Saturday, January 31, 2004 -
(Mike's first blog entry!)

We played in Tyler last night. What an eventful 12 hours! Here are some tales from our trip.

The trip to Tyler:

"The point of a journey is not to arrive." - Neil Peart

4:30 pm: As we get on the road, we suddenly realize that Tyler is actually 4 hours away and not 2. Doh! No problem, we'll just make good time on the road.

4:35 pm: Nino asks "Did one of you pack my bass in the van?" To which, of course, the answer was "no". Woodlands traffic cost us another 20 minutes to going back to pick it up. Ahh, we're already bit late, what does it matter?

4:45 pm: Bumper to bumper traffic on I-45. We all blame the superbowl.

7:30 pm: While listening to the Beatles' Abbey Road (with Ron proffering little known Beatles facts, as usual), Ian and Mike realize our exit was approximately 10 miles behind us on I-45. Typical Drop Trio ... we either leave a city in heading in the wrong direction, or pass our exit. We should really consider throwing the CD player away, it's too distracting.

7:45: We exit I-45 somewhere between Houston and Dallas, in the pitch dark, and Ian decides to drive at an "agressive" speed on a poorly lit frontage road without high beams. I plead "Ian, turn on your brights!" Ian obeys, and just as he hits the brights we all come to the immediate realization that the road underneath us is presently turning 90 degrees to the left. Whee! We end up bouncing on a makeshift dirt road, plummeting towards a small river. Hearts racing but happy to be alive, we navigate back to the interstate, finally going in the right direction.

At this point, I remind Ian that the point of this journey is not only to get to Tyler, but to also get there ALIVE. Ian agrees and takes our speed down a notch. We're heading east on highway 31 towards Tyler, with 40 minutes to gig time and a mere 60 miles to go. No sweat.

But then comes ... Athens. Athens, TX. While trying to follow the highway thorough the city, conflicting road signs send us north, then east, then back north, then back east, convincing us to officially boycott driving through this damn town ever again. Athens, TX is no Athens, GA. About this time the CD player begins remixing (skipping) the Indigo Girls CD Ian and I were singing along with (Nomads, Indians, Saints - "You and me of the 10,000 Wars" - best song ever!) Now we're in trouble, since the CD player seems to be overheating. We give it a little cool down time, so I naturally take up singing where it left off.

30 minutes late, we actually manage to arrive at Tyler. Doh! At least it is completely frigid out as we load in. The guys in Plump are gracious enough not to kick our asses for showing up so late.

Music for the trip out:

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Beatles - Abbey Road
Free Radicals - Arial Bombardment
Rush - Permanent Waves
Indigo Girls - Indians Nomads and Saints
MMW - Dropper

"The movie will begin in 5 moments, the mindless voice announced." -Morrison

The gig:

We eventually get all set up. I have the good fortune to be using Doug's (Plump) drums. I'm ready to play within minutes of our arrival - very nice. Gave me a little time to enjoy a beer and hang with Plump and some new friends. Ian, however, is going through his normal 2hr 15m setup, but something is wrong. His VK-7 seems to be fried. No power. Dead. It appears we are going to do the show with no organ.

Fine. We've done that.

When we start, both people in the audience appear to be none the wiser about our technical difficulties. That is to change.

Barmecide, our new most-requested song, begins the set. We get nearly halfway through the song when Ian stops playing, and just sits, staring at his Rhodes. He has lost power. Ron and I cover (quite nicely, I might add) while Ian fiddles with the plug and various cables.

Finally, he gets it going. Still, as far as we can tell, no one in the (now growing) audience has noticed our problems.

On the next song, Abbey Rhodes, Ian once again stops playing about 10 seconds in, cursing just a hair too loud. Ron and I try and cover again, but this time Ian orders us to just stop, displeased with all the problems. He resumes fiddling with wires and cables, and finally, unplugging all effects and changing the mixer's power cord solves the problem.

Now people have noticed, obviously. But Ian, being the Zen master that he is, comforts the crowd (and the band). Problems just can't hold us down. "Technical Difficulties Trio" will play the show, come hell or high water. The show proceeds with no organ, no effects, and, not surprisingly, little fun.

I noticed something at this show: Nino was wearing a wrist watch on stage. One of my pet peeves about bands is to see any member wearing white tennis shoes or a watch on stage. I think it's not only tasteless, it also causes bad luck. So ... I officially blame Nino for all of Ian's hardware troubles.

Anyway, after our set limped across the finish line, we settled in to listen to the boys from Plump lay down a good set. We find, upon trying to use the bathroom, that the club has a ladder blocking the door to the restroom with a sign declaring it "broken". Figures. About that time, we also fielded an enthusiastic (but DRUNK) fan trying to rip Ron's "bean picking" hat off his head. Strange, eh? The guy then proceeded over to the broken bathroom, pushing the ladder to the side. Tyler rules!

The highlight of the night was definitely watching Plump rock out. They have a new touring sax player, Jason, who simply rules, like the rest of the guys. And Ian even rocked out with the boys a little bit. Stupid not having an organ. But Ian rules, even without the organ and effects.

Everybody at Elmo's was super super nice. So nice, in fact, that we were lulled into a false sense of security and ended up forgetting the mailing list. Crap! If any of you reading this were on there, please subscribe again. :)

The trip home ...

"Never travel to a place that takes more time to get to than you plan on staying." -Raf

1:15 am - we opt for driving back to Houston the same night rather than getting a hotel. I say "we" but that "we" means me and Nino. Ian passed out in the back seat, using Nino's beautiful new SWR bass amp head for a pillow. Mmm, must've been comfy.

Nothing like driving on a two lane in the middle of the night afraid of oncoming drunks in the rain. This obviously slowed the trip home a bit, but made a great setting for Sting's Soul Cages and later Pink Floyd's the Wall which I hadnt heard in it s entirety in 12 years. It is so much more disturbing at an older age. Genius! Ian had the nerve to sleep even through this work of brilliance.

Damn, by the way ... Whataburger rules for being open so late. We usually hit Whatabuger for late-night breakfast taquitos when we're on the road. Tyler wins for having the worst. They were drenched in grease, even more than usual (if you can belive that).

We did have the pleasure of meeting the meanest man in Texas - gas station attendant somewhere along highway 69 with a GIANT cowboy hat. For no apparent reason, this dude insulted and yelled at Ian from inside the station while Ian pumped gas. Former band mates of mine would have bloodied the guy. Ian, the still reigning Zen master, was friendlier than ever. Ian wins for being the nicest guy ever. Mike still loses.

And of course, the music for the way home:

Plump - new CD - MOST excellent CD ever. These guys outdid themselves, as did Mark up at Bungalow Studio (in the heights).
REM - Automatic for the People - Nightswimming just hits you right sometimes, you know?
Sting - Soul Cages
Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd - The Wall

Spaceship jazz from Texas.

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