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Archive for the ‘On Tour’ Category

Yep, that about says it.  I’m splitting for a couple of days.  Heading to the town that twang built.  Little Kurdistan.  Guitar Town.  Music City, USA.  Cashville.  Nashvegas.  Or simply Nashville, Tennessee, population a bunch.  Got a lot of stuff brewing in my head and there is nothing like sitting in a cheap motel alone, just you and 40 fuzzy channels, to stir one’s soul.  The first day I plan on exerting only enough energy to consume a plate of wings from Hooter’s and erasing the imprudent attempt at growing a beard from my face.

Friday I am planning to head over to the Mercy Lounge to catch Jason Isbell’s show.  If you don’t know who he is (and shame on you), he is a former member of The Drive-By Truckers.  He just released a solo album and it is some of the best whiskey-soaked Southern music I’ve ever heard (though I haven’t exactly heard a lot of “whiskey-soaked” anything).  If you like DBT, you’ll like Isbell.  I saw him in Memphis a couple of months back and he rocked.  So come on out and feel free to show me some Music City hospitality by buying me a few Capt and Cokes (well one, I have to drive).  I’ll be the alone guy, hanging out in a corner.  If they have a corner.

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A couple of days before the 4th, Gann and I drove to St. Louis and laid rest to the last resentment I have towards my father. On a sad day back in February of 1984, my Dad said “Fuck no!” when all my friend’s parents said a loving “Yes” to our request to see The Police when they made a stop in Memphis during the Synchronicity tour. Twenty-three years and some odd months later, I found myself in the city that Bud built, finally able to live that dream and erase the last of the two things that cicatrized my Father and I’s relationship. The first being him not letting me see KISS when I was in the first grade. I was obviously a neglected and unloved child. (I ended that one with the first KISS reunion tour)

We arrived Sunday afternoon to our hotel in sad, dreary sunny, beautiful Cahokia, IL. It was only 10 minutes from the concert arena and anything else would have put us in Crackville or set us back $200 a day. We decided that we were hungry and set off through the street of Cahokia in search of sustenance. The only non-fast food option in downtown Cahokia was a pizza place and Gann was pizza-ed out. He said that it would be ok with him but I decided to soldier on to downtown St. Louis to find something to satisfy us both.

A couple of miles later, I saw a sign that read “St. Louis Downtown” with “Airport” below that and an arrow instructing a left turn. Cool, downtown St Louie here we come. Well the sign was not pointing toward downtown St. Louis and/or the airport. It was directing us to the St. Louis Downtown Airport which, ironically enough, ISN’T in St. Louis. It’s in East St. Louis. Should I have turned around? Yep. Did I turn around? Nope. Hell, I could see the bridge and the famous arch from where we were. Downtown St. Louis from here? Easy peasey.

Uh huh. We got a little lost. We kept driving multiple circles through multiple projects, all the while that bridge and arch kept moving forward, always just out of reach like the end of some ghetto rainbow. In Columbus like fashion, we finally lucked on the route to St. Louis but not before being tagged with a reminder of beautiful and crime free East St. Louis.

There we found food. The pizza was great.

Later that night we ventured out in search of entertainment. And that entertainment was Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. Them ladies were right friendly. It’s a wonder what a naked-but-for-high-heels woman working for tips will do to the male ego. That’s enough about that.

Monday was the day of the show. I have to say it was all a little bittersweet. Sting, Stewart, and Andy pretty much stuck to the hits (except for Spirits In The Material World, dammit), which is fine, but they re-worked a lot of them. I am kind of anal a purist and would have rather heard them in the fashion that I have been used to since 1980. But they sounded great, especially Stewart, and just finally getting to seem them was worth it. Been nice if Pops would have let me go see them when the tickets were $15 not 15 squared, though. Less than a year ago, during a conversation about concerts, I said that I had pretty much seen everyone in concert that I had ever wanted except The Police. Now I can cross them off and toss the list, it’s finished. The only holdout is Prince, but he doesn’t play the dirty stuff. So unless he becomes a lapsed Jehovah’s Witness, I’m good.

It was back to Cahokia to rest before returning home. Cahokia is kind of a sad little town. It’s not rundown and crime-ridden like E. St. Louis. It’s just kind of worn out. But at least it’s not Sauget, the little village next door, pop. 249. Sauget consists of a water treatment plant, a Monsanto Plant that was tagged one of the Superfund sights by the government, a place that is a zinc factory, and some place that makes the most horrid propane-like stench I’ve ever encountered. All those plus two strip clubs and a 24-hour bar make Sauget your average family-oriented community. Gann and I are planning a road trip there soon. Read the sign. The other sign.

Family Fun for All

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Food:

MAFIAoZA’S – Great pizza and Italian food with a bar. It stays open until 3am (except Mondays, on which they are closed) and that beats the shit out of having to eat at Denny’s or IHOP. Again.

New York Café and Deli – More pizza along with gyros, subs, salads, and a lot of other stuff. They do deliver but I am not sure to how big of an area. They open late afternoon (I believe) and stay open until 5am.

Café Coco – Very eclectic menu and open 24 hours. Can be very crowded and only one free refill per meal. Just take the food outside (weather permitting) and enjoy. It’s worth the sometimes hassle to order.

Mothership BBQ – Stumbled across a review of this place while strolling the internet. It’s hard to find if you don’t know your way around Nashville (and if you do) but it’s definitely worth the effort. It’s located in a house and has really bad, and by bad I mean cool, 70’s album covers adorn the walls. I’ve read multiple good reviews of the ribs and the sides but all I tried was the pulled pork and it was great. The sauce is different from what I’m used to (kind of watery) but was really good. The women’s room is supposed to be a site to behold but I didn’t venture to find out for myself.

Music (Buy/See):

Phonoluxe Records – According to the reviews, the staff has been found to be rude and “too cool for you” but I’ve never witnessed it. Most people of their ilk usually think that. I worked at a record store years ago and felt my musical tastes were better than most and I listened to shit music. Guess most people get cranky when they won’t take their Gretchen Wilson cd’s The store is not that big and not complicated. It’s organized into genres and if you know your ABC’s, you can find that new Nickleback without bothering them. The prices are comparable to other stores (except for dvd’s, those are high). Just because they know that the Scandinavian promo-only King Diamond cd is worth more than the $5 you want to pay for, don’t gripe at them. It is a bitch to pull out of their lot but it’s easier if you just plan on making a left turn and try to find another place to switch directions if you need to.

The Great Escape – Used cd’s, dvd’s, and comics. I once crossed this place off my list but I’ve dropped by my last couple of times in town and found it to be worthy again. A good variety of selections, I can always find stuff I wanted, whether it’s something popular or under the radar. I don’t know much about the comic side (I’ve almost excised that part of my geekness) but it’s always busy when I’m in there.

Grimey’s New and Preloved – Their new stuff runs towards the indie crowd so go elsewhere if you’re aching for the new Justin. As for the used, you can just about find anything. My only gripe is that they just group everything by letter only so you generally have to look through it all to find what you want. While it may result in running across something you didn’t know you wanted, it’s very time consuming. Can be worth it if you can spare it.

Exit/In – Cool place to see a show. Small with good sound. Check out the wall to the right of the stage for the motley array of people who have played there.

Shopping:

Opry Mills Mall – From the ashes of the Opryland Amusement Park rose the criterion of outlet shopping. There are some good stores there, if not at necessarily at “outlet” prices, and the food court is better than any other mall I’ve ever been to. They have massage chairs there that will beat the hell out of you for just a dollar and you’ll feel the better for it. It’s worth the traffic and the long walk from the parking lot just for the people watching.

Hustler Hollywood – There is a coffee shop, some cool t-shirts, and . . . um . . . yeah, porn. While looking at porn in a brightly lit chain store without the raincoat crowd is a still strange experience to me, it’s a cool place. Porn or no porn. Ok, the porn helps.

There is, of course, more to do but I’m lazy. And as far as those kinds of clubs of which I wrote about in the post about my last visit, I can’t do it all. You’ll have to sort that out for yourself. Besides, the less of you that are there, the more there is for me. Can’t have anybody cock-blocking my chances for rejection action.

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I got greens and I got blues…

This weekend I ventured to a land where the gifted mostly toil in failure and obscurity and the non-talented reap riches and fame. The very city that thankfully brought us Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Lucinda Williams but now incessantly assaults us with the likes of the Billy Ray Cyrus, Trick Pony, and others with corporately contrived careers. That land would be Nashville.

Despite what it sounds like, I love Nashville. If I ever got brave enough to pull up stakes and move for some supposed greener pastures, Nashville would be top on the list. Both of the assertions in the above paragraph are what makes Nashville so attractive. As with the Big Music industry that spawned around it, it’s slick and new, which means there are cool restaurants, shopping, and a good night life. The industry ties and it’s storied past make it a constant stop for up-and-coming and well-worn artists of very non-hick music. Which is what brought me there on this trip.

One of my favorite bands, The Drive-By Truckers, played the Cannery Ballroom this past Saturday. As a reward for working way too much lately, I decided to go. It was to be alone because a couple of individuals punked out on me but that was ok. But the trip, or concert rather, wasn’t what I was anticipating. Which seems to reflect my life lately, all hyped foreplay and unfulfilling climax.

I have seen DBT live three previous times and they are always a good show. It was my first time at the venue and was fairly impressed. The opening band, American Minor, was tolerable. I moved from my spot to go to the bathroom before DBT took the stage and returned to what I thought was a better spot. Which it was until the gaggle of taller than average, post-frat boy, sport coat and ragged ball cap wearing asshats arrived in front of me. Now not only could I not see shit, I had to endure their bragging about how much bucks they had dropped on booze the last two days and some pseudo-macho bragging of “don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”, which would sound more intimidating coming from Bill Bixby without his big green alter-ego. So I moved farther back in hopes of improving my view. Ended up behind a head banging jackass that was evidently hearing “For Whom the Bell Tolls” while everyone else was hearing songs about Valentine’s Day and John Henry Ford. His thrashing head and epileptic dancing brought him way too far into my personal space. Enduring about 30 seconds of him dancing closer to me than any man ever ought to, I VERY gently moved him a foot forward. From the dirty look I received I believe that he was under the assumption that the fact he was more or less dry humping me was MY fault. Then the sound suddenly sucked and I just couldn’t tolerate any more so I split. Luckily for me I have other….inclinations….that Nashville is good for and rallied on for new pursuits. And let’s just say the weekend was oh so saved.

Don’t let the negative review of the show stop you from seeing DBT if they make a stop in your area. The bad sound was not their fault. They are a great live experience, especially when the huge bottle of Jack gets passed around. The more lushed they get, the more storytelling goes on, which makes it all even better. The Drive-By Truckers produce some great Southern rock which is something I considered an oxymoronic phrase until I discovered them.

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