Up early for another long drive to Portland.
Lord Ellis drummer and his wife were really awesome, great hosts, great people. Coffee and conversation before we hit the road. I gave them some CDs of music, burns of the unmastered Ocean of Stars EP and my new album 'Automatic Writing.' Was the least I could do to show my appreciation. Adrian hooked them up with merch as well.
Again and again, great people make travelling the way we were doing possible.
And walking outside that morning, my brain wasn't playing tricks on us re: the long weird drive to get to their home. They were pretty much in the middle of nowhere in Humboldt County. Beautiful! Copse of Redwoods just outside. Very few other houses. A grey morning which was in no way dreary.
We bid our hosts a huge THANK YOU and adieu, and made our way back to the road, and onward for the long trek to Portland.
We also commented that this was not only the mid-point of the grueling 9-day straight run of shows, but also the mid-point of the tour. Wow. No wonder we were rather weary. And no wonder I was running out of clean clothes...! But Adrian informed us that Dante's in Portland has a washer and dryer in their basement green room. Sweet!
But this was also the first of two shows with the mighty Zepparella! Looking forward to that. Haven't seen Clementine drum in at least 10 years, and Adrian assured me that they really kick the shit out of the music. Awesome!
The drive up the Northern California/Oregon Coast was indeed beautiful. As we neared the Pacific Ocean near the CA/OR border, we made sure to stop and walk around by the water. And the coast there is straight out of the movie Goonies: cloudy, grey, big rock formations holding their own against the crash of the sea.
Gorgeous. And time to clean the windshield, again.
More forests before hitting the sea again
This isn't even an official rest stop. We just pulled off the side of the road, walked across and here we were:
Yes I am tired. And yes, it is so worth it!!!
Armando and I leisurely walked along the beach. Adrian had already taken off running. I still don't know where she gets her energy from. But maybe I didn't feel like running as I hadn't taken off my Doc Martens, ha! Yeah, that's it ;)
Adrian and the Sea Sickness!
Just beautiful. Near the grouping of rocks there was a shallow creek running from the nearby hills/mountains that you had to hop over (or wade through) to continue on. I chose the former (boots).
We lingered here digging the ocean for as long as we could, but eventually had to move on. I found some mussel shells on the way back to Vincent Van Go. Other than rocks they were the only shells to be found. I thought I was a bit of a dork for collecting shells and cool rocks on my various travels. But Adrian and Armando were doing the same, and we would compare our collections from various locations.
I have lots of rocks which I can't recall exactly where they are from now, but they are a small little piece of a beautiful area and/or really awesome time. A physical memory as opposed to an abstract tangible one.
But we needed to get moving.
For the past several days, Armando has been trying to locate a new a new slave bar for his double kick pedal -- the bar that connects the two pedals together. A part was stripped, and while it technically still worked, it was going to completely shit the bed sooner or later. He had hoped to have it by the Slim's show in San Francisco, but even Clementine could not track one down.
En route to Portland he finally was able to procure one. Which he was VERY happy about, Adrian informed us that the Portland and Seattle shows with Zepparella were going to be big. We would need to be firing on all cylinders gearwise as well.
But we still had to get to the drum shop.
En route there was a lot of this:
Then finally this:
Which meant another 305 miles up I-5 til we hit Portland. Fuck...
But we did finally find the aforementioned drumshop, I believe it was in Eugene OR
The owner (or he was at least the guy at the counter) was hella nice. I had some business phone calls to make, which I had been putting off (in my head travelling so much and wonky signals was the reason for putting it off, but the reality is I have a weird aversion to talking on the phone... darn you introversion). Left a voice message as the person wasn't available. YESSS...
But Armando and Adrian had been talking to the counter guy, as a fellow player he was naturally curious about us as a touring band, so much shop was being talked. Again he was super cool. And his 80's metal black curls were a national treasure! He hooked us up with some free T-Shirts courtesy of the shop, and probably gave Armando a bro deal on the part. (The transaction happened very early on, we just stayed and chatted cause the guy was really cool \m/,)
Back on the road with a very happy drummer!
Arrived in Portland before sunset. I've been through here with The Mother Truckers as well as King's X, and was beautiful the way I remembered it. Wouldn't know if I've been to Dante's until we walked inside.
We parked by the loadin door behind Zepparella's van, a newer and swankier version of Vincent Van Go :) They were already inside sound checking. Good Lord the drums were loud. That would be Clem.
Popping my head in briefly, the venue looked kinda familiar but not really. I dunno, maybe King's X did play there when I teched for them... But I did recognize the block we were on. Buildings looked the same, and the same headshop was on the same corner.
The poster Adrian made for the show:
The vibe downtown was a little weird. Lotsa homeless people wandering around, mumbling and bumping into each other. A noticeably more negative vibe than the young drifter kids in Arcata. We were DEFINITELY keeping an eye on the van...
We got the gear inside as Zepparella was still soundchecking. And immediately had to move it. And then move it again. The band before us was loading in as well, so it was especially clusterfuck-y.
Cool venue tho, gear confusion aside I liked it immediately. Bigger venue, big stage, huge sound.
When Zepparella was done, we loaded our amps onstage but Armando's kit had to stay off to the side, and somehow out of the way as well. Not a whole lot of space to work with. Then the opener loaded their gear and drums on. Drums in front of the drum riser, and their amps next to ours. Which looked pretty cool to say the least. My bass rig fit in rather nicely next to the stage left guitar rig, I pointed it out to him and he smiled in agreement.
Place was filling up fast by showtime.
Out of respect for privacy, I did not make use of the downstairs washer/dryer at Dante's as Zepparella was making use of the green room. I still had a clean shirt or two and would survive hahaha.
Standing outside for a quick cigarette break before the first band went on (trying to track the lineup down, darn you SCM/WATF) I was quite surprised, but then again not surprised at all when our good friend Bryan Cook came walking up the sidewalk. Holy shit!
"What the hell are you doing HERE?!?!" I believe were my words as we bear-hugged. He divides his time between Alaska and Austin TX, and if he's in Austin he's out pretty much every night of the week. A hardcore music enthusiast. If there is a good show, and he is in town, he'll probably be there. And if there are several good shows on the same night, he'll go to ALL of them. A really great guy, the world needs more people like him for sure.
He was en route back to Austin, and stopped off to catch the Portland and Seattle shows. "But don't tell Adrian, I want to surprise her!"
She was very surprised, and again, not surprised at all. Bryan is awesome.
Damn near full house by the time we went on. And it continued to fill as we played. Zepparella has a great draw in the PNW.
Tight squeeze onstage, as Armando's drums were set up in front of Clem's. There was a narrow strip of stage in front of them, but I was apprehensive of using it to rock out in front of Adrian for fear of knocking the kick mic askew or tripping and falling off the damn stage. Which would have been pretty rock n roll...
Launched into our barn-burner set with the standard vibe-setting "Relax, Sleep, Dream" which is different every night before blowing everyone's heads off with "We Got It All".
Photos courtesy Cheerful Torture Photography
Adrian Fucking Conner, ladies and gentlemen!
Photo by Bill Masullo
Now THIS is a fuckin ROCK FACE \m/,
Adrian didn't jump offstage and crowdwalk for this one (literally nowhere to go, and quite a drop to the floor from the 4-foot high stage), but I did manage to squeeze in front of Armando's kit and rock with her briefly (and managed to not fall offstage in the process, tho I did trip hahaha).
Great show, good times. Threw our gear offstage with the help of a fan or two and got it out the side load in door to tear it down on the street. Not the best scenario (advertising that yes, this here van is FULL of expensive music equipment and other goodies!) but there was literally nowhere else to go. Packed house. And they loved us!
Could already hear Zepparella launching into their set as we stowed our gear.
Caught as much as I could in between catching up with Bryan and talking to random friends and fans of Adrian's. Fun night that got kinda hazy kinda quick. I blame tour fatigue hahaha!
What I caught of Zepparella was fucking bad ass. These ladies have done their homework. I mean REALLY done their homework.
Gretchen nails the Jimmy Page tone and licks, bassist Angeline must have taken classes from John Paul Jones himself (looked forward to talking shop bassist to bassist if time allowed), and I had somehow forgotten how FUCKING HARD CLEMENTINE HITS. Jesus Christ. I can't think of too many men who hit that hard, other than Bonzo himself.
And THAT is why so many bands who cover Zeppelin come up short, or miss the mark completely. Without the foundation made from solid cast iron and weighing 20+ tons, it will unfortunately lack the power of the original. Zepparella were, as the kids say, NAILING it.
Good times. According to my journal we stayed in a hotel that night. I don't remember much about it now as it was a month ago, literally. That, and fatigue + the sensory overload of being 5 shows in to the 9-day stretch, halfway through the tour. We had already covered more than 2000 miles in nine days, and had one day off. Wow. No wonder my brain was mush by then.
And I still needed to do laundry.