Two Weeks in the Life of a Chicago Musician
7/1/03: Early wakeup for an Old #8 trip to Columbia,
MO. Widespread Panic is in the same city on this
night, so our gig is being advertised as a post-Panic
party. The only hitch is that we are opening, and
apparently our agent (who also handles the headliner)
believes that the club wants us to go on at 9:30 PM,
although most people’s guess is that Panic will not
end until 11 PM.
Sure enough, we end up playing to a near-empty room.
In some ways, this is sort of fun – we play some of
our newer and rarer songs and don’t take things too
seriously. Those of you who’ve been in bands may
recognize the "us against the world" factor that kicks
in during these situations. However, aggravation
accumulates when, a half hour or so after we finish,
the room starts to fill up with Widespread fans.
Harsh words are exchanged between band members and our
7/2/03: On to St. Charles, MO, applying the same
strategy (this club is at the next exit down the
highway from the Dead show at the Kentucky Fried
McDonald’s Arena or whatever it is that the Riverport
Ampitheatre is now called). One of my bandmates,
along with our road manager, goes to the show to check
out Willie Nelson. Our road manager ends up checking
out the Dead rather than making it back for our gig.
Harsh words are exchanged later in the night and he is
denied the privilege of sharing in the band’s hotel
room, and left to make his own way to our radio show
in St. Louis the following morning. The amount of
Dead fans at our gig does not quite equate to the
number of Panicheads who eventually made it out in
Columbia the night before, but we do our best
regardless. Midway through set two, a couple of local
guys ask to sit in and I end up taking part in a cover
of "Jane Says" for what will probably be the only time
in my life.
7/3/03: Early wakeup for Fred Friction’s radio show in
St. Louis. Our road manager greets us as we arrive.
He earns points for resourcefulness. We get an hour
of so of playing time and some interview bits.
Afterwards, the set of us in my car stops at Waffle
House (who redeem themselves after my previous road
trip experience with them, in which they told me that
they couldn’t serve waffles that morning because they
were having trouble with them sticking to the irons)
and then make our way back to Chicago.
7/4/03: Old #8 has a gig on this special day at Goose
Island in the heart of Yuppieville, Chicago, for which
we devised the plan to do a special set of our
punk-protest "Communist Country" material ("us against
the world" pt 2). It does not do much to bring down
Yuppiedom, but our chops are in good shape after four
straight days of performing, and a healthy amount of
our hometown crew shows up after getting their fill of
fireworks and barbecue.
7/5/03: Rest up, load drums into studio for tomorrow’s
session. While driving over I pass a well-attended
street festival and get a glimpse of the
entertainment: a band with 80’s-hair wigs doing Bon
Jovi covers. This is the competition.
7/6-7/03: Two days in the studio as part of a rhythm
section assembled by a friend of mine to accompany a
singer-songwriter from Seattle. Three songs a day. A
couple of country-rock grooves which sound simple turn
out to be tricky, but we get everything down well in
the end and it turns out to be a most pleasant
experience (and well-paid, for once). Most peculiar
element: one song sounds a bit like Van Morrison’s
"Moondance," but the singer informs us that he wants
something stranger than what we were initially doing.
As far as my drumming is concerned, the solution ends
up being that the engineer sets up metal objects at
both sides of my set and I do my best impression of
recent-Tom Waits-style drumming. That is, if Tom
Waits had a song that sounded like "Moondance."
7/8-10/03: Rehearsing with #8, doing my delivery job,
7/11-13/03: Old #8 drives from Chicago to Charlotte,
NC and back to do one opening gig for Cast Iron
Filter, with whom we met up earlier in the year at
Chicago’s Boulevard Cafe. (We had a couple dates in
OH to route us to Charlotte, but lost them due to our
troubles with our agent in Columbia.) The room fills
out nicely by the latter half of our set and we go
over well. To my surprise, CIF have changed rhythm
sections since the last gig we did together, but they
put on a great show as well. As well, #8 confirms a
Chicago gig during this trip opening for Dickey Betts,
handled by the same bookers as CIF, on 8/13 at Abbey
Pub. Stay tuned.