Hey y’all, I’m back home in Chicago again, totally buzzing about what a great time I had playing with Calexico & Iron and Wine. It was so, so, SO much fun, I’m so psyched I got to do that!! I was visiting my folks in Texas the weekend before last when I got the call to do those shows… our booking agents had been talking about it for months but it all came together wham-bam at the last minute. They needed me to play solo so that’s what I did… not my normal preferred way to play, but I pulled it off pretty well I think! They flew me down to Tulsa (“I’m too young to marry…”) for the show at Cain’s, and then I rode with them from there to Fort Worth and then to Austin. Flew black home from there. They paid me well and bought me those plane tickets and fed me and put me in HO-tels, loaned me a guitar, the whole bit. See, that’s what I’m talkin’ bout! That’s the life. I sure don’t get that kinda treatment every day as a musician. I was joking with Howard (who road-managed) that the very lowest point for me on that tour was when we sat down in a Japanese restaurant and I looked at the menu and said "Huh. I don’t eat Japanese food that often; I’m not sure what to order…" Yep, that was the worst, heheh. Such hard times on the road… ;-)
We played to some HUGEass audiences by my standards; there were I think 2200 paid at Stubb’s, and it seemed like at least a thousand at the other two shows, though I didn’t ask. And those people were so quiet, so respectful, such a pleasure to play for. It made me really want to kick out the jams for them, so I did. :-) This was the first time I’ve ever gone off to play solo in another town… I played some solo shows last spring on the way down to SXSW, but that doesn’t count ‘cuz Eric was there with me (both in the car and on the bill). This time I was all by my lonesome, but it worked out great. Well, I wasn’t entirely solo anyway; I sweet-talked Calexico’s pedal steel player Paul Niehaus into helping me out on a few songs at the end of my set. That really put it over the top, I wanted to take that guy home with me, dude. Some people just cannot play a bad note. Really sweet guy too, and I feel bad ‘cuz I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to him before I left. Oh Paul, thank you so much if you read this!! I’m sure you’ll be totally embarrassed that I’m talking about you like this, ha ha!!
The whole night of music was just so beautiful. Sam was playing with his sister Sara on harmonies and little percussioney things, and omigod theirs is one of the most achingly gorgeous sounds in the universe. Must be that family thing, the voices just melt together like buttah. And getting the whole Calexico experience with the horns and vibraphone and everything… I’d only seen them before as the John’n'Joey 2-piece (I played with them in Tucson one time that way, and Philly another time). It was pretty damn impressive to witness the full-on treatment. Fuckin’ awesome. And then everybody joins together and it’s just this mini rock orchestra up there, with giant movies being projected behind them… eagles flying, horses running, horses fighting (or fucking? hard to tell), carousel horses going round and round. The stuff of my dreams, basically. Oh, it was just neat-o. They invited me onstage again at the end of the show for a big group singalong of… what else? "Wild Horses." I had that frickin’ song going through my head so bad on the way home to Chicago, and all day the next! I’ll never be able to hear that tune again without singing along, I bet.
There were I think 13 of us traveling together in a little convoy of vans plus cargo trailer. Four girls including me, and nine guys. We all got along so great! Oh, they were all so sweet to me, I love ‘em all. Of course I already knew John and Joey are great guys, and I already knew Howard, and Troy too… he’d drummed in a tour I did with Danielle Howle some years back. So right away there’s four big hugs and I’m shuffled into a group of people that I already know. And the people I hadn’t met were equally friendly and welcoming, it was like we’d all been in this little traveling circus for years. No drama queens in the bunch, they were all total soldiers workin’ hard and pitchin’ in helping each other GTD. I guess by now they’ve all been working together so long they’ve got the combo exactly right. It was great to see that. I’ve always have pretty good luck in that department too but it’s cool to see it scaled upward, to a dozen people instead of just five or six in one van, the way I usually travel.
I shared a hotel room with Sara one night and we sat up talking a bit, that was cool. But that night I was coughing a lot from a cold I had the week before, and I was afraid it was too annoying for her. She claimed she slept through it but I still felt bad so I asked Howard to switch me out the next night with someone else. He put me with Deborah, the gal who was doing the video stuff, she kinda had a little cough too so it was okay. She was just as fun as Sara to roomie with, we laid in our beds watching trashy TV ’til we went to sleep. Hawaii 5-0 mixed with CNN and "Fatal Attraction", good times. Plus she dosed me up with Nyquil so I didn’t cough at all, got a good night’s sleep. Ahhh.
During the day I was riding in the Iron & Wine van, from Tulsa to Fort Worth, and from there to Austin. Sam was driving both days — I’m kinda picky about my drivers but he’s really good, I trusted him immediately so I stuck with them again on the 2nd day. Very stable driver, yes. Just to make sure though, I rode shotgun on the way to Texas, whereupon he invited me to DJ with my iPod. I LOVE being the DJ!! So all day I play song after song after song. I played a whole shitload of stuff off the different CDs I made for the Rock For Kids auctions, plus the "future RFK" playlist I’m currently assembling. (Speaking of which, hey Clay, can I post that 3rd tracklist now?) Bounced a lot of other tracks in there too, just a big mish-mash of stuff I love. Was getting lots of "who is this? this is great!" comments… that is, until I started in on the really challenging stuff, heheh. I think the annoying segment of our show started with "Yodeling Robot" by Ed Sanders. That was bad enough, but then came the tongue twisters. Poor Sam!! He sat through Dr. Seuss "Fox In Socks" without comment, then "Sister Suzie’s Sewing Shirts For Soldiers" by Billy Murray. Which is a lot to tolerate. But then I gave him "Court of King Caractacus" by Rolf Harris (the "Tie Me Kangaroo Down" guy)… it’s one of those recursive songs that keeps getting longer and longer, and faster and faster. We got about 3/4 of the way through it… "NOWWWW the fascinating witches who put the scintillating stitches in the britches of the boys who put the powder on the noses of the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Caractacus… were just passing by! All together now…!" The whole van squirms, and Sam finally speaks up. "Tag!! I have to call tag." And turns the volume down halfway. I was laughing so hard!! Yup, I have found the great bearded one’s musical breaking point. It is Rolf Harris. Not too shabby! People have shut me down for MUCH less annoying music than that. :-D I told him not to worry and quickly switched to something else: the perfect antidote being my boyfriend Eric’s song "Is That Star Wars?" Thank god it worked, everybody calmed down and stopped wanting to scratch out my eyeballs so I was able to continue from there. But the volume never went up too high after that, I was paying the price. Daa-hahaha!!! I deserved it, I know.
So ANYWAY yeah, this was such a great experience for me, I had a super fun time. I’d do it again with them in a heartbeat, and maybe I will! We’ll see. But either way I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s got me all excited about everything that’s coming up too. Now I have my guitar chops and my voice back in shape, and I’m all jazzed up about the release show and the touring and all that. I know for sure I can play these tunes really well, so I know they’ll be even better at the Hothouse with my fantabulous bandmates helping me out. We’re setting up a bunch of rehearsals now… we’ll probably have three or four full band ones plus maybe a couple of one-on-one rehearsalettes I might want to do with Lindsay and/or Emmett. The band is gonna be those two (Lindsay on piano/keys and background vox, Emmett on guitar) plus the rhythm section, Ryan on bass and Jason on drums. I really fuckin’ wanted to ask every person who played on the record but that would’ve been eleven people, too much of a clusterfuck onstage and too much of a pain in the ass for the poor soundman, and for rehearsing. Had to keep it simple though it pains me not to ask others, especially Hasbrouck!! And Do-rock on pedal steel would be so nice too, and Azita on piano and Josh on upright, and Mark, oh man. But I just can’t. Arghhh. This’ll be a really good combo though, I do think it’s a good choice if I have to narrow it down to just a few. I haven’t had a chance to play a show with Emmett before, I’m especially looking forward to that. Whiz kid, that one. And Lindsay’s the total sugar on top, I love playing with her.
This is going to be a busy couple of weeks for sure, even without the rehearsals. Lotta press stuff, and a few music things here and there to keep me off the streets. Tomorrow (=today) I’m recording with Pramod, doing backups for Morning Recordings. I haven’t learned the songs yet, eeek!!! But it’ll be fine, I’ll learn ‘em in the car on the way to the studio like I always do, heheh. Week after next I’m doing the same for Daniel Smith, with Steve over at Electrical. It’ll be fun to see both of them again. I’ve never recorded with Dan before, though I have done backups for him live, the time me and Amy toured with him and Elin back in ’99 or whenever that was. I was always hoping I’d get to work with him again so I’m really excited it’s finally going to happen.