Our buddy Pete Schreiner (Thousand Arrows, The Coke Dares, Magnolia Electric Company, Sam Lowry & The Circumstance) is adding a new gig to his resume as he plays sideman to Scout Niblett on her current tour. Pete is keeping us in the loop of the ups and downs of the road with this tour diary.
aaaaaahh no no no what’s going on??? oh, the fucking alarm is going off. At 6:00 am. I’m the one who set it but that doesn’t make it any better. I set it for 15 more minutes and laid back down. Quarter past I got up. Showered, got dressed and woke the others. Amazingly, we left as scheduled at seven. I took the first driving shift. I had some cold coffee from yesterday to put me in. A little out of it but we jammed some ZZ Top and drove south. Long side of ten hours ahead. Played some Wurster & Sharpling bits. Various call-in episodes from The Best Show on WFMU. Already heard them all fifty times but it’s still good. Things like that grow on you and after a while it’s nice to hear the familiar voices of people you don’t know & on top of that it’s just hilarious.
Coffee stop in the first 50 miles. I don’t remember where. Maybe Pilot? Couple fill-ups on the way. At one truck stop, a guy who was either homeless or an undercover cop strolled over and told us about his pre-war Martin acoustic worth two grand (probably more) that he had posted for sale but his brother wouldn’t give it back to him since he was out packing around. Said he didn’t play at all but he sure loved the sound of that wood. Then he asked if we needed weed. He didn’t use it, and all his friends knew that, but they insisted on giving him big bags of it. That was his story anyway. Don’t think he asked for a handout. Just trying to earn that sweet 100% weed commission.
Long drive day. I did most of it; Dan was on DJ duty. I like driving most of the time. Especially through beautiful scenic places ’cause then you’re right up front with a good view. Driving automatically gives me something to do and to concentrate on. This is good because I tend to get restless and/or listless in the van. Sometimes it’s just a matter of, everyone is tired, but someone needs to drive. I can usually muster up some tunnel-vision and do long hauls. If the navigator is awake to talk to, I can go forever. That’s the guaranteed awake-keeper for me. Coffee doesn’t hurt. On solo drives or passenger-sleep time, coffee is essential. I like listening to comedy and music. Spoken words are usually better than tunes. I’ve tried books on CD but if I’m tired my interest will wander. The last ditch if I just have to keep going is sports talk radio. I have almost zero interest in professional sports, or collegiate for that matter, and that’s the secret I think. There’s so much empty filler and so many esoteric statistics that my brain just kind of rides that light level of engagement, and since I never get sucked in, I can’t space out. I dunno, it’s weird but repeatable so I guess it’s science.
Saw a helicopter and some tumbleweeds. The show tonight is at the Alternative Cafe in Seaside, CA. I think we all had a notion of what the place was like even though we hadn’t been there. Lots of smaller cities have an arty-coffee shop gallery/ multi-use space that does shows. These are a mixed bag. Often they are the only places in town which, A) do all-ages shows, and B) do shows at all for touring bands. This is awesome and it can definitely be a money-losing, thankless task to bring cool music to town. The down side is that usually the sound reinforcement (PA) is built for acoustic acts and can’t handle rock bands. it’s not a fault with the club; it’s not the fault of the band. Most likely a communication failure: the venue doesn’t know the band is loud, the band doesn’t know the venue is quiet. The booking agent would be the middle-person here and this kind of thing gets overlooked even though it seems like a crucial factor to have out on the table.
I’m bringing this up because that was our exact scenario. First guitar chord of sound check the sound woman says “It’s too loud. We have neighbors. You have to turn it down.” This is basically a bad tact. Instantly taints the vibe. The band feels affronted because there was no consideration of the art of the music in the approach. Some bands’ sound and instrument techniques are contingent on volume and/or the emotional weight of playing hard. So yes we know it’s loud, yes you have neighbors, the position is understandable BUT the band is the show so maybe try not to piss them off. I have no ill will to the folks at Alternative Cafe, they are doing good things. This situation happens all the time but it’s preventable in the booking stage and can be better dealt with through compromise on stage if there is mutual respect shown between performers and club staff (see day 5).
After sound check we walked a block down to a highly recommended Mexican place. Messed-up order, poor service, passable food. Considering all of this the show went OK. Scout played a longer solo set and had the band up at the end. Packed up and went down the street to a Ramada Limited that we had pricelined right before the show. The parking lot smelled like sewer gas. Drank beers, used internet, spilled beer on bed and clothes, washed clothes in sink and hung over the heater. Went to sleep.
The Scout Niblett tour continues on, and you can catch her and Pete and Dan at one of the following shows.
12/5/2011, San Diego, CA, Soda Bar
12/6/2011, Los Angeles, CA, handbag factory – CANCELLED – Instead Pete will be doing stand-up comedy at Big Fish in Glendale.
12/7/2011, Oakland, CA, Vitus
12/8/2011, San Francisco, CA, Hemlock Tavern
12/10/2011, Portland, OR, Mississippi Studios