I have to say that I’ve really been diggin’ this nice fall weather that is blowing through right now - sunny and warm during the day; cold and menacing at night. Our front yard pumpkin patch is the envy of the neighborhood, with 9 jumbo pumpkins turning from green to orange; let’s hope some high school hoodlums don’t get the wrong idea and stomp ‘em, lest there be hell to pay.
I might as well blog about the Underlings’ trek down to NorCal and back, since that was the most recent thing of note to happen around here. We rented a cargo van on a Friday to haul our asses down to Medford to play at a place called Johnny B’s – a nice, clean little joint with a rockabilly orientation. The cats who hung there said they had a greaser band called the Psyclones. Good food was also to be had at this joint.
Pony Prance – Tina, Raenie and Kelani - came down to play also and used our backline to rock the room in their own PP style. It was amusing that Raenie’s dog was hanging outside the club while they played, making friends with the cigarette-huffers outside. We, the ‘Lings, took the stage next and blurted out a thorough set, complete with drunken, couples-oriented slam-dancing. Our set was finished after a hazy hour of string and stick wrangling; when it came time to get paid, we all laughed at our good fortune – all of $13 which we offered to split with PP but they declined. Woo hoo! We put it in the band kitty and went to catch some ZZZs at the local main strip hotel. Of course, I didn’t actually get any sleep because Louis was there and tossed and turned all night, sleep-thrashing from his little floor sleeping area to our bed and back, almost on repeat. Oh well. I was so high on life and being out of town that I really didn’t care.
We split ways with the ladies and Louis after the one-star continental hotel breakfast and sped off down the freeway, back towards Grants Pass and the possibility of good coffee at a drive-through there. Mmmm. Coffee in hand, we further sped down 199 towards Cave Junction and the Illinois river.
Bryant had the forethought to bring his book of topographical maps of the area and also local fishing regulation leaflets, so we were prepared when we made a right turn off the road south of Selma and headed up the Illinois river canyon about 10 miles. We found a delightful little spot with a bridge crossing that offered good fishing and swimming opportunities for the ‘Lings, as well as a chance to meet some local boondocks stoners who were asking for a ride back into CJ. After a quick band meeting, we deemed them harmless and gave them the OK to ride with us when it came time to split. Fortunately, they got a ride in a tweaker car piloted by someone they knew that just happened to come roaring, Dukes-of Hazard-style, around the corner. We bid them, “smell ya later” and headed back on our trek.
After a predictably plastic lunch at the Denny’s in Crescent City, we blazed a trail of farts down the final, tree-studded length of the drive down into Arcata turf. ‘Round about Orick we spied a young adult black bear crossing the road in a fast yet lumbering fashion. The local nature and woods and surf where charging our ion batteries whilst we buzzed by in the van towards our destination.
Arcata: my former home and location of much of my musical schooling. It had been 8 years since I last came down to Humboldt for a visit. Not too much had changed, although there were a few new storefronts and new paint on some buildings. We parked and dis-embarked to check out the town square, which was full of folks enjoying the North Country Fair – kind of akin to our Eugene Celebration, but free, with music, food, vendors and TONS AND TONS OF PEOPLE, unlike our fair city’s somewhat depressing rain and banjo fest. We checked in at People’s Records and Wildwood Music Co and goofed off and drank more coffee until load-in time.
After parking outside the venue and taking a break in the van, we pounded on the door of the theater and were let in. We stuffed all our gear in a corner, met some nice folks who ran the joint and then met with our Humboldt bros, James and Jeff and Sean from Splinter Cell. We read our little write-up in the local rag and laughed a bit before heading up to my old radio station KHSU for a brief interview and mention on the air. Not much had changed there – they still had thousands of records, although they got rid of approximately 1/3 since back in the day. The DJ was Mad Doctor Matt, and he played a good mix of contemporary and older-school rock, folk, punk and pop. He asked me some questions and it was nice to be back in the old hallowed halls again.
Back down to the venue, we checked Nipplepotamus, a noisy Sonic Youth-style trio who eventually burned a hole in my brain and caused at least one elderly patron to fall over and vomit (perhaps too much malt liquor? I don’t know). I dug them over all.
Splinter Cell rocked it next. Bassist James Forbes set up the show and is a friend of mine since way back. He is blind now due to a degenerative illness but his playing and singing was great. He is one of my favorite punk rock bassists and he really ripped it up. Sean on guitar and Jeff Langdon on drums punched it up and sounded great. What to compare it to – I don’t know – a power trio with pop influences. They covered Joe Pop O Pies, Catholics are Attacking which was funny as hell and sounded great.
We wasted no time getting onstage and doing what we do. Our set was well-received and it was awesome to see some other friends show up, most of all my friend Crusher from upper Mendocino county – thanks, Crusher, for coming! Dave's gal Mandy and her bff Roxanne also made it and helped us vend our t shirts - thanks, ladies.
Damn, this is a long post! We bedded down for the night at James house in Eureka and then took in the sights in Old Town on a sleepy Sunday morning the next day, complete with bagels and coffee from Los Bagels, something I’d been dreaming about for months. Turning the van north, we headed up the long road back to home, stopping to enjoy the ocean near the mouth of the Klamath river for a spell.
Best of all, after dropping off Bryant and Dave, I opened the door to my own home just in time for dinner, with a delicious and aromatic French tart thing that Tina had made. Mmmm! Thanks Tina, for rocking my palette with your delicious flavors.
Okay, I’ve made a long story here – hope someone enjoys. Peace ‘n out!