The uncut tour diary (2000)

Hey folks,

 

It's Chuck here. Henning thought it might be a swell idea if I do a tour diary. I thought he'd never ask! Now a warning. I'm no Jack Kerouac, but I'll try to take notes and/or at least pay attention. Didn't someone once say of Kerouacs writing; that's not writing —that's typing!—- (Truth be told, I took notes on a scrap of paper and that scrap of paper is back in Orlando in room 218 at the Best Western I suspect. Now we work from memory.) In any case, this is the year 2000 and it's not enough to go out and play your songs.

 

You've got to document EVERYTHING. I aint no ignorant, antiquated roots rockin', luddite, motherscratching rebel. I'm ready to come out of the woods and try to do my part to keep up with the times. Here goes nothing.

 

Here's the deal: We're flying out to Jacksonville Fla. in the AM to embark on a tour of the Southeast. For obvious reasons the 1999 pre millennial heebie geebie tour came to a close around new years eve of 2000. Around the Prophet household this little jaunt is now officially being referred to as the Chuck Prophet' Funny You Should Ask Tour and occasionally, the How Stephie Got Her Groove Back tour. After trying to ignore North America in the hopes that it might just go away, it seems that now is the time to get out there and see what all the fuss is about. The tour itself is anchored by a date in North Carolina at the 17th annual Black Mountain Music festival near Ashland. Our men at the Mongrel booking put out some feelers for surrounding dates and here we are. Subsequently, the folks at Black Mountain proved themselves to be some shady characters and the deposits never arrived. Neither did an official sight for the festival. Rumors abound—bands are pulling out. With plane tickets purchased in advance and a `show must go on' spirit. We spin the wheel and head out.

So join me now for the first half a dozen or so dates that will take us from Tampa to Pittsburgh and parts in between. Let's hope the experiment works.

DAY 1:

The alarm goes off at "zero dark thirty". That's about 4:00 AM to you civilians. (thanks Vince—I knew that would come in handy someday). Stephie is bustling round the room. I wake up—- stare at the ceiling and go over the details in my head. There's plane tickets, extra guitar strings, toothbrush, cell phone (a loaner— thanks DK), my new improved Ron Sergeant lovingly tweaked out nine string Silvertone guitbox, reading material and more. you get the idea. Taxi is booked for 5:00 AM.

We meet at the airport where our musical director/drummer Paul Revelli pulls up with a truck load of amps and guitars. After unloading the gear, I greet the skycab with a smile and a stack of twenties. I gesture toward the Anvil cases lined up on the curb, using the twenties fanned out as a pointer in the hopes that I can bribe the man to slide us through without subjecting us to the dreaded scales. I don't know if it's my fading charm, the tightening of security, or the size of my tip but the skycab picks Stephie's electric piano about three inches up off the ground and says "Ah, you're gonna have to go inside with this stuff'." Delta Y2K—Damn! We head inside and get in the slow line (always) and by the time we reach the counter we've got about fifteen minutes before our plane takes off. This is when "Teenage" Rob Douglas (the new guy on the bass) show's up. He's got a look in his eye that tells me whatever it was that made him late was "unavoidable" (my favorite excuse in the world—unapproachable.) The road God's are smiling and in the confusion and flurry of activity, the woman behind the Delta counter is unable to deal with putting a couple keyboards and an Ampeg B-15, not to mention two Fender deluxe reverbs and a cymbal case on the scale. We shake out of this one, saving hundreds of dollars in excess baggage fees. Phew!

We board the plane and I pour myself into my seat. 30-A to be exact. I immediately fall into a 7:00 AM nod. I drift in and out of consciousness as Diane Keaton, Lisa Kudrow and Meg Ryan are having a food fight on the video monitor above my head. Ms. Keatons character has flour on her face and without the aid of a head-set it looks like a skit out of the I Love Lucy Show only not as funny at this hour anyway.

Half asleep, I am startled and aroused when I realize there is a woman with copper hair leaning her head on my shoulder. I get spooked for a few seconds before I realize that it's none other than my wife Stephanie Finch. I compliment her on her new hair color and she goes on to tell me about our barber Joe, whom while dyeing Stephies hair has a tendency to open up (editors note: Stephie Finch, a certified freak magnet if there ever was one). Joe shared a story of how he recently had his penis pierced and is breaking up with his psychopath (his words) girlfriend and had to `buy out' his partner in the hair salon and other choice hairdresser/bartender gossip. He used to be my barber too!! I've taken to cutting my own hair these days and washing it once a year, whether it needs it or not, which is why Paul Revelli won't loan me his headphones. I digress....

Somewhere over the midwest, I dig into an incredibly harrowing article that Dan Stuart sent me. WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING by Charles Bowden from HARPER'S MAGAZINE, December 1996. A journalista tour de force from Juarez, Mexico, where photographers expose the violent realities of free trade (their words not mine). Ever wonder what goes on behind the lens in those Mexican "muerto" shots you see in those South American murder tabloid magazines? I do. An astonishing fierce and disturbing article. I'm engaged immediately. So much that within in a few pages I'm drifting off to sleep again. I pause—- rest my eyes and check in with my internal dialogue. wake up—read a little—- ruminate on set list possibilities and repeat the pattern. Next thing I know we're in Jacksonville.

We get in the rental van and head off in search of fresh local seafood, Ybor City/Tampa, and a Motel Six—in that order. We eventually find all three. O'Steens Fish House in St. Augustine stand up and take a bow. A culinary triumph. O'Steens is one of those same menu for 35 years kind of places. The place is packed and from what I gather everyone is having the shrimp. No brainer—I order the shrimp and feel good knowing I've done the right thing.

After checking everyone into the Motel Six outside Tampa at about 11:00 PM (Oh, did I mention that I'm the road manager on this tour— God help us), I stand out on the balcony in the T shirt weather smoking a cigarette, and I begin to form my own fantasies as to why two patrol cars keep circling the hotel perimeter parking lot . Bob Crane? Teenage Prostitutes? Drug dealing Colombians wielding chain saws? ah... Florida.

DAY 2:

Tampa/Ybor City, Florida

We arrive at the festival sight about 1:30 PM. I feel a coffee headache coming on. I go in search of coffee—iced coffee I find. The event is the annual Heatwave festival and everything appears to be heating up around this beautiful little Havana styled town. I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends like the Iguanas, Alejandro Escovedo, the Waco brothers as well as our "homies" from the mission district, Los Mocosas. And perhaps some folks I haven't heard of or have yet to meet. That's right—I'm a people guy and don't forget it.

We load in the gear at our designated venue. They've put up a makeshift stage in a ballroom. The ballroom itself in a beautiful old turn of century building with a horseshoe shaped bar. It makes me nervous. We're playing as a four piece this tour sans Max Butler on guitar, steel and various stringed instruments. I Can't remember the last time we did that. That makes me nervous. The soundman—a dead ringer for Richard "Gentle Giant" Buckner says, "I'm not normally a soundman, I'm a musician but I'm doing this as a favor," Now I'm really nervous.

The festival organizers would like us to go by the radio station and have the entire band play over the air. I figure the band can wait out in the van and I'll go in there and see if there is any way of getting out of it. Maybe I can just grab an acoustic and do it solo. I am immediately charmed by the receptionist; an African American gentleman with a skirt and a slight lisp. When I introduce myself as Chuck Prophet he says, "oh yes! Chuck Prophets we've been espectin' ya'll." For the rest of the tour I insist everyone refer to me in the plural as Chuck Prophets. We mingle down the halls past various Iguanas and such. A band called the Grandsons is playing in one of the control rooms. They sound like Ricky Nelson backed by Sam Samudios' Pharaohs. The sound is surprisingly good and the band is better. We go in and hi-jack another bands equipment in the little studio. The station is not unlike the one where Robert Duvall's character staged his comeback in the Apostle. Sheryl— our lovely host/MC person introduces us and we go live to air. I'm on acoustic, Teenage Rob is on bass and Paul is tucked into a booth behind glass tweaking the house kit. Stephie and I share a Mic. We've got a tight little sound that I can only describe as Lightening Gordfoot. I call out Apology and Rise. Sheryl wants another and I request a saxophone as I saw Derek from the Iguanas in the hall carrying one. We start Diamond Jim and somewhere in the second verse the door flies open and a man with a saxophone and a pompadour races through the door. It's our boy Derek. By the time we get to the bridge I wink and then I nod and he wails accordingly.

Later that night we play the gig. It's packed and sweaty with 300 - 400 swamp beasts in attendance. Halfway through the first song I am drenched in sweat. We have a few new songs in the set tonight. Queen Bee has been dusted off so I can get my moneys worth out of my new nine string guitar. Stephie takes an awesome swirling farfisa solo. We sing another verse and I nod at her to take another solo. It's too good. We take a stab at a go go Market staple, Dead. I couldn't resist hi-jacking the song for the new four piece Booker T configured line up. I don't know if it was sleep deprivation, the humidity or what but I end up on my back crying into the microphone as the band vamps and fades on one chord. Nothing like a good cry. Stephie straps on a guitar for a mouth to mouth duet on Tune Of An Evening. Grown men are in tears or sweating from their eyeballs. A woman comes up to me and says, "Can Stephie sing one by herself?" Some things never change. We're being called back out for an encore, and I suggest Twelve Red Roses. I ask what the crowd wants and tell them that Stephie said backstage, "We've already given those rednecks more than they deserve." Why do people assume she is the sweet one and I'm the bad one? What can you do? We encore and somehow before it'll all said and done we've played over an hour and a half. Tonight we popped the cherry on the four piece and there's no turning back. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

We head out into the night in search of the outdoor stage where Alejandro and his Orchestra are "line checking." He's got our old friend and number one Chuck Prophet Austin, Texas sub., Cornbread on bass. Cornbread is walking the front of house sound man through their needs over his microphone. "more vocal in the monitor—less bass." Al stoically stands back in the shadows of the stage. Slick. I'm reminded of a Dylan story I heard where he sends his manager down to tell the soundman, "Ah, Bob don't like it when you say, "testing —one—two". Huh? They kick off. Now Al's digging into a new song called Everybody Loves Me(?) I certainly love him when he sings the blues. Hey Joe meets Stravinsky. The three T's are in full effect. Tone, Tuning and Time. Al's inner clock is amazing. They slow way way down. You could drive trucks between the downbeats. He comes off like the missing link between Willi Deville and Duke Ellington minus the drugs. As well as he should. Cornbread barnacles his voice onto Alejandro and the effect is beautiful. Alejandro spills out a rap/story as the band vamps on Iggys' I Wanna Be Your Dog. In the story, Iggy Pop meets Bertold Bartolk in a bar and they drink gin, fall in love and dance to every song in Chuck Prophets set. Afterwards they kiss and dance by candle light and the scent of aroma therapy to every Hank Williams song on the juke box. I don't remember this story but it might be true. He wouldn't just make that up would he?

Alejandro goes out of his way to thank the people who do the sound. I make a mental note to adopt this practice. With no soundman on the payroll, we're at the mercy of the house sound guy and we'll need all the help we can get.

After Al, it's the Iguanas. I make myself comfortable on the steps at the side of the stage with a lemonade. They give me a warning and suggest I go get my guitar. What follows is a greasy set that has a good thousand people on their feet shaking it. My old Green On Red roommate/bassman Rene' is stalking the stage—pale—in a tight yellow baby T. More than one person comments that he looks like my evil twin. They call me up to sit in for a few songs. The music falls into a tough fat groove. I'm playing rhythm and filling with all my best taco rock licks. All three of them! They're called back for an encore and invite various Grandsons and Teenage Rob up, ensuing in a full blown musical clusterfuck. And I'm digging it. The humidity is murder. Miraculously, the crowd shows no sign of wilting.

Later, Teenage and I literally bump into Rene' in the halls of the Holiday Inn. Rene' baits me on the possibility of producing the Iguanas. The juices are flowing. We make plans to get together in New Orleans in the Fall.

Day 3 Orlando

Checking out of the Ho', I run into Jon Langford. He and the various Wacos are heading out for a day at the beach. I suggest he put on some sun screen. Teabags and the beach. A lethal combination if there ever was one.

I step outside to have a smoke when this gentleman walks up to me and asks me where I'm going.

I say, "Orlando."

He asks, "Orlando?"

I say, "Yep"

He asks, "Where are you going first?"

I say, "Our first stop was Tampa"

He asks, "You mean Ybor City?"

I say, "Yeah, whatever"

He asks, "where are you going after that?"

I say, "We're going to Orlando"

He says, "Orlando?"

I say, "Yep."

He says, "well, where are you going after THAT?"

I say, "ah.. lemme think, ah... Pittsburgh or something like that."

Nothing.

The poor guy is getting visibly upset. He looks like he's about to cry. I decide to move along and when I grind my cigarette out at the curb I realize that I'm standing in front of the Holiday Inn shuttle bus. It quickly occurs to me that standing there in my blue waist length gas station attendant jacket, it wouldn't be hard for someone to confuse me with the driver. What do they say about assume. Ass before me and you—something like that?

We're heading to Orlando—we stop for gas and milk in Gainesville. I catch a Borders in the rear view. We can't turn away from the international news-stand and perhaps an expensive sandwich and a cappuccino. Borders books. Harry Crews catches my eye. He's staring back at me from the shelf off the cover of his new book. He's a professor of lit at the U of F at Gainesville. He looks every bit as sinister as you might imagine. Who is Harry Crews you ask? Go out and get the novel Feast of Snakes and if you don't like it I'll buy it off ya. That's a Chuck Prophet money back guarantee!!

Gig tonight in Orlando at the Sapphire Room with Alejandro. While cruising the drag, I notice a sign outside a music store that says, "LESS E BAY—MORE MEL BAY. I smile to myself. We find the gig. Two shirtless freaks invite us in. If they were scrambled I'd think it was an episode of Cops. They've got some gear set up on the stage and are running down songs, while what I assume is one of their kids, a spiky haired eight year old kid spins around the room stopping here and there to write "ScOoBy" in magic marker on whatever strikes his fancy. One of the guys has an ugly scar that looks like a badly removed tattoo. With some time to kill we head over to the Mexican place for chips, salsa and cold ones and speculate as to what the tattoo may have been. I hear a very familiar voice. It's the Red House Painters with Stephie Finch singing harmony over the house system. I thought I was at the Hotel Utah for second.

Back to the club where I retire backstage to chisel out a one hour set list with assistance from musical director and drum master Paul Revelli.

"Ladies and gentleman's..." The Sapphire is a great gig. Even the soundcheck was painless. I was uncharacteristically at a loss for words for the sound man. It sounded mighty good without any tweaking. The stage sound, the stage volume, the monitors, the works. The sound doesn't change too much when the room fills up with people and I get lost in the chords and sounds and even all nine strings of my new guitar. Tune Of an Evening puts the hurt on me. Pulling that song off the shelf was the best idea I've had in ages. Even though that was a couple years ago now. I think I finally got it right. I begin to introduce Max Butler on the pedal steel out of habit, when I realize he's not with us. How can one review his own gig? There's no way to put into words what goes through my head up there. Tonight like last night, people seemed to know the songs and that is always a gratifying experience. One that I surely won't take for granted. Folks get it. And that's what we're here for. Folks who get it. Even though it was still light outside when we went on.

Al and the Orchestra take the stage. After a great set. (He's two for two as of tonight—far as I'm concerned). Al encores and breaks down acoustic. It's so quiet you can hear the hum of the fridge behind the bar. Paul leans in towards me with his pint glass and asks with a wicked grin if he thinks this is a good time to load out. The crowd invites Al back for more and he calls me up to sit in on guitar. The song is Tom Thumbs Blues. He waves me over to sing a verse. Much to everyones surprise, not the least of which my own, I can't remember a verse to save my life. I am briefly depressed. Now it's the Stones' Sway. And it sounds good—if I do say so myself. the musicians start to leave the stage one by one. Cornbread waves at me and I'm not sure if he wants me to walk off stage as a part of this showbiz routine or take a solo, so I do both. Dylan line of the day from Brownsville Girl, "Didn't know whether to duck or to run, so I ran." Later a writer from the Orlando Sentinel says she was so moved during Sway that she forgot to breathe. Rule number one: Breathe. Rule number two: Keep your head down.

After the gig they project old Soul Train re-runs on a big screen behind the stage. Don Cornelious and company. I can't help but notice the flat out plain freaky deaky dancing fools. Fat kids, skinny kids, acne ridden 70's mutant afro teens in a full on Huggy Bear fashion show. Show me a crowd that "fresh" on the MTV jams and I'll go down on ya. Teenagers with breast implants. Grown men with breast implants. Derm-abrasions. What `s the world coming to?? I predict in 9 years all 7th graders will be 6 feet tall and Cathy Lee will take over Larry Kings gig and cats will lay down with dogs, Adam Duritz will cut his hair... Speaking of Huggy Bear fashion.—silly rabbit, segues are for kids —I understand in the new Hughes brothers film, Pimp, they ask a couple of pimps why pimping is such a predominately black occupation. One of the pimps says, "ah... I guess other races just don't have the charisma." God head!

After a brief near crisis situation where Paul's snare drum disappears from the sidewalk outside the gig, (it was recovered) we exchange high five's all around with Al and his "orchestra" and make a pact to do more gigs together in the future.

DAY 4 TRAVEL DAY

I'm beginning to get the impression that if I continue to type everything that comes into my head at this pace I'll have a novel. And I don't want to compete with Ian Hunters definitive road diary or even HR Haldemans thickass, day to day, Whitehouse journal —complete with a CD Rom of home movies and taped Nixon conversations. Besides, who really cares about this bullshit? My entries must and will get shorter. They say you have to find your voice. I ask myself, have I found my voice? If not, will I ever? And if I do, how will I know? I lost my voice once in Birmingham England, but it came back after three songs. What if my voice is like that dude Don Bowles from the LA Weekly. Remember Don Bowles? THE GUY WHO HAD A HABIT of making a point BY TYPING IN ALL CAPITALS. Or maybe if I take out half the words, it will be a police blotter like James Ellroy...

We're heading toward Lexington Kentucky on a mission. We need to get Paul Revelli to a hotel so he can see the WFW (World Federation of Wrestling) at 9:00 PM standard. It means alot to him. I fear if we don't make it he'll come unhinged, and I'm not about to downsize to a three piece, so we barrel down the road putting as many miles behind us as we can before 9:00 PM.—I flash on the scene in Rainman where Tom Cruise's character needs to get Dustin Hoffman's character in front of a TV to see the Wheel Of Fortune... No one has the heart to tell Paul that wrestling is not real. Or was it the other way around? I forget. We agree that it's not listed in the sports page. Paul acknowledges that it's listed under "sports entertainment". A minor distinction. To be continued.

DAY 5 LEXINGTON KY

SF impresario Ian Brennen is a connoisseur of budding geographical bohemian hot spots and predicts Louisville, KY is a pick to win. The last of the $200.00 rents and perhaps one of the last places in America not to be dot communized. All the necessary ingredients for a slack driven revolution. We'll see...

We stop a radio station at a Baptist college for an in studio appearance. They have a grand piano. Stephie decides to utilize it. Paul plays snare drum and rattles his Chiquitas. We're all knocked out by how professional it comes off. Go figure! Slicker than snot. I hope someone got a copy. The engineer plays me the new Steve Earl record and asks if I hear the similarity of the first song to God's Arms. I dunno... I chalk it up to cosmic channeling via the Beatles Revolver.

With a little time to kill before the sound check we get tipped off to the funkiest, dustiest, used record store in Kentucky. Big Daddies or some such. I find an obscure Don Covay record as well as a couple gospel records. It's shaping up to be a good day. We add Georgie Fame, Janis Ian, the Cowsills, Bob Dylan and the Animals to the house system in the Dodge Ram.

Lynaghs is a cool gig, even if it is in a strip mall. It's hosted, owned and operated by one Bobby Ray. Cool set and better audience —complete with requests for odd songs. Strange. Break the Seal? Longshot Lullaby? This must be where those 8 copies of Feast of Hearts were sold. Stephie invites the crowd back to the hotel to throw a TV out a window. It's becoming a tradition.

After the show a girl wants to take our pictures with an odd looking space age mutant doll that she "made herself". She compliments me on my flat singing and asks if I do that on purpose. I tell her, `some of the time NOT all of the time...' She goes on to tell me that she is trying to learn guitar. Ian's budding slacker haven theory is holding up. Learning guitar? Let's face it, Mo fo's are way too busy where we come from for such slack activities. Why play music? Bobby Bare said it first, "I'm too lazy to work and too nervous to steal." Pete Seager once said that if you learn to play the banjo you'll never starve. I'm not so sure about that. I say learn how to fix a leaky faucet and you'll never starve. If I want someone to fix my computer on the other hand, I can think of eight people who would do it for free. Think about it....

DAY 6 PITTSBURGH PA

It's Bob Dylans birthday today.

Spoke to Chris from Mongrel on the phone this morning. No new news on the Black Mountain Festival. Is it on? Is it off? I have more questions... For my own entertainment, I scream into the phone after he hangs up, "Why aren't we playing Miami? Aren't I cool enough to play Miami? Don't they like me there? Isn't that where KC and the Sunshine band come from? And what about those Kit Kat bars I requested? Who do I have to blow around here?"

Next morning I'm pacing around the Motel room. Terrance Mallecks' Badlands is on TV and I can't pull myself away. Eventually, after much prodding from Stephie, I drag myself out of the room and back into the van. We're running late and have grossly underestimated the haul to Pittsburgh. We miss the radio show that was scheduled by the label. "It was unavoidable." When we get into Pittsburgh, we drive past the second brand new ballpark under construction we've seen on this trip. Where do people get money for this stuff I wonder? Only thing going up in my world is the rent.

We find the gig—the Rosebud (mullet sighting—more of a Buttafucco in all fairness) We get in late—load in—line check. I down a handful of the Kit Kat bars on the rider and we're off. A sit down crowd. This is my compatriot and soul brother number one, Jules Shears hometown. I see a shadowy figure with bad posture hunched over in the back of the room. Could it be him? No. Some nights go by in a flash and this was one of em. Stephie informs me CD sales are up.

DAY 7 DAY off

My day to drive. I don't wanna talk about it. We settle outside of Spindale, South Carolina.

It's raining bugs. 80 miles per hour and I can't see the road in front of me. It's deafening. This prompts Teenage Rob Douglas to tell a story about Willie Dixons secret for "bunching" up bugs. First step involves defecating in the closet. (Lining the closet with newspaper is optional) It bunches up the bugs like flies sherbert. Second step, immediately shut the closet door. You won't be inhaling any fly's or grasshoppers. They'll be happily camped out in the closet.

DAY 8 Columbia South Carolina

We're off to Columbia. First though, we've got another radio show booked in Spindale. Was it Derek from the Iguanas who said if every town had a station like the university station like WMNF: Tampa/Ybor City we'd all be rock stars? Whatever that means these days. Might as well throw WNCW: Spindale, NC into that equation. At the risk of coming off mushy, there is something touching seeing people enjoying their work and sharing their enthusiasm for music. What have I done with my life? During the interview I refer to roots rock as "dorky"—I equate my relationship to the record label as the same feelings I had as a paper boy for the LA Times—. Seriously, I do go on to defend the alt.country ghetto. After all, where else can people find out about Bill Monroe and Furry Lewis by way of Wilco and WIlco by way of whatever. And BTW isn't it customary to complain that your labels not doing anything for you? In the course of my one and only meeting over at the Hightone headquarters I did manage to convince the master cylinder Larry Slovin to print a poster after he asked me about it three times. The engineer pulls out a space age looking device that is both cam-corder and digital camera. It could fit in the palm of your hand. We all gather around in awe, as if we've been given a personal tour of NASA.

To Columbia. Gig—Soundcheck—Motel. I narrowly avoid a death nap back at the hotel before the gig induced my a Mexican food coma. We dined at a Mexican restaurant highly recommended by the opening act. Oh well, we're not in California anymore. Can't remember the name of the band but I can tell you the lead singers name was Chuck.

I can't figure out why the songs off Brother Aldo get such a response. That record seems so old and lame squinting back.

DAY 9 Jacksonville

It's official—the Black Mountain is a NO GO. After seventeen years, the festival throws in the towel. We get on the phone and call the promoter from Jackrabbits in Jacksonville. He's more than happy to put us on the bill tonight. Nobody needs a day off. Too much introspective/perspective is not good thing.

I score three incredibly clean Jeanie C Riley records and about $100.00 worth of other records at a great little used record shop in Columbia. Rob goes equally nuts and can't narrow down which Louvin Brothers records he wants, so he gets them all. He asks for another advance on his wages and I dig out the Chicago roll. Is today Saturday? The place is packed.

We load into Jackrabbit's. It's like Gilman St. in here. At least how I imagine it. The headlining bands parents are the first to arrive. Oh yes yes yes. It's like I try to tell my folks. It's rock and roll—not a soccer game- you don't have to come to the gigs. What are ya gonna do?

I'm hungry. I think about ordering a pizza and fantasize about having it delivered while I'm on stage. "Ah yeah, we got time for one more." I'm hungry and tired—I begin to hallucinate. I tune everything out for 45 minutes and end up playing one of my best shows in front of the bartender, the door man and 30 scattered lovable freaks. The coolest of which are the parents of the headlining band.

There's a heavy criminal element to Florida. Anybody will tell you that. We all know about the cocaine trafficking. Hell, There wouldn't even have been a Miami Vice if not for the drugs. I don't know if everything I've read in Carl Hiasson and Elmore Leonard novels is true. But if you've ever seen Americas Most Wanted on TV you can't help but notice that they always find these outlaw fugitives in Florida (or else in Tucson—another story) I suspect it's highway 10 that calls their name like some siren of the sea. It's the place where the offspring of junk bond kings run amok in new Camero's looking for trouble. It's also the kind of place where speed tweakers brutally murder young woman—take them out into the swamps—cut them open just to look inside and see what makes them tick. Bug eaters, celebrated female serial killers—Where the bully gets it in the end. If you don't believe me, pick up a copy of the true crime tour de force' Bully; Does Anyone Deserve To Die? Enough Florida bashing and bungled journalism from me for now.

DAY 10 JACKSONVILLE

Today we flew the boys home. But not before I gave Rob a lesson in how to bribe the skycabs. (See day one) He fans out the twenties and uses them as a pointer, and then takes it one step further by setting the cash down one of the Anvil cases in the breeze. Impressive move. The skycab grabs the cash and is squeezing it in his hand. I see it all from behind the wheel of the Dodge Ram at the curb. It's a go. That's a contract as far as I'm concerned. We're outta here. Who is this Teenage Rob Douglas guy? Where did he come from? There appears to be ten yeas of his life he can't account for. But you don't want to pry. I pause for a moment and think about how much I admire all these guys. Stephanie and Paul and Rob. The kind of friends that show real character in the face of adversity, not to mention, flat out insanely long drives. I must work on being a better person and try to arrange our travels around WFW for Pauls sake. It's not so much to ask. I hope they know that I was only kidding when for a while there I was referring to the band as Chuck Prophet and the Mood Swings.

Would you believe that at the last minute, I say to heck with it. We then chartered our own plane. Climbed on board with a gaggle of super models, immediately got naked and shot dope all the way to Paris? We filmed it on our cam-corder. One of the super models—I think her name was Ashley, threw up on my shoes somewhere over Greenland. I had a moment of clarity and out of nowhere I pulled a bible out of my bag and wacked her up side the head. She immediately hit the floor and we had to make an emergency landing in London. I thought Stephie was gonna get upset but she was nodding out on the floor leaning against the wet bar and missed the whole thing. I know it's hard to believe, but it's true!

Day 11 JACKSONVILLE

Stephie and I bum around Jacksonville and take in two movies (Big Kahunna—Small Time Crooks). Back at the ho' I fall asleep playing an unplugged electric guitar with the sound down on the TV. I find myself channeling a song but am too spent to chase it down. Today's my day off. I sleep. I take pride in knowing I didn't check my phone messages back home in days. Musicians always check their messages religiously. You never know when Glen Campbell is gonna call and want to get together. Tomorrow we'll be back home. There's things to do. Record a track for a Mickey Newburry tribute for Peter Blackstock which is long overdue and at the top of the list Turning scraps into songs (a seemingly endless job) Michael Urbano wants some guitar on some artist he's producing. There's a gig next weekend at my East Bay home away from home, the Starry Plough. Haight Street Fair after that. A solo one-off in Birmingham Alabama. Taking a shot at scoring a promisingly cool little "indie film" that has shown the good taste to utilize a couple of my songs. And a bunch of other more or less pleasant things I'd rather not think about.

Oh, and thanks to everyone who came out. God bless ya'll. It makes it worthwhile.

Chuck Prophet