as i head to the west coast, this week’s download is “love in 2 parts”, which ends the album “distillation” and opens the anniversary shows. it is most definitely one song and describes a relationship i was in that was… shall we say, manic. it also mentions the incredible burden of rent in the bay area!
looking back on the early years of my career, i’m surprised at the kind of travel craziness i used to sign up for. i routinely hopped planes, cars, and buses in the same day- early in the morning, long after gigs, and often carrying obscene amounts of gear by my lonesome.
from the very beginning of my career, it’s been important to me to play as far and wide as possible. so even before it was financially feasible or responsible, i was trooping off to the west coast or overseas. i have always just wanted to be out there, beyond the friendly confines (and perceptions) of the northeast US.
so, in this dire economic climate, and even more dire music industry epoch, i’m heading out to the west coast to bring the “distillation anniversary tour” to Oregon, Washington, and California. my shoestring budget and creative travel decisions are reminding me of the first tour i ever did on the west coast, in the summer of 1998.
at the time, i had just finished my second year of college, and i was on my way to that rite of passage known as “time off”. but before i settled in for a fall of finding myself, i decided to play on the west coast. i had a few friends in LA who helped me get my first gig- at a place called “fais dodo”. i made calls and sent packages and eventually hooked up enough gigs to get me to seattle.
even though i was 21, i somehow was able to rent a car, which i gigged out of all the way up the coast. i remember stopping for a few days in san luis obispo, where the gig came with a night at the local hostel. then it was on to san francisco (first gigs: a berkelely house concert, then the bearded lady). from san francisco, i ditched my rental and got on a greyhound bus heading north. i stopped for a gig in redding, before hitting eugene and portland. i stuck around for a few days with friends in portland then headed up to olympia, seattle, and bellingham, again by bus.
i met alot of musicians like myself- hungry, happy, making it work somehow. i crashed with friends and did a lot of walking. and i carried everything i needed in a frame pack, including a tiny guitar amp. i brought one guitar and rolled a cardboard box of cassettes along behind me, strapped to a folding cart.
i felt exhilarated, playing for 20, sometimes 25 people. i wasnt tired. sometimes, i was scared, especially when i had a lot of time to kill and no place to hang my hat. i kind of marvel looking back on it now. how did i know what to do? how did it all work out so well?