Wednesday, October 11, 2006

20% more rock for free!!

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As a tribute to NASCAR, the guy in front of us (in the left lane no less) kept his left blinker on for miles up the interstate as we headed north and west from the capital city of NC to do a long weekend of Ass-Kickin’ in Charleston, WV, Columbus and Wapakoneta, Ohio. We see each other occasionally when we’re not playin’ that much and there’s usually a lot of catching up to do, as well as some strategizing for future “ignunce”.
An hour or 2 up the road Jack has his earbuds in, Greg is studying to become a licensed electrical engineer, Dave is smoking and listening to the Yankees game on XM and I’m over there sitting shotgun and turning phrases in my head. We stop at a combo KFC/Long John Silver’s and it’s just the beginning of a really bad food day. For late lunch, I had the (imaginatively titled) “2 fish” plate and Jack and Greg got macaroni & cheese-whiz. My son Will, came along to do merch, play drums on a couple of songs and pretty much just to get out of school for his birthday. I loved having him with us.
It started raining off and on once we hit the WV and it was coming down pretty hard at the club, The Empty Glass (empty is right!). We walked in and these people didn’t know what the hell to think of us. They’re sittin’ there watching Ultimate Fighting all cross-eyed and snaggle-toothed, pickin’ their noses and drinkin’ one Schlitz after another and here we come in all happy and shit. We set up in a flash are ready to rock about 2 hours before showtime. We get hungry again and the soundman, “Roadblock” (I shit you NOT!) offers to burn us a couple of pizzas. We accept the offer and he doesn’t disappoint. They come out, black as promised.

Jack, Will and my very own self personally take one look and we’re out the door to a nearby Wendy’s, where every employee in there is in a crouched position ready to run out the door as soon as the clock hits 10pm. It’s 9:55 when we get there and there’s one baked potato left that Jack and I decide to split. The last 2 Caesar salads come out and there’s bacon all over’m so scratch that. Oh well, what do ya expect? We walked back in the rain, still hungry.
The show was like clockwork, an ass kickin’ of biblical proportions. It was Bip! Bamm! Boom! It was a left jab, a right to the jaw and then a roundhouse blow that put the crowd DOWN!... both of’m! Our audience, besides the inbreds at the bar, was the 2 guys that called themselves Holy Cow, who were to play next. Fortunately, we missed their set as we packed up faster than we loaded in and headed on up the highway to our rooms in Columbus. But the way we looked at the show was that it was a paid practice (2 six packs and 2 burnt pizzas) and it helped us shake off the cobwebs before the REAL shows of the next 2 nights.
The six packs were gone in a hurry as we listened to Big Star and ELO almost all the way to Ohio. Dave found the soul station on XM and it was decided that Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” was from that moment on gonna be used as our “outro” music, as we left the stage. The next day Jack downloaded it and made a CD for that express purpose.
We got to the rooms at 3:30 am and the alarm on Friday morning came mighty early. We had to be at the radio station ready to rock by 11:06 am. Dan and those guys were cool.
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Jack crying over spilt merch!

We did three songs acoustically (You Know Me, Raindrops and Feel a Drunk) and chatted a bit about the show that evening.
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We left there, had lunch and then it was back to bed. After naptime we had some shopping to do. I had left a bag including three baseball gloves and Will’s shoes laying in Jack’s yard to get rained on all weekend so we had to go find Will another pair. When we got back to the rooms we felt like a game of Wiffleball was in order. Dave and I beat Greg and Will (who crushed a couple of our pitches!) by the score of 11-5 in about 7 innings. It was a blast. The weather was perfect.
We unloaded the gear at Little Brothers at 8 pm and Watershed was still getting their thing together so we walked up the street to a restaurant called North Star which was voted by some food mag to be the best place to eat in Columbus…at any price.
I recommend the Buddha Bowl, Tofu and vegetables on brown rice with a satay sauce.
We played the gig about 10:30 or so and the soundman had the intro as the outro and vice versa but what the hey…so we had to come on to Harold Melvin and them boys..oh well.
The show rocked and we had fans there, as usual, that we didn’t know we had, many from outta town. Most everybody dug the shit out of it and a few even left after we were done (realizing that “nothing was gonna kick any more ass than that!”). I had one lady (and I love when this happens) come up and thank me for keeping rock and roll alive. “Uhhh..OK , you’re welcome. (whatever!)” I mean I AM trying to keep it alive..but hell it IS alive! So you’re keeping it alive by listening to it and wanting to hear it! Anyway, we sold a good amount of merch and we hung around till the end to see our friends Watershed rock the house. They had their crowd singing along to songs and shit. They got me up on “Battleship Chains” to play drums. I played it Mauro style.
On a beautiful “Chamber of Commerce” Saturday afternoon we drove to Wapakoneta and got to Rhythm and Brews about 4. There were technical things we had to work on but we finally gave up and ate some really great pizza (that wasn’t burnt!!) as we watched the Yankees get eliminated.
We decided to give the crowd that evening “20% more rock for free!” and they got all that and more. The first hour was the “hits”, or what we call the hits…..”Killin’”, “Weather or Not”, “Boyfriend 2”, “Feel a Drunk”, “Thunderbird”, “Check Please” and all that bunch. We stopped and took a break and signed a few things before I grabbed the guitar and started into “Church Folks” and then “37 Miles”. The second set usually consists of “B sides”, “I Love You Period”, “Purple GTO”, “Man That Rocks”, “Yesterday’s You” and such, ending with “S.L.U.T”. Three encores later and I was drunk, even though I hadn’t touched a drop until the very end. Dave was given the bottle of Jagermeister from the bargirl which he promptly proceeded to pour it down our throats. Then he went into the crowd to share. At some point I looked out and Dave was standing on one of them fancy eatin’ tables and playing the shit outta that guitar, good God a’ Mighty it was rockin’!! Next thing I knew Greg was on the floor with his Nord keyboard beating the shit out of it and Will was playing drums. I was out there screaming at people and taking their pictures while Jack is over there spinning like a top!
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There’s really no way to describe how much fun we had that night but I know one damn thing…they got more than 20% more rock for free!! It was definitely one of the highlight shows for the OakTeam this year. Ron said, “In the 9 years that I’ve owned this club, that was the most fun I’ve EVER had in this place!..and that ain’t no shit!!”
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Club owner, Ron

We left the stage and I noticed on my cell phone that my wife had called. I called her back and she said that my friend wanted to talk to was Ian McLagan. She had gone to his show in Raleigh and he asked how I was and so she put him on the phone. God bless him, he’s going though a tough time right now. Go see him if you get the chance, he needs your love. That dude is really, really great!!
On the 8 hour trip home Greg was killing us singin’ Michael McDonald hits in the dudes voice. “What do like about Michael, Greg?” “I like his beard”, Greg says.
We were so tired in that van ride home, like we had gone 12 rounds with the heavyweight champ. But at least we knew we had won the fight.

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