but they wouldn’t even answer our e-mails. So to have a band like LCC help us out is huge. A local guy was telling me how he saw John Cale twice at this place. Great stage, cool balcony, good sound.  I was told that Philly gives bands love and it was true. We’ve never played to a packed house here but tonight was damn close. There was a kid who flew in from Montreal for Pete’s sake. Just to see us. Another guy came all the way from Seattle and would be at the next show too. For the first time ever people were singing along so loud we could hear it onstage above the din. Feels like we have some friends here. I really like this town. It feels the most like a European city of any I can think of. Looking forward to coming back.

Day 3

Woke up and went out looking for a bagel. All there was downtown were Bruegger’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. I thought this was an east coast town. I can get shitty bagels in Cincinnati.

It seems like it takes forever for us to get going anywhere anymore. I don’t know why, it’s the same people. Drives me crazy but there it is. It’s like turning a barge around in a river I guess. We had to drive back to club for something we forgot, got caught in the traffic for a huge pro-union rally, which was actually kind of neat to witness, Lisa got sick in the stifling heat of the van. It took us twice as long to get to NYC as it should’ve. Just another one of those trips. Once we got into the city though it felt wonderful. I love being here. While waiting for soundcheck to start I got a sangria from a little cheese and wine place around the corner that was open to the sidewalk. Ended up talking with the bartender about old school funk, disco, Bootsy Collins etc. Awesome. We were to play at the Mercury Lounge for the first time, (another place that up ‘till now didn’t want to hear from us) and we were excited. However we and LCC were the early show and it was an 8:00 start time. After soundcheck Joe and I ran out to one of my favorite restaurants on earth. It’s a Taqueria/Tequilaria called Los Feliz, and as God is my witness the tacos combined with more Tequilla selections than virgins at ComicCon will make you weep with pleasure. Joe and I talked about how we hoped enough people would show up so that maybe the Mercury would consider having us back. Because when we left there was not one soul there. Same thing with Chuck and Lisa. They left to get some stuff out of the van and then went to the green room. No one there. We’re starting to learn about NYC though, that people there don’t fuck around standing about waiting for a show. When it’s time they show up. When we got back the place was packed. Lots of old friends and a whole bunch of new people. Amazing energy, people shouting out requests. This made three nights in a row I had a shit-eating grin on my face pretty much the whole show. And then after the show another first. The love at the merch table has been has been overwhelming the whole trip but tonight we were signing stuff and selling out pretty much everything we brought for well over an hour. When we got into the van after loading out and me running down the street to get a fresh large NY pizza pie, we were all kind of shocked by it. The door lady commented to Chuck, “Wow, you’ve got loyal fans.” And it’s true. We just really appreciate shows like this so much.

We’re playing Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville before Chuck and Lisa head to England to make a nice hello to the Continent. After that, in October we’re opening for the Afghan Whigs for a handful of shows. That’s kind of a big deal and it also means we get to get back out there and see some more of you this year. So that’s cool.

If I post this you’ll know that the van made it back.

Iron Maiden, Bunbury, and Wilco

Bunbury, Iron Maiden, and Wilco

Here’s a big Lionel Ritchie “Hello” to all ten of you. We’re back in a different van heading to Wilmington Delaware and if everything goes perfectly we’ll still be late. Speaking of, “Hello,” in 10th grade I had a crush on a generously proportioned blond girl who took no notice of me until the week before she moved to Kansas. We exchanged notes before she left and embarked upon an utterly pointless long-distance relationship marked by letters so tedious in their shopping list length that even the memory of untouched tits and bee-stung lips (they really were puffy) could maintain my teen-aged tumescence for very long. And at that age anything from a gentle breeze to the Battle of the Network Stars (Oh Victoria Principal) could achieve the ache that launched a thousand tissues. But before she started writing about all the cute guys she was meeting and I realized I dreaded writing back, our song was, “Hello.” We both bought 45’s and listened to it as tragically as possible. My friends couldn’t even look me in the face and before my natural mortification could kick in I learned not discuss it around them. Regardless, 10 grade was actually a pretty good year. In that same class (geometry) I met my first love, a delightful woman who I still count among my dearest friends, primarily because she never brings up my fumblingly inept and eternally embarassing behavior. I also saw Bruce Springsteen for the first time.  Oh and of course there was that time I accidentally hacked into the Pentagon’s computer by using a “back door” left by the programmer and ended up having to sneak in to NORAD to stop us from accidentally starting World War III.  That Ally Sheedy is a good egg. I still get Christmas cards from her. She’s a Christian now, which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising as she sure was into missionary work back then. *

I really did intend to not write any more tour blog after the west coast jaunt, but I  missed writing and more importantly having a reason to write. Since I could find no convincing argument that my daily life was of any interest I hope you’ll continue to indulge me as it appears the year has thrown us a few more opportunities for adventure.

We only played one show since we got back and it was at the inaugural Bunburry Fest in Cincinnati. I tell you what, I was shocked (shocked I tell you) at how exhausted we all were when we got home. Even after a week I still felt tired, and every time we’d run into each other everyone said the same thing. I swear I felt fine at the end of the tour, but obviously it’s a much more taxing endeavor than we realized. Chuck said he’d been depressed a bunch and my moods were all over the place, though mostly south of suck. Oh well, if we ever do that again I’ll know that particular transition is a prickly thing.

Anyway, back to Bunbury. It was a three day, mostly rock festival down on the Ohio River. And in the interest of full disclosure I will say that the founder of the festival is the drummer in my band Messerly and Ewing. However I wouldn’t view the nice things I’m about to say as suspect, because if it had blown I just wouldn’t say anything about it at all. It’s amazing to me that a guy could decide to just up and start a festival and then go right ahead and do it.  Obviously I hoped it would go well and lots of people would show up, but the cool thing was how pro everything was. I mean we had our own dressing room, they’d send golf carts to get you, we got meal tickets for the artist/crew dining tent. I’m sure that’s typical festival shit, but a treat for us. And every band got the same treatment too. We were on the same stage as GBV so their dressing room was next to ours. It was cool to get to hang and chat with some of them. Of course right before we were to set-up a huge storm blew through and the grounds had to be evacuated. After it was over and with the inevitable squeegying of the stage, of course the schedule was completely off. We were told our set needed to be cut short so we set-up as quickly as possible and got most of it in. It was hot as fuck out but we played to a good-sized crowd facing us on a steeply rising terraced cement wall with the river at our back.

I spent two days at the festival and came away with the nagging feeling that too many rock bands these days are kind of boring. Take Gaslight Anthem for example. They seem like nice guys and do all the right rock things on stage. When their set started it was great, but after awhile it was like they’d played the same song 14 times. Where’s the dynamics, the sense of a journey being taken together? The most fun I had at the whole thing was at two DJ sets. Dan Deacon and RJD2. Everyone was dancing and smiling, there was a sense of community, the music was varied and had hooks. (I fucking hated Neon Trees - a particularly nasty combination of contrived and cynical. Like an alt-rock Eagles) A rock show is a weird thing. It’s a conscious combination of spontaneous and contrived. A band might want it to be all about the art but if you step on a stage you are tacitly indicating that you intend to be entertaining. On the other hand rock was meant to destroy the old show biz bullshit and it’s great when you feel like a band is taking chances and might fall on their asses. Which brings me to two big ticket shows I went to in the last few weeks. I usually only see bands in bars so this was an unusual concentration of shows with beer in plastic cups. The first was Iron Maiden with Alice Cooper. Speaking of 10th grade, when I was in high school metal was pretty much all we listened to. (well and classic rock - it was northern Ohio after all) I saw Maiden three times, Dio twice, the Scorpions, and a bunch of lesser lights. The cool thing is my son is now way into Iron Maiden and so this was a big deal that they were coming reasonably close. I’m no fan of Alice Cooper but the show was all theater and pretty fun. I had a blast at Maiden. I think it’s been since high school since I saw a show with explosions, leering skeletons and extended twin guitar breaks. The band was having a blast you could tell, and I jumped up and down and danced like an idiot. My boys loved it and I got them a full-sized flag of Eddie as the Trooper. A few weeks later I went to see Wilco. I’ve seen them a ton of times but not for an album or two. The first half of the show was very pleasant, but I don’t know, too much of their stuff lately is beginning to approach indie easy listening and there was just no fire. Then they played a few songs off of Summerteeth, and by dint of playing some songs with actual emotional heft or maybe just being rock songs, the crowd woke up and then so did the band. From then on they acted like being there mattered (get it?) and by the end I was singing and dancing like a fanboy again. Well sort of, the post-Bennett years are kind of hit or miss. Damn, what an amazing bunch of musicians though, Glen Kotche, Nels Cline, and John Stirratt are so freaking good at their jobs.

So after thinking about it for the last 30 or so years, and in particular the last few weeks I think the things I want most out of a rock show is the feeling that the band realizes it’s the greatest job on earth to be up onstage playing, especially when you’re lucky enough to have people there who give a shit about your music. I want to feel like the band is trying to take us somewhere and not just promoting a record. Rock, even poignant or pissed off, is ultimately joyful, communal, cathartic, and fun. Writing songs with hooks, dynamics, and decent lyrics helps too.

*I have no idea if that’s true although it wouldn’t surprise me. Anyway, I wouldn’t want to fuck War Games Ally – too young. Nor Breakfast Club Ally – too much drama. No I’d want Short Circuit Ally – so vulnerable, needy, and caring. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pizza King in Grand Junction (Epic Version)

Pizza King in Grand Junction, CO

Another video I completely forgot was on my Flip. I gave my camera to very nice gentleman from another band and asked to film Pizza King, because we had ambitions for this performance. Stupid ambitions but ambitions nonetheless. The night and stage lent itself to indulgence so we decided to try and stretch four songs into a half hour set. Our goal was go  to all Yo La Tengo on P.K. but on reflection it's closer to a drunken Sonic Youth. Regardless, we got offstage feeling like we'd played at least a 20 minute version. When we checked the tape it was around eight minutes. We'd managed to add about two minutes on to our usual performance. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Maglite in Seattle

Maglite in Seattle

Just remembered I had this video on my Flip from the Seattle show. Watch John go get a beer. Very exciting.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Denouement (In Which We Come To An Enchanted Place and We Leave Them There)


This is the last post for awhile. I’ve got one more in mind, which was supposed to be part of this one, but it’s just not going to happen for a while. I’d like to compile how many miles we traveled, how much spent on gas etc. General statistics that I’m curious about myself. We already know that we’re going to lose money on the tour, but no one minds much. Obviously, the Wussy model is not built around profits. We can’t go out and lose money forever, but from the bottom of my cranky heart, it was a life-changing event to head out and see all those people who have supported us from afar for so long. I, and in this case I think I can speak for the rest of the band, wouldn’t change a damn thing. Out of all those shows we only played two to single digit crowds. I’ve tried to not be overly sentimental, and often failed, but I swear the thing I remember most is the faces of all these people who seemed genuinely moved that we finally came to their town. It’s kind of overwhelming because we’re just a bunch of broke-ass, socially inept, fuck-ups. (ask anyone in Cincinnati, it’s not a big secret) Every band I know tries really, really hard to make good records. So to find out that what we do means something to people scattered over this enormous land is the fulfillment of a dream.

The other dream that was fulfilled was getting to see the country from the ground up. When I was in high school I read “The Grapes of Wrath” and it changed everything. It was my first grown-up book, (I read tons of grown-up spy novels. In particular I loved the Alistair MacClean books. So good, but this was different.) I read everything he wrote, coming across, “Travels With Charley” eventually. From that point on I dreamed (for about a quarter of a century) of travelling across the country. Wussy has given me so much, put checkmarks next to so many of my musical dreams, but it’s also not the easiest band to be in. We’ve broken up innumerable times for instance, so in the end I never make any assumptions about our future. I said in an interview once that we’ve made every album as if it might be our last and it’s true. So to get to go on a real tour and see the country, well that’s a big damn deal in my world. When we go east in a few weeks I’ll have gotten to dip my toes in both oceans in one summer. Oh, and this country is breathtaking. I was never bored even after all those hours in the van. People kept telling us that the next stretch was going to be boring but it never was. (Except west Texas. If it wasn’t for Austin I’d say we give the whole damn state back to Mexico. I can already imagine the Austin Airlift. “Forget the food and razors – just send more bikes, pot, and ironic t-shirts. We’re dying here.)

I’d like to thank the band for letting me write the blog. Once they saw what I was trying to do they pretty much let me write and gave me a pass on a lot of the driving. Also, I feel I need to make clear that the opinions in this blog were entirely mine. Not everyone felt the way I did about specific gigs or some of the events I wrote about. No one censored me or tried to butt in in any way (Said Mel Tillis). I really appreciate the chance to do this because it was a blast. And hopefully it will help us remember the damn the tour because Twangfest already seems like a lifetime ago.

I’m proud of how the band handled things. At at (“Empire” really is the best one) least one point pretty much everyone in the band lost their shit (except John) and screamed at someone else in the band (or inanimate objects/strangers). But in actuality we got along really well, had ridiculous amounts of fun, and played a bunch of shows that felt like maybe they were among our best. I set some musical goals for myself, and it was neat to get to play night after night and get to really work on them. It was equally cool to just feel the band rise and fall but ultimately get tighter (in the musical, not alcoholic sense) throughout the tour.

Every single day someone showed us an act of kindness. From bands giving us their door money because we’re on tour, to people helping us out with hotel rooms, to just little interactions with strangers that helped us find food, or a bathroom, or the lost tablets of Hammurabi. Proving once again the axiom, “America! Collectively we suck but individually on good days we’re OK! “ Yay!

When I got home I saw that my kids had taped together about 30 sheets of paper to make me a welcome home banner, and then my neighbors threw me a cookout. After the excitement of the first day home I woke up and could not get out of bed. An exhaustion like I’ve never known filled my limbs with lead. I didn’t feel this tired while we were out there, but man, even after four days I felt like I’d been worked over with a sock-full of nickels. Turns out it’s a tiring business.

Once again, I super enjoyed sharing this experience with you. I haven’t decided if I’ll write for the east coast dates. I’m leaning against it though because we’ve hit most of those towns many times, and although there will be adventures, there’s a reason Foreigner didn’t write, “Feels like the 5th time.”

Hope to see you out there. We’re eternally grateful that you give a shit.


Unseen Kennedy Ass. Footage

Unseen Kennedy ass.footage

41 seconds (Amadou Diallo - coincidence?) of footage unseen before this very moment (because it was on my iPhone) covering the short distance from the book depository to the grassy knoll, across the street to Dealey Plaza, and ending up at the building where the homeless man said Ruby shot whatshisname. Not sure about that part. Anyway draw your own conclusions....

F*#k Da Po

Don't you just hate it when you're so angry that you just have to express yourself to the world and you run out of paint? And then some mis-spelling bourgeoisie douche bag with plenty of beautiful clear flowing paint has to come along and be all ironically snarky? Some days it's hardly worth it I tell ya. From outside the club in Seattle.

D. Martin

Piece of art hanging on the wall of Stickyz RocknRoll Chicken Shack. One of the owners is a pretty great artist and has filled the walls with their pieces.

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants

A quick video I took while Wussy was communing with the Redwoods. A deep, very cool place to be. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mechanical Squid and Death House

Mechanical Squid and Death House

Doing this blog has taught me so many things that everyone else can do. For instance this is the first video I've ever posted to YouTube. I know, I'm proud too. This is from that wicked cool store in Burbank called Hyaena. The Mechanical Squid is pretty self-explanatory, the Death House was created by the props guy from 6 Feet Under who also works on Robot Chicken.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No One Cares How Louisville is pronounced


Quotes: For this last round of quotes I’m putting down the things that were said in the van every day and more likely every hour. They’re not funny by themselves and probably only became funny to us by dint of their ridiculousness. Still, when things were getting tense one of these would be bound to make someone laugh,

“My eye”

“Bark” (It’s a thing, or rather a substance)

“Just the tip”

“I lead a normal life”

“Daddy’s gonna shut you down” (Just add any pejorative before this and sing it to the melody of whatever surf song that is)

Fauna: Remember when I saw stuff? Good times. Even if I didn’t see the damn roadrunner.

I’ve gotten a few days behind on the blog because wrapping up this leg of the tour has been kind of chaotic. For instance, we rented our van from a company in Nashville, and rather than get home, clean it out, and then drive it back to Nashville it was decided we would drop it off now, rent a car, load most of our gear into the Sundresses van and divide up the band between the two vehicles. The contract with the van people gave us 6,000 miles at no additional charge but we had exceeded that somewhere in Arizona. It turned out to actually be cheaper to rent a one-way car than keep adding up miles on the van. Oh sweet Enrique,* you have been so good to us, we will miss you with the ardor of  a Spaniard for the Virgin Mary. So a renting, cleaning, and transferring we went. But wait! There’s more! Chuck and Lisa also needed to be in Louisville at 3:00 for a radio thing. Because we’re idiots we assumed the GPS/Maps machine would take into account the time change and ended up leaving later than we should have. Two accidents and some road construction later and we were grinding our teeth stressed, wondering if we were going to make it. Being late for radio sucks because those places tend to keep to a pretty tight schedule, and often they’re announcing over the air that you’re going to be playing at a certain time. As we were driving we kept calling different numbers at the station but couldn’t get hold of anyone. When we finally rolled up to the station (right near the beautiful Palace Theater where I saw Tom Waits) we knocked on the door and no one was there. I’m sure someone was in there somewhere but the place looked pretty damn dark. Still don’t know if they gave up and left or our performance slipped through their scheduling cracks. I guess things work out the way they’re supposed to.

Then off to the club, which was called Zazoo’s I think, eat some dinner and watch most of the band have heartfelt, nauseating reunions with their loved ones. Bastards. We all went to our corners and reconvened onstage. There really was a different feeling to this show. Celebratory yes, but the thought that kept going through my head as we played was that it felt like high school graduation. You know where everyone is in a good mood and you’re giving hugs to everyone (the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal) saying you’ll keep in touch? There was that feeling of a journey collectively experienced and survived and that somehow this show was earned. (did you see LeBron wearing that “Earned Not Given” shirt after the Heat won the championship? God, he’s such an asshat) It was a great show, nice crowd full of strangers and familiar faces. Lots of silly milling around the parking lot afterwards, trying to make sure all the gear and suitcases made it into the right vehicle. Got home at five in the morning, more tired than Jesus after pushing that big damn rock out of the way.


Tomorrow is something else

*Enrique is the name of any and all Wussy vans.

Monday, July 2, 2012

There Isn't Nothing Wrong With Nashville


“Paw Paw eaters are dumbasses.” - Chuck

“It’s like playing in someone’s bladder.” Chuck (see below)

After playing Little Rock we decided to drive to Memphis to get a jump on the drive to Nashville. We were scheduled to play Grimey’s record store in the afternoon and it made sense to drive off the post-show hyperness. Then we could maybe sleep in a little the next day too. The downside is not getting to bed until after four a.m. That’s another one of those differences you have to deal with in a band. Staying up until four screws me up for a day or two. Getting up early does the same for some of the others. Either way, we pulled into the back lot of Grimey’s only kind of late, got out of the van into the hottest day in Nashville history(109 degrees), stared up at the two flights of metal stairs we were going to have to carry all our gear, and respectively sighed (“sigh”), grumbled (“Jesus Christ”), swore (“motherfuck”), wept just a little (“mommy”), and experienced a harsh hypnopompic state (“kittens?”). We climbed the gallows with at best a piss poor attitude and were once again proven wrong. Grimey’s it turns out is one of the best independent record stores left. Tons of vinyl, great vibe, good beer for the band, (PBR for the customers. Suckers!) and as I’m pissing (in the bathroom – I’m not a savage) I started looking at all the posters on the wall and began to realize that pretty much every cool band has played either the record store or the stage downstairs (called The Basement). For the love of God Metallica recorded a live record there a few years ago. So when Rene’ said we were lucky to get to play there she wasn’t just full of shit. Who knew? So we loaded all our crap up the stairs, felt rivulets of sweat gently tickle places untouched since kitchen sink sponge baths and set up. There was a nice crowd waiting for us and I said in a way that was not intended to be a legally binding jinx, “There will probably be more people here than at the show tonight.” It was really cramped so I was right up against Lisa’s amp, firmly taking another huge leap towards lip reading and ASL. Had fun, checked into a hotel with signed pictures of Lorrie Morgan (Don, Thanks for everything you do!!) on the wall and went off to find the club.

We came around the corner of a rather shack-like rambling affair into a lunar parking lot. (an inch of dust sprinkled liberally with rocks -  like shit sprinkles on a piss cream cone) We found ourselves gazing at a patio encased with chain link fence and three battle-scarred tables, a few bikes and random shit lying around. There were three men at one of them. The only intelligible words from these men were firmly entrenched in the lexicon of lechery. I’m still deciding whether to print the worst, but most were mercifully slurred.* We were told we could load our gear onto the patio and that, “no one would fuck with it there.” Jeremy from the Sundresses said he’d do that after the men on the patio were done doing blow but I’m going to go to my grave assuming he was kidding. (It’s for the best really) We decided to leave our gear locked in the van and go get dinner at an Indian place, where I ate yellow Malai Kofta with deep-fried vegetable balls. When we got back I was forcefully reminded how much I hate clubs that allow smoking. The amazing thing is that this was our first and last one on the entire tour. Wasn’t that long ago I associated rock shows with stinking clothes and scratchy throats.

You may have noticed I haven’t printed the name of the club and I wont. Because this was a place where not only hope went to die, but if it wandered in, blissful in its naivete, someone would break a bottle and jam the broken end with a twisting motion into its throat. The room we played in was almost pitch dark and you could still see the dirt. Three fans showed up, two sitting erect at the bar trying to look inconspicuous and one who stood in front and danced. They had two mics and no monitors and wouldn’t allow us to sell merch. It was the only night of the whole tour where we made 0 dollars. (breaking Spokane’s record of $25) That said we played a pretty good show, feeling once again like a band that can handle the occasional dive bar. Hell, we didn’t play Rawhide once.

For the record, I love Nashville. 

Tomorrow is the last show. Louisville bound.

*I didn’t actually hear the quote so I called John who had, and because he said it had been burned into his brain. As he was recounting it I was groaning with the horror and John said, “Oh yeah, I was just standing there thinking my God, I’m next to a grubworm.” Anyway, without further ado.

“My lower abdomen is too soft for a girl to sit on. So I like to come at her from behind like a hummingbird. Like a rectal hummingbird if you know what I mean.”
Man opposite
“Rectal Hummingbirds? That’d be a good name for a band. (No it wouldn’t. Besides, I think Wilco already owns it)

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Thong #2

Observed on the floor of the women's bathroom at Stickyz. (I know, awesome right?) Rene' took the picture and said it was bloody, but I choose to think it was an optical illusion. This one was removed by an obviously dismayed employee via a paper towel.

Thong #1

Found in the pull out couch of the Hyatt in Palm Springs. It became the "Tour Thong."

A Light Night Sculpture

I'm a Little Country - He's a Little Rock


“Rene must have decided to drop the kids off at the pool.” - Chuck after Rene had been gone awhile at a pit stop

“When you sleep on a bus you have to make sure your feet are facing forward or you could snap your neck if the bus brakes hard.” The Connells to Chuck back in the day.

“I love the smell of my hat” Me, when I was covering my face in mortification.
“Smells like a Halloween mask” Chuck (both sung Broadway style)

“Is he driving the bus when you get one?” - Maestro mocking Joe when we ran into a little confusion parking the van at the club

“Snap Snappy!” - Turtle (one of the Gator Boys on a very late night reality show featuring idiots who run an animal removal company I guess) He was explaining why he prefers to use his hands when capturing skunks as opposed to the more conventional humane traps. (they’re undependable and they break) They also took a bath in bleach water and got a cow out of a hole using a backhoe.

Fauna: Not a damn thing

Our next show was to be in Little Rock. Lisa played a selection of Texas songs as we drove north from Dallas. Joe sang a lovely version of Texarkana by REM, (20,000 miles to an oasis) which upon reflection seems to have been a non-fiction account, as we drove on through to the Arkansas border. And just like that our time in Texas was done.

This show had a little extra weight attached to it. Little Rock was the site of the only time Wussy ever left the stage in anger and protest. After a whopping two songs last March. Not a good night, so we were hoping to make up for that and get right with Little Rock.  We were playing Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack and as we pulled in to the back parking lot an energetic middle-aged man was waiting there for us. He immediately began giving Joe directions as to where he should park. For the next five minutes a comedy of miscommunication and errors resulted in the man now known as Maestro declaiming, “You gonna let him drive the bus when you get one? “ (Joe’s an excellent driver btw.)

Almost all of our memories of this evening are tied up with Maestro. I feel inadequate to express the force of nature that was his energy and personality. I’m just going to start by bringing up the cliché of how anyone doing pretty much any work really really well is indistinguishable from art. Now I used to do live sound for my job when I was younger. I started out in bars and after I realized it sucked I moved to corporate type gigs. For instance I used to do a lot of management seminars by the Seven Habits guy and that other one, you know the One Minute to Manage To Move Your Cheese guy. Anyway, in the corporate sounds gigs it was always quite obvious that the person on stage was our client. In rock clubs most of the time if there is any perceived client at all it is usually the club, not the band. Rock sound people have a reputation for being churlish and I understand why. When I was doing sound I would try to be pleasant and I realized that a lot of bands looked at that with suspicion. As if being chipper somehow meant you were weak or trying to cover up inadequacies in your sound skills. Plus, bands are a pain in the ass, this one included. Deal with three or four bands a night and after awhile you just want them to turn their damn amps down, (they wont) get on and off stage with some alacrity, (maybe) and stop expecting miracles from the monitors. Add in the fact that most bands suck, think they don’t and use their gig nights to regress back to 9th grade then I get the surliness. Now Maestro (that’s what he goes by) is a veteran of several decades in the trenches, came from Cleveland and broke into the business up there. Stickyz is a great club with pro sound and good lighting. They get national acts and have their shit together. Everyone was nice without being overly friendly. (except the bartender who wouldn’t serve me – damn douche lick) Like I said about the previous night, it’s easy to be good when everything is going well. So we had no excuse and we played a really good show I think. But Maestro was among the best I’ve ever seen. Yeah he was good with mixing; he’s supposed to be and he was. We had absolutely anything we wanted in the monitors. But he also told hilarious stories with lots of swearing, drank Jagermeister while swearing he wasn’t a drunk, and in general acted like a character. At all times he made it clear that we were his main priority and without being obsequious made sure we were in the best place and position to play a good show. And this was after he had worked for nine nights straight. (“eh, it’s what I do.”) How did he do this? Little things like saying, “ You just sit there and we’ll sound check after you eat. I don’t want us to get started and have your food come and then you got to eat cold food.” Or just observing Lisa’s body language and two songs in saying over the monitors, “Are you sure you have enough vocals in the monitors?” Running up to the stage to make sure I was good after I asked for more bass but forgot to give the OK sign. We were in a good mood, comfortable and confident it was going to be a good show. That’s what this overlong paragraph comes down to. It was a pleasure to watch a master at work.

And for the only two funny things I can recall Maestro saying. (they came so fast and furious I couldn’t keep up) He walked by us as we were eating and says dumping a bag of Skittles in his mouth, “This is what they give a black man to eat in Arkansas.” (He sat down to a full meal a few minutes later) He told a five minute story about the bass player from the Stray Cats. It went something like this: “ Well now you remember that dude had that big bass with the cat on it? The one he would stand on? Well it’s got gold all around at the edge on the top too, and you know what? That bass flies to every show. Hell yes, we had to go to the airport and pick it up. It got here before he did. Well I put it up onstage and placed bouncers around it because everyone wanted to open the case and look at it. No way was I gonna let that bass get fucked up. Anyway, when the guy finally gets here I figure I’ll play a little Brian Seltzer (that's how he said it) Orchestra to be nice and some guy comes running up telling me to turn that shit off because the bass guy was turning green he was so pissed. Turns out he’s not really happy with getting left behind for the orchestra shit. Anyway, I was like Maestro you fucked up now. I knew I was gonna have to be on point mixing that night. So when he got onstage I was all like see how good it is? And after awhile he was all right. ‘Course then we had to take that damn bass back to the airport the next day.” There are more stories and if they occur to me in coherent form I’ll post them.

Anyway, it was hot as fuck, as apparently was the rest of the country, but I went on my walkabout as per usual. I’m very aware that I’ve been judging towns on merely a tiny slice, but who cares, it’s just a blog. So the slice of Little Rock I saw was great. Nice, neat little town. I came across a miniature White House that was the original some fucking important thing that I can’t remember because it’s been a long tour and I drink, but regardless it was cool.  I walked back to the club along a wonderful river walk trail that now makes every city but Cincinnati one that realizes what a resource a major river is and dedicates it to the citizens, as opposed to the pathetic local major sports franchises. Along the river behind the convention center was an amazing sculpture garden. In the way that one does not get enough fresh fruit and vegetables on tour there is a similar lack of edifying art. I’m not going to get into it, let’s just say I felt a lightening of my spirit to walk at twilight in view of the Arkansas River, by myself looking at some wicked cool sculpture. (I’ll include a picture so you don’t think I’ve gone soft) After that I came across the Little Rock equivalent of the Purple People Bridge. (a bridge converted for pedestrian use over a major river) Even though I was sweating bullets in my wicked cool skinny jeans ironic moustache rock star duds I went out to the middle of the river, and found out where Little Rock puts its homeless people. They were all there, but it was a wonderful, slightly homesick view as the Arkansas bares more than a passing resemblance to the Ohio. (According to Joe this because they’re both RIVERS – to which I replied with the weight and gravity of Churchill addressing the British population after a particularly brutal blitz, “Oh fuck off.”)

I guess that’s it. The opening band, other than the egregious foul of wearing flip-flops onstage, was the first band of the tour that I sat and listened to the whole set. They were called Swampbird and played Drive By Truckers style alt. country in a way that few do well any more. Good guys too.

It’s funny how life works. In the small unimportant world of a small unimportant Midwestern rock band, this night was exactly what we needed to revive ourselves  after our collapse in Dallas.

Tomorrow is Nashville.