November 20, 2009
Yay, finally another show. They have been few and far between this year. I’m almost glad to see the end of 2009. Never good to say that, though; I should savor every day, every moment!
Kyle’s band, The People Now, is playing at the Baltic Room on Capitol Hill Saturday the 21st . We’re staying at the Paramount Hotel, also on Pine, just a few blocks west. I wasn’t going to go because I haven’t been sleeping well, and we have so much going on. But, everyone was buzzing about it at the office, so I thought maybe we should go. Kyle’s band is so good. He really appreciates the support, too. We finally get to stay downtown. We haven’t been anywhere overnight since February. Wow. Even better, his boss paid for the room on the company credit card!! Kind of a mini-bonus. He knows P’s been working overtime and traveling a lot lately, so that was a nice thank-you. We’ll just have to pay for dinner and admission to the show. Unfortunately, his show doesn’t start till midnight. We’re planning on shopping (oh yeah, the package deal included parking, $50 Macy’s gift card and $10 Starbucks!) and then taking a nice nap in the afternoon, I hope. The Baltic also has a late happy hour from 9-11. We can have an early dinner somewhere, then hit the happy hour (can you say Beecher’s Mac-N-Cheese for $5?) right before show time. Should be an interesting night. Hoping to remember to take the camera.
Saturday, November 21
The Baltic Room
The People Now (Kyle Wimbish and friends)
We did it, we made it to midnight to support Kyle. I’m so glad we went because no one else from work made it, the wimps! After dropping off dog at his daycare, and confirming with the boy to lock up when he goes to his sleepover, we were off.
We checked in to the Paramount Hotel before 2:00 and were able to get right in to our room. In the lobby, we waited with a guy who must have been a roadie with the band Them Crooked Vultures, who were playing at the Paramount Theater across the street! [Another co-worker went to this show and said it ROCKED, so I was very disappointed we didn't go] He had long, curly gray hair, skinny jeans and a rugged face. He asked the hotel clerk for directions to I-5, so definitely not local. I love that feeling of knowing someone is famous or attached to someone famous!
Once checked in we took the elevator to the 4th floor. We had a nice corner room with big windows on both sides. We could see the Grand Hyatt across the street and Von’s restaurant, a nice cocktail bar/eatery. We dined at Von’s before the Ryan Adams show over a year ago, I believe. We were also given our “goody” bag from the clerk, which included coupons to local restaurants in Pacific Place, and our Macy’s and Starbucks gift cards. Score!
We got settled in and decided to get a late lunch because we were starving. We walked a block or so to Pacific Place and ate at Mexico. Their mojitos do taste like Mexico! Really good food, very filling.
The weather was cold and damp, but not pouring yet, so we headed to Macy’s to spend the gift card. So many floors, and we’re boiling hot! After about ½ hour of browsing, we finally found the right department. I was stressing over finding the right top to wear to the show. After reading the website info on The Baltic Room, I assumed it would be a young, nicely dressed crowd.
Back to the hotel…we decided to stay in for a while and hang. It was only about 5:00 by this point; we had 7 hours to go!!
Around 7:00 we decided we’d better get some dinner. We went downstairs to Dragonfish, but too long of a wait. We looked outside, and realized it was pouring way too hard to run down to Von’s. We headed back to the room and decided to order room service. We got it within 10 minutes, I’m sure! We had delicious chicken in a spicy red sauce, edamame, and pot stickers. Just enough to tide us over for a while.
We watched some college ball – Oregon vs. Arizona – OR pulled off a win in double OT, which made us crabby.
I was getting sleepy, but we decided to leave for the show sometime after 9:30. We called for a taxi and took a wet and windy ride around the corner and over the freeway to The Baltic Room, just east of I-5. I thought we were a little late arriving, but there was hardly anyone in the place. It was more like the Tractor than a disco/nightclub. There was an older crowd, very laid back, nothing like I pictured. I thought it would be an upscale, young crowd. Now I had buyers remorse and foot remorse for not wearing my cowboy boots and instead settling for my high-heeled vinyl boots!
Kyle showed up close to 10:00. We greeted him, and left soon after to get food. There was no food at the bar that night. There was a wedding party upstairs in the balcony area, and if they served any food at all, it would be for them. I was disappointed, as I was looking forward to the Beecher’s Mac-N-Cheese. Oh well. Sometimes when a door closes, a window opens.
For example, we walked outside, took a right, and right next door, was a little Italian restaurant called Machiavelli’s. OMG, it was like we were back in Italy! Hand rolled gnocchi, fettuccine carbonara, bread and oil, deliciosso! Then we were brave and ordered dessert, El Diplomatico, like a tiramisu, only way better: all chocolate, with cocoa powder sprinkled on top, tons of whipped cream. Truly amazing; I wanted to lick the plate! We ate everything. I couldn’t believe it. P ordered a drink and later coffee. The total bill with tax and tip was $40!!! That’s it!!
Back to Baltic Room with full bellies. We tried to chat with Kyle when we could, but it was really hard to hear in there.
There were three bands that night. The first band’s music sounded nice, but we couldn’t hear the vocalist. I wasn’t too fond of his high-pitched voice. The next band was good, a real blend of genres from ska, rock, hip-hop [unfortunately, I did not get a bill at the door to figure out who they were]. Then a long wait till Kyle and his band set up.
Kyle’s band was tight, but again we couldn’t hear the vocals clearly. We could hear Kyle, but couldn’t make out his lyrics at all. He was dynamic and barefooted on “stage” (floor). We rocked along. They played about 5 songs. He was so happy we showed up. I felt like we were witnessing the birth of the next Big Thing. They are so tight, so talented, so amazing. His lyrics are deep and full of power.
After a very long evening, we taxied home. It was easy to get a taxi there, as they all come down Pine from Capitol Hill. We were just about soaked, though, after waiting only a couple of minutes. We zipped back to our hotel and had a piece of bread that P doggie-bagged at the restaurant! Yum!
Slept in till about 8:30 and lazed around after our Starbucks coffee and breakfast treat. Time to get back to reality. It was a nice weekend getaway. Never seems long enough.
[Caution: I was quite crabby for this show, but managed to have a good time, eventually]
We ordered drinks…Sangria for me, a Manny’s for P. Then piles of food. I had verde enchiladas, but they were so loaded with guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, beans, rice, etc. that they were no longer recognizable. But they were good! P had carnitas. They were very tasty. He gave me a bite! A little nutmeg in the sauce, I think. P proceeded to have either another beer or whiskey and coke, can’t remember. I had my sangria and barely finished it before we left. It was pretty loud in there, so we had trouble talking. And it seemed like we didn’t have much to say. I think we were both a little tired.
We left right after the downpour. Luckily, it settled to a light rain. We had a few blocks to walk and cross the street to the Tractor. We were still early; only about 8:00 by this time. So we slipped in to Hattie’s Hat. They had a newspaperthe big Reverb show that was happening all day Saturday. Unfortunately, we would be going to Gig Harbor for football all day Sat. The Reverb show would have been a great thing to experience; maybe next year. They had bands playing all over Ballard and special restaurant deals, too. We read for a while. I ordered my Hattie’s Cosmo that I’d been thinking about for 2 months! I hate Great Expectations…it didn’t quite live up to my hype. A little on the sour side. Pat had a couple more whiskey cokes. I was getting tired and crabby. I don’t know why. The drinks were getting me down. So I tried to put on a forced sense of cheer, but I’m no good at that. We turned around, and there was the band behind us trying to order drinks. Had I been more mindful, I would have introduced myself and tried to start a conversation. Again, it was pretty loud in there, too, and I was still crabby.
We left about 9:00 and stepped in to the Tractor. We had our pre-ordered tix in hand, got our Cowboy stamp on our wrists, and we were in. It was dead, as usual, until right before the first show. We didn’t care, we were here. We ordered a couple more drinks. I took two sips of my vodka soda and gave up. I was done. Tired, not talkative. I must’ve been such a fun date!
At least we got to sit down for a while before the show. Right at 9:30 we moved to our favorite standing spot, left of stage, with a little table to rest our drinks and sweater, next to the keys and bass player (P’s not-so-secret crush) and of course, the bathrooms and water bucket.
The band, North Twin, was pretty much on time. I got excited then. They have two albums out. We have the second one, the first sold out. The set list (P asked the nice keyboard player for his after the show):
Motorbike (rockin’ song on 1st album)
You Can Never
Clear as Day
They are so amazing. Tight, great lead singer Tony, and of course the Sheryl Crow-esque bassist. The lead guitar is a mini-Will Kimbrough and rocks all the solos on the album and definitely brings the solos to life onstage. The drummer is really good, too. Keyboardist also played mandolin and accordion. Awesome. Very much a southern rock style.
Well, after giving up on my vodka, P brought me quite possibly the best coffee I’d ever had!! He thought he’d wake me up a bit. It worked! That’s it, I’m switching to coffee when we’re out late! It was in a Tony’s coffee mug, perfectly brewed, with real half-n-half. Yummy! I had seconds and then thirds! Probably not the smartest thing. I couldn’t sleep very well that night!
After their amazing set, P met a guy in the bathroom who said he was here for the Bottle Rockets and said he had one of their albums from 15 years ago. Wow. He was also blown away by North Twin and proceeded to buy one of their albums on P’s referral.
The Bottle Rockets are from Missouri. I heard them on MySpace and they had a familiar sound. They have that sourthern/country rock feel. Well, I guess they didn’t bring gear besides their guitars and borrowed North Twin’s stuff for the show. They promptly cranked the amps up. I was glad I brought ear plugs.
We didn’t know their music, and because of the volume and where we were standing (they had a guitarist where the keys were) we couldn’t hear the lyrics at all. This made for boring music for me, even though the beat was good. It was so incredibly loud it made me uncomfortable. After 3 songs, I asked P if we could step outside for a minute.
We went outside and I apologized for feeling old and tired, but it was too loud for me. He agreed. I don’t know why they had to crank the amps. It was just right for North Twin. We couldn’t get used to the noise, even with ear plugs. We listened outside for a bit, then went back in when P noticed North Twin members over by the t-shirt counter. We wanted to buy their other CD, but they were out. P talked briefly to the lead singer Tony, and then I gave him my prayer hands of thanks and told him we loved them, they were awesome. He thanked me. I asked P if he wanted to meet the bass player who was nearby, and he said he was ok. It was so loud, we couldn’t have talked to her anyway.
We decided to leave early. Wow. We are getting old! No more 2 am nights for us! Ha I drove home, as P was now feeling great. I was wide awake. We stopped at Dicks for a burger and milkshake. Yum, as usual.
We had a busy football day the next day, so we were glad to be home a little early.
Now it’s on to the next adventure. I don’t know what that is yet.
We went to Whistler at the end of July for our annual parents and kids crazy trip. This time, we had a little more “adult” time, as the kids are getting older and respond well to babysitters.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Counting Crows with Augustana
Marymoor Park, Redmond
Another great show, just one week after seeing the Gourds. Finally, I feel like we’re relaxed again and we can settle in to summer. It feels so good to be employed and have the freedom to go see shows without wondering if I’ll ever see another. We’ve never seen Counting Crows, so we were happy to hear they were playing at Marymoor Park on our anniversary. P was able to score amazing 8th row seats, just right of the stage.
I made it home from work by 4:00, and we were outta the house by 5:00. Boy refused to go to Grandma’s house, so he stayed at home. No big deal, he’s older now. We told him we’d call right after the show.
We took the back roads in to Redmond and decided to get a drink and appetizers at El Matador before the crawl into Marymoor Park. I knew it would be bad entering the park, because it was right at rush hour. So we got to take our time at the Matador and had great appetizers of ahi tuna and little southwest spring rolls with black beans and chicken. I had a mojito and P stuck to good ale. He, of course, ran into two people he knew there. They were actually two guys he went golfing with a couple of weeks before. It was weird, because he’d just met them at his friend’s golf getaway in Chelan, and there they were! I thought for sure we’d run into someone he knew at the show, too. They were really nice, but I noticed they’d checked me out when I first arrived and sat down by myself in the patio area while P had settled our drink tab at the bar. P then turned around and introduced me to them. Funny reaction. Anyway, they seemed nice.
After sitting in traffic for about ½ hour, we made it in to the park. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. We had time to go get a drink and some water, and then go find our seats. They really did start promptly at 7:15, as the email warned. We got to walk right up front of the stage to find our seats, which was cool.
Adam, the lead singer, was extremely energetic and bouncy all night. His fat, black locks bounced along with him as he jumped up and down off the front amps, jumped off his piano bench, and generally bounced around the stage.
He did something I’ve never seen an artist do before. Instead of having Augustana–a very young folk/pop band–open to a half-attending crowd, he insisted they play on stage with CC’s the whole night! It was great; the audience was ready to go at 7:15, and they were all up there together. A 12 piece band! He told the audience he’d been in Redmond for 4 days rehearsing and making sure this was going to work out. He said he didn’t sleep well, but he would tonight, as the show was a great success. He would mix in CC songs and then play on Augustana’s songs. Once in awhile he’d leave and let them play a few of their own. It made for a very lively, energetic night, with lots of great music.
Songs I recognized:
Mrs. Potter (my fave)
Rain King (with this song, he mixed in a medley of two or three other songs including Beatles’ Help From My Friends before returning to the Rain King finale
Cecilia (Simon and Garfunkel)
Stones song Sweet Virginia (got to scrape that shit right off yer shoes)
Lots of other CC songs, but I don’t remember their names, including stuff off their new album
Augustana has two songs they play regularly on the Mountain, one called Sweet and Low, I believe. They jammed together, and sounded great with Counting Crows and brought out the banjos and mandolin for some bluegrass foot-stomping. I really enjoyed Augustana and as a super group with Counting Crows.
We had to leave a little early, but they were on their last song of the evening: Pete Seeger’s This Land Is Your Land. It was a glorious finale for our anniversary night out.
Ahh. Life is good…again. Now we’re back in the swing of things. We have held off the shows this year due to my unfortunate job situation. Life is interesting. Now I’m full time again, so we were ready to roll! The boy went to camp all week, so we were free. We enjoyed a movie one night (The Hangover, totally funny from the beginning to an ending that made my cry with laughter all the way back to the car) good dinners, and then The Gourds. Although we had to work Friday morning, we were ready for a great Thursday night out.
The Gourds are one of our favorites; they are always a pleasure to watch and just feel their musical energy. They were at their scruffy, “unwashed and well-read” best, although the lead singer looked a little more clean-shaven, having shaved off most of the beard and leaving a long goatee.
Shinyribs (a.k.a. Kevin Russell of The Gourds) opened with acoustic versions of an old George Jones song, and even one called “Let Me Buy You a Drink” from T-Pain, which he called his ironic song, since he’s afraid all good music will now be played with robot voices. He probably played close to 45 minutes.
Finally, about 10:00 The Gourds came on. I was yawning already from my long day, but was so excited to see them again. We were again right up by the stage, in our favorite place, close to Max, the banjo/fiddle/slide guitar player and close to the water and bathrooms. They played many songs I liked but didn’t recognize, because they are off their latest album [I purchased it right after the show]. They also hit the old favorites like “My Name is Jorge” and our most favorite, “Pill Bug Blues”. Besides the faves, they also got busy with some amazing revival type songs that got people clapping for Jesus’ return and some crazy song about possums! I get more spiritual salvation from their music than I ever did in church.
There was a crazy drunk guy in the audience right behind me with a rainbow cowboy hat and a shirt that said, “Marriage is So Gay!” Too funny! Kev got a kick out of him, to a point, but he kept interrupting him with long howls of, “We loooovvve Auuustinnn!” or whatever the subject was. I kept looking back to see if he was going to throw up on my head, but he eventually drifted to the back and left early.
The Gourds played in a near-frenzied state for about an hour and a half, and then slowed it down a little. And when they get to a frenzied state, they are a sight to behold. They all line up and wail on their instruments. It’s something that is hard to put into words.
About 11:30, I was getting really tired, but I couldn’t give up now. I told P before we left to go to the show that I might break my own rules and leave the show before the encore, but he didn’t believe me! I was so tired, and so overheated. It was over 80 degrees that day, and even hotter in the tavern. I kept pounding the water, but I really needed to just get off my feet and get some fresh air. It was getting pretty ripe in there with all the sweaty bodies. My fingers were getting puffy from standing so long.
Well, I made it to the encore, so then I just had to stay and see what they played. I believe they played 3 more songs, so we were glad we stayed to the bittersweet end. I was sad it was over and we probably wouldn’t see them for another year; but I was happy to be back in the air-conditioned truck.
The Gourds are just so dynamic. Not only does Kev Russell sing, but the bassist Jimmy sings at least ¼ of the songs, and his fiddler Max sings 2-3 songs also. And this night, even the accordion player got to sing. He wasn’t great, but it was a cute song with a good beat.
I recently heard of a book that I must buy called Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks. He is a neurologist who has done studies about people’s reaction to music. I saw him interviewed recently by John Stewart. I am definitely one of those people who react so positively from music. He explained that some people have a very pleasurable reaction to music, in the same way that people have sexual pleasure. In fact, the reaction stems from the same portion of the brain. That would explain many of my behaviors toward music! I could never put my finger on it before; until P started noticing me at concerts several years ago and pointed out that I react in such a similar way. I really need to read that book! [I have since read it and loved it, although much of it focuses on brain disorders and brain injuries.]
After the show, we headed to Dick’s for our usual Special and shared a chocolate shake. I think I got about 4 hours of sleep, then back to work the next morning!
Next up, Counting Crows at Marymoor Park for our anniversary!
We got to Ballard around 8:00 and spent about 45 minutes just trying to find a parking space! It was crazy down there. Everyone was out enjoying the mild weather, so the restaurants were flowing out to the curb with people. Also, there was a strange bicycle race just south of Market Street, and the cops blocked off the side streets. The bikes must have made pretty tight turns in the two-block course. All the participants and cyclists parked alongside the course, which happened to be about a block from the Tractor, so we were screwed for parking. We drove around and around, hoping something would open up. Finally, people started leaving, so we were able to park about two blocks away.
We got to the Tractor about 9:00, but decided we were too hungry to go in just yet, so we ended up at Hattie’s Hat next door for some amazing salmon quesadillas and a cocktail. We love Hattie’s. It’s another dive bar with a few booths and a beautiful old walnut bar that must be at least 100 years old. They always serve good comfort food, much better than the bar standard. The Tractor doesn’t serve anything but nuts, so we knew we’d better eat before we committed to the 4 hours we’d spend there. We got lucky, and because of the bike race, they extended the start time of North Twin to 9:30. We walked right in and nabbed our little spot by the stage just in time for the show.
North Twin consisted of 5 musicians including a female bass player that looked like a smaller-featured version of Sheryl Crow. They were country-rock, leaning toward a big rock sound on some of the guitar solos. Very lively and entertaining. We enjoyed every song.
The Paperboys had a Celtic sound, but also infused rock, reggae, and Latino grooves. We loved them! Their seven-piece band consisted of lead singer/guitar, bass, long, blonde-haired twenty something female fiddle (I think P was in love with her, or possibly the bass player from North Twin, or both), flute/recorder (who was a real kick to watch), drummer, trumpet, sax. We heard loads of lively music, a Celtic medley, a couple of other songs where they kept the same tempo/key and would throw in popular song verses, and lots of original stuff from an upcoming new album. A foot-stomping, hand-clapping good time.
I should have brought the camera [Picture of North Twin shown is from show in October 2009]. I love watching the musicians’ faces, watching how much fun they are having, watching their reaction to the crowd, watching the crowd’s reaction and interaction with the band. We were on the far left side of the small stage and had a sideways view of the band. It’s a good spot, close to the water and the restrooms, and also not in the speaker blast zone. I like looking across the stage as the musicians line up at the mics. I missed my camera. We saw P’s “dad“, a man who looked so much like him, sitting at a little table on the other side of the stage. He was there with his tiny white-haired wife, and they were just living it up. He didn’t move around much, just watched and smiled. She was wiggling and clapping along in her chair. I told P, “That’s us in 30 years!” I hope so. I enjoyed myself so much last night.
I love discovering bands and getting to experience them for the first time. Sometimes it’s hit-and-miss at the Tractor. They always seem to have quality shows, and the openers have usually been good, but sometimes I just don’t get into the style of music. Some of the folk artists have been too slow for me, or the female voices a little nasally to handle for more than ½ hour. The women in both of these bands backed up the lead singers and had beautiful, harmonic voices. And they were damn good on their instruments. At one point near the end of the show, the fiddle player broke a couple of horse hairs off her bow. She bit them off with her teeth and kept going!
Afterward, we stopped in at Dick’s for Dick’s Special burgers, chocolate shake and root beer float. Yum!
Originally written as a diary entry Saturday, May 16, 2009
Well, we finally got to see another show. This time, it was free and was a reunion of sorts. My work buddy Kyle has a band, but he has always played during the middle of the week, so we haven’t been able to see him. His band, The People Now, was playing at the University Ave Street Fair this weekend. The music is very technically difficult, lots of tempo changes, rests, fast beats, with intense, sometimes dark lyrics. Progressive/Punk Rock, I guess you’d call it. Our son didn’t want to go, which is too bad, because he would have liked the music. He went to his friend’s house instead. So once again, P and I enjoyed a little afternoon date.
It was a perfect high-70’s afternoon. Kyle’s band played at 4:00 right on Brooklyn & 47th. They had a little covered stage set up and people lined the street and carried their food from the adjacent food booths to the outlying tables. We were lucky and found two chairs in the shade behind the sound mixer. Kyle was so happy to see us, and mentioned other people from work would be there. We turned and saw first P’s work associate J, then other people from my work showed up, including those who had been laid off recently, but came out to support Kyle’s band. It was really nice to see everyone again. We got caught up for awhile before settling in to watch the show.
He only got to play 4-5 songs, but they were so technically amazing. The 5-member band was very tight. Kyle sang lead, two guitarists (one looked like a Prep in plaid shorts, the other was a rocker with long hair and rock shirt), a bass player, and a very skilled drummer. They were just amazing. The sound was loud, which attracted as well as detracted the crowd. Many people left due to the volume, but others stayed and rocked, including these 3 homeless guys near the front. They kept stealing extra tickets to next week’s show. People were supposed to just take one apiece, but I’m sure they’re gonna try to scalp them for cash. Looks like they needed some money!
Anyway, it was good to see Kyle in action, see a live show, rock out a little, even though we were quite subdued, and spend some time with the work guys. M is getting married next Saturday, so it was nice to see him again. Kyle was very appreciative after the show, and thanked us repeatedly for coming out and supporting him.
We then stopped at the store and picked up tilapia for an awesome meal of bbq fish tacos and a cool beer on the patio. Ahh, the Perfect Saturday.
Prelude to a Heart Attack
The Devil You Know
If Tomorrow Never Comes
Story of Tony Bennett, not THE Tony Bennett, but a homeless guy at the car wash
Tillamook County Jail
A couple of songs I haven’t heard of before
Tension (gay weddin’s, Michael Phelps)
I’m sure there were more songs…Todd was ok, but not the best I’d seen. I think his show in Reno was much more polished. Seeing him play with a full band was much more energizing and just plain fun. He seemed a bit tired. He goofed on one song, seemed to forget his place. He warmed up as the crowd warmed up to him, though. It was a big place, and with everyone seated and eating dinner, it was much different from in Reno and certainly different from the Tractor, which is such a rowdy, dirty place. [I do remember at one point just standing there soaking everything in. It might not have been the best show, but here we were, in the moment, watching one of our favorite musicians play in a beautiful theatre, with the crowd laughing and singing along. That's what it's all about, isn't it? Everything else went away at that moment. No annoying distractions, no worries, no past, no future; just right now. Listening and enjoying.] There’s really no comparison to a full band show. The solo show just didn’t have the same energy. But overall, he was funny and sly.
We also had a good time talking to our new friend before and after the show. He kept telling us he’d send us some CD’s of live shows he and his buddies had recorded, and that he wasn’t a flake! I knew he wasn’t; I told him it was a Todd Snider thing! He actually did stop by P’s office and dropped off some CD’s.
We also met up with L from Bellingham at the t-shirt stand and talked to her for a little bit. It was a little hard to hear in there. Hopefully we’ll catch up to them in Bellingham sometime if Todd gets up there this summer.
After the show, we walked out to find something to eat. We were hungry! We walked a block or so out and around, and finally settled for Rock Bottom, which was the only place around serving food after 11:00. We had some yummy chicken quesadillas and water.
Got back to the hotel and crashed.
Next morning we had to get the hell out and go pick up the dog before 10:00 as well as the boy. Dog puked in the car a block from the house. Had to clean up the mess, then go pick up boy in Maltby. Talked to his daycare mom for a while, then had to go pick up the truck in Ballard, since we forgot to stop by there on the way home. How does one forget a truck?! Drove all the way from Maltby to Ballard, lost P on the way home, and ended up taking a different route, while he waited for us to pull out of parking lot. It was a miscommunication nightmare. We were both so forgetful. Just tired, I guess.
So that’s the end of the crazy week. It went by too quickly. Now I’m bored again. Hoping to schedule another show soon!
This journal was written in February, 2009. The TSNW show ranks as one of my top three concerts of all-time. Please note, this is a personal journal, written within a few hours after the shows. The rest of the details were added after returning home, without many revisions to grammar or content. I’ve inserted brackets just recently with additional information. I do not have the exact titles to some of the songs I have listed, nor exact quotes from the people we met at the shows.
Concert Season 2009
Thursday, February 12 – Sunday February 15
John Ascuaga’s Nugget, Sparks, NV
Todd Snider and the Nervous Wrecks – Including Will Kimbrough on guitar, Paul Griffith on drums, Joe Mariencheck on bass, David Zollo on keyboards
Good Lord. Finally. After at least 3 years of wanting to see a Nervous Wrecks show, we did it. Unfortunately, it had to be in Sparks, the bastard step-child of the bastard step-child (Reno) of Vegas. Sparks is a very ugly, ugly town, but the people are so nice. The band made up for the disappointing destination by playing two amazing shows on Friday and Saturday night.
It was crazy busy the week we left; we had to deposit the boy, board the dog, pack the luggage, etc. We took a prop plane (Bombardier Q-400–same kind of plane that crashed earlier in the week in NY) which I wasn’t thrilled about; but we had a smooth flight, and got down there in less than 2 hrs. The landing was perfect! There was a big picture of Todd from his Devil You Know album along the wall of the airport to advertise the shows at the Nugget. Yay, Todd!
It was about 3:00 by the time we got into our room at the Nugget. Smoky, 80’s, gross. The room was decorated less tackily than the rest of the casino, because it was in a recently renovated section of the hotel. I just hate cigarette smoke and casinos. Gag me. But…I had to buck up, knowing I’d finally see Will and Todd together!
We decided to get in a workout before dinner, which was a nice way to unwind. They had a small gym and pool area on the 5th floor. We then ate at Trader Dick’s tiki bar/restaurant. The food was a fairly good Polynesian/Asian variety, and I had a totally strong drink! It was pretty much all vodka and one drop of cranberry juice. I settled down after that, but I could feel my nerves getting the best of me when we were walking around the casino. I kept thinking I’d run into Will or Todd somewhere, so I kept my eyes peeled. Alas, nothing. P tried his hand at a couple of slots (I hate gambling) and then we went up to the room and watched Pineapple Express, which was sooo funny! I think we were in bed by 10:00. Long day.
Feb 13 Friday
In the morning we went downstairs for a café style breakfast. The place was packed because there was a construction school convention at the hotel. I think we were the only people not there for the convention! We then decided to wander around. We stepped outside, and although sunny at first, it later started to snow. It was cold and windy. We walked across the street where there was a boarded up casino. I was hoping to do some shopping, but everything surrounding it was closed except for a couple of restaurants and taverns. Really ugly city. We walked back, a little disappointed and wondered what to do next.
We then decided to taxi into Reno. We found a nice taxi driver who took us to the only location worth(?) seeing in Reno. There are 3 casinos in the strip that are linked together: Circus Circus, Silver Legacy, and Eldorado. So we leisurely walked through, but found no fancy stores like the Forum in Vegas, so we kind of laughed at our white trash weekend. Apparently, mullets never went out of style. It was really a sad, depressed town. We did find a nice brewery called Brews Bros and had a good lunch and ale. That was pretty much the highlight. We walked a few blocks, but most of the casinos had been boarded up, including Fitzgeralds, which had a sign taped to the window that said, “Casino Closed. Good Luck.” We stayed there with P’s parents about 15 years ago, and it was packed. Bummer. Reno was like a ghost town. We took a taxi back and tried to figure out what to do with ourselves. I was starting to get nervous now!
Not sure what we did next. Maybe watched TV, hung out, then took showers and got ready for dinner. We went back to Trader Dick‘s. Heading over to the show room, I could feel my heart flutter. But alas, no one was doing a meet-n-greet tonight. I just kept telling myself not to expect anything, just go and watch the show!
Our seats were way over on the right, but right against the stage. We were near the keyboard player, a bare-footed David Zollo. I knew Will would probably be on the opposite end, which was a bummer. I immediately got cold from the blowing air conditioning, so P was nice enough to go get my sweater. By the time he got back, the lights dimmed, the curtain rose, and there they were! Todd, floppy hat, rolled up jeans, bare feet, navy blue grandpa cardigan and checked shirt. Will on Todd’s right, opposite side of us, in a vintage short sleeve black cowboy shirt and black skinny jeans, shorter hair (good for him, he was starting to look like Weird Al! ha) then the bass player Joe on Todd’s left. The drummer, Paul Griffith, was way in the back, and I hardly got a shot of him. They came out ready to P-L-A-Y!!
Set list, not in order except first 2 songs:
Good News Blues
Prelude to a Heart Attack-Todd said he was inspired to write this because he had empathy for the guy in the car in front of him at the drive thru who was yelling at the kid running the drive thru window. Todd thought that man must have had a bad day. He had a much more expensive car than Todd, too. What kind of day would he have to have to yell at the kid at the drive thru?
If Tomorrow Never Comes
The Devil You Know
Alright Guy-Prelude to this song included a story about meeting Slash at a fancy hotel in LA. Slash was at the bar wearing a Metallica baseball cap backwards, nothing else but the kind of track shorts that Richard Simmons and people in the beginning of soft porn movies might wear. And 16-17 necklaces, 16-17 bracelets, anklets, and even around his waist he had 16-17 waist-lets! [Todd tells the story much better, with much more humor, and adds some additional information regarding recording contracts, etc. Go see his show and you'll get a good laugh]
Side Show Blues
Is This Thing On
Ode to Michael Phelps
Todd said he’d be out here playing this sh** till they have to wheel him out on stage in a wheel chair, and he’d be playing for our kids.
He also told a story about meeting Bill Elliott, the Nascar driver. Turns out the guy they thought was Bill was an impostor, but by that time he had signed his name all across the front of Todd’s guitar and ate all their backstage food! Todd said he’s still trying to decide if the impostor was his enemy or his hero!
I’m sure there were more songs in there. There were definitely more funny stories. The place was packed; many of the convention guys were there, too, so it seemed pretty rowdy. Some women next to us were locals and knew all the words and got up and danced next to us. The tables and chairs were crowded all around us, so it was hard to get out to an open spot. I was feeling a little shy about doing that anyway. They ended up standing on their chairs!
This other nice couple in front of us looked like they’d never seen Todd before, judging by the way they were reacting to his stories and songs. It was a joy to watch them act surprised, then burst out laughing.
Todd stopped a few times to ramble, including his speech that is on Peace Queer that talks about how his friends have told him that lately his songs seem to be more Opinionated. He writes them because they rhyme. He’s not trying to change your mind about anything; he’s trying to ease his own mind about everything!
I’ve heard Todd 3 other times over the last 3 years, but he was always solo. It was so amazing to hear him with a full band perform my favorite songs. We have never met the Elusive Mr. Todd Snider. Even at small venues like the Tractor, he does a final wave to the crowd and he’s out the back door. [We did sneak back to his tour bus after one show, but I'll save that for another blog...]
And Will was a f***ing Guitar God. I told P that, too, and he agreed! Will had tons of solos, and he jammed on every single one. Amazing. Alien. Other-Worldly. I only wish we were on the other side of the stage.
I finally got out of my chair and danced along. I wish I could’ve danced right in front of the stage!! The room was full of energy, and the band picked up speed as they reacted to the crowd. It seemed like it ended too soon. They came out for an encore, and then the curtain went down for good.
We didn’t know what to do next. Would they come out? Not sure. So we hung around in the lobby, talked to some really nice locals that come every year. Met the t-shirt guys. The older one with long gray hair told us all about doing the t-shirts for west coast shows, mostly Cal and Reno, not WA. He was really nice, pretty drunk, but gave us good tips on shows not to miss, the best being the Not-All-Bluegrass [not exact title] show at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. A free show, 70 bands, including Todd (I think he’s solo), the Gourds, Emmylou Harris, etc. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss rocked it with Zeppelin tunes last October!
After about 45 minutes of hanging around and realizing they were not coming back, we decided to leave. I just figured that as a group, they probably stick together more and are sequestered to backstage. Bummer. I almost felt angry that we had come all that way and weren’t able to even talk to any of them. I kept telling myself I expected too much. Just enjoy the show. The reason we were here is to have a good time together and to see two awesome shows. And we did, so I can’t complain.
P was visibly bored hanging around, and we were both getting hungry. We went back to the room, ordered a big hamburger to share, and munched down!
I didn’t sleep real well that night. I think I fell asleep fast, but the air conditioner kept kicking on, and we could hear the freeway below, even though we were on the 27th floor! Not very good insulation. We could also hear trucks backing up all am, either food service or maybe for the construction convention. There was also a rail yard on the other side, and we could hear the trains pull in and out.
Feb 14 Saturday Valentines Day
We tried to sleep in, and stayed in bed till about 8:30. I gave P a funny Valentines card. We didn’t know what to do today. Went to a breakfast buffet. We noticed all the workers here are so nice. The buffet was pretty good, and we managed to stuff ourselves and get some good coffee.
Back at the room we checked on rental cars, but no one wanted to rent one to us for just one day! They must lose money. Dang. We decided to see if a movie was playing across the street at the big theatre, the only thing open besides the sparse taverns and restaurants. We ended up being just in time for the movie “Taken” with Liam Neeson. It was very suspenseful, very low-budget 007. Afterward, we were starving, so we went to In-N-Out Burger for our traditional hamburger feast [There is an unwritten law in Washington State that if one leaves the state and enters another where there is an In-N-Out, one must partake in a burger, fries and shake]. It was sooo cold outside and windy again. Everything was gray/brown, desolate, deserted, dirty. Ugly, ugly town. Had a brisk walk back to our hotel to take showers.
As we were walking through the casino, lo and behold, there was Will walking toward us! We introduced ourselves, but didn’t talk long. We were all a bit tired after last night’s show. We told him we’d walked around town and into Reno yesterday, and how much of a ghost town it was. I told him we enjoyed the show, and that we’d seen Todd 3 times before, but never with a full band, and that was just magical (musically orgasmic, I thought). He seemed happy about that. Talked about how the audience seemed rowdy, and that lots were there for the convention. I also told him we met some really nice locals here. He said they were planning to switch out the songs and play some different ones for tonight’s show. I was glad to hear that, and was looking forward to another night. He had to go rehearse, so he said goodbye. Now I was ready to enjoy the second show, and wasn’t too worried about if we’d see them afterward. I was amazed that we ran into him in such a big place.
Well, it was Valentine’s Day, and we thought we should make dinner reservations. How stupid of us to wait until 3:00 to make reservations!! Of course every restaurant in the place was booked. We had to eat downstairs at a deli. We sat in a booth next to the smoke-filled betting room, where there were people over 75 playing keno and betting on horses. Disgusting, but the sandwiches were ok. We got outta there quickly. How romantic!
THE 2nd SHOW
This was all about variety. He played a few from last night, but seemed like he played a ton more this night.
Set list (not in order, except for first 2 again)
B-EE-RR-U-N [pronounced B double E double R-U-N]
Hey Hey Hey
If Tomorrow Never Comes
Prelude to Heart Attack
A 50’s song
Folsom Prison Blues
Good News Blues
Double Wide Blues
The second show was even more packed than the first, even though the conventioneers had checked out that morning. The crowd seemed more quiet and behaved, but then got a little rowdier as the night wore on, and everyone sang along. Not as much on-the-chair dancing. I did get up this time and danced to several songs. I just couldn’t help myself! Will rocked again, and again I was disappointed I couldn’t get a very good angle with my camera. Mostly took pics of the bass player and a side view of Todd.
Again, there were some nice people around us. One guy and his wife and friend sat in front of us and commented how tight the seating was. We were all hoping no one would sit in between us because there was literally no room to sit at our table in any kind of comfortable manner. He was nice, and later we met up with them at Dick’s. The couple behind us forgot their camera and asked me to send pics later. He gave me his business card, and I have since sent him a few pics. He was real nice too, and wrote back that they also might go to the Bluegrass Fest. He thought Todd’s show was the best concert he’d ever seen.
Afterward, we met up with David Zollo, the keyboard player, and I told him it was such a pleasure to watch a full band show, and that he was in my iPod, so he must’ve done some session work with Will, etc. He said he does, and that he is from Ohio, so he just meets up with them when they need him. He was very appreciative and thanked us for coming out from Seattle.
We then went over to the younger t-shirt guy, who was very friendly. We asked if we could get our son’s Peace Queer t-shirt signed, but he said it wasn’t up to him, and told us to talk to the guy in the green shirt, cuz he runs the place. The guy in the green shirt said they are probably not going to come out right now. Another guy was talking about Wayne Newton, who was supposed to play there on Sunday. He said Mr. Newton has had so many facelifts, his penis is now the size of a clitoris! Ha I think he’s the same guy who also said, after I’d said I was hoping Tommy [Womack] would have joined them, that Tommy would probably never be a part of their band again, because…”he never wanted to be a f***in’ side man for anyone!” So, after hanging around again, we decided to just leave. I was disappointed again, and didn’t quite know what to do.
P needed to get some more cash before heading back up to the room and depositing our stuff. We were trying to decide if we should come back down to the casino. While doing so, here comes the t-shirt guy, who told us to stop by Dick’s because they were going to meet for a little party there. I got excited then! Yay, something to do! We stopped back by the room and dropped off our stuff, fixed the makeup.
At Dick’s, the people had gathered in front of the tiki bar. They pushed some tables together. We didn’t know what to do exactly, since they all seemed to know each other; so we sat at the bar behind them and ordered a steaming (dry-ice effects) volcano drink. The t-shirt guy was trying to take pics of us, but we were goofing around and laughing. I saw him look back at what he’d taken, and kind of grimace! Ha I felt self-conscious, and wanted him to take a better shot of us in case it ends up on his Facebook site or something! He asked if we wanted to join him at the table, so we did. He was from Michigan. The group is kind of an unofficial fan network. They were all so nice. The couple next to us, T and L, were from Bellingham! So we had fun comparing Todd stories. L is a lot like me, a true married groupie. T and P bonded and talked about their crazy wives.
The guy that was in front of us at the show was there with wife and dentist friend. The guy told a story about seeing Todd at Reindeer Lodge…I kept fading in and out of the conversations because I was distracted looking around for the band. The guys said the band might come down there, and that they did last night!! Darn!! I was pissed I missed them. Anyway, the one guy talking about Reindeer Lodge…I interjected that we saw him there, meaning I saw the guy at our show that night. He thought I meant we remembered seeing him at Reindeer Lodge, and that we were getting engaged at the time. I said, “Huh?” He said, “Huh?” Then he realized he was mixing me up with some other couple, and then I told him I meant he sat in front of us at the show tonight! Too funny. He also told a story about seeing Todd at the lodge back in the mid-90’s. He said Todd was so out of it that he ran into a lodge pole that cut thru the middle of the stage and hit his head. He was out cold; end of show!
Then L was trying to get my attention and asked my name. I was staring out into space. Finally, I said, “Huh? Oh! I’m [aplscruf]!” They must’ve thought I was on drugs! Just distracted.
Then Will and the drummer Paul showed up. I kept my cool, kept seated. I stayed in my seat while L greeted them with hugs. I was secretly envious that she knew them so well! They were standing there talking for about 5 minutes. T finally said, “Go talk to them!” as he knew I was a groupie wife like his own.
I walked over among the crowd of mostly men that gathered around them. I tried to keep my cool and not act too stupid, but I felt awestruck being in the presence of such musical greatness! Other people would come and go and talk too, but in between I tried to keep asking questions. Before I left for the trip, I was going to memorize a bunch of questions, but I thought that would be too disappointing if I never got to see them. So I just winged it.
I asked Will about his recent European tour with Rodney Crowell. I also asked about his upcoming Australian tour and what cities he would be visiting. I enjoyed hearing about his tour experiences. I told Will that I found out about him through listening to Radio Margaritaville while bored at work. [I found that Radio Margaritaville is a great way to beat the work grind blues] Will has written several songs for Jimmy Buffett and has recorded and toured with him. He told us the story of how he was connected with the Buffett family and how that led to meeting Todd and the other musicians.
[I love hearing about the organic connections that musicians move through from one point to another in their careers. One introduction leads to a gig or a chance to do a session, which leads to more introductions, and the musical possibilities expand, leading to more creativity, more artistic freedom.]
One of the guys asked me why I would come all the way from Seattle just to see a show! I told him, ‘Well, some of us are born to be on the stage, and some of us are born to be in the audience!” I believe they got a kick out of that answer.
They also said I should buy Will a drink, but I didn’t have my purse with me. I told him I would, but P has all of our money! They laughed. What I should have told them was, well, I purchased every one of Will’s albums including the Bushmen and Daddy as well as several of Todd Snider‘s, Jimmy Buffett‘s, and Rodney Crowell‘s albums; I bought their t-shirts and spent many minutes explaining to several people, including a tipsy Alaskan Native in Ketchikan who the hell Will is and why he’s an alien; I paid a guitar instructor to not only teach me how to play Closer to the Ground but also to transcribe it to sheet music; I spent eight hours on the road driving to Coos bay with my 10-year-old son and a chaperone friend on his last leg–literally (he’s an amputee), to see Will and Rodney Crowell play at Music on the Bay and then turned around and drove home the next day; I purchased concert tickets, airline tickets and a hotel room in the Worst City in the World just to come watch him play in the Nervous Wrecks; therefore, I believe he should buy ME a drink!! [Looking back at this paragraph, I realize I am truly a groupie. Or a stalker. Or both. Good Lord.]
P said Reno is the bastard step-child of Vegas. Will said, “Well, then Sparks must be…” and we all said together, “…the bastard step-child of the bastard step-child…”
We continued to talk with the other fans and also met the sound engineer, Michael Romanowski, who lives in Oakland. Michael recorded the shows both nights, and I guess they did some other individual recording while they were there. Very nice man. He just moved to Oakland area. We told him about how we have relatives in Oakland.
We then went over to talk to Paul “Grifter” Griffith, the drummer. I think someone introduced us, and he told me something complimentary. How sweet! He’s also extremely funny and very talented. He shared some hilarious stories. He asked us what we did, so we told him about our current jobs and somehow got on the subject of teaching, and we told him about being ex-teachers of at-risk and special education students. He asked about Seattle, and if we like it. I said it’s great, except for 3 months out of the year! I want to write the Great American Novel so I can leave an go somewhere warm for the winter. He got all excited and said he wrote a novel last year. He said to go on Harlequin.com, because they’re looking for romance novelists all the time! P told him how I write journals about every trip, concert, etc. and have pages and pages of them. Paul said I should start my own blog.[...and so I did! Thanks, Paul!] I told him I was Technologically Impaired. Ha He liked that one! Paul said he hardly knows the songs Todd does from the mid-90’s. I asked, “Don’t you rehearse?” He said, “No, we did a sound check, but today we played Steve Miller Band!” Ha Amazing that he can just figure it out. He’s that good!
We then decided we’d better get our butts to bed. We said our goodbyes to our new friends and left. But instead of heading straight to our room, we went out for pancakes at the diner. Yum!
A Musically Orgasmic Evening!! I didn’t sleep all night due to the adrenaline rush of getting to chat with my musical heroes!
Flew home Sunday afternoon, back to reality.
- Alan Rickman
- Ayron Jones and The Way
- Benjamin Doerr
- Big Daddy's Place
- Big Sandy
- Bob Dylan
- Brent Amaker and the Rodeo
- Chateau Ste Michelle
- Columbia City Theater
- Concert Season 2005
- Concert Season 2006
- Concert Season 2007
- Concert Season 2008
- Concert Season 2009
- Concert Season 2010
- Concert Season 2011
- Concert Season 2012
- Concert Season 2013
- Concert Season 2014
- Country Dave Harmonson
- Cristina Bautista
- Damian Brennan
- Darrell's Tavern
- David Bowie
- Davidson Hart Kingsbery
- Dudley Taft
- Dusty 45's
- Eddie's Attic
- Emmylou Harris
- Flight to Mars
- Fox and The Law
- George Harrison
- Gimme Shelter
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Harry Belafonte
- High Dive
- Honky Tonk Sweethearts
- Jakob Dylan
- Jimmy Buffett
- John Mellencamp
- Kasey Anderson
- Langhorne Slim
- Legendary Oaks
- Lori Gras
- Los Straitjackets
- Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands
- Marshall Chapman
- Marymoor Park
- Massy Ferguson
- Murphy's Lagh
- Music in Atlanta
- Nectar Lounge
- New Mexico
- North Twin
- Old 97's
- Ole Tinder
- Paul McCartney
- Railroad Earth
- Randy Hansen Band
- Redhook Brewery
- Rod Stewart
- Rodney Crowell
- Rolling Stones
- Roots Rock
- Ryan Adams
- Ryan Purcell and The Last Round
- Small Sur
- St. Paul de Vence
- Star Anna
- Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs
- Steve Martin
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Tagaris Winery
- The Avett Brothers
- The B-52's
- The Black Crabs
- The Brambles
- The Cardinals
- The Chris Eger Band
- The David Wax Museum
- The Fonda Theatre
- The Gorge Amphitheatre
- The Gourds
- The Hi-Risers
- The Juliettes
- The Old 97s
- The Outlaws
- The Paperboys
- The Paramount Theatre
- The People Now
- The Puyallup Fair
- The Rainieros
- The Royal Room
- The Satellite 4
- The Shanty Tavern
- The Showbox
- The Sunmakers
- The Sunset Tavern
- The Swearengens
- The Tractor Tavern
- The Triple Door
- The Wallflowers
- The Wild Feathers
- Todd Snider
- Tom Petty
- Toubab Krewe
- Van Morrison
- Vicci Martinez
- White River Amphitheatre
- Will Kimbrough
- Willie Nelson
- Willie Sugarcapps
- Yellowstone Country Guardians