Tour Story: M

Here's the story:

We picked up the rental van Wednesday evening and hit the road for Portland around midnight. I had the first driving shift all the way past Redding, then Erik took over. We hit blinding snow over the Oregon border pass and we had no sane reason to continue onward considering we couldn't see the road nor the guardrails, but we did anyway.

We survived, had some diner breakfast in the morning, and made it into Portland around noon. With our free afternoon we met up with our generous host, Dawn, and then puttered around downtown hitting up record stores, Powell's, etc. Dawn is a singer/guitarist in the legendary Francis Farmer Gals and a long time friend of the Oakland music scene. In fact, Jenya and I stayed over at her place when Dreamland had its infamous northwest tour way back in '95.

After dinner we loaded into Meow Meow, a new all-ages club in a part of town that gets no walk-in traffic. We were playing first so we had a long sound check, during which my sansamp ceased functioning and the entire staff helped me look for a tiny spring which fell out during battery replacement, never to be seen again, and somehow rendering this $200 piece of equipment totally useless in its absence. So no distortion for Matt this tour. The show went well, at least musically. Outside of Dawn and her band and her select fans, there was nobody there to see us except John, who is an incredible fan of Bay Area art rock, and has attended every show I've ever played in Portland, bless his heart. We discussed Kurt Weill before the show. The other bands did their thing which were both fun but equally disparate from what we do. I got a huge buzz eating cheap candy and playing an endless series of games on an old Atari 2600 system they had hooked up in the candy room.

In the morning we shook off our comas and slithered over to the diner where Dawn waitresses. She hooked us up with a full-on breakfast and sent us on our way up north. Once in Olympia, we stopped for more coffee and ended up hanging out for a while on the main strip, putting up more posters for the Chehalis show (as if) and checking out second hand stores.

We made it into Seattle around rush hour and found the club. We didn't know what to expect, but we ended up being pretty lucky in that the staff was really cool and the other acts were all interesting. In fact, while setting up for soundcheck I was shocked to see Ted, an old bandmate back when I was in college in Binghamton, NY, was also playing this evening with his latest band, Ponticello. I haven't seen him in over 5 years and have lost touch until this evening.

Anyway, we played first, and just as we started we noticed Erik's girlfriend Virginia arrived, having unexpectedly flown up from Oakland a few hours earlier. We played a solid albeit short set. Next up was a short set from solo songstress Maria Mabra. Then Ponticello, which had Ted playing bass and singing in this trance electric violin rock trio, and finally the catchy pop of Blue Collar Love. Considering how much room there is for potential sucking when playing an out of town show at an unknown club with three unknown bands, tonight rocked. The staff was even cool about paying us, albeit a token amount. Erik and Virginia split off with their local friends, and I ended up headed off with Ted and Jenna (another friend from Binghamton) to stay at their pad this evening.

Ted and Jenna and I caught up on the old college friends before bed. We left all our equipment in the van a block away. The thought of theft, coupled with my large caffeine intake this morning, yeilded a sleepless evening. But Ted convinced me this was a safe neighborhood.

In the morning our van and equipment were still there. Phew. More shooting the breeze in the morning with our Seattle cronies before meeting up with Erik and Virginia and her friends on one of Seattle's many interesting drags. Had another greasy breakfast, and then checked out a cool but tiny comic book art exhibit just down the way. Woodring, Clowes, Burns, and more. The brisk cold make walking around town a drag, but we did so anyway near the university. And like my previous four visits to Seattle, I was in and out of town in less than 24 hours.

Jenya played at the Matrix in Chehalis before, so it was like a reunion for her. It's a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, but the venue was a cool cafe/bookstore/restaurant/club with a good sound system and great food, run by mother Holly and her son Moon. Both seemed really ready to give up the running-a-club business.

Ate delicious food and tried to stay warm inside as time passed and the other musicians showed up. We finally got to ask if Hot Carl knew exactly what their band name meant. Of course they did and were ready for a new name. They were a couple of young dudes who formed their fun punk band with the original drummer of the Melvins. What an opener band for us. They actually brought a lot of their friends, most of which left for our set to go drinkin' down the street. However, those who stayed bought a bunch of singles/CDs and stuff, God bless 'em. And that was the end of the tour, more or less. Packed up and thanked Holly and Moon who were extra nice to us out-of-towners. We actually got on the road and headed south just after midnight. The weather was much better on the way home, and the whole journey took 14 hours. Jenya did most of the driving, though I did the nasty 4-6 a.m. stretch through dense fog.

Once back in the Bay Area, we all loaded up, headed to the airport to return the van (and get $20 back since the driver's side window was broken and wouldn't open). Took a four hour nap clear through the super bowl.

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