Reports of the Past


REPORT From The Field

TOUR 2001 - Colorado Pt.1

Midland 9.25.01

It's been much harder to find time to write from the road than I had ever imagined.

We're in Midland for three days (today being the last), and I'm trying (for the third time) to sit down and write. We're in the seediest motel of the tour (so far), playing at a biker bar called Riley's. The people who patronize Riley's are a great audience. They are listeners who take their rock & roll seriously and love the blues.

We've had nothing but great audiences the whole tour (except once), and most of the venues in Colorado have offered return engagements at double the money. They seem to like all of the different music we do, and keep asking me if anyone ever told me I look like Jerry.

I believe we may be able to tour profitably in the spring!!!

The first road funny stuff happened when we hit Oklahoma on the first day of driving. We stopped to take pictures in front of the state welcome sign, and Heath realized he had packed no pants (and there was nothing that Heath would wear at Wal-Mart - but while there, Roger bought John some new shoes!).

On the first night, we stopped for some sleep in Kansas, just short of the Colorado border, at a motel called 'The Free Breakfast Inn'. We had stopped an hour earlier at a roadside park, just to do some attitude adjustment (sld) and look at the stars. There were a lot of stars! Everyone got some amount of sleep, and a free breakfast. We had discovered who did and didn't snore, so adjustments to the sleeping arrangements were casually discussed at breakfast... Roger announced that he wanted all of the snorers in one room - and NOT HIS!

We entered Colorado and began seeing mountains within an hour. We gasped and gawked in amazement, something that would be repeated over and over for the next ten days, as we saw one amazing vista followed by another even more amazing as we went deeper and deeper into the Rockies.

Oskar Blues Bar & Grill in Lyons, Colorado, was our first gig. We were greeted by Dave McIntyre, the president of the Colorado Blues Society and treated to some great food. Marlo and I split some Cavatappi Portabello (a great pasta dish with a cooked-in herb/garlic/wine sauce, loaded with grilled portabello mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and chicken, and a great Caesar Salad we couldn't finish). Chaz had a portabello sandwich and some of our Caesar...

We hosted The Colorado Blues Society Jam, at Oskar Blues and got to jam with some great players. Jammin' Jimmy Sferes (NJH#180) sticks out as a great guitar player (especially because we had contact over the internet before the tour began), but so was Russ Muselik (#179), who played through his own RUSTECH amp, which sounded killerbee! The only other jammer to play with the Hippies was Michael Wand (#178), who sounded great on harp! They put us up in a comfortable bed & breakfast house a couple doors down from the venue. Hell... everything was a couple doors down - the town was only a few blocks long! I cooked burgers at 2am, we had a smoke, and slept good.

The drive to Steamboat Springs took us through Rocky Mountain National Park. It was breathtaking in at least two ways! Not only was the scenery glorious, but my knuckles were white from gripping the steering wheel on those sharp mountain roads. I thought that I was really slowing us down with my mountain road paranoia, until I noticed that the cars ahead of me were going no faster than I....

At the Continental Divide, Heath and I ran from one side of the divide to the other, urinating on several bushes so that we would have our fluids headed for the Atlantic and Pacific from the same piss! What a thrill! An hour later, Heath and Chaz cooled down a couple beers in a glacier at 14,000 feet - just so they could say they did it.

 

Houston 10.4.01

That was all I got to write from the road. The rest comes now...

The gig at Steamboat was at a place called Tugboat, located in a row of clubs and bars on the side of a mountain. Our only night off on the first leg, we got there a night early, and checked out Big Jake and his band, some guys from Chicago with whom we had shared the bed & breakfast place with in Lyons. Kelly, the soundman at Tugboat, gave a couple of us a place to stay for the night, and the rest of us checked into a motel until the next day when we could check into the house that Tugboat provided for the band.

The band house was one of the two coolest places we got to stay on the first leg of the tour. Everyone had their own bed, and we could cook our own food (spaghetti, pork chops, baked potatoes & mixed veggies). Tugboat fed us lunch, and the food was good. The whole gig was a good one. We played well, had a competent soundman, and the house ran an in-house video feed to several monitors - so we recorded a copy for ourselves.

The drive to Colorado Springs was equally gorgeous! We drove downtown to find Jack Quinn's Restaurant & Irish Bar in a section of town with several venues and restaurants. It was Sunday, and we were to play downstairs in the restaurant. We were told that bands usually play the weekends upstairs in the large room (which we never saw). Downstairs was a long narrow room with lots of smooth surfaces (wood, concrete, etc.), and the Celtic band that was playing when we got there seemed as loud as the room would take. We decided to play this one acoustically, and obtained the manager's approval.

As the night crowd wandered in, we realized that we'd be playing for rockers, so we adjusted our acoustic ideas accordingly. Some locals hooked us up with some much needed kind bud, and Ralph (the manager) hooked us up with whatever we wanted from the menu at half price. Marlo and I split the Sheperd's Pie, stuffed mushrooms and a salad. The Sheperd's Pie was a bit Americanized, but it was great nonetheless. Most of the band had fish & chips, which featured LARGE pieces of haddock. Mmmm!

Three sets later, we were feeling pretty good. They had immediately asked us to turn down, but asked us to turn back up within 15 minutes. The music was good! Heath and John went home, or out to party, with Ralph and friends, while Roger, Chaz, Marlo and I found a motel.

The next gig was Kochevar's in Crested Butte, which had agreed to have us for 3 nights (M-W), working for the door. When touring as a little known or unknown band, finding ways to fill out the Mondays and Tuesdays - hopefully in a way that'll pay for the day's gas, food and lodging - is THE real challenge. I had decided in advance that we would sacrifice the Monday night in Crested Butte for a night at Bud Blues' blues jam at Brendan's Pub in Denver. It would not pay any cash, but we would get to introduce ourselves and our music to a few people in another city.

Having emailed in advance, I was already aware that we would be welcomed, AND allowed to perform a few songs as a band. We found Katharine (my internet contact) at the Pizza place we accidentally walked into, and she took us downstairs to Brendan's Pub. She introduced us to Kevin Geraghty, who told me that any friend of Carolyn Wonderland is welcome at his place. Brendan's Pub was amongst the places Carolyn had recommended when I first began booking this tour.

Kevin made certain we were fed, and told the bartender that we were his guests for the night. The pizza from upstairs was delicious, and we began introducing ourselves to the house band, Black Market Blues, as they arrived. They were a great funk/R&B band. The jam leader, Mario, played great drums and sang with a voice reminiscent of Lou Rawls. Marlo got out the camera and shot some video. We were introduced right after the house band, and did a 30 minute set to about 80 music lovers. They loved us, too! We hung around all night long, jamming with the locals, and taking advantage of the open bar tab. Half of the touring Hippies like to drink, and it was easy to tell which half it was as Brendan's Pub...

The next drive was longer than we had expected, but it was amazing. We would come around a mountain, gasp at the awesome scenery, and pile out of the van for a band photo. Then - we'd get back in the van, drive 2000 feet around another bend, see a vista more beautiful than the last and pull over, pile out of the van, and take another band photo. It kept getting better and better, and we now have a lot of band photos!

When we arrived in Crested Butte at 5 o'clock, we were told two things. First, we were told that we had been scheduled to appear on the local radio station at 4pm. Too late! We didn't know. We were also told that we should take the next afternoon to go up into the mountain peaks, and through Kebler pass, to see the beautiful mountainscape and the aspen trees (which were turning colors). We told them we had come in through Kebler Pass, and they looked at us with surprise on their faces. "Wow! You know that's the long way, don't you?" Ummm... Uhhhh... Hmmm... of course, we did!?

(to be continued....)

-Guy Schwartz
The New Jack Hippies
bluesguy.com
Houston, Texas, USA
www.mp3.com/HippiesBand - Live Jams
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Reports of the Past