Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bleed Your Throat Out

I left last week. Alone as usual; just me and my guitars. I like it that way. It's less stifling. It's amazing how difficult it is to keep someone on the road. Once the reality of sleeping in a car and living off potato chips kicks in they find some family emergency to declare and catch the first train back to nowhere. I like it better that way.
I made it to Indianapolis around 10pm in time to play for a room-full of angst filled locals. What a great city. Everybody was super col and everything was extremely frozen. There was a water fountain with a stream of ice protruding from it. It almost looked like a cartoon. I played for hours and sang until my throat was raw (vocal teachers cringe). What a great way to start off a trip. I can't wait to make it back and play the White Rabbit again.
6am rolled around and it was northbound and west to Chicago. I love this city. It may be the windy city, but to me it's the, "city that I've never had a bad time in and is awesome enough that it doesn't matter that it's windy" city. I am yet to visit without the police stopping me for some stupid reason or another. This time was no exception. I must have been there 15 minutes before I was stopped by two near-comedic looking officers, with affinities for bad sideburns and mustaches, and told to remove the number 3 from the side of my truck. They rambled a bit about gang involvement and other things while I spray painted over the small bit of individuality I possess. Before I was let go, they made me remove the bandana from my pocket and explained to me the dangers of being alone in a big city. They then told me to try to stay with my group and pointed out all the "safe and touristy" places I should visit before I went home. Home? We're standing on my front porch, Officer; and you just made me erase my address. How will anyone ever find me now? **I would like to take this moment to congratulate the Chicago District Police Force for their ever vigil eye and thorough awareness of gang-warfare**  I paraded around the city, through both the places I'd been warned about and the brighter side of youthful tourism. Reggies was a super cool place. Smaller crowd, but the show was a good time and I met a bunch of really cool people. I think one of my favorite parts of traveling is seeing other people's apartments before they have a chance to clean them up and offer a false representation. It's like I get to see how they actually live right up front; before the plasticity and efforts to impress begin. I like being a part of their culture and lifestyle that I've never experienced before. It's always interesting to walk in the door, followed by rains of apologies at the sate of the place (like I live in a mansion or something), look around and think, "Oh, so that's what 25 year old Boston residents keep on their mantles." We sat in Chicago, in a hot-tub on the roof, while the snow surrounded, showered by the lights of the city and watching the trains pass by beneath the shadow of the former Sears Tower. It was awesome. I was in a part of the city the police had warned me about; but there was a moose head on the wall so it didn't matter. The sun came up - it didn't matter either. It had been a good night and I had 6 hours to drive. I changed and bid everyone goodbye. I rarely dislike leaving somewhere, but this time I wanted another day. Columbus felt like my mother urging me home when I wanted to stay at a friends house a bit longer. Nevertheless, you can't ignore your mother...

Drive. I don't remember much of the drive to Columbus. Everything seemed a kind of blurry daze; whether it was because I was traveling so fast that I had begun to time travel or because I hadn't slept in 36 hours, I still haven't decided. Nevertheless, all I recall is traveling through tiny cities that looked like they'd been plucked from Norman Rockwell paintings and thrust into real life. I wanted to get out and touch them to verify whether  they were real or not. I stopped at a graveyard for a bit. I felt a sort of sombre calmness; like I was coming home. The snow covered the names and I had to dig a few headstones out from the snow to read the death dates. 3 hours. Black ice, minor collision. Set back. The truck was fine so it didn't matter. 9pm and I made it to Columbus to find a basement venue stuffed full of the most backward, cousin-loving, hillbillies I'd ever encountered. It made Kentucky look like Jane Austin while Columbus resembled Deliverance. I sat in the back, swimming through smoke, indifferent to the comedians and one man acts that played before me. I think my mind was still out west. I wanted to leave. I finally walked on stage, looked over the silent crowd and put on the best show I think I've ever performed in my life. I walked off and sat back stage awhile, listening to the roar coming from the crowd out front. I smiled, "was I really getting an encore at a dingy club in God-forsaken, Ohio?" I guess I appeal to inbred illiterates. That's comforting. I went back out and played awhile. Somebody bought me a jack and coke and spilled it all over the front of the stage trying to hand it to me mid song. Everyone was crazy...but everybody bought my record. It was 3am. I went to a local punk-house and, somehow, collapsed on the couch amidst the ruckus of an insanely crazy after-party. I'm not sure what all happened, but everybody left me alone and when I woke up, everything was broken, the door was wide open and there was snow all over the living room. I was happy to find that both my guitars and my body had managed to remain untouched. I confirmed such by walking across the room and back with no difficulty. I looked around but couldn't find anyone - so I left. As it turns out, a blizzard had come through the night before and the snow had created an intricate castle around my house-truck. What a pity to destroy such the beautiful work of art nature had provided, but it had to be done. It took a bit to dig the ol' home from the snow, but eventually we were free and hit the road for Cleveland. 

It had been 4 days since I'd taken a shower and, as I had two shows within an hour of each other, I decided to get a hotel outside the city. Was a horrible place Cleveland is. I felt the way Dorothy must have felt upon her return to Kansas from Oz. At one point, I even got a pamphlet of "Things to do in Cleveland". It literally said, "famous for our baseball stadium and large indoor shopping mall." Yay. I walked downtown. Nobody was on the streets and everything was closed by 6pm. Even McDonald's and Walmart weren't 24hrs. Columbus was the same way. What a crappy state. Anyway, I got to Wilbert's around 7p and met up with Jason and Polly (from the Punknecks). Mike made us the largest, most amazing burrito's I've ever had in my life. He made Chipotle look like they served fun size candy bars. Apparently nobody knew, or cared, that we were playing (they probably just assumed the venue closed at sundown like everything else). There must have been 15 people there. Maybe 25 if you count the kitchen staff and band members. Regardless, the show was lively and I got to test out a ton of new material. It was good to meet up with some of the Nashville crowd. *Be sure to check out Jason & the Punknecks and the Hillbilly Harlots when you get a chance (may be explicit). 
The venue was right beside the ballpark and I'd parked in the attached garage as instructed. However, I'd neglected to take into consideration that Cleveland runs on 1890's farmer time and goes to bed at 8p. I loaded up and drove around the garage a bit, only to find the doors pulled closed on every exit. 5 exits and no way out. What kind of parking garage locks cars in at only 1 in the morning? I looked at my ticket and it read, "NO EXIT AFTER 12AM ON WEEK DAYS. CALL 1-800-xxx-xxxx TO RETRIEVE VEHICLE AFTER HOURS. $250 CHARGE FOR AFTER HOURS VEHICLE RECOVERY." Seriously? I didn't mind sleeping in my truck, I just found it ironic that the first night I got a hotel I couldn't even stay there. I love this stuff.
The next morning I got back to my hotel, packed up my stuff and left for Pennsylvania. I might have made it 3 miles before breaking down. I guess Ohio's got a hold on me. I got the house fixed and made it to the venue on time. Hands down, flat-out, amazing show. I must have played just shy of 2 hours and had such a killer audience. It's cool to see people singing along to my songs. It's very weird to me. I wrote this song in the parking lot called "I Can Not Keep Silent" and felt like a preacher in an old-time tent revival singing it. Everybody was going crazy and kept calling me a modern Bob Dylan after the show. I've never had such a great response. One older lady claimed she was going to write an article about me, telling the greater Lake Eerie area that seeing me is the closest thing to seeing 25 year old Dylan. I don't know if she will or not, I don't really care, but just hearing her say that left me beaming...

Pittsburgh tomorrow. Then Philly and DC. I can't wait to meet up with the people there and play the North East again. It's going to be such a good time. 

"I Can Not Keep Silent"

Tell the business man religious leader who offers promises to come and rescue you
Only if you give your money to the hands of his campaign 
You'll be saved, you'll be saved, you'll be saved
Tell the ones who take your pennies just to pray...

Tell the cunning politician crocodiles 
Who say, "Your smile is quite becoming, dear, so come and stare awhile
at your beautiful reflection in this mirror called the Nile
I swear that I won't hurt you; I'll let no one ever hurt you
 I'm a man of grace and virtue and I'll never desert you
Can't you see the truth that lies behind my smile?"
Tell the cunning politician crocodiles...

That I can not keep silent. No, I can not keep silent
You can cut the tongue out of my mouth but I'll still write it down
For I can not keep silent. No, I will not keep silent

Tell the war-torn, zealous men of needless fighting
Always out looking for some new fight to fight in
Who subscribe to the belief that the world can not be free
Without the interference of some country over seas
And offer their protection to the side they want to see - win
And drop the bombs to roar like thunder and lightning 
Tell the war-torn, zealous men out always fighting...

That I can not keep silent. No, I can not keep silent
You can cut the tongue out of my mouth but I'll still write it down
For I can not keep silent. No, I will not keep silent

Tell the woman, men and children like you and me
Who stare each day in horror and disbelief
At everything that they despise happening right before their eyes
When will we start to realize that it's time to stand as one and rise
and recognize that we were born free
Tell the women, men and children like you and me...

That we can not keep silent. No, we can not keep silent
You can cut the tongues out of our mouths but we'll still write it down
For we will not keep silent. No we will not keep silent.
We can not keep silent. No, we will not keep silent

1 comment:

j.a.m. said...

Very nice. All of it.