tour blog continued...
Groove Stain from Atlanta called and invited us to the recording studio where they work round the clock on their latest reggae funk ska fusion opus. Mike the bass player went to Full Sail University, so he engineers the sound.
We met their manager Russ who offered to add us to the bill at Backstage Lounge in the Rosen Plaza Hotel, alongside Illegal Beats, Ovni Sound System, and Groove Stain. He's a presale pyramid builder, with lower level bands doing the ground work.
On the way to the show we had a tire blow out. Nothing like honing the pit crew skills when it counts. Of course, we're from North Carolina, so we still made it to the show on time.
Our room in the hotel was majorly appreciated. Groove Stain had just vacated it, leaving only damp towels and a staggering smell. We called Pat in his hotel room in LA and watched Varsity Blues together via speakerphone and ordered pizza.
We brought the extra helium to the show, pressurized tanks rolling around the floor boards. We put them on stage and sucked helium and sang the Beatles in chipmunk voices. Fall On Purpose played a full set, and we got to meet the horn section.
Steve came to see us and talk about Jacksonville NC, a strong contender for the title of Armpit of the South. On the way back to Christine's to watch Freaks we noticed that we had picked up Curtis the train hopping bass box percussovocalist from FOP.
To give you an idea of what Curtis is like, his performance at Entersection transformed a God-fearing conservative couple into bisexual dope fiends for an evening. And he never stops. When we were all sleeping on the floor, he snored the loudest.
The next morning we cleaned up the wreckage as Christine made us eggs and biscuits, and dropped Curtis in St. Petersburg on the way North. The silence was majestic.
The sound guy Chris taught me to cut the low end on my bass to reduce the muddy confuzzled sound of those frequencies echoing inside a converted fire station that has enormous beer brewing tanks along the wall.
Fall On Purpose showed up and played on our set break and got everyone bouncing, either dancing or leaving. Curtis kept saying "Like an African," which made the middle aged white audience nervous.
The next day we released balloons with Tony and Jen in memory of their son TJ. We ran out of helium halfway through, so we got 2 more tanks. Then we watched a high school video of TJ conducting witch trials.
The city is surrounded by burial mounds, geometrically precise pyramids of garbage grown over with swamp grass except for the open sore where machine driven belts continually pile on the filth. Black birds circle like Magpies overhead.
On Key Biscayne there is a photo shoot every day, even when it's cloudy. We ate Cuban sandwiches and drank El Presidente amidst flocks of models from far away countries. Further down the beach the pornographers waited for the sun like iguanas.
We played Churchill's Pub with the Kidney Stones. The shepherd's pie was good. Then we shot some video of us running down the 24 floor neon lit glassed in fire escape, crashing through the emergency exit doors onto the roof of the parking deck.
The Wormhole has low ceilings. It's situated in the "dirty thirties" district, where the crack dealers will burn you if you're stupid enough to ask for weed. Inside is a kaleidoscope of original art and memorabilia, the brain towering over the self, the Starship Enterprise. Ed Wood's bizzare masterpiece Plan 9 From Outer Space flickered on the projector.
Will tried to play Trevor's guitar upside down, but failed, and the guy that failed with the crack dealer tried to do stand up comedy. Strike two. Later in the evening he failed with the prostitutes as well. Luckily Jeff was there to tell some good jokes like "My sister said it was just a rope swing," and Adrian was there to be outraged on our behalf and buy us drinks. Thank you Adrian.
Columbia South Carolina
We lost the navigator wheel off the Tascam recorder so now we have to control it with tweezers. It took so long to set up that the batteries died before we could record anything. Why no AC power? We lost that, too.
The first band, Deleveled, had a grungy pop sound with guitar riffs that could stop bullets, and a mandolin player with a beautiful voice. It was Sun Dried Vibes CD release party at the New Brookland Tavern, a gritty rock club with pedigree, by which I mean band stickers and graffiti arguments on the walls, die hard regulars, and the bare minimum in plumbing facilities.
We met a guy named Scotty who explained his philosophy of dance if you want to, but always have a good time. He was the only guy to brave the dance floor, and he got to practice his mantra when a woman, at least a foot taller than he was, picked him up off the floor, said "I've always wanted to do this," and kissed him. He replied, "I've always wanted to do this," and started kicking his legs like a toddler.
Asheville North Carolina
The convention center where we worked the Big Boss table with Johnny looks from the outside as if it has partially collapsed. Concrete pillars stand naked above massive piles of unmortared stone, like mountain cedars struggling against a rock slide. People kept coming back for the Big Operator, a Belgian black ale aged with raspberries. It tastes like a forbidden dessert in a Tim Burton movie that causes people to float up off the ground, and those who drink too much never come down.
At Fred's Speakeasy they have a drink called the Pickle Pucker. It's chilled Crown Royal chased with a shot of pickle brine. It has no alcohol taste at all. The bar next door, Arcade, had tons of old games like Centipede, Dig Dug, and Street Fighter II. And get this, the pickle juice trick works with any kind of liquor. Back at the hotel, we caught up with some Foothills reps and got a bit noisy, until Richard the hotel detective came and told us to be quiet. Then we took the party out to the van, sat on top of the Big Boss kegs, and sang freestyle reggae over top of Barrington Levy.
The haunted St. Oliver Hotel has closed its doors. All the spooky old wardrobes, smoky mirrors in baroque frames, and musty law books are gone now, auctioned or sold piecemeal by a team of professional estate liquidation specialists. The people who loved it took what they could carry and what they could afford, and the rest went onto the antique market to be reassembled in a different ghostly vortex at present unknown.
So we stayed with Jess, who has no furniture in her new apartment because of a house fire that took everything, including her roommate. She had a charred CD wallet full of mixes from a different universe, made by a different person that she used to be. We ate frozen pizza on the gleaming hardwood floors and listened to the basement tapes.
At Preservation Pub the Milene Roots tore it up with the vocal harmonies, and Tansey was her usual charming self, informing us all that bleached assholes became the industry standard in 1992. Knoxville is a city that is not afraid to be itself, to build a Women's Basketball Hall of Fame with a giant basketball on top, to name their hockey team the Ice Bears, to graffiti in the alleys asking "Will you go to the prom with me?
Boone North Carolina
The first thing that happened was it started snowing. Boone had record snowfall in 2010, almost like 2007 when they had to airlift supplies in because the roads were impassable. The sound guy had to disassemble the stage to bypass a subwoofer that was bugging out. We stood outside in the winter looking at the town huddled on the edge of the mountain. Air Horse is a homemade jam sandwich with extra sticky, which is what they listen to in Boone. Teddy, the keyboard player, has an upcoming internship in NYC, leaving the band's future in question.
We stayed with John Roberts and his American Bulldog Ripsy in a windy stone fortress with paintings on the walls and even the snowboards, one the Slayer logo, another Madonna and Child. The next morning we ate breakfast with Brian, the Air Horse bass player who looks like punk rock John Lennon. He told us Appalachian State is starting a fermentation program, so that students will be able to major in beer. Finally.
I've started putting my cigarette butts in my pocket. The danger of wildfires is heavily emphasized here. Last night we played the Jambalaya in Arcata. The other band was named NPK for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, the ingredients which are added when it's time to make the weed plants flower. You learn something new every day. The California educational system is not doing so hot. The nursing school is shutting down and it seems the whole college may be no longer accredited. It's a big problem because most of the young people living in Arcata are students, or bums, which are referred to as "street lizards" here.
We ate pizza at Don's Donuts. There was a guy who looked like William H. Macy and told us about his life getting movie studios equipped with the knowledge and software to integrate computer animation into their films. He was also a biker and moved to the hippie scene on Haight Ashbury in the 1960s straight out of high school. And because he was there to be of service and not just to party he got to become friends with people who made that scene happen. His name was John Foreal and he said most people can't hold one thought in their head for a full minute. The mind starts to wander too easily. I've been practicing.
Last night we played at the Central Saloon in Seattle. They had a shrine to Kurt, Jimi, and Layne from Alice In Chains. It was sad. Then we got to watch the grindcore scene get wasted and dance to undanceable speed metal. And then this really nice guy from North Carolina named B@^$&%# let us stay in his room at a hotel for recovering addicts. He works there keeping people in line and his people skills were awesome. He showed us the holes in his arms and legs from massive abscess infections from shooting dirty drugs into his veins. It was brutal. He's been clean for four years. I really hope he makes it.
He told us a fucked up hilarious story about his alcoholic step-dad who moved to Boone with him and helped him plant a bunch of weed. Then the cops came in with a guy dangling from a helicopter spotting patches of weed plants, then some cops came to the door and asked about the weed crops. Stepdad is hammered and leads the cops straight to the nearest field. Well no one is covering the house because they don't know Brandon is there. So he walks out and asks the cops what is going on, and makes his way down the sidewalk and out of there real casually.
We went out to breakfast because the jackhammers woke us up at 9:00, the ATHF menu still cycling. We went down to the fish market and ate breakfast. I had pancakes, eggs, and bacon. The eggs were almost raw. It was delicious. The place was a cross between breakfast and asian seafood. The waitress was asian and said thank you in a highly repetitive way. Then we went to the park and took the forest or the meadow trail from some woman who would not give us a map and had huge cathode ray tube spectacles and a gray mustache.
We played John's Alley and the sound guy used to work for The Melvins. The bartender Perk had patrons throwing their empty glasses to him over the bar. He was really good at catching them, even when Dave threw one kinda short. The first night we didn't have a sound guy at all, so we threw down with our PA and people had an awesome time. We met this guy named Jonathon Treasure and stayed with him for two nights and there was an awesome jam session with this girl who played cello and this guy who played Weezer.
We went to Elk River falls and saw elk and these amazing surging waterfalls gushing over volcanic pentagonal rock formations. It started hailing on us while we hiked back to the van. On the way out we noticed a sign that said the area we had just explored was closed because of dangerous conditions. We started working on a music video of us popping in and out of the trees. We had guns, bananas, books, a giant trout, a flag, and a Japanese mask. We're going to speed up the sequence so it looks like silent movie comedy. We also jumped out of a huge tree and tried to take weightless pictures.
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