Greetings from the road (2002)
After a month and some change, every good thing comes to an end. So, as we prepare to head out on another cluster of dates on our own, we bid a tearful farewell to Lucinda "You're entirely Way Too Fine" Williams and her Love Band as well as "Flappy" (the Boy With the Far Away eyes), Turk, Jeff, Rob, Jennifer and all her extended posse. Weeks of fun and hi jinx culminated in a final night of the tour blow out in Maryland which found three fifth's of the Mission Express on stage with Lucinda stretching out on Joy and Howlin Wolfs' Come to Me Baby. In Portsmouth, VA at the outdoor Ntelos Pavillion, the beach balls were bobbing off the heads of the crowd, Day On the Green style, which prompted Lucinda to comment, "hey, it's a summertime thing".
A summertime thing good time is exactly what we had when we took a little detour to hang with our old partner in crime Andy Taub in New York. Not to say that you haven't lived, but really now, you haven't lived until you've had one of Andy Taub's BB-Q's clams. A good time was had by all at the Taub's digs. And while we were there we got a free tour of Andy's studio (Brooklyn Bridge) in Brooklyn, which is almost up and running and a-fucking-mazing. Kicking it poolside, I got myself strung out on Andy's Tres guitar, which made it all that much harder to say goodbye.—It took a couple of weeks but I picked up my own "Tres" in Tampa for myself and have already squeezed a couple songs out of it.
And as hard as it was to keep up with Lucinda's two tour buses in the "old gray goose", (the bane of my existence, my Dodge 1988 Ram Van w/ 194,000 on the odometer—Billy Joe Shaver took his up to 600,000 so we got a ways to go) we never missed a show, and only let ourselves get carried away once or twice by going over our allotted set time. In spite of the fact that we had many a band meeting where we agreed it would be best to head out directly after we played to get a leg up on the next day's drive and not arrive at our next destination until some 8 in the morning, we never managed to get our asses out of there before Lucinda's second encore, where without fail Stephie and Teenage and Winston could be found perched on the side of the stage hanging on every last note, usually opposite sides, which made it all that more difficult for guitarist/mandolin slinging/de facto road mangler Max Butler's attempts to gather us all up.
There were other highlights along the way, especially hanging out with Linda Thompson in Philadelphia. As we were loading the gear, not sure at first who this beautiful British lassy was, it slowly dawned on us that we were shooting the breeze with the woman who allegedly once hit Richard Thompson over the head with a beer bottle on stage. We chatted away and avoided asking her when we could expect a Richard and Linda reunion. I think we bonded over the our theory that much like Bluegrass, the only thing worse than bad Brazilian music is really good Brazilian music. We also met up with Stephie's college pal Janet Weiss drummer from Sleater Kinney who rounded up the opening show audience attendance in Portland to about twenty (of course, counting ourselves and the bar staff!) An auspicious start to the tour. And somewhere in there I had a birthday where the band promised to take me to the Red Lobster and that never materialized, don't think I'm gonna let them forget about that!
So now we dust ourselves off after having been dumped off on the proverbial side of the road, and make our way back west, there's still a bunch of dates coming up and we still got some tread left on our tires, so come on out and join us. And pray to the road gods that the Dodge doesn't overheat as we make our way though the desert. It's a summertime thing, Speaking of Summertime Things, we have to give a tip of the hat to all the radio stations that have shown the good taste to play the dog shit out of "Summertime Thing" placing it right into the top ten at AAA radio. Also to the folks at New West for having the faith to get our skinny feet in the door. It's a righteous feat worth noting; take a glance at all the other acts in and around the top 20—not an "indie" label among them. Yesterday I learned Summertime Thing climbed to numero uno at KFOG in San Francisco as well as a number of others around the country. Which combined with Winston's choice of T Shirt for the day (SST "Don't Suck Corporate Cock") made me smile. In fact, I nearly fell off my chair when I heard that, and I wasn't even sitting down!! With a little help from sports page fanatic Teenage Rob Douglas those industry rags with their chart positions and tracking data took on a new meaning the last couple of months. (as does almost anything that involves my favorite subject: Me) Seriously, it's almost as interesting as a racing form once you ah.. you know... get into it. Of course, I have no real way of policing any of this radio stuff. At one time, I imagined some kind of elaborate David Mamet grift working it's way in the background. But my paranoia has subsided. This airplay has had a meaningful effect on things, for one, we've noticed an increase in the ratio of shapely young ladies to Men with Beards down in the front, and I certainly don't hear anyone complaining, least of all Stephie! Hope to catch up with ya.