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.
Got up at 7:15. Showered. Went to the breakfast room at the hotel lobby. A DIY waffle maker at the continental breakfast is pro but this place had a standard one AND one that made four mini waffles at a time. I hadn’t planned on having any but the lady who worked there was eager to make some. I didn’t really want her to, I’d rather do it myself ’cause I like to cook them less than the machine’s timer is programmed for. But it was an ESL situation and it seemed to be the protocol that she was in charge of the machines. I had two minis and an apple. We left pretty much as planned around 8. I took the first driving shift cause I wanted something to concentrate on.
Heading to LA today. Our friend’s band Picastro is doing several shows with us and this as the first day of that run. Liz, Brendan, and Joe. They live in Toronto and NY so they flew in and are using some of our gear. Actually we left early today so they could practice with the gear in the afternoon before load-in.
Drive wasn’t too eventful. Highway miles go by quick with the tunnel vision.
Coffee stop. Suck the ‘Buck. Starbucks. Not my favorite by any means, but the only decent coffee chain that you can pretty much find within 4 hours of wherever you are. There is a figure available that refers to the average distance that any American is to a McDonald’s, I think it’s called the McDistance. I don’t know if McD’s puts it out or if a junk food think tank does, but I’d be interested to see the figures on Starbucks too. You could time your sips of java so you’d never run out between stops. More science. Before this tour my friend and band mate many times over, Jason Groth, sent me a travel french-press coffee mug. I was using it at home as a regular mug but this tour was my opportunity to use it to its full potential. I brought it and some course-ground beans so all I had to do was get hot water, which most truck stops and restaurants have readily available. The press is awesome. Works great. Kiss the “hot brown water” good-bye! Custom hi-test coffee anywhere any time; without funding those (still!) double-cupping false-eco corporate dregs at Starbucks. Even more satisfying to get the hot water from them and brew in the parking lot. Highly recommended tour-tool. Dan makes his with a pour-over mechanism which is another nice way to go for the good stuff…just maybe not as appropriate for in-motion brewing.
OK, back on the road. Hour on a smaller highway between interstates. Drove through some oil fields. They’d seen better days. Looked like a junk yard with 500 half rusty derricks creepily pumping away. highway went right between two immense fields of them and that was pretty cool. Surrounded by a mess of metal in motion.
Coffee stop. Buck the system again with a self-brew. Scout takes over the wheel and we are coming into Los Angeles. Make our way to North Hollywood to meet up with Picastro. We’re glad to be off the road, relaxing at Bob Schriner’s apartment. He is a gregarious host and an all-around good guy who does stand-up, writes comedy, tour manages, etc etc. He has snacks and coffee for us. We all have a nice talk catching up on our various goings-on since last we’d seen each other. We tell him that the LA date for two days from then has been cancelled and he asks if I’d want to do a stand-up set on that night—he was already going to perform and he could get me on the bill. I had been a little burnt out and not doing any comedy for about 6 weeks but it sounded like a fun shake-up, Dan & Scout were into it, so why not? I start trying to remember my bits so I can put a set together.
Scout has a bad headache going. Picastro hasn’t arrived. it’s approaching load-in time so we head to Santa Monica to the Sanctuary. A church that rents its space for shows. Beautiful room that looks like it would get too echo-y for rock music. We load in and check; it actually sounds really good in there. But the problem is that there’s no soundproofing and the neighbors have called the police before. The sound guy quietly explains that to us and says if we want to turn down it would help but it was up to us, saying he feels bad asking musicians to change how they play . He’s not worried about getting in trouble, just doesn’t want the show to be shut down. We discuss and plan to start with quieter songs and save the louder ones for later, so we could probably get them in by the time cops would show, if at all.
Picastro has arrived and we all say hello. They get acquainted with the instruments and equipment. Bob, Dan and I walk to the beach. Scout hangs and naps. The beach is pretty, it’s dark out and there’s a pier all lit up with carnival rides and flashing colors. Bob is full of good stories as we stroll back.
Picastro plays first. It was a fine set if not a little loose, no doubt due to the fact that they haven’t practiced and are on 90% borrowed gear. I like the music: dark moody, rich, paced. Voice, electric guitar, drums, and cello. DJs are playing before and after bands. Tom Brousseau was up next solo with a set of heartfelt tunes on guitar and his plaintive voice. Then we went up and had a good set. The nap fixed the headache. After the loud ones, Scout and Dan did one last song as a duo on guitars. I was backstage when the promoter came back and asked if that was gonna be it ’cause the cops had come after all! But we were done. One officer was into it being a concert and the other scowled around for a while and they left. Load out. Show’s over. Good show.
Bob says we should go for a drink at the original art-deco bar at the top of the Hotel Shangri-La. Okay! He recommends the Pimm’s Cup. The bar is closing up so it turns out the fruit is gone. Bob’s second choice is excellent; can’t remember the particulars but it was a whiskey cocktail and it was tasty. We adjourned to the rooftop terrace and sat by the fire and looked out at the ocean. Nice place, Los Angeles. The other direction offered a view of a parking garage. Bob reports having seen some stairwell-fucking going on over there on a previous visit. Nice place, Los angeles.
Bob has to leave for work at 6 am. Back to the pad but first the poor decision to get pizza has been made. it is followed through on and the za is pretty good. Pain may come later. Talk for a bit, we bedded down. I stayed up too late on the internet. Went to sleep.