Weekend tour wrap up.
Thursday night we headed down to Alta to start the weekend off easy with an acoustic show but when we got there the lights were out and they were closed because of a power outage. Bummer. We send messages to hopefully get to everyone in time so they don't come down to a closed coffee shop and decide - it's Cinco de Mayo - let's go get Himalayan food! For real. It was delicious and then we went home and packed to leave.
Before we embarked on our 1300 mile weekend I had some service done on our van - new tires, new axles things, new belts, new motor mount... All told about $2K. So I'm feeling good about the trip.
Our first show is in Virginia City, NV - about an 8 hour drive up mostly mountains. When we crested at about 8,000 feet the light and noise for the anti-freeze stuff starts going off and smoke is coming in through the vents. We hastily pull over in some mountain DPW station and try to figure out what the hell is going on. The long and short is that the heating coil under the dashboard has...gone? Well, it's still there but it's just a place for antifreeze to leak out of and burn off and come through the vents and defrosting ducts. It's fogging up the inside window with an antifreeze type of film so we keep trying to wipe it down and open the windows for the ride.
We get to Virginia City, which is a hell of a climb up the mountain and set up.
Now The Red Dog Saloon is famous, famous for it's place in the 60's psychedelic rock scene. I can't figure out how those folks all tripped out even found this place but it is awesome. Great stage, great PA and usually a pretty full room. Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. Turns out there's another show going on in town and most of the folks are going to see this guy, I guess he's more popular than us. Anyway - we get the "afterparty" crowd and even though a thin night - a really great crowd of folks. Talked with most of them and the personal connection is just unbeatable. I already can't wait to go back there.
After the show we hobble down the hill in the van. It's chilly out and the window keeps fogging up. Very gently we roll into Reno* while Tracy and I keep wiping the front window clean so we can see the mountain pass in the dark. Not the scariest ride ever but not a pleasant one either.
In Reno I find a VW dealer and try to get them to look at the van but appartently on Saturdays they only have folks who do oil changes on hand. So I roll over to Pep Boys and after an hour or two they tell me "this is a 10 hour job (at $115 an hour) and we can't even get the part until Monday. So they pour in some "fix a leak" stuff and I buy two big jugs of antifreeze. But what this means is that we have to drive with the windows cracked open a bit all the time. Can't use the defroster, heater or AC and have to buy a package of Windex wipes to continually wipe the antifreeze mist/fog off the inside of the front windshield. We tape down some paper towels over the vents to try and block as much of this mist from coming out but it still does.
This for the most part - works.
Saturday night we are set to play a house party at our friend Suzi's place.
We love house parties and this one doesn't dissapoint. Playing unplugged (save for the bass) for about 20 people in a small intimate environment - it's the best. We told stories, had a sing-a-long, met really great folks who not only hung out but they listened! One guy even questioned Ben on a lyrical choice saying "didn't you use that line in another song?" And we hadn't even noticed it but there were two lines that are similar! We all drink wine, eat chocolate, hang out and two folks even waltzed while we played.
Best show of the tour so far. Thank you Suzi.
We decide that Sunday we were going to go to Muir Woods since Ben has never seen the giant trees. Sunday is also Mother's Day. The traffic in San Francisco is off the charts. There's actually signs saying that Muir Woods parking is totally full and it's a mile to 2 mile walk from parking to the front gate. So we bag that idea and head to Golden Gate Park - more clusterduck traffic and driving around the city... Sucks. We wanted to show Ben awesomeness of the USA and instead he got to see shitty traffic on all major motorways.
We get to the Hotel Utah.
Now we've played here before and I dig the place but it's getting a little run down. When we walk into the stage area the bartender is in the corner with a mop and there's a steady stream of water coming from the ceiling, down the drapes and there's a pair of electrical power strips that are steaming. Ok, maybe not steaming. SMOKING. She rips them out of the wall and informs us that there's something going on upstairs, they end up having to turn off the water for the whole building and the soundman makes it all work. Amazing. We did't use the bad plugs, water cleaned up, decent sound - and we played for mostly the other bands on the bill and a few folks that came to see us. It's a short 45 minute set which flies by when you're not used to having a set time allotted to you.
I spend the rest of the night going between the stage area listening to the other bands** and going outside to make sure the van has not been broken into yet. Turns out Hotel Utah is in a crappy section of town. In the words of the bartender; "people have to *want* to come here, it doesn't happen accidentally." The parking in the area sucks, they have had lots of car break ins. We are parked directly out front and they warned us not to put anything in their because it will get stolen. Nothing got stolen but I was on the case anyway.
Falling asleep now.
We stay at a motel that Matt found for us and drove home today but not before the check engine light came on as well. Story for another day.
*thanks for the room Dodie!
**which were excellent!