Monday, April 11, 2011

Coast To Coast #3: It'll All Work Out

Here’s the bad news: it’s 9:31AM Sunday, I’ve got 513 miles to drive, and I’m sitting in a Firestone lobby with car trouble.

Here’s the good news: everything else.

Last we left off, I was about to sound-check for the Portland show.  The Woods--a converted funeral home--is seemingly run by only twentysomethings who 1) really know what they’re doing and 2) really enjoy doing it.  Most venues are owned/operated by an older crowd, and most places are a little relaxed when it comes to prepping for shows.  The Woods gets after it.  They’re fantastic. 

The show itself was a blast--anytime I can play for open-hearted music fans in a good-sounding room, I’m happy.  Met some really nice folks after the set, too.  Hope to see y’all again soon.

Travel notes from Portland to Seattle, a drive I made after the show Friday night:

--Growing up, I had an inkling that people in/around Seattle were 15% smarter and cooler than everyone else.  Here’s Exhibit Q: there are signs around Olympia for Sleater-Kinney Road (Boulevard? Can’t remember...).  Sleater-Kinney, some of you might know, is the Washington-based punk punk.  They’re “riot grrrl” icons, frequent tourmates of Pearl Jam, etc.  And, evidently, folks in Olympia love their punk bands enough to name streets after them. 

--I passed signs for Aberdeen.  Aberdeen is the little logging town where Kurt Cobain and Krist Noveselic grow up and, by all accounts, it’s pretty bleak.  I don’t know.  I didn’t go to Aberdeen.  But I will say this: I stopped at a Rest Area near Aberdeen, and was a little scared for my life.  You know the scene in the horror/disaster movie where the unwitting victim in the middle of nowhere hears the wind suddenly stop blowing, lights in the stark room flicker, a single light from the ceiling inexplicably swings, etc?  I pissed in that scene, and got the hell out.

--No rain!  But the traffic/construction/cops-with-radar-guns don’t stop.

The cool thing about these post-show drives to the next city (in the middle of the night) is that I’m always wide awake.  It takes me several hours after a show--if ever--to relax.  Usually, I spend that time as a useless ball of energy, hanging out at the venue, talking to friends, etc.  Even if I go to bed, I can’t sleep.  So, I love it when I can put that adrenaline to use, driving when I’m at my most alert.  Those are always fun trips.

By the time I got to Seattle, I was just in time to collapse on a good friend’s floor.

Six Hours In Seattle (10AM-4PM):

Step 1: Wake up.  Make sure it’s chilly and wet outside. 

Step 2: Have really strong coffee. 

Step 3: Walk around.

Step 4: Go to a record store.  Notice that the first album displayed at the front of the store is--you guessed it--Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy.

Step 5: Go into a local bakery.  It’s warm, and it smells like childhood.

Step 6: Take a goofy picture by the Pacific Ocean. 

Step 7: Free-sample your way through Pike’s Marketplace.  Pay for some food, at some point.

Step 8: There is a store in the market that only sells wind-up toys.  Go there and wind everything up.  Be an instigator.

Step 9: Gawk at a street performer savant who solves rubix cubes in seconds while hoola-hooping.  Remember that Seattle has the highest proportion of geniuses of any American city.  Wonder if they’re all weird, too.

Step 10: Thrift stores with 90’s nostalgia leanings. 

Step 11: Book stores with Howard Zinn leanings.

Step 12: Find stronger coffee.  Talk about spirituality just loud enough that adjacent tables can hear you and feel uncomfortable.  Scoff, and say things like, “but that’s so Western!”  Is that the sun?  Go outside, quick!

Step 13: Free-sample Japanese fro-yo.

Step 14: Take pictures from scenic overlooks.

Step 15: And...stop.  Or, if you’re my tourguide, bake a cake, then ride a bike for several miles.

Seattle is awesome.  From the show last night, my limited interactions with locals, and just getting a feel for the place, it seems like a mixed-bag.  For example: the lineup Saturday was 1) a confessional female singer/songwriter, 2) ME, and 3) a blues-rock trio.  All playing at a punk rock club/coffee bar.  Everyone’s a little different, but that makes everyone kind of the same.  Anything goes.  Come as you are.

One fun note: I started the set with a brand new song, “All I Need.”  Hopefully I’ll be doing more of that, and can some videos posted on YouTube soon.  Sometimes, debuting a new song feels dicey if it’s still being worked out.  Last night, “All I Need” felt great.  Really looking forward to y’all hearing it! 

One late night sushi run and a hopped curb later, I’m here at Firestone.  They tell me the things I worried about (alignment, “demolished under carriage,” etc.) are okay, but two tires were nearly bald.  They’re putting new shoes on Ruby as I type.  In other words, it was lucky that I hopped the curb--it prevented a disaster!

All jokes aside, I have no idea how that off-roading didn’t bust a tire at the very least.  Ruby is a fortress.  God, I love her.

And love her I will, for another 513 miles. 

When it mattered most,

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