#gibson #martin #guitars #blues
Do you see the face?
I’ve never been to California. Well I was in LAX once. I took in some of the local culture. Excellent cinnabon. Mike had only been to San Diego. My cousin Hannah gave us a pep talk after Mike and I spent the entire Sunday after the Half Moon Bay show on her couch. In our defense I was working for most of it, and Mike had a fantasy football league to win. She had a point, we were in San Francisco. We needed to explore.
So the next two days, Mike and I decided to be tourists. Monday we went hiking at Tilden Regional Park. Can you see the face? I think it looks a little Hitler-ish. The strange thing is that I took this picture from multiple angles and you always see the face. Maybe some lazy piece of shit got his wish and was reincarnated as a tree.
We started our first set with electric guitar and full drum kit. After the first song it was pretty clear that we were way too loud for the room, and at 7pm, it was still very much a dinner crowd. I had suspected as much when booking the show and suggested an acoustic set, but the booking person assured me that they had full bands in there all the time.
So after receiving only polite applause for our first set, I called an audible and Mike and I grabbed my acoustic guitar and the djembe out of the van. Initially I didn’t even load my acoustic into the van, but after some deliberation, threw it in at the last minute. And that one decision not only had a profound impact on the rest of that night, it affected how we would perform for the rest of the tour. Our acoustic set was a night and day difference from our first set. People were dancing, making requests, buying cd’s, tshirts and beers for us during our set breaks.
At the end of our last set, a group of about 15 women who were out for a 40th birthday party showed up during our second to last song. We were done, but they wanted more. They started throwing down $20’s asking for more music. When I play around MInneapolis, money really the last thing on my mind. But touring is a completely different animal. It’s expensive, and our tour van doesn’t run on artistic integrity. So we went into full titty bar mode. They kept throwing down cash and we kept entertaining. They were buying drinks and shots and throwing a bunch of money around. (Half Moon Bay is a pretty wealthy area) We made $100 in tips in that final half hour. Thank you generous Cougars. Your donations to the “Mike and Justin don’t want to sleep in the van” fund were greatly appreciated.
What is this super burrito that you speak of?
While waiting for our set at the Oakland First Fridays Art Festival, Mike and I decided to explore Telegraph street. And we also wanted a beer. We stumbled upon the nearest dive bar and the Kiwi bartender made us feel right at home. We didn’t realize it at the time, but the bar where we chose to wet our whistle was Oakland’s legendary stork club. Back in 2008 Green Day played a secret show there under the name Foxboro Hot tubs. We were offered the 1am slot, but seeing as it was only 8pm at the time, we knew that playing after sitting at the bar for 5 hours would be a shit show. And we had another show the following night that was going to pay for a third of our touring expenses, so getting shitfaced probably wasn’t the best idea. I’m going to give us a minus five on rock star points for that decision. Plus 10 for professionalism.
Picked up these bad boys in Berkeley. Big thanks to Kody Goodson for the sick artwork, and Fantasy T-shirts for cranking them out in a week. And after paying the 9% California sales tax, all I can say to Californians is, you’re welcome.
When we woke up, chain law was lifted. The skies were clear, no snow on the forecast. We packed up and hit the road. This was one of the three overturned semi’s that we saw on the stretch of highway 80 on the way to the hotel that we originally booked. So needless to say, we made the right decision by staying in Lander for the night.
This stretch was going to be a haul. 14 hours straight from Lander to San Fran, only stopping for gas. It was my turn to drive, and for whatever reason I always try to be a hero. When I get in the zone, I feel like I can drive forever. My dad and I once drove from Flaggstaff, AZ to Minneapolis straight through, the whole time trying to convince each other that neither of us was tired.
Once we got out of Wyoming the roads were way less sketchy. When we were routing our tour, Mike didn’t want to stay in Utah because of their Draconian drinking laws. But when we crossed the border, we were overwhelmed by the mountain scenery, and appreciative of the fact that unlike Wyoming, Utah had pretty immaculately plowed highways.
About 12 hours into the drive we stopped for gas in Reno, and I had to use the bathroom. Like everything else in Reno, of course our gas station was also a casino. I’m sure that even their churches have at least one slot machine. The ladies room was right in the entryway, but the signs that directed me to the mens room took me through two rooms full of slot machines. Merely a coincidence i’m sure. After hitting the bathroom (no slot machines in there) I ventured back through the gaming rooms and decided to throw a dollar in a slot machine. Max bet. Boom. Won 25 cents. Right as I was about to cash out my windfall, the pit boss comes over and says “sir if you don’t put your hood down, i’ll need to ask you to leave.” It was like 20 degrees out and I was only wearing a hoodie so I had my hood up. After resisting my natural instincts to be a dick to pseudo-authority figures enforcing arbitrary rules, I responded “actually i’m just getting gas. It’s cold out there.” He says, “Sir, I don’t know of any casino in Nevada that allows people to wear a hood.” I reply, “but this is a gas station.” He shrugs his shoulders. I grab my 25 cents and am on my way.
We arrived at my cousin Hannah’s place in Berkeley around midnight. I’m not sure if it was the ocean air in my lungs or the fukishima radiation in my brain, but I immediately felt a sense of calm in the bay. I had a feeling that I was going to enjoy the hell out of California.
Our day started out pretty ambitiously. Sure it was cold as balls out, but Mike and I got up early and cranked out a few miles on the treadmill and elliptical in the hotel gym. We missed the hot breakfast by 10 minutes, but from the stories i’ve heard about the food quality at a typical free hotel breakfast, we may have dodged a salmonella tipped bullet.
It was Mike’s turn to drive so I nodded off for a bit. When I woke up we were in the heart of Wyoming, and I was excited to see all of her natural beauty in the light of day. And she did not disappoint. There were oil drilling platforms, slightly larger oil drilling platforms, and fracking operations as far as the eye could see. Truly gods country. If god were a multinational corporation. (Make it happen supreme court) I wanted to stop and partake in some of the local pastimes like, lighting your tap water on fire, but alas, we had a schedule to keep.
It started to snow pretty heavily as the sun went down. We were a couple hours away from our hotel when we missed a turn we were supposed to make. Mike pulled over and was about to bust a U-ie, but the van started leaning to the right, and we began to sink into the snow. The snow plow had plowed the shoulder flat, and made it look like there was about two extra feet of pavement. Mike tried to back us out of the ditch but we just kept sinking deeper and deeper.
We were stuck.
For those of you who know me, you know that before I bought the van, I drove a tricked out honda civic.
I bought it because it got great gas mileage, and was rock solid mechanically. But the previous owner had modified it a lot, including dropping it several inches and throwing on 17” low pro racing tires. So as you can imagine, it was a nightmare to drive in the Minnesota winter. But I drove it through about 5 of them, getting stuck more times than I can count. In the process, I got pretty good at getting vehicles unstuck.
So I hopped in the drivers seat of the van and began to apply the knowledge that I had acquired while driving my gold clown car. I’d back up a couple inches and hit the brakes, back up a couple more, and brake, all while Mike froze his fingertips off (literally) pushing from the front. It took about 20 minutes, but we were able to get er out. And of course right after we were done, somebody driving a big ass truck stopped and offered to pull us out. Mike suffered mild frost bite on his fingertips on account of the fingerless hobo gloves he was wearing. nothing a couple beers at the hotel couldn’t fix.
We were back on the road, but the snow wasn’t letting up at all. Visibility was getting worse, but we were only about an hour away from the hotel, so we pressed on. We started seeing signs saying that chain law was in effect. What the fuck is chain law? We thought we should probably ask someone before venturing down a poorly lit mountain pass in a Honda Odyssey during a blizzard. There was a semi pulled over on the shoulder so we stopped and asked him what the deal was. He told us that we weren’t getting to our hotel tonight. He said that the freeway was a skating rink, and that our best bet was to double back and get a hotel for the night in a town called Lander. So that’s what we did.
The best western in Lander, WY was our castle for the evening. We checked in and I awkwardly tried to negotiate us a deal. I tried the whole, “we’re starving artists on tour who prepaid for our hotel room that we are unable to reach due to the weather.” The clerk wasn’t having it, and we ended up paying full price. So Mike and I just stole some cookies from the lobby instead. Take that best western!
After an 8 hour drive through a snowstorm, we needed a drink. Luckily our hotel had an attached bar. And this particular bar happened to have a water slide going through it. The bar was open, but unfortunately the water slide was closed. You win some, you lose some.
So about an hour into our 8 hour journey to Rapid City, SD, Mike gets a call from his dad who says, “you know that you’re driving directly into a snow storm right?” This was our first run in with the weather system that sounded like a cross between an alien race on star trek, and a jamaican 1-900 number psychic. Winter storm Cleon. See that big green patch in South Dakota. Yeah we drove straight through that. It wasn’t fun but we made it to our hotel in one piece.
When we saw the pile of our stuff sitting outside the van we thought there was no way way we’d be able to pack it all in. But we managed to make it work. I knew all those hours I spent playing Tetris on my gameboy would come in handy someday.
People keep asking me how it went and i’m already beginning to forget the stories. But I have a feeling that i’m going to want to have a record of this stuff when i’m old. Sure i’ll have a sweet robot body by then, but i’ll be constrained by the limitations of my rock star damaged brain. So i’ve decided to post it all after the fact. A retrospective if you will.
So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Local Rhythm West Coast Tourmageddon 2013! (working title)