Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ozzfest '07 Part 1: Calm Before The Shitstorm

A sad scene at the Hard Rock Hospital. In room 666, the 12 year old festival lay there devoid of energy but proud still in denial that it had wobbled into a state dangerously close to comatose. "But, we were free this year", it protested. "We're going to come back next year stronger than ever". I smiled weakly and nodded, "Yes, yes, there there". I patted it's hand and said, "It's okay, you had a good run. Think about all those bands and those awesome day long events." The festival looked away and seemed to know it was over. There would be no encore, no "thank you, good night", no next year. The lights went down and with a smoky wheeze that denied anyone anywhere a satisfying crescendo of a death rattle, Ozzfest was gone and it didn't cost anyone a dime...


After seeing Ozzfest the past two years up in Mountain View, CA with Keno (one with our sister-in-law Janet in tow), the two of us looked forward to the summer of '07 and another "roadie" to Ozzfest. The day long event provides one with sunshine and beer, people watching and laughter, rock and roll. We assumed that we'd land another weekend date in Mountain View and the world would continue to spin on its axis.

I'm the point man for these roadies and was spot on when it was announced that Ozzfest that year would be free with the purchase of Ozzy's 2007 release "Black Rain". Ozzfest had been wildy popular for over ten years but the economy had changed and it was getting harder and harder for these traveling road shows to tour. It was decided to have sponsors foot the bill and the bands in the lineup to make their money from merchandise and by playing their own headline shows on the off days and not be paid up front. I liked the concept but when the supporting bands were announced, I was a little disappointed with the weak assortment. Then again, I knew that much of the day would be made up of experiences outside of watching bands play so shrugged it off. I watched for tour dates and it turned out that the only California weekend date would be in a place called Devore. I had to Google it. Devore is a skidmark eight miles outside of San Bernadino in the high desert of southern California. Further research told me that the Hyundai Pavilion was the home of the US Festival back in 1982 and 1983, so as much as I was intrigued to see that site, I lamented the fact that we'd have to travel to the Southland.

I bought Black Rain on its release date in May of 2007 and promptly used my enclosed coupon and went online to land my two free tickets to the Ozzfest show of my choice. It was fairly easy and when I printed my tickets, I thought to myself that many folks would simply bring their coupon to the show expecting to use it to get in. (Foreshadowing alert).

I did some online recon and found a decent looking Best Western in Rancho Cucamonga and booked a room. The only things I knew about Rancho Cucamonga was that it was a town that was mentioned in a funny way by Bugs Bunny (along with Albuquerque) in those old Warner Brothers cartoons and that they had a Single A minor league baseball team. When we talked about the trip, we both schemed to get on the road early to make a weekend out of it. I looked into golf courses and made a tee time for the Friday before the show. When July rolled around, Keno and I had planned far ahead by then: he'd be off work that morning and I'd take the day off so we could travel down south so as to make our tee time.

We hurtled down south that Friday making good time until we hit I-10 and merged into the lava flow of brake lights. I hadn't been out that way in some time and it all looked different. Mega car dealerships, behemoth box store shopping centers, and new tracts of houses for as far as the eye could see. Some aggressive maneuvering got us past the crush of stupidity and we were in the open finally, all the time watching the clock. Our tee time was fast approaching but all we had to do when we got there was change into our golf shoes and crack a beer. We practically skidded into a parking spot at the course. Slinging our bags over our shoulders, we strode to the clubhouse double time. We paid up, grabbed a couple of beers and then were told that we'd be paired up with another twosome. Damn.

Usually not a big deal, getting paired up with strangers can be a bit stressful. You have to hope that they are equal to your skill level or at least not a lot worse or not a lot better. Personality helps too. Keno and I never have a problem making friends anywhere we go but you never know. This time, it was a couple of Hispanic guys about our age named Carlos and Bennie. Carlos was tall and heavy set while Bennie was shorter and stocky. They didn't look athletic at all, much less look like golfers. We all shook hands and chatted while the foursome ahead of us was teeing off. They seemed like cool guys but were a bit reserved. They were also locals who'd played the course often so they'd be able to help us out on angles and lies.

It was our turn up at the tee box. We all hit fairly well but I felt stiff and uncomfortable with my swing. Not a good sign. As we moved through the first few holes, Carlos and Bennie began lightening up, maybe seeing that Keno and I were harmless average golfers out for a good time. At least this seemed so to me because they lit up a joint on Seven and asked us if we'd like to partake. We politely declined and I was relieved that I didn't look as much like a DEA agent as I thought.

After the clubhouse turn, my game went to shit. Keno stayed steady, even making miraculous use of a horrible slice around a 120 foot tall tree to shadow the doglegged fairway. I however hit some divots farther than the ball and hit so many into sand bunkers that Carlos said I should have brought a beach ball. On Fourteen, I was near the green and just needed to chip up to putt. Instead, I somehow used the wedge like a croquet mallet and sent the ball scorching across the green and off the edge. Four times....

On Fifteen, I hit the ball down the fairway like a frenzied parent spanks their unruly child down the aisle in Wal-Mart, with short, wild, hit-and-miss swings all the while muttering things like, "I swear to God this is the last time we're doing this unless you shape up" and "Look what you made me do".

Sixteen was a short par 3, just what the doctor ordered to collect myself. I swung and looked up to see the ball taking off like the Space Shuttle but on course for the green. "Wow, you got all of that one", Keno bellowed. The four of us tracked the arc of the ball but I glanced down to estimate where it would land and mumbled "cart path" just as we all heard the familiar rattle and sputter of the beer cart. The ball was reentering the atmosphere when we saw the beer cart come over the hill and yelled, "fore!". The cute little gal driving the cart slammed on her brakes and smiled and waved, thinking she'd interrupted someone's swing. In fact, she stopped on the big cartoony X that marked the spot where my ball looked like it was going to land. Luckily, it hit the concrete about a foot to the right of the cart and she shrieked and curled into a ball like a pill bug. Meanwhile, my ball bounded about 60 feet in the air and then rolled harmlessly towards the tee box on Seventeen. I figured it was a sign for me to skip this hole and tee off on Seventeen. As I walked by the beer cart girl, I sheepishly apologized and she just blinked at me in shellshock.

Keno played out and met me on Seventeen, snickering. While Carlos and Bennie finished up, we scoped out the fairway. We both gasped as we looked over a pond that had to be about 250 yards across with the flag another 150 away. This looked impossible, but we started strategizing anyway. "What are you guys looking at?", Bennie asked from behind us as Carlos was taking warmup swings on the real tee box. Immediately realizing that we were setting up to shoot on the flag of Five, we both gathered ourselves and said something about the view. Later, we both laughed about the havoc we would have caused hitting back across the lake onto a hole we'd already played. The round ended mercifully and not a minute too soon. Keno shot respectfully but I stopped counting when I reached triple digits and still had a handful of holes to go. We headed to the hotel after picking up some beer for the room. We checked in, cleaned up and headed out for some dinner and for whatever Rancho Cucamonga had to offer.

It wasn't much as it turned out. We ate at TGI Fridays and then calculated that there wasn't anything to do here. I had done some research online and read about a club that sounded interesting, at least to provide the precious people watching we love. We drove over and pulled into a massive parking lot for a small club about the size of a ranch style home, only to be directed by lot attendants into an overflow lot. As the gravel crushed under our wheels, we both wondered what this place was all about. We got out of the truck and talked briefly with a security guard, a young African American guy that sort of looked us over with bemusement.

"This must be a happenin' place, huh?", Keno asked the guard.

He smiled and shook his head, "Yeah, it's like this every weekend. Gets crazy in there. You guys are heading in there, huh?"

"Might as well", I said. "We're here for Ozzfest tomorrow and looking to kill time tonight".

"Ohhhh, okay. Yeah, yeah, that should be wild out there tomorrow, man". He said it as if he'd figured out a mystery or just got the punchline to a joke told to him yesterday.

We started the trek to the club and my phone rang. It was Janet wishing us a good show. I love how concert people do that, as if we as fans are performing. I chatted with her for a few moments and told her that I wished she were with us. As I hung up, we were approaching the club and Keno asked me if I noticed anything. I looked around and said, "Oh. Yeah, we're the only white people here. Huh, what do you want to do?". He kept looking forward, never breaking stride and said in a chipper manner, "We're going in".

We paid the small cover and got our IDs checked and passed through the doors. We drifted through a glass door to the left and entered a smallish, dark lounge. A jazz quartet was killing on a Coltrane number that I couldn't place at the time. There were a few couples dancing in front of the band. We walked to the bar and got a couple of beers, then turned to lean on the bar to get a look at the layout. There couldn't have been more than 50 people in the place with many tables and booths empty. "Where are all the people for all those cars?", I asked. His brow was furrowed. He was trying to figure it out too. It was a fine place and the music was good but we were missing something. We took a seat to watch the band and hang out.

Behind the band was a smoked glass wall and you could see the reflection of the band's backs and of the couples dancing. I kept seeing the reflection of a large crowd of people and turned around to see them but we were almost against the back wall and there was nobody behind us. I didn't say anything to Keno but I noticed he did the same thing a couple of times. "Are you seeing people in the reflection too?", I laughed. "Yeah, what the hell?". As I focused on the smoked glass, I realized it was a partition! "Wait a minute", I exclaimed, "that's another room in there behind the band". Keno then recognized it and we both laughed. We grabbed our beers and made way for the glass door. Pushing through, we paused for a moment in a small, quiet foyer where the sounds of the jazz band drifted off before heading through another glass door where we were met with a blast of beats and a rush of warm air. The lights were flashing and a DJ was perched on a podium above hundreds of people gyrating on the dance floor. It was a different world. We were literally through the looking glass....

As we surveyed the room, it was confirmed that we were indeed in the minority here. We were able to find two other white guys, one dressed head to toe in Ecko clothing and one that looked like he mistook this place for the Elks lodge. Also, the bartenders were white. Everyone else without exception was black. We got some more drinks and tried to settle in somewhere to watch the action but it was so packed that you just stood where you were which meant a lot of bumping into each other. Once, I bumped pretty hard into what I thought was a rhinoceros but turned out to be a huge black guy in a pin striped suit and fedora. Instead of pummeling me into part of the carpet pattern, he laughed and basically picked me up by the elbow and passed me through on my merry way. "There you go, little man. Playa. Rocker. Whooo, go on now....", he howled. I think I may have said, "Thank you, sir".

Keno and I found a place on the edge of the steps leading down onto the dance floor. The air was thicker there due to all the body heat. We watched this gorgeous black woman refuse the advances of every man that came up to her. It got to the point where we were betting on guys. "Watch this guy, I bet he gets her to dance", Keno would say. Then she'd wave him off. After a while, we were rooting for the guys. They were coming at her like soldiers storming the beach. She waved off another, this one very polite and charming. "Oh come on, what was wrong with that guy, woman?", we'd yell to ourselves laughing.

We stayed a little longer and decided to head back to the room. We crashed pretty hard and woke up refreshed for a long day in the sun. Little did we know that we'd be heading into a war zone.

Friday, August 29, 2008

New Story Posted Below!!

Seriously folks, scroll down for a brand new tale. I took a break (duh!) from the Heaven and Hell story to get one out about our trip to Tahoe for Robert Plant and Allison Krauss earilier this summer. It's a little lengthy and meanders a bit, but I'm rusty so hang in there.

Speaking of Heaven and Hell, Keno and I are seeing them this Labor Day Weekend along with Judas Priest and Motorhead. I haven't seen Judas Priest since high school about 25 years ago and never was blessed to experience the seminal Motorhead. To quote Henry Rollins, seeing a Motorhead concert "feels like being held down and beaten with a lead pipe" and "will change your life for the better". Somehow that makes perfect sense to me....

Keep your fingers crossed for action at the show and hopefully I'll have material for another installment of On The Road With Keno.



KIlling The Blues In Tahoe (Robert Plant and Allison Krauss 6.28.08)

Always a fan of Robert Plant, I eagerly picked up the Raising Sand release last year. I figured the collaboration with Allison Krauss would go under the radar and he'd get back to his work with Strange Sensation with whom he released two fine discs recently. I immediately loved Raising Sand and wondered about a tour or some one-off shows here and there. I was surprised that many others shared my interest in the album and it became somewhat of a surprise hit, getting airplay on country stations alongside the watered down rock and roll that passes for that genre these days. Have you seen a country video in the last few years? I suppose it's good that the directors of those old Poison and Dokken clips are getting work again.

I silently decided that if a tour was to happen that I'd consider taking my wife to a show if it worked out and forgot about it. Then, in February, I saw the edition of Crossroads featuring Plant and Krauss performing live on CMT. I knew that I'd enjoy the Raising Sand material but the reworked and rearranged Led Zeppelin tunes featuring Krauss amazed me. Robert Plant seemed to really enjoy himself being somewhat of a music historian if not at least a man with a passion for American music. It was a cinch now that we'd make every effort to see a live show featuring these two and as a tour was announced I eagerly awaited the announcement of the dates.

Tickets for regional shows went on sale in March.The only weekend date that worked for us was a Saturday night show in Lake Tahoe at Harvey's outdoor amphitheater and after a very brief discussion, it was decided that we could make a nice weekend out of the trip so we'd get a pair of tickets when they went on sale. That happened with no grief as I was Johnny On The Spot as usual, sitting in front of my computer hitting the refresh button on the Ticketbastard website at 9:59am on the initial on sale morning. When it's big for me, you'll find me there at the desk with my coffee and a two day's worth of stubble, having done my seating chart research and making sure no other programs are running so as not to slow the search for tickets. I've put golf tee times off until after 10:00 before because of this and when friends ask why I don't just get tickets later, I shudder and stammer something about them being completely insane.

After securing seats, I began the search for a hotel room. We prefer to stay within stumbling distance from venues whenever possible and naturally I started with Harvey's Hotel and Casino since that's where the show was. It had been years since we'd been to Tahoe and that was a whirlwind weekend for a wedding so we didn't really experience all that the area has to offer. The one thing I did remember is that Lake Tahoe is not Las Vegas: there are a handful of hotel/casinos and the atmosphere is very different. I clicked on Harvey's website and was pleased to see that the property featured a Cabo Wabo Cantina, one of Sammy Hagar's ventures and a Hard Rock Cafe which we always enjoy. I clicked on room reservations and punched up the date of the show....

Coffee almost went all over my monitor but instead went up my nose and burned the back of my throat as I came close to a classic movie style "spit take" when I saw the prices. They wanted $349 for Saturday night! What? I looked at the rest of the calendar month to see that mid-week prices ranged from $79 to $119. What a racket. Not being familiar with the area, I was now in for some intense education of the region and accommodations. I found a Best Western resort 3 1/2 blocks from Harvey's on the California side of Tahoe for a reasonable price and gave Harvey's and the other casino properties the bird.

That was back in March, so we fast forward to June here. In that time, I had started a new job that had me traveling all over central California and I was a little concerned about being home at a reasonable time that Friday to make the drive up to Lake Tahoe. As it turned out, my boss was very appreciative of the work and extensive travel I'd done for him and I was done that Friday by ten in the morning. Mary worked her week out so that she was done early too and we were ready to roll by noon.

The recent fires in California have made for some terrible conditions and we both had cold and allergy-like symptoms the week before the show. I actually felt like I was getting sick but was psyching myself out that it was just the air. We laughed in the days before the trip that we'd just drink our way through the malady that weekend and work on getting better the week after. Sitting here writing the early parts of this edition feeling like shit makes me wonder if I got what I asked for.

As I mentioned above, we hadn't been to Tahoe in some time and a friend gave us a route to take that he said shaved an hour off of the drive. I was all ears, especially as we weren't looking forward to the ugly Highway 99 Friday traffic. We took his hand written notes with the GPS as a back up just in case and hit the road on a hazy and smoky afternoon that looked like a foggy day in January through the windshield of the car with the air conditioner on full blast.

We got off of 99 north of Modesto and headed east. We zipped along two lane roads through farmland and began our way up into rolling hills. Taking the instructed turns, we found ourselves passing through adorable foothill communities that had maintained their historic Main Streets. Then we hit some mountainous roads with hairpin turns along the American River that had us maintaining an average speed of 20mph and we wondered how we could possibly be saving an hour up here. We were especially taken with downtown Placerville and noticed signs for a Blues and Brews festival that would take place on the closed downtown Main Street that would interfere with our show Saturday, but made note of the idea to get back up here for other events. Getting onto Highway 50 out of Placerville had us on the home stretch and after all the winding roads, we were happy to get onto a road where we could open it up a bit.

Traffic was light and we made good time on 50. The air quality was also steadily improving and we were on the lookout for blue skies instead of brown. I'd forgotten how beautiful the mountains are in northern California and we made a pact to visit the area more often. We swooped down into South Lake Tahoe and pulled into the parking lot of the hotel. We parked and walked back to office to check in and nodded to many Harley-Davidson riders congregating in the parking lot. The pool area was alive with people frolicking about and laughing while a guy played sang classic rock hits and played his Casio over a P.A. with ease. "Looks like this is the place", I smiled.

We checked in and unpacked. We had stopped at a grocery store moments before to pick up some beer and bottled water. We popped open a couple of brews as we freshened up and toasted to our little getaway. The room was tiny but nice and an entirely mirrored wall lent to the illusion of a bigger dwelling. It also provided me with plenty of blue comments about the action later that night, but I'll be a gentleman here and spare my wife the embarrassment. 'Nuff said....

We made the short trek over to Harvey's and decided that we'd check out Cabo Wabo. It was fairly early still and it wasn't very busy but the waitress took good care of us. While my wife enjoys her Irish whiskey, we're mainly beer and wine folks but we figured we'd better have some of Sammy's Cabo Wabo tequila. We got some shots and beers and again toasted our weekend. Some food and a couple of rounds later, a woman came over and took one of those touristy souvenir photos that came out good enough to buy. Great, now I was stuck carrying it around all night.

After dinner, we headed to the casino floor to get a feel for the place. We have just a few rules when it comes to choosing our blackjack table; no Asian dealers (or Terminators, as we refer to them--nothing personal here but they waylay us every time), no playing alongside septuagenarians wearing golden shoes to match their golden purse to match their golden nail polish, and we do try to sit next to each other for obvious reasons. After a couple of laps around the floor, we settled in together with me at first base at a $10 table. We'd already broken in for a hundy each before I looked at the dealer and realized he had the deck in his hand.

"Shit", I whispered to Mary. "Single deck, handheld. Haven't done that in a while".

She shrugged and gave me a look that said, "what the fuck, we're here".

I hadn't played single deck blackjack in years and hadn't counted cards at a table in double those years. I was never good at it because I prefer to play the basic strategy and counting cards becomes a chore. I like the action of gambling and the inherent risk; trying to get an edge seems like a dirty job with no glory when you punch out for the day.

Right away, the rust showed from all those years of playing a multi-deck shoe. I tapped the table for a hit instead of "scratching" my cards towards me, I kept forgetting to slide my hand under my chips to stand, and even tried to double down on forbidden hands otherwise allowed because of the draw from four to six decks.

But after a few rounds, we were old pros. The drinks kept coming and we kept tipping. Our pit boss took care to get us player's club membership and the dealers kept us playing with their charm and wit. Our Economic Stimulus Package was floating us for the night so we broke in again and again when the chips got low. I call my stacks of chips "the skyline" as it looks like a cityscape at times. This night, most of the time the skyline looked like the suburbs but I didn't care one bit. Until I noticed it was 3am.

We both suddenly became aware of the fact the each of us was a genius and we'd better hit the sack so as not to be too tired on Saturday for the show. Mary had been up for almost 24 hours at this point and I was closing in on around 22. We stumbled back across the state line and down the slightly sloped road to the Best Western. We tried to count the number of drinks we had all that day and kept interrupting each other with, "no, no, you forgot the round we had in the room while we were getting dressed" and "wait, there was the 2nd round of tequila shots at Sammy's". Trying to tally up the beer alone we had while playing cards was impossible so we decided to safely underestimate our alcohol total to be around 15-20 rounds! Safe to say I'm sure the local Coors Light distributor call a call on Saturday to restock Harvey's.

Saturday came crashing in with the sounds of children's infernal playful screams and thunderous footsteps out on our second story walkway. We both grumbled something about how fucking early it must be but when I rolled over to look at the clock radio, it read almost 10am. Even knowing that we'd gone to bed so late, it's strange for us to sleep past 7 or so on a day off so I stared at the clock for a moment not knowing what time it was or day for that matter. We layed there taking inventory of headaches, sandpaper tongues, and bloodshot eyes.

We laughed when I mentioned that we'd packed our golf clubs. Fools! We were in no shape to walk across the parking lot, much less drive a electric motor vehicle across grassy hills. We took our time getting dressed and decided to just walk around Tahoe a bit, get some lunch, and maybe do some shopping. We didn't get out of the room until just after noon.

The fresh air seemed to wage battle against my second hand smoke filled lungs and the bright sunshine made quick work to help my body rid itself of the poison alcohol through the pores of my skin. Making our way up to the main road, I felt a little wobbly and lightheaded. Mary was faring better than I was so I made no mention of it. We decided that lunch was in order and saw the revolving ads for restaurants on the higher floors of Harrah's and made our way there. Up to the 18th floor, we sat at a window table and had a great view of the lake and mountains, despite the slight haze of the California fires to the west. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon by now and I decided that I'd try a beer and see how it went down.

I was so dehydrated that drinking that beer was like sucking on wet cotton. Don't get me wrong, it tasted fine and was cold as it needed to be (the mountains on the new Coors Light temperature sensitive label were a deep azure blue), but the remaining brain cells from the night before were screaming at me because they hadn't even cleared the dead from the gray matter battlefield and here I was assaulting them again.

From our perch, we could see the venue at Harvey's across the street. It was a folding chair and bleacher filled amphitheater set up in what looked like a corner of their parking lot, not what I had pictured in my mind at all. It was also breezy and I was concerned about the sound swirling around on all that blacktop. I tend to sweat the details but this time I forced myself to not care and just let the day happen. We'd also spotted what looked like a craft fair on the street below and thought it would be a nice distraction. On the elevator down, it was decided that we'd take a peek at the amphitheater too.

The craft fair sucked as most of them do but we found a booth where a guy was selling knock off prints of artist Michael Godard that were nicely framed and fairly priced. We thought about getting one as we strode over to the amphitheater. Upon closer inspection through the fence, the stage was quite large and the sound system looked quite capable of cutting though the breeze. Someone was pounding on a single drum, the haunting echoey boom of soundcheck. We went back into the craft fair and picked up the print and made our way back out onto the main street to visit some shops and then head back to the room to shower and change for the night. We popped into a local gallery that featured actual Godard works and when the shopkeeper noticed my bag, he noted that we'd already done some art buying and could he see it. I chuckled, a little embarrassed to show him this bootleg Godard but he was very polite when he asked if I realized it was a knock off. I told him of course, but it suited our needs at this time. He was very complimentary of our choice of work and then asked if we'd like to see some real stuff and we spent about a half hour in a back area of the gallery viewing limited edition prints and other pieces. Too pricey for us right now, but we vowed to one day get some good stuff.

Back in the room in the late afternoon, we opened a bottle of wine and tried to relax, maybe even sneak in a nap before the evening. We watched a meaningless baseball game and reclined on the bed but sleep would not come. We got showered and changed, finished our wine and then made that walk back to Harvey's. We decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe this time and it was packed with concert goers; you could tell by all the women with their boobs pushed up and out of short dresses and the pot bellied guys wearing black Tommy Bahama shirts, the standard uniforms for middle aged rockers.

Once done with our dinner and drinks (Mary opting for whiskey this time), we decided we could squeeze in a little more blackjack before the show and we sat down at a table right outside the Hard Rock. The dealer was a very nice woman that we'd noticed the night before due to her very butchy haircut and she was very chatty and personable. She asked if we were going to the show and mentioned that she knew the names but not the music. She started to tell us a story about her son-in-law driving through the mountains the day before. I looked at Mary and wondered where this tangent came from, but continued to listen. Apparently, her son-in-law came upon and straggly looking old hippie broken down on the side of the road and stopped to see if he needed help. It was just a flat tire, so he was able to change it for the old guy quickly an easily. It was a rental car, the hippie explained, and he had no idea of what to do up there in the middle of nowhere. The conversation as explained to us is paraphrased here:

"You don't know who I am, do you?", said the hippie.

The young man said, "no, sorry". The old man asked him if he had plans for Saturday night. This surprised the young man and when the hippie sensed that it was an odd question, he identified himself.

"My name is Robert Plant and I'm playing a concert in Lake Tahoe tomorrow night and I'd like to give you some tickets as a thank you for stopping."

So, the son-in-law gave Plant his name and he now had excellent seats and backstage passes to the show. The blackjack dealer said her son-in-law is just like that to stop and help and many others from the area are as well. I mentioned that I don't honestly know if I would have stopped and she told me not to feel bad because that's probably not an indication of who I am but how the world's made us out to be. Interesting.

I bottomed out fairly quickly but Mary was actually doing well. We knew we wanted to get to the show early and people watch, but I told her to ride out the cards for a while and see how it goes. She eventually took a turn for the worse and we ducked out to walk across the parking lot to the amphitheater. There was a pretty good line formed but was moving quickly. I listened to a lot of chatter in line and it seemed that many people thought this was a Robert Plant solo show and that "some chick named Allison Krauss" was the opening act. Now I anxiously awaited crowd reaction to what they would experience. Our tickets were scanned and we immediately bumped into a Coors Light vendor carrying my life's blood in a cooler styled like one of those old "cigarette girl" trays. What, not wait in line for a beer? I love Nevada.

Opening act Sharon Little had started and sounded good from the concourse as we looked at the t-shirts and got another beer. We strolled around a bit and decided to check out the opener from our seats and also have our bearings in case we were caught in the dash to seats after intermission. I can't stand looking for my seats with all the other drunken sheep during the first song or two. It's loud, dark, and inevitably some drunken mook is in my seat and I have to tap him on the shoulder, explain the situation and receive a "fuck you" glare when it's him that's made the error. Every. Single. Concert. Ever.

Sharon Little was very good and we vowed to buy her CD. What seemed to be folksy, acoustic tinged pop morphed later in her set into a loose and groovy jam. The breeze came in off the lake at dusk and Mary and I smiled at each other, knowing that each of us was glad to be there. She was fading a bit though after the wine, Jameson's, and beer so I decided to get her some water and something to munch on. A soft pretzel did the trick and she was back in the game shortly thereafter. We walked around the concourse a little bit longer and hit the port-a-pottys before returning to our seats. Note to Harvey's: let's look into putting some lights in the area where the bathrooms are. Once entombed in the pitch black plastic piss booth, you're on your own to get out of there dry.

The lights went down and the crowd roared while Mary was still in her Tupperware coffin. People waiting in line for the bathroom, food, beer, and t-shirts bolted for their seats as the opening notes of Rich Woman drifted to the back of the amphitheater. Mary exited and we calmly made our way through the drunk and confused to our seats. A tiny miracle provided me with no tank top wearing mouth breather in my seat and we settled in about halfway through the first song. The crowd erupted a few songs later when the retooled Black Dog chugged it's way into the set. I was very pleased that the crowd was responding positively to the stripped down and laid back Zeppelin tunes and the Raising Sand material. Apparently, most of us knew what we were getting into and the others I surmised were being very patient waiting for Plant to scream the opening to Immigrant Song. They would probably walk back to their cars wondering what the hell happened.

The set cruised along like a pleasant dream; much of Raising Sand was played and Krauss sprinkled in some solo tunes that I didn't recognize except for those from the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. The Zeppelin tunes were given a different, if not new, life by Plant's subdued reworking and Krauss' touches here and there. She sang the lead on When The Levee Breaks to a great ovation and sang the Sandy Denny parts in Battle of Evermore with an eerie pitch that gave me chills (something that happened over and over by the way--the most times ever at a concert for me). For me, her most triumphant turn was a take on a tune I didn't recognize at first for some reason but turned out to be Trampled Rose, a Tom Waits song from Raising Sand. The slow, haunting dirge featured her voice soaring into the night air and hypnotized the entire audience.

The Raising Sand Travelling Revue (as Plant referred to the show) lasted almost two full hours and never lulled or swayed too far so as to lose any steam. Guitarist Buddy Miller was a highlight for me, subtle at times and bold at others. I made a note to pick up some of his work as well.

After the show, the masses filtered into the casino to keep partying but we were out of gas. I asked if Mary wanted to play some cards before bed but she sneered slightly and as I re-evaluated my own condition, I thought better of it as well. We walked like ghosts across the casino floor and out the front door, down the main drag and off into wooded street to our hotel. In the room, I decided a night cap was in order but Mary was already breathing deeply and softly, curled up in bed. I shrugged and poured myself a generous glass of red wine and turned on the tube. George Carlin had recently passed away and Saturday Night Live replaying the first ever episode which he hosted. I climbed in bed and reclined against a pile of pillows with my glass resting on my chest.

The next morning, we ran through the identical routine of checking hangover symptoms and reliving moments from the night before, laughing and smiling. Then I noticed the red stain on my pillow. A moment of panic had me thinking I was bleeding and I sat up in a flash. Mary looked horrified for a second until we both saw the wine glass on it's side next to my pillow. We busted up, relieved that it was just a little wine. Then she covered her mouth laughing and pointed at my shoulder. Glancing down, the entire right side of my chest and my right shoulder were stained pink. What the fuck? I then moved my pillow and we both gasped, "oh shit". Suffice it's doubtful that I even took one drink from that glass and passed out, dumping the entire thing across my chest and down onto the bed. A three foot stain looking not unlike the map of Idaho now adorned the sheets, and the mattress, while having the sheets take most of the drink, now could never be sold at a garage sale. How I didn't feel it, I can only blame Mary for forcing me to drink so much and I was lucky neither of us rolled over on that glass.

We both sat there silently and wondered what to tell the desk. We've all left hotel rooms in some imperfect condition but this was very noticable and I didn't want the maid to have a heart attack thinking she'd stumbled upon the scene of a murder. It was decided that we'd fess up and take our lumps if necessary. We packed up after showering and looked back in horror at that bed as we shut the door.

Upon check out, the lady at the desk was very cheery and asked us about our stay and did we have fun, etc. We both half-heartedly said that we did but I took a breath and looked her in the eye. She seemed a little startled by our somber demeanor.

"Uh, I feel like I should tell you that it appears that we spilled some wine last nig---"

"You spilled some wine last night", Mary blurted.

I cleared my throat, chuckling a little. "Yeah, I spilled some wine last night and wanted your staff to be aware of it."

"Okay, I see. Well that happens from time to time. We have some stuff that takes out stains. Is it on the carpet?", she asked calmly.

"No, it's, uh, on the bed", I mumbled.

"Oh...well I'm sure it's not that bad", she assured me.

I looked at Mary and she raised her eyebrows. I looked back at the clerk, "No, it looks like a crime scene in there". Her eyes widened a little. I continued, "So yeah, you might want to notify them before they walk in there...."

She made a note of it and when I asked if we would have to make any kind of restitution, she said the hotel assumes losses all the time unless it were something like throwing a TV out the window. I smiled at that notion, thinking I'd pulled a minor rock star move passing out with a drink but I don't have the balls for the TV move. We never did hear from the hotel so it's assumed we aren't on the hook for the mattress. None the less, I'm drinking white wine from a Dixie cup next time...

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Maddening Sound of Keystrokes

Back at the keyboard again after an embarrassing absence. Those of you that have faithfully come back time and time again have heard it all before; he's busy, etc. Whatever, let's move on. My mid-year's resolution is to get back to this blog and tell more stories whether you like it or not.

These tales bounce around in my head all the time but lately I just haven't wanted to sit down and lay them out. But I realize that even if it's just a few words a night, I need to put them together. I suppose I put the stories off until I can hole myself away and tell the whole thing in one fell swoop but who has that kind of time (besides full time writers, I mean)? Not that I consider myself a "writer", but you know what I mean....

So, I'll tell you all now that I do plan on finishing the Heaven and Hell story featuring our hero Keno and myself, but I've also gotten about 60% into my Robert Plant and Allison Krauss story featuring my wife and I up in Lake Tahoe recently.

I swore I'd never do this again after reading older posts where I made promises, but I'll tell you about what I'm working on for future installments:

  • Heaven and Hell, Part Two
  • Plant/Krauss in Tahoe
  • Concert Injury Report: Scars, dental work, scratches, etc.
  • My wife and how she tries to get me into fights at every fucking concert we go to these days and denies it later

The Plant/Krauss story will be up first because it's fresh. Heaven and Hell Part Two will be right behind because I know you all want to know if the author can take a punch....

Thanks everyone!

--Hazy Tony

Friday, November 16, 2007

Black Sab...err...Heaven and Hell '07 (Part One)

April 18th,1982...15 years old.

It was a Sunday night and I had school the next day, so it was really cool that my parents let me go to this show. The Outlaws were onstage and I was enjoying their performance despite the fact that I'd never heard of them or their music. I was such a concert rookie that it never occurred to me that with their Southern Rock sound and good ol' boy looks what an odd choice they were to open for Black Sabbath. All I knew was that the band was about 20 feet from me, it was loud, and it was real.

I say real because just three months prior I'd seen Ozzy Osbourne live for my first ever rock concert. I sat in good seats, but far enough away so that the show seemed distant and something like a play or even a movie. Oh, it was loud to be sure. Loud enough to ring my ears for a few days, but I didn't feel connected to the band or the crowd. I'd only gone because Rod, one of my oldest childhood friends, wanted to go. I was only beginning to get into rock music and probably agreed to see Ozzy like those a half generation before me went to see Alice Cooper and those two decades behind me checked out Marilyn Manson; just to see the freak show.

I enjoyed Ozzy enough to know that I'd follow my boyhood chum to more shows and the next big one to hit Fresno was Black Sabbath featuring Ronnie James Dio on vocals. It took some research via Hit Parader and Creem magazines, but I was able to surmise that Dio took over for Ozzy in Sabbath and they were touring in support of their second album together, Mob Rules. I didn't know much more than that. I listened to Black Sabbath LPs at Rod's house and pretended to be as "into it" as everyone else, but it wasn't sinking in. I liked what I heard enough, but without a way to realize it back then, I was a music geek at heart and was uncomfortable without knowing more about the musicians, the band's history, etc. That's probably what keeps me from buying King Crimson albums today.

Back in the good old days, most all shows were sold as General Admission and for the Sabbath show, we decided to stand in front of the stage. Getting there early, we stood on the concrete floor of Fresno's Selland Arena under the house lights. It was kind of like hanging around the clock tower on the amphitheater lawn at my high school. That night, we saw everyone from school and tried to outcool each other (me pathetically so) and generally just stood around and cracked wise. I remember looking up into the stands and wondered if this is what it looked like from a Fresno State basketball player's perspective. Then Marco showed up.

Marco was the coolest guy I'd ever met. He was confident, funny, socially adept, and I suppose not bad looking to the feathered haired girls of 1982. We knew each other pretty well and I genuinely liked him, but when I saw him walk up with a soda cup in his hand, I was surprised. Even on my wobbly newborn concert legs, I knew that nobody drank soda at a concert. It was alcohol or nothing. Even though it would be a couple of years before I consumed alcohol before or at a concert, I endured dehydration symptoms if only in the effort to look cool. In retrospect and full hindsight, it is now apparent that consuming a Pepsi would not have helped nor hurt my cool factor during freshman year. The large red Ronald McDonald hairdo and thick glasses landed me firmly in such a class of uncool that it would have taken Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli to walk around with a bullhorn during intermission declaring that I wasn't actually as dorky as I looked. Don't ask me why drinking fluids wasn't cool back then, I'm just here reporting the hazy memories.

Marco entered the conversation circle and I stared at his soda cup. The blue and red Pepsi logo was sweating and I envied Marco and his damned individualism. Nobody said anything, even though I had the feeling that more than a few of us wanted to. If I'd walked up with a soda, some stoner would have probably taken the glasses off of my face and thrown them onstage, smacked me on the forehead with his ridiculously over sized Goody comb and then lit my huge hair on fire with his Bic. I know it sounds irrational now, but I couldn't risk it back then.

The lights went down (my all time favorite and embarrassingly overused phrase when it comes to concert story telling---much akin to "So, there I was..." by our beloved war veterans) and I felt this crushing blow in the middle of my back. Light on my feet, I absorbed the shock and was amused to find myself carried about 6 feet forward. The amusement lasted just a moment as the flood of humanity closed in around me and a howling, whistling, roar from the seats above seemed to over modulate in my head with a swirling effect. The Outlaws (whoever they were) hit the first notes (of whatever song of theirs) and again I rode the wave as the crowd pushed forward.

I stared forward, wide-eyed like a baby and grinning like an idiot. I didn't know it at the time, but I was being baptized in a sort of backwoods dunked-in-a-dirty-river-that's-still-good-for-fishin' sort of way. The Outlaws rode their guitars like polished wooden race horses. They strode the stage and struck poses that seemed somehow heroic to me in that moment. It took a few years for me to hear the song again, but Green Grass And High Tides Forever somehow stuck with me and brings back sentimental times. Then it all ended with much clamor and clanging. All of us cheered wildly in appreciation of The Outlaws' efforts. The stage lights shone brightly on those of us up front, but I was able to squint and see the band members come out with their hands clasped in front of them as in handcuffs. I thought at the time that they looked like those guys in Ricky Ricardo's band with the puffy, layered sleeves. Then, they spread their hands with a upward swing of their arms to release dozens and dozens of Outlaws bandannas. Time stood still as the knotted fabric fell towards my face and I reached out as in a dream.....


Next to me, Marco held up an Outlaws bandanna in triumph. I blinked slowly and then watched him laugh and twirl it around like a gunslinger. In his other hand, I noted, was that goddamned Pepsi. Fuckin' Marco. He seemed to walk with some sort of aura about him and it all made perfect sense that he'd score some stage swag. I hated him. I loved him. I wanted to kill him. I wanted to be him. (For longtime and unbelievably patient Tony's Hazy.... readers, this provides a little foreshadowing to the July '04 Pat Tragedy multi-parter in the archives---when Marco rears his head again at the Clovis High Air Guitar Contest of 1985).

In the house lights, we congratulated Marco on his kill and went back to fucking off. Real estate was becoming more and more precious as the older fans crept forward to see the metal legends. I patiently waited with eyes forward until the arena darkened again and the mighty Sabbath took the stage. It was a simple stage with the four of them assaulting us with songs both new and old. I wasn't familiar with many of Black Sabbath's older tunes aside from radio hits I'd learned in my crash course during the last few months of rock and roll high school. But the crowd knew a whole lot more than I did.

There was a lummox of a young man directly behind me and he was banging his head forward and back with such vigor that his sweat doused a four foot circle of lucky fans. I glanced back from time to time to see what this cretin looked like and each time he looked a little different. Most of the time, he simply looked like a toad wearing a wet rat for a hairstyle and sucking wind heavily. Other times, he stalled his headbanging to emphasize a major shift in tempo, his glazed eyes looking right over my head transfixed on the stage. But what I remember most about this guy was that he sang--yelled hoarsely, really--every word to every song. Every word. Every song. Many of the people around me did as well. Apparently, Black Sabbath had many fans more ardent than I.

Why would anyone come to a concert to see a band and then sing the songs out loud themselves? It was April 18th, 1982. A quarter century later, that question would seem absurd.


I won't go into the history of Black Sabbath and all of its incarnations here. There isn't time and it's all been written before. But I will note that I've been a fan of the band through all the lineup changes and swings in popularity. Some of my favorite Black Sabbath albums aren't even known by many of the fans attending subsequent reunions with Ozzy. For many, it's Ozzy or Dio and anything else just isn't Sabbath. There's merit to that thought, but the other work should not be dismissed wholly.

When I read online that Ronnie James Dio would be joining the early '80s lineup to knock out a couple of new tunes for a Dio-era best of album, I was happy but not expecting much more than a couple of throwaway tunes, much like the Van Halen best of featuring a couple of newly recorded songs with David Lee Roth and the new studio Black Sabbath (with Ozzy) tracks thrown together and tacked onto their live Reunion release. Before the album's release, plans had been made for a tour and I crossed my fingers for a weekend date fairly close to Fresno. Alas, the close dates were on weeknights and travel was impossible. I'd read that the NYC show would be filmed for a DVD release and felt good about at least having that to document the lineup's reunion.

The tour was a smash success and a second leg was added for North America. I cheered out loud at my computer monitor when I saw the Fresno date and immediately checked the calendar to make sure there wasn't a conflict. I noted that it was to be held at Selland Arena, Fresno's aging event center, as opposed to the newer (but not necessarily superior in terms of sound) Save Mart Center on the Fresno State campus. SMG, the huge venue management company that Fresno wisely called in to run both arenas, has done a good job booking both arenas appropriately with a few exceptions. One being the Velvet Revolver show a couple of years back at Save Mart Center; embarrassingly undersold, but still with a good number of enthusiastic attendees, the follow up tour was subsequently booked at Selland Arena. (A source of mine tells me that the Selland show was still quite empty--something that bewilders me when you consider Fresno's demographics and Velvet Revolver's pedigree). With Heaven and Hell, I estimated SMG to have made the right call here.

A call was quickly made to the stalwart Keno and, of course, he was in. I thought to call Chet, one of my oldest friends, but didn't for some reason. In the coming days, however, I did leave some voicemails for him at work, but never heard back. I was worried that I'd somehow offended him, perhaps at the Marc Ford show earlier in the year. It has not been unusual for us to go weeks and even months without contact, but I was a little concerned. I was Johnny On The Spot for tickets when they went on sale, scoring a pair 5th row center.

The unit would not call itself Black Sabbath, instead travelling under the moniker Heaven and Hell, also the name of the first album with Dio. I never heard an official statement of why the Sabbath name would not be used, but I first suspected that it was to avoid confusion in the marketplace. Ozzy had reunited with Sabbath a few times by now and the average classic rock radio listener might get to the Dio-fronted Sabbath show, see the diminutive Ronnie James howling away and say, "what the fuck?" After thinking about it more, I agreed with some online sentiments stating that guitarist Tony Iommi, who owns the rights to the name Black Sabbath, was simply protecting the integrity of the name for lucrative future reunions with Ozzy. Whatever the reason, I didn't mind the name at all. In fact, I was thrilled when I read that Heaven and Hell would not be performing any Sabbath songs from the Ozzy years, instead opting to stand on the strength of their few releases with Dio. This was something they could not do when Dio first joined. As much fun as it was to hear Dio belt out classics like War Pigs and Iron Man back then, I admired them for playing the songs from the Dio releases as if they were a completely separate entity from Black Sabbath. Do you think Yes could do this with Trevor Horn? Does anyone remember that era of Yes? Does anyone yearn for a Horn-era Yes reunion tour besides ponytailed, multi-sided dice throwing 40-somethings working in the electronics section of Target that sneer at customers that buy greatest hits collections? I didn't think so and that's why we move forward......

So, naturally, as the date of the show closed in, I immersed myself in the Dio-era Sabbath releases and burned copies for Keno so that he may do his homework. I got word via his blog that ol' Lefty Brown and Steve Portela would be in attendance and made a mental note to hook up with them for a brew and a laugh. Another friend of mine would be bringing his kids, so I'd have an eye out for him as well. I felt nostalgic for the time of my youth when we networked days before a show to see who'd be there so we could stand around and bullshit at the concert.

October 2nd, 2007...40 years old.

Luckily for us both, Keno was on vacation that week or otherwise he would have been out of town on the road driving his rig. We'd just spent the weekend on the coast with the wives in a rented house overlooking the Pacific so that Keno and his wife (my wife's sister Jean) could ride their bikes in some absurd 100 mile event. The girls remained on the coast as Keno and I returned to Fresno Monday evening. I remember not feeling all that well during the drive to the coast Saturday and was worried that I was coming down with something. I was quiet and reserved, almost polite or even civilized. Mary knew something was wrong and so did Keno and Jean as soon as we arrived. As it turned out, my blood alcohol level had dipped dangerously low. Much like those with blood sugar concerns, I have to closely monitor my situation. I don't know what I was thinking and it scared me enough to never let that happen again. After administering 720 CCs of Coors Light and roughly 180 CCs of red wine (exact measurements are thrown out of the window during times of crisis), I was on my way back to my old life-of-the-party self.

As a sales rep, I was able to schedule a light day for myself that Tuesday. That way, Keno and I could get together for dinner and a drink before heading to the downtown arena. He drove over to my place and then we headed over to an Applebee's in my neighborhood if only to get a reliable meal that would lie sturdy in our guts as we absorbed concussive body blows from the Heavy Metal lineup. A couple of happy hour priced tall drafts at the restaurant would help cushion the blow of the more expensive and tragically shorter beers at Selland Arena. I thought about stopping somewhere and getting a tallboy Coors Light to suck down before entering the venue. Keno was on board in spirit, but getting a little tired. Then he had an idea.

We left Applebee's to look for a liquor store. Keno, ever a keen proponent of the malt liquor 211, had recently tried a canned concoction of energy drink and malt liquor with an aggressive name that he couldn't remember (and I can't now upon this writing--I dunno, something like Powerbuzzz, Groinslammer, or perhaps Rage'N'Sleep) and asked me to find him a liquor store. His reasoning was that he could get both caffeine and his coveted malt liquor in one hellish swallow. I pointed out a wreck of a West Fresno liquor store close to the Highway 99 onramp that would most likely carry his infernal elixir. We pulled into the parking lot, walked in and dashed towards the wall of reach in cooler doors. I spied my beloved and always available Coors Light tallboys, ready and willing in their gravity aided rows. When one is pulled off of the shelf, another takes it place like a good silver soldier. Then he saw the silver and neon green cans. I cringed a little, having hoped that he'd have to settle for simple domestic beer.

"Yeah, that's the one", Keno laughed. But when he tried to pull a can out, it was attached to three others. "What the fuuuuu....", he growled.

We looked and could not find a solo can for sale, but compared the four-pack to the price of singles of similar product, even the over sized Silver Bullets. It was determined that the four-pack was a better price and it was decided that Powerbuzzz (name substituted for purposes of continuation) was it for tonight. We figured Keno could take the other two cans home for future use. The Asian clerk took our money and told us to have a good time.

We parked on a surface street a couple of blocks away from Selland Arena and popped open our cans of Powerbuzzz. I took a pull off of mine and swallowed what seemed like just a take from a can of Red Bull or Monster. Then, the malt liquor kicked back like a whip and I convulsed like a baby tasting lemon on America's Funniest Home Videos. "Jesus Christ, this is shit", I cried as I turned to see Keno dragging down what looked like half his can of Powerbuzzz.

"Oh, shaddup", he said. "Drink up and let's go". I looked into the mouth of my can and sucked down a good portion. We opened the truck doors and stretched out a bit. He drained the last of his can and I followed suit. I shuddered a bit, put my hand on the door to slam it shut so we could walk over to the arena when I heard Keno say, "whaddya doin'? We got two more cans right there".

How could I argue with logic set so plainly in front of me? I got the two last cans out of the cardboard wrapper and handed him one. I had no plans to drink all of this one, I told Keno. The good thing was, this drink looked very similar to a pure energy drink and we could most likely walk right up to the arena door without a sideways look from the law. But I was wary of downing this much malt liquor this fast and I was sure the energy drink portion of the concoction would burn a hole in my stomach lining. We stood a block away and with more than half of the second can to go, I'd had it and wanted to toss the drink away. Keno agreed and while I looked for a place to drop my can without looking like a damned litterbug, he said, "Look here", as he stuck his can into a thick bush. The branches supported the weight and I added my can to make the bush into a hobo Easter Egg hunt. One of Fresno's homeless was going to wonder why he couldn't sleep that night.

We ambled the last block to the Selland Arena noting that a slight crowd was filing in. I wasn't concerned too much about the turnout since I hadn't seen any print ads other than the initial announcement. I always worry when I hear radio ads for a concert that is days away. As I was slipping the tickets out of my wallet, I heard someone yell, "Tony!"

Next: Part Two. Reunions abound and we find out if Tony can take a punch!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Back In The Saddle (sort of)

Greetings, patient ones!

Below, you'll find some new material after an embarrassing absence. It is the text of a letter to a friend that contains concert content, so I'll cheat a bit and forward that along to all of you to jump start the posts. I'm just sentences away from my first new Hazy Memory entry in quite some time. No, really.

In a day or so, I'll be posting the first part of a tale spanning a quarter of a century. Well, maybe span is not quite accurate, but at least it bookends that period of time. Many guest stars and a few reunions, plus the unyielding Keno appears again. You'll also find the answer to an ages old mystery; can Tony take a punch?

Thanks as always for finding me here. Leave a comment below the story or shoot over an email using the link on the right. I've always been enough of a whore to read praise and hate mail!


A Letter To Paul (Gov't Mule, S.F. 11/07)

Just yesterday, I got an email from my friend Paul (of Paul's Rants and Raves, linked over on the right) asking for a review of Gov't Mule's two night stand at the Fillmore. I started to reply, but began to ramble on and on. After a couple of paragraphs, I decided to continue the letter, but post it here as a concert tale. This way, Paul can read it at his leisure and not feel like I've clubbed him with a ton of text. It doesn't read like my prior efforts since I stayed with a correspondence style, but this way I can take a shortcut back to posting again. Also, I really didn't spellcheck or pay attention to structure or pacing. The letter follows below:

Hey Paul,

Thanks for sending the photo. That's a fine looking young man you have there. I'll show the photo to Mary tonight.

We had blast this past weekend, but how could we not? As I mentioned in my previous communication, we were celebrating a belated anniversary celebration and were ready to party and cut loose a little. We arrived early enough to enjoy a relaxing couple of glasses of wine from the reception in the lobby--much better than sweating out the traffic and feeling rushed to get something to eat and get to the show early enough, blah, blah, blah. We washed up and headed over to our traditional pre-Fillmore dinner at Benihana. I realize it's a chain and there are many excellent places in S.F., but we always have a great meal there close to the venue and usually meet some interesting people. This time, we dined with some folks that originally hailed from Iran. Nice people and one was celebrating his birthday, so we insisted that he have a glass from our bottle of sake. By the way, there is a tricky balance when mixing Sapporo and sake. Hint, lean a little more to the Sapporo side to play it safe.

After dinner, we timed it perfectly to walk right up the stairs and into the Fillmore. Looked at the swag (Mary got another great shirt----she's got far more concert shirts than I do by now) and we checked our coats. After securing a couple of beers, we talked to some folks from Bakersfield and some Mule first timers. Mary got it in her head that we were going up front this time so we headed out onto the floor to check out Grace Potter and The Nocturnals, where Mary got us about 6 people deep from the stage. I'd picked up her latest disc used out of town and liked it enough, but it wasn't winning me over. She was great live however, and I'm looking forward to seeing if the CD comes to life a little now that I've felt some "oomph" behind the tracks. Matt Abts came out for a little drum circle thing that was cool enough to see, but a little plain. (They did the same exact thing the next night sans Abts).

The Mule was awesome on Friday and the crowd was super cool and polite. After missing them last year, we were smiling and reminding each other how much we love these guys live. The sound was loud, but not overpowering, and very clean. I always bring my earplugs just in case, but rarely need them at The Fillmore--not even for the Black Crowes, who can do some serious damage to their fans. The setlist is below. My faves were Low Spark (always loved that tune anyway), Ohio with Potter, and Brighter Days to open set 2. We left a little early to secure posters of the show since we heard that they only had 100 per night.

11.09.07 The Fillmore - San Francisco, CASet 1Helter SkelterThorazine ShuffleTime To ConfessFeel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home>Eleanor Rigby teaseWandering ChildShape I'm InLow Spark Of High Heeled BoysSlackjaw JezebelFind The Cost Of Freedom> w. Grace PotterOhio w/ Grace Potter & Scott Tournet

Set 2Brighter DaysLike FliesChampagne & Reefer W/ Elvin BishopThat's What Love Will Make You DoDrumsSoulshine tease> Trampled UnderfootSoulshine30 Days In The Hole>I Don't Need No DoctorEncoreOut Of The RainI'll Be The OneI'll Take You There

Saturday, we slept in really late as we shook the cobwebs from our minds and bodies. We had ideas of hitting a museum or perhaps heading into Golden Gate Park, but we were pretty whipped and decided to just go for some lunch and a long walk. It was a misty day, so the Park would have been dissapointing and I wasn't in the mood for the confines of a museum. We put on comfy clothes, grabbed the umbrella and walked around Japantown ducking into stores and the two awesome Asian malls near the hotel. The malls make you feel like you're in Japan, as much as I can guess. Caucasians are the minority and English is usually the second language, so it feels somewhat exotic. I also love walking around in the rain under an umbrella. In the rainy element and the Asian influence all around, I felt like I was an extra in the opening sequence of Blade Runner.

We went back to the hotel and shared a bottle of wine we brought from home to relax and watch some college football before getting cleaned up for the show. This time, we decided to try the restaurant in the hotel. The menu was a bit too adventurous for us, so we shared some tame appetizers of beef and chicken skewers and tempura mushrooms. The mushrooms were pretty heavy on the batter and we both felt a little thick afterwards. We went into the mall and shared some focaccia bread from Anderson's to take the edge off and settle our bellies. Then it was off to the show.

While Friday was sold out late, Saturday had been for a while and it seemed more packed this time. The crowd seemed different too, with more of an attitude and much less friendly in terms of making room as you walked by or apolgizing for bumping into you. After Potter's set, Mary was not feeling well and we think it was the mushrooms (that sounds like a drug reference, especially at The Fillmore) because of her shellfish allergy. It's so severe that she has to be careful of most fried foods in case restaurants share the fryer with all foods. She tried getting some fresh air and we moved about the Fillmore to try and find a good spot for her, but it was really stuffy in there that night and she almost felt claustrophobic. She stuck it out for the first set, but decided to leave at the break and insisted that I stay. As I wrote before on my blog, Japantown is really safe and the hotel is right around the block, so I felt okay about her heading back.

The setlist is below. My faves this night were If 6 Was 9, Southern Man with Potter, Streamline Woman, and I'm A Ram. Warren seemed to be in a really good mood, smiling and acknowledging the crowd quite often. I preferred Friday's set, but had they only played one night and gave us this, I would not have walked away dissapointed.

11.10.07 The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA Set 1:Grinnin' In Your Face Bad Little DoggieStreamline WomanDevil Likes It SlowNo Need To SufferChild Of The EarthLarger Than LifeIf 6 Was 9I Shall Return>Drift Away>I Shall ReturnSouthern Man w/ Grace Potter

Set 2:Patchwork QuiltBeautifully Broken>Bus StopMr. High & MightyBrand New AngelDrumsReblow Your Mind w/ Get Up, Stand Up JamI'm A RamMuleEncore 1:Shelter *Encore 2:After Midnight

Another great show. I ducked out after hearing the first notes of After Midnight and got another poster. It was raining pretty good as I left and Mary had taken the umbrella with her. Luckily I'd worn a jacket with a hood, so I dashed off to a liquor store to get a burrito (which is also a Fillmore tradition) since the appetizers had long worn off. I enjoyed hearing the rain snap off of my hood and unlike the others walking around, I was in no hurry to get anywhere. In the liquor store, I felt really old as four seemingly sober young people ordered two cases of beer, two mini-kegs of Heineken, and a bottle of vodka. It was 1:15 in the morning and they looked to just be starting out that night while I was almost out on my feet. I took my modest meal back to the hotel and tried not to wake Mary up by struggling with the wrapper. It was to little effect and she giggled at my efforts. I propped up a pillow and watched TV turned down low as I attempted to not sound like a wolf ripping apart a rabbit.

Sunday morning was a little more gentle on us and we gnoshed on a couple of doughnuts while watching NFL pregame stuff. We decided to get on the road and pick up fast food on the way instead of sticking around the city. Traffic was light and we made good time going home. Sitting at home watching the Raiders stink it up again, we kept doing that "oh, remember when....?" thing as we recalled all the good memories from our trip. I get to see Gov't Mule do a two night stand as a mutual gift for our wedding anniversary. Pretty damn charmed life I lead.


Friday, August 31, 2007

Wabbit Season! Duck Season! Festival Season!

With all the reunion tours happening lately, I got in the spirit and decided that it was way overdue that I reunite with my faithful readers, patient friends and family, and curiosity seekers from all over the globe.

Welcome back, concert story fans.

No story tonight, but news of what will be here soon. I recently corresponded with my friend Paul via email and mentioned to him a certain tale that I'm putting together. It's been rattling around my skull and colliding with the few remaining healthy brain cells that continually scatter when I down another frosty lager. It was originally going to be about this year's Ozzfest, but now with another festival on the docket, it has bloomed into a project piece. At the risk of running out of room in my title header, I call it Ozzfest Vs. Family Values: A Discourse On The Obvious Lack Of Affordable Orthodontics In America.

Tomorrow, September 1st, my steadfast concert companion (and fervent defender of the malt liquor 211) Keno and I will be heading up to Mountain View and the awesome Shoreline Amphitheater to catch this year's installment of the Family Values tour. Korn once again headlines with a gaggle of modern heavy acts on two stages. As Ozzfest veterans, we're ready to shop and compare. (Teaser: Family Values already has the upper hand in this battle due to a better line-up and we're visiting one of our favorite venues.)

As a qualifier, I should say that I'm not a huge fan of any of the acts featured on either bill and really go to people watch as much as to listen to music. But I will admit that now that I've picked up a couple of used Korn CDs to do some homework, I am duly impressed with some of their stuff. I'll be interested to see how the material translates live.

So there you go. A nice little note from the author. Hopefully, this project will get the juices flowing again and you'll see plenty more output from yours truly. Thanks as always for checking back and for sending along praise and nice sentiments. I do appreciate it.

--Ol' Hazy Tony
Fresno, Aug 31, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Do You Hear Something?

Hey patient readers!

Now you can read these sordid narratives while being serenaded by the likes of Rollins Band, TOOL, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many others. I'll be adding more tracks in the next few days. If you don't like what you hear, you can control the player that's located at the bottom of the page. Scroll through the tracks or simply stop the tunes.

I borrowed the idea from Jason's site. He's really gotten his blog dressed up nicely. Check it out here.

More stories on the way. I'm thinking about the time I sneaked backstage at the Shoreline Amphitheater and met all the artists on the inaugural G3 tour just over ten years ago.

Check back soon and in the meantime, turn it up!


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Update--More New Stuff Below

As always, the author thanks you for checking in from time to time to scan over his rambling drabble.

The roadtrip finale is just below this post if you've been waiting for me to wrap that one up. The last installment is a bit long, but I didn't want to drag it out to a part 5. There will be more Hitting The Road With Keno stories in the future including fables of Ozzfest, the grimy music scene in Hollywood, and the unlikely viewing of CSN&Y from a luxury suite.

If you're reading this on the day it is posted (Sunday, February 25th, 2007), tonight might be the source of yet another chapter in the ...Keno series. He and I are heading over to the Save Mart Center in Fresno to see The Who. This one's been on my radar for years and while I'm sad that they're down to two original members and I've assuredly missed the apex of the band's powerful presence, I anxiously await what will unfold before me this evening.

Thanks again and scroll down to finish up the four parter, Hitting The Road With Keno.


Hitting The Road With Keno (Part Four)

When we last left our heroes, the young man at the door to the Fillmore said something that stunned them.

"Hey", he said, "were you guys at the Warfield?"

He'd given us a pretty good once over as we stood on the sidewalk just outside the historic venue and I was wondering what the hell he was looking at. When he asked about the Warfield, Keno and I looked at each other like this guy was hosting a 3 card monty game and we were the marks.
"Uh, yeah, we were. Why?", I stammered. "And how'd you know?"
Keno added, "Yeah, how'd you do that?"
The young man smiled and pointed at our left hands. "Your hand stamps. It's kind of our sister venue. You know what? Go on in", he said as he nodded up the stairs into the ballroom.
"Are you serious?", I asked excitedly.
He laughed a little and said, "Yeah, c'mon up. You made it this far. It's cool". I offered to somehow pay for tickets that didn't exist and he waved me and Keno off. His female assistant asked him how she was to account for our presence. Should she scan the "comp" ticket left at the door or just let us in. They were both grinning at the "pay it forward" thing they were attempting. Scanning the ticket twice would throw things all out of whack with bookkeeping, he said. Keno and I paused as they tried to figure this out and when the young man noticed, he said, "Go on guys, this won't matter. Have a good time".
We shook his hand and thanked them both profusely. We lept up the stairs and I began babbling about how that never should have happened and that it was like it was a rock and roll miracle. We entered the lobby and I immediately wanted to show Keno the historic concert posters adorning the walls of the Fillmore, but we quickly took a peak out onto the main floor to see Robin Trower mugging his way through a soulful solo. Keno was smiling like a child. Back in the lobby, we marveled at photos and posters commemorating the acts that have played there. We grabbed a couple of beers and headed upstairs to an area in which you can't see the stage but can hear the music from afar. In this area, you can order surprisingly passable food, more drinks, and lounge around with the ability to carry on a conversation at a normal level. But what I like about it more than anything else is the fact that the oldest and most historically significant concert posters are displayed up there.
Posters announcing Bay Area concerts with designs ranging from the simple monochromatic rectangles with block writing that were found on telephone poles in abundance in the late '50s and early sixties to the brightly colored cartoonish posters announcing many alternative acts of the '90s. Of course, in between those eras were the psychedelic posters of the late '60s which were the dominant residents of the upstairs area. After gawking at artwork we'd only seen in magazines and rock and roll history books, we decided it was time to actually head out onto the main floor to catch the end of the show.
Keno hadn't realized the history behind the Fillmore and when he saw names like Hendrix, Zeppelin, Joplin, the Dead, and many many others, he remarked how blown away he was to be in that building. Obviously, I'd failed to explain to him before we arrived just how much I love the place. I've stood on Civil War battlefields, gazed at the Constitution, looked over Gotham from atop the Twin Towers, climbed the stairs within the Statue of Liberty, and travelled deep into the Ozarks to walk the land on which my elders worked themselves to death. And when I step onto the boards of the Fillmore's ballroom dance floor, I feel no less of a sense of history than I do anywhere else in the nation.
We stepped into the crowd and the volume from the stage washed over us, but much more gently now than before with Rollins Band at the Warfield. While the show was a sellout, there was plenty of "personal space" on the main floor. We decided to make our way up front, but only as long as we didn't infringe on anyone's little stake. We didn't want to be "those people" that see a foot of real estate and plunk themselves right in front of you just as things are heating up when you've been there all night. As we strode deeper and deeper into the stage-lit jungle, I was amazed that Keno--who was leading this expedition--was able to keep going without breaking stride. We did jag to stage right a little, then a little more, but we were still making tracks. Before a few seconds had passed, we found ourselves right up against the stage, just to the right and in front of the monitors.
We looked behind us to make sure we weren't obstructing anyone's view. Not only did we not get any dirty looks, we got smiles and nods from all those around us. Amazing, I thought. Keno shrugged and laughed as he pointed to way back in the rear from whence our journey began lo those 20 seconds ago.
We watched as Robin Trower led his band into a couple more tunes. The great Davey Pattison was on vocals this night. Aside from the dearly departed original bassist and singer James Dewar, Pattison is my favorite Trower vocalist and he was in fine form this night. When he asked, I told Keno that these guys were all in their fifties and maybe pushing 60. He was shocked, but duly impressed. "They look like guys that might get together and play in their garage", he said, noting the lack of flashy stage clothing or physical histrionics. I nodded and said, "That's what rock and roll used to be. Just guys playing music without worrying about their hair or makeup or wrinkles".
A couple of women our age were rocking out beside me and one was well under 5 feet tall. I felt sorry for her because a pretty tall guy was in front of her, but she was grooving all the same. The big guy turned around and offered to move, but she declined. What a champ. I bent towards her and told her that she could stand in front of me because I had a clean view of the stage and she wouldn't block it. She said thanks and told me that I could put my beer on her head if I needed to put it down to applaud. Priceless.
The set ended a little sooner than I'd estimated. All in all, we'd been able to catch about 35 minutes of Trower's show, but it was free so we couldn't possibly complain. We joined the cattle drive out of the narrow stairwell and I stretched my neck to see if our friend was still manning the door when I spied another employee licking her thumb like she was turning pages of a newspaper. I moved my head to see through the crowd and was thrilled to see that she was passing out.........wait for it........Fillmore concert posters!
A tradition of the Fillmore is to hand out replicas of the concert poster commissioned for the night's performance, given that the artist has sold enough tickets to warrant a poster and therefore deem it an "event" worthy of such a commemoration. I guess Robin Trower was just such a night and I gave Keno the rundown as we shuffled down the steps, accepted our cardboard prize, and exited into the shockingly mild San Francisco night. Since we had taxied over from the Warfield, we were free for the evening and I suggested that we head over to The Boom Boom Room, catty-cornered from the Fillmore, to see a blues guy who called himself Chicken Man. Who could resist a name like that? And after the rock and roll karma we'd had so far, it had to be good.
We rolled up our posters and started to cross the street. On the way, we saw a beautiful woman with a cool looking dog. We casually asked what kind of dog it was and she replied with a breed I can't recall at this time, but it was a great looking dog. Keno patted the dog's head and I looked to see if there was a crowd over at The Boom Boom Room.
"Did you guys see the show?", the woman asked.
I assumed that she was from the neighborhood and was used to people roaming around at this hour. "Yeah, we saw the last part of it", I replied.
She smiled and said, "Wasn't it great?"
Keno and I both looked at each other, then at the dog, then at the woman. "You were there too?", asked Keno.
"Uh-huh. God, Trower's so killer on guitar", she said. "Have you seen him before?"
I hesitated for a second and glanced at the dog again. "Uh, yeah, a bunch of times back in Fresno. So, wait a minute....."
Keno was on my heels. "......if you were at the show...."
".......what did you do with the dog?", I finished.
She smiled and swung her body around a little. "I live just right over there and I went over and got him. I like to watch people come out of the place to see their reaction."
"Thank God", I blurted, "I thought you'd left him in the car or tied up somewhere all this time".
She went on to explain that she goes to shows at the Fillmore all the time and named a few of the recent ones. Poor Keno had no knowledge of some of the bands when I told her that I'd seen the listings for those shows or that I'd seen some of the bands way back when. As she spoke to Keno, I noticed that she was a little older than I'd first suspected. She had long, naturally greying hair pulled back from her face and a nice petite figure. I wondered how a woman like this could have been at the show alone and now stood on Geary Street without a companion other than her dog.
As much as I was enjoying talking to this woman, I was getting antsy to get into the Boom Boom Room to complete the rock and roll trifecta. When she asked what we were up to next, I motioned towards the tiny venue and explained how we'd been to two shows already. She really enjoyed the tale of our travels so far and said that we'd have a good time at the Boom Boom Room. We spoke for a few more minutes and I mentioned to Keno that we should head on over. We shook hands with the woman and introduced ourselves as we said goodbye.
Now, I'm normally pretty good with names. She said her name and I repeated it back to her, telling her that it was nice talking to her and I said my name; a nice little trick to help you remember names is to repeat what you hear back to the person. Keno is not good with names. Of anyone or anything. In fact, he tends to make up names for things and people. It takes some getting used to and when you spend enough time around him, you scare yourself because you begin to understand him perfectly. I've become fairly fluent in Kenoese.
Another problem with understanding Kenoese is that it becomes ingrained in your psyche and you begin to use Kenoisms in your everyday speech. The phrase, "ever since" becomes "every since". You don't go "all the way" down the street, you go "all the ways". It's so bad for me now that when I use proper English, it sounds funny. But aside from personal usage of Kenoese, there's also the overwhelming usage from Keno himself that can actually alter your memory so that what he names something becomes the proper name for that thing. Or, in this case, a person.
As we rambled across the street, it occurred to both of us at the same time that we should have invited this woman to the blues show. She could have taken the dog home and joined us for more good conversation and some good tunes. I turned around and she'd left. It was too late and I shrugged. We paid our way in and headed to the bar. Chicken-Man was in between sets, so we were able to get a drink and take a look around. The place was about half full, which is easy to accomplish at the small, narrow club.
"Man, that Angelica sure was a cool person", said Keno, rolling up his poster and securing it with the rubber band given to him by the bartender.
I looked at him as I fixed mine. "Who?"
"Angelica", he said. "You know, the woman we were just talking to".
I laughed and told him her name wasn't even close to Angelica and I asked where he pulled that name from. He didn't know as he is unable to explain the nuances of Kenoese and its power to change reality, however recent. I corrected him on her name numerous times in the next few months when we'd reminence about the trip. By relentlessly referring to her as Angelica and due to the influence of Kenoese, I cannot now remember her proper name and she is forever remembered as Angelica to both of us. I remember her name as not being exotic, but not commonplace either. But it is wiped from my memory and has been supplanted with Angelica permanently. Such is the power of Kenoese.
Standing inside The Boom Boom Room, we surveyed the clientele. We noticed a few people from the Fillmore crowd, including the lady that offered her head as a table, her attractive friend, and more than a few oafish drunken middle aged guys. Chicken Man was taking the stage for what I assumed was his second set of the night. He reminded me a bit of Bo Diddley and played what looked like a guitar made out of a hubcap and a shoe box. He had an all white, all female band, which I found strange for no good reason. They played fairly standard blues with a shuffle beat and Chicken Man sang with a soulful, gruffy voice. And like most live blues acts, it had people bobbing their heads to the infectous beat.
We found a couple of seats along the wall and watched the show. A few moments later, two African American ladies sat down near us and we exchanged pleasantries. I'd had enough liquid courage to venture onto the dance floor so I asked the one I thought was the more attractive of the two if she'd like to dance. She smiled and said sure. I smirked at Keno as I stood. I'd left him sitting there with a woman that looked like Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son.
We danced a little and made some small talk. She complemented me on my dancing and I asked her the prescription on her glasses had suddenly run out. She laughed. We kept dancing for a few minutes and as the song kept on and on, I glanced at the stage. Chicken Man was in a long, extended solo with his band hammering out a hypnotic beat. I was sure we had passed the seven minute mark and both of us were getting a little tired. We agreed to bail out and sit back down.
Keno was half grinning at me and half glaring. I'd left him in an awkward position by going out to dance. He had three options; ask her to dance, at least make stilted conversation with her, or just sit there silently. He had taken the third option and I laughed out loud. He was cussing me out in his head, but smiling all the same. A few songs later, I did it to him again as I escorted my partner out onto the floor. Once again, a bouncy little number degenerated into a redundant dirge and we nodded to each other that it was okay to quit this dance as well. I think we'd made it ten minutes that time. At least I got my cardio in for the day.
The show ended not too much later and we spilled out onto the street to look for a cab. Just as before, we landed one almost instantly and were whisked back across town to our hotel near the Warfield. On the way, I was telling Keno about the best microwave burritos in the world that Mary and I had found in a little bodega near The Hotel Metropolis. It was after a Gov't Mule show and we were starving. The area closes up like Beruit after midnight, but the bodega was open, mostly catering to late night liquor runs from the homeless using the handfuls of change they've garnered. We'd gone in with the initial thought that some crackers or danish would hold us over until morning, but when we spied the giant burritos in the case, the decision was made. It has been a tradition for us ever since.
The cab pulled up along the curb outside the Hotel Metropolis. We paid the driver and stepped out, being immediately converged upon by a panhandler. Keno had his rolled up poster in his hand and whacked the guy's outsretched hand, then quickly giving him a shot to the forehead, all the while telling him "no!" like you would a dog that had jumped up on you. The hollow "thunk" sound that the poster made on the poor guy's skull made me gasp, but we never broke stride towards the bodega. "You just hit that guy on the head", I said.
Keno barely looked over his shoulder at me. "Yeah?"
"You can't do that. I can't believe you did that", I scolded him. The homeless guy just stood frozen. He also couldn't believe that Keno just popped him.
We walked up to the bodega to see the guys that run the place looking back at us through the security gate. They had just closed and we made the same "awww" sound just like outside the Fillmore earlier. There was a 7-11 just over on Market and it was there that we found our early morning feast.
By now, we were buzzing pretty heavy and anything sounded good to eat. Keno chose some sort of burrito and I picked out a carnitas wrap. We blasted them in the microwave, paid, and scampered back to the hotel. In the room, we watched some late news while scarfing down the delicious burritos. A bag of chips and some good old San Francisco tap finished off the meal.
My next memory is waking up later that morning to the sounds of the city coming to life down on Market Street, muffled through our balcony door. I stirred and looked around the room. Taking a personal inventory, I discoverd that, with the absence of my shoes, I was still fully clothed and had slept on top of the covers of the still made-up bed. I could only assume that I'd finished my food and decided, much like a dog, that where I sat looked like a good place to sleep.
Keno and I rehashed the evening's events and pieced together the whirlwind night. Our rememberance took us all the way up to the burritos and Keno wanted to know what it was he ate because it was so damn good. I couldn't remember, so we looked for the wrapper. Mine was on the floor near the trash can so it looked like I'd at least made an effort to throw it away. We looked everywhere for his until we came to agree that he must have mistaken his burrito for rice candy and ate the wrapper.
We collected ourselves and decided to hit the road. But first, we needed to eat and concluded that the corner sports bar and grill would do us some good. The burgers were good and it was close enough to walk to so we wouldn't have to pay to park. Stretching our legs felt good and the brisk late Saturday morning air felt good in our lungs. We walked into the restaurant and our waitress from the previous night smiled when she saw us. She came over and took our order.
I told her that I'd have the same thing from last night and she remembered my order. Keno decided to back off of the double cheeseburger and just do a single. He looked up at the waitress sheepishly and said, "I don't think I could eat another one of those this morning. That was a pretty big burger".
She hardly looked up from her order pad and replied, "Uh, yeah, that was a pound of beef you had there".
She spun to turn in our orders and Keno just sat there stunned. "Jesus", he muttered. "A pound of meat?" He said it over and over until I told him to knock it off.
A few minutes later, she returned with our burgers and they were as good as I remembered. A few bites in, Keno put his down with disgust. "What's the matter?", I asked.
"This thing's big enough as it is", he said. "How did I eat the one last night? Did I just flat our make a pig of myself?"
He seemed genuinely concerned, looking at me, then at his current burger with disbelief. I reassured him that while I was entertained watching him attack last night's mountain of beef, no one else even noticed. Except for our waitress, that is, who came back to check on us.
"A little more managable there?", she laughed.
A couple of days later, I'd read online that at the end of the tour with X, Rollins Band would return home to Los Angeles for a stand alone show at the Key Club in Hollywood. I desperately wanted to go and see a full set from the band and I had a feeling that it would most likely be the last opportunity to do so. I let Keno know about it and he was on board as well. I'll write about that adventure later on this site. While it may not have been as whirlwind as the San Francisco trip, it did include some Walk of Fame moments, a few more beers, and some hobnobbing at the infamous Rainbow. Check back for more installments of Hitting The Road With Keno.