Friday, June 26, 2009


One thing I never seem to fully learn about this world is the fact that change is going to happen constantly, ready or not. Three icons in as many days and the world keeps turning, but it sure seems a little bit different. I had the Farrah poster on my wall as a kid, until my mom saw it and made me take it down. At the time I really didn’t understand her attitude towards a nice picture of a smiling pretty girl, but upon reflection, that sure was a good poster! Ok maybe I’m not being entirely honest about the poster, I also watched Charlie’s Angels and not because I thought they were really good detectives!
At the same age, my bedtime would coincide with the start of the Tonight Show and many nights I would lay in bed listening to my parents’ television in the living room and not fall asleep until I heard Ed McMahon say, “Heeeerrees Johnny!” Michael Jackson was always there. The Jackson 5 cartoons, the duet video with Paul McCartney, the Beat It video, Thriller, the marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, the Martin Brashears interview that pretty much moved Michael from the realm of music innovator to circus sideshow that his life became. I was never a huge Michael fan. I liked a lot of his songs and admired and respected his talent but I was more of a Prince fan. Buddy and I used to argue about who was better, he liked Michael and I liked Prince, but whenever we saw each others “favorite” perform, we’d just look at each other and say “He is a bad m*****f****r though!”
I know how our culture treats dead celebrities and I dread the onslaught of tasteless jokes that will start to show up. For the record, I’m not interested in hearing them, so if you got some, please keep them to yourself. The down side of having 24 hour news channels is that as they eulogize Michael they’ll run out of immediate family members and close friends and eventually you’ll be seeing interviews with the mailman from Gary IN that used to deliver the mail to the Jackson household back in the early 60’s. Our culture, what I call The Culture of Right Now, makes it difficult or even unnecessary to say goodbye to passing celebrities. They live on through CD and video forever. Hopefully that will be the best and kindest part for Michael Jackson; that his music, dancing and entertaining will outlive the strange final chapter that wrote. Rest in Peace Michael and thanks for sharing your talent and art with us!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Don't seek the pigman!

So here we are in Idaho (capitol; Boise, entered the Union on July 3, 1890, also known as the Gem State.) Day 8. So far a very good tour. My definition of a good tour is #1; a musically rewarding gig.  After that, no breakdowns, arrests or bodily injury and that we’re not being yelled at for being too loud. That, of course, isn’t Webster’s definition of a good tour. They don’t have one! They define ‘tour’ as an intransitive verb. Boring! Touring is nothing of the kind. It is equal parts traveling circus, school fieldtrip and spiritual vision quest. This might be the double setup & teardown tour. After tearing down early in Eureka Springs a couple of weeks ago and having to set back up! (Our fault), we played in Sheridan WY (plotted as a town by John D. Loucks in 1882 on the back of a sheet of wrapping paper. Named after one of John Loucks' civil war officers, General Sheridan. The town was approved and incorporated in 1884.) last week and it was supposed to be an outside gig. We setup under a beautiful blue sky. By show time, black clouds were on the horizon. We started the show and got maybe 3 songs out before the rain started to hit and we had to tear down and move the whole thing inside, set back up and finish the gig! My guys did it flawlessly. Thanks to the help of the great security staff at My Buddy’s Place in Sheridan! We stopped at the Little Bighorn Battlefield on Sunday, (a place I’ve always wanted to go) and toured the battlefield. Yes, it’s more than just a big field and a bunch of tombstones. We did comment on the irony of walking the battlefield while on our cell phones, taking pictures with our digital cameras and drinking bottled water. Sometimes you can’t NOT be a tourist no matter how respectful you are. It is an amazing place though and they do a great job of giving you the information of the battle and the layout of the thing without letting it seem to “Disneyesque”…until you get to the gift shop anyway!
 Marshal and I drove from our current secret location to Idaho Falls yesterday and saw the movie The Hangover Great movie that I will see again with Buffy and the MFThroneberrys I’m sure. Came out of the movies and discovered that I had locked the keys in the van and the nearest extra set (in Richard’s pocket) was 75 miles away! Thanks to AAA, we got hooked up quickly though. Although I am still a little concerned that the guy who opened the door didn’t even ask to see my ID! He just popped the lock and split! I gotta get me one of them slimjim things!
 Just finished reading The Secret at my wife’s urging. What a great book and brilliant concept. As an armchair physics fan, (…well I am! Armchair just means I’m fascinated by the concepts and that I’ve read Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking…don’t ask me to explain the single string theory to you though.) I really liked the relation of Quantum Physics to our relationship to the universe as well as the biblical implications. Now I’m reading a great book on the Delta Blues by Ted Gioia. Called…Delta Blues. Very well researched and informative, if not exactly the most clever title. Finally watched the movie Taken this morning and now I am a Liam Neeson fan (I was already actually) but I still needed to forgive him for trying to kill Batman. Now I do!
 I did not pack for Idaho weather! My home state is currently going through a brutal heat wave that was just starting to warm-up when we left to come on tour. Idaho is having no such heat wave and I don’t really like it! I did however pack 5 guitars for this tour. After 6 shows, I played 1 guitar 99% of the time. So maybe I didn’t even pack my guitars correctly!
 Happy belated father’s Day to all you Dads. Mine was a good day but not a good Father’s Day as I was away from home. Worst part of my job. I did get an awesome card from my girl and a great call from my wife and daughter!
Why does the USA Today paper machine say that you can use any combination of coins but it will only work with 4 quarters?
 I’m off now to hug on my guitar and get through the rest of this off day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's for dinner Grandpa?

So recently my wife gave me a great idea (most of my great ideas come from her…and the rest are inspired by her!) to start writing about some of the places we eat at on the road. When you travel, food is one of the most important aspects of your journey, (because without it, you would eventually die.) Okay, gas and guitar strings are also very important, but this blog is about food. Obviously Starbucks is a big part of our rolling diet, but we also tend to seek out BBQ joints, funky local places, Chipotle or Red Robin for lunch. I am a big fan of BBQ and the band will usually indulge me unless we’ve had BBQ four or five days in a row, in which case I can usually smell the mutiny over the smoked sweat smell! When I was with Buddy, BBQ was a ritual, especially in Texas. We did the Iron Works, Stubb’s, County Line or Sam’s in Austin, we did Virgil’s in NYC, as well as a bunch of places that are gone or that I just can’t remember now! That’s where I learned the difference between good BBQ and bad BBQ. My BBQ policy is simple; no chains, no b******t! I do make an occasional exception to the chain rule, but only if the chain is consistent. I eat at Whole Hog in Little Rock AR and Dreamland in Birmingham, but the original Dreamland in Tuscaloosa has let me down a couple of times, so now we go to Archibald’s in Tuscaloosa (the original location). I will not eat at Tony Roma’s, etc. In the past few months we’ve eaten at some crazy good places (and had some crazy great food!) Like Takashi Sushi in Salt Lake City UT, Central BBQ in Memphis TN, Snappy Lunch in Mt Airy NC where we had the pork chop sandwich to end all pork chop sandwiches, or Exxon Gas Station BBQ pork ribs in Jackson MS (thanks KMFP), Blues City Café in Memphis for catfish and tamales, Stage Deli in NYC for the GIANT (and expensive) Rueben, Leatha’s BBQ in Hattiesburg MS. The best resource I’ve found for food on the road is a book called Roadfood by Jane and Michael Stern. This book has yet to let us down. We’ve found killer Mexican food in Denver, Lobster Rolls in Maine, Breakfast in Louisville, Hot Dogs in Portland OR and the list goes on and on.
Today, we are in St Louis and we had to go to Goody Goody Diner I had the BBQ Burger with slaw, fries and a side of chili - $10.00 (diet’s going great, thanks for asking!) This place is the bomb! In business since 1948, they do all the old style diner food you would expect. Burgers, Breakfast stuff, they even do chicken and waffles (don’t knock it until you try it!) Their hours, during the week, are 6:00 am – 2:00 pm. We got there at 1:45 pm and the place was packed! The hostess seated us and she even liked my Chuck Taylors! (How ‘bout that Kempf!) The chili was great, spicy and meaty (oyster crackers and Tabasco on the side!). The burger was exactly what you want from something called the BBQ Slaw Burger, it was a delicious mess (4 napkins!)! They’ve had everyone from Al Gore to Cedric the Entertainer as guests and I can guarantee I’ll be back. Next time I’m getting the fried chicken though, because it looked awesome!
As for Chipotle it’s a burrito restaurant chain from Denver CO. I discovered them a couple of years ago and when Tyler was in the band, we we’re eating there at least 3 or 4 times a week! For one thing, the food is great, fresh and mostly organically raised fresh guacamole, salsa and chips. For another thing, when you’re on a budget (who’s not on a budget these days, but if you are a musician, it’s a given that you are on a BUDGET!), a huge burrito fills you up for the whole day, so you don’t have to spend all your money on food (especially when you’re in Denver and you need to go to Twist and Shout an amazing independent record store!)! We’ve eaten at the original a couple of times on 1600 East Evans (got the t-shirt too!!) Chipotle is always good. My favorite stuff is either the Carnitas Burrito or the Barbacoa Burrito, chips with the guacamole and the hot salsa and then douse the whole thing in Chipotle Tabasco! $10.00 - $12.00 for that and a drink and you’re good to go.