Friday Jan.25, 2008
The puddle jump from Raleigh to Baltimore was over before it began and it made me wonder what Lewis and Clark would have thought of these flying contraptions. It was a short layover and 6 hours later our successfully boring flight to San Diego was landing. My stomach was hurting with hunger as Southwest doesn’t provide meals anymore, even on these long flights, just peanuts and diet chocolate chip cookies.
As I walked out of the airport, there was the shuttle to the hotel, right on time. Easy check-in, everything was paid for and awaiting my arrival. I had a couple Guinness drafts at the bar before heading up to my room to fight with the zipper on my bag for about 20 minutes. It finally surrendered so I wiped the sweat away and laid down.
Saturday Jan.26, 2008
The Fabulous Knobs, after being injected with the mischief of NRBQ, used to do a play in the middle of our show. In the play, David Enloe would pretend to be waking early from a late night and scream “Go to Hell!” at someone cutting grass outside or otherwise making annoying loud noises. That’s what I felt like this morning as I looked out my window at 7am and saw the construction on a high rise where the jackhammer noise was coming from. This was NOT going to work but I needed to get on up anyway to insure not missing the boat, literally. I walked the street outside a bit and grabbed a coffee. Finally it was time to board the ship.
The cattle line wasn’t so bad and I breezed right on through already having the necessary paperwork in hand. I was starved since I basically had not eaten since leaving NC so I went straight to the Lido deck on the 9th floor where the mess hall was. Grouper, salad and melon hit the spot and we still had an hour or so to wait for our rooms so I went on the top deck where the basketball court was and shot a few airballs. In my mind I could hear the Dukies shouting, “airbaaaaall, airbaaaaall, airbaaaaall!.”
I met up with cabin neighbor and fellow Dinkie, Jim Chapdelaine (heretofore known as Winky Dinky )and we got caught up on things. Later I ran into some other friends and they invited me to eat dinner with them. I wasn’t really hungry but I was starting to get sleepy (being on West Coast time and all) so I figgered I’d get it over with. After my appetizer and some not so stimulating conversation ;
me- “So what do you do in Nashville, Eddy?”
…..mmmmmm. OK, that was engaging.
…I began to feel sick. I was a queasy and uneasy feeling and I couldn’t figger out why. Then I realized what was going on, along with some loud banging going on outside the boat was starting to rock a little. I inhaled my Mahi and excused myself. I knew at this point I would be missing the live performances that evening. I stopped by Jim’s cabin and grabbed a couple Dramamine tablets. I laid on my bed and read Mac’s “All the Rage” for about 10 minutes before I had to just give up for the night. I woke up 12 hours later.
Sunday Jan.27, 2008
After breakfast I flung up a few more airballs and then headed back to my room to watch one of the best bad movies ever “Pajama Party” with Annette Funicello. It’s a ridiculous story that somehow links together hot babes, lunkheads, an Indian (BusterKeaton), an idiot biker gang, bad surf music and a nice old lady with a lot of money.
3pm practice in Al’s room was blast. Michael Rhodes is a badass bass player, y’all and an all around great guy. His wife, Lindsey is from NC and cool as well. I got back to the my room and DIDN’T watch the feature movie, “Titanic”.
The temp was in the high 50’s at gig time (7:30), but we were all in a sweat by the end of the first song “Pawn Shop Guitars”. We did about a dozen more numbers and worked the crowd into a dance frenzy. It’s funny how young old people can get when the beat takes over their bodies. We had sushi afterwards and caught the last half of Raul Malo’s show. He’s gotta be one of the best singers in America, with the silky smoothness of Elvis and Roy Orbison’s range he can sing just about anything. Watched “Airplane” and went to bed.
Monday Jan.28, 2008
I felt the boat swaying as the morning sunlight peaked through the curtains. I knew what this meant, we were getting close to port. Without a stitch of clothing I went out on my deck (they are mostly all private) and started taking pictures. The scenery was astounding. Minus the unicorns and leprechauns, I saw this rainbow shooting in the sky from out of a mountain.
Soon I saw blowholes from whales and stingrays jumping out of the water to save their own asses from the sharks. What kind of place was this? So surreal the scene that I had to lay down again just in case I hadn’t really woken up yet. Jim and I and our friends Jennifer and Joy took a lifeboat to shore and began checking out Cabo San Lucas.
We ran into Michael (Kinky Dinkie) and found a little bar to hang out at and have a few cheap Mexican beers. Joy, Jim and I caught a cab over to the beach and had a ceremony for Jim’s friend, Amy. She died of breast cancer last year and loved Cabo. Jim said a few words as he let her ashes blow over the beach. A few yards up the beach we ran into Tom (Raul’s drummer ) and his friend, Thea. They told us about a good place for margaritas so we followed them there. This was the beginning of the end for me. Once again I successfully missed all of the live performances that evening on the boat.
Tuesday Jan.29, 2008
Not feeling so very good a lot, I opted to stay on the boat today even though we were in port at a brand new town, Mazatlan. I heard it was beautiful but the locals hawking silver were like vultures. It was hot and sticky in the morning so I decided that this would be a good day to hang in my room and read and run a few song ideas through my head. In the evening I picked election coverage over live boat performances. This meant that I had been on the boat for 3 days and had only seen half an hour of music even though it was going on constantly every day after noon.
Wednesday Jan.30, 2008
Once again feeling the boat coming into port I peaked out the curtains and saw the silhouette of the Sierra Madres as they hid the morning sun. There was an expressway below with a flat screen billboard showing ads. As the sun crept up I began to see more and more of what was just behind the freeway, a frickin’ WAL-MART!
I can’t get away from them damn things! After my usual smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, I met up with all of the Dinky family members (minus Al, who never leaves the boat) and we had fabulous time just walking around the old town and boardwalk of Puerto Vallarta. It was a Camber of Commerce day weather wise, as they say, which made our visit all the more pleasant. We walked up a hill overlooking the water and the town and then descended to a little waterfront café, Las Palomas for fish tacos, ceviche and guacamole. The cool breeze blew in as we just hung out, ate and enjoyed the view and the company.
About 1 or 2pm we wandered back on to the boat, without souvenirs. Back in my room, I read some more and rested for a while. The time change really got to me this trip.
After some sushi about 7:30, Al was doing a Songwriter Show down at the Queen’s Lounge. It’s an intimate 200 seater, with about another 100 standing. Also on the show were Raul Malo, Sharon Vaughn and Winky Dinky as guitar sideman. Winky wanted to KILL the soundman who was clearly inept and made his guitar sound more like a kazoo than a guitar, and to add insult to injury he had to piss really bad but couldn’t excuse himself. I was invited to a party on the 8th floor but declined, opting instead for ice cream. Not wanting to feel bad the next day for the gig. I stop by Jim’s (Winky’s) room before calling it a night. He wasn’t there but just as I was entering my room I saw him round the corner. All of a sudden I noticed a noise not unlike a home fire alarm, just a tone, a steady annoying tone. We were talking about how he wanted to kill the soundman and would I help when that noise took over the conversation, “you think there’s a fire or something?” We were a bit worried. We say our goodnights and Jim’s room key doesn’t work. He walks to the Service Desk on the 1st floor. While he’s there he asks the lady about that noise. “Do you hear that?” “Yes, I do” she says. “I’m sure everything is fine, sir”. He goes back to his room still puzzled and with his new key goes inside and starts to get ready for bed. He pulls out his wallet and his other small cargo from his pockets. He takes out his tuner…Beeeeeeeeeeep! The noise was his damn tuner the whole time, accidentally pushed to the mode that just plays a note.
January 31, 2008
Took it easy most of the morning, shot a few hoops with our friend Jennifer but the wind was pretty stupid strong. I was shooting at the left edge of the backboard in order to make anything! At about 2pm James Hunter took the Lido Deck stage. He was (and I guess, still is) a white Englishster dude who started the show sounding like Sam Cooke and finished it sounding like James Brown. It was a good band with two horn guys and was a perfect backdrop for watching whales on a beautiful day.
At 6pm, we had rehearsal in Al’s room that turned out to be a lot of fun. Jo-El Sonier stopped by to learn Battleship Chains. Jo-El is a badass on accordion. He showed up to the room without his instrument and just went thru the finger motions. At show time, 9:45pm, the wind was absolutely howling. Hats were flying off of people’s heads and into the Pacific 50 feet below. The boat was in a constant sway and the drums became a challenge to play while they were moving around. But from the first note of “Get Rhythm” The Dinkies were on fire! One after another we blistered OakTeam-like from one song into the next, so loose, so tight and so much damn fun! After we killed “Battleship” with Jo-El, Al went into a song he had a big hit with by The Mavericks, “All you ever do is bring me down”. Jo-El played great on that one too. The whole show was rockin’ and despite the cold breeze we were again sweating our asses off. “If you’re cold, you ain’t dancing!” I shouted in the 50 degree 50 mph winds. After the show we went up to the lounge on the other end of the boat to “party”. As per my agreement with myself of “no drinking on the boat unless it’s free”, I had been pretty sober most of the trip. But I wasn’t about to turn down a couple of red wines if they were handed to me.
Thanks Kinky and Minky!
We learned that the “money” guys on the boat were really impressed with the show, so much so that they called it one of the 2 best shows ever on the Delbert Blues Cruise.
We saw a rock star moment when Raul accidentally knocked over and broke a glass and then picked up another one and threw it against the wall while he was at it.
February 1, 2008
I like to guess the time when I get up in the mornings and at other times of the day.
I’m usually within 15 minutes correct. This morning I guessed it was 9:15am and finally found the time on the TV to concur. 8:15! How can I be that far off?! I was redeemed when I later found out that we had lost an hour overnight. It was cloudy and chilly and we were obviously getting back closer to the US. I was still laughing at our conversations from the night before and mostly about our misuse and abuse of the word, dinky. My favorite was the term “dink tank”, as in a room you go into to get dumber. Clever boys we were, we thought of everything but the kitchen dink…sorry about that one. It was like The Flintstones and all of their rock references.
Late morning as I was packing, the boat got wobbly again. I took a Dramamine and woke up from a nap at about 1:30pm. Had lunch and ran into Al and we decided to meet up at his room to listen to the recording from the night before. It sounded pretty damn rockin’.
There was a buzz about this guy Paul Thorn so after dinner Jim and I decided to check him out. About halfway through the second song we left. We came back at 9 for Delbert’s week-ending-blues-free-for-all. Miraculously we stayed for almost 4 whole songs before I announced that I’d rather be watching “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”, which is what I went and did after stopping by Kinky and Minky’s room.
February 2, 2008
I was ready to go home and while it felt like a high school reunion most of the time, there were lots of poignant moments too. Our ceremony for Jim’s friend Amy comes to mind as well as our dedication of “Trip Around the Sun” at each gig to a very sick (co-writer) Stephan Bruton. Not the least of these moments were our times with a girl named Cindy from Columbia, NC. Her doctors gave her 3 months to live 6 months ago and she booked this trip anyway and came and lived every moment of it with a big ‘ol smile on her face (especially when I gave her my sticks after our second gig). Our friend Suzy took special care of her (being a nurse) and gathered CD’s and other signed merch from all of the artists to present to her. Every year I meet a few very inspirational “bucket listers”. Last year I met a lady named Linda who must not have made it or I feel sure she’d have been back. They all want, understandably one more breath of joy, happiness, good times and good music. I’m always really thankful when I can be part of something cool like that.
Keep on rockin’, Cindy!
The flight back was along one with stops in San Antonio and Orlando. When I landed at RDU I was more than ready for the world to stop moving below my feet.
But as usual, it was a pressure and I really endured it!