Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Pueblo cow and the silence of Llamas

 Nothing really spectacular about the Colorado State Fair. It took a coupla days of driving to get there from St. Paul,MN. Here's some "highlights" (there weren't many).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Holy cow, The Minnesota State Fair and Quebe Sisters

I walk into the little room that was for me to set up my merch stuff and there's a pretty little young, kinda shy girl already in there. I assume she's selling merch for the act before us. Hulda Quebe's her name. She then tells me after a little bit that she actually plays in one of the bands. She tells me the name and we go our separate ways. A few minutes later I see her back in the "green room" (common area for the bands) and then something seems familiar about the name she'd told me. Taking a shot in the dark, I ask her "did you guys play on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion last year?" She says yes and I'm like HOLY COW (which is like a polite HOLY SHIT, to me) I LOVED you guys!!! I was on my travel journey & blog of last year across the South, at that time vainly looking for great music in GA., and caught them on that show! The WHOLE band was SO damn sweet, nice, humble and sincere. Not to mention that they were an UNBELIEVABLY talented group of singers and musicians! Watch some of my clips above in the "vlog" AND go see them! Enough of that other than to say it was my favorite "State Fair" though I DID love the Oregonians and they come in a valiant 2nd place.  It's all in the vlog of what I saw, 'cept for the birthing of the calf, TOO many damn people in there watching the blood and guts and my short ass couldn't even get my camera high enough to see over the tall assed Minnesotan's!

P.S. Marcia Ball was damn entertaining with a great band, as well.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I love me.

I don't care if anyone is entertained by me or not. "Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggonit, people like me"-Stuart Smalley. I never claimed to be original.

Friday, August 26, 2011

How the HELL do you deal with the "up's and down's"? Toomey

My question to John was "How the hell do you play for 8000 screaming people in arena or fair one night and then get excited about a few scattered people the next". He brought me something that I didn't think addressed how it really hit him inside. John's not a guy to bitch or to complain. He works his ass off, don't say a word and goes about his job. So I appreciate him coming back with this. The show he's referring to was regarding a show 2 nights ago in Pembine,Wisconsin

Ominous thunderclouds loom overhead.  The stage is an exorbitantly modest assembly of ply-wood, 2 by 4’s, and tin roofing spanning a breath-taking 25ft by 25ft of which only half is covered (the clouds just got a little darker overhead).  A few dozen people indifferently await our performance, or maybe it’s the opener they’re here to see.  I don’t think it makes a difference (I happen to know half received comped tickets to increase the head-count).  I guess we’ve seen less comfortable stages.  I mean, it’s a new market after all.  Who am I kidding?  My ego is tattered and torn right now.  When I think about how we just come from shows playing for no less than a few thousand, I mirthlessly chuckle and remember that the people today deserve the same great show. 
          I’m finally contributing this story because our merch guy / auxiliary band helper / friend, Scott Gunter, asked me for my perspective on handling a show emotionally and professionally that…how should I say it…falls short of expectations.  Let it be known that there is a great disparity among shows that we are exposed to on a weekly basis.  On the bright side, our hosts today in Wisconsin have provided our band with the most lavish accommodations that we’ve seen all year.  Let me get this straight: 6 luxury suites, golfing, a group-kayaking trip, two nice “bromantic” dinners at the resort’s steak restaurant all on the house?  Yes, I’ll have some of that please.  It’s been a lovely stay.  Wait.  What’s that?  We have to go sound check now?   ...Shit. 
The man is a drinking and driving fool! O.K., so it's kind of a posed shot.
          Before you say, “John, get your head out of your butt and show some gratitude,” relax, I already have.  You see:  I never forget why I’m here.  I came to do a job regardless of the circumstances.  Regardless of the meager turn-out.  Regardless that out of that turn-out, only one couple had heard of us (literally a man and woman), and the bass player of the opener is doubling as our monitor engineer, and doesn’t have enough inputs on the 2-car garage-worthy monitor board he brought to put all the drums in my mix, and looks at me like I’m crazy to make such demands, and gets the cable-routing he and his assistant hooked up confused more than once, and twice, and if I’d known the bass guitar and electric guitar were going to play a vanishing act half way through the show, I would’ve spent less time at sound check on those and more on hearing my own drums in the mix.  Where was I going with this?  Oh yeah:  A job.  No matter how challenging the production can be or any other problems we encounter, I came to play the drums.  Professionally, I remind myself that I’m getting paid to be here and the show must go on.  Emotionally, I tap into the love I have for my craft.  I haven’t spent more than half my life trying to perfect my performing ability to show up with a bad attitude and play poorly.  I’m always hoping the people I’m sharing the stage with feel this way as well.  It’s a team effort.  You have to realize if one person isn’t on the same page, my attempts to play at my full potential are made in vain.  You may think the exhaustive time and effort spent to pull off an hour-long show is pretty close to insanity.  And sometimes, you’re right.  But, I know that 60-minute moment spent behind my drums is right where I belong.  If I ever start dreading that experience, I’ll know it’s time to stop. 
          In the end, the show ended up being a huge success.  The crowd really enjoyed themselves, and once we checked our egos and resolved ourselves to the small sacrifices we had to make from a sound perspective, we had a great time too!  The way I see it, it’s a job from the moment you leave your house to the moment when you take the stage.  If it’s still a job to you during the show, you’re in the wrong band or the wrong field.  These days I’m more concerned whether tomorrow’s itinerary will progress smoothly or if it will be a bumpy ride to get to my 60-minute payoff.  When the time comes to deliver the show, I trust the guys I live with and play on the road to forget the hardships and play our asses off regardless of the crackling acoustic guitar jack, regardless of the blown guitar amp speaker, regardless of the faulty, "backlined" hi-hat clutch, regardless…  Oh well, I said I was always happy behind the drums, not that it was always easy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feast or Famine and my first Video blog

So after another 12+ hour drive to the middle of a nowhere we're at a Four Seasons in Pembine,WI. From Shitbag 6 motel to the Four Seasons. I'm sitting here in a bathrobe looking out onto a BEAUTIFUL little 9 hole golf course. We'll there ya go. Quick little note. We went to the VERY swanky restaurant last night and met two nice guys, kinda. Or at least that's how it started. Actually, they were an older rich gay couple from Chicago who didn't get (or like) my sense of humor (or lack there of in their minds). I kept saying little things and the one guy setting right next to me would stare blankly back. Actually, I couldn't tell if he didn't get it or if he was just acknowledging my lack of humor (like "yes, I heard that.... and it's not funny"). They spoke quite proper. Kinda like an american version of "The King's English". Either way, Matt thought it was funny and after I kinda changed the subject on the rich guy (apparently 3 times according to John who was keeping a tally) I think they decided I was too rude (and redneck) and got up and left which wasn't all together bad. Oh well, I guess they thought I was an ass (Hey, and I wasn't EVEN "Whistling Dixie"!)..... . Shit and I got more gay friends than "straight" back home so it wasn't that! Gonna enjoy the 18 hours of this place before we hit the road for South Dakota and then Colorado and probably somewhere else. Oh, YEAH Detroit! Can't wait for that one.
My view yesterday:(

My view this morning :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How the hell you spell Muskegon & The Parting (or not) of the Red Sea?!

I'm in the SECOND to last bench! YAY! Short lived, I'm sure (and Aaron behind me slobbering on his pillow).
Is it Meskegon, MeskeGAN, Maskegon? Hell if I know and weren’t there long enough for me to remember. Driving through a rain storm, construction zones and two lane, four lanes, etc… we arrive late for a radio show for Moosefest (which was having a rain delay of sorts of their own). Given that, I drag enough shit out to sell and the band pretty much walks up on stage and starts playing. I don’t remember much about it other than the signing line (once again) was long as hell and took forever to get to the end (for me that is, Jason loves that shit) signing earlobes, armpits and scrap pieces of paper (many not understanding that we do need money for the simple things, like GAS). I say that and up walks this older lady, thinning grey hair and smiling a sweet smile (through what few teeth she had left) and takes probly 5 minutes counting out $5 in change (including the last $3 in dimes) from the bottom of her worn out purse. There's OBVIOUSLY 2 sides to this story. Basically, I'm an ass for not remembering that a lot of times people just don't have any money to spend.
 Ran into my merch/manager friend Charly (Steel Magnolia’s merch guy) who was setting up after me. There was JUST enough room for each merch guy so I came in after the opener and Charly comes in after me. Well holy shit, there’s a great old college bud, Jack Purcell! Jack’s now VP of Promotion for Big Machine (Taylor Swift's record label). I use to cheat offa him in “Music and Art” class at Belmont (back when Minnie Pearl was still a cheerleader there). I STILL ended up with a damn “C”! I graduated. He didn’t. I’m selling T-shirts and driving a van. He’s a VP for the hottest label in "Country" and flying home tonight. He tells me that he’ll wave to me as he flies over. I shoot him an angry bird. Daddy, I think you should ask for your money back about now. At least I did learn (at Belmont) that Moses didn’t necessarily “part the Red Sea”. It coulda been a mispinterpretation of sorts (or more than likely he had a  GREAT publicist!).  I feel like I’m on a rodeo circuit of sorts, me as the clown. Promise to take pic’s next time I’m out. I’m just bored right now in the back of the van on the long ass ride into Nashvegas for a whole whopping day and a half off before a 11 day run. HEY, I think I’ve earned a little respect from the band. I get to sleep on the NEXT to last bench in the van (at least for 6 hours). Things are a lookin up (or at least a little closer). 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

From Bike Racing to Confederate Thongs

PLEASE contact me at scogun@gmail.com if you find one of these in a department store (in Nashville).

Bike racing ain't got jack shit to do with Country Music. Well, who knew? We (I say “we” but I know it ain’t) played in Columbus, Ohio at the "Pelotonia Bike Race Festival” yesterday. I think we might as well have played the “Pelotonia Bridge tournament” or something. I’m guessing it made sense to play there cuz we did. My merch table was set up "over the hill and dale" from where the stage was and what few people walked by were more interested in bike shit. Spoke to the guys next to me about their bike shop and he said that it’s a charity ride and that the longest riders had to raise $3000 each. This all goes toward Cancer Research. TOTALLY admirable purpose. Spent a long conversation with Tyler Reeve’s Manager Anthony who was out there with him to NOT sell any merch, either. Those guys have been working their asses off on their own for years in a tough state! I’d blogged about Tyler on my other blog journey of last year when I saw him play in a bar I called the “Pig Sty” in Tallahassee, FL (actually, I think they called it Pot Belly’s). NASTIEST bar I visited in my 6 months of travelling/bloggin from West Texas to Washington,DC and that's after seeing some mighty stiff competition. That was what I considered a high (or low) honor, of sorts. Anyways, Chuck Wicks followed us and though our set was cut short because of the obvious paranoia about the combination of thunderstorms and festival stages, I figured we came out in better shape than Chuck. He had to play a full set (being the “headliner”) to a handful of people who just as soon had been watching a bowling tourney or actually a bike race. Chuck (who has sincerely ALWAYS been so cool to me even after leaving the “Corporate Bizz”) “gamed up”. GOD I had the strongest urge to put on a Confederate flagged thong and run across the front of the stage during Chuck's show (preferably during "Stealing Cinderella") to see if ANYone would give a shit, but I was afraid that they wouldn’t and I’d be crushed, that and I don’t have a thong of that kind but would LOVE to know where to find one (just in case).  People that ran it all was very nice, just the people attending wasn’t a good match. Guess you never know. We’re off to do some radio show in Michigan. We’ll (screw you, I’m still referring me as being part of the band) see what comes of that.    
P.S. I was ending the blog “officially” but continuing as long as I feel like it…and I feel like it.  It’s my blog anyways. That and the band liked seeing their name in print other than on Jason Jones' checks.