Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

tour 12

so the first bands from vancouver played their intense hardcore and only 2 people had paid admission to see the show... so there were 5 bands all sitting around and actually it felt like quite a crowd with all the band folk in attendance. when we played, we decided to spread out through the space of the room, like what the band used to do with acoustic guitars... but this time with amplifiers. it sounded really amazing; ribs was on the far side of the room and the echo through the space was a dream come true for me and i vowed to repeat this experiment in the very near future.

we had to play a short set, 20 minutes, so 4 songs and we were out. other bands were quite a bit louder, too loud for the space maybe but really good bands. michael and flips were at a next-door bar right after the show, catching the san antonio spurs bombing game 2 of the western conference finals.

we loaded up and hit the road, many winding roads out of pittsburgh, drove out to raccoon creek state park, beautiful isolated natural area near border with west virginia. next day we drove and drove and stopped a few times to capture some photos of fine appalachia... my favorite spot maybe on the whole tour was that day, this place called the "creekside golf dome and sports bar." it was this huge inflatable dirty-white plastic dome, 2 or 3 stories high, and you could pay to hit golf balls inside the dome... there were a few targets and hitting the ball against the dome's side made a very satisfying "thwack." maybe i just liked the blend of "golf" and "dome" in the title... middle america's mediocre pastime (which i love, by the way) combined with somebody's idea of futuristic development, circa 1978.

we drove all the way across indiana, illinois, and stopped in chicago at pizzeria due for the genuine chicago deep dish pizza experience. well, the crust was amazing but the sauce, cheese and toppings were perfectly bland, forgettable and mediocre. like somebody had spent all their time working on the crust and had just given up after they'd finished... just went with food-service garbage. so we left chicago, drove out to rock island, crossed the mississippi and watched the full moon gleam on its shimmering waters, and drove off to wildcat den state park in iowa. willis and i drained an entire bottle of wine and went to bed and i awoke the next day to woodpeckers and birds of all sorts and knew this was the only way to tour, forever and ever amen. waking with natural noises and the sunrise... cannot be beat.

drove into rock island, coffee of course, then over to futureappletree studios, run by super cool pat and home of daytrotter, a super cool website that you should check out... they host bands in the studio for a live recording, then post the session along with an article, an interview, and a cartoon illustration of the group. we played 4 songs: "loveshines II," "dear friend I," "when perfect flames expire," and "telephones." they should be up on the site soon hopefully... the session felt great but i couldn't hear my vocals so they might be squawky... we shall see!

after, smoked spliff with pat and crew in the new daytrotter lounge and posed with an american flag... pretending to be asleep, using flag as a blanket, a la the who's "the kids are alright" album cover.

after, drove drove drove into kansas, where we stayed in a trailer park directly across from a state penitentiary... the wind blew so nice that night, and i felt sad knowing i'd be spending nights indoors for the next few months. the trailers in the park had all been decorated with christmas lights and such... it was called el dorado state park i believe.

woke early the next morn, drove hard and fretted over gas prices and continued our exquisite corpse typewriter creations; i will post those soon.

stopped at taco cabana in oklahoma city that has table service and uses real plates and everybody felt full and satisfied for under $4 and maybe even a little impressed and/or blow-away by the place... taco cabana taken to the next level.

drove into austin and just as we pulled into town, the tick head stuck in my armpit fell out... a good sign i think.

so the adventure ends and new ones begin. the next day, i started work again at the texas school for the blind and that's where i'm typing right now.

hope all is well and we shall see each other soon...

btw, i did an interview this morning on 101X and it was strange.

Monday, May 26, 2008

tour 11

after pat and gino's steaks, matt took me to a joint that makes "veggie" cheesesteaks. a pile of wheat gluten on a white bun... not my favorite. think i'll stick with vegetables, not some weird vegetable protein that looks and feels like meat. ugh.

went to philly art museum... rocky statue out front. people in line 10-deep to have photo taken with "the rock"... i wondered if people think the statue is art or the film itself is art... what is the reason for placing outside the art museum? and if the film itself is considered art, what about part II, where he faces down mister t (his name in the film is "clubber lang")?

i would argue that part IV is so awful it exists as art... at least half the film is music video montage sequences. dolph lundgren steals the show. and the robot inside rocky's house that serves them martinis.

so we went in the museum and felt overwhelmed of course... van gogh, pisarro, braque/ my favorite was the shaker furniture. amazing. they recreated a full homestead.

after, headed back to matt's for short break and then back downtown... walked by washington's house replica and replica of his slave quarters and the real liberty bell and the real first national bank and some other buildings that have some significance but i'm not sure what, and a deli called "benny franklin's" that showed ben franklin chowing a sandwich and somehow that felt just as significant as any of these other old buildings, if not more. more relevant to me anyway than somebody's slave quarters, even if that somebody was named "washington" and he's six feet twenty and weighs a fucking ton.

went back to matt's and chilled for a bit, headed over to nearby brewery on baltimore for overpriced homebrew and watched some cool girl punk music and met the old haunts, with whom we were playing the next night in pittsburgh... bought their zine called "starfucker" which has a super cool interview with raymond pettibon... for the uninitiated, you can start here.

left shortly cuz beer just too pricey, headed back to house, watched "rushmore." bill murray = amazing amazing. i suppose i'm a sucker for that old shakespearian trick, a play within a play... in this case, several plays within a film. wes anderson structures things so cool too, at least here, with use of acts and chapters and drawing curtains providing aesthetic unity... sometimes anderson is too precious for me, but it's a feeling i'll gladly live with. i'm just happy there is a director out there crafting a body of work that people can discuss (p.t. anderson's doing it too. can you think of anybody else?)

then all everyone else went to sleep and i watched "lost in translation" and i think bill murray is even funnier in that film... he is just so amazing in that movie. my lord. and the soundtrack is perfection; also scarlett johansson's sadness.

woke early the next day, coffees to the ready, bought and drunk within minutes of consciousness, then onto the highway, west six hours to pittsburgh.

with several hours to kill, we found a bleak public park along some of the rivers and spied the neighboring del monte and heinz headquarters. i think i prefer heinz, although del monte had a hell of a sign-- a gold tomato about twenty feet tall. this was all on the riverfront and we followed the river over to the pirates' stadium, stopping to admire statue of roberto clemente. moment of silence then over to garfield artworks for the evening's show.

we arrived and said hi to manny, the inscrutable dude running garfield. one minute, you think he's gonna punch you, next minute you're best pals; i like feeling off-guard that way and we walked to the corner store together. show got a nice write-up in pittsburgh city paper, first write-up of the tour...they called us "trippy." here's the full write up:

The trippy Texas outfit known as Sunset started out as a four-tracked solo project of "Blonde" Bill Baird, then holding down the low notes in the band Sound Team. Now Sunset has developed into a full-fledged exploration of lo-fi walls of sound, vintage-sounding pop melodies, and wry, half-whispered narratives on the debut full-length, Bright Blue Dream. It's lovely, loopy stuff. Sunset's at Garfield Artworks tonight, opening for Olympia, Wa.'s The Old Haunts (on the Kill Rock Stars label, and featuring Bikini Kill's Tobi Vail on drums) with Call Me Lightning, The Mutators and The Modern Creatures.

so that was nice, but we had a couple of hours to kill and i asked manny where we could walk and he said "nowhere" because apparently this was a rough rough part of pittsburgh and drugs and their dealers abounded. i did happen to notice several very nicely dressed gents driving a shiny shiny mercedes, yelling at each other in front of the convenience store. so we stuck around, only two people paid admission that evening but we didn't care... things sometimes turn that way when you're launching something, and i consider this project still in its fledgling stage (although it's had a myspace page for two and a half years now, only now getting heavier with shows and releasing music).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

99 bottles of beer

we sang the whole thing !

Saturday, May 24, 2008

tour 10

walden pond... what can i say? thoreau had a great influence on me in younger days... and i re-read his "civil disobedience" earlier this year, so it felt perfect to end up there...

arrived at the pond, took long walk around and hopped in.. so cold but so amazing... nobody else in the whole pond... the water all to myself... ants crawling all over my clothing when i swam back. took some photos, some video, kept walking. took long walk in the trees, headed off into mass commonwealth nature preserve behind the pond... found a leafy field and laid in the sun for two hours, soaking warmth and refilling my tank... kept walking and circled two other ponds, non-degraded... their flora growing to the pond's edge and even beyond that... walked back across railroad tracks and back over to walden pond. kept moving around lake, hopped in water again, visited excavated site of thoreau's cabin, dropped a stone on the memorial pile, headed back to van, feeling entirely refreshed and new and ready for another nightclub.

back into town, saw the "minutemen" trail and the tall trees and dreamed of the american revolution and got caught in traffic and thought of that new truck ad that says "the new american revolution" or somethign and shows a truck slamming through some mud and, well, i bet paul revere would've preferred driving a hybrid-SUV with plastic molded truckbed... beats the shit out of a horse... much less rash, fo sho. besides, what would the british be driving? a bentley or some other such fussy nonsense? i'd like to see that sucker off-roading. bet the mud would swallow those silly british things. i mean, is a bentlet even 4 X 4 ?

so headed back into town, chowed large falafel and amazing fries from middle east (meal ticket said "sound team"... hmmm... ) and loaded in and sound-checked and all felt great and proper, so we walked down mass ave aways and stopped by a few shops on the way... urban outfitters a disturbing experience, especially... as if somebody had taken my wardrobe from a few years back, clothes and other items discovered at a thrift shop and treasured because they were difficult to obtain... and they took those items and mass-produced them and took everything special and cool about a tshirt with a clever saying on it. i mean, how many people have tshirts with clever slogans now? i know i know, old news, that shit died years ago, but this is the last nail in the coffin and the dirt on the casket and funeral altogether... hip books in stacks and "retro" shoes and all this mess. i walked out and back up the street... talked with some 15-year old from the suburbs, snuck them into the club... watched bands before us and felt strange...

1st band had total shredding maniac on lead guitar, just ripping into that damn thing... bluesy style, definitely not to my taste, but very technically accomplished... with all the requisite orgasm faces and scrunched-up gross lead-guitar poses... turns out the dude is guitar player on saTURDay night live, so i'll cut him a break. television probably forces you to exaggerate everything, just to get yourself across to millions of people.

as for next band, not my cup of tea either... just a different style of music... smooth and crooning. singer was almost a little too handsome and i swear he flexed his arms while playing. not to say i wouldn't do the same if i was really ripped. but if you're gonna do that, fuck, why not get right to the point and just take off your shirt and lift weights on stage... i'd actually be pretty impressed with somebody doing that...

but anyhow, we played and it sounded pretty sweet... we bought a nice live recording of the gig from the club... i will post that to this blog soon, along with all tour journals, photos, video, and live recordings... it will be a .zip file you can download.... maybe release it as a dvd-r, too......

anyhow, back to boston....

so we packed up quick after the gig... i said farewell in iman, dude i met in NYC who drove up to boston just to see us play. nice dude... we talked about the difference between arabs and persians. he was apparently persian and told me that persians are descended from aryans, same folks as who settled india... cool stuff, i didn't know.

so, we packed up and headed out to willis' family cabin at cape cod. i drank several energy drinks and had to smoke a cigarette to stay awake... arrived late, started a fire and drank whiskey and dug the awesome silence and towering trees. i woke up in the middle of the night, face to the fire, warm and happy, and the glowing red lit up the room.

the whole cape is this fantastic sprouting of pine forest from sand dunes that somehow have stayed in place and not eroded away. the next morning, ribs, michael b, pasta and i drove into provincetown and bought some groceries, drove back out to truro (village where we were based) and cooked massive breakfast of eggs and potatoes and tortillas, the old stand-bys of south texas. laid back, groaning stomachs full of happy and satisfaction... will and co loaded in our equipment and we jammed for two days straight... some very spacey jams, their spaciness perhaps enhanced by the massive amount of marijuana hanging about the ceilings... it went on for hours and hours and hard to say if any actual melodies were ever played... the ultimate stoner jam sesh... freedom from structure and melody felt fantastic. i don't think leonard bernstein would've approved, nor my parents, but hell, it felt right so we pressed forward on our aimless droning nonsensical journey.

we hit the beach for a break, the ice cold water shivering me back from stoned aimlessness... a jolt wide awake. which is when i noticed a tick half-burrowed into my armpit... a tick that had apprently eaten itself to death... swollen, half-hanging out my skin, the area around the bite bright red and stinging to the touch. nobody could quite recall the proper method for tick removal... ribs held a lighter to its bloated corpse and it seemed to squirm in a little further... headed back to the van and grabbed some tweezers. dug in there, grabbed it all but the head remained under the skin. well, i didn't want to cut myself, so i just left the head in there, pretty sure that after a few days my body would expel it someway or another...

headed back to the house, cooked some taco and jammed until the wee hours. started watching this movie, a mind-blower of a film... "cop and a half," starring burt reynolds and a very very cute afro-american youth.

that's the cover. pretty much says it all. burt reynolds turns in a riveting performance as detective nick. mm hmmm. we watched that until we'd had enough, and hit "pause" to pick up the action after the next day's breakfast.

that day, we headed over to rent some boats, but weather had turned foul, so we decided to drive out to the point and we hung on the beach. headed back to willis' cabin, jammed some more, michael willis and i made a short horror film centered aroudn the graveyard just up the hill from the cabin. did i mention the graveyard? oh yes, graveyard with many a stone.... truro, mass was the home of many a tragedy back in the whaling and heavy fishing days... many serious storm made widows of the town's ladies... in fact, the older building on willis' property, called the "grey house," is haunted and willis related some of his supernatural experiences. we pulled out a oija board and lit some candle but nothing strange happened.

that evening, more whiskey and a fire and we watched an old VHS tape of "jurassic park." god, what a collosal piece of shit. jeff goldblum is pretty sweet, though... always kind of mumbling and grinding his teeth... a serious serious over-actor, probably on par with nicholas cage.

next day, hit the road again for our show that eve in philly. hit serious traffic all along the route and hit philly less than an hour before our show that evening. show had been set up by mark of yvynyl at this amazing music shop called The Marvelous. They had some fantastic records, including this interesting looking japanese pressing of "Meddle."

i was parking the van while hunter gatherer played but i hear tell form several other bandmates that it was way sweet and i saw a big harp in hte store when i finally made it in there... looks like i missed out.

next up was enumclaw and it sounded like terry riley, which is a good thing. live projections ink movements added to the flavor.

then we played and played much louder than anybody else and closed the set with another rousing rendition of "this land is your land." mark and audrey gathered some money from the crowd which was awesome, and we talked about the pitchfork review... makr was bummed i got panned and i guess i was too... he knows the difficulty of playing the road and making a go of it when nobody comes to shows and nobody buys records and all that modern baloney. we drank some beers and parted ways... i gave him the new record.

outside, twas graduation day at drexel university... complete insanity. a supposed law student was sitting outside the marvelous, drink in hand, sitting on a picnic blanket, and hitting on lots of guys and the crowds were enormous and strange... many of the people were high school age or younger... and some old old folks. no figuring it out for me.

met up with matt, who runs the marvelous with a friend... he gave me the new c.d. by his band called the soft people and from what i've heard, sounds pretty good. he took us back to his place here we'd stay... huge west philly house he shares with 6 people and he also records bands in the basement, an enormous basement, whoa yes very large. the rest of the band went to a west philly bar, where ribs got some shit for being a "fucking college student" and for wearing "those fucking white shoes." the person yelling at him was a mohawked punk girl with a bag of chips on her shoulder and maybe she needed some chill time. i mean... ribs is super cool and why the hell would anybody want to fuck with ribs? i wasn't there, so i can't say. i wandered baltimore avenue for a bit, talking with some random people... i myself met some very nice folks that evening. mostly homeless fellows.

next morning, hit some suepr rad coffee shop at baltimore and 50th, can't recall the name... then drove to pat's steaks. line wrapped around the building for some mediocre looking sandwiches. ok ok, i'm biased... i'm a vegetarian and don't eat that stuff. the fries were amazing, though... and the atmosphere was pretty o.k. too: dozens of framed photos on the wall of an older fellow, who i can only assume to be "pat," posing with all manner of nicely dressed people. i'm sure they were famous in their day but i recognized none of them. oh wait, i take that back... jay leno appeared a couple of times in the framed photos. the frames, screwed into the wall, gave the place an appealing old-time feel, much more appealing than the large pyramid of industrial-sized "cheez whiz" cans stacked in the window. anyplace that brags about using "cheez whiz..." welll.... i don't wanna sound *unamerican* here, but that shit is fucking GROSS.

across the street, a vacant lot looked up to framed murals of philly's pop stars of the 50's and early 60's... frankie valli, etc. and when i say framed, i do mean framed... there were huge huge picture frames built around the murals, 20 by 30 feet maybe. it felt like an amusement park, in the best possible way.

across the street, gino's steaks (the main competition) glittered like red meat vomit, signs flashing all outside the building, a line around the block... those things kill my appetite, fo sho. gino's had a sign atop the building, a giant billboard of a cheesesteak sandwich, but not a rectangle like your average billboard, oh no. this billboard was cut around the image of the sandwich, so it looked like a massive cheesesteak steaming on top of the building. neon lights ringed the sandwich several times around; the total image looked like a massive cosmic cheesesteak sandwich beamed from another dimension to guide us towards greater gluttony and diminished consciousness. i think it was probably my favorite image of the whole tour and i left without taking a photo. ahhhh! but here's one from the internet:

tour 9

So we played Piano's that evening, the 11th, and it flew off fantastic, us ripping and playing our best yet of the tour. not as many folks as i'd like, but i always say "quality, not quantity," especially when i'm facing a shortage of some kind. my innate optimist.

michael played piano down on the floor and we switched for "perfect flames," and the whole thing sounded tight, together, of a piece. a unit... we had finally gelled. after we played, a band called "the dagger" took the stage, and they played music trying to scare the crowd i think. the lead singer's brother was wandering around the sidestage, cackling and pretending to be a scary person... he had glow stick necklaces wrapped around his neck... he bragged of "the dagger's" fearsome aesthetic. "they're gonna frighten everybody into submission." he let out a vincent price-ish laugh... i think he was joking around, but it wasn't very funny. i stole one of his glowsticks from a full water bottle (what was it doing in there?) and went upstairs for the "zombie" dance party. lameness ruled the place, though, and i went back downstairs... the dagger had just hung a white banner behind them that said "the dagger" really large in that cheap fake-typewriter font that's supposed to look gritty. the band all wore matching suits and had started this strange chanting song called "say your prayers" which i'm sure was intended to be ominous but didn't scare me much. i laughed for a minute at the work put into the production of this show: the banner, matching suits, monigrammed kick drum head, the glowsticks... it seemed kind of sad and maybe delusional and i thought they should stop trying to act like they were already famous and maybe write songs that people enjoy listening to, but maybe i'm just too critical and jaded. either way, i wasn't drawn in by "the dagger" and retired to the bar for some gin and tonics.

next band handed out tambourines to the whole crowd and when the singer started crawling across the stage, i started spanking him with might force, using the tambourine, and hitting him in rhythm of course. then i dumped a huge box of tambourines all over him... 50 or so, brought just in case a huge crowd was there. i wondered where they'd gotten hold of so many tambourines... ebay perhaps? there were 100 or more.

next night we played the trash bar in brooklyn... stopped by bar down the street for free beers. had spent the day wandering all about manhattan... looked up la monte young's "dream house" but it's only open three days a week now... i'd been once before and found it amazing. zev, the dude who came along with me, said it felt like he was a prisoner at guantanemo -- huge buzzing drone, purple dim lights, and no furniture. i took some field recordings while there, but that was two years earlier.

this particular day, no dream house, so we wandered about and bain, will and i hit the russian and turkish baths... total relaxation, but without picking teeth or spitting, a the sign outside the russian bath so kindly reminded us.

that evening, the trash bar felt great, sounded great, but cut-throat NYC clubs force door people to tally audience members according to whom they came primarily to see.... which left us SOL, having failed to draw the requisite number of audience to get paid. aw well, these experiences put hair on your chest.... my chest is getting nice and matted by now.... if only i had sold as many records as i have hairs on my chest, i would be playing holiday inn lounges all over the midwest...

had some drinks with cousin liz and joel and their friend mark, an ace bartender and film buff who's something of a brooklyn community beacon and is doing his best to fight off the forces of mediocrity and lameness. keep fighting the fight, mark... i will do the same.

next morning, several coffees and headed up the FDR through connecticut, up to newton, a suburb of boston, where we were to play on boston college radio. jim, aka ning nong, works at forced exposure distro and has really dug "bright blue dream) (out latest c.d.), so we made a point of stopping by and giving the full live force. we set up in their small studio and threw frisbee in the front lawn and hung out in the nearly vacant campus. the boston college campus didn't impress me much; lots of tidy red brick and overly clean and corporate looking buildings. not much boston personality here. so we hung by the station.

i opened a can of chili with a pair of scissors and much determination. chili juice sprayed all over the wzbc station desk and my shirt. i still have the stains to prove it.

i ate my veggie chili and then we set up and got going... did a full 7 minute ambient song called "diamond deserts"... with my rented 16second delay and an ebow and the rest of the band tapping out some delicate improvisations... after seven or so minutes i'd loaded my 16 second dealy with samples set to infinite mode... then we kicked in with woody guthrie's "this land is your land." both of these are available here for download:

Diamond Deserts
This Land is Your Land

these tracks are meant to run continuous....

we loved the show and laughed and played as hard as we could to no physical audience... ended the set with some slap-bass samples which had inexplicably ended up on my sampler...

here's a photo jim took on his cell phone...

and jim was super cool and enthusiastic. afterwards, he played "dolphins," the first track off will's new tape. he put out a tape under the "sleep good" moniker that's really really cool... tape's called "jungle box."

after the show, we drove with jim back to his place in south boston... neighborhood where they filmed "the departed..." met jim's super cool wife and dug his awesome apartment and his insane record collection...

next morning headed to insane cheap diner for eggs, potatoes, toast, and several coffee refills for under three bucks... headed downtown to boston common, smoked spliff in the van and wandered shoeless through the park... other guys played frisbee but i quickly grew bored and restless...

so we split up, them heading to find their fortunes in central boston, me heading out of town a bit.. i made the 20 or so mile drive out to walden pond. and what a place...

Friday, May 23, 2008

clearing up confusion in austin chronicle review

To clear up any confusion caused by the review in the Austin Chronicle:

The only members of Sunset who used to be in Sound Team are Bill Baird and Will Patterson.

Jordan Johns, Matt Oliver, and Gabe Pearlman appear on a couple of the songs on "Bright Blue Dream," but they are not members of the band or "collective" or whatever else this thing might be called. They made some awesome contributions to BBD but they do not perform with Bill anymore. Not to say they won't again someday, who knows.

Sam Sanford sings and plays on "Bright Blue Dream," and he performed with the group for all of 2007 and the beginning of 2008, but left the band to pursue visual art. The forthcoming disc, "The Glowing City," features significant contributions from Sam on acoustic guitar and harmony vocals.

Michael Baird came along on our last tour, "tickling the ivories." He will play a couple more shows before moving to Houston.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


we got home safe. been away from computer for several days. will finish tour journals as time permits... for now, videos for really awesome songs:


neil young (really sweet video):

spacemen 3:


Sunday, May 18, 2008

tour 8

headed over to piano's for the evening's gig, parking gods smiled upon us, we found perfect spot right out front. stepped inside for the evening's festivities... face painters had set up by the door to paint people like zombies... appropriate, i thought, since i wrote that song called zombies, so asked the face painter guy in the nicest possible way if he could make me look like the scariest zombie in the whole place... he painted me up for 15 minutes or so, me sipping a bourbon and imagining how frightful i would be. but he just made me look like i'd been beaten up. for the rest of the night, people would approach me, there'd be an awkward few seconds of silence, and they'd ask, "did something happen?" when i told them how i'd been painted to look like a zombie, they would respond, "oh good, i thought somebody might've beaten you up." so i was looking great and feeling great.

dude playing before us was strummy strummy in the worst kind of way, one of those plug-in acoustics with the EQ built into the top of the board... they are usually ovation brand... i guess i really dislike the sound of strummy strummy acoustic guitars with terrible pickups. i think i would literally rather listen to someone burping into my ear.

so it was mister strummy, singing songs about "sunny southern california," (i think that was an actual song title), and of course he had a fretless bass player. i think those things sound like shit moving through intestines.

so the band was an ovation with built-in EQ acoustic strummy guy and a fretless bass player and they both turned into mister funny-face when they really started to "jam." the bass player did a few unaccompanied solos, and it kind of sounded like the theme from "seinfeld." the bass player also switched over to saxophone, and he played in an unforgivable way. i had to leave the room.

drank some more whiskey, watched some stand-up comedy in the next room... the stand-up guy i saw told me i looked like andy warhol. must be the glasses.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

tour 7

mcsorley's buzzed with excitement, and the place had an old-world charm and wooden creaky floors covered with sawdust and crazy bustling excitement, lots of laughs and drinks and it really could've been any period in all of human beer-drinking history... places must've felt like this in egypt way back when. but the egyptian beer drinkers probably weren't wearing abercrombie shirts, which reminded you of time and place and seemed incongruous with the old-dark-wood room. we ordered cheese and crackers and light beer, drank several beers (they come in 2's) and a whole package of saltines with white cheese and the strongest mustard ever yet to cross these lips.

headed further on, hit up an amazing chinese grocery and bought laura some chopsticks for 99 cents and back towards fulton fish market and tyler's apartment. that evening, me, will, both michaels, and willis headed over to times square to take in the massive insane cultural nexus, the epicenter of "branding" and freakishly bright and loud place. i took some super8 film there, took some photos, and dug the scale of the place. that's what's always amazed me about times square... jumbotron signs so large that zooming in even slightly creates a fantastic pixellation effect and the closer one zooms, the more divorced the image becomes from the larger whole, and the crazier and more pixellated it becomes. to take something really gaudy and loud and completely remove its context.

quick aside here: i am typing at a computer terminal in the middle of rhode island somewhere, at a public library and it's really kind of strange because literally every person in the library is sitting in front of an internet terminal and i not see a single person reading a book.

our train had stopped running so we walked all the way back down, took a couple of horus, stopped by some raging apartment party, dug the scene for a moment or two, but ditched quickly as the hour ahd grown late (4am) and people were falling asleep standing up.

next day... will's birthday. a walk through battery park and then will, michael bain and i split off to hit up the russian and turkish baths again. another fantastic few hours and we walked through the east village, eating falafel and trying on cheap plastic shades.

next day headed to nyu for radio taping... a fantastic building, the tisch school for the arts, our home for the next few hours... we set up and raged through out set, starting things off with some ebow and a sampler and ambient-ness for a few minutes leading into our cover of woddy guthrie's "this land is your land." we'd been rehearsing in the van and whole group really belted through it... that song is my national anthem... runs much deeper for me than the "star spangled banner." the best of what america is... hope for something better, but not blind optimism. we sang a version of the tune with lyrics hitting deep... some of these verses have been cut because they seemed too "socialist." we left them in and you can hear another version we recorded on our page.

afterwards kayla (radio dj) bought us some falafels from mamoun's, so cheap and so good. then off to piano's for the night's gig.

more tour notes, trying to catch up

back to tour... i awoke next day on elizabeth's fold-out couch. after some ultra-strong coffee, headed out the door in a nyc black car that took us across the williamsburg bridge, back into manhattan, where we ended up at russ and daughters, home of the finest smoked salmon in nyc, according to a sign in their window. the line out the door spoke as much too.

they wrapped our breakfast in the thickest wax paper i have ever felt and they sliced the lox like diamond-cutters working a prized stone. in a way, they were...

we ate some bagels in the shadow of a senior citizens housing development and planned our day. well, planned... not so much. we set off across the lower east sidce and alphabet city. spotted a car recently exploded, pulled to the side of the road, armrests still steaming and melting and coming off on my shoe as i pressed my toe to the gooey plastic. within ten seconds of examining the exploded car, overheard conversation of "last night's shoot-up" a block away, in which several folks were killed. oh, new york, how i love thee.

liz and i made our way to the new museum... building is incredible, especially the exterior, but most the exhibits i found boring. trading too heavily on pop culture seems like a cop-out to me... we all already know that the world is moving more and more towards disposability... mcluhan killed it for me, although i try to stay open to new ideas and i'm as guilty as anybody of riffing on disposable garbage american culture. i think the main point now might be trying to fashion something worthwhile and beautiful out of the cultural detritus we find littered all about us.

anyhow, the exhibits, the main ones at least, showed lots of carefully arranged pictures of hair-metal bands... ozzy, skid row, poison, etc. good for a laugh but it left me cold after a few seconds.

continued on down the road, stopped by habana cafe for a lime-ade and headed cross-town to banjo jim's open mike... 2pm sign-up. along the walk, stopped in some amazing community gardens, the likes of which surprise me in manhattan's gritty urban landscape. i should know by now that manhattan is nothing if not surprising, at its best... tis the beauty of the city. liz and i sat in a park and read a pamphlet of manifestos i bought... some favorites by nam june paik, dick higgins, and al hansen. another pamphlet: john cage's diary. really great free-form poetry / political commentary / explorations of humanity.

i signed up to play first at the open-mike and played a couple of tunes. the m.c. was way out-of-shape, his belly peeking out from the bottom of a really tight pac-man tshirt with armpit holes at least 8 inches across... a full hairy eye-full of "Man." his moustache was pencil thin and immaculately manicured... so thin and perfect it looked drawn on with a sharpie... but no, it was real and the effort involved in that hideous facial growth seemed almost tragic. perhaps on another man, a suave smooth operator, the 'stache would work, but this man oozed desperation from his every pore. noticing this didn't make me laugh or make me happy... i felt bad for the man. he rushed about, setting up microphones, providing introductions for other performers, nervously laughing... he'd fallen into the open mike night fishbowl... the classic case of the fish shrinking the size of his bowl until he can grasp his surroundings, control his environment. perhaps he'd hit the clubs of NYC and found them unreceptive, ventured outside of town, no response there either... now he'd collapsed back to his old neighborhood, into a small open mike where he could be "star"... this desiring of stardom by each open mike participant made the whole thing absurd and tragic and almost funny... humor so funny you can't even laugh.

with static running through speakers and technical glitches galore, the show rolled on... a middle-aged obese man wearing tevas playing a guitar solo on an ovation tortoise-back guitar... no accompaniment. ah humanity! an unaccomplished, unaccompanied guitar solo by a physically repulsive man wearing jean shorts and tevas who makes the requisite "orgasm" guitar faces while stumbling through some "licks."

another girl stepped onstage, her too-tight pants gripping a big fat butt... her butt also had big sequined stars on them... probably a home-made job. she stepped to the mike and sang songs about new york and it felt trite and wrong. "oh new york, new york... york..." the whole thing blurted in a kind-of scat-jazz barfing style.

an extremely well-tanned new jersey guy walked in pawing a big wad of cash. he had a shit-eating grin, hawaiian shirt unbuttoned to the middle of his chest, some gold chains, designer jeans with zippers running up the sides (a la a.c. slater) and some weird purple woven leather shoes. he sat at the bar with his girlfriend (mistress?) a fake-titted woman, much younger but equally as tan. he ordered two drinks with his back to the bar, just yelled the order over his shoulder, and paid by flipping a couple of bills off his wad and handing them behind his head, without turning around. it was a move so over-the-top it almost had a certain grace to it. perhaps it was just perfectly in keeping with the aura he seemed to send off... that was the grace.

so we stuck around for a bit, socialized and split. headed over to mcsorley's, oldest bar in manhattan... lincoln apparently drank there...

Friday, May 16, 2008

tour, part 5

heelo heelo, we uploaded a live version of "this land is your land" (recorded on ning nong radio in boston) to the myspace page. more tour writings soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

tour part 4

so i ended up at david and boris' russian and turkish baths, so named because david and boris switch off ownership / management every other week and they have plenty of signs around to remind you. the place is old old NYC, the last of the old-tiem bathhouses, founded 1892, with signs reminding you "no spitting or cleaning teeth in the steam room." the front door has a signed photo of somebody named "the beastmaster" and this beastmaster is holding a spear and dressed in just a loin cloth. i guess he likes coming to the baths?

so you put on slippers, slip into their bright red bathing suits they provide, and head down the stairs to a large room with a huge brick oven... you sit in the room and pour water over yourself with one of the buckets sitting under the constantly running faucets. turban clad dudes giving massages with swatches of oak branches grunt and hustle for your business... to expensive for me but i like watching other people get thwacked with soapy tree branches... the thwacker really winding up and going for the big shot on these folks.

outside the door, there's some crooked home-made lettering ordering (in all caps): "SAVE WATER." the roaring of 20 or so faucets going full blast in the room make the admonishing a little ironic and amusing.

there's plenty of languages being spoken in there... many not english... large bald hairy eastern european men probably discussing some important business deals... i saw a signed photo of the former president of Finland hanging upstairs.

i roasted for 3 hours and put on my slippers and robe and walked upstairs for a hot bowl of borscht, this bright red cabbage soup dobbed with sour cream... so good so good.

walked out refreshed and not giving a shit about bad reviews or anything really. a deep serene feeling. drifted back to tyler's apartment, met up later with cousin liz and her boyfriend joel... passed out standing up after one sip an old fashioned made by their friend mark. they folded out the bed and i passed out.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

tour part 3

picking up from chapel hill.... we headed over to the nightlight, a bookstore by day, called the skylight i believe... the ceilings hung low, stained ceiling tiles all messed about, stained brown from a/c leaks, leading down to bookself walls, overstuffed with all varieties of amazing used books, mostly sold back from UNC students heading home for the semester. i spent a good ten minutes or so poking around the cookbook section and salivating over photos of glazed lasagna.

when we arrived there was a UNC graduation party in full effect, nicely dressed recent college grads bumping and grinding to prince and michael jackson and eating celery sticks and assorted party munches. as i loaded in the bass amp, some blonde girl in a short skirt started dirty dancing with the cabinet. i responded likewise.

so we set up amidst piles of old books and magazines and leif garrett vinyl records, and played a "scorching" set. we borrowed a projector and showed the super8 shorts I'd stitched together. saw old friends daniel and john and grabbed numerous beers from the bartender... he enjoyed the set and told me numerous times. always nice to hear.

band after us was originally called "ted dancin" but changed their name and can't recall rightly the newer "nom." they played a completely improvised set and there were some amazing moments.

after we gladly took another 6pack of pbr from the bartender and headed off to daniel's house in the big north carolina trees, the bu hanan house, where we slept outdoors. well, most of us slept outdoors... i passed out on the floor, fully clothed and woke in a sweat with a tick crawling across my face. next day, several other folks found ticks crawling about their neither regions and this caused some concern and a 10 minute discussion about lyme's disease. we could only conclude that we knew nothing about lyme's disease except it comes from ticks and paralyzes people.

so we hit the road and did it fast, me hitting the 80mph mark whenever possible... we'd heard the drive from chapel hill into manhattan would take a good 10 hours and we left by 7:30 that morning, shortly after hopping into daniel's shower, borrowing some bath water and dandruff control shampoo. spent the morning looking for a roadside starbucks ( lame, but a necessary evil on interstate highways) but instead stopped in at a gas station with several speakers outside cranking 80's dance classics. we danced our asses off to the shock and amusement of some fellow interstate 95 travellers (we had pushed into virginia by then) and some other folks ate some fresh sausage biscuits from the adjacent restaurant. i've always been fundamentally opposed to gas station restaurants, well not always, just ever since a particularly bad episode from a west virginian branch of subway where two dread-locked females made me a 6-inch sandwich that tasted OK but felt like doom a few minutes later. so we danced and hopped back in the van and pushed forward, through virginia, through DC, on through maryland, stopped for an ethiopian coffee in some strange maryland mini-mall community, pushed further and onto the high-priced new jersey turnpike. pressed on and hit the lincoln tunnel traffic jam at 5:00 on the dot.

sat in line for an hour, laughing and pointing at all the strangely dressed drivers trapped along with us in the traffic jam, people putting on makeup in their rearviews, yelling into cellphones, generally angry / obsessive behavior that seemed strange for somebody sitting completely still. the lanes into the lincoln tunnel gradually just disappear, giving a very raw and bitter taste of NYC driving... people pushing each other about and using bumpers just like how they were named... we must've touched chrome to chrome several times and nearly got crushed between two very large buses. but we made our way into the tunnel and discussed for awhile that stallone movie where we saves thousands (hundreds?) of people from a broken tunnel. i think my favorite tunnel scenes are from George Lucas' THX1138, which is all the more remarkable if you rent the DVD and watch the amazing THX1138 student film George Lucas made... the tunnel scenes were filmed in San Francisco and the music and everything is perfect. especially amazing if you consider the star wars "prequels" and all the messing about with the original films. once upon a time, george lucas had his "finger on the button," was directly on-point and a potential master of his art.

on the other side of the lincoln tunnel, we heard a scraping behind the van and noticed the rusted iron trailer hitch dragging behind us... we stopped and tied it back onto the bumper with some string found on the street.

then headed over to tribeca, to jackie gendel's opening called "does she know?" and found some parking right out front. michael got a ticket for drinking beer in the street, but who could resist: the block of the motti hasson gallery was filled with amazingly dressed art folks, all the more amazing considering our previous 5 or so days camping in the appalaichains. so many beautiful people, nice hair, sunglasses completely not needed, swaggering, smiling, enjoying this huge art street party. across the street, john k stood a few feet from chuck close and i think poked his arm.

inside the opening, jackie's paintings stunned and stood above the socializing. strange distortions of facial form and vivid colors and a strange primitivism that cut through the noise of the crowd. i took some photos with my 35mm and imagined her painting this incredible body of work. keith, jackie's cousin from l.a., arrived with his wife liz and we had a nice surpise reunion and greg's brother jason arrived too and we had a regular bro-down, drank some grolsch beer and talked about old times and all the good things to come.

took photos on the street of us camping boy scouts lost in an art-world paradise street party with cops on the prowl... michael's got the $25 dollar citation to prove it.

headed to the after-party, me driving 20 minutes to find manhattan parking, all my parking luck used up at the gallery apparently. dropped the van in front of some bustling housing projects and just enjoyed all the music and people socializing in the street. ate some nyc pizza... there's nothing like cornmeal pizza crust.

stopped by after party, congratulations to jackie and then on to the lower east side. i consigned some albums at the cake shop and headed to arlene's grocery. the place was packed and jumping, but everybody seemed to have a soul-patch, women included, and it didn't feel like the right vibe. so hung on the street, digging the insane street energy of the lower-east side on a friday night: low hum of the city, cabs honking far-away, traffic sounds dim and drowned out by the street energy, the people walking all about stanton, cars an unwelcome nuisance here, beautiful women in fashionable clothes strutting and us sneaking sips of whiskey whenever possible.

by this point, i'd drunk 5 or so cups of coffee and had 2 red bulls, and then bought the new super-extra-large-size red bull to keep pushing through til the finish line. my hands had begun to tremble and it felt like my innards were tied to a ringing buzzer.

with this feeling stringing through my drained body, we loaded in the equipment into a room quickly emptying, the soul-patch crowd making their exodus while we set up vintage keyboards and reverbs. i suspected the sound man might actually be peaking on acid right at that moment... he asked me to describe the sound of our group... when i hesitated, he asked me if we sounded like pink floyd. to which i said, yeah sure. pink floyd, hmm. hopefully "meddle" - era pink floyd.

played the show, tore right through the set, house mostly empty, but those in attendance seeming to really dig it. finished the set, talked with people with foreign accents, obviously in lower east side for the day, had some photos taken by Gabi and she wrote a nice review:

photos and review.

afterwards, loaded up and avoided the trembling sound guy... he apparently recorded the show but wouldn't hand off the c.d. to me because he started loudly cursing c.d. technology and i walked away, pretty quickly. i think somebody else ended up with the disc and said it wasn't half-bad.

headed over to tyler's place, right under the brooklyn bridge, directly across from the former fulton street market... the streets an empty joy... well lit and completely empty... with only a block away some horribly misguided city government attempt at "revitalization" which in this case means replacing old fish warehouses with The Gap and planet hollywood.

but we didn't venture over there, we stayed in our isolated spot, walked along the east river, smoked spliff and talked with tyler about gentirying forces at work in modern new york. i suppose as long as the city remains alive and vibrant, it will withstand the forces of lameness, but seems to me lameness chips away at the beautiful heart of nyc. the poetry of the place still smacks you in the face, but now there's disturbing interludes of asking yourself and your companions, "what the hell is happening to this city?" economic forces, pushing out artists and poets and musicians, pushing them further and further back... when we they be pushed outside city limits? never, i hope... the city still holds its charms for me, no doubt no doubt.

woke the next morning to coffee brought by my bro michael and bad news that pitchforkmedia had again panned a musical project of my involvement. the review even managed to state how much it liked the pitchfork video i made, which felt to me like disarming the criticism that they are "out to get me." no no, i don't think they're out to get me, by any means, but i do think some people there don't think my work should be seriously considered. it makes no difference, ultimately, and i will keep doing whatever it is i do. if i'm willing to take the good reviews to heart, then i must do the same for the bad. or just ignore them altogether. that said, didn't seem like the reviewer really likes spacey droning music, which is sort of the whole point of the disc... musical thoughts lingering and moving slowly in and out of the foreground, messing with time, stretching small notes into minutes. so perhaps a mismatch there between reviewer and subject.

the review encouraged me to move on, and the next disc, called "the glowing city," has been sent to press. it's 79 minutes 57 seconds long. so maybe the bad review will end up a good thing? moving on always seems like a good idea to me. something i'd momentarily forgotten.

but the heaping of bad vibes from the review sent me off to david and boris' russian and turkish baths, the last of the old time bathhouse, in a brownstone on 10th between 1st and A.

Friday, May 9, 2008



Wednesday, May 7, 2008

tour part 2

so we headed up into the great smokies, passing through a tourist-trap hell-hole called gatlinburg, tennessee. weird place with the largest tony roma's sign i have ever seen in my life, and we snapped a few photos out in front. weird theme park atmosphere... i guess folks have been drawn in by dolly parton's dollywood. a country-music based theme park... possibly one of the lower levels of dante's hell?

we drove on into the park, got pulled over by an overzealous park ranger who clocked us doubling the speed limit, talked our way out of it, and stopped at a nearby campsite. we grilled and drank whiskey and stared at the immense poplar and birch trees swaying above us and felt the breeze and the starlight. i passed out easily and quickly; michael and willis stayed up a bit later than the rest of us and saw a wolf trot through our campsite.

next day, woke and hopped off some cliffs at "the sinks," with water cold enoughb to clinch yr jaws tight and grit out a yelp. cold cold cold. bathed with our dr. bronner's, lathered up and hopped off the cliff once again against the roar of some nearby waterfalls. drove over the smokies, through the park, and on into celo, north carolina, an 1100 acre community abiding by the old ways of the quakers: every decision must be concensus-based and there are no leaders. we played the school house there after dining with the kids and the teachers. they have goats, pastures where they grow their own food, a bike shop, welding shop, and all sorts and sundry of beautiful ways for kids in awkward years to get through.

before the concert, we headed to the local co-op... the only co-op on the east coast still run completely by volunteers. they had a shed filled with old clothes and i replaced much of what i'd lost in the highway luggage tragedy. i walked away with a fantastic sweater covered with knitted suns and sunflowers and leaves and other nature ephemera.

we then headed to the community pond and took a plunge off the dock and swam with the beautiful country scum lining the top of the pond. cold and clear once the scum gets cleared.

the concert was fantastic, with a full house in rapt attention and a good vibe,generally. i was handed a note before the show to announce that ben, a student, had been invited to prom, and would find his invitation in his locker. after the show, we played a "blues jam" on the solitary chord of E for close to an hour. there were awesome dancers wearing tie-dyed shirts worn completely through, and the room felt magic and alive. it was an awesome change of pace.

that evening, we took a night hike through darkened woods up to mister wetzell's place... a meadow atop a nearby mountain peak. nobody had any flashlights, so we stumbled through leaves and through branches and made our zig-zagging way up the mountain. i ran into trees, face-first, on several occasions and have the scrapes to prove it. we reached the top, took some whiskey slugs, and headed back down, the downhill a much easier track to follow.

we then drove back to the beautiful home of bob and geeta mcgahey, our gracious hosts. they'd built the log cabin themselves back in 1979 and had a hand in the running of the nearby arthur morgan school (where we played). woke the next morning to geeta bustling about dined on fresh baked bread and strong coffee.

headed over to dave zitlo's treehouse manor.... he literally lives in a tree house and it's so freaking fantastic i can hardly explain. walked back into the woods, bathed in a fast-flowing creek framed by old-growth birch and poplar, and smoked spliff while listening to the wind and gentle roar of the creek. then back to the van, on the road, stopping for a fantastic ice-cold swim in another river. by now, we were clean, safe to say.

now i sit in chapel hill and feel whole and in a very good state of mind. tomorrow, manhattan, hopefully in time for jackie gendel's art opening.

Monday, May 5, 2008

PHILLY SHOW LOOKS RAD /// tour thus far


So in other news what can I say? Tour has been wild and dirty. Late night show in Dallas led to a goose-egg payday and soem late-night photos in front of a stretchy Hummer H2. Greenville street in Dallas: stretch Hummers circling and big bass thumping from the passing cars. Show was poorly attended, but we pressed on, slept at Cooper Lake State Park, under the stars, felt the clod sting through my socks, woke with the birds and the hum of neighboring RVs revving their motors. The lake was brown and didn't move much and we all passed on jumping in and instead pressed forward, through Texarkana and on into Arkansas. Stopped at Lake Catherine State Park for some cold-water laps and shivering teeth. We began filming our band movie, to be completed in the "exquisite corpse" process, except each director must film the same scene, just in his own style. The scene shows Sam Miller (muscles) leaping through shallow water and challenging Michael Baird ( chips ) to a martial-arts duel. Michael is defeated and flung into the lake. I'm supposed to direct the next chapter. An alternate storyline we've considered: Sam find out as an adult he is actually the son of Pauly Shore, and goes on a murderous killing spree to cope with the pain. That was my idea. That evening, I drank several large coffees and several red bulls (they now have HUGE red bull cans), and continued on to Fall Creek Falls State Park, which is probably the coolest place in all of Tennessee... nobody around, place all to ourselves, sound of running water, late night fires and whiskey. We woke the next day and hiked to the base of the largest U.S. waterfall east of the rockies and swam in the small creek, stood in one of the only stands of virgin forest left in the southeast, and headed further down the road. Forgot to close the back door, then had to turn back and retrace steps and found that most of our gear had fallen from the van's rear. Now I have no clothes.... so it goes. Further down the road, bathed in an ice-cold creek, the pleasant aromatic sting of Dr. Bronner's soap all over my body and warm sunshine to dry me off. Kept moving, here I am. Tonight: camping in Great Smokey Mountains. Tomorrow: Celo, North Carolina.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

tour plans

we are playing pecan street festival at 2pm today. maybe it won't be totally the best thing ever, but they have those roast turkey legs and you can bet yer bottom dollar i'm gonna get me one a dem, cept made from that tofurkey concoction.

pecan street fest, on 6th street: austin 2pm

tonight, dallas TX :: the cavern, we are playing at around 9 - 10pm ? we will start the show when it seems like nobody is showing up anymore.

it's directly across from taco c, in case you were wondering.

then we're driving out to atlanta lake state park, just north of lake caddo. camping on the water, waking with the sun, some whiskey. then off east across arkansas and up high into the appalaichans. more camping and whiskey to follow.

then into the super quaker community called celo, in north carolina. we are playing the junior high there. i hear they are fixing us dinner at the junior high.

then chapel hill, where our friend daniel from physics of meaning set us up a show at the night light with ted dancin'. we will be nenamed rhea pearlman for the show.

then straight up to nyc, where we're playing three gigs and recording at WNYU, who has been spinning the new record. we have a few days off and maybe we'll hit rockaway beach and jump around the waves.

then off to boston, to record at WZBC, with ning nong radio, aka jim. i think he's putting us up for the night/ we might be playing the middle east that next night, but no confirmation as of yet.

then i think we're heading up to cape cod, where there's a cabin that willis' great grandfather built or something, and it's on the water and there's a small sailboat and we're gonna hit the waves again.

then on down to philly, where the cool dudes at the blog thing
"yvynyl" have set up a show for us at The Marvelous, a rad record shop. this is the 17th now.
so we have a day off the next day, gonna hit up the country, maybe chill in philly, who knows?

19th we play in pittsburgh with some super cool bands. apparently tobi vail is playing and that's sweet, cuz my friend joey would always jam this bikini kill tape in high school and it was super heavy and made an impression, fo sho.

then we drive to rock island and record at daytrotter, getting the live feeling. after that, maybe stop in bloomington for some cocktails and hit the world's biggest mcdonald's straddling I-35 in oklahoma. if you haven't been there, it's truly insane, depressing, and fascinating, like a much less dramatic and slower version of an atomic bomb exploding in your backyard.

then back to austin for some local fun. we've been recording lots and there's lots more stuff on the way. several albums worth, with styles varying from drone folk to plain folk to american pop and just plain drone.

each record is going to be whatever it is, the energy of that time period we recorded it. hope to have some of you along for the ride.